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was about the size of both my hands ; from this, and two or three other similar ones, a loud boiling noise was heard, even when standing on the edge of the crater. Large fissures intersect the crater in different directions; the crust between them vibrates under the foot, and produces a deep hollow sound. Besides the sulphur encrusting round the chinks and holes, large quantities, also crystalized, occur both within and outside the crater, forming nucleii embedded in a compact and glistening white substance. The fume or smoke was of a dense wbitish appearance, and quantities of a watery vapour proceeded out of the larger holes ; but, although the sulphureous vapour is so much complained of, and that some of our party suffered from it, I was able to remain in the crater fully five minutes. The thermometer, when plunged into one of these apertures, rose to 90°.
Although we had met small detached Aakes of snow collected in the crevices of the rocks, and a good deal around the crater, the air felt comfortably warm on our gaining the summit ; presently, however, a light breeze coming from the southward made the temperature fall very suddenly, and our guides wished us to hasten our departure. At twenty minutes to ten o'clock the thermometer was as low as 39°; but by an observation made in the town at the same hour, the temperature was 72° ; so we filled our cases and pockets with sulphur and other mineral specimens, and at ten we reluctantly began our descent; I say reluctantly, for those only who have witnessed that glorious prospect can understand or at all enter into the feelings that take possession of the beholder standing on that spot !—the recollection of what this vast smouldering cauldron once was, and what the smoke and noise of the different cracks and crevices tell you it still is, call up sensations of no ordinary character, that lose nothing of their force and impressiveness from the conviction that the thin crust that forms the bottom of this crater, and which trembles beneath your feet at every step, is all that separates you from a vast furnace, connected, in all probability, with the earth's central heat ; and who can tell the day this may not again break forth ? The cause and the origin of those fires carry us back to the time when this was all one mass of flame, vomiting forth those huge masses of obsidian and other rocks now scattered for miles around, and the overflowing of whose liquid burning now forms the cliffs that bound
its sea-washed base — but how, or in what age did all this occur ?
Our descent was rapid in the extreme ; on our way we visited the Gueva de Hiebo, 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 we perceived one vast sheet of ice, the exporting of which to the different parts of the island forms the occupation of a particular class of people. The man is let down by a rope, and it is a most arduous and dangerous employment ; many lives are lost yearly at the ice-house itself; and several having been overtaken by a storm have perished miserably in those elevated regions. At eleven o'clock, we reached our horses, the temperature being then 38°. Here we dined and rested an hour; the wind soon 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 small 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 descended, the lava became less vitrious and of a darker colour.
On the pumice-stone plains the retama (which is the Spanish term applied to all the broom tribe generally, as retam is the arabic*) first commences. The 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. On these plains we also met large wild cats. This region of the broom extends as low down as the top of the range of hills that surrounds the vale of Oratava. We next came to the heaths, and here we had a better opportunity of seeing the marked difference between the different zones of vegetation ; one set of plants
* It is generally but erroneously stated that the spartium monospermum grows on these “pumice-stone plains," as well as along the coast. It is believed that it was under a plant of this description, the Oxny, that Hagar and Ishmael sat in the desert after the expulsion of the bondswoman and her son.
REGIONS OF VEGETATION.
scarcely infringing even by a single 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 whose young shoots make this part so very beautiful-grow so straight and regular, that you cannot divest yourself of the idea that the hand of man has been amongst 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 we find the laurel and the arbutus, mixed with St. John's wort, the latter 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; these 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. I have been informed however, that a plant of this description twenty feet in height was killed in England by the frost of 1838. Lastly came the vines, which we reached about four o'clock, and at six o'clock we arrived at Oratava, 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 feat of physical strength, but must ascribe it to that energy, firmness of resolve, and 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 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 heat of 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
CLIMATE OF TENERIFFE.
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 ; wheeled carriages can be used with greater ease ; 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 chestnut 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 than at Funchal. The enchanting valley of Oratava possesses the most desirable peculiarities for the residence of an invalid, viz. it has a dry, warm atmosphere ; is large enough to permit a free circulation of air ; possesses a sea aspect; is surrounded by hills that shelter it from the blast of winter, or cool the siroc of summer; and if it has not as good an aspect as Funchal, it has the Peak between it and the African desert; and the coast itself, except near the port, is surrounded by minor hills, that temper the north wind from the sea. The annual mean temperature here is 70° 9', and at Santa Cruz, 711, but Oratava is in my opinion in every way preferable for invalids, and it is moreover more equable.
The quantity of rain that falls in this island is less than at Madeira, but the climate altogether is said to be not so equable. A resident medical man, and good accommodation, with facility of access, would, no doubt, soon raise its character for salubrity.
Speaking of the vegetation, I must not be understood to say that the Flora of Teneriffe, or of any of the Canaries, is not so extensive as that of Madeira ; on the contrary, it is richer and more varied ; that is, its true indigenous one, while Madeira owes more to cultivation and naturalization.
Having been greatly exhausted by the trip, we were delighted once more to take possession of our berths; and having with us
CLIMATE OF TENERIFFE.
some of our English friends from the island, we set sail on Tuesday, the 14th November, to visit our old quarters at Funchal, previous to our setting forward towards the Mediterranean, where we purposed wintering.*
* Since the first edition of this work appeared, I have been informed that several beneficial changes have taken place in the island, with regard to the living and accommodation, &c., and that a medical man has likewise gone to reside there. The means of access are, by most of the outward-bound vessels from England watering at Santa Cruz—the special Madeira steamers as explained at page 77, and occasional vessels trading between Madeira and the Canaries; the distance being but 200 miles.
The following table of " observations made with a register thermometer by Mr. Charles Smith, who has resided several years on the island,” will be examined with interest by those seeking a dry, warm, equable climate :