The morning of our arrival, as many officers as could be spared from the different ships were introduced to the Marquis de Brancifort, Governor of the Canary Islands, whose reception was highly flattering and polite. His Excellency is a Sicilian by birth, and is most deservedly popular in his government. He prefers residing at Teneriffe, for the conveniency of frequent communication with Europe, to the Grand Canary, which is properly the seat of power; and though not long fixed here, has already found means to establish a manufactory in cotton, silk, and thread, under excellent regulations, which employs more than sixty persons, and is of infinite service to the common people. During our short stay we had every day some fresh proof of his Excellency’s esteem and attention, and had the honour of dining with him, in a style of equal elegance and splendor. At this entertainment the profusion of ices which appeared in the desert was surprising, considering that we were enjoying them under a sun nearly vertical. But it seems the caverns of the Peak, very far below its summit, afford, at all seasons, ice in abundance.
The restless importunity of the beggars, and the immodesty of the lowest class of women, are highly disgusting. From the number of his countrymen to be found, an Englishman is at no loss for society. In the mercantile houses established here, it is from gentlemen of this description that any information is derived, for the taciturnity of the Spaniards is not to be overcome in a short acquaintance, especially by Englishmen, whose reserve falls little short of their own. The inland country is described as fertile, and highly romantic; and the environs of the small town of Laguza mentioned as particularly pleasant. Some of our officers who made an excursion to it confirmed the account amply.
It should seem that the power of the Church, which has been so long on the decline in Europe, is at length beginning to be shaken in the colonies of the Catholic powers: some recent instances which have taken place at Teneriffe, evince it very fully. Were not a stranger, however, to be apprized of this, he would hardly draw the conclusion from his own observations. The Bishop of these islands, which conjunctively form a See, resides on the Grand Canary. He is represented as a man in years, and of a character as amiable as exalted, extremely beloved both by foreigners and those of his own church. The bishopric is valued at ten thousand pounds per annum; the government at somewhat less than two.
In spite of every precaution, while we lay at anchor in the road, a convict had the address, one night, to secrete himself on the deck, when the rest were turned below; and after remaining quiet for some hours, let himself down over the bow of the ship, and floated to a boat that lay astern, into which he got, and cutting her adrift, suffered himself to be carried away by the current, until at a sufficient distance