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A FUNCHAL RESIDENCE.
boats a different method is pursued--these, laden with wine or merchandise, to the amount of several tons, are also hauled up high and dry by a capstan, worked by bullocks and placed some way up the strand. The whole scene along the beach is one of great animation ; the water literally swarms with human beings of all ages, and nearly naked, either floating pipes of wine ashore, or engaged in pushing up some of the lighter boats; and the shouting of the men, the plashing of the waves, and the creaking of the lazy windlass, add much to heighten the effect.
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 merchant's Funchal residence. The houses are constructed much after the Spanish fashion, and entered by low gateways leading into extensive yards, surrounded by offices, where the wine is stored, and the different processes of treatment are conducted. The under-part contains cellars, offices, and counting-house--above that are kitchens, and servants' rooms looking towards the street; over these are drawing-rooms, their windows shaded by cool verandahs, or opening upon platforms that command a view of the lovely and picturesque sides of the mountains. These balconies are, so to speak, green-houses in the open air: the hoya carnosa clothes the walls ; the passiflora quadrangularis hangs its glowing blossoms from the trellised roof; the cobca scandens and other creepers twist round every cornice; geraniums of every hue burst through the railings in wild luxuriance ; and the heliotrope and olea fragrans perfume the adjoining rooms. Above the drawing-room suite are the dormitories, and the whole is crowned by a high turret, which commands the sea-view. The houses of several of the merchants have towers of this description, containing good telescopes, to sweep
the sea, and catch the first view of any vessel bound for their port, or in which they may have an interest. They are, generally, the coolest and the best rooms in the house : for, being raised above the neighbouring buildings, they catch whatever seabreeze may blow. Besides these, there are Quintas, or 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 ; it has a fine cathedral, one good square, and
some andsome public walks. The wine which is landed from boats is carried in barrels, or, to speak more correctly, pipes, to the stores, on a rude narrow piece of wood, which acts as a sleigh, and is drawn by bullocks. The men run before with wet cloths, which they throw in its path, to facilitate its slipping over the smooth pavement, and prevent its catching fire; and in order to quicken the paces of the animals, they keep up fully as discordant a howl as that maintained by the wooden axle-trees of the carts I have already alluded to in Spain. 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. A quantity of the wine, which is the staple commodity of this land of the grape, is carried in skins from the interior, which look, when slung over the backs of the men, as if they were the carcases of so many dogs, pigs, and goats, &c., with their legs and necks 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 the invalid, to heal the wounded spirit, to re-animate the sinking frame, and pour renewed life and vigour into every thought or action. The dry and balmy air which produces this neverending spring, soon 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 beauty, sunshine, and tranquillity; the waving palms, and green bananas, with their beautiful feathery tops, tell him he has bid farewell to Europe, and landed in a tropical clime; 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 self-same bough." Plantations of coffee trees fill the spaces between the houses; the splendid coral tree hangs its gorgeous blossoms over his head; and the snowy bells of the graceful tulip mingle with the scarlet plumes of the hibiscus. If he wishes for exercise, he has the most inviting walks, and the most tempting shades to shelter him : while wide-spreading plane trees, and willows of gigantic growth, bend their slender arms over the streams that murmur from the hills. If he leaves the town, and begins to ascend, the beauty increases, and the sea-view opens to his sight. The roads, though
SCENERY AND FOLIAGE OF MADEIRA.
steep, are well paved, and the horses trained to an easy pace. On one, and sometimes on both sides of the road, there 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 delicious 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 breeze is perfumed with the fragrance of the myrtle, and the high vault above him smiles the azure of undying summer. The ficus indicus clothes the cottages, which are shaded by the most maguificent chesnuts ; the salvia fulgens and the Guernsey lily sprinkle the vineyards ; the beautiful capillus veneris creeps through the walls; and the magnificent camellia Japonica, now in full bloom, adorns every Quinta.
As he ascends, the scene becomes still more varied, and espands beneath his eye. The deep valleys and hollow gorges are covered with the luxuriant light green foliage of the Inhame, or Eddo of the West Indies (said to be the arum peregrinum of Persoon); the aloe and the agave border the enclosures of sweet potato (the convolvulus batatus); and the New Zealand flax, or phormium tenax, grows here to a great size; rows of enormous hydranges flourish at this height, but, instead of their natural pink colour, are blue, owing in all probability to the ferruginous soil, and 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 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; its 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, somewhat in the shape of a kettle-drum, is hung in the centre of this suspension bridge, 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 FRUIT AND FISH MARKETS.
The cochineal has been tried by Mr. Veitch, at his little Quinta of the Gorgulho, but has not yet been found to succeed. At this pleasing little spot, the botanist will find the lotus glaucus, lavandula pinnata, several of the asparaginia, 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 specify 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 natur
The magnificent fruit-market of Funchal 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, &c., we have bunches of the most delicious bananas, (musa Paradisiaca,) 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 tribe of curcurbitæ, which cost hardly any trouble in their 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, the fruit of the physalis edulis, so much admired when carried as a preserve into Europe, grows in every hedge, and is one of the soloneæ with which this island so much abounds; and we must not forget the Sechium edule or Tchoo-tchoo, which is one of the finest and most delicate 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 migratory shoals, besides the regular frequenters. The murena, so much esteemed by the
APPEARANCE OF THE PEASANTRY.
Romans, are caught here of a great size, and 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, both fresh and salted, form a favourite food of the lower classes, and large quantities, cut up in junks and pickled, are sent into the interior—it has something the taste of coarse beef-steak, but makes a most admirable dish when corned. 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 upon the subject has just appeared, from the pen of the Rev. Mr. Lowe, 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 bluff headland of the “ Brazen Head.” The morning was delightful, and the groups of peasantry, coming into market, which we met along the picturesque roads, made the scene 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 enormous pumpkins, piles of the most delicious grapes, bunches of yellow bananas, or strings of crimson pomegranates, and others carrying fowl, firewood, skins of wine, or 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 Madeiranese, both men and women, are a fine race, much more so than those of the mother country. The men were well dressed, somewhat in the costume of English sailors, with little caps, not unlike inverted funnels, called carapucas on the tops of their heads; these
. For a new method of preserving fish, see Appendix A.