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Too much fatigue exhausts the animal spirits, as too much food blunts the finer faculties, and an occasional slight inebriation is beneficial.
There is not much difficulty in guessing that the following lines are from Anacreon :
Let us drain the nectar'd bowl,
Behold !—my boys a goblet bear,
PORT-OPORTO—UPPER DOURO, ETC.
The Foz—The Douro— Vigo—Minho_Oporto-Alto Douro Company
-Baron Forrester-To make Port-Wine Tasters--ElderberriesCroft's Pamphlet-Jeropiga-Rise in Prices—The future of Port -Rates of Duty since 1671—Methuen Treaty-White PortLisbons-Tom's Coffee House-Lyne Stephens-Letter from Lisbon, 1798—The Port Trade Artificial-Difficulty of giving just Views—Head of the Wine Trade-Bottle-stink-Dining Hours -Horse Shoe-Gronow's Reminiscences-Old Port in Lancashire - Monopoly-Alto Douro Company's Tasters-Old and Present Prices-Few Shippers formerly-Crusts—Racking and FiningMr. Ballantyne's Letter—Mr. Gassiot's Description - Estimates of Cost-Rua Ingleza-Prison of Oporto-Siege—To Fight and be Fighted—Steamer Signalled-Man and Wife-Escape-Consumption and Percentage since 1831-Statistics.
OPORTO may be reached by landing from the
from the steamer, which stops, when the weather permits, opposite the fort or Foz. The powerful mail-boat, with a crew of twenty men, crossing the dangerous bar at the mouth of the Douro, is a fine sight; and the walk to the town along the high banks of the river is very beautiful. On my second visit, in 1844, I disembarked there ; but would advise every lover of scenery to leave the steamer at Vigo and ride to Oporto.
From the hill on the brow of which Vigo is built the view is very extensive and splendid, and so it continues the whole way, with the sea beating against the rocks on the right; while the varying prospects of valley and mountain, luxuriant foliage and fields, never fail to delight the eye.
I have seen many lands, but recollect none which equal in beauty the great valley of the Entre-Minhoe-Douro; especially when coming upon the River Minho, which separates Spain from Portugal.
On arriving at Oporto, the porter at the inn conducted me to the house of a friend, where I first met with the fine, high-flavoured, light, old port that the English merchants have for their own use; and most excellent it is.
I ventured to return to my hotel without a guide, but, losing my way, wandered up and down the precipitous streets for two or three hours, having forgotten the name of the inn; could I have recollected it, I was unable to make enquiries, from my ignorance of the language. At length I stumbled against two men, who stopped and spoke to me; and even in the darkness of those southern climes, could perceive they were policemen, with guns. The fear of sleeping in the street, and of the large rats running about, fighting and screaming, brought into play the old proverb of necessity being the mother of invention. Fortunately I remembered that my
inn was in the high part of the town, and that close to it was a large open space where men were spinning ropes. Anxiety to escape acquaintance with an Oporto Watch House, or to avoid
POLICEMEN AND ROPESPINNING.
passing my first night al fresco, set my wits to work, thinking how I could make those men understand that although a wanderer, I had a home. Recollecting that rope spinners walk backwards, I began to do so, at the same time holding out my hands as if I were spinning, and then pointing up the street; they seemed much amused, and talking together, beckoned me to follow; when shortly I found myself on the great square, and in a few minutes
my Hospedaria. The next morning, I first beheld by daylight the beautifully situated towns of Oporto and Villa Nova on opposite sides of the river; and the surrounding
; country, with its quintas and mansions, many of them
, in the midst of orange groves, which diffused their fragrance around.
Unless the vintage be very bad, it is usual for the partner or manager of each English house in Oporto, to go up to the wine district, where many of them have country quarters, and live very comfortably during their sojourn. As the reputation of their firm depends upon their selection, there is, of course, much anxiety and rivalry among the numerous buyers congregated in this little privileged tract, called the Upper Corgo; which begins about sixty miles
the Douro, and is about twenty-four miles in length, and twelve in breadth, on both sides of the river.
What can more strikingly demonstrate the evils of the system connected with the supply of port wine than the fact, that not one gallon can be legally exported to any part of Europe unless it has been passed by the Alto Douro Company as suitable? This company has also the power of fixing, each
year, the quantity that it considers sufficient ; and often, a farmer, with twenty pipes of the very same wine, gets a bilhete (i.e. a certificate of goodness) for only ten pipes, while the other ten, having no bilhete, lose half their value; as they must be placed among those for country use, or for exportation to any place, not in Europe.
Some years ago, this and an export duty of about 6d. per pipe to America, while it was about 61. to Europe (i. e. England), occasioned large shipments to the former country and Canada, and reshipments of the same wine to Britain ; till the practice was put a stop to by oaths and bonds, and informers abroad. There is now a reduction from the former high export rate, to about 1l. per pipe. These bilhetes are bought
. and sold as openly as railway stock here, at a price varying from 31. to 61. per pipe, according as the company permits more or less exportation of the yearly produce. Protected by them, wines entirely different from those for which they were granted, with others, actually made out of the bounds of the company's limits, are brought to the river-boats, and to the lodges in Villa Nova, where the wines are stored. There is no feeling that there is anything wrong in this; indeed, bad as port wine often is, it would be much worse if the merchants were compelled to adhere to the qualities often approved by the men who are sent up by the Alto Douro