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Paesants going to Market

Ancient traditional costumes of Madeira

 

Paesants going to Market in Madeira around 1820 - engraving reproduced and restored by © Norbert Pousseur
Madeira - ~1820 - Rural toil

 

engraving and text extracted from
History of Madeira - 1821 (from my library)
Madeira was then under British domination


PEASANTS GOING TO MARKET


He is but an imperfect traveller, who neglects the local occupations, and native manners of the fixed, stationary inhabitants of any country, and hurries on from one great town to another, without informing himself of the intervening circumstances which solicit his attention, so as to see human nature in its various forms and conditions. The principal town of Madeira, like all others of the same character, must be supplied with many of the essential articles of life from the country, and the labouring peasant is the bearer of them.

One of the singularities in the toil of the Madeira peasant appears to consist in this application of the head, to which he is accustomed from his earliest years, without the least assistance from the shoulders, a part of the body that physically appears to be better suited for bearing burdens, and, in other countries, is generally employed to sustain the weight of them.

Coal has lately been introduced into this island, but in such moderate quantities, that wood continues to be the general fuel, and is brought from the country in the peculiar manner which the plate represents. Indeed the distance from' which it is brought, being in the mountainous parts, naturally renders it an expensive article of domestic economy. The women do not share in this labour ; but the lighter burdens of fruit and vegetables, to supply the markets, are, however, borne by them in the same manner.

Where is the Muse, whose daring aim,
Would strive to sing the human frame ?
Not such an humble strain as mine,
Could all its various parts combine,
Could such an arduous theme rehearse
That would disdain my lowly verse.
Apollo’s beauty would require,
For its due praise, Apollo’s lyre.
Herculean strength demands the aid
Of some bold bard, whose fingers laid
On deep-ton’d harp, the nervous string
Might its stupendous subject sing :
But I, in humble, tinkling strains,
Can only chant the peasant’s pains,
By which his daily bread he gains ;
Can only mark the peasant’s tread,
With the rude burthen on his head ;
And while the female’s forc’d to bear     
The head-dress labour bids her wear ;
I leave her steps to move in time,
To her own notes and simple rhyme.

 

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Traditional costumes Next : Paesants cultivating the ground

This engraving of Madeira people can be enlarged by zoom,
the original measuring 11x15 cm

 

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