תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

thermometer stood at 18°, the light increasing, the cold intense, and the heavens presented a scene such as we read of in the arctic regions, being formed by the resplendent glories of the Aurora, but with this difference, the most brilliant colours gathered here as it were into a focus. All the east presented a lustrous semicircle, which, if you took your eyes off for a moment, seemed to increase tenfold. Between the horizon and the spot on which we stood floated a confused sea, which we at first took for the ruffled bosom of the ocean, but it turned out to be nothing more than a thin white mist. At a quarter past six the temperature fell as low as 15', and sunrise took place a minute after ; he rose very suddenly, and his whole disc was almost immediately clear of the horizon. It was a glorious sight, and cheering after all the cold and suffering of the preceding night, to see the great centre of light and heat come up to speed us on our way.

I have often tried to form to myself a comparison of sunrise and sunset, and on this occasion have settled the question in favour of the former. Our guides reminded us it was time to recommence the ascent, and to fortify ourselves on the way we breakfasted. Every thing we had carried up with us was frozen ; the eggs were perfect balls of ice ; we had also brought with us a bottle of coffee, which, having contrived to heat, proved the most grateful of all our refreshments.

We left the old man to guard the horses, and

[blocks in formation]

again set forward. Large masses of pumice, lava, and scoriæ, continue some way further up to the small platform of Buona Vista, where there is a plant or two of stunted retama, and here the domain of vegetation ends. From this we climbed up a steep ascent, composed of detached masses of sharp rock basalt and obsidian, some loose, and others with a coating of scoriæ; it reminded me of a magnified rough cast. Our halts, as might be expected, were frequent—at half-past seven o'clock, during one of these stoppages, I found the glass had risen to 33°. From the moment the sun rose the heat began to increase, making us throw off our extra garments, and leaving them in the ascent. With a good deal of difficulty we at last reached the base of the cone, which crowns the summit; the effects of the last irruption.

It is much smaller and more perpendicular than Vesuvius; it stands upon a level platform, somewhat broader than its base, and rises like the great circular chimney of a glass-house to the height of sixty feet.

Here our extreme difficulties commenced, for the fatigue we had already gone through left us but little strength, commensurate with the ceaseless efforts which were to be put forth, and the exertion the task demanded. The external coating is composed of loose stones, lava, pumice, and ashes, in which we sunk ancle-deep, and obliged us to rest every few minutes; we had each to strike a separate line in our ascent, as the composition is so

[blocks in formation]

loose, that if once set in motion, large quantities would come powdering on the heads of the persons who have the misfortune to be beneath. Here and there a few reddish volcanic rocks jut out, and afford a resting-place ; but there are other whitish looking stones that seem equally inviting, but which are nevertheless far from being hospitably inclined, as a young friend of mine wofully experienced. Having sat on one of these “ sulphur stones” for a few minutes, and feeling it rather hot, he rose up exactly in that condition which excited the wrath of Aunt Tabitha against poor Humphrey Clinker, a not very agreeable predicament at such an elevation, and with so keen a breeze.

We reached the summit at half-past eight o'clock, and my first impulse was to crawl to the highest pinnacle upon the wall of the crater, on the southeast point, whence it slopes on both sides towards the west. This solfatara (or half-extinguished volcano) was more active than usual this morning ; large wreathes of smoke proceeding from numerous cavities and cracks in the bowl of the crater. This was smaller than we expected, not being more than a hundred feet in the widest part ; shallow, and the edge very irregular, of an oval shape, having a margin of dense whitish lava. We descended into it, and found the opening, from whence the smoke issued, was near the south-west corner, encased with the most beautiful crystals of sulphur. On opening up these with a stick, we found

VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT.

159

them enlarged into little chambers, encrusted with the same crystals, the substance on which they rest being a kind of mortar, crumbling in the fingers, but hardening on exposure to the air. Some of these crystals are singularly beautiful, of the greatest brilliancy of colour, and varying from a deep golden orange to the palest straw colour.* The largest of these holes was about the size of my two fists; from this, and two or three others similar, a loud boiling noise was heard, even when standing on the edge of the crater. Large fissures intersect the crater in different directions ; the crust between them vibrates under the foot, and produces a hollow sound. Besides the sulphur encrusting round the chinks and holes, large quantities, also crystalized, occur both within and outside the crater, formed in little nucleii embedded in a compact and glistening white substance. The fume or smoke is of a dense whitish appearance, and quantities of a watery vapour proceed out of the larger holes ; but, although the sulphureous vapour is so much complained of, and that some of our party suffered from it, I was able to remain in it fully five minutes. The thermometer when plunged into one of these, rose to 90°.

The view that awaited us on the summit amply repaid us for all the toils of the ascent. The morning was beautifully clear, and without a cloud; the finest that had occurred since our arrival. The

* For analysis of these see Appendix D.

160

APPEARANCE OF THE ISLAND.

whole island of Teneriffe lay in the most vivid manner like a map at our feet, with its white towers, its vine-clad valleys, and pine-crowned hills.

Immediately around the Peak, the mountains form a number of concentric circles, each rising in successive heights, and having it as a centre. It is this appearance that has not inaptly gained for it the simile of a town with its fosses and bastions.* These are evidently the walls of former craters, on the ruins of which the present has been reared. What a fire must have come from the first of these, which enclosed a space of so many leagues ! Or again, how grand the illumination that once burst forth from the place whereon we stood, a height of nearly 13,000 feet, and which it is calculated would serve as a beacon at a distance of 200 miles at sea on every side. The crater or circle next below us appears to rise to the height of the Estanza des Inglises, 10,000 feet.

There are a number of smaller cones scatterred irregularly over the island; their red blistered summits glance in the sun like so many molehills ; the largest is towards the west, it rises to a great height, and is the most elevated point on the island next to the Peak itself. Towards Santa Cruz the marks of recent volcanic action become

* Von Buch looks upon the Peak as a great chimney, or outlet for the vapour, &c. &c., which would otherwise break out through the sides and other parts of the island.

« הקודםהמשך »