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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Madeira

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(a Portuguese word signifying wood, and given because of the unusual abundance of timber) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, off the N.W. coast of Africa, in lat. 32° 43' N., long. 17° W., with an area of 345 sq. miles, and a poptulation in 1885 of 123,481, and belongs to Portugal. It constitutes a part of a grounp of islands sometimes called "the Northern Canaries," which were discovered in 1419. The coasts of Madeira are steep and precipitous, rising from 200 to 2000 feet above sea-level, comprising few bays or landing-places, and deeply cut at intervals by narrow gorges, which give to the circumference the appearance of having been crimped. From the shore the land rises quickly to a height of 5000 feet; its highest point, the Pico Rhuivo, is 6050 feet high. It is of volcanic origin, and slight earthquakes occasionally occur. The lower portions of the island abound in tropical plants, as the date-palm, plantain, sweet potato, Indian corn, coffee, sugar-cane, pomegranate, and fig. The fruits and grains of Europe are somewhat cultivated, but the country has until lately been mainly devoted to the cultivation of the vine and sugar-cane. Funchal, with a population of 25,000, is both the capital and port of the island. The climate is remarkable for its constancy. There is only 10° difference between the temperatures of summer and winter, the thermometer in Funchal showing an average of 74° in summer and of 64° in winter. At the coldest season the temperature is rarely less than 60°, while in summer it seldom rises above 78°; but sometimes a waft of the leste, or east wind, raises it to 90°. The natives of Madeira are of a mixed race, principally of Portuguese, Moorish, and negro blood. "They are meagre, sallow, and short-lived, which is attributed to their want of wholesome food [the poorer classes chiefly subsist on the eddoc-root, sweet potatoes, and chestnuts], a life of drudgery, and a total disregard of cleanliness."

The Roman Catholic Church is the established religion of Madeira, and until recently none other was tolerated. In 1839, Dr. Kalley, a physician, began to disseminate Protestant doctrines, and ultimately the Scotch Church took up the work most successfully began by Dr. Kalley. The spirit of persecution, so general in Romish countries, was not wanting here, and there was great opposition to Protestantism. The first missionary to the island was the Rev. W. Hewitson, who arrived there in 1845, but for a long time the opposition of the government was so severe that he was obliged to confine his labors mainly to Dr. Kalley's converts. So uncomfortable were natives who chose the Protestant communion, that in 1846 some 800 of them left for Trinidad and for the United States. At present the Protestants have quite a hold on the country. Besides an English Church, there are other places of worship, including a Presbyterian Church in connection with the Free Church of Scotland. The educational institutions comprise the Portuguese College, and Lancasterian and government schools. See White, Madeira, its Climate and Scenery; Schultze, Die Insel Madeiras (Stuttg. 1864); Chambers's Eyncyclop. s.v.; Newcomb, Cyclopaedia of Missions, s.v.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Madeira'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/m/madeira.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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