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THE MADEIRA ISLANDS.
THE Madeiras are a group of islands, consisting of Porto Sancto, the Desertas, and Madeira.
PORTO SANCTO, the northernmost, in latitude 33° 5' N. and longitude 16° 16′ W., is easily distinguished by two or three high hummocks. On the S. W. side is an excellent road, where good water, provisions, and refreshments may be had, and where vessels of nearly 500 tons have been hove down and repaired. A rocky bank lies to the N. E. of Porto Sancto.
The DESERTAS are about 12 leagues S. S. W. from Porto Sancto. They extend nearly N. N. W. and S. S. E.; are about 5 leagues in dimension, rather uneven, and not inhabited.
MADEIRA is about 12 leagues long from E. to W., and about 3 broad from N. to S.; very high and mountainous, except the east end, which terminates in a low rugged point. In passing through the channel between Madeira and the Desertas, a ship should keep at considerable distance from both.
Funchal, the capital, is on the south side, in latitude 32° 37′ N., and longitude 16° 52′ W., about a mile long, and half a mile broad, containing about two thousand houses, built of stone, with handsome Churches and Monasteries. The appearance of most of the houses is mean, and the streets are narrow, dirty, and badly paved. It is strongly fortified. On the E. end of the beach is a fort, called St. Jago; another, called St. Lorenzo, where the Governor resides, is near the W. end of the town; the third, named Peak Castle, is at the N. W. angle of the town, on a hill, about half a mile from the shore; the fourth stands upon the Loo Rock, about 400 yards from the shore, and commands the bay. The town has also a strong wall to the sea, connecting the forts.
The landing-place is to the N. W. of the Loo Rock, and is sometimes dangerous. The entrance to the town is about three-quarters of a mile from thence, through a gate, from which a narrow street leads to a public
walk, shaded with trees, with a principal avenue in the centre, terminated by the Cathedral. The Theatre is on one side, and the Hospital on the other of the entrance. The Custom House is at the sea-side, surrounded by a rampart mounted with cannon, and which contains barracks.
The best anchorage for large ships is in 30 to 35 fathoms water, having the Citadel a little open to the E. of the Loo Rock, the latter distant a large half mile. A whole cable should be used when the weather appears the least unsettled, with a slip-buoy on the cable, having the splice so situated, that should you be forced to put to sea, and be unable to weigh, the cable may be cut near the splice.
Ships' boats may land on the beach in summer; but this is better avoided at all seasons when goods are not landing, to preserve the boats from the violent surge and shingly shore, and to keep the seamen from the disorderly houses near the beach. Shore-boats often come on board, under pretence of selling fruit, &c.; but their chief object is the sale of spirituous liquors or concealed goods.
Madeira contains about 110,000 inhabitants, of which nearly 20,000 inhabit Funchal. The merchants, mostly English, are hospitable to strangers.
TRADE. The imports from Great Britain, in the year 1821, were foreign and colonial merchandize, consisting principally of wheat and flour, flax, East India piece-goods, rice, and brandy, the official value of which was £41,006; and British and Irish produce, consisting of cotton manufactures, cast and wrought iron, staves, soap and candles, woollens, apparel, beef and pork, cabinet and upholstery ware, glass and earthenware, hats, leather, linens, &c. the declared value of which was £48,315.
The official value of imports into Great Britain from Madeira, in the year 1821, was £18,253.
The Americans carry on a considerable trade with Madeira in provisions, lumber, &c. The returns are in wine, a large quantity of which is consumed in America.
The principal and almost only export from Madeira is wine, classed as follows, in regard to quality:-1, London Particular. 2, London Market. 3, India Market. 4, New York Market. 5, Cargo. There are, besides, Sercial, sweet Malmsey, dry Malmsey, Tinto, or red wine.
The quantity of Madeira Wine imported into Great Britain in the year 1822, was 2046 tuns, of which 857 tuns were brought direct from the Island. The increase of quantity has had an effect upon the price of the article, and deteriorated it in quality. The prices are settled by the British Factory at the commencement of each year. The large purchases of wine by the East India Company a few years back somewhat deranged the trade, and was attended with a serious loss to themselves.