« הקודםהמשך »
tain sides appeared so many veins of molten silver, as the sun glistened on their changing surfaces. I know not how long I might have remained fixed in admiration of this scene, bad not my guides, each supplicating for a pistarine, reminded me that I had still farther to go. These I dismissed, and trusting to the guidance of my burroquero for the rest of my journey, commenced the descent.
A narrow path leads off to the left along the edge of the Coural, over dry barren tufa, where a few stunted brooms show the only trace of vegetation ; but further on, the arborescent heaths appear and grow to a great size. The path now leads over a ridge of mountain that divides the Coural from the Desera Agua, a valley similar to that of the Coural, and in my mind no way inferior, except in being more inaccessible.
Here the path is very steep, being supported merely by the jutting cornice of a rock, and in some places so rugged and uneven, that it is with great difficulty a horse can be led over it. The laurus indicus, the venatico or mahogany of the island, clothed with its dark foliage the sides of the cliffs, growing at a great elevation ; whereas the chesnut is scarce, and principally confined to the bottom and the lower parts of the island, being an introduced tree.* The day was one of the finest we
* Bowditch divides the regions of vegetation into-First, The vines, which will grow and give fruit as high as 2700 feet, but will not produce wine higher than 2080, the bottom of the
had had for some time—not a cloud or mist could be seen throughout the Coural, save an occasional “woolpack” floating at a great elevation, which was for an instant caught in its transit by one of the highest peaks, as if to remind one of their elevation ; but it would soon pass away, and all again would become serene and spotless in the intense azure of the canopy above. The descent was difficult, and took us until three o'clock. As we neared the bottom, vegetation increased; many of the splendid laurels around us were covered with a beautiful white feathery moss, (usnea barbata,) that made them look as if clothed with hoar-frost. The ragged scoriæ along the banks were draped with numerous lichens; and where a fissure occurred in the basalt itself, large bunches of the Madeirian house-leek sprouted out like so many cockades. I did not see a single arbutus, nor could I find the arnica montana, described by Bowditch, but this may be owing to the season of the year. The balm is in great quantity ; the sonchus grows to a vast size; and two species of saxifrage occupy any spots of moisture ; there are different species of origanum, and numerous heaths, but which a cursory visit would not allow me to examine. Woodcocks
Coural. Second, The region of the brooms, in which, I think, may be also ranked the pines, together with the ferns and some chesnuts—this ascends as high as 3700 feet. Third, That of the vaccinium and laurels, to 5600. Fourth, That of the heaths, even as high as 6000 feet.
REFLECTIONS IN THE
are said to inhabit this valley the whole year round.
We reached the bottom just as the declining sun had thrown one-half of the Coural into shade. It is rich in every species of vegetation, and although 2080 feet above the level of the sea, the vine
produces good wine. The Coural des Frieras, or “sheepfold of the nuns,” is so called from its retired lonely situation, and being a place of security to send the women and defenceless to in case of invasion. In the centre of the valley stands the small chapel of the Liberamenti upon a rising knoll—a pleasing object in that wild and beautiful spot. There is something in basaltic scenery calculated to inspire awe; I never felt it more than to-day, on looking round me in this noble amphitheatre, from which there seemed no possible outlet, and whose hanging crags and perpendicular walls seemed as if they would momentarily crumble and crush you in their ruin. It is a spot whose scenic beauty defies alike the pencil and the pen;
powers of the latter have been frequently tried on it, but have always failed, for nature seems here to have studied the sublime. The heart of man may indeed devise, and the hand may 'execute what is justly to be admired in its day, but what efforts can bear comparison with such as these. The proudest triumphs of genius—the noblest monuments of the Egyptians—the Grecians—the Romans—where are they now? Fast crumbling
CLIMATE OF THE ISLAND.
into their original elements; while this picture in the book of nature's landscape smiles on unchanged and unchangeable for ages, and tells of Him from whose master-touch “ the very dead creation” assumes a mimic life.
It seemed to have but one want-that of the deep autumnal tints, that add so much variety to our scenery, and which are never to be seen amidst the evergreens of the Coural. The road leading out of the valley is of frightful steepness, and, as I looked back upon the scene I had left, its parting glance seemed even more transcendently lovely than the rest ; for now the fast declining sun, as it topped peak after peak, looked as if a crown of glory shed down its golden rays to enlighten those stupendous crags of fluted basalt that appeared like so many cathedral pillars, and bid me still remain
“ The adoring child Of nature's majesty, sublime or wild.” The value of Madeira as a climate suitable to invalids, is daily more appreciated, because becoming better known; and the numbers this year can hardly find accommodation. Besides hotels and boarding houses, families (many of whom are now resident here) can purchase houses for the winter season, although at rather a dear rate. These can be had either in the town itself, or in some of the beautiful suburban retreats, which, if not situated at too great an elevation, will be found very advan
CLIMATE OF THE ISLAND.
tageous. Unless for those who go early in the season, it will be necessary to write beforehand, in order to procure good accommodation. So great was the demand last year, that the Portuguese, as might be expected, took advantage of it to raise the prices of their houses. It is much to be regretted that some enterprising merchant has not erected a number of small comfortable dwellings in the different sheltered spots near the town, or in the valley of the Cama de Lobos, for the reception of invalids, who amounted, with their friends, last year, to upwards of two hundred; and they, with very few exceptions, were all English. Various opinions have been expressed regarding the comparative merits of this island; but I think both medical men and those who have tried it themselves must now acknowledge that we have no European climate that can in any way be compared with it, or that affords the same advantages that it does as a winter residence for invalids, more especially since steam has brought it within a few days' voyage of England. Even for those who can well afford the expense, it is a serious thing for invalids, especially for females, to resign their home and friends in search of a milder atmosphere and few places that we are acquainted with will compensate, by the benefits they afford, for the comforts of the one, or the endearinents of the other. But if such there be, I am constrained to say, that place is Madeira. It may
be well to mention, that a steamer goes