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CLIMATE OF LISBON.
very luxuriant. The water is supplied to these plantations from the different aqueducts, by means of a rude Persian wheel, of large dimensions, turned by bullocks, which raises the water in earthen jars fixed to the periphery, and discharges their contents into troughs which branch off to the root of each tree. This is, in all probability, a remnant of the Moorish times.
I was, I confess, disappointed with the city of Lisbon, and much more so with its climate, which was to us very trying, owing to the great transition from heat in the sunshine to cold in the shade. The intense glare and dazzling brightness reflected from the white houses are exceedingly annoying to the sight, and apt to produce head-ache. There is altogether a suffocating feeling in the air, that is particularly distressing, even to a person in health, how much more so must it be to an invalid. I know of few diseases relievable by the air of Lisbon, principally on account of its variability. During the past summer, the thermometer was frequently 92° in the shade on board some of our vessels in the river, and the next day it would sink to 73o. So marked is the difference here between shade and sunshine, that you have a perfectly different atmosphere on both sides of your house, or on the opposite sides of a street—a complete Russiau bath. The average maximum daily heat is now 75o.
Having now seen every thing worthy the notice of a passing traveller, in and about Lisbon, and the wind favouring, we sailed down the Tagus on the evening of the 19th, and next day stood out to sea, shaping our course to Madeira.
Voyage to Madeira-Arrival at Funchal-Avalanche-Hurricane in 1842_Boats-Our resi
dence-Sleighs--Wine Carriers--Beauty of the Vegetation-Hill Scenery- Zoology-Costumes and appearances of the Madeiranese-Aspect of the country-Botany-Scenery at the Brazen Head--Recession of the Sea-A German Botanist-A Drag Anchor-Steepness of the roads Horses and Burriqueiros—Palanquins--Cama de Lobos-Moonlight Views in the Mountains - The Day Breeze-Jardin da Serra-Tea Plantation-View of the Coural das FreirasIts Descent-Regions of Vegetation-Magnificent Scenery-Climate of the Island-Accommodation-Application to invalids-Diseases improved by it-Time to visit it-Effects of Vegetation-Equability of Temperature-Insular Position-Weather tables-Class of Patients benefitted-Consumption-Dr. Heineken-Duties—Means of Going out-English MerchanteWines--Reading-room-Discovery of the Island-Story of the Lady Anna—The Cedar Cross -Nuns of Santa Clara-Feather Flowers-Maria Clementina--A Grave-yard Scene.
OCTOBER 23rd. We made the island of Porto Santo. Our voyage from Lisbon was barren of adventure of any kind, and little occurred to relieve the monotony, except the occasional visit of a Mother Carey's Chicken, which disproved the oft-repeated assertion, that they are to be seen only in boisterous weather. Yesterday evening, while yet ninety miles from land, a few butterflies fluttered about us, and came on board. The powers of flight of those beautiful ephemerides are truly wonderful, when we consider the span of their short lives—many living but for a day.
In the morning we got a view of the south-east end of the island of Madeira, consisting of a number of disjointed crags, broken cliffs, and tall isolated rocks, spreading out to sea with their spire-like tops, and washed by the breakers, the spray of which, glittering in the sunbeams, formed a multitude and a variety of the most beautiful miniature rainbows. Here, the rocks form natural arches ; there, jut out into rude battlements, or flying buttresses, and assume, in many places, the appearance of some half-submerged cathedral, with its turrets and pinnacles rising above the crystal wave.
FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE ISLAND.
The breeze freshens, and our course is laid along the southern side of the island; the coast becomes higher, and the enormous columns of basalt look like pedestals supporting this beautiful spot above the ocean. Over these, in many places, the cliffs rise with a perpendicular face of several hundred feet; their tops clothed by the pine and the laurel, and the alternate layers of red tufa and dark-coloured scoriæ being visible at a great distance. On passing a high cliff called the Brazen Head, one of the town batteries, the Loo Rock, crowned by its fort and telegraph, came into sight. Numbers of vessels of various sizes and of all nations rock on the heavy swell in the open roadstead ;we steered into the midst of them, and anchored early in the day before Funchal, the capital of the island.
I had often heard and read of the beauty of this charming spot, but it far surpassed all idea 1 had ever formed of it from description. The town, which is embosomed in limes and orange groves, coffee plantations, wide-spreading bananas, and thousands of the rarest plants and exotics, runs along the edge of an open roadstead, forming but a shallow indentation in the line of coast. The hills rise in terraces behind the town to a height of several hundred feet, clothed with vines and the most luxuriant vegetation; and studded with the lovely Quintas or private residences of the inhabitants. While still in the roads a striking object catches the eye of the traveller, the Mount Church ; a large white building, that stands surrounded by some of the finest vinhaticos and chesnut trees, at an immense beight above the town. Above this, the mountains rise still higher, clothed with never failing verdure, beautified by cascades and waterfalls, and their sides torn into deep ravines and gloomy gorges, which vary the landscape by their deep black shades, alternating with the brightness of the surrounding foliage. Over all, the bald tops of the Torrinhas and Pico Grande rise many thousand feet above the valley of the Coural das Freiras, or Madeirian Switzerland ; and on their barren blistered summits proclaim the volcanic nature and origin of the island.
While we were waiting for a boat to come off, the greatest consternation appeared suddenly excited on shore; the people shouting and running in all directions ; presently the water in the bay became muddy, and we found that it arose from one of the mountain torrents sweeping suddenly down the dry bed of the river. No rain had fallen here, but a cloud was caught on the
THE HURRICANE OF 1842.
mountain-top, collected in the different water-courses, and emptied into the river, on the bed of which, at this season of the year,
the inhabitants are in the habit of spreading out their clothes to dry. Some years ago a terrific torrent swept suddenly down from the hills, carrying away a church, several houses, and above 400 of the inhabitants. * Our own boats being unfit for such service, we went ashore in one of those adapted to the coast : they are of amazing strength and 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 shingle and loose rolled
* 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 October, 1803. Since the first edition of this work appeared, a hurricane most fearful in its visitation and disastrous in its consequences occurred at Madeira, on the 24th of October, 1842, and far exceeded in violence and duration any thing that history has recorded; the destrrction of life and property has not been so great, however, as in 1803, owing to the mountain torrents having now freer egress to the sea. The effects of this are still visible in the island, and the town of Funchal in particular; and the rocks and debris carried into the water-course have not been yet (a year after) quite removed. This memorable event is thus described by an eye-witness :
“ The last summer was exceedingly hot, and almost without rain, the weather remaining beautifully fine until the 15th of October, when the clouds began to envelope the mountains, which brought on the following day severe thunder storms, accompanied with heavy rain, continuing almost without intermission until the morning of the 24th of October, when the rain partly ceased. At ten o'clock the Royal West India steamer Dee arrived, and landed fifty-two passengers for the island. She was, however, prevented from proceeding until the following day, as the admiralty agent who had come on shore with the mail could not get on board again. About mid-day the whole island appeared buried in a vast cloud, threatening total darkness; the barometer fell considerably. The air became very oppressive, with a strong sulphurous smell, and the wind veered about to nearly every point of the compass. At one o'clock the rain began to fall in torrents ; and about an hour afterwards I perceived, at a distance of about a mile from shore, an immense rising in the sea, which was soon connected with a mass of dark clouds overhanging the bay, to all appearance charging themselves or drawing the water from the sea for the space of about ten minutes, followed immediately by a heavy swell or rising of the ocean, which swept towards the shore; and although I was at a considerable
gravel, and sinks very rapidly at the water's edge, so that 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 swell to carry
up; when the people on the land think this sufficient, you are mounted on its crest, the boat rides
the wave, the men haul on the
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, they shove her off with great force, sending her far out upon the wave. With larger
eleration above the level of the sea, it appeared high enough to sweep over the city; its force was, however, broken, and it subsided on the beach. The rain still continued in torrents, and at four o'clock the roar of the water in the river, which was about forty feet in depth, began to give me some alarm; when, looking out of the window of my house, I perceived that the bridge was being swept away, and that the water was rushing into the streets. I immediately left the house, and on reaching the street the appalling sight that appeared in every direction was enough to make the stoutest heart quake with fear. The street in front of the garden of my house was upwards of three feet deep with water, and hundreds of men, women, and children were wading their way up the stream, flying towards the mountains; whilst others were flocking toward the town, not knowing where to go for safety, amidst the most dreadful shrieks and cries that can possibly be imagined. As I approached towards the river the scene became still more awful, the water having burst open the wine-lodges, and their contents being swept into the sea, whilst the streets in the neighbourhood were all overflowed with water, and the inmates of the houses escaping by ladders and over the roofs of the buildings. Upwards of two hundred houses have been destroyed or become untenantable by this disastrous flood, and the quantity of wine, corn, &c. &c. swept into the sea and destroyed, is very great. The rain continued to fall during the night of the 24th ; but the following day gave signs of the weather moderating ; and in the afternoon it was fine, but with a strong breeze from the south-east, which continued until three o'clock P.m. on the 26th, when it blew a hurricane from the south, the sea rushing over the beach, and entering into the streets in the lower parts of the city. The wind being dead into the bay, most of the vessels lying off at anchor dragged their cables, and ran on shore; but owing to the generous exertions of the inhabitants, few lives were lost. The storm was general all over the island, and numbers of people were carried into the sea.
The damage has, however, long since been repaired, and the equality of the climate restored."