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and rode the greater part of the way on one of the provision-horses. “ The boy,” as he was termed, was about twenty-five, and quite astonished us—he was a light-hearted, good-humoured fellow, of powerful build, though low-sized. The greater part of the night he sung a loud chant, in the chorus of which the others joined. His indifference to the cold was surprising, although his dress was like that worn by the Madeiranese in summer, it consisted of a coarse loose shirt and breeches of linen, the latter reaching but half-way down his thighfrom this downward he had no covering of any description except shoes—a hat and vest completed his costume, and, although he had a blanket he did not use it, but carried it thrown across his arm, or on one of the horses. Our small white nags perfectly comprehended their business, never once missing the path, though to us it was often imperceptible ; they were exceedingly hardy, and all we could do would not make them go out of Indian file, or from the place that custom had made their own.
As soon as we got into the open country our dog commenced beating, and continued the whole night enlivening the solitude by his short quick bark as he started a goat or a rabbit across our path. I have so often descanted on the grandeur of moonlight scenery, that it would be now going over old ground to touch upon it again ; but here, by the extreme clearness of its silvery lustre we were enabled to
distinguish every trace of vegetation with the greatest accuracy.
We had already passed the regions of the vine, the fern, and the heath, which, with the pine, the arbutus, and the broom, form successive belts around the lower parts of the Peak rising one above another perfectly distinct, and with lines between of the most accurate demarcation.
After this we entered the vast plains of spartium (the broom) where the ground is more rugged, and the path so broken as to permit but a very easy walk. The cold increased momentarily as gained the summit of the range of hills that topped the vale of Oratava, which lay beneath us, slumbering in the most death-like stillness—the towns, the cottages, and the sea, had a most grand and imposing effect. At half-past two o'clock we stopped to feed the men and horses at a place called the “ Black Rocks.” Here we remained about half an hourThe thermometer was 40° Farh ; the men seemed rather inclined to rest, and would have delayed had we allowed them, in order to avoid their being at a very high elevation at the coldest part of the morning, which is just before sunrise. Strange to say, that long before I had reached this, and when at an elevation of scarce 500 feet, I found my breathing improved; and when two-thirds of the way up, was perfectly free from all trace of asthma or cough, and was the only person of the party, including the guides, who did not suffer from the rarity of the atmosphere. We resumed our way at three o'clock,
fortifying ourselves with a little brandy, a cigar, and what we found still more acceptable, a few Cayenne lozenges, which I strongly recommend to all persons exposed to extreme cold.
We now commenced crossing the pumice-stone plains,” which lie at the foot of the actual Peak, and here it was that the novelty and sublimity of our situation most forcibly impressed us. The “pumice-stone plain" is a term applied to a gradual ascent of great extent, and composed of exceedingly small grey lava and volcanic ashes, stretching far and wide as distant as the eye can reach along the comparatively level surface immediately at the base of the Peak. From this rise occasional masses of dark obsidian, of immense size, and scattered plants of retama, (a species of broom,) the only vegetable that exists in this barren waste. At the commencement of the plain it is growing in great strength and luxuriance; it gradually becomes more detached, and at the higher extremity it is scattered “ few and far between” in stunted bushes. There was a peculiar wildness in the hour and the scene; the night was truly propitious—not a cloud to be seen throughont the intense azure of the starry vault above us; not a breath of air stirred around us ; the full moon shone forth with a splendour the most dazzling, as she sailed majestically through the broad expanse of blue, barely allowing the stars to appear as they twinkled in her path, whilst an occasional plant would
ESTANZA DES INGLISES.
now and then start up as if to challenge her borrowed radiance. Before us lay the clear and boldly defined outline of the Peak, frowning in all the grandeur of monarchy, and the great rarity of the atmosphere showed every break and unevenness that bounded our horizon; all was wrapped in the most solemn stillness ; the deep silence seemed to impress each of us, not a little increased by our momentarily decreasing temperature, which had now completely silenced our melodious muleteers. The tread of the horses made not the slightest noise, as we wound our way across that weary plain, where for the first time I felt sleep come heavily upon me; indeed I did dose for a few moments, and it was on awaking that I so forcibly perceived our loneliness. The three men in their long white cloaks closed the line, stalking along like so many of the ancient Guanches, who had come out of their caverns to speed us on our way; and the shadows of the great masses of obsidian rose like castles, which assumed every fantastic shape the imagination could picture.
At the end of the plain our horses were forced up a steep and rugged ascent, for about half an hour, when we arrived at the Estanza des Inglises“ the resting-place of the English,” at half-past five o'clock, and although so closely muffled, our sufferings from cold were extreme, and our hands perfectly benumbed. This was the highest point where horses can possibly get up, and we only wondered
they ascended so far. We expected to have found some sort of a resting place here, but it was only a small enclosure, made by the fragments of some enormous rocks which nature has piled around itand one of the most dreary spots that can be well conceived. The men set about kindling a fire with some bits of retama which they had carried up
with them. The
The mercury in the thermometer was 36°, and falling rapidly. We now had recourse to our blankets, in which we enveloped ourselves, and reclined against one of the sloping rocks on the outside of the cavern, our faces anxiously turned towards the east to watch the scene that momentarily opened upon us. In our then almost petrified condition, we looked as like as could be to a pair of Egyptian mummies laid against the rock.
Sunrise. --As soon as we had taken our place we perceived a thin vapoury rose-coloured tint to stretch along the eastern horizon ; the moon was still full up, but she had thrown the shadow of the Peak over where we stood. As we continued to gaze steadfastly on this first blush of morning it every second increased, especially towards the centre, extending likewise in length along the horizon. This hue soon deepened to a pink, and then followed such a glorious halo of colours, in which the flower and the metal lent their most dazzling lustre, as to baffle all attempt at description; and the hazy undefined light that ushers in the day, began to chase the moonlight shadows from the plain beneath. At six o'clock, the