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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - IIIVoyaging Accounts
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On this day ...
12 - 17 September 1768

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James Cook
Joseph Banks
Parkinson


Plymouth to Madeira


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Plymouth to Madeira (continued)

When the island of Madeira is first approached from the sea, it has a very beautiful appearance; the sides of the hills being intirely covered with vines almost as high as the eye can distinguish, and the vines are green when every kind of herbage, except where they shade the ground, and here and there by the sides of a rill, is intirely burnt up, which was the case at this time.

On the 13th, about eleven o’clock in the forenoon, a boat, which our sailors call the product boat, came on board from the officers of health, without whose permission no person is suffered to land from on board a ship. As soon as this permission was obtained, we went on shore at Funchiale, the capital of the island, and proceeded directly to the house of Mr. Cheap, who is the English consul there, and one of the most considerable merchants of the place. This gentleman received us with the kindness of a brother, and the liberality of a prince; he insisted upon our taking possession of his house, in which he furnished us with every possible accommodation during our stay upon the island: he procured leave for Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander to search the island for such natural curiosities as they should think worth their notice; employed persons to take fish and gather shells, which time would not have permitted them to collect for themselves; and he provided horses and guides to take them to any part of the country which they should chuse to visit. With all these advantages, however, their excursions were seldom pushed farther than three miles from the town, as they were only five days on shore; one of which they spent at home, in receiving the honour of a visit from the governor. The season was the worst in the year for their purpose, as it was neither that of plants nor insects; a few of the plants, however, were procured in flower, by the kind attention of Dr. Heberden, the chief physician of the island, and brother to Dr. Heberden of London, who also gave them such specimens as he had in his possession, and a copy of his Botanical Observations; containing, among other things, a particular description of the trees of the island. Mr, Banks enquired after the wood which has been imported into England for cabinet work, and is here called Madeira mahogany: he learnt that no wood was exported from the island under that name, but he found a tree called by the natives Vigniatico, the Laurus indicus of Linnæus, the wood of which cannot easily be distinguished from mahogany. Dr. Heberden has a book-case in which the vigniatico and mahogany are mixed, and they are no otherwise to be known from each other than by the colour, which, upon a nice examination, appears to be somewhat less brown in the vigniatico than the mahogany; it is therefore in the highest degree probable, that the wood known in England by the name of Madeira mahogany, is the vigniatico.


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© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, pages 4 - 5, 2004
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