תמונות בעמוד



with us, it may not have been tobacco. Some say that the human remains discovered at Grand Canary are not those of Guanches, from their having been found, not in caves, but enclosed in tumuli of loose scoria ; but we should recollect that caves are not to be found in the same number in Grand Canary, and that the broken pumice afforded an easy mode of burial to the people. Were I to hazard an opinion on it, I would say it was only those of the highest rank who were embalmed and buried in the caverns, while the common people were buried in the lava stones and scoriæ of Grand Canary.*

The character of the scenery in the neighbourhood of Santa Cruz is remarkably wild and impressive ; yet such as our English eyes, accustomed to the green savannahs and forest glades of our fatherland did not at first comprehend. The beds of the largest rivers, and what are at times the most impetuous torrents, were perfectly dry ; from the sides of these, the mountains rise up abruptly, void of every trace of vegetation except a few cacti and euphorbia. There is an awful grandeur in this basaltic and volcanic scenery; the scorched tops of those enormous rocks, fluted at the sides into gigantic pillars, rise into every fantastic shape of dome and castle that the mind can imagine ; above, the sky is of the most intense blue ; beneath your feet is what but a few hundred years ago ran in a stream of liquid fire, burning and hissing down these valleys—a solemn stillness reigns aroundnot a leaf rustles in the breeze—not a sound to break this most expressive silence—no trace of life—no effort of vegetation-one almost starts at the extreme quiet of those lonely spots where solitude reigns with undisputed sway. But barren though it be, it hath its interest—an interest for the lover of nature, no matter how varied, or where placed—a charm for those who love

“ To sit on rocks—to muse o'er flood and fell

To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
Where things that own not man's dominion dwell,
And mortal foot had ne'er, or rarely been
To climb the trackless mountain, all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold-
Alone, o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean ;-

This is not solitude; 'tis but to hold
Converse with nature's charms, and view her stores unrolled.”

* For further particulars concerning the Guanches, see Appendix C.

[blocks in formation]

The native fishermen are often driven upon the coast of Africa, and made prisoners by the Arabs. A ransom is fixed upon them; they pledge their word to return with it, and are allowed to go home, and collect it among their friends. The pledge they have made they keep with religious exactness, and when all is ready, return with it. This speaks well for the faith of the people.

November 11. We hired horses, and left Santa Cruz to cross the island for Oratava, determined, if possible, to ascend the Peak, although the accounts we had heard of its practicability were any thing but cheering. About an hour's ride over a rough road, that bears the marks of an ancient pavement, brought us to Laguna, where we breakfasted. This pretty town had a most forsaken look; there was hardly a person to be met with in the streets, which were overgrown with grass and weeds; and every wall and house-top was covered with a luxuriant crop of house-leek.* Our horses' hoofs echoed through the deserted streets; there was no tuning of guitars-no glancing from the balconies and scarcely a sound to tell you the place was inhabited. The females of this place seem to be kept almost as close as in a Turkish hareem; and, as many of the inhabitants once ranked amongst the nobles of the mother country, their politics or their misfortunes have driven them hither, where they live in gloom and religious seclusion, seldom venturing out themselves, or admitting others within their thresholds. Here we left those of our party who could not attempt the dangers of the Peak.

The plain of Laguna, which is of great extent, is a perfect flat, or table-land, 1834 feet above the sea level; the soil is rich and fertile, and grows the greater quantity of the grain raised on the island. It is completely hill-bound; the consequence is, that after the heavy rains that occur here, it is constantly inundated to the depth of several feet, compelling the peasantry to quit their houses, and fly to the town, which the inundation seldom reaches; it is owing to this circumstance, that travellers visiting this place at these periods have described the town of Laguna as standing on the brink of a great lake. The water, however, will run off in a few hours ; and it is curious, that just

* This species is the Sempervirum Urlicum of Charles Smith, and not the S. Canariense.



beside the town there are several wells-salt, brackish, and fresh-all within a few acres of each other. In this plain, we felt the cold very sensibly ; at nine A. M. the thermometer fell to 68° in the shade, when it was above 73° at Santa Cruz; but its mean temperature is stated to be 57. It would be, I should think, a nice place for invalids residing at Santa Cruz to come up to sleep at during the hot season, as it is but an hour's ride, and between it and the intermediate space they could graduate the climate, so as to have it of all temperatures. There are no fences or inclosures on this plain. The wind was brisk, and as the large fleecy clouds floated between us and the sun, their dark shadows, chasing each other across this immense sea of land, looked like the scattered bands of an immense army.

Leaving the plain, we followed a gentle ascent for several miles, amidst copses of daphne, the yellow St. John's wort, and ferns of every description, but especially the beautiful hare's foot, (davallia Canariensis). The cactus and the euphorbium had already ceased, and the basalt had become more porous ; yet even at this elevation the vine still crept over the cottage, and its large pendant clusters hung round the balconies and piazzas. We had a fine view of the Peak all the day, but the appearance of snow glistening in the sun, and streaking in white lines its venerable head, somewhat cooled the ardour with which we had set out. The distance of Oratava (or Caoro) from Santa Cruz is about twenty-five miles.

Presently we gained the heights above the former, which is rich in every thing the heart could desire, and forms a picture of woodland scenery only to be met with in this famed garden of the Hesperides. The traveller, arriving here for the first time, is involuntarily arrested by the enchanting landscape that suddenly bursts upon his view, and forced to admire the extreme beauty of the scene. Beneath him is a valley of great extent, forming one continued vineyard from end to end. An occasional dragon-tree, and a few tall waving palms start up here and there, while colours of every hue,

" But chiefly thee, gay green!

Thou smiling nature's universal robe,"

give to the whole a freshness and verdure the more enchanting, that it was both novel and unexpected.



nes of no the right, the lis to the wild The

The little town of Oratava stands in the centre of the valley, and its port at the water's edge. Towards the distant end rise up two mounds—cones of no very ancient origin, and not yet clothed with vegetation. On the right, the bold field of the southern ocean rolls in long and measured swells to the wild and rugged coast, where it breaks with a most tremendous surf. The vessels, not daring to approach the port, lie off at a distance, waiting for their cargoes; and the boats with their white sails form but mere specks of light in that world of waters. The Peak, commanding, gloomy, and majestic, rises in the background; and the lower range of hills that form the steps to this cloud-capt throne are clothed with the rich dark foliage of the pinus Canariensis, a tree of exceeding beauty and great value. It forms the principal fuel of the island, as the branches, when cut green, contain much turpentine; and it is admirably adapted for all work exposed to the action of water. It is much to be regretted that it is not cultivated on the highlands of Ireland and Scotland, as, from the altitude at which it grows in Teneriffe, it might be expected to thrive with us.* Those pine-clad hills that surround the valley look as if they had been combed down their sides by numberless lava currents. Beneath these, aborescent heaths, laurels, and arbutuses are embraced by the vine, as it creeps up the sheltered valleys and ravines to meet them. Although it is now winter, no autumnal tints are seen, to vary the landscape, but one universal green, rich beyond description, and of every tint into which a colour can be divided, forming a variety in sunshine and in shade that leaves no room to regret the want of our northern signs of dying vegetation.

The numerous groups of peasantry we met in our ride invariably stopped to beg for something; the boys and children asking for a bit, (the one-eighth of a dollar ;) the men for a cigar; and the women for a piccaninni ! which here means, not a baby, as amongst the negroes, but any thing small—a trifle.

About four o'clock we arrived at the port of Oratava—a well

* Some seeds of this tree which I brought home with me have been planted in the Botanic Garden of Trinity College, by my friend Mr. Mackay, and are now in a thriving condition.



built, clean, airy little town. There were few of the people to be seen in the streets, and none of the fair sex. The windowshutters are kept closed during the day, but at the bottom of each there is a little door which the ladies push out with their heads when any thing attracts their attention in the street, but is instantly closed, in high disdain, if you endeavour to catch a glimpse of the curious fair within. We were directed to the Spanish hotel, kept by a quondam actor and an opera-dancer of Cadiz, which, miserable as it was, offered the only accommodation in the village. Here we found two English friends, invalids who had been enjoying the benefit of this beautiful climate for the last month or two.

November 12. The answers to our inquiries respecting the ascent of the Peak led us to think that from the advanced state of the season it would be impracticable, or at least attended with much suffering and danger ; and all the people here united in endeavouring to dissuade us from it. The only encouragement we received was—“Why it is just possible that you may get up." Nevertheless we determined on making the attempt, and accordingly sent for the guides. They did not appear to relish the journey either, but consented on the condition of their getting an additional gratuity. In summer the usual mode of proceeding is to leave the port about one or two o'clock in the day, and sleeping at a place called the Estancia des Ingleses, (an elevation of about 10,000 feet, and the highest spot to which horses can be brought,) commence the ascent of the actual Piton by moonlight, so as to be on the top at sunrise. Christoval, our principal guide, wished us to wait till twelve o'clock, but it was finally arranged that we should leave at ten P.M. For the last two days I had been suffering from an old enemy, asthma, aggravated by a heavy cold, and I trembled for the result; but it is not every day in a man's life that he stands at the foot of the Peak of Teneriffe, so I concealed my illness both from myself and others as well as I could, and determined to ascend at all hazards.

Having completed our arrangements with the guides, we dismissed them till the appointed hour, and set off to visit the great dragon-tree of Oratava, a distance of a mile and a half or two miles from the port. On our way we passed by the fine botanic garden, established by a Spanish nobleman some years ago, but now allowed to fall into total decay. It was well kept during his

« הקודםהמשך »