By order of the late governor, in 1800, the population was taken from the confessional returns, and, as he was himself a bishop, it may be inferred that the number stated below, which I procured from official authority, is accurate, viz.
And, calculating 1 in 10 for children under 5
years of age, the first period of their confession,
is equal to 3,500
Making in the aggregate the number of souls to be 104,500
15,000 of whom were computed to be inhabitants of the town of Funchal.
The government consists of a governor, appointed by the crown of Portugal, the island being in its possession, styled governor of the islands, and: is perfectly arbitrary; Funchal is his residence; he has a council under him consisting of 24 members, whose president is the second judge for the time being. All officers are nominated by the crown, and the holders continue only for three years, at the end of which new nominations take place.
The only article of trade is wine, of which they export about 12,000 pipes annually, and consume from 6 to 8,000 pipes in the island, comprehending small wine, &c. being in the whole about 20,000 pipes. It is made by pressing out the juice from the grape in a wooden vessel, proportioned in size to the quantity they intend to make. The wine-pressers take off their jackets and stockings, get into the vessel, and with their elbows and feet press as much of the juice as is practicable by this operation; the stalks are then tied together and pressed, under a square piece of wood, by a lever with a stone fastened to the end of it; the wine is brought from the country in goat skins, by men and women on their heads.
The roads are so steep and roughly paved, that neither carriages nor carts are in use, the substitute is a palanquin for the former, and for the latter a hollow log of wood, drawn by oxen, upon which the wine vessels or other loads are placed; they, however, have horses and mules very well adapted to their roads.
The revenue to the crown of Portugal is estimated from 20 to 30,000_l_. annually, clear of all expenses; but the balance of trade is greatly against them, all their specie being drawn to Lisbon.
The currency of the island is Spanish, and consists of dollars, converted by their laws, into milreas of 5_s_. 6_d_. pistareens, value about is. bits, about 6_d_. and half bits, about 3_d_.
It is disadvantageous to take up money at Madeira upon bills, as they make payment in dollars, which they value at a milrea. Sometimes they may, from particular circumstances, give a premium, but it is seldom equal to the discount.