These troops are embodied once a year, and exercised during one month. The governor has two Capitanos de Sal about him, who do duty as aides-de-camp. The secular priests on the island are about twelve hundred, many of whom are employed as private tutors. Since the expulsion of the Jesuits, no regular public school is to be found here, unless we except a seminary where a priest, appointed for that purpose, instructs and educates ten students at the king's expence.
These wear a red cloak over the usual black gown, worn by ordinary students.
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All those who intend to go into orders, are obliged to qualify themselves by studying in the university of Coimbra , lately re-established in Portugal. There is also a dean and chapter at Madeira , with a bishop at their head, whose income is considerably greater than the governor's; it consists of one hundred and ten pipes of wine, and of forty muys of wheat, each containing twenty-four bushels; which amounts in common years to three thousand pounds sterling. Here are likewise sixty or seventy Franciscan friars, in four monasteries, one of which is at Funchal.
About three hundred nuns live on the island, in four convents, of the orders of Merci, Sta. Those of the last-mentioned institution may marry whenever they choose, and leave their monastery. In the year , the inhabitants living in the forty-three parishes of Madeira , amounted to 63,, of whom there were 31, males, and 32, females. But in that year persons died, and no more than children were born; so that the number of the dead exceeded that of the born by It is highly probable that some epidemical distemper carried off so disproportionate a number in that year, as the island would shortly be entirely depopulated, if the mortality were always equal to this.
Another circumstance concurs to strengthen this supposition, namely, the excellence of the climate. The weather is in general mild and temperate: In summer the heat is very moderate on the higher parts of the island, whither the better sort of people retire for that season; and in winter the snow remains there for several days, whilst it is never known to continue above a day or two in the lower parts.
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The accuracy of the numbers of dead and born, may however be entirely depended upon, as a complete list extracted from the parish books was procured for us, from the governor's secretary. The common people of this island are of a tawny colour, and well shaped, though they have large feet, owing perhaps to the efforts they are obliged to make in climbing the craggy paths of this mountainous country. Their faces are oblong, their eyes dark; their black hair naturally falls in ringlets, and begins to crisp in some individuals, which may perhaps be owing to intermarriages with negroes; in general they are hard featured, but not disagreeable.
Their women are too frequently ill-favoured, and want the florid complexion, which, when united to a pleasing assemblage of regular features, gives our Northern fair ones the superiority over all their sex.
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They are small, have prominent cheek-bones, large feet, and ungraceful gait, and the colour of the darkest brunette. The just proportions of their body, the fine form of their hands, and their large, lively eyes, seem in some measure to compensate for those defects. The labouring men in summer, wear linen trowsers, a coarse shirt, a large hat, and boots; some had a short jacket made of cloth, and a long cloak, which they sometimes carried over their arm. The women wear a petticoat, and a short corselet or jacket, closely fitting their shape, which is a simple, and often not inelegant dress.
They have also a short, but wide cloak, and those that are unmarried, tie their hair on the crown of their head, on which they wear no covering. The country people are exceeding sober and frugal; their diet in general consisting of bread and onions, or other roots, and little animal food. However, they avoid eating tripe, or any offals, because it is proverbially said of a very poor man, " he is reduced to eat tripe.
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The wine for which the island is so famous, and which their own hands prepare, seldom if ever regales them. Their principal occupation is the planting and raising of vines, but as that branch of agriculture requires little attendance during the greatest part of the year, they naturally incline to idleness. The warmth of the climate, which renders great provision against the inclemencies of weather unnecessary, and the ease with which the cravings of appetite are satisfied, must tend to indolence, wherever the regulations of the legislature do not counteract it, by endeavouring with the prospect of encreasing happiness, to infuse the spirit of industry.
It seems the Portuguese government does not pursue the proper methods against this dangerous lethargy of the state. They have lately ordered the plantation of olive-trees here, on such spots as are too dry and barren to bear vines; but they have not thought of giving temporary assistance to the labourers, and have offered no premium by which these might be induced to conquer their reluctance to innovations, and aversion to labour.
The vineyards are held only on an annual tenure, and the farmer reaps but four tenths of the produce, since four other tenths are paid in kind to the owner of the land, one tenth to the king, and one to the clergy.
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Such small profits, joined to the thought of toiling merely for the advantage of others, if improvements were attempted, entirely preclude the hopes of a future increase. Oppressed as they are, they have however preserved a high degree of chearfulness, and contentment; their labours are commonly alleviated with songs, and in the evening they assemble from different cottages, to dance to the drowsy music of a guittar. The inhabitants of the towns are more ill-favoured than the country people, and often pale and lean.
The men wear French cloaths, commonly black, which do not seem to fit them, and have been in fashion in the polite world about half a century ago. Their ladies are delicate, and have agreeable features; but the characteristic jealousy of the men still locks them up, and deprives them of a happiness which the country women, amidst all their distresses, enjoy. Many of the better people, are a sort of petite noblesse , which we would call gentry , whose genealogical pride makes them unsociable and ignorant, and causes a ridiculous affectation of gravity. The landed property is in the hands of a few ancient families, who live at Funchal, and in the various towns on the island.
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Madeira consists of one large mountain, whose branches rise every where from the sea towards the centre of the isle, converging to the summit, in the midst of which, I was told, is a depression or excavation, called the Val by the inhabitants, always covered with a fresh and delicate herbage. The stones on the isle, which we examined, seemed to have been in the fire, were full of holes, and of a blackish colour; in short, the greater part of them were lava.
A few of them were of the kind which the Derby-shire miners call dunstone. The soil of the whole island is a tarras mixed with some particles of clay, lime, and sand, and has much the same appearance as some earths we since found on the isle of Ascension From this circumstance, and from the excavation of the summit of the mountain, I am induced to suppose, that in some remote period, a volcano has produced the lava, and the ochreous particles, and that the Val was formerly its crater.
At first sight of Madeira I was of a different opinion; but the black Loo-rock, the cliff on which St. John's castle stands, the nature of the soil and stones, and the situation of the Val, convinced me, that the whole had formerly undergone a violent change by fire. Many brooks and small rivulets descend from the summits in deep chasms or glens, which separate the various parts of the isle. We could not however perceive any plains mentioned by others  See an Account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of his present Majesty, and successively performed by the Captains Byron , Wallis , Carteret , and Cook.
The beds of the brooks are in some places covered with stones of all sizes, carried down from the higher parts by the violence of winter rains or floods of melted snow. The water is conducted by wears and channels into the vineyards, where each proprietor has the use of it for a certain time; some being allowed to keep a constant supply of it, some to use it thrice, others twice, and others only once a week.
As the heat of the climate renders this supply of water to the vineyards absolutely necessary, it is not without great expence that a new vineyard can be planted; for the maintenance of which, the owners must purchase water at a high price, from those who are constantly supplied, and are thus enabled to spare some of it.
Wherever a level piece of ground can be contrived in the higher hills, the natives make plantations of eddoes arum esculentum , Linn. Its leaves serve as food for hogs, and the country people use the roots for their own nourishment. The sweet potatoe convolvulus batatas is planted for the same purpose, and makes a principal article of diet; together with chesnuts, which grow in extensive woods, on the higher parts of the island, where the vine will not thrive. Wheat and barley are likewise sown, especially in spots where the vines are decaying through age, or where they are newly planted.
But the crops do not produce above three months provisions, and the inhabitants are therefore obliged to have recourse to other food, besides importing considerable quantities of corn from North-America in exchange for wine. The want of manure, and the inactivity of the people, are in some measure the causes of this disadvantage; but supposing husbandry to be carried to its perfection here, I believe they could not raise corn sufficient for their consumption.
They make their threshing-floors of a circular form, in a corner of the field, which is cleared and beaten solid for the purpose. The sheaves are laid round about it, and a square board stuck full of sharp flints below, is dragged over them by a pair of oxen, the driver getting on it to encrease its weight. This machine cuts the straw as if it had been chopped, and frees the grain from the husk, from which it is afterwards separated.
The great produce of Madeira is the wine, from which it has acquired fame and support. Where the soil, exposure, and supply of water will admit of it, the vine is cultivated. One or more walks, about a yard or two wide, intersect each vineyard, and are included by stone-walls two feet high. Along these walks, which are arched over with laths about seven feet high, they erect wooden pillars at regular distances, to support a lattice-work of bamboos, which slopes down from both sides of the walk, till it is only a foot and a half or two feet high, in which elevation it extends over the whole vineyard.
The vines are in this manner supported from the ground, and the people have room to root out the weeds which spring up between them.
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In the season of the vintage they creep under this lattice-work, cut off the grapes, and lay them into baskets: some bunches of these grapes I saw, which weighed six pounds and upwards. This method of keeping the ground clean and moist, and ripening the grapes in the shade, contributes to give the Madeira wines that excellent flavour and body for which they are remarkable. The owners of vineyards are however obliged to allot a certain spot of ground for the growth of bamboos; for the lattice-work cannot be made without them; and I was told some vineyards lay quite neglected for want of this useful reed.
The wines are not all of equal goodness, and consequently of different prices. The best, made of a vine imported from Candia , by order of the Infante of Portugal, Don Henry , is called Madeira Malmsey , a pipe of which cannot be bought on the spot for less than 40 or 42 l. It is an exceeding rich sweet wine, and is only made in a small quantity. The next sort is a dry wine, such as is exported for the London market, at 30 or 31 l. About thirty thousand pipes, upon a mean, are made every year, each containing one hundred and ten gallons.
About thirteen thousand pipes of the better sorts are exported, and all the rest is made into brandy for the Brazils, converted into vinegar, or consumed at home. The enclosures of the vineyards consist of walls, and hedges of prickly pear, pomegranates, myrtles, brambles, and wild roses. The gardens produce peaches, apricots, quinces, apples, pears, walnuts, chesnuts, and many other European fruits; together with now and then some tropical plants, such as bananas, goavas, and pine-apples.
All the common domestic animals of Europe are like wise found at Madeira ; and their mutton and beef, though small, is very well tasted. Their horses are small, but sure-footed; and with great agility climb the difficult paths, which are the only means of communication in the country. They have no wheel-carriages of any kind; but in the town they use a sort of drays or sledges, formed of two pieces of plank joined by cross pieces, which make an acute angle before; these are drawn by oxen, and are used to transport casks of wine, and other heavy goods, to and from the warehouses.