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Madeira and its fishing around 1820

Ancient traditional costumes of Madeira


Angler, and his companion in Madeira - engraving reproduced and restored by © Norbert Pousseur
Madeira - ~1820 - angler, and his companion


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

Madeira fishing

The coast of Madeira is rich in the produce of its waters.
The abundance, variety, and excellence, of the fish, which are daily, nay, it may be said, almost hourly caught, is among the blessings with which the inhabitants of this island are favoured.
As the religion of the people is not only exclusively, but rigidly, Roman Catholic, their frequent abstinence from flesh meat as a religious rite, and the consequent application to fish, as the only allowable food on their numerous fast-days, and seasons of abstinence, renders the sea an essential reservoir of their sustenance.
The demand, therefore, is proportionally great, and the supply is fully, and at all times, equal to the demand.

The rivers are so rapid in their flow, and so interrupted by water-falls, that the eel appears alone to reward the labour of the interior fisherman.

Funchal has a regular fish-market, which is supplied, at least, three times a day ; and a few hours only intervene between the transfer of this necessary article of food from the sea to the table. This convenience arises, in a great measure, from the harbour being the scene of the fisherman’s labour, which is there so generally and so amply rewarded, that he is seldom known to extend his piscatory voyage beyond it.


Such it appears the sov’reign plan,
Nature the handmaid is of man.
Whate’er she’s given to produce
Is for his universal use :
Whate’er he wants she can supply
Or to his art or industry.
Nor is she bound by range of time,
By suns remote or varying clime ;
Each element her voice obeys,
And all combin’d her pleasure sways.
Nay, is it not by her command
That yellow harvests gild the land?
The silver wave, the briny flood,
The peopled air, the pregnant wood,
The pasture rich, the verdant plain,
All own alike her bounteous reign.
Has she not given to human toil
The nurtur’d fruits of ev’ry soil ?
E’en ’mid the Alpine Mountain’s snow,
Where torrents roar, and tempests blow,
E’en there her kindness will contrive To make the native smile and live ;
Check in his breast each rude alarm,
And give the fur that keeps him warm.
But in this highly-favour’d isle
All plenty waits upon her smile ;
And adds the grape, that gives a zest,
By its rich juice, to all the rest.


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This engraving of Madeira people can be enlarged by zoom,
the original measuring 17x22 cm



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