Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

of subterraneous fire, as every stone, whether whole 1768. or in fragments, that we saw upon it appeared to have September, been burnt, and even the sand itself to be nothing more than ashes ; we did not indeed, see much of the country; but the people informed us that what we did see was a very exact specimen of the rest.

The only article of trade in this island is wine, and the manner in which it is made is so simple, that it might have been used by Noah, who is said to have planted the first vineyard after the flood; the grapes are put into a square wooden vessel, the dimensions of of which are proportioned to the size of the vineyard to which it belongs; the servants then, having taken off their stockings and jackets, get into it, and with their feet and elbows, press out as much of the juice as they can : the stalks are afterwards collected, and being tied together with a rope, are put under a square piece of wood, which is presled down upon them by a lever with a stone tied to the end of it. The inhabitants have made so little improvement in knowledge or art, that they have but very lately brought all the fruit of a vineyard to be of one sort, by engrafting their vines; there seems to be in mind as there is in matter, a kind of vis inertia, which refifts the first impulse to change. He who proposes to assist the artificer or the husbandman by a new application of the principles of philofophy, or the powers of mechanism, will find, that his having hitherto done without them, will be a stronger motive for continuing to do without them ftill, than any advantage, however manifest and considerable, for adopting the improvement. Wherever there is ignorance there is prejudice; and the common people of all nations are, with respect to improvements, like the parish poor of England with respect to a maintenance, for whom the law must not only make a provision, but compel them to accept it, or else they will still be found begging in the streets. It was therefore with great difficulty that the people of Madeira were persuaded to engraft their vines, and some of them ftill obstinately refuse to adopt the practice, though a whole vintage is very often spoiled by the number of bad grapes which are mixed in the vat, and which they will not throw out, because they increase the quantity of the VOL. I. B b

wine :

1968. wine : an instance of the force of habit, which is the September.

more extraordinary, as they have adopted the pra&ice of engrafting with respea to their chestnut-trees, an object of much less importance, which, however, are thus brought to bear sooner than they would otherwise have done.

We saw no wheel-carriages of any sort in the place, which perhaps is not more owing to the want of ingenuity to invent them, than to the want of industry to mend the roads, which, at present, it is impossible that any wheel-carriage should pass: the inhabitants have horses and mules indeed, excellently adapted to fuch ways; but their wine is, notwithstanding, brought to town from the vineyards where it is made, in vessels of goat-skins, which are carried by men upon their heads. The only imitation of a carriage among these people is a board, made somewhat hollow in the middle, to one end of which a pole is tied, by a strap of white leather: this wretched fledge approaches about as near to an English cart, as an Indian canoe to a ship's long-boat; and even this would probably never have been thought of, if the English had not introduced wine vessels which are too big to be carried by hand, and which, therefore, are dragged about the town upon these machines.

One reason, perhaps, why art and industry have done so little for Madeira is, Nature's having done so much. The soil is very rich, and there is such a difference of climate between the plains and the hills, that there is scarcely a single object of luxury that grows either in Europe or the Indies, that might not be produced here. When we went to visit Dr. Heberden, who lives upon a considerable ascent, about two miles from town, we left the thermometer at 74, and when we arrived at his house, we found it at 66. The hills produce,almost spontaneously, walnuts, chestnuts, and apples in great abundance ; and in the town there are many plants which are natives both of the East and West-Indies, particularly the banana, the guava, the pine-apple or anana, and the mango, which flourish almost without culture. The corn of this country

is of a most excellent quality, large-grained and very fine, and the island would produce it in great plenty; yet most of what is consumed by the inhabitants is imported.

most

1768. The mutton, pork, and beef are also very good; the

September. beef in particular, which we took on board here, was universally allowed to be scarcely inferior to our own; the lean part was very like it, both in colour and grain, though the beasts are much smaller, but the fat is as white as the fat of mutton.

The town of Funchiale derives its name from Funcho, the Portuguese name for fennel, which grows in great plenty upon the neighbouring rocks, and, by the obfervation of Dr. Heberden, lies in the latitude of 32° 33' 33" N. and longitude 16° 49' W. It is situated in the bottom of a bay, and though larger than the extent of the island seems to deserve, is very ill built ; the houses of the principal inhabitants are large, those of the common people are small, the streets are narrow, and worse paved than any I ever faw. The churches are loaded with ornaments, among which are many pi&ures, and images of favourite faints, but the pictures are in general wretchedly painted, and the - saints are dressed in laced clothes. Some of the convents are in a better taste, especially that of the Franciscans, which is plain, simple, and neat in the highest degree. The infirmary in particular drew our attention as a model which might be adopted in other countries with great advantage. It consists of a long room, on one side of which are the windows, and an altar for the convenience of administering the sacrament to the fick: the other side is divided into wards, each of which is just big enough to contain a bed, and neatly lined with gally-tiles; behind these wards, and parallel to the room in which they stand, there runs a long gallery, with which each ward communicates by a door, so that the sick may be separately supplied with whatever they want without disturbing their neighbours. In this convent there is also a singular curiosity of another kind; a small chapel, the whole lining of which, both sides and ceiling, is composed of human sculls and thigh bones ; the thigh bones are laid across each other, and a scull is placed in each of the four angles. Among the sculls one is very remarkable ; the upper and the lower jaw, on one side, perfealy and firmlycohere; howthe oflificationwhich unitesthemwas

B b 2

formed,

1768. formed, it is not perhaps very easy to conceive, but it September.

is certain that the patient, must have lived some time without opening his mouth: what nourishment he received was conveyed through a hole which we discovered to have been made on the other side, by forcing out some of the teeth, in doing which the jaw also seems to have been injured.

We visited the good Fathers of this convent on a Thursday evening, just before fupper-time, and they received us with great politeness; “ We will not alk

you (said they) tosup with us, because we are not pre“ pared; but if you will come to morrow, though it is a “ fast with us, we will have a turkey roasted for you." This invitation, which shewed a liberality of sentiment not to have been expected in a convent of Portuguese Friars at this place, gratified us much, though it was not in our power to accept it.

We visited also a convent of nuns, dedicated to Santa Clara, and the Ladies did us the honour to express a particular pleasure in seeing us there : they had heard that there were great philosophers among us, and not at all knowing what were the objects of philosophical knowlege, they asked us several questions that were absurd and extravagant in the highest degree ; one was, when it would thunder? And another, whether a spring of fresh water was to be found any where within the walls of their convent ? of which it seems they were in great want. It will naturally be fupposed that our answers to such questions were neither satisfactory to the Ladies, nor, in their estimation, honourable to us ; yet their disappointment did not in the least lessen their civility, and they talked, without ceasing, during the whole of our visit, which lasted about half an hour.

The hills of this country are very high ; the highest, Pico Ruivo, rises 5,068 feet, near an English mile, perpendicularly from its base, which is much higher than any land that has been measured in Great-Britain. The sides of thefe hills are covered with vines to a certain height, above which there are woods of cheftnut and pine of an immense extent, and above them forests of wild timber of various kinds not known in Europe ; particularly two, called by the Portuguese

Mirmulang

3

Mirmulano and Paobranco, the leaves of which, parti- 1763.
cularly the Paobranco, are so beautiful, that thefe trees September.
would be a great ornament to the gardens of Europe.

The number of inhabitants in this island is supposed
to be about 80,000, and the custom-house duties pro-
duce a revenue to the king of Portugal of 20,000
pounds a year, clear of all expences, which might ea-
sily be doubled by the product of the island, exclusive
of the vines, if advantage was taken of the excellence
of the climate, and the amazing fertility of the soil ; but
this object is utterly neglected by the Portuguese. In
the trade of the inhabitants of Madeira with Lisbon the
balance is against them, so that all the Portugufe mo-
ney naturally going thither, the currency of the island
is Spanish ; there are indeed a few Portuguese pieces of
copper, but they are so scarce that we did not see one
of them : the Spanish coin is of three denominations :
Piftereens, worth about a shilling ; Bitts, worth about
fix
pence;

and Half-bitts, three pence.
The tides at this place flow, at the full and change of
the moon, north and south ; the spring tides rise seven
feet perpendicular, and the neap tides four. By Dr.
Heberden's observation, the variation of the compass
here is now 15° 30' Weft, and decreasing ; but I have
some doubt whether he is not mistaken with respe&t to
its decrease: we found that the North point of the
dipping needle belonging to the Royal Society dipped

The refreshments to be had here, are water, wine,
fruit of several sorts, onions in plenty, and some sweet.
meats; fresh meat and poultry are not to be had
without leave from the governor, and the payment of
a very high price.

We took in 270lb. of fresh beef, and a live bullock, charged at 613lb. 3,032 gallons of water, and ten tuns of wine ; and in the night, between Sunday the 18th Sunday 18. and Monday the 19th of September, we set sail in Monday 19. prosecution of our voyage.

When Funchiale bore North, 13 East, at the distance of 76 miles, the variation appeared by several azimuths to be 16° 30' West,

CHAP

77° 18'.

« ZurückWeiter »