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APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRY.
tiful convolvulus altheafolia, and the elegant purple feathered grass, paniculum repens, creeps through every wall and hedge-row; and the oxalis purpurea mingled with the Maderian violet. Thousands of the rarest plants and most beautiful flowers adorn the landscape, and open one of the widest fields for the botanist and the lover of nature. Farther on, the country becomes more barren, a red ferruginous earth taking place of the green verdure of the valleys we had left; and masses of scoria, covered with origanums, burst through the surface. The attention is arrested by a number of natural walls of basalt, rising to the height of eight or ten feet above the surrounding level; their irregular outline makes them look like so many castellated forts running along the hills—those are covered by white lichens, and small stunted plants of the shumac creep among their chinks and crannies. The soil is here so poor that it only affords a crop of rye every third year. Clumps of the pinus pinea and pinus pinaster, start up around you—the seed of the latter is much eaten here as well as in Portugal. In the midst of the barrenness of this high elevation, an occasional cottage will present itself wherever a stream of water from the hills can be led amongst its orange groves; the vines are raised from the ground on light trellises of cane ; the walls coated with tomata, and little gardens of sweet potato (convolvulus batatas) spread before the door; and figs and olive trees surround the enclosure which
THE BRAZEN HEAD.
is walled in by the impenetrable fence of the agave and the prickly pear.
At length we reached the Head, which juts out into the sea, with a perpendicular face of rock several hundred feet high ; a narrow ridge, with barely room for two to pass abreast, joins it to the mainland. The view was very grand—the hills of Madeira rose in the back-ground, and the mists that hung upon them during the morning, like a great gauze curtain, were now either dissolving before the bright rays of the infant sun, or curling in wreathes along the ravines, as the light sea-breeze crept up the mountains. Funchal, with its rich foliage, lay before us—the ships in the harbour riding proudly on the swell, or spreading out their sails to dry, like so many birds of the ocean about to take wing. The fishing-boats below us appeared the merest specks; and the shoals of enormous porpoises that gambolled round the rocks, looked but the breaking of a tiny wave. A transitory shower, hanging over the distant Desertas gave us a lovely rainbow; and the different light breezes that darkened at times the azure blue of the water, appeared so many things of life engaged in sham fight as they coursed along the surface. Flocks of rock pigeons wheeled round our heads ; they exist in prodigious numbers on the island, and are considered a great delicacy.
The face of this enormous cliff presents an extraordinary appearance, with the different layers of red
and yellow tufa, black scoriæ, and columnar basalt, intersected by extraordinary dykes at different elevations. Caverns of great size run along the coast, into which the sea washes with tremendous fury: the roofs of these are coated with scoria and small pebbles, although the sea, at the highest, never reaches to within many feet of them; this seems to me one of the proofs that the sea originally washed these parts, and has since receded, a further confirmation of which is the following—a high pillar, intended originally for shipping wine, now fifty-four yards from high-water mark, is to be seen on the Funchal beach ; it was built about forty-six years ago, and the water then washed its base ; at the foot of it will be found several plants of the solanum Sodomeum, or famous apple of Sodom.
Great quantities of eels are taken upon this part of the coast, and we met several of the natives returning from fishing. My companion, a German botanist, well known in Funchal, purchased some, but having already filled all his capacious pockets with the wonders of the vegetable world, he, without a moment's hesitation, placed some six or eight of the live eels in the crown of his large straw hat, and, to keep them down, bound it under his chin with his pocket-handkerchief. Poor good-natured man, his costume and appearance were at all times a source of ridicule and amusement in the island, particularly among the ladies, with
A GERMAN BOTANIST.
whom, however, he is a great favourite. It often raised a smile which I found much difficulty in coaxing from a loud laugh ; but when he turned round to me, with the heads and tails of half a dozen slippery eels protruding themselves from beneath his hat, and twining over his broad glowing face teeming with perspiration, I acknowledge that my laughter knew no bounds; and but for the good humour that beamed in his expanded Hanoverian countenance, I should have likened it to that of the Gorgon. However, he took it all in good part, and pushing them up every now and then, set forward at a pace such as few pedestrians I ever met could long keep up with; and I should soon have been left behind, but that suddenly calling his attention to a lump of basalt that lay by the road-side, he inquired if I considered it valuable. Having gained a few minutes' rest in descanting upon the qualities of the specimen, which weighed about ten or twelve pounds, the simple-hearted man stated his desire to carry it with him the remaining four miles of our journey, in which, as may be supposed, I readily encouraged him, for acting as a drag-anchor upon the
powers of the German, it enabled me to keep pace with him to Funchal, which we reached late in the day. I need hardly state that the story of the stone became a tender point to the naturalist for some time after. This gentleman was sent out to Madeira by small subscriptions collected among some rich people in England, on condition of his
sending them home large collections of seeds and plants. This trust he has faithfully fulfilled ; and it now behoves our botanic and horticultural societies to keep in employ a person who, whatever may be his botanical abilities, must be allowed to be a most indefatigable collector, and whose services both here, in the Canaries, and Cape de Verde isles, would be of the greatest value to our out-door, as well as our exotic Flora.* Dr. L. will be long remembered in Funchal.
The steepness of the roads precludes the possibility of wheel-carriages being used, so that the horses are the principal means of conveyance. Those are excellent. There are several public stables throughout the town, and as soon as it is known that a party want horses, they are beset on all hands—each horse has its attendant burroqueros, who, as soon as you have taken your seat, inquires your destination—lays hold on the horse's tail-goads his flanks with a short pike, which he carries in his right hand, and starts him off at a most dashing pace up roads that one of our English horses could not face; indeed so steep are they, that steps are sometimes cut for the animals to place their feet in. These boys are most indefatigable, holding on up hill and down dale for the length of a day. For ladies, or invalids unable to ride, palanquins, carried by men, are used. One of the most delightful spots
* See Appendix, B.