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in the island is the Gardin de Sera, or garden of the desert, the beautiful country residence of Mr. Veitch, our late consul-general here. As I had intended visiting the Coural, I took advantage of his kind offer of a bed, at his mountain villa, on the night before my descent. We left Funchal in the evening, and shortly arrived at one of the most beautiful districts on the south side of the islandthe valley of the Cama de Lobos, the richest vine country in the island, and the part where grows the Malmsey grape. The soil is of a rich, dark loam, kept up by small retaining walls; the vale itself looks like the dried-up bed of a great torrent, as the sides are almost perpendicular ; the bottom studded with cottages peeping from out groves of bananas, with their long light-green leaves and feathery foliage waving, like so many plumes, in the evening breeze. Before it lay the Capo Geram, one of the highest headlands in the island, rising beyond the valley, with its fringe of pines that crowns its towering summit, gilded by the setting sun, and mirrored in the wave beneath. Having passed the valley, we commenced ascending through the finest district in the island. The vines are all trained on trellises that stretch over the road ; the houses become more frequent, and we passed numerous groups of the peasantry going home, having disposed of their fruit or wine, laden with preserved fish, or salted fowl, which latter are pickled and packed in large barrels for inland consumption. But
in general the poorer people eat no meat, their principal food being fruit and vegetables ; and yet we see what a stout, healthy, hardy race they are, capable of enduring the greatest fatigue. The land is held by the tenant for one half of the produce, be it more or less ; on this they live, seemingly both contented and happy. The moon rose in most imposing brilliancy as we entered the mountains through which the narrow bridle-path now led, amidst the most romantic scenery; as we traversed the ravines, the dark shadows of the impending cliffs above were relieved by a full stream of silver light occasionally thrown across the gloaming. Perhaps in no place is the witchery of moonlight scenery so much enhanced as in the forest and on the mountain. The hushed repose of nature amongst those proud battlements of the land, calms, while it elevates the mind. Below us rested the ocean, placid and serene, without a wave to ripple its silver bosom ; and the very surf, usually so high along this bold and rocky shore, had scarcely power to sing its own lullaby ; while in the valleys the crickets kept up a most incessant chirping among the tall reeds. I love the cricket; it reminds one of the days of home and childhood, when we sat by our own fireside to listen to the tale of wonder, and watched the little insect as it peeped forth at us from the hob.
During the day it was rather cold, and there was much wind at Funchal ; but we found none of it
whatever on the hills, where it was much warmer. It is not an uncommon occurrence, in the lower parts of the island, to have some wind at the heat of the day, dying away towards evening. It is said to arise from this cause :-in those ravines which intersect the higher parts of the island, the morning sun, acting on the confined atmosphere which settles in those gorges, greatly heats the air, and necessarily rarifies it, forming a tendency to vacuum ; then the wind from the sea rushes towards the centre of the island to fill up the spaces where draught is created, until an equilibrium is established—this creates the day breeze.
Next morning I had a better opportunity of examining the beauties of this garden of the desert. At this great elevation it was piercingly cold during the night. It is, indeed, a lovely spot; so wild, so calm, and so perfectly shut out from the rest of the world; the hills, on either side, forming an amphitheatre, with but a single outlet, where you get a glimpse of the sea ; the immediate sides of the vale are clothed with groves of magnificent chesnuts, their autumnal liveries well contrasting with the fresher tinting of the leafy evergreens.
In the bottom, watered by a gentle rivulet, the vine grows even at this elevation, and the numerous class of cucurbitæ, the melons, gourds, and pumpkins, form graceful festoons as they wreathe from branch to branch of the young chesnut and orange trees--their golden blossoms and enormous
fruit hanging by a single stem, so light and graceful, look as if suspended in mid-air. Small cottages, thatched with rye-straw, with the villagers seated before them grinding the quern, give life and animation to the scene. Numerous plants of balm scent the air, and the fuschia and hydrangia grow to a size almost incredible. Mr. Veitch, to whom much credit is due for his endeavours to introduce the tea-plant, showed us his plantation here. It is situated on a sunny terrace behind the house; the plants were then looking exceedingly healthy, and in the most luxuriant state of vegetation, the greater number being in blossom; they are now twelve years' old. The original plants are small, and principally kept for seed, which is now ripening on them, and they are also laid in layers for the next year. The first generation that was procured from these was in a still more flourishing condition, proving the advantages of acclimatization, and the value Madeira would be of for introducing plants into Europe. He has both the green, black, and gunpowder ; and the leaves are gathered in May, when fresh and tender. We partook of some of it for our breakfast, and, though hardly strong enough, it was of a fine flavour, and had not that coppery taste perceived at times on the tea at home. Mr. V. is in the habit of mixing the flower of the olea fragrans, which adds considerably. to its quality, and he keeps it a year before using. The fresh leaf has little or no taste, and so much of the
VIEW OF THE COURAL.
flavour is the effect of the drying process, that we must be some time ere we arrive at the perfection of the Chinese in tea manufacturing, while they are so anxious to prevent us receiving information concerning it.
Emerging from the valley of the garden, and proceeding through the village, I soon collected a troop of guides, who each disputed for the honor of conducting the Signor Inglese to the Coural. I was led to the top of the hill surmounting the Gardin, the guide assumed a mysterious air, and holding my horse by the bridle-lo! the Coural opened to view—so suddenly, indeed, that I started back in horror at finding myself on the brink of a precipice 1334 feet in depth. This immense abyss stretches, like a diorama, far as the eye can reach across the island. It is a series of valleys inclosed on all sides by enormous perpendicular precipices, some of which are the principal heights of Madeira, as Pico Grande, the Turhinias, the Pico Ruivo, 5446 feet in elevation, the bottom and sides being a forest of the noblest trees. The height of the surrounding mountains--the roaring torrents which dash through the hills—the azure sky, and the wild sublimity of the spot, have justly procured for it the title of the Switzerland of Madeira. From the place where I stood, the white cottages that sprinkle the bottom look like so many egg-shells, and the stream that swept through the valley, and the rivulets upon