VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD, VOLUME I
Including Travels in Africa, Asia, Australasia, America, etc. etc. from MDCCCXXVII to MDCCCXXXII
JAMES HOLMAN, R.N. F.R.S. ETC. ETC.
"Man loves knowledge: and the beams of truth More welcome touch his understanding's eye, Than all the blandishments of sounds his ear, Than all of taste his tongue."
It is necessary to observe that this Work is designed to extend to 4 vols., to be published in regular succession; each Volume to embrace a distinct portion of the whole, and to be complete in itself. The entire publication will form a consecutive series of the Author's Voyages and Travels Round the World.
The present Volume contains:—Madeira—Teneriffe—St. Jago—Sierra Leone—Cape Coast—Accra—Fernando Po—Bonny, Calabar, and other Rivers in the Bight of Biafra—Prince's Island—Ascension—Rio Janeiro—and Journey to the Gold Mines.
[Note: The beginning of this dedication was missing from the text.]
...that your Majesty may long be spared to a nation that is so sensible of the influence of your Majesty's exalted character.
With the most profound feelings of gratitude and devotion,
I have the honor to subscribe myself,
Your Majesty's Most faithful Servant,
CONTENTS OF VOL. I.
Passion for Travelling—Author's peculiar Situation—Motives for going Abroad—Resources for the Blind—Embark in the Eden, Capt. Owen, for Sierra Leone—Lord High Admiral at Plymouth—Cape Finisterre—Arrival at Madeira—Town of Funchal—Wines of Madeira—Cultivation of the Grape—Table of Exports—Seizure of Gin—Fruits and Vegetables—Climate —Coffee, Tea, and Sugar Cultivation—Palanquin Travelling—Departure from Madeira
Teneriffe—Town of Santa Cruz—Female Costume—Incident at a Ball—Bad Roads—Climate—Productions—Population of the Canary Islands—Imports and Exports—Various Qualities of the Wines—Fishery—Leave Santa Cruz—Crossing the Tropic of Cancer—Shaving and Ducking—General Remarks—Make St. Jago—Anchor at Porto Praya—Sickly Season—Death of the Consul and his Wife—Consul's Sister—Governor's Garden and Watering-place—Population of the Island—Produce—The Orchilla Weed, its growth, uses, and varieties—Cause of Fever—Departure for Sierra Leone
Arrival at Sierra Leone—Mr. Lewis—Black Washerwomen.—Visitors on board—Capture of Leopards—Mortality—Funeral of Mr. Lewis—Education of Native Children—Regimental Mess—Curious Trials at a Quarter Sessions—Depredations of the Kroomen—Causes of Unhealthiness—The Boollam Territory—Lieutenant George Maclean's Mission—Election of a King—Regent's Speech—Macaulay Wilson—Ceremonies of the Coronation—Character of the Boollams—Christian and Mahommedan Missionaries—Aspect of the Country—Cession of Boollam to Great Britain—Extraordinary Trial for Crim. Con.—News of the Death of Mr. Canning
Auction at Sierra Leone—Timber Establishments in the River—Tombo, Bance and Tasso Islands—Explosion of a Vessel at Sea—Liberated Africans—Black Ostlers—Horses Imported—Slave Vessel—Colonial Steam Vessel—Road and Street Repairs—Continued Rains—Suggestion for preserving the Health of European Seamen—General Views of the Colony—Population—Parishes—Supply of Provisions—Description of Freetown—Curious Letter from Black Labourers—Original Settlers—Present Inhabitants—Trade with the Interior—Strange Customs of Native Merchants—Anecdote of Sailors—Injurious Example of the Royal African Corps—Vaccination of Natives—Medical Opinion—Departure from Sierra Leone
Cape St. Ann—Dangerous Shoals—Old Sailors—Liberia—Origin and History of the Colony—Failure at Sherbro Island—Experiment at Liberia—Difficulties Encountered by the Settlers—Differences with the Natives—Final Adjustment—Improving State of the Colony—Laws and Morals—Remarks on Colonization
The Kroo Country—Religion of the Kroo and Fish Men—Emigration of the Natives—Sketch of their habits and customs—Purchase of Wives—The Krooman's ne plus ultra—Migratory propensities—Rogueries exposed—Adoption of English Names—Cape Palmas—Dexterity of the Fishmen—Fish towns—The Fetish—Arrival at Cape Coast—Land with the Governor—Captain Hutchison—Cape Coast mode of taking an airing— Ashantee Chiefs—Diurnal occupations—School for Native Girls— Domestication of Females—Colonel Lumley—Captain Ricketts—Neglect of Portuguese Fortresses—A native Doctor
Recollections of the Ashantee War—Battle of Essamacow—Accession of Osay Aquatoo to the Throne—Battle of Affatoo—Investment of Cape Coast—Flight of the Ashantees—Martial Law proclaimed—Battle of Dodowah—Ashantee Mode of Fighting—Death of Captain Hutchison
Embarkation—Departure for Accra—Land Route—Accra Roads—Visit to Danish Accra—Dilapidations of the Fortresses at Dutch and English Accra—Captive Queen—Mr. Thomas Park—Cause of his Death unknown— Departure for Fernando Po—First view of the Island—Anchor in Maidstone Bay—Early History of the Settlement—Capt. Owen's Expedition—Visited by the Inhabitants—Site for the Settlement determined—Author's Mission to the King of Baracouta—Visit of the King—Native Costume—Ecstacy of the Natives—Distribution of Presents—Second Visit to the King—His Majesty's evasive Conduct— Renewed Interviews—A Native Thief—Intended Punishment—Cut-throat, a Native Chief—Visit to King-Cove—Purchase of Land
Native Simplicity—Resources of the Blind—Royal Village—Gathering of Natives—Native Priests—Royal Feast—Inhospitable Treatment— Uncomfortable Quarters—Vocabulary of the Native Language—Beauty of the Female Character—Women of Fernando Po—Anecdotes—Aspect of the Country—Productions—Preparations for the Settlement—Discovery of a Theft—Mimic War Customs—Native Chiefs—Female on Board—Monkey for Dinner—Flogging a Prisoner—Accident to a Sailor—A Voyage of Survey round the Island—River named after the Author—Geographical and Meteorological Observations—Insubordination—A Man Overboard—Deserter taken—Death of the Interpreter—Method of Fishing—Visitors from St. Thomas—Ceremony of taking Possession of Fernando Po—Interview with a Native Chief—Celebration Dinner—Indirect Roguery—Chief and his Wife—Hospital near Point William—The Guana—Mistake at Sea— Suggestions on the Slave-Trade—Fishing Stakes—Schooner on a Mudflat
Slave Canoe—Duke's Pilot—Old Calabar Town—Consternation on Shore, and disappearance of the Slave Vessels—Fruitless Pursuit of the Slavers—Eyo Eyo, King Eyo's Brother—Old Calabar Festivals—Attempted Assassination, and Duke Ephraim's Dilemma—Obesity of the King's Wives—Ordeal for Regal Honours—Duke's English House—Coasting Voyage to the Bonny—Author discovers Symptoms of Fever—The Rivers of St. Nicholas, Sombrero, St. Bartholomew, and Sta. Barbara—"The Smokes"—Capture of a Spanish Slave Vessel in the River St. John—Nun, or First Brass River, discovered to be the Niger—Natural Inland Navigation—New Calabar River—Pilot's Jhu Jhu—Foche Island—Author Sleeps on Shore—Bonny Bath—Interview with King Peppel—Ceremony of opening the Trade—Rashness of a Slave Dealer—Horrible Fanaticism—Schooner at Sea—Return to Fernando Po
Reverence for Beards—Native Shields—Petty Thefts—Tornado Season— Author departs for Calabar—Waterspout—Palm-oil Vessels—Visit to Duke Ephraim—Escape of a Schooner with Slaves—Calabar Sunday—Funeral of the Duke's Brother—Egbo Laws—Egbo Assembly—Extraordinary Mode of recovering Debts—Superstition and Credulity—Cruelty of the Calabar People to Slaves—Royal Slave Dealer—Royal Monopoly—Manner of Trading with the Natives—Want of Missionaries—Capt. Owen's Arrival—Visit Creek Town with King Eyo—The Royal Establishment—Savage Festivities— Calabar Cookery—Old Calabar River
Captain Owen's Departure—Runaway Slave—Egbo again—Duke's Sunday— Superstitious Abstinence—Anecdote of a Native Gentleman—Breaking Trade—Author's Visit to Creek Town—Bullocks embarked—Departure from Calabar—Chased by mistake—Dangerous Situation—Mortality at Fernando Po—Detection of a Deserter—Frequency of Tornados—Horatio hove down— Capture of a Slave Vessel—Loss of Mr. Morrison—Another Slave Vessel taken—Landing a part of the Slaves—Author's Daily Routine—Garden of Eden—Monstrous Fish—Continued Mortality—Market at Longfield
Scarcity of Provisions in Fernando Po—Diet of the Natives—Their Timidity—Its probable Cause—The Recovery of a liberated African Deserter—Departure from Fernando Po—Reflections on the Uses of the Settlement—Causes of Failure—Insalubrity of the Climate— Probabilities of Improvement—Arrival off the mouth of the Camaroon River—Chase of a Brigantine—Her Capture—Her suspicious Appearance— Slave Accommodations—Pirates of the North Atlantic Ocean—Prince's Island—Visit to the Governor—Drunken Frolic of a Marine—Provisions— Delicious Coffee—Account of the Town—Population—Varieties of Colour in the Inhabitants—West-bay—Inhospitality of the Governor and Merchants—Visit to a Brazilian Brigantine—Difficulty of obtaining a Passage to Angola—Departure of the Emprendadora—The Eden leaves Prince's Island—Crossing the Equinoctial Line—Dolphin and Flying-fish —Trade-winds—Ascension Island at Daybreak—Landing—Description of the Settlement—Turtle—Goats' Flesh—Abundant Poultry—Island Game— Aboriginal Foes—Unfaithful Friends—Gladiatorial Sports—Privileges of Settlers—Traffic—Roads—Water—Culture of Soil—Produce— Vegetables—Live Stock—Population—Employments—Hours of Labour— Recreations—Departure from the Island—Recollections of Ascension on a former Voyage—Dampier, the Navigator—The Variables—An Affidavit on Crossing the Line—Change of Weather—Dutch Galliot—Passage for the Brazils—Parting of Friends
Dutch Galliot—An Agreeable Companion—Melancholy Account of St. Jago— Beauty in Tears—Manner of obtaining Salt and Water at Mayo—Pleasures of a Galliot in a heavy Sea—Dutch Miscalculation—Distances—An Oblation to Neptune and Amphitrite (new style)—Melange, Devotion and Gourmanderie—Curious Flying-fish—Weather—Whales—Cape Pigeons— Anchor off Rio Janeiro—Distant Scenery—Custom-house Duties—Hotel du Nord—Rua Direito—Confusion thrice confounded—Fruit Girls, not fair, but coquettish—Music unmusical, or Porterage, with an Obligato Accompaniment—Landing-place—An Evening Walk—A bad Cold—Job's Comforter—Shoals of Visitors—Captain Lyon's Visit, and Invitation to the Author—Naval Friends—Packet for England—English Tailors— Departure for Congo Soco—The Party—Thoughts on Self-Denial— Uncomfortable Quarters—Changes of Atmosphere—Freedom by Halves; or left-handed Charity—Serra Santa Anna—Valley of Botaes—The Ferreirinho, or little Blacksmith—Dangerous Ascent of the Alto de Serra—Pest, an Universal Disease—An English Settler—Rio Paraheiba— Valencia—Curiosity of the People—Unceremonious Inquisitors—Comforts of a Beard—Castor-Oil for burning—Rio Preta—Passports—Entrance to the Mine Country—Examination of Baggage—Attention without Politeness —The Green-eyed Monster, "An old Man would be wooing"
Advantages of Early Travelling—Funelle—"A Traveller stopped at a Widow's Gate"—Bright Eyes and Breakfast—Smiles and Sighs—The Fish River—Cold Lodgings—Fowl Massacre—Bad Ways—Gigantic Ant-hills— The Campos—Insect Warriors—Insinuating Visitors (Tick)—The Simpleton—Bertioga—A Drunkard—Cold Shoulders—Mud Church—Feasting and Fasting; or, the Fate of Tantalus—Method in a Slow March—Gentlemen Hungry and Angry—No "Accommodation for Man or Horse"—A Practical Bull—Curtomi—Hospitable Treatment at Grandie—Horse Dealer—A "Chance" Purchase—Bivouac—Mule Kneeling—Sagacious Animal—Quilos—A Mist— Gold-washing—Ora Branca—Hazardous Ascent of the Serra D'Ora Branca— Topaz District—A Colonel the Host—Capoa—Jigger-hunters—Mineralogical Specimens—Mortality of Animals—Pasturage—Account of Ora Preta—Gold Essayed—Halt—Journey resumed—Arrival at Congo Soco
Passion for Travelling—Author's peculiar situation—Motives for going Abroad—Resources for the Blind—Embark in the Eden, Capt. Owen, for Sierra Leone—Lord High Admiral at Plymouth—Cape Finisteire—Arrival at Madeira—Town of Funchal—Wines of Madeira—Cultiwition of the Grape—Table of Exports—Seizure of Gin—Fruits and Vegetables—Climate —Coffee, Tea, and Sugar Cultivation—Palanquin Travelling—Departure from Madeira
The passion for travelling is, I believe, instinctive in some natures. We have seen men persevere in their enterprises against the most formidable obstacles; and, without means or friends, and even ignorant of the languages of the various countries through which they passed, pursue their perilous journeys into remote places, until, like the knight in the Arabian tale, they succeeded in snatching a memorial from every shrine they visited. For my own part, I have been conscious from my earliest youth of the existence of this desire to explore distant regions, to trace the varieties exhibited by mankind under the different influences of different climates, customs, and laws, and to investigate with unwearied solicitude the moral and physical distinctions that separate and diversify the various nations of the earth.
I am bound to believe that this direction of my faculties and energies has been ordained by a wise and benevolent Providence, as a source of consolation under an affliction which closes upon me all the delights and charms of the visible world. The constant occupation of the mind, and the continual excitement of mental and bodily action, contribute to diminish, if not to overcome, the sense of deprivation which must otherwise have pressed upon me; while the gratification of this passion scarcely leaves leisure for despondency, at the same time that it supplies me with inexhaustible means of enjoyment. When I entered the naval service I felt an irresistible impulse to become acquainted with as many parts of the world as my professional avocations would permit, and I was determined not to rest satisfied until I had completed the circumnavigation of the globe. But at the early age of twenty-five, while these resolves were strong, and the enthusiasm of youth was fresh and sanguine, my present affliction came upon me. It is impossible to describe the state of my mind at the prospect of losing my sight, and of being, as I then supposed, deprived by that misfortune of the power of indulging in my cherished project. Even the suspense which I suffered, during the period when my medical friends were uncertain of the issue, appeared to me a greater misery than the final knowledge of the calamity itself. At last I entreated them to be explicit, and to let me know the worst, as that could be more easily endured than the agonies of doubt. Their answer, instead of increasing my uneasiness, dispelled it. I felt a comparative relief in being no longer deceived by false hopes; and the certainty that my case was beyond remedy determined me to seek, in some pursuit adapted to my new state of existence, a congenial field of employment and consolation. At that time my health was so delicate, and my nerves so depressed by previous anxiety, that I did not suffer myself to indulge in the expectation that I should ever be able to travel out of my own country alone; but the return of strength and vigour, and the concentration of my views upon one object, gradually brought back my old passion, which at length became as firmly established as it was before. The elasticity of my original feelings being thus restored, I ventured, alone and sightless, upon my dangerous and novel course; and I cannot look back upon the scenes through which I have passed, the great variety of circumstances by which I have been surrounded, and the strange experiences with which I have become familiar, without an intense aspiration of gratitude for the bounteous dispensation of the Almighty, which enabled me to conquer the greatest of human evils by the cultivation of what has been to me the greatest of human enjoyments, and to supply the void of sight with countless objects of intellectual gratification. To those who inquire what pleasures I can derive from the invigorating spirit of travelling under the privation I suffer, I may be permitted to reply in the words of the poet,
Unknown those powers that raise the soul to flame, Catch every nerve, and vibrate through the frame; Their level life is but a smouldering fire, Unquench'd by want, unfanned by strong desire.
Or perhaps, with more propriety, I may ask, who could endure life without a purpose, without the pursuit of some object, in the attainment of which his moral energies should be called into healthful activity? I can confidently assert that the effort of travelling has been beneficial to me in every way; and I know not what might have been the consequence, if the excitement with which I looked forward to it had been disappointed, or how much my health might have suffered but for its refreshing influence.
I am constantly asked, and I may as well answer the question here once for all, what is the use of travelling to one who cannot see? I answer, Does every traveller see all that he describes?—and is not every traveller obliged to depend upon others for a great proportion of the information he collects? Even Humboldt himself was not exempt from this necessity.
The picturesque in nature, it is true, is shut out from me, and works of art are to me mere outlines of beauty, accessible only to one sense; but perhaps this very circumstance affords a stronger zest to curiosity, which is thus impelled to a more close and searching examination of details than would be considered necessary to a traveller who might satisfy himself by the superficial view, and rest content with the first impressions conveyed through the eye. Deprived of that organ of information, I am compelled to adopt a more rigid and less suspicious course of inquiry, and to investigate analytically, by a train of patient examination, suggestions, and deductions, which other travellers dismiss at first sight; so that, freed from the hazard of being misled by appearances, I am the less likely to adopt hasty and erroneous conclusions. I believe that, notwithstanding my want of vision, I do not fail to visit as many interesting points in the course of my travels as the majority of my contemporaries: and by having things described to me on the spot, I think it is possible for me to form as correct a judgment as my own sight would enable me to do: and to confirm my accuracy, I could bring many living witnesses to bear testimony to my endless inquiries, and insatiable thirst for collecting information. Indeed this is the secret of the delight I derive from travelling, affording me as it does a constant source of mental occupation, and stimulating me so powerfully to physical exertion, that I can bear a greater degree of bodily fatigue, than any one could suppose my frame to be capable of supporting.
I am frequently asked how I take my notes. It is simply thus: I keep a sort of rough diary, which I fill up from time to time as opportunities offer, but not from day to day, for I am frequently many days in arrear, sometimes, indeed, a fortnight together: but I always vividly remember the daily occurrences which I wish to retain, so that it is not possible that any circumstances can escape my attention. I also collect distinct notes on various subjects, as well as particular descriptions of interesting objects, and when I cannot meet with a friend to act as my amanuensis, I have still a resource in my own writing apparatus, of which, however, I but seldom avail myself, as the process is much more tedious to me than that of dictation. But these are merely rough notes of the heads of subjects, which I reserve to expatiate upon at leisure on my return to old England.
The invention of the apparatus to which I allude is invaluable to those who are afflicted with blindness. It opens not only an agreeable source of amusement and occupation in the hours of loneliness and retirement, but it affords a means of communicating our secret thoughts to a friend, without the interposition of a third party; so that the intercourse and confidence of private correspondence, excluded by a natural calamity, are thus preserved to us by an artificial substitute. By the aid of this process, too, we may desire our correspondent to reply to our inquiries in a way which would be quite unintelligible to those to whom the perusal of the answer might be submitted. This apparatus, which is called the "Nocto via Polygraph," by Mr. Wedgwood, the inventor, is not only useful to the blind, but is equally capable of being rendered available to all persons suffering under diseases of the eyes; for, although it does not assist you to commit your thoughts to paper with the same facility that is attained by the use of pen and ink, it enables you to write very clearly and legibly, while you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are spared all risk of hurting your sight. It is but an act of justice to refer such of my readers as may feel any curiosity on this subject, to Mr. Wedgwood, for full particulars respecting his various inventions for the use of the blind.
Having given these personal explanations—rendered necessary by the peculiarity of my situation, and the very general curiosity which appears to exist on the subject, if I may judge by the frequency of the interrogatories that are put to me—will now conclude my preliminary observations,
Nor will I thee detain With poet's fictions, nor oppress thine ear With circumstance, and long exordiums here;
but place myself at once on board H.M.S. Eden, at Woolwich, on the 1st of July, 1827, having been previously invited to take a passage to the coast of Africa, by her captain, W.F.W. Owen, Esq., who was appointed superintendent of a new settlement about to be established on the island of Fernando Po. The commission with which this gentleman was charged, afforded him peculiar advantages, as he was to retain the command of his ship, independently of the Commodore on the African station, for the purpose of facilitating his operations in the island. I had resolved to visit Sierra Leone, and other places on the western coast of Africa, principally from an early anxiety I felt to explore that part of the world, and also, strange and paradoxical as it may appear, for the benefit of my health. That a man should visit Sierra Leone for the benefit of his health, seems to be as unreasonable as if he were to seek for the vernal airs of the south in the inclement region of Siberia. But, I am strongly inclined to believe, that the apprehensions of European travellers on this subject are often as fatal as the climate that produces them. In my own case, I was not only free from any apprehensions concerning fevers and those diseases which are incidental to a tropical climate, but, having been recommended to try the effects of a warm region, I anticipated an improvement in my general health from a short residence at a spot, which incautious modes of living, in addition to the insalubrity of the climate, have rendered fatal to so many of my countrymen. At the same time, I am not insensible to the fact, that all Europeans are more or less susceptible of those disorders which are prevalent within the Tropics; especially on the western coast of Africa, in Batavia, Trincomalee, and different parts of the West Indies; but it is equally certain that fear is a great predisposing cause of disease, and that the despondency to which most persons give way while they are under the influence of its effects, increases the mortality to a considerable extent. It has been generally observed, that those persons who happen to be so actively engaged in any engrossing pursuit, as to have no leisure for the imagination to work upon their fears, are less liable to the fever, and, if attacked, are better able to encounter its virulence, than the timid and cautious. In the event of an attack, if the patient keeps up his spirits, and prevents desponding thoughts from occupying his mind, there is every reason to hope for a favourable result—
The sons of hope are Heaven's peculiar care, Whilst life remains 'tis impious to despair.
There are, of course, some constitutions more susceptible of the disease than others; and it may also be observed, that young people are more exposed to danger, than those who have passed the meridian of life.
We left Woolwich on the following day, July the 2nd, for Northfleet, where we remained a week, for the purpose of making observations, regulating the chronometers, &c. We also took in our guns, 26 in number, of the following calibre—18 32-pound carronades, 6 18-pound ditto, and 2 long 9-pounders, with a full proportion of shot. This quantity of metal alone (for the carriages had been previously taken on board and fixed at Woolwich) brought the ship bodily down in the water four inches, drawing, when on board, 15 feet 2 inches forward, and 15 feet 6 inches abaft. We also received, on the day after, as much powder as could be put in the magazines. On Monday, the 9th, we left our moorings, and proceeded down the Thames, anchoring for the night. On the following day we arrived in the Downs, where we remained for about six-and-forty hours, and from thence proceeded down Channel, and anchored in Plymouth Sound, on Saturday the 14th of July, immediately after which I accompanied my brother, Lieutenant Robert Holman, R.N., who came on board for me, to his house at Plymouth, where I spent a very agreeable time, amongst my old shipmates, relatives, and friends. For the last few days, indeed, my enjoyment was marred by illness, but that was merely the bitter, which a wise Providence mingles in the cup of life.
The period of my stay at Plymouth happened to be one of general congratulation and excitement, owing to the arrival of his present Majesty, then Lord High Admiral; who came there on a visit of inspection. His Royal Highness held regular levees, which were numerously attended. The opportunity to wait upon his Royal Highness was to me a source of sincere gratification, of which I gladly availed myself. But I must acknowledge that a faint hope arose in my mind, that the peculiar circumstances in which I was placed might interest his Royal Highness on my behalf, and lead to some change in my situation favourable to the objects I had so long cherished. I ventured to indulge in the thought, which, perhaps, I scarcely suffered myself altogether to define, that I might be relieved from the obligations of my appointment at Windsor, by which I am under restrictions, both as to time and space; and be permitted to enjoy some equivalent consideration, which would leave me free to prosecute the plans to which I had devoted the whole energies of my mind. As it was, I had only obtained permission to go abroad for the benefit of my health; but the remedy was in itself an incitement to further travel, so that I should no sooner have reaped the advantage of my leave of absence, and with renewed health, acquired an increased desire for exploring distant countries, than I should be compelled to relinquish my undertaking, and the apprehension of a sudden recall constantly presenting itself to my mind, checked in a great measure the enjoyment of my pursuit. But my sanguine wishes, and unconfessed hopes, faded like a dream; and I turned again to the sea, to contemplate the bounds that were placed to my ambitious projects. Had it been otherwise—could I have followed unchecked the course of my own impulses, I should not have circumscribed my plan to any precise limits, but would have pursued my travels, wherever the slightest point of interest encouraged me to proceed.
Possibly it is better as it is. I have much reason to be grateful for the protecting hand of Providence that preserved me throughout my wanderings; and, had I been less restrained by the force of circumstances, I might not now, perhaps, possess the power of recording the results of my researches.
In consequence of having been confined to my bed by severe indisposition, I was unable to walk to the boat when the Eden was ready to sail, and had nearly lost my passage; but my anxiety to proceed overcame all my difficulties, and ill as I was I saved my distance by hastening in a coach to the waterside, where Captain Owen had kindly provided a boat for my reception.
On the 29th we got under weigh at 9 A.M., with a fresh breeze from the eastward.
Gallant before the wind she goes, her prow High bearing and disparting the blue tide That foams and flashes in its rage below. Meantime the helmsman feels a conscious pride, And while far onward the long billows swell, Looks to the lessening land, which seems to say, 'farewell!'
We did not long enjoy our easterly breeze, for in the evening the wind became variable, the rain fell in torrents, accompanied with lightning and thunder, and the night was dark and dismal, with an irregular sea, which made the ship very uneasy; then followed one of those scenes of confusion which can be witnessed only on shipboard; the creaking of timbers as they were strained by the conflict of the elements, the uproar of a multitude of voices, the ludicrous accidents arising from the pitching and rolling of the vessel, things breaking loose in all directions, chests flying from side to side, crockery smashing, people hallooing, others moaning and groaning, accompanied with frequent evomitions, and occasionally a general scream, from some extraordinary crash. With tumultuous noises of this kind I was entertained as I lay on my bed, not from sea-sickness, but from previous indisposition. Towards morning the wind settled in the N.W., blowing very strong, and the Eden continued rolling a great deal the whole day. This breeze fortunately kept up the two following days, when the weather became very fine, and the wind light and variable. The whole of this day (Thursday, August 2nd) we were in sight of Cape Finisterre. On Sunday the 5th the weather was very fine and warm, with a moderate breeze; we had eleven sail of vessels in sight, the greater part of which, from their regular order of sailing, were supposed to be the experimental squadron under the command of Sir Thomas Hardy. Divine service was performed by the Rev. Mr. Davy, a Church Missionary, who, with his wife, was bound to Sierra Leone, to perform the duties of a missionary and teacher to the liberated Africans; his wife taking upon herself to instruct the female part of that community. The following day, in 36-1/2 deg. N. lat., we saw several flying fish, which I mention merely because it was thought to be very unusual to see them so far to the northward.
On Wednesday, the 8th of August, we came in sight of Porto Santo. The first appearance of land always produces a degree of interest in the ship even to sailors, but to passengers it is generally the cause of great excitement. In the afternoon we saw Madeira, and on the following day we rounded the west end of the island, and stood for Funchal Roads, having passed along the north side in order that Captain Owen might ascertain its length, which he found to be thirty-four miles; this was precisely the same distance that he had calculated it to be on a former measurement. He had taken this trouble a second time, in consequence of some navigator having expressed a different opinion on the subject. In the evening we anchored in thirty-six fathoms water, the Loo Rock bearing N. by E. We found a Portuguese sloop of war and several small merchant vessels lying here. The next morning I went on shore with the surgeon and purser of the Eden, both of whom have since died of fever on board the same ship.
The general landing place for ships' boats is at the Loo Rock on the west side of the bay, which is at the extremity of the town on that side, and you have more than a mile to walk over a very badly paved road before you arrive at the centre of the town; you may, however, land on the beach near the custom-house, from whence you immediately enter the best part of the town, but the surf is sometimes so rough that you cannot attempt this point without risking a ducking, or the upsetting of your boat, which you must immediately haul up on the beach or keep outside the surf.
Notwithstanding we had left England in the height of summer we found a great difference in the climate, the weather being exceedingly hot. On the following day I was invited to dine and take up my residence at Mr. Shortridge's during our stay at Madeira. We met a large party at dinner, consisting of Captain Owen, with some of his officers, the Rev. Mr. Deacon, and a number of the most respectable English residents. Madeira is so frequently visited by ships from different parts of Europe, and has been so fully described, that it may, perhaps, appear superfluous to attempt any further account of a place already so well known; but as all men are supposed to possess a certain portion of vanity, and as travellers are proverbially accused of laying claim to the discovery of some facts which had escaped the observation of their predecessors, I venture to throw together, into as brief a compass as possible, the result of my inquiries, in the hope that I may add something to that which is already known, and, at all events, with a strong confidence in the accuracy of my remarks.
The wine, being of vital importance to the prosperity of the island, presents the first claim to the attention of a stranger. A sort of controversy, with better reasons on the one side than the other, prevails, respecting the relative qualities of the wines produced at the north and the south sides of the island; in which the vineyards at the north side have suffered what appears to be an indiscriminate and injudicious censure. The grape chiefly grown there is the Virdelho, which the most experienced planters allow to be productive of the strongest and most esteemed of their wines; and when it is of the growth of the southern vineyards it is held in the highest estimation. It must, however, be admitted that the northern aspect is unfavourable to the grape, and that the greater proportion of the wines from that side are only fit for the still. The cause of this may be referred to a variety of circumstances; such as the marked difference in the soil and aspect and the mode of cultivation, the vines being trained upon trees; whilst on the south side the more approved system is practised of training them upon horizontal trellis work, raised two or three feet from the ground, by which the plant is supported and the fruit exposed to the full influence of the sun. A great superiority of flavour is, no doubt, thus obtained: on the north side, the grapes are entirely of the white kind, whilst on the south there is a great variety, but chiefly of the red, from which it is said the finest wine is made. The famed vineyards of the Malmsey and Sercial wines, are towards the west end of the south side. There is but a very small quantity of either grown on this spot of the first rate quality, or indeed of any value as a characteristic wine, for on the easternmost part of this situation there is a constant flow of water rushing from the summits of the rocks, that greatly deteriorates the value of the growths over which its influence extends. The practice of plucking the leaves of the vines to admit the genial heat of the sun to the fruit, as well as a free circulation of air, has been found most beneficial in bringing the fruit to perfection. This process is also a source of emolument to the planter, as the leaves form an excellent food for fattening cattle destined for the shambles, giving also to the meat a fine and delicious flavour.
The wines of Madeira generally may be divided into three denominations, and may be thus described.
Tinto is a red wine, the produce of the Burgundy grape, transplanted to Madeira. It is drank in perfection in the second and third years, before it has deposited its extractive matter, after which it becomes a full bodied Madeira wine, of the usual colour and flavour.
Sercial is the produce of the Hock grape: a pale, lively, and very high-flavoured wine. It ought not to be drank in less than seven years, and it requires a much greater age to reach perfection.
Malmsey, when genuine, is a rich and highly cordial wine. There is a variety of it called green Malmsey, bearing some resemblance to Frontignan.
The first quality of the Madeira wine is certainly equal to the finest production of the grape in any part of the world, for its aromatic flavour and beneficial effects: therefore it is much to be lamented that so small a quantity of it, in its pure state, should find its way to foreign markets: and that its character should be sacrificed to the sordid speculations of any unprincipled traders. Wine drinkers in England are very commonly deceived into the idea that a voyage to the East or West Indies is sufficient to ensure the excellence of the wine; but this is an obvious fallacy, for if the wine were not of a good quality when shipped from the island, a thousand voyages could not make it what it never had been. It is well known to every merchant in Madeira, that a great proportion of the wines so shipped are of an inferior quality, and are purchased in barter by persons who are commonly known by the name of truckers.
I may here observe, as a general remark, that fine Madeira wines are equally improved by the extremes of heat and cold, and that damp is always hurtful to them.
Burgundy vines have lately been introduced into Madeira. The generally received opinion that the wines of Teneriffe and the Azores are brought here for the purpose of giving them the Madeira flavour, and sending them to foreign markets as the produce of the island, is very erroneous. Although smuggling is openly carried on, and to an extent that ought to set at rest so fallacious an opinion, any one acquainted with this island must be aware of the utter impossibility of introducing foreign wines with a view to exporting them again as native produce; for, in the first place, the whole of the inhabitants would be likely to resist such an attempt, from a conviction that the introduction would militate against their own interests, and from the obvious apprehension that the increased quantity as well as the inferior quality of the adulterated wines, would injure the character and reduce the price of their own.
The great increase too, which it would occasion in the amount sent out of the island, would render it very difficult for the speculators in the spurious wines, to avoid detection. It is, therefore, much more reasonable to suppose, that these mixtures take place in the markets to which the wines are sent: the great demand for them tempting the persons engaged in the traffic, to embark in an imposition which has had the effect of deteriorating the wines so materially, that at last they began to lose their previous character, to get out of fashion, and, consequently, to fall off in demand as well as in price. This system of intermixing different wines, to swell the quantity of some favourite wine, is known to prevail to a great extent in those of France and Portugal. The Clarets of the London market, are principally prepared for the purpose, and, in the transit, lose much of the pure nature of the original production: and the quantity of adulterated Port that is sold in England is almost incredible. It is also a well known fact, that there is more Tokay sold on the Continent and in England, in one year, than the limited space where it is grown, on the mountains of Hungary, could produce in twenty years.
But there is also, independently of this vitiation to which the wines are liable, another cause for the inferior quality of those wines which are really the produce of the islands. A few Englishmen, and other foreigners, of a grade very different from that of the respectable English merchants who have been long established here, hit upon the expedient of exporting wines instead of attending to the business which they had originally established on the island. They thought it would turn out profitable to buy up cheap, and, of course, inferior wines, for the purpose of sending them to the European markets, under the impression that any thing would sell that was known to be the genuine production of Madeira. By this method of enlarging their business, the worst description of the native produce got abroad, and was substituted in place of the best. There are, of course, a great variety of qualities; but there is not a greater quantity of the first quality than is required to flavour their inferior wines; and it is only by appropriating it to that purpose, that they could be enabled to furnish a sufficient quantity for the immense demand in the various markets which they have to supply.
It will be seen from the following account of the exportation of wine from Madeira, that the demand was rapidly decreasing in 1825, 6, and 7, owing to the causes above mentioned.
1825. ————————————————————————- Pipes of Hds. Q.C. 1/2 Q.C. 110 Gall. of 55 of 27-1/2 of 15 ————————————————————————- January, 1367 1 0 0 Feb. 751 1 0 1 March, 1915 1 0 0 April, 2463 0 1 0 May, 1252 1 1 0 June, 1112 1 1 0 July, 1329 1 1 1 August, 677 1 0 0 Sept. 741 0 0 1 Oct. 1338 1 1 0 Nov. 881 1 1 0 Dec. 599 0 0 1 ————————————————————————- 14425 9 7 4 ————————————————————————-
1826. ————————————————————————- Pipes, old Measure Hds. Q.C. 1/2 Q.C. ————————————————————————- January, 1092 1 1 1 Feb. 420 1 1 1 March, 905 1 1 1 April, 777 1 1 1 May, 1826 1 1 1 June, 866 0 0 1 July, 488 1 0 1 August, 978 1 0 0 Sept. 317 0 0 1 Oct. 730 1 1 1 Nov. 703 1 0 1 Dec. 289 1 0 0 ————————————————————————- 9391 10 6 9 ————————————————————————-
1827. ————————————————————————- Pipes Hds. Q.C. 1/4 Q.C. ————————————————————————- January, 371 1 0 1 Feb. 573 0 0 0 March, 252 0 1 1 April, 958 1 1 1 May, 1539 0 1 0 June, 535 0 1 1 July, 567 1 1 0 August, 279 0 1 1 ————————————————————————- 5274 2 6 5 ————————————————————————-
I am informed, that smuggling is so common a practice in this island, that there is no difficulty in procuring any prohibited article you may desire: among the most abundant are French brandy and Dutch gin. The former of these articles continued to be smuggled, in large quantities, for some time after the prohibition, from an idea that it was the best spirit they could use, and under an apprehension that the wines could not maintain their character without it:—experience, however, has shewn them, that they can not only do without French brandy, but that the spirit which is made on the island, is much better adapted to their purpose.
An extensive seizure of gin was made during our short stay at Madeira, under the following circumstances: A boat went off to a Dutch vessel, on the same evening that she left the port, which, no doubt, had been previously arranged, and took 300 cases of gin, which she landed at the N.E. side of the island. She remained there that day, and proceeded, under the obscurity of the following night, towards the town of Funchal; but on her way she struck, and must have been wrecked but for the assistance of a fishing-smack that happened to be near at the moment. The fishermen were, as a matter of course, easily bribed to assist the smugglers in landing and depositing the illicit store in a cavern at Prior Bay, a little to the westward of Funchal. The next day, however, a most unfortunate accident revealed the whole proceeding. Two lovers had formed an arrangement to make an excursion from Funchal to Kama de Loba, and leaving the former place in a small boat, were in due time landed at Prior Bay. They had not proceeded far, before they discovered the cave, and tempted, by its coolness and its solitary situation, they entered it, when, to their surprise, they saw a man lying in a remote part of the interior. As he appeared to be sleeping very soundly, they ventured to look farther in, when they perceived a great number of cases deposited in an obscure corner; and, suspecting that they were placed there to elude the vigilance of the revenue officers, they immediately communicated the fact to some persons in the Custom-house, in the hope of being rewarded for their zeal. The Custom-house people, who were probably already aware of the circumstance, did not appear to be very anxious to interfere, and told the disappointed informers that they might take a few cases for themselves, and say nothing more about the matter. Shortly afterwards, however, the affair reached the ears of the Governor, who immediately sent a military party to seize upon the illicit deposit, the contents of which were demonstrated by the potent effects which they had upon the soldiers.
The stone fruits of Madeira are in general of a very inferior quality, arising from mere want of attention to their cultivation; for where the trees have been planted in a favourable situation, and otherwise attended to, the produce is excellent; but they are generally scattered about the vineyards, and treated with the utmost carelessness, being very rarely pruned or dressed. It is supposed that they are permitted to grow in this irregular way for the purpose of attracting the lizards, insects, and grubs from the vines, as it was found that they always preferred the more solid nutriment of the stone fruit, especially the peach. These grubs are so numerous, that they will scarcely allow a single apricot or peach to ripen unperforated, consequently, the planters are obliged to pluck, in a green state, what they would otherwise desire to see expanding to full maturity.
Query.—Why do the insects prefer the peach tree to the vine? Is it from the resinous quality of the former?
There is also an abundance of apples and pears, but of a bad quality, occasioned by the same causes. The mulberry, fig, and guava, succeed better; they are both abundant and good, but there are not any plantains or bananas. On the higher lands, that is, above the general height of the vineyards, the walnut and chesnut grow most luxuriantly, and are both ornamental and useful. The chesnuts are so plentiful that, in the fruit season, they form a considerable article of food amongst the lower orders of the people. The fine old forest trees, the original occupiers of the soil, are disappearing rapidly, even from the deepest ravines; in situations easy of access they have been long since destroyed by the lawless and thoughtless despoiler.
I must not omit some reference to the vegetables of Madeira, and in particular the potatoe, which grows as fine here as in any part of the world. The cultivation of this edible has of late so much increased, as in some districts to constitute the chief food of the natives. The apparently unfavourable situation on which it is principally planted, affords a convincing proof of the superiority, in habits of active industry, of the peasantry of this island over the Portuguese peasants in general. Instead of being indolent and supine, and indisposed to embrace the means of ameliorating and improving their condition, they are, on the contrary, enterprising, hardy, and persevering. The potatoe is chiefly reared on the ascent of Pico Rueva, at an elevation of 6,000 feet above the level of the sea, and many of the beds are within 300 feet of the summit. The ground above a certain height belongs to Government, and the people have only a trifling tax to pay for any portion that they choose to cultivate. Onions, pumpkins, melons, cucumbers, &c. &c. are in the greatest abundance. Beef, mutton, and poultry, of good quality, are to be obtained at moderate prices, and fish in the greatest abundance.
Madeira may be said to be in general very healthy; but in the autumn diarrhoea is a common complaint amongst the lower orders, caused by eating bad and unripe fruits, and drinking the washings of the wine-press, a beverage made by throwing water on the husks of the grapes, after the operation of pressing out the wine has been performed, and then submitting them to a second pressure.
It is not an infrequent occurrence, that parts of the crews of ships that touch at the Island, suffer from eating unripe fruits, which are often incautiously allowed to be brought on board, particularly the peaches, which the commanding officers of vessels would do well to prohibit by every means in their power. The Portuguese boats are always ready to bring off great quantities of such trash, which no one can eat with impunity. The changes of the weather, for which the inhabitants are not sufficiently prepared by clothing, may be added as another cause of disease.
The planting of coffee has lately become very general in the vicinity of Funchal, chiefly in gardens and places not favourable for the culture of the vine, and this plant generally presents a most thriving appearance, producing a berry which is highly esteemed, and is in such demand at Lisbon that there is no doubt that the cultivation of it, will, hereafter, become an object of some consideration; and I may here observe, that it is already gradually extending. The quality of this berry is so superior as to have rendered it an article of exportation, and the people more readily resort to this new branch of culture, from the decline in the demand for the secondary wines. Our Consul has recently introduced the tea plant at his seat up the mountain, from which some favourable specimens have already been obtained.
The manufacture of sugar has also been tried on the island, but although the cane succeeds uncommonly well, the expense of conveying it to Funchal, together with that of the process of extracting the juice, and the want of skill in granulation, has rendered the experiment too costly, it being found that Brazilian sugar can be had cheaper than the native production.
Sunday, August 12th, 1827.—I accompanied Mr. Shortridge to the English Chapel, where the congregation was small, in consequence of the absence of the merchants and their families in the country, during the summer months. The service was performed by the Rev. Mr. Deacon, who is a member of the Established Church, and holds the appointment of Chaplain to the English residents, of whom there are a great number, consisting of merchants, shop-keepers, servants, and a few invalids. I do not, however, consider it the best place in the world for the last description of visitors. Bermuda is well known to be a much more healthy climate; from the land not being so high, the weather is less variable, and the temperature, of course, more equal. Madeira, notwithstanding, has two advantages over Bermuda, worthy of consideration; it presents more agreeable and better society, and offers greater facilities of intercourse with England; so that the accounts from home are more frequent and recent.
I left town in the afternoon, to dine with Mr. Webster Gordon, who resides at the mount near the Church of Nostra Senhora del Monte, about three miles in the country; where I was invited with Captain Owen and some of his officers. They went on horseback, while I, being still rather an invalid, hired a palanquin by the advice of my friend, Mr. Shortridge. Having heard a good deal of the luxury of palanquin travelling in the East, I thought it would be a very pleasant mode of conveyance on a hot day; but instead of finding it swing loftily, like a hammock, as I expected, I discovered much to my mortification, that, when on the shoulders of the bearers, it was raised only about eighteen inches from the ground, and consisted of a solid frame of wood, suspended from a pole with two iron stanchions, and covered on each side by a cloth flung over the pole, to serve as a curtain. In this I was placed, in a half sitting, half recumbent posture, which I need scarcely observe was not very agreeable. When I got out to call at a gentleman's house, before I reached my ultimate destination, I found that the cramp in the calves of my legs had so disabled me, that I could scarcely stand, and it was a considerable time before I could walk unaided and free from pain. I anticipated every moment that my bearers would have complained of the road, which was badly paved, and very steep the greatest part of the way; but they were fine, hardy, muscular men, and quite indifferent to a toil with which habit had rendered them familiar. Each bearer carries a long stick in his hand, which assists to support and steady him, over the uneven ground.
On arriving at Mr. Webster Gordon's, I was agreeably surprised to find that I had been previously acquainted with Mrs. Gordon and her mother in Italy.
The population of the town of Funchal is said to be about 25,000; and that of the whole island, including Funchal, 120,000.
Invalids have, latterly, more facilities for obtaining lodgings than they had in former years, the inhabitants finding it their interest to direct their attention more to that particular. The resident British may be estimated at about 250, including children; and since my return to England, I have been informed, that, during this last year, there were upwards of 100 invalid visitors from America.
I passed the short time the ship remained very pleasantly, and I could have wished that it had been longer; not only on account of the salubrity of the climate, but for the advantage of being enabled to collect more information. Some of the officers went to the Coural, a celebrated part of the island for extensive and beautiful scenery. In the afternoon of Tuesday, August 14th, we embarked, and sailed out of Funchal Bay on the same evening, directing our course for Teneriffe. Our consort the Diadem, transport, had left the bay a few hours before. From Funchal, Madeira, to Santa Cruz, Teneriffe, the course is S. 6 deg. E.; distance 252 miles.
—————  Madeira received its name in consequence of being covered with wood; the word "madeira" in the Portuguese signifying timber.
 The vine of Italy was originally introduced to the mountain, of Tokay, in the fourteenth century, by Louis I. of France.
 In the mountains of the Caraccas the potatoe grows wild, and in great abundance; but as they are left unnoted, they are usually not much larger than the ordinary gooseberry.—See Humboldt.
Teneriffe—Town of Santa Cruz—Female Costume—Incident at a Ball—Bad Roads—Climate—Productions—Population of the Canary Islands—Imports and Exports—Various Qualities of the Wines—Fishery—Leave Santa Cruz—Crossing the Tropic of Cancer—Shaving and Ducking—General Remarks—Make St. Jago—Anchor at Porto Praya—Sickly Season—Death of the Consul and his Wife—Consul's Sister—Governor's Garden and Watering-place—Population of the Island—Produce—The Orchilla Weed, its growth, uses, and varieties—Cause of Fever—Departure for Sierra Leone
Wednesday, 15th.—Fresh breezes and cloudy, with the wind and a swell from the eastward. At sunset passed within six or seven miles to the eastward of the Great Salvage Islands.
Thursday, 16th.—At daylight saw the island of Teneriffe, and at nine anchored in Santa Cruz Roads, in nineteen fathoms water; the flag-staff on the mole bearing W. by N. We saluted the Spanish flag with thirteen guns, which was returned.
Mr. M'Gregor, our Vice-consul, came on board, when he immediately recognised me, as having seen me at Hamburg about three years before. On his returning to the shore he was complimented with a salute of seven guns, according to regulations. I accompanied some of the officers on shore to take a ramble over the town. I regretted to learn from Mr. M'Gregor that Mr. Bruce, our Consul-General for the Canaries, was in England. This circumstance was a serious disappointment to me, as I had a letter of introduction to that gentleman from a friend of his at Madeira, who assured me that he possessed so vigorous and intelligent a mind, and was so intimately acquainted with the island of Teneriffe, where he had long resided, that I could not fail to obtain much valuable information from him that was not generally known.
My friends were very much pleased with the cleanly appearance of the town and good pavement, affording a striking contrast to Funchal, which, like most Portuguese towns, was dirty and badly paved. There was another agreeable sight; the Spanish women, who were generally handsome, with an interesting character of expression in their faces, which is much heightened by their beautiful dark eyes and jet-black hair. Their dresses are remarkable for their neatness.
The town of Santa Cruz stands near the sea, on a plain of about two miles square, at the foot of the mountains. The population amounts to about 6,000 souls. It has a well fortified sea-line of defence, and a mole protected by a fort. It was on landing at this mole that Nelson lost his arm, and Captain Boscawen his life. The English colours taken on that occasion are preserved as trophies in the principal church. Few persons are seen walking about during the day, and those only of the lower orders. The women wear large shawls thrown over their heads, hanging very low down, and a round black hat with a high crown. A friend of mine once visited the island in one of H.M. ships at the time of the Carnival, and on the last day of the festivities there was a public ball, to which the officers of the ship were invited. They went early to see as much as they could of the inhabitants, and their opinion of the ladies was, that they looked more like English than Spanish women in almost all respects, except their remarkably black eyes and hair. Before the dancing commenced the ladies were all blindfolded, and each provided with a stick, when they were conducted to one end of the room, where a jar full of bon bons was suspended, which they were desired to break, but the blows from their delicate hands were not able to accomplish it, and one of the gentlemen at last performed this task for them, when there was a general scramble among the gentlemen, from a desire to procure some of the contents to present to their fair partners.
The Diadem transport anchored here soon after us.
Friday, 17th.—The York, East Indiaman, was lying off this place in the forenoon whilst her boat went on shore with letters. Some of the officers took horse this morning and went to the town of Laguna, which is about six miles from Santa Cruz. They found the road in a terrible state, from a quantity of large stones and rubbish, which a late hurricane, with heavy rain, had brought down from the higher lands. Their ride was a very cheap one, for they only paid half a dollar for each horse, including a guide—a rare occurrence for Englishmen to find any thing cheap in a foreign country. Port Oratava, which lies on the opposite or north side of the island, the principal town for commerce on it, is 21 miles by land from Santa Cruz; and it is said to be 36 miles from Oratava to the summit of the Peak, a journey of at least two days' ascent from the latter place, which is the starting point.
Our visit to this island was too short to be of much interest to a traveller, for it would have required at least a week to have visited the Peak only and returned to Santa Cruz, which I certainly would have done if the ship had remained a sufficient time; as I also wished to have visited Porto Rueva, at Madeira, but on my arrival at that island I had not sufficiently recovered my strength after the indisposition I experienced on leaving England.
They have at Teneriffe, (besides horses, asses, and mules,) camels, which are much in use as beasts of burden. Smoking is a very general practice here, and consequently there is no want of ordinary cigars; but I was surprised to find that Havannah cigars are very difficult to be procured. They can be obtained, however, but at un exorbitant rate, in consequence of the risks attending the smuggling. Tobacco is a royal monopoly, and the duty is so high, that it amounts almost to a prohibition, and consequently affords great temptation to smuggling. They have ice at their command here in abundance, which is a great luxury for a hot climate. They bring it down from the mountains, and use it very commonly in lemonade, creams, and for many other purposes. It is desirable to call here on your way to a hot climate, if it were only to procure a few good drip stones, the best of which are brought from Grand Canary, and which are to be had in great plenty, and very cheap, from one to three Spanish dollars each, which is the most current coin of this island.
Teneriffe, in climate, soil, produce, and general appearance, strongly resembles Madeira, from which it is distant 240 miles, due south. The principal towns are Port-Oratava, Oratava, Realexo, and Caracheeo, on the north side of the island; and on the south, Santa Cruz, Candilaria, and Adexi; besides the inland towns, Laguna, (the capital) about two leagues from Santa Cruz, Metanza, and Victoria, all on the road between Santa Cruz and Port-Oratava, which arc at an elevation, varying from 3,000 to 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. This affords a considerable variety of climate, and choice of residence. Teneriffe, however, possesses but little English society, consequently there are few comforts or inducements for invalids. There is an extensive plain of table land and corn country round Laguna, which is a bishop's see, with an income of 30,000 dollars per annum. The governor of the province resides at Santa Cruz. There is also a bishopric at Grand Canary (where the audience, or supreme court is held), worth about 50,000 dollars a-year.
Teneriffe, from its great elevation, and gradual slope to the sea, possesses every variety of vegetation from the tropic to the frozen regions. In the first or lower region are found the date, palm, pine-apple, alligator-pear, and sugar cane, tea and coffee trees, lemons, citrons, oranges and grapes; the next region is that of grain and fruits, and trees of temperate climates; next follow the chesnuts, pines (Pinus Cananensis), and other hardy Alpine trees; then the region of heaths, laurels, and other evergreens; and at the extreme limit of vegetation, a considerable distance from the summit, the white broom (Spartium Nubigenum.) The population of the Canary Islands is about 200,000, viz. Teneriffe, 80,000; Grand Canary, 60,000; Palma, 25,000; Lanzerota, 15,000; Forteventura, 10,000; Heirro, 4,000; Gomera, 6,000.
The exports, exclusive of the coasting trade, are wines, barilla, orchilla weed, rock-moss, safflower, (hay-saffron,) and silks. The imports are sugar, cocoa, oil, tobacco, paper, &c. from Cadiz; earthenware, from St. Lucia; brandy, from Catalonia; dry goods, cloth, iron, and hardware, from England; and staves, soap, candles, and rice from the United States of America.
The volcanic nature of the soil of the Canary Islands renders it extremely favourable to the cultivation of the vine, which grows luxuriantly in Teneriffe, where more than three-fourths of all the wines exported from the Canaries is produced. The Teneriffe wines are of the same description and varieties as the wines of Madeira, namely, Tinto, Verdelho, Gual, Listan, Malvasia, &c., but they are not equal in quality to the fine wines of the south side, yet superior to the wines of the north side, of that island. They are distinguished by what may be called the generic denominations of dry and sweet. The dry is well known by the name of Vidonia, and the sweet as Malvasia. The first quality of the former can only be obtained from the most respectable merchants, it being a very common process to convert it, by admixtures, into a counterfeit of Madeira, or sherry, and occasionally to drug it with port. The strongest quality of the celebrated wine called sack, is made in Teneriffe, Grand Canary, and Palma.
Carbonate of soda is obtained from the sal sola soda, extensively cultivated at Lanccrota and Forteventura. It is gathered in September, dried, and then charred or fused into a ringing, hard, cellular mass, of a greyish blue colour. A small quantity is made also at Grand Canary. The barilla of the Canary Islands has been sold in England so high as 80l. a ton, and as low as 6l.; at the present time, (December, 1833) it is worth 9l. 10s. a ton. The depreciation is caused chiefly by kelp, and other substitutes found in the British alkali, a French chemical discovery, manufactured from sea salt, from which, the other ingredients are detached, by combination with sulphur, and acids subjected to heat. The imports of barilla from the Canary Islands to this country are about 3,500 tons a-year. The United States of America, and of late years, Brazil, also, take off a few cargoes of this article. Lancerota produces, annually, about 300 tons of barilla; Forte ventura about 1500 tons.
Rock moss (Parmelia perlata) is worth about 70l. a ton, and is one of the innumerable lichens common to the Canary Islands; it is used in the manufacture of cudbear for the dyers. There is also a spurious kind, with difficulty distinguished from the good.
Silk is chiefly produced at Palma. There is but little exported from Teneriffe. It might, however, be produced in immense quantities, the white and red mulberry tree being indigenous and luxuriant in the middle region of the island, and the climate so mild, that the insect could be hatched and reared under wooden sheds, without any difficulty. The great defect in the Teneriffe silk is the coarseness of the fibre, from want of dexterity in winding it off the cocoons, and in regulating the heat to which it ought to be subjected during that separation.
A considerable emigration used to take place annually from the islands, and particularly from Lancerota and Forteventura, to the Spanish Main, and to Cuba, where those islanders were much in request, as labourers and muleteers; and often prospered so well as to be enabled to return home enriched: but the practice has been prohibited since the declaration of independence of Spanish South America.
There is a considerable fishery carried on from the Canary Islands, on the coast of Barbary, for a species of bream, which is salted in bulk, and sold very cheap, and in great quantities. This trade is pursued in decked schooners, or lugger-rigged vessels, of from 60 to 70 tons burthen, which rum down before the trade wind to their station, where they remain until they procure a cargo, when they beat up to the island, take in a fresh cargo of Cadiz salt, and again return to their station. They have very little intercourse with the Arab tribes of that coast, but they sometimes bring back a few lion, tiger, and leopard skins, and ostrich feathers. I am happy to learn that our knowledge of the natural history of these islands is likely to be soon very much increased, by the indefatigable exertions of P.B. Webb, Esq., a gentleman well known to the scientific world, who is now engaged at Paris in publishing the result of his researches in different branches of natural history.
In the afternoon we took in some oxen and wine, and left Santa Cruz roads at seven in the evening. From Santa Cruz to Porto Praya, St. Jago, the course is S. 26 deg. W. 920 miles.
Monday, 20th.—Having crossed the tropic of Cancer last evening. Captain Owen granted the ship's company permission to perform the customary ceremony of shaving and ducking all those who had not previously passed the tropic. Whenever a ship is intended to enter the southern hemisphere, this marine exhibition is not performed until she reaches the equinoctial line. Although this ceremony has been frequently described, I do not think it right to pass it over altogether unnoticed; I will therefore make a few general observations by way of comment on the practice.
A sea voyage is at the best a monotonous life, and a long voyage is only to be wished for by the few whose health it is calculated to improve; therefore, any little variety, that produces even but a temporary excitement, is desirable; and in this point of view only, is the old custom of shaving and ducking (which, by the bye, is a barbarous one) at all excusable.
When it is permitted to be practised, it should only be under certain regulations, as the consequences have frequently been very serious, for want of some salutary restrictions; in some cases the harmony that has existed amongst the society on board has been destroyed; actions at law, and duels, fevers from exposure daring the day's amusement, have ensued: it is, therefore, imperatively necessary that the law should take cognizance of this custom, and enforce some rigorous rules for the government of all commanders of vessels, whenever circumstances should permit the indulgence of this indefensible practice. In the first place, the ship should be always put under snug sail; and that part of the vessel, in which the scene takes place, should be completely screened in, and no cruel or offensive practices permitted. The Captain should always have the power of protecting his officers and passengers from being compelled to submit to the demands of old Neptune, by paying a small fine for the exemption: say cabin passengers, five shillings, steerage passengers half-a-crown. The sum total of these fines should be divided among those sailors who had previously crossed the line; and, if any of the sailors on board should be found to throw water, rope yarns dipped in tar, or in any other way insult, or annoy, persons who do not take a part in their proceedings, they should be punished as they would for a similar breach of discipline at any other time. There is one example, which I feel at liberty to quote, and which was nearly the occasion of a court-martial on the senior lieutenant of one of H.M. ships that arrived in Simon's Bay during my residence at the Cape of Good Hope. The circumstance was as follows:—The purser of the ship had shut himself up in his cabin, determined to resist any forcible attempt to make him undergo the ceremony of shaving; but those who were engaged in it, were resolved that he should not be permitted to escape: they accordingly forced the door of his cabin, from which they got him out, dragged him on deck, and performed the ceremony, in spite of his efforts and remonstrances. The charge against the first lieutenant was, I understood, for encouraging the persons who committed this act of violence. This formed the grounds of an application for a court-martial, which was only prevented from taking place by the intercession of some officers of rank. It is satisfactory to be enabled to add, that this barbarous and unworthy custom is rapidly falling into disuse.
Wednesday, 22nd.—A moderate trade wind, and all sail set. At daylight saw the island of Sall, bearing E.S.E. 15 miles. At half-past 5 in the afternoon saw the island of St. Jago, when I went to the fore top-mast head, for exercise and amusement, while others went to see the land. At 11 brought the ship to the wind, and stood off the land at a convenient distance for going into Porto Praya on the following day.
At daylight, made all sail, and stood towards the anchorage, with a light breeze and very fine weather. At noon anchored off Porto Praya, in 12 fathoms water and sandy bottom. Extreme points of the bay from W. 3/4 S. to E. 3/4 S. Garrison flagstaff N.N.W. 1/2 W.
Our Consul-General for the Cape de Verds (Mr. Clark) waited on Captain Owen, from whom we learnt, that His Majesty's ship, North Star, sailed from this port five days before, and that a very heavy gale of wind arose from the S.W. on that night. We were also informed, that this is the most sickly part of the year, in consequence of its being the rainy season, which commences at the beginning of August, and continues to the end of October; during which time the winds are frequently from the southward and westward, making it hazardous to anchor at this port in those months. The whole of this time is generally very sickly, so much so that the principal authorities are glad to leave the island, and repair to Fuego, which is the highest, and also considered to be the most healthy of all the Cape de Verd group. The Chief Justice and his family left Porto Praya, for Fuego, in a Portuguese sloop of war, on the day we entered it, the Governor having previously left for the same destination.
There were many of the inhabitants suffering from fever, while we were at St. Jago, and two of the Consul's family were among the number, and I lament to relate, that not long after our departure, both the Consul and his wife fell victims to this too commonly fatal fever of St. Jago, leaving his sister, an amiable and accomplished young lady, dangerously ill of the same disease. The case of this lady was one of the most melancholy interest. She was entirely unprotected by the presence of any country people of her own, except a gentleman, who, happening to call there on his way from England to Sierra Leone, was induced to remain on the island, at the request of Mrs. Clark, for the purpose of acting as Vice-Consul, during the severe illness of her husband. This gentleman, after performing the painful duty of reading the burial service over the Consul-General and his lady, was himself attacked by the same fever, and after struggling for a length of time against it, was, at last, sent off to the island of Mayo, just in time to save his life, leaving the Consul's sister behind, reduced to the last extremity of the disease, with scarcely any symptoms of life remaining, and attended only by her Portuguese friends, and any occasional English visitors who landed incidentally from their ships for refreshments, on their way to other parts of the world. At last, however, she happily recovered, but after a very severe struggle, and a protracted illness, and then she could not return direct to England, but was obliged to go to the Brazils, in a French schooner, before she could procure a passage home. I shall give, hereafter, some further details of this young lady's history, leading to the attachment which afterwards sprung up between her and her medical attendant, who fell in love with her during a second attack of illness, and there is no doubt that her fortitude and good sense had a great share in the admiration with which she inspired him.
Friday, August 24th.—Soon after breakfast I accompanied Captain Owen, the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Davy, and some of the officers of the ship, to pass the day at the Consul's. We took a walk before dinner, to visit the few places that were worthy of any notice; we first went to the fort. This fort was forty-seven paces long and seven broad, where the only objects of interest were the graves of two Captains in the Navy. One of them contained the remains of an old shipmate of mine, Capt. J. Eveleigh, who was mortally wounded when commanding the Astrea, in company with the Creole, during an engagement with two French frigates, the Etoile and Sultane, on the 23rd of January, 1814, off the Cape de Verds. I sailed in the same ship with this officer when I first went to sea. He was then junior lieutenant of the Royal George, bearing the flag of Lord Bridport. I met him some years afterwards, when he was lieutenant of the Isis, bearing the flag of Admiral Holloway, on the Newfoundland station, in which ship I was a passenger from England to Newfoundland, on my way to join the Cleopatra, as lieutenant, on the Halifax station. The other grave was that of Capt. Bartholomew, of the Lieven frigate, who died while he was occupied in the survey of these islands. The late Consul-General had been purser of that ship, and, poor fellow, both his grave and that of his wife were made near his former captain's.
From thence we went to visit the Governor's garden, which lies in a low swampy situation, much below the town, and not far from the sea, where the boats are obliged to land to procure water, subject to the inconvenience of the surf, which sometimes renders it very difficult to get the casks off. The water at this island does not deserve the bad character given of it by some persons. It is, in fact, very good, and it must, therefore, have been from negligence in procuring it, either by disturbing it too much, or by using bad bungs, which allowed the salt water to get in while floating off, that it acquired its unfavourable reputation. It is supplied by several springs, issuing from the side of the hill at the back of the town, which unite into one stream, and as it approaches the sea, expands and forms into a basin, the nearest part of which is forty yards from the beach. As this is rarely dry, ships may be easily watered, by landing their casks through the surf; and, when filled, floating them off to the ship. However, when it is dry, or nearly so, as was the case when we were there, you are obliged to roll the casks a considerable distance from the beach to a well in the Governor's garden, from which they must be filled. This mode is both tedious and laborious, while the sailors are almost sure to get drunk on a bad spirit called aqua dent, which is sold to them secretly by the blacks, who are ever on the watch to elude the vigilance of the officers employed in that service.
During the time of the former Governor, (the present one not having been long in command,) this garden received great attention, and was kept in excellent order; but the present Governor does not take any interest in it himself, and, consequently, it is very much neglected; indeed, there appears to be such a general apathy in all the people at Porto Pray a, that it seems more like a place allowed to go to decay, than a colony under an European Government, visited so constantly by vessels from all parts of the globe.
The population of Villa de Praya is about 4,000, and that of the whole island about 28,000, which are principally blacks. A large proportion of the male population of St. Jago, are enrolled in the militia, and armed with boarding pikes; 300 of whom are compelled, in rotation, to attend every Sunday, at their own expense, for the purpose of exercising at Villa de Praya. The regular troops do not amount to more than 400 for the whole of the islands.
This place owes its support entirely to the ships that call here for provisions; and the quantity of stock, fruit, vegetables, and water, that is purchased annually at the island is immense. A considerable sum of money is also spent by passengers, who go on shore for their amusement.
The landing at St. Jago is, at all times, indifferent, and in the rainy season frequently very bad, both on the rocks, and on the beach, for there are two distinct places of debarkation. Yet, with a little attention, and a small amount of labour, a more secure landing-place could very easily be made, by cutting a few steps in two or three favourable situations, that would readily admit of the improvement; whereas now you are obliged to watch the swell, and step out on pointed rocks, or an irregular surface, at the risk of falling back into the boat or the water; or bruising yourself severely on the rocks. Captain Owen and myself once fell, when he was kindly assisting me out of the boat. The best time for landing on the rocks is at half-tide. I was informed that materials have been collected for constructing a pier, a project, for which nature has provided an excellent site; but, from the poverty of the government, or some other cause, it has been postponed. This is the more extraordinary, as the Portuguese government has hitherto been in the habit of transporting to St. Jago convicted felons, by whom public works could have been cheaply accomplished. Angola, however, has latterly been adopted as the principal convict settlement of the Portuguese.
Hides, goat skins, and salt, are exported from these islands, but the chief and most valuable produce is the orchilla weed. It is a government monopoly, and is at present farmed out to a man named Martiney.
As the orchilla weed is a production, the practical application of which in various ways is diffused over a large surface of utility, and as its peculiar properties are not very generally known, a minute description of its nature and uses, which I have procured at some cost of time and research, may not prove uninteresting.
The orchilla is a delicate fibrous plant, springing up in situations that are apparently the most unfavourable to the sustenance of vegetable life. When gathered it has a soft delicious odour, which it retains for a great length of time. Mr. Glas, in his history of the Canary Islands, gives so clear and accurate an account of its growth, that I will avail myself of his description, as being not only the best I have met with, but as containing all the necessary particulars. "The orchilla weed," he observes, "grows out of the pores of the stones or rocks, to about the length of three inches: I have seen some eight or ten inches, but that is not common. It is of a round form and of the thickness of common sewing twine. Its colour is grey, inclining to white: here and there on the stalk we find white spots or scabs. Many stalks proceed from one root, at some distance from which they divide into branches. There is no earth or mould to be perceived on the rock or stone where it grows. Those who do not know this weed, or are not accustomed to gather it, would hardly be able to find it, for it is of such a colour, and grows in such a direction, that it appears at first sight to be the shade of the rock on which it grows."
Mr. Glas adds, that the best sort is of the darkest colour, and nearly round; and that the more white spots or scabs it exhibits the better. It is found in considerable quantities in the Canary Islands, the Cape de Verds, the Azores, and the Madeiras, and such are the nice varieties and properties incidental to the different soils, (if they may be so called,) or climates, that although the above clusters of islands are at no great distance from each other, the difference in the produce makes a very considerable difference in the value of the article. It is also found on the coast of Barbary, and the Levant, and on that part of the coast of Africa, which lies adjacent to the Canary-Islands; but, owing to the want of seasonable rains, the produce of the latter is not rapid or abundant, although the quality is excellent. It has been suggested, that the orchilla was probably the Gertulian purple of the ancients; a conjecture which is strengthened by the fact, that the coast of Africa, where the orchilla abounds, was formerly called Gertulia. That the vivid dye which resides in this weed was known to the ancients, does not admit of any doubt.