In the year 1344
, an Englishman named Macham, sailing from England
with a lady whom he carried off, was driven by a tempest to the Island of Madeira
, till then unknown, and totally uninhabited. He cast anchor in the harbour or bay, now called Machico
, after the name of Macham. The shore of the island, beautifully covered with wood, and shining resplendent under one of the serenest of skies, presented an inviting sight to the wearied mariners; but, above all, to the fair runaway, on whom the severities of the voyage had brought a deadly sickness. Macham conveyed her to the land, but she touched it, alas! only to breathe her last. Meanwhile, a new storm arose, and the ship was driven out to sea, before Macham and part of the crew who were with him had time to return on board. In an island, however, so well wooded and watered, the means both of shelter and subsistence were easily procured. To Macham, whose best consolation it was to linger round the spot which contained the remains of his departed mistress, the detention was accompanied with no regrets. He spent his time in erecting a small chapel or mausoleum
over her grave: and on a stone tablet inscribed her name, and a statement of the adventure which had doomed her to be laid thus far away, not only from the ashes of her fathers, but from all else of human kind. The feelings which may be supposed to have filled the breast of the desolate mourner over this grave in the wilderness are well depicted in the following elegiac stanzas, the production of a modern pen:-
'O'er my poor Anna's lowly grave
No dirge shall sound, no knell shall ring;
But angels, as the high pines wave,
Their half-heard "miserere" sing.
No flow'rs of transient bloom at eve
The maidens on the turf shall strew;
Nor sigh, as this sad spot they leave,
Sweets to the sweet, a long adieu."
But, in this wilderness profound,
N'er her the dove shall build her nest;
And ocean swell with softer sound,
A requiem to her dream of rest.
Oh! when shall I as quiet be,
When not a friend or human eye,
Shall mark beneath the mossy tree
The spot where we forgotten lie!
No kiss her name on this cold stone,
As all that now on earth I crave;
Nor in this world I am alone:
Oh! lay me with her in the grave!'
The companions of Macham, who could not be supposed to share much in his feelings, grew soon tired of their solitude, and, resolving to try their fortunes again on the waters, prevailed on him to join with them in the construction of a boat out of one of the large trees by which they were surrounded. In this they all put to sea, but were not long after cast on the shore of Africa, without sail or oars. The Moors, to whom navigation had not then made a wreck an occurrence so barbarously prized as it is now, were infinitely struck at the sight of the strangers; they received them well, and their chief readily procured them a safe conveyance to Spain.
From The Percy Anecdotes, published 1823