« הקודםהמשך »
most dreary spots that can be well conceived. The men set about kindling a fire with some bits of retama which they had carried up with them. The mercury in the thermometer was 36°, and falling rapidly. We now had recourse to our blankets, in which we closely enveloped ourselves ; and, reclined against the sloping rocks on the outside of the cavern, with our faces anxiously turned towards the east, we watched the glorious scene that momentarily opened upon us. In our then almost petrified condition, we looked as like as could be to a pair of lifeless Egyptian mummies laid against the rock.
Sunrise.—The moon was still full up, but she had thrown the shadow of the Peak over where we stood; and as soon as we had taken our places we perceived a thin, vapoury, rose-coloured tint to stretch along the eastern horizon; and as we continued to gaze steadfastly on this first blush of morning, it every second increased, especially towards the centre, extending likewise in length along the horizon. This hue soon deepened to a pink, and then followed such a glorious halo of colours, in which the flower and the metal lent their most dazzling lustre, as to baffle all attempt at description ; and the hazy undefined light that ushers in the day began to chase the moonlight shadows from the plain beneath. At six o'clock the thermometer stood at 18°, the light increasing, the cold intense, and the heavens presenting a scene, such as we read of being formed in the arctic regions by the resplendent glories of the Aurora, but with this difference, that the most brilliant colours gathered here as it were into a focus. Presently the whole 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, there floated a confused sea of clouds, which seemed the shrouds of night now passing to another sphere, or attending on another dawn ; this, we at first sight took for the ruffled bosom of the ocean, but it turned out to be a thin white mist, through which the morning's light was struggling. At a quarter past six the temperature fell as low as 15°, and our sunrise took place a minute after-there was no twilight, no grey of the morning, but he rose as if in a moment, and his whole red disc was almost immediately clear of the horizon. It was a glorious sight, one never to be forgotten, and cheering after all the cold and suffering of the preceding night, to see the great centre of lighi and heat come
up to speed us on our way. I have often tried to form to myself a comparison between the beauties of sunrise and sunset, but on this occasion I settled the question in favour of the former.
Our guides now reminded us it was time to re-commence the ascent, and, to fortify ourselves for the task, we breakfasted. Every thing we had carried up with us was frozen ; and the eggs were perfect balls of ice; but having contrived to heat a bottle of coffee, which we had also brought with us, it proved the most grateful of all our refreshments.
We left the old man to guard the horses, and again set forward. Large masses of pumice, lava, and scoriæ, continue some way farther 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. The exertion and fatigue was now extreme, and 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 33o. From the moment the sun rose the heat began to increase, making us throw off our extra garments, and leave them on the rocks in the ascent.
With a good deal of difficulty we at last reached the base of the Cone, which crowns the summit; the effect of the last irruption. It is much smaller and more perpendicular than that of Vesuvius; it stands upon a level platform, somewhat broader than its base, and rises like the great circular chimney of a glasshouse to the height of about 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 energy and exertion the task demanded. The external coating is composed of loose stones, lava, pumice, and ashes, into which we sank ancle-deep at every step, and which obliged us to rest every few minutes. We had each to strike a separate line in our ascent, as the composition is so 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 from the surface, and afford a resting-place; but there are other whitish looking stones that seem equally inviting, THE WALL OF THE CRATER.
but which are nevertheless far from being hospitably inclined, as a young friend of mine wofully experienced, for 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 top at half-past eight o'clock, and my first impulse was to crawl to the highest pinnacle upon the wall or margin of the crater, on the south-east point, whence it slopes on both sides towards the west.*
* During a recent visit to Berlin, my distinguished friend, the Baron Alexander von Humboldt, stated to me one morning, in the course of conversation, that Baron Leopold von Buch would be glad to receive me, as he had some question to ask me relative to some of the countries I had vis ted in 1837-8, and more particularly, those on which he had himself written many years ago. A day or two after, I knocked at a small green halldoor in the Hinter der Zeughaus Strassa, for at least a quarter of an hour, without admittance. When about, however, to give up the attempt, the door was partially opened, and held ajar, while a small squeaking voice within demanded my name and business. Having answered the former, and stated that my business was with the Baron, according to appointment, the same voice answered in a still more impatient voice, “Oh! yes, I know -you are the man who says, with Alexander von Humboldt, that there is a wall all round the crater of Teneriffe." In return, I said, that what I had observed and written was, that there was a raised up edge, like a wall, of white hard lava, at one corner of the crater, but that it did not surround it entirely. “I can tell you, then," returned the voice, for as yet I saw no one, “that Teneriffe is a remarkable exception, and although there is the rise you describe toward the south-east, there is no wall such as Humboldt wrote of—if that is all you said, come in"—and on pushing open the door, I followed a little old man in his dressing-gown to an inner room, and sat down beside the great traveller and naturalist himself. Those at all acquainted with this eccentric man's habits will not wonder at this strange colloquy; and those who have seen him slowly pacing his way under the lime trees of Berlin, with his hands immersed in a fur muff, will scarcely credit (though such are facts) the extraordinary stories related of the feats of endurance, and the wonderful pedestrianism still at times performed by this indefatigable and most distinguished geologist.
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 of the mountain and other parts of the island.
VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT.
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 whole island of Teneriffe lay in the most vivid manner, like a map at our feet, with its sea-washed shores, its bold rocky promontories, its white towers and secluded villages, its vine-clad valleys and pine-crowned hills; all as distinct as if within a single league.
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 miles ! 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 Estancia des Ingleses 10,000 feet.
There are a number of smaller cones scattered irregularly over the island, looking like so many molehills, with their red blistered summits glancing in the sun; 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 lessens—the stratification becomes more perfect—there is also less appearance of lava or pumice, and the basalt assumes more of the columnar form. We could perfectly distinguish the vessels that lay opposite the port of Oratava, a direct distance of thirteen miles from where we stood, while the ascent is calculated at about thirty; and so clear was the atmosphere, that our friends at the port could observe 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 appeared so near that you 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-pack; they then advanced towards the island, passed immediately beneath us, and finally rested over the heights of Grand Canary.
This solfatara (or half-extinguished volcano) was more active than usual this morning-large wreaths 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, of an oval shape, and the edge very irregular, 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, and encased with the most beautiful crystals of sulphur. On opening up these with a stick, we found 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
* I am indebted to Professor Kane for the following note on the analysis of this crystalized sulphur from the crater of Teneriffe :
“I have examined the mineral which you sent me, from Teneriffe, which, it appears to me, is of a very interesting species. In chemical nature it is identical with the form of gelatinous quartz, which has been found cementing the sandstones in some parts of the south of France, and which differs from the opal only in possessing some traces of crystaline structure, which is absent in the real opal. It is amazingly porous; its specific gravity, when freed from air by exposure for several hours in water, in vacuo, is 2,014. Its chemical composition I found to be
Silica ... 91,0
Lime a mere trace.
Silica . . . 91,13
The crystals on it were pure octohedral sulphur.”