Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

exportation,) producing 105,7731. The exportation of the year 1730 was 135,484., while that of 1709 was 168,3577.; that of 1710, 126,3107.; that of 1711, 151,8747.; and that of 1712, 142,3291.

"With regard to the rate of profit during this period, or the real advantage of the Indian trade, the Company, for part of the year 1708, divided at the rate of five per cent. per annum to the proprietors upon 3,163,2001. of capital; for the next year eight per cent., for the two following years nine per cent., and thence to the year 1716 ten per cent. per annum. In the year 1717 they paid dividends on a capital of 3,194,0807., at the same rate of ten per cent. per annum, and so on till the year 1723. That year the dividend was reduced to eight per cent. per annum, at which rate it continued till the year 1732.

"In the year 1712, on the petition of the Company, the period of their exclusive trade was extended by act of Parliament from the year 1726, to which, by the last regulation, it stood confined, to the year 1733, with the usual allowance of three years for notice, should their privileges be withdrawn*."

In the year 1716 the Company obtained a proclamation against interlopers. Their complaints arose from the enterprises of British subjects trading to India under foreign commissions; but their proclamation was not sufficient to remedy this evil. They therefore obtained, in 1718, an act of Parliament for punishing all such interlopers. British subjects, trading from foreign countries under the commission of a foreign government, were declared amenable to the laws for the protection of the Company's rights; the Company were authorized to seize merchants of this description when found within their limits, and to send them to England, subject to a penalty of 500l. for each offence. The circumstances which had more particularly led to these measures were as follows. After the peace of Utrecht, which bestowed the Netherlands upon the house of Austria, the people began to recover from the devastations of war, and to project measures for the improvement of their condition. A trade with India was one of their favourite plans, from which they hoped to derive the greatest benefit: two ships, therefore, sailed from Ostend in 1717, under the passports of the Emperor, and several more soon followed. The India Companies of England and Holland immediately took the alarm, and communicated their fears to their respective governments. Expostulations were addressed to the Emperor in vain; and the Dutch having gone so far as to capture some Ostend East India ships, the Emperor granted his commission of reprisal to the merchants of Ostend.

[ocr errors]

In the year 1730, within three years of the expiration of the Company's charter, a petition was presented to the legislature by the opponents of the monopoly; they offered to lend the government the sum of 3,200,000l., which the Company had advanced at five per cent. interest, on far more favourable terms. They also made a proposal for opening the trade, "so that every man in the nation who pleased, might trade in the way of private adventure." The Company was to receive remuneration for erecting and maintaining the forts and buildings abroad; and in order to preserve these fixed establishments, it was proposed that no one should trade to India, except under the Company's license. "And if it were true," says Mr. Mill, “as it has been always maintained, that, for the trade of India, forts and factories are requisite, of such a nature as no individual or precarious combination of individuals, is competent to provide, this project offers peculiar claims to consideration and respect. It promised to supply that demand which has always been held forth, as peculiar to Indian trade, as the grand exigency which, distinguishing the traffic with India from all other branches of trade, rendered monopoly advantageous in that peculiar case, how much soever proved to be injurious in others. While it provided for this real or pretended want, it left the trade open to all the advantages of private enterprise, private vigilance, private skill, and private economy; the virtues by which individuals thrive and nations prosper; and it afforded an interest to the proposed Company, in the careful discharge of its duty; as its profits were to increase in exact proportion with the increase of the trade, and, of course, with the facilities and accommodation by which the trade was promoted."

In the beginning of the year 1720 these merchants sent six vessels to India, and in the year following an equal number. The English East India Company renewed their complaints. They affirmed that the capital by which the Ostend enterprise was carried on was furnished chiefly by British subjects, and that the trade and navigation were carried on by men who had been bred up in the trade and navigation of the British Company. Another act was therefore passed in 1721, enforcing the penalties already enacted: but this also proved inefficient, so that in 1723 a still more severe act was obtained, prohibiting foreign adven-it ture to India under the penalty of triple the sum embarked, declaring all British subjects found in India, and not in the service, or under the license of the East India Company, guilty of a high misdemeanour, and empowering the Company to seize them, and send them home for punishment.

Meanwhile the Emperor had been importuned by the Ostend traders to give them a charter, and thus constitute them an exclusive company, for he had hitherto induced them to traffic under passports as individuals. In August, 1723, this charter was granted, and in less than twentyfour hours the subscription books of the Company were filled up, and in less than a month the shares were sold at a premium of fifteen per cent. In spite of all opposition, the Ostend Company experienced the greatest success. At a meeting of the proprietors in 1726, the remaining instalment on the subscriptions, equal to a dividend of thirtythree and one-third per cent., was paid up from the gains of the trade. But by this time the political difficulties of the Emperor were so great, that he submitted to relieve himself by sacrificing the Ostend Company, stipulating in words, that the business of the Company should be suspended for seven years; "but all men understood that, in this case, suspension and extinction were the same.'

"

* ANDERSON'S History of Commerce; MILL's British India, Fourth Edition; and Reports of the Secret Committee of the House of Commons, as quoted by Mr. Mill

in

The arguments advanced in favour of this new scheme were both numerous and plausible, and seem to have fixed the attention of the nation to the subject. Petitions were presented to the House of Commons from the merchants, traders, &c. of London, Bristol, and Liverpool, praying that the trade to India might be thrown open. The press too, for the most part, advocated the popular cause. The Company reverted to the old arguments in favour of the monopoly. They spoke of the grand national importance of their trade, and asked "if it were wise to risk the loss of known advantages, of the greatest magnitude pursuit of others which were only supposed." There was no doubt of the importance of the Indian trade; but, as Mr. Mill remarks," because it is important, to assume, that the monopoly ought to remain, is merely to say, that when a thing is important it ought never to be improved; in things of no moment society may be allowed to make progress; in things of magnitude, that progress ought ever to be strenuously and unbendingly opposed. This argument is, unhappily, not confined to the use of the East India Company. Whoever has attentively traced the progress of government, will find that it has been employed by the enemies of improvement at every stage; and only in so far as it has been disregarded and contemned, has the condition of man ascended above the miseries of savage life. Instead of the maxim, a thing is important, therefore ought not to be improved; reason would doubtless suggest that the more any thing is important, the more its improvement should be studied and pursued. When a thing is of small importance, a small inconvenience may suffice to dissuade the pursuit of its improvement. When it is of great importance, a great inconvenience alone can be allowed to produce that unhappy effect. If it be said, that where much is enjoyed, care should be taken to avoid its loss; this is merely to say, that men ought to be prudent, which is very true, but surely authorises no such inference as, that improvement in matters of importance should be always opposed."

After much contest, both in and out of Parliament, the offer of the Company was accepted, whereby they agreed to reduce the interest on the whole of the loan to government from five to four per cent., and, as a premium for the renewal of their charter, to contribute 200,000l. to the public service. The exclusive privileges of the Company were, therefore, prolonged on these terms until Lady-day, 1766, with the usual addition of three years' notice.

SECTION 4.
CONSTITUTION OF THE COMPANY AND METHODS OF CON-
DUCTING THE Trade.

The effect of the award of the Earl of Godolphin being to unite the competitors for Indian commerce into one

[ocr errors]

corporate body, the business of the Company became regular and uniform; their capital, composed of the shares of the subscribers, was a fixed and definitive sum; and their proceedings were reduced to a series of operations periodically recurring. A general description, therefore, of the mode by which the Company managed its affairs, will include all that is interesting, during a number of years, in the history of this commercial body.

At an early period in the history of the Company, the general conduct of its affairs was intrusted to a number of proprietors, who formed themselves into a court, and they chose, from their own body a number of persons to form committees, to manage particular portions of the business. The proprietors assembled in a general court; the committees, called afterwards the Directors, assembled in their special courts.

At the time of the award, it was necessary for a subscriber, in order to have a vote in the Court of Proprietors, to be the owner of 500%. of the Company's stock; but a greater sum did not entitle him to more than one vote. But in order to become a director, it was necessary to possess at least 2000l. of the Company's stock. The directors were twenty-four in number; one was chairman, another deputy-chairman, presiding in the courts. directors were chosen annually by the proprietors in their general court. Four of such courts were held every year, but special courts might be summoned on emergencies. The Courts of Directors were held as often, and at such times and places as were deemed expedient.

The

To the Court of Proprietors belonged the right of framing laws and regulations, determining dividends, and making grants of money. It was the duty of the Court of Directors to manage the routine business, and to comply with the ordinances of the Courts of Proprietors, to which the supreme power was secured by their privilege of displacing annually the Directors.

"In this constitution," says Mr. Mill, "if the Court of Proprietors be regarded as representing the general body of the people, the Court of Directors as representing an aristocratical senate, and the Chairman as representing the sovereign, we have an image of the British constitution; a system in which the forms of the different species of government, the monarchical, aristocratical, and democratical, are mixed and combined." But as the sovereignty and the aristocracy were both elective from year to year, the greatest share of power rested with the democracy; and, besides this, the democracy had the sole power of giving effect to the decrees of the whole body. "Under the common impression of democratic ambition, irregularity, and violence, it might be concluded that the democratic assembly would grasp at the whole of the power; would constrain and disturb the proceedings of the Chairman and Directors; would deliberate with violence and animosity; and exhibit all the confusion, precipitation, and imprudence, which are so commonly ascribed to the exercise of popular power.

"The actual result is extremely different from what the common modes of reasoning incite common minds to infer. Notwithstanding the power which, by the theory of the constitution, was thus reserved to the popular parts of the system, all power has centred in the Court of Directors; and the government of the Company has been an oligarchy, in fact. So far from meddling too much, the Court of Proprietors have not attended to the common affairs, even sufficiently for the business of inspection; and the known principles of human nature abundantly secured that unfortunate result. To watch, to scrutinize, to inquire, is labour, and labour is pain. To confide, to take for granted that all is well, is easy, is exempt from trouble, and to the great mass of mankind, comparatively delightful. On all ordinary occasions, on all occasions which present not a powerful motive to action, the great mass of mankind are sure to be led by the soft and agreeable feeling. And if they who act have only sufficient prudence to avoid those occurrences which are calculated to rouse the people on account of whom they act, the people will allow them abundant scope to manage the common concerns in a way conformable to their own liking and advantage. It is thus that all constitutions, however democratically formed, have a tendency to become oligarchical in practice. By the numerous body who constitute the democracy, the objects of ambition are beheld at so great a distance, and the competition for them is shared with so great a number, that in general they make but a feeble impression upon their minds; the small number, on the other hand, intrusted with the management, feel so immediately the advantages, and their affections are

|

so powerfully engaged by the presence of their object, that they easily concentrate their views, and point their energies with perfect constancy in the selfish direction. The apathy and inattention of the people on the one hand, and the interested activity of the rulers on the other, are two powers, the action of which may always be counted upon; nor has the art of government as yet exemplified, however the science may or may not have discovered, any certain means by which the unhappy effects of that action may be prevented."

It has been already noticed that the business of the Company was transacted by committees of the Directors. Of these there were no less than ten; the first of which was the most confidential and extensive, namely, the Committee of Correspondence. "Its duties were to study the advices from India, and to prepare answers for the inspection of the Court of Directors. To report upon the number of ships expedient for the trade of the season, and the stations proper for each. To report upon the number of servants, civil and military, in the different stations abroad; on the demand for alterations, and the applications made for leave of absence, or leave to return. All complaints of grievances, and all pecuniary demands on the Company, were decided upon in the first instance by this committee, which nominated to all places in the treasury, the secretary's, examiner's, and auditor's offices. It performed, in fact, the prime and governing business of the Company. The rest was secondary and subordinate.'

22

The next committee was that of Law-suits, whose duty it was to deliberate and direct in all cases of litigation. The third was the Committee of Treasury, whose business 'it was to provide for the payment of dividends and interest on bonds, to negotiate the Company's loans; to purchase gold and silver for exportation, and to decide, in the first instance, respecting pecuniary questions. The fourth Committee was that of Warehouses, the chief concern of which related to the business of importation; it determined the modes of shipping, and arranged the order of sales. The fifth was the Committee of Accounts, whose duties are sufficiently explained by its title. The Committee of Buying was the sixth, whose business was to superintend the purchase and preparation of the standard articles of export. The Committee of the House was the seventh, and its business was to regulate the attendance of the several officers and clerks, and the general domestic affairs of the house. The eighth was the Committee of Shipping, to which was intrusted the hiring of ships and seamen; the purchase or minor stores, &c. The ninth was the Committee of Private Trade, and its business was to adjust the accounts of freight and other charges payable on goods exported for private account in the chartered ships of the Company. The business of the tenth committee scarcely differed from that of the ninth. Its object was to prevent the growth of private trade; to take cognizance of all instances in which the license granted by the Company for private trade was exceeded; to decide upon the controversies to which the encroachments of the private traders gave birth; and to make application of the penalties which were provided for transgression.

Up to the time to which we now refer, the exports had consisted of bullion, lead, mercury, woollen cloths, and hard-ware. The imports were calicoes, and other woven manufactures of India; raw silk, diamonds, tea, porcelain, pepper, drugs, and saltpetre. The annual average importation for nineteen years following the year 1708, was 758,0427. On stated days the goods were put up for sale at the India House, and transferred to the highest bidder. The sale of goods in India was conducted in a similar way.

The practice of hiring ships, (chartering, as it is called,) was long adopted by the Company; this mode being found preferable to building or purchasing their own, as was at first adopted. They retained merely a few swift-sailing vessels, more for the purpose of intelligence than of freight. In the purchase, collection, and custody of goods in India, for the purpose of forming a freight to England, a complicated system was introduced, partly in consequence of the weak and unsettled condition of the government; partly from the ignorance of the Company's servants of native manners and character; and partly from the obstinate adherence of the natives themselves to their established customs. "As the state of the country was too low in respect of civilization and of wealth, to possess manufacturers and merchants on a large scale, capable of executing extensive orders, and delivering the goods contracted for on pre-appointed days, the Company were under the necessity

|

of employing their own agents to collect throughout the country, in such quantities as presented themselves, the different articles of which the cargoes to Europe were composed. Places of reception were required, in which the goods might be collected, and ready upon the arrival of the ships, that the expense of demurrage might be reduced to its lowest terms. Warehouses were built, and these, with the counting-houses, and other apartments for the agents and business of the place, constituted what were called the factories of the Company. Under the disorderly and inefficient system of government which prevailed in India, deposits of property were always exposed, either to the rapacity of the government, or, under the weakness of the government, to the hands of depredators. It was always, therefore, an object of importance to build the factories strong, and to keep their inmates armed and disciplined for self-defence, as perfectly as circumstances would admit. At an early period, the Company even fortified these stations of their trade, and maintained professional troops, as often as the negligence permitted, or the assent could be obtained, of the kings and governors of the countries in which they were placed.

"Of the commodities collected for the European market, that part, the acquisition of which was attended with the greatest variety of operations, was the produce of the loom. The weavers, like the other laborious classes in India, are in the lowest stage of poverty, being always reduced to the bare means of a most scanty subsistence. They must at all times, therefore, be furnished with the materials of their work, or the means of purchasing them; and with subsistence while the piece is under their hands. To transact in this manner with each particular weaver, to watch him that he may not sell the fabric which his employer has enabled him to produce, and to provide a large supply, is a work of infinite detail, and gives employment to a multitude of agents. The European functionary, who, in each district, is the head of as much business as it is supposed that he can superintend, has first his banyan, or native secretary, through whom the whole of the business is conducted; the banyan hires a species of broker, called a gomashtah, at so much a month: the gomashtah repairs to the aurung, or manufacturing town, which is assigned as his station, and there fixes upon a habitation, which he calls his cutchery: he is provided with a sufficient number of peons, a sort of armed servants, and hircarahs, messengers or letter-carriers, by his employer: these he immediately dispatches about the place, to summon to him the dallals, pycars, and weavers: the dallâls and pycârs are two sets of brokers, of whom the pycârs are the lowest, transacting the business of detail with the weavers; the dallals again transact with the pycârs; the gomashtah transacts with the dallâls; the banyan with the gomashtah; and the Company's European servant with the banyan. The Company's servant is thus five removes from the workman; and it may easily be supposed that much collusion and trick, that much of fraud towards the Company, and much of oppression towards the weaver, is the consequence of the obscurity which so much complication implies. Besides his banyan, there is attached to the European agent a mohurrer, or clerk, and a cash-keeper, with a sufficient allowance of peons and hircarahs. Along with the gomashtah is despatched, in the first instance, as much money as suffices for the first advance to the weaver, that is, suffices to purchase the materials, and afford him subsistence during part at least of the time in which he is engaged with the work. The cloth, when made, is collected in a warehouse adapted for the purpose, and called a kattah. Each piece is marked with the weaver's name; and when the whole is finished, or when it is convenient for the gomashtah, he holds a kattah, as the business is called, when each piece is examined, the price fixed, and the money due upon it paid to the weaver. This last is the stage at which chiefly the injustice to the workman is said to take place; as he is then obliged to content himself with 15 or 20, and often 30 or 40 per cent. less than his work would fetch in the market. This is a species of traffic which could not exist but where the rulers of the country were favourable to the dealer; as everything, however, which increased the productive powers of the labourers added directly in India to the income of the rulers, their protection was but seldom denied."

The business of India was at this time under the government of three Presidencies: one at Bombay, another at Madras, and a third at Calcutta. These Presidencies were independent of each other, and responsible only to the

Company in England. A Presidency was composed of a president or governor, and a council; both appointed by commissioners of the Company. The council was composed of the superior servants in the civil, or non-military class. All power was lodged in the president and council, and no business could be transacted except by a majority of votes. The salaries connected with these offices were but small; but the members distributed all the most lucrative offices amongst themselves; such, for example, as chiefs of the more important factories under the Presidency, where they were able to engage in the internal trade, and also in the trade by sea to all eastern ports north of the equator, except Tonquin and Formosa. Mr. Wilson says that for some time the salaries of the chiefs of Bombay and Fort St. George did not exceed 300l. per annum; and those of the merchants and factors were but 301. and 20%. per annuin. Even as late as the acquisition of all real power in Bengal, the salary of a councillor was 250l. per annum; of a factor 1407.; of a writer, as then lately increased, 1301.; but the Company's servants all engaged, more or less, in the internal trade on their own account.

The president and council exercised full power over all the Company's servants in India; they also had authority over such of their countrymen, not in the Company's service, as dared to trade without license; they were usually seized, imprisoned, or sent to England, and in many cases the treatment seems to have been unnecessarily severe. The president and council were also empowered to exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction according to the laws of England; and the powers of martial law for the government of the troops maintained to defend the factories and Presidencies. At a later period, a Mayor's Court was established in each of the three Presidencies, consisting of a mayor and nine aldermen, empowered to decide in civil cases of all descriptions; they were also vested with the power of holding Courts of Quarter Sessions for the exercise of penal judicature; while the president and council were erected into a Court of Appeal from the Mayor's Court. A Court of Requests was also instituted for the speedy decision of pecuniary questions of small amount.

In addition to these judicial tribunals, whose authority extended only to the British people in India, the Company, "in the capacity of Zemindar of the district around Calcutta, erected the usual Zemindary Courts, for the administration of the Indian laws to the Indian people; the Phoujdary Court for the trial of crimes; and the Cutcherry for civil causes; besides the Collector's Court for matters of revenue. The judges in those tribunals were servants of the Company, appointed by the governor and council, and holding their offices during pleasure; the rule of judgment was the supposed usage of the country, and the discretion of the court; and the mode of procedure was summary. Punishments extended to fine, imprisonment, labour upon the roads in chains for a limited time, or for life; and flagellation, either to a limited degree, or death. The ideas of honour, prevalent among the natives, induced the Mogul government to forbid the European mode of capital punishment, by hanging, in the case of a Mussulman. In compensation, however, it had no objection to his being whipped to death; and the flagellants in India, are said to be so dexterous, as to kill a man with a few strokes of the chawbuck."

The president was commander-in-chief of the military force within the Presidency. It was composed partly of recruits from the various ships; partly of deserters from other European nations settled in India; and partly of natives, called Sepoys, from the Indian sipahi, or soldier. The average number of soldiers maintained in each Presidency is not well ascertained; but it must have been small, for at the time when the Presidency was established at Calcutta in 1707, an effort was made to increase the garrison to three hundred men.

The Company's servants in India were known as writers, factors, junior merchants, and senior merchants. The writers, or clerks, as they might have been styled, were occupied with the inferior details of commerce, in which capacity they remained five years: they were promoted first to the rank of factor; next to that of junior merchant, in each of which they served three years; they then became senior merchants, and were eligible to serve in the council.

We here close our notice of the East India Company as a commercial body; its further progress being intimately connected with the history of British India.

JOHN W. PARKER, PUBLISHER, WEST STRAND, London.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small]

THE CITY OF OPORTO.

OPORTO is situated about 160 miles to the north of Lisbon, and, next to it, is the largest city in Portugal. It is built on the declivity of a hill, in an elevated situation, on the north side of the Douro, and is about two miles from its mouth. To the west, along the declivity of the hill, is the market town of Gaya, where a place named Cale is said to have stood; the inhabitants of which, being in want of a convenient port, constructed Oporto (literally" the port"), which they called "Portus Cale," whence "Portucal," and lastly "Portugal," is

derived.

The appearance of the city, on a first approach, is pleasing the houses rise one above another, and being all whitewashed, give it an air of great cleanliness; but on a closer inspection the houses are found to be very irregularly constructed, and most of the streets are narrow, crooked, and dirty. Still there are some broad straight streets, with new and handsome houses, with gardens full of vines and orange trees; and there are eleven public squares, called campos. A pleasant residence is noticed, by the Rev. Mr. Kinsey, in the following agreeable picture:

The windows of the back-front of our host's residence open into a large garden, filled with a variety of Brazilian plants, easily distinguished by their gaudy colours; vines extended on a trellis of considerable length, bearing a profusion of purple bunches; superb lemon trees, sweet and sour; lime and orange trees, bending under the weight of their golden fruit; with pear-trees, and apples, and plums, and Alpine strawberries growing in the greatest luxuriance. The Indian cane, with its splendid blossom, whose colour resembles that of the Guernsey, or rather the Chinese lily, is a great addition to the gay ornaments of this earthly paradise. It was delightful during the heat when it became impossible to mount the steep streets of Porto, to enjoy a lounge under the canopy formed by the vine, impervious as it was to the noontide ray.

in the end, might occasion their ruin. In more recent times, attempts have been repeatedly made by the English merchants, to obtain the co-operation of the Portuguese, in a plan for diminishing the dangers of the navigation of the Douro, but without success.

The steep declivity of the hill on which the town is built, makes it a labour to move about, but this inconvenience is compensated by the greater cleanliness; during rain most of the impurities find their way into the river. The only scavengers are pigs, which are turned out at night and allowed to roam about the streets until sun-rise; they clear away vegetable and other refuse, thrown out after dinner, which in this warm climate would soon ferment. On the eastern side of the town, houses are built against so steep a part of the declivity, over the stream, that they can only be approached by steps cut in the rock.

The river affords a tolerably secure harbour without any artificial aid, except an elevated and walled quay which extends the whole length of the town: here the river is deep, and well adapted to the purposes of trade: vessels of 250 tons burden can come close to it. The mouth of the Douro is so obstructed by rocks and quicksands that its entrance is difficult. The rocks are sunken, and the sand forms a bar, which has been accounted for thus:-At certain seasons the river swells considerably, and carries with it a quantity of sand, brought down by the different torrents which issue from the sides of the mountains. The sunken rocks at the entrance of the harbour, break the current of the river, and prevent the water from carrying the sand out to sea. It thus accumulates about these rocks, and forms a bar, which is annually increasing and becoming more and more dangerous. The English Oporto Company long ago proposed to destroy these rocks, and to clear the passage; but the Portuguese replied that they never would agree to the removal of the best defence of their harbour against the insults of the Moors. In vain was it represented to them, that as the mouth is narrow, two forts, whose lines of fire intersect each other, would defend the city from every attack: they persisted in declaring, that they preferred the security of their nomes to the chance of more considerable profit, which,

The navigation of the upper part of the river is also difficult and dangerous: even when not swollen its descent is fearful. Mr. Kinsey says, "We shot down these roaring rapids with the celerity of lightning, occasionally enjoying the agreeable sensation of bumping against some sunken rock, and only escaping collision with the shore by the activity and quick-sightedness of the man at the prow, who managed his long pole with inconceivable dexterity." The same writer says, that "although the Douro is much narrower than the Tagus, and is wanting in its grand features, yet an English eye will prefer the appearance of the rocks and green woods, which surround Oporto and Villa Nova, to the herbless heights, on which Lisbon and Almada are situated."

In the Rua Nova dos Inglezes, one of the principal thoroughfares, is situated the British Factory-house, erected about five and twenty years ago. The "British Factory" is an association of the resident merchants who contribute to a public stock, so much upon each pipe of wine which they ship off to England. It is a sort of a club-house, and contains a fine library, readingroom, and spacious ball-room. Here, also, the British consul has his office. The building is of white granite, and the street elevation crowned by a handsome pediment, presents a very beautiful façade. The Exchange is situated below, but the merchants prefer to meet on business in the street, or in the news-room.

According to Murphy, the population of Oporto is about 63,000 souls; but including Villanova and Gaya it amounted in 1827 to 80,000. Oporto contains four suburbs, Mazarelos, Cedofeita, Santo Ovidio, and La Lapa, which, together with the city, cover an extent of ground of about two miles. Villa Nova do Porto lies to the east of Oporto: it is inhabited chiefly by wine coopers and persons employed by the merchants of Oporto. Between this place and Gaya, on a small plain along the bank of the river, are the spacious vaults or "lodges," where the wine is kept till it is stored.

On a rocky eminence near Villanova is the celebrated convent and garden called Mosteiro da Serra, which belonged to the Austinian monks. The site is so elevated as to command a view of the whole of Oporto. When Mr. Kinsey visited it, it was surrounded by orchards and gardens, rabbit. warrens, and woods, in which the fathers enjoyed the pleasures of the chase But the ravages of civil war have reduced this once beautiful building to an almost shapeless ruin, surrounded by rude palisadoes, while the magnificent groves of chesnut trees, luxuriant orchards, and rich vineyards, have shared in the desolation.

It was from this spot that the British, during the Peninsular war, crossed the Douro, under circumstances which none, perhaps, but British soldiers could have successfully opposed. (The reader will find an account of this achievement in the Saturday Magazine, Vol. IV., p. 150.)

Oporto contains fourteen hospitals or charitable asylums, and no fewer than ninety churches, besides a fine and spacious cathedral, rebuilt by Henry of Besançon, first Count of Portugal, A.D. 1105. It is the see of a bishop, who resides chiefly at Mezanfrio, but has a handsome modern-built palace within the city.

In 1827, when the Rev. Mr. Kinsey wrote, the number of monks in Oporto and the neighbouring convents, was estimated at 5000, and the grossest superstition everywhere prevailed. "A Protestant observer," says that gentleman, "must have 'his spirit stirred in him when he sees a city thus wholly given to idolatry,' when he discovers a people who are worthy of better instruction 'in all things too superstitious, and in their devotions worshipping

« AnteriorContinuar »