« הקודםהמשך »
are worn more for ornament than use, as they could not be the least protection against the weather ; this crowns the head-dress of the women also, being placed over the white muslin handkerchief which covers the head and hangs down over the shoulders. The gay chintz gowns and scarlet pelerines of the females gave them an air of lightness, and added much to the picturesque appearance of the groups.
The road is, in many places, very precipitous; and here and there the rugged sides of the ravines afford opportunities of seeing the stratification, which breaks out occasionally in horizontal layers of scoriacious basalt, with bands of tufa rising in terraces ; between the interstices of these, springs the most luxuriant vegetation—the asclepium and globularia longifolia, now in full blossom ; higher up, the myrtle and the dwarf olive ; and immediately at our feet the harefoot fern, and that species of house-leek common to the island, (sempervivum glutinosum,) the glutinous juice of which, when boiled into a jelly, is used by the fishermen to coat their nets, as a preventative against the rot. As we proceeded into the
CHARACTER OF THE SCENERY.
hills, the cassia bicapsularis covers the fields, making them gay with its light yellow blossoms; the beautiful convolvulus altheafolia, and that elegant purple feathered grass, the paniculum repens, creeps through every wall and hedge-row; and the oxalis purpurea mingles with the Madeirian 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, and at a greater elevation, 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 here arrested by a number of natural walls of basalt, rising to the height of eight or ten feet above the surrounding level, covered with white lichens, and having small stunted plants of shumac creeping among their chinks and crannies; their irregular outline makes them look like so many castellated forts running along the hills. The soil is here so poor that it only affords a crop of rye every third year, and as soon as the grain is reaped, the ground is sown with broom, which, when well grown, is burned to manure the land for the subsequent crop. Clumps of those beautiful alpine monarchs, the pinus pinea and pinus pinaster, start up around you as you ascend, and 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 walls coated with tomata, little gardens of sweet potato spread before the door, and figs and olive trees surrounding the enclosure, which is walled in by the impenetrable fence of the agave and prickly pear. The vines are raised from the ground on light trellises of cane placed horizontally-in many cases supported on stone pillars.
At length we reached the head, which juts out boldly into the sea, with a perpendicular face of rock several hundred feet high-a narrow ridge, with barely room for two to pass abreast, joining it to the mainland. The view from this point 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, embosomed in its rich evergreen foliage,
THE BRAZEN HEAD.
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 Dezertas* gave us a lovely rainbow ; and the different light breezes that darkened at times the azure blue of the clear water beneath us, appeared so many things of life engaged in sham fight as they coursed along its tranquil surface. Large 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, or, to speak more correctly, the land has risen ; a further confirmation of which is the followinga high pillar, intended originally for shipping wine, now distant 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 amuse
The Ihlas Dezertas are three small and uninhabited rocky islands lying to the S.S.E, of Madeira.
A GERMAN BOTANIST.
ment in the island ; 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 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 subscriptions collected among some people of fortune in England, on condition of his sending them home 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. has since left Madeira for the Azores and the Brazils.
The steepness of the roads precludes the possibility of wheelcarriages being used, so that the horses are the principal means of conveyance, and they 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
* See Appendix B.
VARIETIES OF CLIMATE.
its attendant burriqueiro or horse boy, 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-shouts a Portuguese curse, 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.
The serenity of the climate always permitting out-door exercise even to invalids, the most frequent source of amusement consists in country excursions, pic-nics, and pleasure parties, to which the many delightful walks and rides in the neighbourhood of the capital, and amidst the most delicious scenery, always fresh and novel to the English eye, ever invite. The weak and debilitated may stroll leisurely along the coast, or be carried in their palanquins among the gorgeous and brilliant vegetation that surrounds the town and its shady suburbs, where Summer reigns eternally. Others, with more bodily health and vigour, form cavalcades to visit the lovely Palheiro, with its groves of giant camellias, or ascend to the walnut, vinhatico, and chestnut forests that rise around and above the mount church, or the bold precipitous crags of the Cabo Giram-the regions where the freshness and elasticity of Spring rests all the year round. A few more daring and adventurous spirits, better able to endure the cold of a Winter climate, or having neither the fear of fogs and mists, nor the advice of Dr. Renton before their eyes, ride to the ice-house, or climb into the wild, solitary, and magnificent Serra, and the mountain tops, where the heaths and arbutus spring from the fissures of the naked igneous rocks, and alpine grandeur gives a gloomy and impressive, nay, sublime character to the scenery.
One of the most delightful spots in the island is the Jardim da Serra, or garden of the desert, the beautiful country residence of Mr. Veitch, our late consul-general here; and as I intended visiting the Coural, I took advantage of his kind offer of a bed at this mountain villa on the night before my descent. We left Funchal in the evening, and shortly arrived at one of the most beautiful districts on the south side of the island—the valley of the Cama de Lobos, the richest vine country in the island. The soil is a rich, dark loam, kept up by small retaining walls ; the