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fallen here, but a cloud was caught on the mountaintop, collected in the different water-courses, and emptied into the river, on the bed of which the inhabitants are in the habit of spreading out their clothes to dry. Some years ago a torrent of this nature* swept suddenly down, carrying away a church, several houses, and many of the inhabitants. Our own boats being unfit, we went ashore in one of those adapted to the coast: they are of amazing strength, great breadth of beam, with high-peaked prows and sterns, from which spring posts a yard high ; these and the bottoms are shod with iron.
The beach in front of the town is composed of loose rolled gravel, and sinks very rapidly at the water's edge ; even on the calmest day there is a heavy surf that makes it necessary to haul up the boats high and dry. This is done, with the small ones, by throwing a rope ashore, and waiting for the highest
up; when the people on the land think this sufficient, you are mounted on its crest, the boat rides upon the wave, the men haul on the rope,
you are landed high up on the shore. In like manner the embarkation is effected-you take your places in the boat, several men stand at the stern watching the highest swell, and when it reaches the prow, shove her off with great force,
swell to carry
* The soundings of the harbour have, it is said, been much diminished by the quantity of debris carried down by this disastrous flood, which occurred in 1809.
A FUNCHAL RESIDENCE.
sending her far out upon the wave. With larger boats a different method is pursued—these laden with wine and merchandise, to the amount of several tons, are also hauled up high and dry by a capstan, worked by bullocks placed some way up the strand. The whole is a scene of great animation ; the water is literally swarming with human beings of all ages, and nearly naked, either floating barrels of wine ashore, or engaged in pushing up some of the lighter boats. The shouting of the men, the splashing of the waves, and the creaking of the lazy windlass, add much to the effect of the scene.
Our friend, Mr. Shortridge, kindly offered us the use of his house, which we accepted; it is one of the best in the town, and is a good specimen of an English Funchal merchant's residence. The underpart contains cellars, offices, and counting-houseabove that are parlours looking towards the street, the windows shaded by cool verandahs ; over these are drawing-rooms, opening upon platforms that command a view of the lovely sides of the mountain : these, if one may so speak, are green-houses in the open air ; the hoya carnosa clothes the walls; the passiflora quadrangularis hangs its glowing blossoms from the trellised roof; the cobrea scandens and other creepers twist round every cornice, and the heliotrope and olea fragrans perfume the adjoining rooms. Above are the dormitories, and the whole is crowned by a high turret, which commands the sea view. The house of every merchant
has a turret, with a good telescope, to sweep the sea, and catch the first view of any vessel bound for their port, or in which they may have an interest. It is, generally, the coolest and one of the best rooms in the house : for, being raised above the neighbouring buildings, it catches whatever seabreeze may blow. Below are extensive yards, surrounded by offices, where the wine is stored, and the different processes of fermentation are conducted. Besides these, the merchants have, generally, country houses situated in the hills, at higher or lower elevations, so that the climate can be had of any temperature in those delightful retreats.
The town of Funchal is clean and well paved, with an air of bustle and business, and has a fine cathedral, and handsome public walks. The wine landed from boats is carried in barrels to the stores on a rude and narrow piece of wood, which acts as a sleigh, drawn by bullocks. Both here and at Teneriffe, a small carved horn of bone is hung on the forehead of the bullocks to preserve them from the influence of the evil eye. The men run before with wet cloths, which they throw in its path, to facilitate its slipping over the smooth pavement.
. The wine from the interior is carried in skins, which look, when slung over the backs of the men, as if they were the carcases of so many dead dogs, pigs, calves, &c., the legs, necks, and heads sticking out in an extraordinary manner.
But we must turn to objects of greater beauty,
and admire the lovely scene, in the midst of which we have taken up our residence. Never was a spot more formed to cheer the sufferings of an invalid, to heal the wounded spirit, or reanimate the sinking frame. The dry and balmy air which produces this never-ending spring, makes the step buoyant, and raises the hopes of the sufferer, who a few days before left the choking fogs, the rains and chilly damps of the Thames or the Medway. Here all is sunshine ; the green bananas, with their beautiful feathery tops, tell him he has bid farewell to Europe ; the orange trees hold out to him their branches laden with golden fruit
“ Green all the year, and fruits and blossoms blush
In social sweetness on the selfsame bough.”
Plantations of coffee trees fill the spaces between the houses; the splendid coral tree hangs over his head; and the snowy bells of the tulip tree mingle with the scarlet hibiscus. If he wishes for exercise he has the most inviting walks, and the most tempting shades to shelter him ; wide-spreading plane trees, and willows of gigantic growth, bend their slender arms over the streams that murmur from the hills. If he leave the town, and begins to ascend, the beauty increases, and the sea-view opens to his sight. The roads though steep are well paved, and the horses trained to an easy pace.
On one side of the road, and sometimes both, is a little channel a foot broad; the Levada, by which the water is conducted to
the different plantations from the hills, murmuring gently as it ripples by his side. He rides through a perfect vineyard, where, in many places, the vines are carried on trellises over the road, and the large bunches of grapes hang within his reach. Hedges of geraniums, fuschias, and heliotropes, border those narrow paths, and shade him from the sun ; myriads of insects with golden wings sip the nectar from these delicate flowers, and add the music of their tiny wings to the melody of the surrounding woodlands. The ficus indicus clothes the cottages, which are shaded by the most magnificent chesnuts and venaticos; the salvia fulgens and the Guernsey lily sprinkle the vineyards ; the beautiful capillus veneris creeps through the walls, and the camellia Japonica, now in full blow, adorns every quinta.
As he rises, the scene becomes still more varied, and expands beneath his eye.
The valleys are covered with the luxuriant light green foliage of the yam (the arum peregrinum of Persoon.) The aloe and the agave border the enclosures of sweet potato ; and the phormium tenax, or New Zealand flax, grows to a great size ; rows of enormous hydranges flourish at this height, but, instead of their natural pink colour, are blue, owing to the ferruginous soil, or to their elevation. Small dragon trees and cedars appear among the quintas; and heaths and pines rise to the highest elevations. Huge prickly pears (cactus opuntia) grow along the cliffs and lower parts of the island ; and so