Gold was washed from some of the Portuguese rivers before the Christian era, and among the Romans the auriferous sands of the Tagus were proverbially famous; it is, however, extremely improbable that large quantities of gold were ever obtained in this region, although small deposits of alluvial gold may still be found in the valleys of the Tagus and Mondego.
The coast in the direction of the Euxine also was greatly feared by sailors, as the harbours were few and the sea proverbially tempestuous; but the southern shore was more attractive to navigators, and here we find the Greek colonies of Abdera and Mesambria on the Aegean, Perinthus on the Propontis, and, the most famous of all, Byzantium, at the meeting-point of that sea and the Bosporus.
For while those female whales are characteristically timid, the young males, or forty-barrel-bulls, as they call them, are by far the most pugnacious of all Leviathans, and proverbially the most dangerous to encounter; excepting those wondrous grey-headed, grizzled whales, sometimes met, and these will fight you like grim fiends exasperated by a penal gout.
Brewing is an industry of exceptional vigour, Edinburgh ale being proverbially good.
He did not like to depend on statesmen's promises, which are proverbially uncertain of fulfilment; he as little liked to retrench; and he was wearied of parliament, where he had never given any but silent votes.
In many places they have the monopoly of the wine and spirit shops, and retail trade generally; and as they are always willing to advance money on usury, and are more intelligent and better educated than the ordinary peasant, there is little doubt that in a country where the large landowners are proverbially extravagant, and the peasant proprietors needy, the soil would soon fall into the hands of the Jews were it not for the stringent laws which prevent them from owning land outside the towns.
On the other hand the lack of good harbours hindered its maritime development; and the Boeotian nation, although it produced great men like Pindar, Epaminondas, Pelopidas and Plutarch, was proverbially as dull as its native air.