Innumerable as are the craft of every calibre and formation,—sail, steam,
and screw,[20]—by which this favourite and familiar route is traversed,
seldom had the voyager seen in its course a vessel of dimensions similar
to those of the Argentina, paddle-wheel, in which I had embarked,
constructed at Birkenhead by Mr. John Laird, to run between Monte Video
and Buenos Ayres. She is, (or rather was, for alack, she is now a
thing of the past,) 185 feet long by 21 feet beam, and with very fine,
hollow lines; her engines of 120-horse power, by Fawcett, Preston, and
Co. Intended for river work, and of a light draught of water, it was
hardly to be expected that in ocean steaming, when compelled to carry
coals, provisions, and all the bulky and ponderous requirements of a
long voyage, the same results could be obtained as in the comparatively
tranquil waters of inland navigation; but under all the disadvantages of
being so laden, and having to make way against a strong head-wind and
heavy sea, our average speed to Cape Finisterre was nearly 12 knots.
Subsequently, we had a more favourable wind, and canvas assisted us a
little, until we made the Berlings, (bold islets standing out some
half-dozen miles from the land, with a light-house upon them,) getting to
our moorings in the Tagus, before dark, on the evening of the fourth day
after quitting the Mersey.

It is impossible to conceive an easier navigation than that to Lisbon;
when once across the Bay of Biscay and round Cape Finisterre, you make
direct for the Berlings, and other high rocks more to seaward, called
the ‘Estellas’ and ‘Farilhoes de Velha.’ There is plenty of spare room
for any vessel to pass inside the Berlings, thus saving some distance;
and from Cape Corvoeiro the coast tends inwards to the mouth of the
Tagus,[21] presenting a succession of scenery, so novel and attractive,
as at once to satisfy the spectator that the poetry of Byron and the
poetic prose of Beckford,[22] have failed to exaggerate its beauties.
Conspicuous among the latter, though it is the handiwork of man
availing himself of nature in her picturesquest mood, stands out the
height-crowning, marble-built Mafra, termed the Escurial of Portugal,
from its immensity, magnificence, and the diversity of its contents,
consisting of a palace, a convent, and most superb church, whose six
organs were pronounced by Byron to be the most beautiful he ever beheld
in point of decoration, and was told that their tones corresponded to
their splendour. The town of Mafra itself is a small place, 18 miles
N.W. of Lisbon, containing about 3,000 inhabitants, and owes what
importance it possesses to the celebrated regal and ecclesiastical
edifice, constructed in its vicinity by John V., in pursuance of a vow
that he would select the poorest locality in the kingdom; and, finding
twelve Franciscan friars living in one hut here, he gave the preference
to Mafra—a partiality which its position, if not its preëminent poverty,
abundantly justifies.[23]

[Illustration: BELEM CASTLE, LISBON.]

A cluster of shoals, called the bar, forms a semicircle at the mouth of
the Tagus, but is seldom an obstacle to vessels entering, for there is
generally abundance of water on it to float even the largest vessels, the
least depth in the north channel, at low water, being 4 fathoms, and in
the south, 6. The only time that any difficulty is encountered, is when
the freshes, after heavy rains up the country, add their strength to that
of the ebbing tide, which then runs out at the rate of seven or eight
miles an hour, and encounters a gale from seaward, for this causes the
water to break right across, and vessels must await the turn of the tide
to get in; but in other respects the approach appears very easy, scarcely
any captain who has been there before requiring the services of a pilot.
After the intricacies and dangers of our own (the St. George’s) Channel
navigation, with the miles of sandbank that have to be threaded in
approaching Liverpool, such an entrance as that to Lisbon calls but for
small skill indeed in seamanship; and almost the veriest tyro in boxing
the compass might enact the part of Palinurus.

Passing up the Tagus there are numerous forts, palaces, and other
imposing buildings, or at least what appeared to be such in the dim
twilight that prevailed during our advance towards the Lusitanian
capital. The most commanding object (whereof presently) among these is
Belem Castle, near which we were visited by the health officers, and
allowed to proceed to our moorings off Lisbon, or rather to those of the
Royal Mail Company, which had been kindly lent until such time as our
own are laid down. The rule at the Custom-house, in respect to vessels,
is for the masters to enter them and declare whether their cargoes are
destined to be landed in Lisbon or not; if this be doubtful, which was
not our case, they ask to be put in _franquia_, that is, for leave to
remain eight days in port until the point is decided. On obtaining this
they proceed a little way up the river for the appointed period. From
Belem to that part of the river which is opposite to the centre of the
city, a distance of about four miles, the Tagus is some one and a half
wide, and displays on its northern bank, mingled with the dark foliage
of the orange and other trees, successive clusters of dwellings and
churches, including the palaces of the Ajúda and of Necessidades, in
which latter the court is generally held, and from it mostly are dated
the royal decrees.

With but few exceptions, these buildings are white, which gives the
city, at first sight, a much cleaner appearance than is presented on
a nearer view. On the south side, which is hilly, but few buildings,
unless we include a small fishing village near the mouth of the river,
are visible, until the small town of Almada, opposite to the city, is
reached, containing 4,000 inhabitants, and in whose vicinity is the gold
mine of Adissa, which has been worked now for some years. A peculiar
characteristic of the neighbourhood of Lisbon are the little mills with
sails, gyrating away on every eminence, sometimes half a dozen within
a few yards of each other, and they whisk round so merrily, as to be
quite a pleasant feature in the landscape. It might be the land, _par
excellence_, of Jolly Millers; for the floury sons of the Tagus seem
to belong to the same race as their jovial brothers of the Dee, whose
philosophic indifference to the opinion of the world has been made alike
musical and memorable by Mr. Braham. That the Portuguese should be
sprightly, however, is extremely surprising, seeing that they are ground
into dust, almost as literally as their own grain, or at least, the
growers thereof; for one who knows them well, writing during a visit as
late as last year, (1853), says:—

They are a people much resembling in heartiness and good will
our own Irish brethren: they are also most apt to learn, and,
like the much calumniated sons of Erin, can work, and will
work when they are properly encouraged and remunerated. They
toil under a burning sun, half-naked and bare-headed, or in
the winter under drenching rains and piercing cold, with
naught else to protect them from the weather than a straw
thatch, or cloak; and without other aliment at times than a
lump of Indian-maize bread, and a mess of humble pottage, or,
at others, the same bread, and a raw onion, with water from
the brook as their only drink. _Couve gallego_ (cow cabbage,)
from their own little garden, a spoonful of oil from their own
olive-tree, a handful of salt gathered from the rocks on the
sea-shore, with crumbled Indian-corn bread, baked in their own
oven, (which, as is still the case in Canada, is built outside
every tenement,) form a stir-about, on which the labourer
contentedly makes his principal or even-tide meal, after the
toils of the day are over. Occasionally, he may indulge in a
morsel of _bacalhao_ (salt cod-fish), or a rancid sardine: but
where the family is numerous, from year’s end to year’s end,
they know not the taste of animal food.

There are but few wharves alongside of which vessels can take in and
discharge their cargoes, so they lie at anchor in the stream, and those
operations are performed by means of lighters. There are, nevertheless,
some handsome quays, with convenient landing-places, of which those
at the fish-market and the Caes Sodré are the most frequented; at the
former, the scene being highly animated, particularly in the season for
sardinhas, or sardines, which constitute a considerable proportion of
the food of the lower orders. The handsomest quay is that which forms
one side of Blackhorse Square (Terreiro do Paço), so called from the
statue of Joseph the First on horseback in the centre; the other sides
consisting of public buildings, viz.: the Public Library, the Offices of
the Ministers of State, the Custom-house, and, at the eastern extremity,
the Exchange, being chiefly of marble, as, indeed, nearly all the
principal edifices are. It makes a splendid promenade, where crowds of
well-dressed persons may be seen, on the sultry summer evenings, walking,
or seated on the stone benches, enjoying the cool air from the river,
until a late hour. From this square, five parallel and level streets,
in which are the best shops, lead to the Roçio—a large, open space
surrounded by buildings, and appropriated to reviews, processions, &c.,
and where, on its northern side, at one time existed the odious Prison
of the Inquisition, adjoining the Palace of the same name, now no longer
occupied, though sometimes visited on festive occasions by royalty. Just
beyond are the public gardens, well laid out, and stocked with flowers
and shrubs, that bespeak the luxuriance and brilliancy of the Lusitanian


All this portion of the city is more regularly built than the remainder,
and is situated just over the very spot that felt the effects of the
terrible earthquake, traces of which are now and then met with, in the
shape of patches of old pavement, in digging for the foundations of
houses, &c.; though there are no traces of the successful storming of the
city by the French, under Junot, in 1807, nor of its equally successful
resistance of a similar attempt a couple of years afterwards. In the
vicinity of the Hospital of St. José are the ruins of a church, in which,
embedded in the earth, were to be seen, some years since, if not now,
skeletons, in various attitudes, of persons who formed the congregation
at the time the catastrophe took place, which was, as the reader will
recollect, when the greater number of the citizens were assembled at mass
in the churches on All-Saints’ Day, November 1st, in the ever-memorable
year 1755—a circumstance that will probably account for the enormous
number of 30,000 lives being lost; for, although 6,000 private dwellings
were destroyed, the fatality could hardly have been so great but for the
multitudes being assembled in the mode mentioned. The celebration of the
festival, too, was otherwise the occasion of prodigious mischief; for,
owing to the immense number of tapers in the churches, the curtains,
drapery, and other combustible materials, caught fire, and a devastating
conflagration swept the doomed city from end to end, carrying off what
the convulsion had not already prostrated in ruin. Indirectly, however,
the commemoration of the festival was productive of some good—at least
to our countrymen in Lisbon; for, in order to avoid exciting religious
prejudice during a fête so solemn in the Papal calendar, they had nearly
all retired to their country houses, and but ten who remained in the
city were killed, a fact which renders, if possible, more magnanimous
the grant by the British parliament of £100,000 to the relief of the
suffering Portuguese, immediately the dismal tidings arrived; news
of like events, but not on such a scale, continuing to be received
for a long time after, from various portions of the New World. As in
the case of our own dear delightful ante-diluvian Chester, the older
quarters of Lisbon city generally interest a stranger most, from their
very irregularity; the streets being narrow, steep, and destitute of
_trottoirs_, and the houses very lofty, ranging in height from five to
as many as eleven stories, in each of which dwells a separate family,
all using one staircase in common. Notwithstanding the seeming peril
from this cause, in the event of another earthquake, the danger of the
walls falling is considerably lessened by their being built with a strong
framework of timber, dovetailed together, before the addition of brick or

Some of the churches are very handsome, although the absence of steeples
will perhaps cause them to be hardly so regarded by the majority of
Englishmen; and, moreover, many are in an unfinished state, for want of
funds. The one that probably astonishes unsophisticated Saxons most,
is the Patriarchal Church, from the circumstance of the pillars which
support the roof being covered with wax models of heads, arms, legs,
&c.—the _naif_ native offerings of individuals, desirous of testifying
their gratitude to the Virgin, for her cures of complaints affecting
those corporeal adjuncts. In the church of St. Roque is a small chapel,
containing imitations, in mosaic, of several pictures of the Italian
masters. These, with the splendid decorations, consisting of lapis lazuli
columns, candelabra in the precious metals, &c., are credibly estimated
to have cost upwards of one million sterling. This vast expense, of
course, could only have been in Portugal’s most palmy days, when the
genius of Albuquerque threw open the portals of the East, and showered
‘barbaric pearl and gold’ upon his noble king, Emanuel, rightly indeed
called the ‘Fortunate,’ and deserving so to be, as worthily inheriting
the throne of Alphonso the Victorious (son of the heroic Henry of
Burgundy) who routed five Saracen monarchs at Ourique, and freed his
country from the Moors. The British cemetery[24] (_Os aciprestes_),
surrounding a neat chapel, is well worth a visit, including, in its
attractions, a monument to Fielding, who there lies buried. Few of our
countrymen, who have the opportunity, ever fail to make a pilgrimage to
the spot where rests all that is mortal of him who drew Partridge and
Blifil, Squire Western and Sophia, Parson Adams and Tom Jones—his tomb
being as eagerly sought as is that of his brother humourist, Smollett,
at Leghorn. Strange that two of the most essentially English of all our
writers should have died and been entombed so far from their native land,
whose literature their genius has so long enriched, and will for ever
continue to do so.

Besides the public buildings already mentioned, there are several
well-managed hospitals, an arsenal, academies for instruction in the
naval, military, and other sciences; the Castle of St. George, used as
a prison more than as a place of defence: museums; a noble national
library, of 30,000 volumes, formed from those of the convents suppressed
in 1835; and, lastly, the aqueduct of Alcantara, with thirty-six arches,
a splendid structure, north of the city, supplying the greater part of
the inhabitants with water, and so solid, that it withstood the shock
of earthquake, which laid nearly all else in ruins. The central arch is
of sufficient dimensions to allow of a three-decker, under full sail,
passing through, were there water to float her.

The population of Lisbon is between 250,000 and 300,000, having increased
rapidly of late years, though sadly thinned during Don Miguel’s
usurpation, owing to the wholesale murders which were then committed, the
numbers obliged to serve in the army, and killed, and also the emigration
so many hundreds, nay thousands, were compelled to have recourse to, in
order to escape from his cruelties, and those of his satellites. The
remembrance of these atrocities, however, would seem insufficient to
deprive him of some partizans in the country yet, if we may judge by the
intrigues in his favour that have supervened on the death of the queen.

[Illustration: CINTRA, NEAR LISBON.]

A first visit to Portugal cannot fail to revive—in the minds of
Englishmen—‘memories of the past,’ full of ‘sweet and bitter fancies,’
as being alike the spot where England, by her diplomatic fatuity, earned
an immortality of ridicule, and, by her valour, an eternity of praise,
thanks to the Great Duke and his troops, so many of whom fell in defence
of those liberties, which, if what survives here be a fair specimen,
were certainly hardly worth the cost of preservation;[25] for, even at
this distance of time, how many families can recal the bereavements
they sustained in that glorious struggle. Moreover, Portugal possesses
a deep interest from the great deeds of its early navigators, already
slightly adverted to. None who sympathize with the noble qualities the
mention of these heroic names conjures up can fail to deplore that the
spirit of Vasco de Gama, Cabral, Camoens,[26] and many others, has not
descended to succeeding generations, rendering the land their genius and
patriotism had adorned what it might yet be made under an enlightened
government, viz., one of the most prosperous countries in Europe. That it
is not so, even after the mismanagement it has endured, and is enduring
now, nearly as bad as ever, is a matter of never-ending wonderment to
those who know its means and appliances for advancement in the scale of
nations. As regards myself, desire for personal authentication on the
spot of what I had known from others, imparted an additional zest to my
visit, from long acquaintance with the Brazils, even in the time of the
grandfather of the late Queen, when the present splendid South American
empire was a struggling colony of the now enfeebled and decaying parent
kingdom. Hence I was prepared to look with a favourable eye on all that
came under my notice in the capital of Portugal—a disposition enhanced
by the first glance I had an opportunity of bestowing upon it; for, seen
from the river on a bright sunny morning, Lisbon’s strikingly picturesque
aspect and position reminded me strongly both of Bahia and Rio Janeiro, a
portion of the city being built, like them, on low ground; hills, covered
in every direction with handsome structures of variegated colours,
chiefly white, rising like an amphitheatre behind; whilst the red-tiled
roofs, green verandahs, and other fanciful decorations, lend to the whole
a very foreign, almost tropical, but extremely pleasing appearance.

Unfortunately, the parallel between the capital of Portugal and the
metropolis of her flourishing transatlantic offspring further holds good,
as, on landing, much of the pleasing illusion vanishes:

For whoso entereth within this town,
That, sheening far, celestial seems to be,
Disconsolate will wander up and down,
’Mid many things unsightly to strange ee;
For hut and palace show like filthily;
The dingy denizens are rear’d in dirt;
No personage of high or mean degree
Doth care for cleanness of surtout or shirt,
Though shent with Egypt’s plague, unkempt, unwash’d, unhurt.

Nor are you greatly disposed to make allowances for the cause of your
topographical disenchantment, as you find yourself a mere object of
fiscal surveillance—obliged to be set ashore at the Custom-house, like
a biped bale of merchandise, and have your hat or umbrella scanned as
if they ought to be subjected to duty, like everything else, animate
and inanimate, that approaches these most absurdly protected waters.
Very soon, however, mere chagrin at such petty personal annoyances
deepens into gloom, as you observe the mournful absence of that incessant
activity you expect to meet with in so large and important a place.
The fatal spell of lethargy and exclusiveness seems to be laid upon
everything and everybody:—the very carriages and public conveyances (at
least a large portion) are redolent of the past century, and all idea of
locomotion is put to flight at the sight of them; and just the same is
the case with the owners. Torpidity pervades the whole population, from
the infant in arms, who is too lazy to laugh, to the cripple on crutches,
who is too sluggish to grumble. An exception to this rule, however, is
the market-place, where fruit, vegetables, the sardines already spoken
of, and other odd articles, are brought for sale. The motley groups, with
their baskets or little stalls, sheltered by umbrellas of all sizes and
colours, are like so many fancy-fair Chinese, whom Portuguese a good deal
resemble in bodily configuration, as well as in other attributes equally
little spiritualised, however Celestial. The kaleidoscopic tableau going
on here is a relief to the monotony of other places of resort, and so
vividly impresses the stranger that he fancies the performers in the
scene must be foreigners, and not ‘natives and to the manner born.’ The
theatrical air of the whole thing is not a little heightened, in his
opinion, on finding that no sooner has the clock told one, than, like
one o’clock, they all have to pack up their wares and depart till next
day, in preparation for the business whereof the market is thoroughly
cleaned and put in order. This regulation might be advantageously
adopted in regions where the mention of the word Portuguese, especially
in connection with cleanliness, immediately superinduces a spasmodic
agitation in the hearer’s nose, if indeed he can keep his countenance at

But Portuguese society, as I happen to know very well, from long and
varied experience, is extremely agreeable in many places; and certainly
the natives of the old country are exceedingly hospitable to strangers.
There are several clubs, at the balls of one of which, the Foreign
Assembly-rooms, all the rank and fashion of the capital are to be seen,
to the number of several hundreds. I had the gratification of being
introduced at the Lisbon Club. The house had been formerly, like so many
similar institutions in London, a nobleman’s palace. Although not on so
grand a scale, it possesses superior accommodation to most places of
the kind amongst us; and if the Portuguese keep no Soyer, Francatelli,
or Ude, with a _batterie de cuisine_ corresponding in magnitude and
diversity to the celebrity of these professors of the finest art—that
of giving a good dinner—they have a social party of an evening,[27]
when a piquant and substantial tea is provided for those who wish to
sacrifice to the ‘Chinese nymph of tears, Bohea.’ The original taste of
the Portuguese, who were the first to introduce the beverage to Europe,
long before Mr. Pepys drank his ‘cup of China drink,’ [1661,] still
survives, as well as the taste for coffee, the berry of Mocha being a
favourite among the offspring of the victims of the Arabs. Chocolate,
also, is a very popular beverage, and is consumed in considerable
quantities at breakfast and supper, the two principal meals among the
majority of Portuguese. The upper classes dress like those of other
European capitals, but the lower order of females still retain the cloak
and hood peculiar to this part of the Peninsula. There is not, however,
so much difference now between the costume of the population and that of
other cities, as the cowls, sandals, and rope belts of the friars, are no
longer to be seen; for, as is well known, all the religious orders (not
those of nuns) were suppressed in 1835. There is a strong partiality for
gaudy colours and trinkets; but that is passing away.

Though, generally speaking, the female population of Portugal are not
of very prepossessing appearance, especially the humbler classes, whose
naturally swarthy complexion is embrowned by exposure to the sun, there
are few capitals in Europe where more perfect specimens of beauty are
to be seen than in Lisbon: and what enhances the effect their somewhat
unexpected presence produces is, that they are almost invariably
_blondes_, therein differing from most of their Iberian sisterhood on
the other side of the Douro, especially those of Cadiz, of whom the
noble lord, already quoted, says that they are the Lancashire Witches
of Spain. But the other noble lord, whom we have also quoted—and we
certainly can corroborate all he says, from our individual experience in
Brazil, of the classes he speaks of—observes: ‘If I could divest myself
of every national partiality, and suppose myself an inhabitant of the
other hemisphere, and were asked in what country society had attained its
most polished form, I should say in Portugal. This perfection of manner
is, perhaps, most appreciated by an Englishman: Portuguese politeness
is delightful, because it is by no means purely artificial, but flows,
in a great measure, from a national kindness of feeling. The restless
feeling, so often perceptible in English society, hardly exists in
Portugal; there is little prepared wit in Portuguese society, and no one
talks for the mere purpose of producing an effect, but simply because his
natural taste leads him to take an active part in conversation. Dandyism
is unknown among their men, and coquetry, so common among Spanish women,
is little in vogue among the fair Portuguese. They do not possess, to
the same extent, the hasty passions and romantic feelings of their
beautiful neighbours; but they are softer, more tractable, and equally
affectionate. Even when they err, the aberrations of a married Portuguese
never spring from fashion or caprice, seldom from vanity, and, however
culpable, are always the result of real preference. Certainly, with
some exceptions, the women are not highly educated; they feel little
interest, on general subjects, and, consequently, have little general
conversation. A stranger may, at first, draw an unfavourable inference
as to their natural powers, because he has few subjects in common with
them; but, when once received into their circles, and acquainted with
their friends, he becomes delighted with their liveliness, wit, and
ready perception of character.’ I quote this passage, believing from all
I heard and observed in Lisbon, that it is an accurate summary of the
Portuguese character there; that it is nearly equally applicable, in a
great degree, to Portuguese society in Madeira; and, knowing that it is
so, in respect to Portuguese society in Brazil.

The places of amusement consist of five theatres, including the
opera-house, where, as the London and Parisian _dilettanti_ well know,
many excellent singers make their _début_: the getting up the scenery,
&c., are inferior to few establishments of the kind anywhere, and the
prices are very moderate. It is called San Carlos, and it is scarcely
inferior in any respect, either in its architectural extent or the
liberality of its appointments, to its more famous Neapolitan namesake.
Madame Castellan—herself, I believe, a fellow-countrywoman of Inez de
Castro, whose portrait she greatly resembles—has been the principal lyric
artiste during the past season. There is also a building for bull-fights,
which, though perhaps as much a national sport as in Spain, is not
pursued with the same passionate ardour, nor with the same skill, as is
displayed by professors of the tauro-machiac art in the sister country.

I also attended a sitting of the two Chambers, which appeared to be
conducted with great decorum, but, at the same time, without that
listlessness or buzzy-fussiness which pervades our own Senate when
a bore or a nobody happens to be on his legs. The accommodation for
members is at least as good as ours. To be sure, it could not possibly
be much worse, if we may judge from those most qualified to form an
opinion—the members themselves; for, what with the perpetual complaints
about pestilent smells, hot blasts, freezing draughts, blinding light,
and sightless darkness, one would imagine that the British Senate-house
was constructed to serve as a ‘frightful example’ of deleterious
architecture. The wonder is, that any M.P. has the face to approach a
life-insurance office, at the beginning of a session, without being
prepared with a ‘doubly hazardous’ premium on his ‘policy,’ knowing
that he is going to talk, or listen to the talk, of politics for some
six months; and, certainly, the looks of many of our law-makers can be
consolatory to none but coffin-makers and residuary legatees. Not so
with the Portuguese Conscript Fathers, nearly all of whom seemed as
hale as new moidores out of the mint, both as to stamina, complexion,
and sensibility. The enormous building where they meet (the old convent
of San Bento) contains all the needful official and red-tape-ical
departments. In the Upper Chamber, the Patriarch occupied the chair, in
habiliments not unlike those of the Bishop of Oxford, when enrobed in
his costume of Chancellor of the Order of the Garter; and it was curious
to see an epitome of our own admixture of the ecclesiastical with the
temporal system of legislation, in the House of Lords, carried out in
this Portuguese conjunction of spiritual with lay law-makers.

In vain you look in the Tagus for that forest of shipping which should
fringe the watery highway to, and ought to constitute the leading feature
in, so fine a port—the capital of a country the once nautical genius of
whose people is expressed in the only poem in any language that makes
adventures on the deep its theme. A few stray vessels here and there,
with river and fishing boats, and those singular latine sails, that so
strike the stranger,[28] some steamers and Government vessels, were
all that could now be seen on the bosom of the river, so famed amongst
the ancients for its golden attributes, not because of its auriferous
sands,[29] but because of the affluent tide of its teeming commerce—that
port whence, in after ages, though now ages long ago, went forth those
expeditions which brought much of Asia into comparative contiguity with
Europe, and discovered, and long held so much of, the finest portion of
the New World. For a wonder, not a ‘speck of power’ of that nation, whose
commerce rose as Lusitania’s fell, not an English man-of-war, ubiquitous
in every water, and very often present, and too long at a time, in most
unnecessary numbers, in these waters in particular, was to be seen,
though Admiral Corry’s squadron, containing many of the finest and latest
built men-of-war in our navy, including the ‘Duke of Wellington,’ and now
with Napier in the Baltic, has since been there. Their absence, however
gratifying to financial economists and advocates of non-intervention in
politics, helped to complete the triste and dreary air of the empty mart
and shipless bay. The cause of this poverty of trade must be obvious
to all, even to enlightened Portuguese. The Government, blind to all
experience elsewhere, deaf to the supplications of common sense and
even self-interest, draw a kind of cordon round the little trade they
still possess, and encumber it with such a net-work of preposterous
restrictions, as actually to squeeze the life-blood out of it, or,
rather, altogether arrest its circulation, which is the same thing in
the end, as regards the vitality of commerce. The evil extends to every
ramification of industrial pursuit; and one half of the population live
upon a system that seems to have been invented to exclude, instead of
encouraging business to come to their shores. Hence, it need hardly be
said, that smuggling is the most profitable trade going; and a large
and rapidly increasing business in that line is carried on, along the
frontier in particular.

If Colonel Sibthorpe, Mr. Newdegate, and the remainder of that Spartan
band of fifty-nine, who followed the phantom of Protection into the lobby
of the House of Commons a couple of years ago, finding that the sun of
England has indeed for ever set, as they so often anticipated, desire
to bask in the beams of unmitigated monopoly, by all means let them hie
hither forthwith; and they will behold one realm, at least, that carries
out their views to the utmost possible extent. By way of apparently
bolstering up native industry, Portugal fosters a few stray manufacturing
establishments, and farms out monopolies of certain articles (tobacco
and soap for instance) to parties who, in the rigorous exercise of their
privileges, put another and most effectual drag-chain on the march of
commerce. The fruits of such policy are but too apparent; for even
the neighbouring state of Spain, so long the synonyme of every fiscal
fatuity, but now awaking to a true sense of what it owes to her glorious
maritime associations, and to her present and perspective well-being,
is taking away a large portion of Portuguese traffic, by judiciously
reducing her tariff, promoting railway enterprise, and gradually
adopting those liberal views, without whose practical recognition now
every country must lapse into almost primeval barbarism. Undoubtedly an
extenuation of the imbecility of Portugal is her complete dependence
and reliance on her colonies so long, for while she enjoyed a monopoly
of them she flourished at their expense. Now things are reversed, and
Portugal cannot bring herself to adopt the only remedy, free-trade and
unrestricted commerce, in its largest and fullest extent. These would
soon fill her ports with shipping, raise rents, augment revenue, and
place her in a position worthy of the countrymen of Cabral, and of the
_prestige_ which he and so many of his cotemporaries and followers so
long secured her. That she has an aptitude for commerce is well known;
for, though it was long deemed degrading, and even criminal, in high
caste Portuguese, to meddle in commercial matters, or to intermarry or
associate with those who did, there is scarcely any ’Change in the world
at the present day that does not number a Lisbon or Oporto merchant among
its ablest members.

A stay of two days is a short time to enable a stranger to appreciate
fully the merits of a large place like Lisbon; but the defects in her
national fiscal system as here manifested, at the very fountain head
of the intelligence and influence of the empire, and its mischievous
tendency in retarding prosperity, are unmistakeable. The handwriting
on the wall requires no interpreter; it points out approaching decay,
unless Portugal alters her system before it is too late, and determines
to go with the stream of events and the destinies of the world. The
real hope for the country still points in the direction of Brazil; not
only because of the peculiar weight of example in that quarter, where
prosperity has progressively and unvaryingly followed every step in the
path of commercial and political enlightenment—every assimilation to the
existing English system of mercantile polity—but from the circumstance
of the affluence of Brazil healthily reacting upon, and wakening up
the energies of the old country to join _pari passu_ in the march with
her vigorous progeny. In a trading, especially in a passenger-trading
sense, the connection between the two is still important, and is every
day becoming more so, through Anglo-Brazilian enterprise, (of which
the Liverpool Company I have the honour to belong to affords the most
prominent instance yet), and is likely to be vastly improved by the
establishment of direct steam navigation, chiefly carried on by native
and South American capital. The principal promoter of this is Mr. Moser,
well known for enterprise of a like kind in the navigation of the Minho,
from which river to the Guadiana a screw steamer now plies.

Most of the _bourgeoisie_ of Brazil were either born in Portugal
or are descendants of Portuguese. Shop-keeping is a business these
Peninsulars fully understand, especially those from Oporto; particularly
in everything pertaining to trinkets, articles of jewellery, and
goldsmith’s-work, the Portuguese being therein cunning workmen, though
for the most part, regarded as indifferent carpenters, shoemakers, and
the like, at least by British employers. After realizing money abroad,
they naturally find their way to Portugal; where, if even for a season,
they enjoy themselves as only children of the South or of the tropics
can when they have the means; or spend the remainder of their days
where their fathers lived and died before them. They will soon have the
invaluable advantage of the steamers of no less than three companies
calling at Lisbon, including the ‘Luso-Brazileira,’ which is also
composed of Portuguese and Brazilian shareholders. These, let us hope,
will prove the immediate harbingers of that good time which can alone be
brought about by the multiplication of such instruments of a national
good; for it must be obvious to every one who knows Portugal, or the
Portuguese abroad, that what is wanted is abundance of communication
by steam, both by sea and land, railways, and free-trade, or some
approximation to it. With these she may resume her position amongst the
nations, and share with her oldest ally, England, the benefits arising
from a mutually advantageous intercourse.

Respecting the Royal Family, during my stay at Lisbon, when there was,
of course, every apparent prospect of a long, if not a very tranquil
and happy reign for the late Queen, I learnt that they kept themselves
as retired and quiet as their exalted station would permit, appearing
little in public, but understood to be busy in those plots and intrigues,
suspicion of which on the part both of the people and the upper classes,
deprived her Majesty of much of that popularity which her many excellent
qualities were calculated personally to secure her. What may be the
course that her husband, the Regent, will pursue, or that may be pursued
by her son when he attains his legal majority in 1858, it is of course
impossible to foresee. His young Majesty is now in the course of making
a tour through Europe, chiefly with a view, it is said, of finding a
partner for his throne; and rumour points to one of the house of Coburg
to which his father belongs, viz., a daughter of the King of the
Belgians. This alliance, though otherwise eligible in itself, is deemed
by some politicians likely to aggravate the troubles of the country, by
making it a hot-bed of extraneous intrigue, in addition to the domestic
Miguelite plottings that appear chronic in Portugal.

There are, as already mentioned, several royal palaces, but few of them
completely finished, or ever likely to be so, owing to the limited state
of the civil list and the reluctance of the Cortes to grant supplies
for such purposes. The Palace of Ajúda is a truly regal building, whose
external magnificence at least, fills every one with regret that it
should so far resemble so many others, of vast pretensions and undoubted
beauty, as to remain incompleted, and in consequence, unoccupied.
Visitors to the Court are generally located in a pretty marine palace,
with a terrace and garden facing the river, at Belem, the town of
which name contains about 5,000 inhabitants. In its vicinage is the
burial-place of many of the earlier Portuguese monarchs; it possesses
also, in addition to the castle and custom-house already mentioned,
and a singular-looking fortress, some other public institutions of
note, including a high-school, a convent, and the largest iron-foundry
in Portugal, together with a noble church, built to commemorate the
memorable departure of Vasco de Gama on his great voyage, as so
beautifully alluded to by the national poet.

It may not be superfluous to caution the young or casual reader not to
confound this town with one somewhat similarly pronounced, Baylen, in
Spain—a spot that sounds in French ears pretty much as Cintra does in
ours. And for much the same reason—the blundering incapacity of those
charged with the conduct of the transactions that took place, almost
simultaneously, in the same year, and within a month of each other;
except that the former, having had priority of occurrence, rendered
the latter more inexcusable. It was in July, 1808, that 14,000 French,
commanded by Dupont and Wedel, being defeated by 25,000 Spaniards under
Pena and Compigny, Dupont’s entire division of 8,000 men laid down their
arms—the beginning of the French disasters in Spain, as lending courage
to the whole native population to pursue that system of resistance which
in the end, aided and directed by British valour and science, rendered
nugatory all the efforts of the invader permanently to subdue the
country. Of Belem, the recent military celebrity is not great, the two
chief incidents in its history being its capture by the French, the year
before the occurrence just named; and, secondly, its capture under the
troops of Don Pedro, in 1833. What lends its real historic, or at least
archæologic interest to the place, is its propinquity to the remains
of some of the finest Moorish architecture in the world, the Alhambra
itself scarcely excepted; and these alone ought to suffice to render a
trip fashionable among our _ennuyéd_ tourists, to whom almost all the
remainder of Europe is nearly as well known as the beach at Brighton or
the Westmoreland lakes. Notwithstanding the charm to British ears of the
words Busaco, Vimiera, Badajos, Braga, Torres Vedras, and the Douro,
Portugal is a _terrâ incognita_ to the pic-nicish and Pickwickian tribe,
and altogether exempt from the remonstrance of the _blazé_ bard—

And is there then no earthly place,
Where we can rest, in dream Elysian,
Without some curst, round English face,
Popping up near, to break the vision?
’Mid northern lakes, ’mid southern vines,
Unholy cits we’re doom’d to meet;
Nor highest Alps nor Apennines
Are sacred from Threadneedle Street!
If up the Simplon’s path we wind,
Fancying we leave this world behind,
Such pleasant sounds salute one’s ear
As—‘Baddish news from ’Change, my dear.’

But how can it be wondered that Portugal should be a yet untrodden Eden
to the tourist, seeing that it is the only country, or tract of country,
in Europe, or on the confines thereof, from Odessa to Iceland, that
Murray hasn’t hand-booked? The ‘Anak of Booksellers,’ who has ‘done’ the
Pyramids and the Pyrenees, Styria and Finland, Whitechapel and Wallachia,
the Dnieper and the Nile, has left Portugal undone; for it cannot be
called doing it, in the Albemarle-street sense of the term, to devote to
it a few small pages of large type, and call them ‘Hints.’ Nevertheless,
far below the Murrayan standard as that is, still it will be useful, as
being likely to incite travellers thitherward;[30] and then the great
publisher will, doubtless, provide for their use some Head capable of
turning out a sizeable and seasonable octavo of reading as delightful as
Borrow and as instructive as Ford has done for the scarcely more romantic
region the other side of the Guadiana. Meanwhile, calling attention to
that one[31] of the ‘Hints’ which tells how others may be taken, as to
the London means of getting there, in addition to those still better
Liverpool means furnished by our South American Steam Company, it is well
to apprise the reader, desirous of the latest and best information about
Portugal, that it will be found in the extremely agreeable and attractive
volume[32] which owes its origin to the munificence and patriotism of
the accomplished member for Pontefract, Mr. Oliveira, who, sprung of
the ancient Lusitanian stock himself, and numbering among his ancestors
the Pombals, de Castros, Tojals, and Thomars, has laboured assiduously,
and most successfully, in disseminating among the most intelligent and
influential minds of either country a correct knowledge of what conduces
to the commercial prosperity of both. Towards this end nothing can be
more effectual than a careful study of the admirable essay alluded to
below, and from which some few of the foregoing facts are taken. Indeed,
we would fain hope that, at least some of the excellent arguments it
addresses to the Portuguese government have already produced a good
effect; for, in the speech to the Cortes by the Regent, in January last,
there is great promise not only of railway encouragement, but regulations
we have spoken of being relinquished, such as the monopoly on salt, and
even that on tobacco is likely soon to be abandoned. Improvements of a
similar kind are to be extended to Madeira.

In concluding this brief chapter, which is, unfortunately, necessarily
much more brief than the subject warrants, we have only to add, that
should its perusal, or that of the several works already enumerated,
induce readers to visit Lisbon in search of pleasure, and more especially
those in search of health, the important item of house-rent will be found
almost fabulously moderate compared with any other capital in Europe,
and, I should imagine, in the world. A perfect palace, in the literal
meaning of the term, may be had for £100 a year, containing suites of
rooms in which a coach and four might be turned. Provisions and all the
produce of the country are exceedingly cheap, but all imported articles
are equally dear, because of the absurd protective system already spoken
of, which permits and encourages native manufacturers to make the worst
articles at the highest price, thus of course entailing the most limited
consumption, and restricts purchases of all commodities that can possibly
be dispensed with. Amongst hotels, the Braganza, built on an eminence
overlooking the Tagus, stands preëminent, and is part of the Braganza
family estate. The bill of fare is attractive, and charges moderate,
regret being felt that travellers by sea cannot go at once to such
comfortable quarters, instead of to the vile Lazarette, to which they are
now consigned _en route_ from England or Brazil!

Two more days’ pleasant Paddling on the Ocean.—Approach
to Madeira.—Charming aspect of the Island.—Unique boats
and benevolent boatmen.—Pastoral progression in bucolic
barouches extraordinary.—Personal appearance of the
inhabitants.—Atmospheric attractions of Madeira, and absence of
all natural annoyances.—The Vine-Blight and its consequences,
present and prospective, on the people at home and the
consumption of their wine abroad.—Funchal, and its urban and
suburban et ceteras.—Romance and reality of the History of the
Island, ‘Once Upon a Time.’—Importance of English residents
to the place.—Cost of living, and what you get for your
money.—Royal and illustrious visitors.—Mercantile matters, and
consular cordiality.—Grave Reflections in the British Burial


NOTE TO THE ILLUSTRATION.—Views of Funchal, of the English
Burial-place, and other objects in Madeira, are so familiar,
that in preference to any of them, there is here given, as
being much less hacknied, one representing a small fort or
outwork, called Loureiro, or the Laurel Tree, on the coast to
the east of Funchal, being the first of the series copied from
the portfolio of the gentleman to whom our volume is so much
indebted for such privilege.

Oh! had we some bright little isle of our own,
In a blue summer ocean, far off and alone,
Where a leaf never dies in the still blooming bowers,
And the bee banquets on through a whole year of flowers;
Where simply to feel that we breathe, that we live,
Is worth the best joy that life elsewhere can give.
The glow of the sunshine, the balm of the air,
Would steal to our hearts, and make all summer there.
Our life should resemble a long day of light,
And our death come on, holy and calm as the night.—MOORE.

Ocean sailing, perhaps, does not present anything more delightful than
the trip from Lisbon to this island in fine or moderate weather. We soon
bade adieu to the Tagus, with its merry-going windmills, and its palaces
and churches, the bold dome of the Coraçao de Jesus being the last
visible in the horizon as we steamed away; and, on the second morning at
daylight, made the Island of Porto Santo, which looks bleak and dreary
enough, but has the repute of having some verdant spots upon it; and a
small harbour called by the same name. Madeira, some 35 miles distant,
was in sight a-head, its mountains peeping out of the clouds; and a
couple of hours brought us up to the south side, along which we steamed.
The hills were covered with innumerable cottages, and huts built amongst
the vine plantations, which rise in ridges, nearly from the water’s edge
to the height of 2,000 feet; the best vine growths, no doubt, being found
at about half that elevation. It is needless to say that the _coup d’œil_
so presented is as charming as it is singular. Immediately after passing
Brazen Head, the Bay of Funchal opened before us, and a more beautiful
sight cannot well be conceived, the hills towering to a considerable
altitude, dotted a long way up with pretty-looking villas and well
cultivated gardens, until, reaching the town, these become merged in
its compact mass. Funchal, which contains a population of some 20,000
inhabitants, bears the usual Portuguese characteristics of white or
fancifully-coloured houses, many being lofty, with look-outs to the sea,
forts, churches, &c. The Loo Rock, commanding the entrance of the bay, is
very remarkable, being quite separated from the main land, which it there
protects from the roll of the sea. Here we found lying in the roads,
amongst other vessels, two American men-of-war, just come over from the
African station to refresh, as well as the Severn steamer, coaling on
her way from the Brazils to Lisbon and England. This opportunity enabled
us to send home dispatches forthwith. An assemblage of those peculiarly
strong-built boats, with double keels to protect them from being stove in
by the tremendous swell that sets in-shore so frequently, soon came to us
with offers of service, chiefly in the shape of miscellaneous matters for
sale; and we found ourselves amongst a pushing, energetic race, anxious
to trade and make money, with an earnestness that was quite refreshing.
Many spoke tolerably good English, and showed evident signs of being
accustomed to deal with our countrymen. Landing on the beach is sometimes
a formidable operation here; but the boats, as we have said, are well
adapted for all emergencies incident to the operation, whether performed
by those in robust health, or, as is too frequently the case, by
invalids, in almost the last stage preceding dissolution. The boatmen are
very active and obliging on such occasions, and considerate to a degree
that would be perfectly incredible to a Thames wherry-man at Gravesend.
We were immediately beset by a crowd of applicants for favours in one
shape or another, amongst whom were not a few beggars, although I believe
they are prohibited from soliciting alms, and a very good institution
exists for the helpless and houseless. Some of our passengers, with the
precipitancy of English in all such matters the moment a foreign shore is
reached, proceeded to test the vehicular conveniences of the island, by a
drive in one of those extraordinary bovine sledges drawn by two bullocks,
and which travel up the hills at a pace sufficiently surprising,
considering the apparently sluggish conformation of the steeds.

I took a ramble over the town, and made sundry diplomatic calls;
afterwards proceeding [aloft, as may be literally said,] to enjoy the
hospitality of Mr. Blandy, who occupies a charming country seat about
a mile up the hill, where there is a splendid view of the town and
bay, as well as of the towering mountains above. One of the sleighs or
sledges, just mentioned, carried us along a succession of steep hills
very quickly, a mode of conveyance which, notwithstanding its primeval
fashion, appears to be of recent date here. This _char rustique_ of
the mountains resembles, as nearly as possible, one of our turn-abouts
at a fair, with two seats opposite to each other; but the most curious
uses to which this odd contrivance is put, is in coursing down-hill by
express train, as they call it. Two persons seat themselves side-by-side
in the sledge, and an equal number of boys, holding a strap attached
to it, commence running down the steep declivities at a pace that must
be felt to be understood; but an idea of it may be formed by those who
remember the Vauxhall illustration of centrifugal force, some years
ago, when an unhappy monkey was placed in a carriage and shot down an
inclined plain, at the bottom whereof was a huge wheel, over and around
which the traveller and his vehicle were propelled, and brought to a
stand-still after attaining a level on the other side. The Madeira roads
are paved with sharp stones set very close together; so the machine
glides downwards without meeting with any resistance, and, in ten
minutes, descends a distance that takes half an hour or more to mount on
horseback. It was the most curious sensation I ever felt; and, though
assured of its safety, one cannot make the experiment for the first time
without thoughts of an upset running in one’s head, contact between which
and the stones would not have been very agreeable. Mountainous countries
are doubtless favourable to the promotion of personal activity; and
certainly the way in which the natives go up and down the steep paths
here, with burthens on their backs, especially in such a climate, is
something remarkable.

It is no wonder that the English are fond of Madeira, but a very great
wonder that far larger numbers do not resort thither, to pass the winter
months, with the numerous facilities of steam navigation now presented to
them. The climate, the total change of people and scenery, the teeming
vegetation, yielding the produce both of Europe and the tropics, the
picturesque disposal of the houses on the very ridges of the hills, with
every regard to comfort and even luxury, all combine to render this a
kind of earthly paradise, to which the seeming rhapsody at the head
of our chapter is really only literally applicable. Here indeed nature
showers down her choicest bounties: no fogs, miasmas, or even hurtful
dews; atmosphere almost always translucent and bright; the thermometer in
winter scarcely ever falling below 60 degrees; and where, during the hot
summer months, a cool and comfortable retreat, of almost any temperature,
may be found up the mountains. Lastly, there are no poisonous reptiles,
merely a brown lizard, harmless to everything save the vines; frogs are
quite a recent importation; and so far as I could learn, there are none
of that numerous tribe of annoying insects which infest the tropical
regions, only the familiar household flea, that makes himself at home

Unfortunately, the dependence of the population and the staple of Madeira
has been its vines, whose produce this year, as well as last, has totally
failed, from some cause almost as inscrutable, or at least as incurable,
and in its consequences nearly as calamitous, on a small scale, as the
potato rot in isles nearer home. I could not have believed without seeing
it:—in every direction the grapes were withered up like parched peas,
and, in many cases, the trees themselves dying. Such an extraordinary
visitation has, I believe, never been known here before. It partakes very
much of the same virulent character as the diseases that at times affect
the cereal world, and something of the kind was experienced with terrible
severity in the Canaries in 1704. Two years’ failure of a vintage, in
an island like Madeira, would be almost annihilation, if it were not
for its other boundless vegetable resources; and, as in the case of the
destruction of the Irish root, it is augured that much good may arise
to the people from the increased stimulus to industry so occasioned,
and their being induced not to place too great a dependence on any one
product. Still, it is a melancholy sight to behold the support of a whole
people struck down by such an inconceivable blight. Every means have
been tried to arrest its progress, but without success; and, should it
continue its ravages, Madeira wine bids fare to become greatly increased
in value a few years hence, when, as a matter of course, it will be
more in vogue and sought after, than has been the case for a long time

The streets of Funchal are narrow, but clean, and intersected by streams
of water, brought also into nearly every large dwelling. Their silence,
owing to the absence of vehicles, strikes the European stranger as
extraordinary; especially at night, when he seems to be placed in a city
of marionettes, as it were; and, from the presence of the palanquin,
bearing fair occupants about, quite an oriental tinge is imparted to
the aspect of the whole urban scene. Speaking of that, a note on the
physical attributes of the Madeirans; and we cannot do better than
quote the authority of a gentleman[33]—perhaps we should say a lady, as
it is doubtless her impressions in letter-press that are reflected on
this point[34]—who is the latest authority on what may be called the
_agremens_ of the island.

There are aqueducts made to bring the water from the mountain side, and
several deep gullies or ravines run through the town and empty themselves
into the sea. These cavities being crossed by bridges, the sides have
been built up at a considerable expense, and are covered with verdure,
tropical and European, producing a most picturesque effect. They are also
most beneficial in a sanitary sense, being in fact main arteries for
circulating pure fresh air, as well as for carrying off the impurities.

Excepting epidemics, Madeira, both town and country, must naturally be
the healthiest place in the world, for the reasons already stated. The
population of the island is estimated at upwards of 100,000, or, at least
was so till lately; but there is a good deal of emigration going on, and
owing to the late distress it is likely to increase materially, both to
Demerara and the Brazils, where the natives prove to be most valuable

The history of Madeira, or at least its political history, is of no
great importance. Like Brazil, it is named after its wood, and so is
its capital, Funchal, from a species of fern abounding in still greater
profusion than the magnificent timber. A romantic interest belongs to its
early annals, as it was discovered, it is said, by Mr. Macham, an English
gentleman, or mariner, who fled from England for an illicit amour. He
was driven here by a storm, and his mistress, a French lady, dying, he
made a canoe, and carried the news of his discovery to Pedro, King of
Arragon, which occasioned the report that the island was discovered by
a Portuguese, A.D. 1345. But it is maintained that the Portuguese did
not visit the place until 1419, nor did they colonise it until 1431.[35]
It was taken possession of by the British in July, 1801; and again,
by Admiral Hood and General (afterwards Viscount) Beresford, Dec. 24,
1807, and retained in trust for the royal family of Portugal, which had
just then emigrated to the Brazils. It was subsequently restored to the
Portuguese crown.

The residence of Englishmen here, is of course highly advantageous to
the place, and they are welcomed, as they deserve to be, by a poor
but industrious, and by no means abject or cringing, people. On the
contrary, the population of all classes are remarkable for their frank
and ingenuous bearing. Living[36] is reasonable; and it is to be hoped
that thousands, instead of hundreds, of our countrymen, will ere long
find their way here. The visits of our late estimable Queen Adelaide,
of the Dowager Empress of Brazils, and others of eminent station and
corresponding means, are dwelt upon with gratitude, as they not only
caused a considerable circulation of money, but did much good personally.
In no part of the world can the bounties of nature, or the precious
gift of health be so richly enjoyed, or in a manner so agreeable to
Europeans, as here. The island has some little commerce with different
places, but administered in a manner that renders all we said about
Lisbon restrictions, monopolies, and mercantile impediments, applicable
in an aggravated degree, if that be possible; and, of course, until
things mend there, no improvement can be looked for here. The trading
portion of the community seem to be very social and friendly amongst
themselves, although not mixing a great deal with the English, or rather,
the English maintain their constitutional isolation from the natives,
but with a rigidity which time is rapidly mitigating. The character for
British hospitality is fittingly maintained by Mr. George Stoddard, our
Consul, who occupies the palatial residence of a Portuguese noble, and
dispenses the duties of his office in a manner that may well reconcile
the strictest economist at home to the most inadequate stipend of £300 a
year attached to it; for the obligations are often irksome, if not very
onerous; and not a few of them arising out of melancholy occurrences, to
whose frequency the tombstones and monuments in the English burial-ground
bear such significant testimony. This Anglo _Père la Chaise_ of the
Western Atlantic is one of the first objects visited—and, alas! often the
last, by the survivors of those whom

The verdant rising and the flowery hill,
The vale enamell’d, and the crystal rill,
The ocean rolling, and the shelly shore,
Beautiful objects, shall delight no more.
Now the lax’d sinews of the weaken’d eye
In watery damp and dim suffusion lie.

Bidding adieu, however, to these melancholy matters, we again resume our

Oceanic Sailing again.—Halcyon weather, and modern steaming
to the _Fortunatæ Insulæ_ of the Ancients.—A stave on the
saffron-coloured singing birds.—Touching Teneriffe, and
Miltonic parallel to the Arch-Enemy.—Approach to Porto Grande,
and what we found there, especially its extensive accommodation
for steamers.—Deficiency of water the one draw-back.—Something
concerning Ethiopic Serenaders under the Line.—Promethean
Promontary extraordinary.—A memento of mortality midway
in the world.—Portuguese rewards honourably earned by
an Englishman.—Utility of Consuls in such places.—First
acquaintance with an earthquake.—Verd Grapes soured by a
paternal government.—Interchange of news between the Outward
and the Homeward bound.—A good propelling turn towards a
brother of the screw.


Or other worlds they seem’d, or Happy Isles,
Like those Hesperian gardens famed of old,
Fortunate fields, and groves, and flowery vales,
Thrice happy isles.—Paradise Lost, Book iii.

This track is, generally speaking, about the most pleasant in the
Atlantic Ocean; fine sunny weather and fresh north-east trade winds,
which blow with tolerable regularity nearly the whole year round,
rendering it very easy sailing indeed, and proportionably agreeable to
passengers, who may be supposed by this time to have attained their
sea-legs. In our case the wind was, unfortunately too light to be of much
use, as a vessel going from ten to eleven knots, under steam, must have a
very strong breeze to get a-head of such speed and assist the machinery,
as well as obtain another knot or two. We pass the Canaries (or Fortunate
Isles, as they were called,) to windward, having in view the far-famed
Peak of Teneriffe, upheaving high its giant bulk 12,182 feet, and
keeping our course direct for St. Vincent. The Canaries are naturally
associated with our earliest school-boy notions, as the original home
of the charming little universal household songster,[37] to whom they
have given their name, but here called thistle-finch, and having for its
companions the blackbird, linnet, and others of the same tuneful and
now Saxonized family. The real Canary of these islands, however, the
_Fringilla Canaria_ of Linnæus, and which still abounds here, is not of
the saffron or yellow colour it attains in Europe; but is, in its wild
state, the colour of our common field or grey linnet, the yellow hue
being the result of repeated crossings in its artificial state amongst
us. The Canaries are amongst several other islands that were known to the
ancients, but not discovered by modern Europe until the middle of the
fifteenth century, when, after a brave resistance from the natives, the
Spaniards conquered and have since retained them.

Though not exactly in the route of the Argentina, nor intended to be
touched at by any of the company’s vessels, still being comparatively so
near the Canaries, and especially of that particular one whereof mention
is made by the great English bard, in verse as majestic as the phenomenon
he speaks of:

On the other side, Satan, alarmed,
Collecting all his might, dilated stood,
Like _Teneriff_ or Atlas, unremoved:
His stature reach’d the sky, and on his crest
Sat horror plumed.—Paradise Lost, Book iv.

we must present a souvenir of our proximity to so celebrated a vicinage;
and we cannot do so in a more graceful or welcome form than the sketch
prefixed to this chapter.

The Cape Verds consist of seven principal islands, and were tolerably
populous, but of late years have been subjected to a continuous
emigration to South America and the West Indies, where, like the hardy
mountaineers from Madeira, they are found most useful in tilling the
soil, and in other laborious occupations; thus demonstrating the
fallacy of the old notion, that laziness is the predominant element in
the Spanish and Portuguese idiosyncrasy. What appears to be a present
disadvantage, in regard to this human flight from the Verds, may prove
beneficial hereafter, when the Ilheos (as they are called) return to
their homes, possessed of a little money wherewith to improve their
social and moral condition. The islands produce wine, barilla, large
quantities of orchilla weed, and cochineal, the cultivation of which
is rapidly forming a more and more considerable item of export. Steam
navigation will ere long bring them into much closer commercial contact
with the world, and enhance the appreciation of their products and
natural advantages. The climate is fine, though subject to occasional
high temperature and frequent droughts. Despite the name Verds,
suggestive of Arcadian animation, nothing can be more desolate than the
appearance of the islands, as approached from the sea; bold, high rocks,
against which the surge breaks violently, with mountains towering in the
clouds, are general characteristics, to which those of the island of St.
Vincent offer no exception. On our arrival the weather was thick, with
drizzling rain, as we made Porto Grande; and only cleared up in time to
enable us to see Bird Island, a most remarkable sugar-loaf rock, standing
right in the entrance of the bay, after passing which we reached the
anchorage ground in a few minutes. A more convenient little harbour can
hardly be imagined, being nearly surrounded with hills (or mountains as
they may be called), which protect it from all winds save the westward,
where Bird Island stands as a huge beacon, most admirably adapted for
a light-house, and on which it is to be hoped one will soon be placed.
There is deep water close to the shore on most sides of the bay, that
where the town is built being the shallowest; and here some wooden
jetties are run out, having very extensive coal and patent fuel _depôts_
close at hand, where these combustibles are put into iron lighters, and
sent off to the vessels. So beautifully clear is the water in the bay
that you can see the bottom at a depth of from twenty to thirty feet,
literally alive with fish of all kinds, but for which the people seem to
care very little, either for home consumption or export, though there is
no doubt that, in the latter direction, a large business might be done
with profitable results.

Porto Grande must become a most important coaling station, situated as
it is midway between Europe and South America, and close to the African
coast. Several important steam companies have already adopted it, viz.,
the Royal Mail (Brazil), the General Screw, the Australian, as also the
South American, and General Steam Navigation Company, whilst occasional
steamers are, likewise, glad to touch at it. At the period of which I am
writing, the Great Britain was the last that coaled here, on her way
to Australia. In order to meet this increased demand, a proportionate
degree of activity and exertion is observable on shore; and a large
number of iron lighters, carrying from 15 to 40 tons each, are now
in constant requisition, loaded, and ready to be taken alongside the
steamers the instant they cast anchor. Unfortunately, there is a very
poor supply of water, the want of it having been the occasion of frequent
emigration in the history of the islands; but it is understood to be
attainable at a slight expense; and a small outlay conjointly made by
the steam companies might not only procure a plentiful provision of this
all-necessary element, but also other conveniences, essential to the
comfort of passengers. There is no doubt that, as the place progresses,
supplies of meat, fruit, and vegetables, will be forwarded thither
from the neighbouring islands, which are so productive that there is a
considerable export of corn; and the cattle are numerous. Until lately,
fowls were only a penny a piece; and turtles abound. Hitherto there has
been no regular marketable demand for such things; but one, and a large
one too, is henceforth established, from the causes assigned, and will
doubtless be regularly and economically supplied. The labourers here are
chiefly free blacks and Kroomen, from the coast of Africa, most of whom
speak English, and chatter away at a great rate, as they work in gangs,
with a kind of boatswain over them, who uses a whistle to direct their
toil—the movements of all the race of Ham to the days of Uncle Tom, being
seemingly susceptible of regulation to musical noise of some sort or
other; whether the ‘concord of sweet sounds,’ or what would appear to be
such to more refined ears, does not greatly matter.

But for want of vegetation in its neighbourhood, a more picturesque
little bay than Porto Grande can hardly be conceived. Towering a short
distance above the town, is a kind of table mountain, some 2,500 feet
high; and at the opposite side, forming the south-west entrance, is
another very lofty one, remarkable as representing the colossal profile
of a man lying on his back, _à la_ Prometheus. He has his visage towards
heaven, wherein there are generally soaring vultures enough to devour
him up were he a trifle less tender than volcanic granite. The features
are perfect, even to the eyebrows; and a very handsome profile it makes,
though it does not appear that any tropical Æschylus has yet converted
the material to the humblest legendary, much less epic, purpose. On the
shore ground, forming the right side of the bay, looking towards the
town, there is a neat little monument, erected to the lamented lady of
Colonel Cole, who died here on her way home from India. The spot where
she lies is, from its quietude and seclusion, most meet for such a
resting-place, there being a small, conical hill behind, with a cottage
or two near, and a sprinkling of vegetation on the low ground between,
serving to ‘keep her memory green’ in the mind of many an ocean voyager
in his halt at this half-way house between the younger and the elder

This little town was thrown back sadly by the epidemic which afflicted
it in 1850 and decimated the population. During its continuance Mr.
Miller, one of the few English residents, did so much in assisting the
inhabitants, as to elicit from the late Queen of Portugal the honour of
a knighthood, in one of the first orders in her dominions. It requires
no small degree of patience and philanthropy to aid the development
of a place like this, labouring, as it does, under such great natural
difficulties, and where everything has to be brought from a distance,
there not being a tree or a blade of grass to be seen—nothing but dry,
arid sand, or a burnt-up kind of soil. Undoubtedly, the heat is very
great at times; and there are about three months of blowing, rainy
weather, which is the only period when vessels might be subjected to
inconvenience whilst coaling, as the southerly winds drive up a good
deal of sea into the bay. There is an English Consul resident here, Mr.
Rendall, who has done much to assist in bringing these islands into
notice, and into comparative civilization; and, by so doing, has many
times over reimbursed this country in the cost of his stipend of £400 a
year, saying nothing of the services he has performed to shipping, in the
ordinary discharge of his duties.

Cape Verds are a very numerous family of islands, called after a
cape on the African coast (originally named Cabo Verde, or Green
Cape, by the Portuguese) to which they lie contiguous, though at a
considerable distance from each other in some cases. All are of volcanic
formation—one, that of Fogo, or Fuego, once very celebrated as being
visible, especially in the night time, at an immense distance at sea.
The islands generally do not possess any very attractive points, being
unlike Madeira and the Canaries in this respect, as well as in extent of
population, that of the latter being four or five times more numerous
than the others—say about 200,000 in one, 40,000 in the other case,
though some statements make the inhabitants of the Verds considerably
more. The islands are occasionally subject to shocks of earthquakes;
and there was rather a strong one at Porto Grande the night before we
left, supposed on board our vessel to be thunder, from the noise it
made, though we were not aware until next day that a shock had been felt
on shore. The chief product is salt, a valuable article for vessels
trading to South America, though it is here manufactured by the somewhat
primitive process of letting the sea-water into the lowlands, where
the sun evaporates it. Though Porto Grande, in St. Vincent, is the
great place for shipping, and as such almost the only place of interest
for passengers in transit, Ribeira Grande, in St. Jago, the principal
island, and most southerly of the group, is the chief town, though it
is at Porto Playa, (often touched at by ships on the Indian voyage),
that the Governor General resides, particularly in the dry season. The
island second in importance, in point of size, is St. Nicholas, where
are some small manufactories, in the shape of cotton-stuffs, leather,
stockings, and other matters. The orchilla weed, however, is the great
object of governmental interest, and its monopoly is said to yield some
£60,000 per annum; the same wise policy that grasps at that interdicting
the manufacture of wine, though grapes grow in profusion, and are of
excellent quality for the production of a very acceptable beverage.

Before leaving Porto Grande we had the satisfaction of seeing the General
Screw Company’s fine vessel, the Lady Jocelyn, arrive on the day she was
due from India and the Cape of Good Hope, on her way to Southampton, with
mails, and upwards of one hundred passengers. I went on board to give
them the latest news from England, which was of course very acceptable,
and the columns of the leading journals were eagerly devoured. In
exchange I received the ‘Cape News,’ which did not contain anything very
particular, all being quiet there, our old perturbed friend, Sandilli,
and his ebonized insurrectionists of the hills having apparently subsided
into lilies-of-the-valley of peace and philanthropy. The fine steamers
belonging to the General Screw line appeared destined to convey a large
portion of passengers between England and India, in preference to the
overland route; and, certainly, when one could make the passage in about
sixty days, direct, without change of conveyance, and with such splendid
accommodation and such conveniences as these vessels afford, it was only
natural that they should fill well; and a more comfortable, happy-looking
group of passengers I never saw in any vessel.

But, alack for the worthlessness of such moralizings and anticipations
as these. This enterprising company have been obliged to abandon their
Indian contract, owing to their coaling expenses being out of all
proportion to the small sum they received for conveying the mails.
The Cape of Good Hope contract, too, will most likely be given up, to
the great detriment of that important colony, and at the rate we are
progressing, steam communication to Australia does not promise to require
the coaling facilities of St. Vincent; still we are of opinion that this
island must increase in importance, and that whenever coal freights
revert to a moderate scale, steamers will gather there to and from the
Southern Ocean.