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inherent is the vitality in this singular plant, that it is only necessary to lay a single leaf, with a few stones over it, on a wall, and it will commence growing. The fruit is much eaten by the inhabitants. The large zebra spider, peculiar to this plant, weaves its immense thick ropes from thorn to thorn ; its cocoon is hung in the centre of this suspension bridge ; it is somewhat in the shape of a kettle-drum, and the insect incubates at night, sitting on the flat side of it; the cord of which its web is composed is so thick as to procure for it the name of epiera fasciata.
The cochineal has been tried by Mr. Veitch, at his little quinta of the Gorgulia, but has not as yet been found to succeed. And here the botanist will find the lotus glaucus, lavandula pinnata, several of the asparaginiæ, barilla, and the gnaphalia crassifolia, among the rocks—with the hyoscyamus Madeiranensis, and several species of capsicums, besides numerous acacias, the hibiscus, and the datura arborea. But to enumerate the thousand exotics that perfume the air, and clothe with their luxuriant vegetation every garden, would be to enumerate the choicest of our hot-house plants growing in a state of nature.
The fruit-market is magnificent, and is beautifully situated in a grove of noble plane trees. Here, besides the usual fruits of Europe, the orange, lemon, grape, green figs, and pomegranates, we have bunches of the most delicious bananas, piles of
guavas, custard apples, and alligator pears—this latter is the fruit of the laurus persea—it grows to a great size, and, when eaten with pepper and salt, is most delicious. The water and Valencia melons, with gourds and pumpkins of enormous growth, and the numerous tribes of circurbitæ, which costs hardly any trouble in cultivation, give the market a singularly rich
appearance. Here, for the first time I tasted the fruit of the cactus triangularis ; it has a pinkish rind, grows to the size of a pear, the pulp nearly transparent, studded with black seeds, and has a most exquisite flavour—but it requires to be thoroughly ripe. The Cape gooseberry, so much admired when carried as a preserve into Europe, is the fruit of the physalis edulis, which grows in every hedge, and is one of the solaneæ with which this island so much abounds. We must not forget the Tchoo-tchoo, one of the finest vegetables ever eaten.
I never saw a fishmarket equal to that of Madeira—the rival tints of the tenants of the water have often been contrasted with those of the air, by their respective admirers ; for my own part I must give the palm to the fish—there is a glowing metallic lustre to be found in the scale rarely to be met with in the feather. A choicer spot could not be selected by the icthyologist than Madeira, as it combines all the fishes of the Mediterranean, with many of those of the West Indies, and the coast of Africa; and its insular position catches, on their way, many
FISHES OF MADEIRA.
migratory shoals, besides the regular frequenters. The murenæ, so much esteemed by the Romans, are caught here of a great size—the manner of taking them is peculiar. The fisherman seats himself on a rock, when the tide is coming in, singing, as he says, to charm the fish. As the water reaches the hole where the eel is, he comes out, when the fisherman captures him with a pair of large wooden nippers. Much as they were valued by the ancient Heliogabali, we tried them in every possible way, but could not liken their flavour to any thing but singed wool.
The tunny fish, of immense size, often amounting to several cwt., are daily exposed in market. These form a favourite food of the lower classes, both fresh and salted, and large quantities are sent corned into the interior, cut up in junks—it has something the taste of coarse beef-steak, but makes a most admirable dish when pickled.
It is not, however, my intention to say more of the fish of Madeira, or enumerate the several specimens I have carried home with me, as a work is preparing from the pen of the Rev. Mr. Low, who has been long resident in the island, and whose capability of producing such a book is already known to the scientific world.*
Oct. 31. I set out at an early hour with a friend, to visit the “ Brazen Head.”
* For a new method of preserving Fish, see Appendix A.
was delightful, and the groups of peasantry, coming into the market, which we met along the roads, made it quite enchanting. Companies of eight or ten, in some places, sat under the umbrageous shadow of a pine, eating their morning's meal, or completing their toilette, before entering the town ;others hastened along, loaded with the various produce of their gardens, consisting of bunches of yellow bananas, strings of crimson pomegranates, &c; others carrying fowl, firewood, or fish, to Funchal. Each little party was preceded by its guitar player. The instrument is small, with wire strings, and much in use among the natives. At
times the performer accompanied it with his voice, and the whole group joined in the chorus. The men were well dressed, somewhat in the costume of English sailors, with a little cap, not unlike a funnel, on the top of their heads; this is worn more for ornament than use, as it could not be the least protection against the weather. It crowns the head-dress of the women also, being placed over the white muslin handkerchief which covers the head, and hangs down over the shoulders; their gay
gowns, and scarlet pelerine gave them an air of lightness, and added much to the picturesque appearance of the groups. The Madeiranese, both men and women, are a fine race, much more so than those of the mother country. The road is, in many places, very precipitous; and here and there the ravines afford opportunities of seeing the stratification which breaks out occasionally in horizontal layers of scoriacious basalt with bands of tufa rising in terraces ; between the interstices of these, springs the most luxuriant vegetation—the asclepium and globularia longifolia, now in full blow ; higher up, the myrtle and the dwarf olive, and immediately at our feet the hairfoot fern, and that species of houseleek common to the island, the glutinous juice of which, when boiled into a jelly, is used by the fishermen to coat their nets, as a preventative against the rot. As we proceeded further into the hills, the cassia bicapsularis covers the fields, making them
gay with its light yellow blossoms; the beau