It is an Island in the Atlantic Ocean, laid down in most Books in the Latt:de of 32º: 44’ N and 17°: 26’ West Longitude from London though I think from my Observations, during several Voyages to the Island that it is full a half Degree more to the Westward than it is commonly laid down in the Drafts, we have often observed in Funchal Road and found it to be in the same Latt:de as the West End of the Island vis 32º : 44’. It’s greatest Length is from East to West and it is said to be from 50 to  Miles long and the widest part between 30 and 40, it is very mountainous but from Funchal Beach rise for some Miles with a very gradual ascent affording one of the finest Prospects I ever beheld, you may at one View see hundreds of Country Houses, Churches &c:a intersped between Vineyards and Groves of Chestnut and Wallnut Trees, but above this Ascent the Hills or Mountains rather, are very steep and irregular the Contrast is fine, I suppose the highest Mountain cannot be less than a mile perpendicular from the Sea, the Tops of the Hills are oftentimes hid, being wrapt up in the Clouds. From its irregular Form it looks as if it had been thrown up by some Convulsion of the Earth, and their Stone seems to justify this Opinion being in many Places like Smith’s Cinders and Pumice Stones. According to Brook’s Gazetter it is in the form of a Triangle 240 Miles North by East from Teneriffe and 360 from Cape Cantin on the Coast of Africa the nearest Land on the Continent.
It was discovered says M.r Ovington by an English Gent in the Year 1344, who with his Lady in a Ship from Bristol were shipwrecked upon it, that there may be some Foundation for this Report I believe, and which is also credited by the Natives, for I observed in the great Saloon at the Governor’s Palace at Funchal, two large old Pictures most vilely executed one representing the Embarkation of an English Gentleman and Lady from Bristol the other where they were shipwrecked at Funchal the Hutt they erected in the Woods and lastly her Death, how the Gentleman got off again I know not. The same Author says it was conquered by the Portuguese in the year 1431 and has remained ever since in their Possession, how they came by it I will not pretend to say, but this much I know, it is a great deal too good for them, it is without Dispute a most delectable Situation and was it in the hands of the English I make no doubt but Cultivation wou’d be carried to a much greater Height and a little Art to assist Nature would do very great Things.
My Dear Peggy must excuse the Account I give of Madeira, as it is undigested, quite jumbled together just as things pop into my Head, so she must not criticise Funchal the Metropolis and the only Place I have seen I will first endeavour to give an Account of. It is a large Town built upon the Beach and the ascent of the Hill, from the Sea you are greatly deceived as to the Size of it as from there, you think you can see the whole but you are greatly mistaken, for the Flattruns a pretty way back before it begins to grow Steep, there are several Streets which run parralel one to the other of which are again intersected by others so that when you come to take a Walk over it you find it much larger than you imagined, I suppose it must be as large as any three of our Towns in Cornwall and is supposed to contain twenty thousand Inhabitants.
It is a Bishops See who has a very good Revenue, upon the Demise of a Governor or his removal ‘till another arrives to succeed him the Bishop in that Case is always Governor the present Bishop having twice acted in that Capacity. The Town is divided into three Parishes one of which I know is dedicated to S.t Peter but the other two are patronised by Saints whose names I know not. Besides these three Parish Churches there are I dare say 16 or 18 others not including the Cathedral or Church of the Jesuits College, and Chapels of Ease and private ones without number, which will always be the Case wherever such superstitious Bigotry prevails as it does in Madeira. The People in their Manners and Customs resemble much the Portuguese of Lisbon, are very ceremonious and never stir without their Sword, every Barber Tayler and Shoemaker appears with his trusty Toledo by his Side. The Cathedral is not a very large though a tolerable Building very plain and strong Architecture it has only one Ayle except the Cross at the East End where the Altars stand of which there are several, the High Altar as in most Roman Catholick Countries has a grand look but upon a near Inspection you will find it rather tawdry, in it save a few good Paintings representing some Passages in the Old Testament, but these were very few the others most miserable Dawbings as I ever saw. The Spire is not very high nor very elegant, the Top part of it is covered with Tiles of various Colours on the very highest Part is an Iron Globe and over it a Fane. They were this Voyage erecting a large Clock in the Tower, having received the Dial which is made of white Marble from Lisbon.
The Jesuiti College is a very large and handsome Edifice so is their Church which joyns to it. On the Front of the Church are the Statues of their Founders of their Order very large and well executed of Statuary Marble. In the first Niche is S.t Ignatius, opposite him S.t Francis Xavier, higher up S.t Francis Bora and opposite S.t Stanislaus. Upon the Demolition of this Order the Fathers were all shipped off in a Man of War for Italy and the Name of their Church changed from what it was to that of S.t John the Baptist; the College is inhabited by various Sorts of People but mostly of the clerical Order, and part of it when I was here some Time since was appropriated for the Reception of Felons, what a Falling off is here, what has their Pride and Ambition brought upon them, how richly have they deserved it, Vile Miscreants to take upon their society the Name of blessed Lord and Saviour and to act so contrary to his Life and Actions, had they his Humility with their good Sense I make no doubt but the Order would still be in being, their Downfal was certainly a Judgement inflicted upon them by the Almighty for their henious Sins and Hypochrysy.
Though I have given this Character of them M.r Smith a Gentleman of Madeira who was well acquainted with most of the Order, says they were a very good sort of People, had not their political Ambition carried them to too great Lengths, the poor people miss them very much they were very charitable gave away a great deal of Victuals and Cloaths, this says the Holy Writ will cover many Sins. One very good Thing more in their Favor was, that they prevented many Law Suits, their great Influence over most Families joyned to a great share of Understanding, prevailed more than the Oratory of the long robed Gentlemen, who are as numerous and litigious here as in England.
I went to see a little Chapel adjoyning to one of the Churches and from its singular appearance deserves mentioning. It is a Room about 20 feet long by 14 or 15 wide and about 20 f.t high. Over the Altar is a picture of a Ship in Distress, except this little Picture and the Pavement the whole Ceiling and Walls are covered with Skuls & Thigh Bones placed across each other, the walls seemed to be first well plaistered over with Lime and then the Skuls stuck into it close together, here I have attempted to give you a Sketch of it. I cou’d not learn the Reason of this Chapel being so strangely decorated, I must confess its horrid and gastly Appearance ᴧat first sight made me to shudder and must to every Beholder be a striking Memento of what we are. Superstition I have already said reigns here to a great Degree, and of Course you have Priests, Fryars and Nuns in Abundance, what a Pest to the Publick, how impolitic in a Nation to suffer such a Sett of Drones to prey upon the industrious Part of the Community. But since the King has taken upon him to be head of the Church the Power of the religious is greatly curtailed in this Island, and the Governor thinks no more of imprisoning a Priest than a Layman, what wou’d the Pope have said to this a few years back, he would have thunder’d out his Excommunications not only against the Governor but the King himself, what a Reformation has the old Marquis Pombal brought about in Portugal, who should have ever thought of seeing it.
I believe they have but one Order of Fryars in the Island and not more than one Convent in the Town whatever they may have in the Country and these must be greatly upon the Decline as I am told they have Orders not to admit any more young Men into their Seminaries, in my humble Opinion the Goverm:t have acted very rightly, for they are a most lazy, ignorant Sett of People as ever existed.
There are four Nunneries in Town which I suppose may contain between 5 and 600 Nuns but of these one is rather a Boarding House than a Nunnery as they do not take the Viel & may come out and marry. The most considerable one is S.t Clara where there may be 300 or more Nuns I went one voyage to pay a Visit to the fair Recluses of this Nunnery, and had the Pleasure of conversing with 8 or 10 of them at the Grate, the Good old Lady Abbess was one of the Party, but she was not so kind as to favour us with a Sight of any of the younger Sisters, among these at the grate the youngest I suppose could not be less than 26 or 28 years of Age and one in particular cou’d not be so little as 80 – no great Temptation to run away with her, they seemed very cheerful & funny and I make no doubt but I lost a great deal of Pleasure in not being able to talk their Language. Every one of these poor Creatures had little trifling things to sell, I bought some from them such as Sword Knots, Toothpicks &c:a they were highly pleased with the Cash and those who could not sell their Trinkets seemed to envy those who had the good Fortune to dispose of theirs. How truly pitiable is the Case of these unfortunate young women, how few are they who from Choice embrace such a Life, Nature forbids it, what a tyrannick Custom must it be for Parents thus to sacrifice their Children, How glad was I to find that the Nunneries too, as well as the Convents were forbid to be admit anymore into their Orders, but how much more so must the young women be. At one of the Nunneries you are not permitted to see the Nuns and when you speak with them at the Grate a Curtain is drawn betwixt you and them.
The streets in Funchal are some of them a good weadth but in general rather narrow, they are well paved with a small blue stone, but in many places worn so smooth that you can scare walk and they are without Exception they hardest to the Feet I ever felt a if a person is troubled much with Corns he has no business to parade the streets. The Town is well watered, different streets have different Days for the water to run through them as well as their Gardens, for which they yearly pay a certain Tax.
The Hospital of Miserecordia and which I fancy is the only one they have is a large and good looking Building it stands on a very open Place between the Governor’s Palace and the Cathedral. What a number of Poor they have about their Streets very old and many of them blind, they live entirely by Charity, no proper Houses for their Reception, you will be sure always to see a Crowd of them round the English Houses, a very disgusting sight, as they are full of Vermin and are constantly employing one another in catching them.
The Governor’s Palace is a large Building walled round with very high wall towards the Town with little Turrets at every angle of it, it runs down close to the water side where it is defended by a Battery of Cannon, at the Gateway coming into it, there is a Centinel & an Officer or Serjeant’s Guard. The present Governor is a Nobleman and from Portugal he is a good looking man and acts with a good deal of Justice and Propriety making no Distinctions between the great Dons and the Peasants, He is as absolute as the most despotic Prince can be, he imprisons and banishes to Porto Santo, the Desertos, or any Part of Madeira he chooses, for the slightest Offence without their knowing why or wherefore and the Noblesse are no more exempt than the lowest Creature amongst them, Just before I was here last Voyage one of their Nobility and a very rich man, was banished to his Estate in the Country where he dyed, he might have returned but was too proud to make any Condescension. What a Constitution happy England, and Happy People cou’d we but think so, Freedom surely dwels in thy Land, but how apt is John Bull to abuse that sacred Blessing Liberty and run into Licentiousness. The Viceroyship of this Island as I may call it is pretty considerable, and the English Factory upon his coming to the Government makes him a handsome Present. The Governor has not yet taken it up, but the money is lodged in the Treasurer’s hands ready for him whenever he makes his Demand.
The Houses of the Noblemen and principal People are very large and elegantly furnished in the English Taste, their Rooms are very large and lofty. I don’t suppose but some of their Saloons have more square feet in them than there is in all my House, upon my coming into these Houses from our little Rooms at Falmouth I scarce know where I am got to. The Factory here all reside in very good Houses, but I give the preference to Mr Smith’s and Mr Thom:s Gordon’s as they have very pretty Gardens belonging to them, in the former of these there is the prettiest Myrtle Walk I ever saw, it is the small leaved sort and is kept in the greatest Order, so close that the Sun Beams cannot penetrate, it’s serpentine Form would highly please you, there are in it several little Arbours for drinking Tea or dining in, in the Summer months. Every Family of note has their Country House, which makes quite a different Climate to the Town, about this Time they retire into Country and leave the younger Partner to take Care of the Business and House in Town.
One very disagreeable thing in this place is the almost continual jingling of the Bells in one Church or other, but instead of ringing a peal on them they make a confused Noise by beating them with Hammers, when they ring any of them, you would think the Bell was going to fall down on your Head, as it is hung in the Tower part in and part without the Wall.
There is a Theatre in this Town where they act Opera’s, Comedies & Tragedies, it was sett on foot about a twelve month back by the present Governor who greatly patronises it, he attends constantly every night, I was at this Theatre the last voyage and saw a Trigicomick Performance (between the Acts, Pantomimes & Dancing) I was greatly at a loss to get at the Plott of the Play not understanding their Language. The English here to encourage it or rather to please the Governor, rent a Box by the Year for their Families for which they pay pretty extravagantly, but it is right and must be done. When the Governor (who has a Box in the Centre) enters the House, the Audience sett up loud bursts of Applause, by clapping their Hands and calling out in the Portuguese Language long live his Excellency. The Audience (meaning the Natives) seemed highly entertained with the performance.
I wish I cou’d say so much for myself, but I thought it very disgusting, prejudice or perhaps want of Taste was the Fault, but figure to yourself an awkward Man dressed in women’s Cloaths making plaintive speeches in the most ranting masculine Voice you ever heard, wou’d you not laugh, when you were to cry, this was my Case, but upon Reflection it was too stupid to laugh at. The House was small but something in the English Taste, the Box I was in was a Side Box and in many respects like the Slips (as they call them in the Theatres at London) being forced to keep your Head twisted over your Shoulder to see the Stage, so that you was very liable of getting a Kink in your neck. Their Pantomimes very tolerable considering their first Effort. An Italian and his Wife a little Spanish Woman, danced very prettily, by far the best Performers in the House. This evening did not afford a very full House, the greatest Part in the Pit were Priests and Fryers, glad no doubt of being permitted to see a Play without Censure. There was a tolerable Band of Musick but how disgusting to find them composed for the most part of people in Holy Orders, what must one think of their Religion to see it so prostituted, their Priests playing the Fiddle for Hire and that at so low a rate as eighteen pence the night, not the pay of Porters. I was in great hopes of seeing some pretty women among the Natives at the Play, but they were very disagreeable and as badly drest.
This Theatre was burnt to the Ground last Holy Thursday, they were preparing some Piece of Machinery which was to have been exhibited that night, when it accidentaly took Fire, the Portuguese said it was a Judgement upon them. However the Governor I suppose did not take it in that Light, and has built another near his palace opposite the Miserecordia, it is from what I cou’d see of it, a very large Edifice and they say much larger than any Theatre in Lisbon, it is now almost covered in and they expect to act in it the first week of August, at one End of it there is a publick Coffee house and private Rooms for Cards &e:a– the Factory have by a Nod from the Governor been great Subscribers to it, Nine of the principal Houses having paid between 3 and £400 – towards it, and will then be forced to rent Boxes. The Superstitious have predicted that this House will also be burned to the Ground the first Night it is opened, after this Prediction I hope they will take Care to see that it is well examined fearing there may be some Guy Foxes among them.
I cou’d not help remarking the manner of covering their Houses as the method they make use of for securing the Tiles is different from anything I ever saw. Their Roofs are made rather flatt with very strong Rafters, upon which they nail thin boards, on these again the place pantiles which are made lengthways, one side Concave the other Convex by which they lap one over the other, but to secure these Pantiles is to me the greatest Curiosity, on every Tile they place a large Stone of some pounds weight to confine it down, figure to yourself what an additional weight this must be, the Rafters you’ll say ought to be strong. To see every House covered over in this manner with loose Stones and them round too, what a frightful Appearance, when I first beheld it, I thought it was not safe to walk the streets, but I have been credibly informed that in the hardest Gales of Wind a Stone was never known to roll down. No unpleasing information this is to a Stranger.
Funchal Road [is] very exposed being very little Land locked and from East & by South to ye West Points you ride quite open to the Sea. When the Wind is any way Southerly a great Surf tumbles in and when it blows hard very unsafe riding, as the Ground is not good, and you are liable to have your Cables cut by the Anchors which have been lost by Vessels in the Roadstead, when you anchor in this Bay be sure not to come too, to farr to the Eastward as the Ground is not near so good as nearer the Loo, from 28 to 32 or 34 fathom water is near enough in, I have been bringing up in the Winter Time in 70 to 80 f:m which is much the best Water in Case of a Gale of Wind coming on, as you may then cut and stand a chance of clearing away the Land either to the East or the Westward.
The Town is defended by 4 or 5 Forts & Batteries, The Castle on the Loo and the Governor’s Battery protect the West End, whilst an other Fort occupies the very East most part, in the Centre are two or three other little Forts or Batteries, so that upon the whole if they were in good Order and well manned you might say it was tolerably fortified and might make a good Defence. The Castle on the Loo Rock is by farr the strongest, it lyes about a Cables Length from Shore. At this Fort there is always a Guard kept, on the Top of it there is a Watch Tower from whence they make a Signal to the Town letting them know there is a ship or more in sight and whether to the East, West or S:oward. This Rock and a peninsula which runs out from the Main and which I have already described makes a kind of a Basin where their Brazil men and small Vessels which stay any Time generally ride, they moor here head and Stern. In a Gale of Wind about two years back the Sea ran so high as to break over this Rock, at this Time, two or three vessels were at an anchor there but the Sea breaking upon their Decks, stove them in and they foundered with all their Crews, what a shocking Spectacle thousands looking on and not able to give them the least assistance, so they all perished. The Citadel is to the Back of the Town not farr from the Governors Palace scituated upon a very steep almost perpendicular Rock towards the Sea, by what I cou’d see of it, ‘twas in a very ruinous Situation, and I was told no Guard was kept there.
No Vessel is suffered to come in or go out of the Bay after it is dark, without running the risque of being fired at, the Loo Fort fires the first shot and after the 3rd shot all the others begin firing – this Order is on account of the Moors who they are fearful of paying them a Visit. Packets have the Liberty of coming in or going out by Night Time, but this ᴧis an Indulgence, in when they do it, they must make a Signal appointed by the Governor which is hoisting two Lights of an equal Height in the Topmast Shrouds, this I did coming out this Time, but 4 Voyages since neglecting to make the Signal I had two shots fired at me.
The Beach going off puts me in mind of Deal Beach if you are not quick in jumping on board it is a great Chance but you have a ducking, I have already mentioned you cannot go off without a Licence after sun sett for which you pay a certain sum, Numbers of Portuguese are continually on the Beach who are very clever in offering their assistance and getting you on Shore but at same Time they are as clever in reminding you of it, as great a Sett of imposing Rascals as ever drew Breath.
The regular Troops consist of one Company which I suppose may amount from 60 to 100 Men and about half that Number for the Artillery, such a despicable Sett of Wretches I never beheld, old Men and Boys, tall and short all jumbled together, a half dozen of them put together would scarce make a tolerable sized Grenadier, they looked as if they were the Refuse of his Faithful Majesty’s Dominions and what was worse appeared half starved their tattered Cloathing and most curious appointments made them truly laughable, what a Burlesque upon Troops, when I first saw them I thought of Hogarth’s Description of the trained Bands. They have also a Militia but if not better than the Regulars they must be bad indeed.
Fish is I believe very plenty round the Island I have eaten of many Sorts all different from those we have in Europe.
The Peasants are very poor sober and civil and appear mostly very clean. Their common Dress is generally a coarse blue Cloth lined with yellow Baize a Breeches of the same open at the Knees, a Cap of same Cloth and lining as the waistcoat made with a peak coming down to the Nose and the same behind so that either part may be worn before, on their legs Goatskin Boots the hide untanned without Stockings and in their hand a Pole 6 or 7 foot long. The women were just the same Cap as the men and a sort of Man’s Jacket. These Peasants are very hardy and will carry heavy Burthens hardly regarding the Hills they are travelling over, they live in little Huts in the Fields made of Reeds and thatched with their Leaves. These Huts resemble much a common Soldier’s Tent open at one End for them to crawl in, here they all bundle together, are poor and priest ridden to a great Degree, yet seem contented with their Lott, I believe these People are very different from the lower Class of People who inhabit the Town, for I look on them to be a Sett of Villains. Great Intrigues I am told are carried on by the young Men of the Factories and the Natives, but it must be done with the Greatest Secresy, as the Portuguese are naturally jealous and revengeful, and if once discovered very fatal Consequences might ensue.
The lower Class of People about the Towns are not so very punctilious but bestow their Favors upon Strangers very freely but these are indeed the lowest sort, I have heard that Husbands will prostitute their Wives and Fathers their Children for the sake of a few Shillings, how different those from the Peasants who cannot bear you should look at their women or behave to them with common Civility. An Affair of this kind had like to have cost Mr Smith (one of the Factory) his Life, being upon a Party with the English on a visit to a Portuguese in the Country this last year and straggling away from his Company, he fell in w..h some Peasants and showed some Civility to the women of which the Men were jealous, they took an Opportunity of waylaying him before he reached the Gentleman’s House and beat him in a most inhuman manner, in short they ᴧleft him for dead, some other Countrymen by Chance found him and conveyed him to his Friends, a prosecution is commenced against the six men who are now confined in Gaol.
You never see the bettermost sort of People the women, walking the Streets, except in the Evening by Moon or Torch Light, when they make Parties and parade about the Town. The Venereal Disorder reigns here to a great Degree among all Classes of People and by them is handed down Generation to Generation, how terrible to think of it, what Havock must it make among them more I dare say than any Disorder they are liable too, and I make no doubt it lays the Foundation of another Disorder they have common amongst them the Leprosy, for these poor unhappy Creatures there are Houses on purposely sett apart and people are continually begging Charity round the streets for them.
They have Beef, Veal, Mutton, Pork, Turkeys, Ducks and Barn door Fowl, and in the Mountains Rabbits, Quails, and Partridges but I never saw any of these last. Beef & Mutton cannot be sold for less I imagine than a shilling the pound, the Beef is juicy tastes well but I cannot say so much for the look of it having but very little Fat upon it, it makes very good Soop and Buillie, Veal tolerable but no so good in Look or Taste as ours, the Mutton is but very indifferent it is so poor looking Meat that it wou’d not sell in our Markets. I eat Lamb this Voyage at Mr Smiths very good. Their Pork is fine and there is a great Plenty of it never did I see such Quantities of Pigs as there are running about the Streets, but at the English Houses none is ever eaten but what they feed themselves.
Mr Taylor boasted greatly what fine Ducks they have, did not taste them so cannot be a Judge, the other Poultry is in my opinion not very good.
Their working Oxen are very fine Cattle kept in great Order and are of a light Mouse Colour and may be about 5 or 600 weight, they are put to draw very young and are the most tractable Creatures I ever saw, these draw all the Wines from the Merchants’ Cellars to the Beach, the Pipe is put on a Board about 6 foot long and about two foot wide, this is the only Machine I ever saw at Madeira for drawing any kind of Merchandize upon and you will say it is a very simple one and easily replaced if broke. The Hoofs of the Oxen are often split by drawing heavy loads over the Pebbles on the Beach, then I fancy they are consigned over to the Butcher, I have often wondered how they cou’d walk at all over them, a pair of good Oxen are worth £30 – or upwards.
The Wine is all brought in from the Country on Mules or Asses in little long casks which may hold 6 or 8 Gall:s, each Mule carries two of them, it is surprising to see how sure footed they are, they will slide over the smooth Pavement but never trip. The Horses are also very surefooted and the little sort of them will climb like Goats, the Horses are some Natives, some from Barbary others from America and some few from England, he that has got a good English Horse is not a little proud of it.
The Fruits of Madeira are Plantanes and Bananas (but of these only in Gardens) Pomegranates, Oranges, Grapes, Citrons, Lemons, Burgomot, Black & Green Figs, Plumbs, Cherries, Strawberries, Mulberries, Apricots, Nectarines, Peaches, Apples, Pears Wallnuts and Chestnuts. The Fruits which were in Season whilst I was there, were Apricots, Plumbs, Pears, Cherries, Black Figs, Mulberries and Lemons, of which will endeavour to give some account of their Qualities, do not think like Smollet I write these little memorandums with his Jaundice Eye and think nothing equal to the Produce of our own Country, no, you may depend I will adhere to Truth, and give praise where it is due. Apricots are not so large as ours from their cheapness suppose them plenty, I never saw any growing, what I eat were very mealy, being by farr much too ripe. Plumbs, of a very small sort not so large as our common little white plumb which are sold by the Country People, they are more in shape of the Bullie, being almost round, but the colour of our sort which mentioned above, but not near so good.
Pears, very small, just like the St James’ s Pear not so juicy. Cherries grow only in one particular Spot in the Island some Miles from the Town. I make no doubt but if they w:d take a little pains with them every place wou’d produce them, but if they do not almost spring up spontaneously they trouble themselves no more about it, the sort of Cherries to me, differ I think from any Sort we have in England, they are ab:t the size of our most common Cherry, red, rather dry but tolerable sweet [foot of the manuscript copy clipped.] enough. Black Figs very good and luscious of the same Sort as in Portugal and England but not so large. Mulberries large and fine did not eat any this Time, though saw Plenty of them ripe upon the Trees. Lemons of some Sort or other are generally ripe, I brought some on board they are a large Fruit fine to the Eye but will decay very soon, several people have attempted to export them but have never made it answer the Expence.
In former Voyages I have eaten of their Peaches, small and bad no Comparison to the English. Green Figs, very good. Nectarines I never saw, nor Strawberries, these last have been lately discovered in the Wood, the North Side of the Island, their Apples some very bad, others tolerably good. Grapes at this Time beginning to be well sat, some sorts as big as Pease, they have many sorts as in Portugal all very fine. What a fine sight about six weeks hence, how pleasant to walk under the Shade of the Vine where the Sun beams are excluded and to see the large purple Clusters hanging down and almost bobbing into your Mouth, the Thoughts of it is enough to make one’s Mouth water, delicious Fruit, I wish had a Bunch this instant before me. Walnuts and Chestnuts are in great Plenty in the Hills, I never saw any near the Town. As upon the latter of these Fruits the Peasants depend chiefly for their Support in Winter, they make use of them as Bread, and dress them a variety of Ways. Melons and Cucumbers a great deal not equal to ours, they raise great Quantities of Pumpkins of different Sorts, of which the Natives are very fond, it is in the Season of year a great part of the Food of the poorer Sort of People.
Pease and Beans at this Time are almost out of Season I saw some of the former at Mr Lauchlin’s Table but did not eat of them, Cabbages not more forward than in England, the Lettices brought on board not very good, being most of them run to seed. Plenty of Tomatoes for their Soops. For Onions they can vie almost with any place, the Season for curing them is now just coming in, I suppose my Sailors bought some Tons for to sell in the West Indies, if a Person disliked the Smell of them he must be badly off on board at present, every Part of the Vessel is full of them, she stinks so strong of them, that if any People were two or three Leagues to Leeward of us they might easily smell us out. They buy them very cheap and I dare say will make two or three hundred per Cent Profit on them.
They grow in the Island, Wheat, Barly and Rye. The Barly near the Shore was all gathered in, but higher up some cutting some not ripe and other plots very green, the higher up the colder and of Course the Harvest more backward there. They do not carry their Corn out of the Fields having no Barns, instead of threshing, it is trod out by Oxen, a very dirty, tho’ a more expeditious Method than Threshing. They make their Stacks of Corn exactly as we do the parish Mows in Cornwall in the shape of a Cone, of all the Grain they sow they have not enough for their Consumption.
I have seen growing in Mr Smith’s Garden, a few Sugar Canes very fine, Mr Taylor called it the little Plot, Jamaica. In the country I have been told the Farmers plant enough to produce Sugar for their use.
As their chief Dependence is upon the Juice of the Grape, the Husbandray is particularly attentive to the Culture of the Vine, it is pleasing to see how clean they keep the Vineyards, not a weed to be found, no Garden is more free of them let it be ever so nice. The Vines are about 4 feet from the Ground high enough for a person to crawl under them and gather the Grapes, they are prop’d up by Cane Reeds and which are also laid crossways upon the props for the Shoots to run upon, I believe they take more Care of them here than in most Countries, ‘tis surprizing to see in what places they will grow amongst the Rocks, where you wou’d think there was scarce Earth enough to to nourish them, but those sort of Places generally produce the best Wine, as soon as the Grapes begin to ripen, the Dogs, Hogs and Fowls are all confined for fear of getting into the Vineyards, Dogs are particularly fond of them and wou’d make great Havock could they get amongst them.
They export annually great Quantities of Wine, especially to the Southern especially to the Southern Climates as no Wine will keep or improve so much in hot Countries as Madeira, I asked many People what Quantity they made annually but as cou’d not get a certain Information will not attempt to guess at it, as perhaps I may be erroneous in my Account.
Regarding to the Growth or Quality of the Wine they give it a particular Name after the Market they send it to and divide them into different Sorts one in inferior to the other, for instance Wine of the first Quality , they call particular, the 2d Sort London Market, 3d New York, 4th Virginia, 5th West India and the 6th East India or Cargo Wine, Particular Wine was now at £29 per Pipe the other sorts in proportion, I suppose they fall in value from 20~/ to 30~/ per Pipe. You cannot conceive how the English Merchants twig you up, though the price of a Pipe was £29.-.-.yet I paid for a Pipe for Sir W:m Lemon £33:10.-Their Charges run in this Manner viz:
A Pipe of the very best particular Wine ————-£29.-.-
Difference of age————————————— £2.-.-
Hambrough Staves 10/~ differ:e of Guage 10/~ = £1.-.-
Casing the Pipe—————————————-£1.10.-
How much cheaper might you get it from the Portuguese but then they will tell you the Wine is not so good, for what reason shou’d it be worse than in the English Stores, the Natives make it and the Factory buy from them, and the Wine Coopers are all Portuguese , for my Part I cannot see the Difference. The Wines on the North Side are for the most part made into Brandy being a very inferior Sort, this Brandy which is very bad is exported to the Brazils. One third of the produce of the Wines, is thought to be consumed by the Inhabitants, but this is of the most inferior Quality. The Malmsey Grape grows in the most southern Aspect they can find, near the Sea Side, among the Rocks where there is a rich Soil, they are particularly careful of this Vine and the Fruit is suffered to ripen much more than any other Grape, Malmsey sells I imagine now at £50 – the Pipe.
Among their Exports, Citron, is a very great Article, they preserve it and make it up into Boxes of about 32 lb each, great Quantities goes for America, the West Indies and different parts of Europe, in a month or so more they will begin to cure it, the common price is a pistreen a pound near a Shilling. Onions, Wallnuts and Chestnuts they sell in great Quantities to the shipping going to the West Indies, also Gold finches, Linnets and Island Birds they bring off for Sale, of which there are a great Plenty in the Island. Wicker and Straw Baskets of various Sorts of Sizes are made here and reasonable. The Marmalade which is made from Quinces is the best I ever tasted .a Coarse kind of Linen Cloth is manufactured in the Island which I am told is very strong the same sort as we get from Portugal. They have 3 or 4 sail of small Vessels w:ch are continually going forward and backward to the Brazils in these Vessels they export Wines, Brandy, Flour, Cloths of different Sorts and many European Commodities, and in return have Sugar, Hides, different Sorts of Woods and other produce of the Brazils, I am told they make most tedious Voyages.
When they ship the Wines off, they are first put into the Boat on the Beach and if the Surf runs any Thing high, the Rowers also get into the Boat, to be ready to pull away as soon as the Boat touches the Water, I have been launched off in this Manner , it is funny enough and by far the best way to prevent a ducking when a great Surf sets in. before I take leave of Madeira I cannot help remarking the profit to the English Merchant w:ch must be very great, I have heard they clear from £6- to £7 – the Pipe after all the Charges are paid, what a pretty Thing, no wonder they live well and make Fortunes. They supply the Portuguese, with Cloths of all Kinds fit for their Consumption as well as the Brazil Market, with Salt Herrings, Pilchards, Beef, Pork and Butter and Flour from England and Ireland.
From America they import, Corn, Flour, Indian Corn, Rice, Baccalas, Staves and all Kind of Lumber, for all w:ch articles they charge just their own Price, and pay the Portuguese just what the please for their wines, that is they make them take their Goods for the Amount.
The Gentlemen belonging to the Factory are as genteel and hospitable Sett of People as ever I met with, though their Interest clash so very much yet they live in the greatest Harmony one with the other, like one Family. The English are few in Comparison to the Scots and Irish, but I believe the Scots by farr outnumber both the others.
Celibacy a few years back greatly prevailed here and so it does still, but I think not so much as formerly, as several Gentlemen have now got Wives, this I imagine is a good deal owing to their free Intercourse with the Natives. They have a Society among them, which they call the Batchelor’s Clubb – no married Man if his Wife is on the Island is admitted a Member, this Society rents a House & Gardens about a mile or two out of Town and where they dine Sundays and Holydays and give it the Name of Batchelor’s Hall, they have each an apartment in the house & oftimes take their Ladies out with them to spend the Evening: a Stranger when he goes to the Hall must take Care or it is a great chance but he is made free of it, which has been my Case before now. The English Ladies when they go into the Country, if the Road is very hilly, or they cannot ride well, are either carried in a Hammock or a Palanquin, but mostly the former, just in the same manner as you see a Block of Tin carried by the Porters thro’ Truro Streets.
The Island of Porto Santo which is about 16 Leagues to the Eastward of Madeira, grows no Wine but for their own Consumption – they have Barley as at Madeira, and like them manufacture a coarse Linnen Cloth.
The Desertos Islands are rented by some Person in Madeira they produce Barley and Rabbits, and in the Clifs they gather a Dye weed, called Orcheal, of which there is some also in Madeira for this weed there is a Contractor for the whole that is collected. The gathering this weed puts me in mind of, Shakespears description of Dover Clifs where he mentions the man picking of Samphire.
Well I think I have now given you a long, full and true account of Madeira, how do you like, and shall once more begin my Sea Journals, which I am afraid will be no ways entertaining more than what have already wrote, I must go back no one knows where to see how farr I am got, I have found it, got under sail once more Sunday Evening 9o’Clock with a light Breeze of easterly Wind from the Northward bound for Barbadoes. At 12 the Town of Funchal bore N.E of us about 3 Leag:s dist:t.
Read on …