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REFLECTIONS ON THE PEAK,
less, the stratification more perfect. There is less appearance of lava or pumice, and the basalt assumes more of the columnar form. We could perfectly distinguish the few vessels that lay opposite the port of Oratava, a direct distance of thirteen miles, while the ascent is calculated at about thirty. So clear was the atmosphere, that our friends at the port could distinguish us distinctly with the glass. They had been anxiously looking out for us, and hoped, more than expected, our accomplishing the ascent. The Archipelago of the Canaries seemed as if stretched at our feet; Grand Canary was particularly plain, being immediately beneath the sun. Palma and Gomera seemed so near that
could almost grasp them in your hand : and far away
in the distance, Heiras seemed to mingle with the horizon. Our attention was now called to a vast body of clouds that brooded over the sea to the east. They were at first perfectly still and motionless, and of that description commonly called wool-packs. They then advanced towards the island, passed beneath us, and finally rested over the heights of Grand Canary.
Although we had met small detached flakes of snow collected in the rocks, and a good deal around the crater, the air felt comfortably warm on our gaining the summit; presently a light breeze coming from the southward made the temperature fall very suddenly, and our guides began to hasten our departure ; at twenty minutes to ten o'clock it was
as low as 39°, so we filled our cases and pockets with sulphur and other specimens, and at ten we reluctantly began our descent; I say reluctantly, for those only who have witnessed that glorious prospect can know, or enter into the feelings that take possession of the beholder standing on that spot !
- the recollection of what this once was, and what the smoke and noise of the different crevices tell you it still is, of which who shall say the day it may not again break forth. The cause and the origin of those fires take us back to the time when all this was one mass of flame, vomiting forth those huge masses of rock and obsidian, now scattered for miles around, and the overflowing of whose liquid burning now forms the cliffs that bound its seawashed base. But in what age did all this occur ?
By an observation made in the town at ten o'clock, the temperature was 72o. Our descent was rapid in the extreme ; on our way we visited the Gueva de biebo, or ice-house, a cave of great size, the temperature of which is always so low, that although far below the region of perpetual snow, the ice and snow that collect in it during the winter remains frozen all the summer. About twenty feet from the surface was one vast sheet of ice, the exporting of which to the different parts of the island forms the pursuit of a particular class of people. The man is let down by a rope, and it is a most arduous and dangerous employment; lives are lost yearly, either at the ice-house itself, or having
REGIONS OF VEGETATION.
been overtaken in a storm in those elevated regions, many have perished miserably.
miserably. We reached our horses at eleven o'clock, the temperature 38°. Here we dined and rested an hour; the wind became very cold, and we were glad to set forward on our further descent. We had now an opportunity of more closely examining our last night's path ; in many places the crevices and apertures in the rocks forming the most elevated point, are filled with whitish ashes, as if the effect of the last puff of the volcano. Although the contrary is stated, we could find no traces of basalt toward the top ; and as we descend, the lava becomes less vitrious and of a darker colour ; retama is the Spanish term applied to the spartium monospermum. On these plains we met large wild cats. The other species of broom growing here is the spartium nubiginum, exciting our wonder how it could gain nourishment from the scanty soil amid the dry lava and volcanic ashes. It extends as low down as the top of the range of hills that surround the vale of Oratava. We next came to the Heaths, and had a better opportunity of seeing the marked difference between the zones of vegetation ; one set of plants scarcely infringing by even one straggler upon the domain of the other. Of all the regions, the heaths are to my mind the most beautiful ; these tall arborescent shrubs, almost approaching the size of trees, and the light green of their young shoots, make this part very beautiful; so straight and regular do these grow, that you can
CLIMATE OF TENERIFFE.
not divest yourself of the idea that the hand of man has been among them, they look so like a trained plantation, and well deserve the title given to this height, of Alta Verde. The species are the erica scoparia and erica arborea; and along with them are the arbutus, mixed with St. John's wort, rising almost into a tree. After these come the Ferns, the common brake, pteris blenchium, and others, now scarcely discernible at this advanced season.
In the ascent of the Peak the path does not cross the pines or junipers, which are situated in other parts of the island. De Candolle thinks the Canary pine would flourish well in Scotland, from the temperature of its zone being so similar. The height at which it flourishes here is from 4 to 5000 feet, but it comes much lower down, especially on the mountains which form the sides of the vale of Oratava. Lastly come the Vines, which we reached about four o'clock. At six o'clock we arrived, thus completing our journey in twenty hours—a less time than it has ever been accomplished in by European travellers. It is a task in which many have failed, being always one of considerable labour, and often of much danger. For myself, I cannot look upon it as a fete of physical strength, but to that power of enthusiastic excitement which can carry men over difficulties that would, under other circumstances, appear insurmountable. Shortly afterwards the Crusader hove in sight, and took us aboard about nine o'clock.
The climate of this island is, in my mind, no way
ADVANTAGES OF ORATAVA.
inferior to that of Madeira ; -and I have no doubt that it is much drier. During our stay the glass ranged about 72° in the day. Two observations made with the hygrometer on two several days marked the dew point 41', thermometer 75°, giving 34° of dryness, a state only once remarked by Dr. Heineken during a nine years' stay at Madeira. The day after it marked 40°; this latter is a rarity, but the former is very common throughout the year. I should think it admirably suited to bronchial affections with much expectoration, or to those states of relaxation of the mucous membrane of the throat and fauces so common amongst us a few years ago, either as the sequel of diptherite, and other similar affections, or occurring to persons suffering from much public speaking, singing, &c. in which the parts engaged become highly relaxed.
The towns are infinitely cleaner than Funchal; and here also you can easily vary the climate by ascending some of the neighbouring hills. It wants, however, that greatest of all wants to an invalid-good accommodation. There are but two inns on the whole island, and the poor Spanish gentry are too proud to set their houses. It also wants the orange groves, the chesnut and coffee plantations, and the glowing vegetation that surrounds Funchal; the Courals, the Jardins, the Palieros, and above all, the hospitality and the society of Madeira. The extreme dryness here is owing, in all probability, to the highly volcanic soil, and there being less vegetation