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Paesants cultivating the ground in Madeira

Ancient traditional costumes of Madeira


Manner of cultivaing the ground  in Madeira around 1820 - engraving reproduced and restored by © Norbert Pousseur
Madeira - ~1820 - Manner of cultivaing the ground


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


The unequal surface that prevails throughout the island produces an obvious difficulty in its cultivation. The steepness and precipitancy of its acclivities and descents, and the rare continuance of level ground, renders the use of the plough impracticable, as it equally forbids the use of animal labour. Cultivation, therefore, must be principally, if not exclusively, produced by manual industry, and may be almost literally said to be obtained by the sweat of the human brow. Spades are not in use ; but the instrument employed in breaking up the ground is a kind of long- pointed hoe, calculated, as it appears, to produce the effect of our pick-axe. This utensil is not formed to penetrate deep into the earth ; and the labour is proportionally great when the vines are to be planted, which are, at least, six feet in depth ; but the peasantry are a hardy race of people, and susceptible of uncommon labour. The women, indeed, sometimes assist them in the field ; but their occupations, particularly after they marry, may be considered as confined to the cottage and its immediate vicinity. They are employed in spinning, and weaving the materials for domestic clothing ; and their families are often numerous. They also look after the cattle, and attend, as may be supposed, to household regulations. Frequent demands are also made upon their time by religious duties, to which these classes are minutely attentive.

As climates change, as Phoebus ray
Darts forth intolerable day ;
Or where his mild benignant beam
Shoots a more pleasing, genial gleam ;
Or where it scarcely does appear
To gild the sky for half the year ;
Or in the continent's wide range,
Where nature proves an equal change ;
Or where the rising island's cast,
Far off amid the wat’ry waste ;
With what variety of toil
Does labour bend the stubborn soil.
Along the wide-extended plains
The ever-smiling Ceres reigns ;
Where the plough’s sharp, and furrowing share
Does the rich ground for seed prepare :
But here the handling of the hoe
Bids Bacchus' golden vintage flow.
Thus the observing eye may see
Scenes of all-varying industry,
And to each spot a blessing given :
Thus is fulfill'd the will of Heaven
Thus cultivation’s various art
Makes the face smile, and cheers the heart *.

(*) Wine that maketh glad the face of man, and bread that strengtheneth man’s heart.


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Paesants going to Market
Traditional costumes Next farmer and his daughter going to Town

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



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