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beautiful country, meeting with the gigantic virgin forests of Laurels, sixty feet high and four feet in diameter, and occasionally woods of arborescent Heaths, of equally surprising size with those they had seen the day before, in their journey across the island, farther to the eastward.
No traces of distinct craters were found on any part of the island they visited; the rocks were composed of volcanic breccia, and the surface of these was much decomposed.
The mountain-paths by which they crossed, are almost inaccessible in some places. The Madeira ponies were obliged to leap from rock to rock, frequently at an angle of 45° with the horizon. The lover of the picturesque will be amply gratified by pursuing the same route.
Another party, consisting of Messrs. Hale, Eld, Dana, and Holmes, went towards the east end of the island, as far as Canical, beyond Machico, to examine a bed of fossils, said to exist there. This proved to be a bed or deposit of coral, which will be spoken of in the Geological Report.
Passing through Machico, they saw and visited the small church or chapel, said to have been erected over the graves of the lovers, Anna d'Arfet and Robert Machim, the story of whose love and sufferings has long since been placed among the fabulous, though still credited in Madeira.
As their adventures are supposed to have led to the discovery of this island, it may be as well to give the history of them a place here, as recorded by Alcoforado.
It is as follows:
“ In the reign of Edward the Third of England, Robert Machim, an English gentleman, became the lover of the beautiful Anna d'Arfet. It was long before their mutual attachment was known. When it became so, Machim's imprisonment was procured by the influence of her family, for his presuming to aspire to the hand of one so much above his rank. During his confinement, Anna d'Arfet had been forced into a marriage with a nobleman, who confined her in his castle near Bristol. By the assistance of a friend. Machim escaped, and induced her to elope with him, to seek an asylum in France. They sailed during a storm, which prevented them from gaining their intended port, and after many days of anxiety and suffering, they found themselves in sight of land clothed with the richest vegetation, and wild flowers in the greatest profusion. They determined to disembark, and experienced a climate of surpassing beauty, with birds of the gayest plumage. Whilst wandering a few days about in this paradise, there came on a violent storm, which drove the vessel from
the island. This was too great a shock for poor Anna, and she dict soon after of a broken heart. Robert did not long survive her, and died, uttering as a last request that he might be laid in the same grave with his mistress, in a chapel which they had erected in commemoration of their deliverance from shipwreck. From the survivors, Alcoforado is said to have derived the story, they having left the island, (after many adventures,) returned to their native country, and gave accounts of the discovery of Madeira.”
The country along this route is much diversified in surface, and extremely beautiful. The road is quite good and much wider, enabling two to ride abreast.
This party complained much of the inhospitality of the inhabitants. They could not get any accommodation whatever at Santa Cruz, although it contains three thousand inhabitants. They were told “that Santa Cruz was a very poor place,” and that it would be better to ride on to Funchal. One of the inhabitants, of respectable appearance, told them there was an empty house which they could occupy, with permission of the owner. His offer was courteously declined, and the party rode back through a dark night to Funchal.
The islands of Madeira and Porto Santo, under the new constitution, promulgated in 1836, were included in one district, called “ Districtoadministrativo do Funchal." It contains ten councils, in which are forty-five parishes. The population, according to the census taken in 1836, is taken from the Cronica.
The English population amounted in 1836 to 108 families, numbering 324 souls.