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THE CAPTURED FLAGS.
thigh-bones of their ancestors having been used as the sceptres of the Menceys, or the regalia of Teneriffe. They, however, enjoy but one nose amongst them ; the three missing ones will probably be found in the collection of curiosities of some of our midshipmen, who, it was not to be expected, could let such an opportunity pass of signalizing themselves for taste, sense, and decorum.
The houses of this Spanish colony are large, well built, and in the Moorish style of the mother country, having courts in the centre surrounded by galleries. In
many of those are handsome fountains, playing to a great height, which render them cool and refreshing.
We next visited the church, where are exhibited THE FLAGS said to have been taken in Nelson's attack. We were all anxiety to get a sight of them ; but no-our cicerone would have his own way, parading us through the altars, one by one, explaining to us the merits of each in a most showman-like manner. At last he brought us to the spot where hung the remains of those emblems, fast falling into decay, and waving mournfully in the light breeze that blows through the belfry, under which they are placed. One is an ensign, the other a union-jack. I do confess I never found it so difficult a matter to keep my “hands from picking and stealing,” as when I saw that flag on which the sun never sets, hung up as a trophy in a foreign land. Upon inquiry, however, we found (and it somewhat cooled our zeal) that they were not taken from us on that fatal night, but were merely picked up on the shore where our boats went to pieces.
The batteries here are still very strong, and the surf is tremendous, often preventing boats from landing for days together ; yet this does not stop the business-like appearance along the beach, for the barrels of wine are rolled down the steep pebbly shore, and the hardy natives, pushing them before them, plunge into the boiling surge and float them to the vessels, often several hundred yards off.
November 8th. I set out on an excursion into the hills. About the town are some fine gardens of potatoes a late importation—just now coming into blossom, and promising well. Near the quay there is a handsome public walk, in which grow some splendid plants. The datura fastuosa, with its beautiful semidouble flowers of a purpleish colour, attains to a great size, and
EFFECTS OF THE EUPHORBIUM.
also the pointinia pulcherrima, or Spanish carnation, one of the most splendid shrubs that adorns this island. The stramonium (datura metel) flourishes along the road-side in great luxuriance, but thicker, more shrubby, more glaucus in colour, and the leaves more succulent, than the species that grows in Spain and Madeira. As I proceeded into the hills, I observed the Euphorbium Canariensis growing to an immense size ; it looks like so many great candelabra, and this similitude is increased from the quantity of juice which exudes, and crusts over the stalks and rocks beneath with a yellowish wax-like paste. Some idea may be formed of the virulence of the poison of this plant from the following circumstance. I made incisions in some of the plants, in order to allow the milky juice to exude, and laid the point of the penknife I had used for an instant on the tip of my tongue : almost immediately I felt an intense heat, dryness, and burning sensation in the fauces, back of the throat, and gullet, and suffered so much from weakness; that I was scarcely able to crawl back to the town. On examination, there was no redness or inflammation to be seen, and the symptoms gradually subsided in the course of three or four hours, leaving, however, a huskiness which lasted several days. Huge plants of the Cacalia likewise grow in great abundance through the fissures in the basaltic rocks; but owing to the present great drought, they have a peculiarly shrivelled-up appearance.
The cochineal is much propagated here upon the cacti ; and, besides the several close plantations near the town, it has lately been transplanted to the plants growing on the hills, by enclosing one or two of the little animals in a bag of thin muslin, and sticking them on the thorns of the leaves. They were originally imported from South America about ten years before the date of my visit, and promise well; they are gathered every second year, a certain number being left on each plant to continue the stock. It is asserted in the island that it would be more cultivated, but that the fruit of the cactus (the prickly pear) is a favourite article of food with the natives, and it falls off before coming to maturity on those on which the cochineal is reared. The palma Christi, or castor-oil plant, is also very common here, and the oil is manufactured in the island.
The basalt in the neighbourhood of the town contains felspar and masses of hornblende. There is no limestone to be found in
NATURE OF THE ROCKS,
the island; but that useful article is imported from another of the group, Fortaventura. This
stone contains mica and felspar, but no quartz, and perhaps it was specimens of this that gave travellers the idea that there is granite to be found in the Archipelago of the Canaries. In the hills, where excavations occur in the harder rocks, they are filled with a conglomerate of small, fine-rolled pumice-stone, and quantities of this substance will also be found in all the valleys and ravines. This pumice appears like the effect of an eruption, subsequent to that in which the harder rocks were formed, and which, in all probability, covered the whole country; but, on the occurrence of great rains or wind, it was swept down into the valleys, and filled up these caverns.
On the east of the town, the coast is excessively rugged; the swell rolls in with the greatest violence, even on the calmest day, and the water has formed immense caverns by wearing away the tufa from the harder basalt. Many of them extend a considerable way under the surface, and the approaching wave, meeting the reflux water, and dashing against it, rises in a column often thirty or forty feet high, and falling down in spray on the rocks at either side, forms a magnificent natural jet d'eau. The rock near the water's edge is singular—here the basalt is not columnar nor in regular strata, but appears, while yet fluid, to have formed eddies and whirlpools, which, with a wave-like appearance, became consolidated, and retained that form on the surface.
The bay of Santa Cruz is much better riding than that of Funchal. Vessels have very rarely to put to sea, and on this account it is much to be preferred for yachts, though the swell at times is very great.
Neither the ice plant, (mesembryanthemum,) nor any of the plants from which barilla is obtained, were yet up; but large bags of the lichen, which is used as orchil, and collected from the neighbouring rocks, are daily exposed for sale on the mole. As the tide ebbs, numbers of the poorer inhabitants collect upon the coast to catch cuttle-fish—the sepia octopus—which are here in the greatest abundance. The mode of fishing for them is to tie one of the animals upon the end of a stick, and push it under the rocks, and in the crevices and pools left by the retiring tide—if one is inside, it instantly makes its appearance, attached to that on the stick, and is caught with the hand. At night the rocks along the shore are illuminated by fishermen, looking for
these sepiæ ; and when they catch two or three, they collect around a fire, and barely heating them, devour them as the greatest luxury. As far as I could see, the fish of Teneriffe correspond to those of Madeira. Numbers of large brown kites, with forked tails, and white under-wing, float in the sultry atmosphere ; hundreds of kestrils balance themselves in mid-air, ready to pounce upon the lizards, which form their food. There are but few gulls or sea-birds of any description. We saw no Hoopoes on this part of the island ; and as there are no groves, and but little vegetation, it would not be expected we should find many of the songsters that enliven the woody landscapes of Madeira. Canary birds are latterly becoming scarce in this island; and I may here remark, that the true plumage of this brilliant melodist, in its native wildness, is green, yellow being the effect of culture. The Tinto Negro is found here, and was said to be known in the Canaries before its introduction into Madeira ; but from the fact of finding it afterwards in Barbary, I am inclined to think that it was an original inhabitant of Africa. It is the Capipote of the Canarians; or, according to Mr. Webb, the Sylvia atracapilla known in Britain. The redlegged partridge, Perdix Pethosa, is now become very plenty in all the Canary islands.
The people of Teneriffe, especially about Santa Cruz, are very good looking. The women were decidedly the handsomest race I had seen since I left England; they are generally tall, and beautifully formed, possessing all the graces of figure derived from Spanish costume, combined with English personal attraction, and having clear olive complexions, and brilliant black eyes. They all wear the mantilla, which is manufactured of the finest white wool, handsomely trimmed with a broad edge of satin, and ornamented with satin rosettes at the corners, which hang down in front. The graceful effect of this is, however, much impaired by all wearing high-crowned hats, black or white, like Welsh-women-some of which were decorated, with parti-coloured ribbons; and even the poorest peasant girl wears silk stockings and satin shoes! The men are a fair, short, athletic race; and, except those engaged in actual labour, or shipping wine, who are generally naked, they are all enveloped in a singular cloak, being nothing more nor less than a good blanket, with a running-string at the top, to fasten it round the throat. This primitive habiliment appears as old as the
Guanches themselves. A simple cloak seems to have been the first attempt at general clothing made by all nations in their infancy. This we have still in the simple abba worn in the east by the Arab and the Bedouin, over thousands of miles of the sandy deserts of Arabia. Of this description was doubtless the cothamore worn by the ancient Irish ; and to this may be referred the burnoose of the Algiereens, the plaid of the Scotch highlander, the blanket of the American Indian, the toga of the Roman, the flowing garment of the Druid, and ultimately the improved cloak of our own civilized people.
We had heard of a famous museum at Santa Cruz, got up by an old Spanish major several years ago. We found it, like many such concerns at home, a collection of all sorts-rudely carved ostrich eggs, old cracked china, bits of spun glass, shells spoiled by polishing, and even English toys. The only things of any valae were the Guanche remains. The sculls I was shown of those aborigines were decidedly of a well-formed Caucasian race; the forehead low, but not retreating like the negro; the teeth did not project, nor were they filed, or the incisors worn down in any one instance. This ancient race embalmed their dead, and I had here an opportunity of seeing a small female mummy, taken from a cave on the other side of the island some years ago. No sort of antiseptic preparation seemed to have been used except in the cavities, which were emptied of their contents, and then filled with seeds, supposed to be those of the chenopodium ambrosioides; and it appeared like mummies of the lowest class which I afterwards saw in Egypt. The body was sewn up in a skin, or leather of some description, but there were no remains of bandaging or linen texture of any kind that I could discover. This people seemed to study the concealment of their dead : the caves in which they are found are almost inaccessible, and those persons who have been let down by a rope to fish up a mummy, speak of the excessive dryness of those caverns. No doubt this atmosphere, as in Egypt, conduced largely to the preservation of those remains. Among other antiques connected with this race, I was shown some rudely constructed bowls ; bits of bones, said to have been used as money, which were found in the coffin or mummy case ; and also small clay pipes, similar, in every respect, to those found in Ireland in some of our old forts and kistvaens, so that evidently this race were acquainted with the luxury of smoking, though, as