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word to return with it, and are allowed to go home, and collect it among their friends. The pledge they have made they keep with religious exactness, and when all is ready, return with it. This speaks well for the faith of the people.
November 11. We hired horses, and left Santa Cruz to cross the island for Oratava, determined, if possible, to visit the Peak, although the accounts we had heard of its practicability were any thing but cheering. About an hour's ride over a rough road, that bears the marks of an ancient pavement, brought us to Laguna, where we breakfastęd. This pretty town has now a most forsaken look; hardly a person to be met with in the streets, which are overgrown with weeds, and every wall and house-top covered with the Canary house-leek. Our horses' hoofs echoed through the deserted streets; no tuning of guitars--no glancing from the balconies; and scarcely a sound to tell you the place is inhabited. The females of this place are kept almost as close as in a Turkish hareem; and as many of the inhabitants once ranked amongst the nobles of the mother country, their politics or their misfortunes have driven them hither, where they live in gloom and religious seclusion ; seldom venturing out themselves, or admitting others within their thresholds.
Here we left those of our party who could not attempt the dangers of the Peak. The plain of Laguna is of great extent; a perfect flat, and 1834 feet above the sea level ; the soil is rich and
INTERIOR OF THE ISLAND.
fertile, and grows the greater quantity of the grain raised on the island. It is completely hill-bound ; the consequence is, that it is constantly inundated to the depth of several feet, after the heavy rains that occur here, compelling the peasantry to quit their houses, and fly to the town, which the inundation seldom reaches. Travellers visiting this place at these periods have described the town of Laguna as standing on the brink of a great lake. The water, however, will run off in a few hours; and it is curious, that just beside the town there is a number of wells—salt, brackish, and fresh-all within a few acres of each other. In this plain, we felt the cold very sensibly; at nine A. M. the thermometer fell to 68° in the shade, when it was above 73° at Santa Cruz; but its mean temperature is 573°. It would I should think be a nice place for invalids living at Santa Cruz to come up to sleep during the hot season, as it is but an hour's ride, and between it and the intermediate place they could graduate the climate, so as to have it of all temperatures.
There are no fences or inclosures on this plain ; the wind was brisk, and as the large fleecy clouds floated between us and the sun, their dark shadows, chasing each other across this immense sea of land, looked like the scattered bands of an immense army.
Leaving the plain, we followed a gentle ascent for several miles, amidst copses of daphne, the yellow St. John's wort, and ferns of every
VALLEY OF ORATAVA.
description, but especially the beautiful hare’s-foot, davallia canariensis. The cactus and the euphorbia had already ceased, and the basalt became more porous; yet even at this elevation the vine still crept over the cottage, and its large pendant clusters hung round the balconies and piazzas. We had a fine view of the Peak all the day, but the appearance of snow glistening in the sun, and streaking in white lines its venerable head, somewhat cooled the ardour with which we had set out. The distance of Oratava from Santa Cruz is about twenty-five miles.
Presently we gained the heights above the former, which is rich in every thing the heart could desire, and forms a picture of woodland scenery seldom to be met with. The traveller, arriving here for the first time, is involuntarily arrested by the enchanting landscape, and forced to admire the extreme beauty of the scene. Beneath him is a valley of great extent, forming one continued vineyard from end to end. An occasional dragon-tree, and a few tall, waving palms start
“ But chiefly thee, gay green!
Thou smiling nature's universal robe,
The little town of Oratava stands in the centre of the valley, and its port at the water's edge. Towards the distant end rise up two mounds-cones of
no very ancient origin, not yet clothed with vegetation. On the right, the bold field of the southern ocean rolls in long and measured swells to the wild and rugged coast where it breaks in a most tremendous surf. The vessels, not daring to approach the port, lie off at a distance, waiting for their cargoes, and the boats with their white sails form but mere specks in that world of waters. The Peak rises in the background, and the lower range of hills that form the steps to this cloud-capt throne are clothed with the pinus canariensis, a tree of exceeding beauty and great value. It forms the principal fuel of the island, as the branches, when cut green, contain much turpentine ; and it is admirably adapted to all work exposed to the action of water. It is much to be regretted it is not cultivated on the highlands of Ireland and Scotland, as from the altitude at which it grows in Teneriffe it might be expected to thrive with us.* Those pine-clad hills that surround the valleys look as if they had been combed down their sides by numberless lava currents. Beneath these, arborescent heaths, laurels, and arbutus are embraced by the vine, as it creeps up the sheltered valleys to meet them. Although it is now winter, no autumnal tints are seen to vary the landscape, but one universal green, rich beyond description, and of every tint into which a colour can
* Some seeds of this tree which I brought home with me have been planted in the Botanic Garden of Trinity College, by my friend Mr. Mackay, and are in a thriving condition.
be divided, forming a variety in sunshine and in shade that leaves no room to regret our northern signs of dying vegetation.
The numerous groups of peasantry we met in our ride invariably stopped to beg for something ; the boys and children asking for a bit, (the oneeighth of a dollar ;) the men for à cigar; and the women for a piccaninni! which here means not a baby, as amongst
any thing smalla trifle.
We arrived at the port of Oratava about four, o'clock—a well built, clean, airy little town. There are few of the people to be seen in the streets, and none of the fair sex. The window-shutters are kept closed during the day, but at the bottom is a little door which the ladies push out with their heads when any thing attracts their attention in the street, but which is instantly closed, in high disdain, if you endeavour to catch a glimpse of the curious fair within. We were directed to the Spanish hotel, kept by a quondam actor and opera-dancer of Cadiz, which, miserable as it was, offered the only accommodation in the village. Here we found two English friends—invalids who had been enjoying the benefit of this beautiful climate for the last month or two.
November 12. The answers to our inquiries respecting the ascent of the Peak led us to think that from the advanced state of the season it would be impracticable, or at least attended with much