Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of

Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of

Postby admin » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:50 am

Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America During the Years 1799-1804, Volumes 1, 2 and 3
by Alexander von Humboldt and Aime Bonpland
Translated from the French of Alexander von Humboldt
Edited by Thomasina Ross
In Three Volumes









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Re: Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions

Postby admin » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:51 am


The increasing interest attached to all that part of the American Continent situated within and near the tropics, has suggested the publication of the present edition of Humboldt's celebrated work, as a portion of the SCIENTIFIC LIBRARY.

Prior to the travels of Humboldt and Bonpland, the countries described in the following narrative were but imperfectly known to Europeans. For our partial acquaintance with them we were chiefly indebted to the early navigators, and to some of the followers of the Spanish Conquistadores. The intrepid men whose courage and enterprise prompted them to explore unknown seas for the discovery of a New World, have left behind them narratives of their adventures, and descriptions of the strange lands and people they visited, which must ever be perused with curiosity and interest; and some of the followers of Pizarro and Cortez, as well as many learned Spaniards who proceeded to South America soon after the conquest, were the authors of historical and other works of high value. But these writings of a past age, however curious and interesting, are deficient in that spirit of scientific investigation which enhances the importance and utility of accounts of travels in distant regions. In more recent times, the researches of La Condamine tended in a most important degree to promote geographical knowledge; and he, as well as other eminent botanists who visited the coasts of South America, and even ascended the Andes, contributed by their discoveries and collections to augment the vegetable riches of the Old World. But, in their time, geology as a science had little or no existence. Of the structure of the giant mountains of our globe scarcely anything was understood; whilst nothing was known beneath the earth in the New World, except what related to her mines of gold and silver.

It remained for Humboldt to supply all that was wanting, by the publication of his Personal Narrative. In this, more than in any other of his works, he shows his power of contemplating nature in all her grandeur and variety.

The researches and discoveries of Humboldt's able coadjutor and companion, M. Bonpland, afford not only a complete picture of the botany of the equinoctial regions of America, but of that of other places visited by the travellers on their voyage thither. The description of the Island of Teneriffe and the geography of its vegetation, show how much was discovered by Humboldt and Bonpland which had escaped the observation of discerning travellers who had pursued the same route before them. Indeed, the whole account of the Canary Islands presents a picture which cannot be contemplated without the deepest interest, even by persons comparatively indifferent to the study of nature.

It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to remind the reader that since the time when this work was first published in Paris, the separation of the Spanish Colonies from the mother-country, together with subsequent political events, have wrought great changes in the governments of the South American States, as well as in the social condition of their inhabitants. One consequence of these changes has been to render obsolete some facts and observations relating to subjects, political, commercial, and statistical, interspersed through this work. However useful such matter might have been on its original publication, it is wholly irrelevant to the existing state of things, and consequently it has been deemed advisable to omit it. By this curtailment, together with that of some meteorological tables and discussions of very limited interest, the work has been divested of its somewhat lengthy and discursive character, and condensed within dimensions better adapted to the taste and requirements of the present time.

An English translation of this work by Helen Maria Williams, was published many years ago, and is now out of print. Though faultless as respects correctness of interpretation, it abounds in foreign turns of expression, and is somewhat deficient in that fluency of style without which a translated work is unsatisfactory to the English reader. In the edition now presented to the public it is hoped that these objections are in some degree removed.

A careful English version is given of all the Spanish and Portuguese terms, phrases, and quotations which occur in this work. Though the author has only in some few instances given a French translation of these passages, yet it is presumed that the interpretation of the whole in English will not be deemed superfluous; this new edition of the "Personal Narrative" having been undertaken with the view of presenting the work in the form best suited for the instruction and entertainment of the general reader.

London, December 1851.



In this narrative, as well as in the Political Essay on New Spain, all the prices are reckoned in piastres, and silver reals (reales de plata). Eight of these reals are equivalent to a piastre, or one hundred and five sous, French money (4 shillings 4 1/2 pence English). Nouv. Esp. volume 2 pages 519, 616 and 866.

The magnetic dip is always measured in this work, according to the centesimal division, if the contrary be not expressly mentioned.

One flasco contains 70 or 80 cubic inches, Paris measure.

112 English pounds = 105 French pounds; and 160 Spanish pounds = 93 French pounds.

An arpent des eaux et forets, or legal acre of France, of which 1. 95 = 1 hectare. It is about 1 1/4 acre English.

A tablon, equal to 1849 square toises, contains nearly an acre and one-fifth: a legal acre has 1344 square toises, and 1.95 legal acre is equal one hectare.

For the sake of accuracy, the French Measures, as given by the Author, and the indications of the Centigrade Thermometer, are retained in the translation. The following tables may, therefore, be found useful.


1 toise = 6 feet 4.73 inches.
1 foot = 12.78 inches.
1 metre = 3 feet 3.37 inches.

(Transcriber's Note: The 'toise' was introduced by Charlemagne in 790; it originally represented the distance between the fingertips of a man with outstretched arms, and is thus the same as the British 'fathom'. During the founding of the Metric System, less than 20 years before the date of this work, the 'toise' was assigned a value of 1.949 meters, or a little over two yards. The 'foot'; actually the 'French foot', or 'pied', is defined as 1/6 of a 'toise', and is a little over an English foot.)


Cent. Fahr. Cent. Fahr. Cent. Fahr. Cent. Fahr. 100 212 65 149 30 86 -5 23 99 210.2 64 147.2 29 84.2 -6 21.2 98 208.4 63 145.4 28 82.4 -7 19.4 97 206.6 62 143.6 27 80.6 -8 17.6 96 204.8 61 141.8 26 78.8 -9 15.8 95 203 60 140 25 77 -10 14 94 201.2 59 138.2 24 75.2 -11 12.2 93 199.4 58 136.4 23 73.4 -12 10.4 92 197.6 57 134.6 22 71.6 -13 8.6 91 195.8 56 132.8 21 69.8 -14 6.8 90 194 55 131 20 68 -15 5 89 192.2 54 129.2 19 66.2 -16 3.2 88 190.4 53 127.4 18 64.4 -17 1.4 87 188.6 52 125.6 17 62.6 -18 -0.4 86 186.8 51 123.8 16 60.8 -19 -2.2 85 185 50 122 15 59 -20 -4 84 183.2 49 120.2 14 57.2 -21 -5.8 83 181.4 48 118.4 13 55.4 -22 -7.6 82 179.6 47 116.6 12 53.6 -23 -9.4 81 177.8 46 114.8 11 51.8 -24 -11.2 80 176 45 113 10 50 -25 -13 79 174.2 44 111.2 9 48.2 -26 -14.8 78 172.4 43 109.4 8 46.4 -27 -16.6 77 170.6 42 107.6 7 44.6 -28 -18.4 76 168.8 41 105.8 6 42.8 -29 -20.2 75 167 40 104 5 41 -30 -22 74 165.2 39 102.2 4 39.2 -31 -23.8 73 163.4 38 100.4 3 37.4 -32 -25.6 72 161.6 37 98.6 2 35.6 -33 -27.4 71 159.8 36 96.8 1 33.8 -34 -29.2 70 158 35 95 0 32 -35 -31 69 156.2 34 93.2 -1 30.2 -36 -32.8 68 154.4 33 91.4 -2 28.4 -37 -34.6 67 152.6 32 89.6 -3 26.6 -38 -36.4 66 150.8 31 87.8 -4 24.8 -39 -38.2
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Re: Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions

Postby admin » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:52 am


Many years have elapsed since I quitted Europe, to explore the interior of the New Continent. Devoted from my earliest youth to the study of nature, feeling with enthusiasm the wild beauties of a country guarded by mountains and shaded by ancient forests, I experienced in my travels, enjoyments which have amply compensated for the privations inseparable from a laborious and often agitated life. These enjoyments, which I endeavoured to impart to my readers in my 'Remarks upon the Steppes,' and in the 'Essay on the Physiognomy of Plants,' were not the only fruits I reaped from an undertaking formed with the design of contributing to the progress of natural philosophy. I had long prepared myself for the observations which were the principal object of my journey to the torrid zone. I was provided with instruments of easy and convenient use, constructed by the ablest makers, and I enjoyed the special protection of a government which, far from presenting obstacles to my investigations, constantly honoured me with every mark of regard and confidence. I was aided by a courageous and enlightened friend, and it was singularly propitious to the success of our participated labour, that the zeal and equanimity of that friend never failed, amidst the fatigues and dangers to which we were sometimes exposed.

Under these favourable circumstances, traversing regions which for ages have remained almost unknown to most of the nations of Europe, I might add even to Spain, M. Bonpland and myself collected a considerable number of materials, the publication of which may throw some light on the history of nations, and advance the study of nature.

I had in view a two-fold purpose in the travels of which I now publish the historical narrative. I wished to make known the countries I had visited; and to collect such facts as are fitted to elucidate a science of which we as yet possess scarcely the outline, and which has been vaguely denominated Natural History of the World, Theory of the Earth, or Physical Geography. The last of these two objects seemed to me the most important. I was passionately devoted to botany and certain parts of zoology, and I flattered myself that our investigations might add some new species to those already known, both in the animal and vegetable kingdoms; but preferring the connection of facts which have been long observed, to the knowledge of insulated facts, although new, the discovery of an unknown genus seemed to me far less interesting than an observation on the geographical relations of the vegetable world, on the migrations of the social plants, and the limit of the height which their different tribes attain on the flanks of the Cordilleras.

The natural sciences are connected by the same ties which link together all the phenomena of nature. The classification of the species, which must be considered as the fundamental part of botany, and the study of which is rendered attractive and easy by the introduction of natural methods, is to the geography of plants what descriptive mineralogy is to the indication of the rocks constituting the exterior crust of the globe. To comprehend the laws observed in the position of these rocks, to determine the age of their successive formations, and their identity in the most distant regions, the geologist should be previously acquainted with the simple fossils which compose the mass of mountains, and of which the names and character are the object of oryctognostical knowledge. It is the same with that part of the natural history of the globe which treats of the relations plants have to each other, to the soil whence they spring, or to the air which they inhale and modify. The progress of the geography of plants depends in a great measure on that of descriptive botany; and it would be injurious to the advancement of science, to attempt rising to general ideas, whilst neglecting the knowledge of particular facts.

I have been guided by these considerations in the course of my inquiries; they were always present to my mind during the period of my preparatory studies. When I began to read the numerous narratives of travels, which compose so interesting a part of modern literature, I regretted that travellers, the most enlightened in the insulated branches of natural history, were seldom possessed of sufficient variety of knowledge to avail themselves of every advantage arising from their position. It appeared to me, that the importance of the results hitherto obtained did not keep pace with the immense progress which, at the end of the eighteenth century, had been made in several departments of science, particularly geology, the history of the modifications of the atmosphere, and the physiology of animals and plants. I saw with regret, (and all scientific men have shared this feeling) that whilst the number of accurate instruments was daily increasing, we were still ignorant of the height of many mountains and elevated plains; of the periodical oscillations of the aerial ocean; of the limit of perpetual snow within the polar circle and on the borders of the torrid zone; of the variable intensity of the magnetic forces, and of many other phenomena equally important.

Maritime expeditions and circumnavigatory voyages have conferred just celebrity on the names of the naturalists and astronomers who have been appointed by various governments to share the dangers of those undertakings; but though these eminent men have given us precise notions of the external configuration of countries, of the natural history of the ocean, and of the productions of islands and coasts, it must be admitted that maritime expeditions are less fitted to advance the progress of geology and other parts of physical science, than travels into the interior of a continent. The advancement of the natural sciences has been subordinate to that of geography and nautical astronomy. During a voyage of several years, the land but seldom presents itself to the observation of the mariner, and when, after lengthened expectation, it is descried, he often finds it stripped of its most beautiful productions. Sometimes, beyond a barren coast, he perceives a ridge of mountains covered with verdure, but its distance forbids examination, and the view serves only to excite regret.

Journeys by land are attended with considerable difficulties in the conveyance of instruments and collections, but these difficulties are compensated by advantages which it is unnecessary to enumerate. It is not by sailing along a coast that we can discover the direction of chains of mountains, and their geological constitution, the climate of each zone, and its influence on the forms and habits of organized beings. In proportion to the extent of continents, the greater on the surface of the soil are the riches of animal and vegetable productions; the more distant the central chain of mountains from the sea-shore, the greater is the variety in the bosom of the earth, of those stony strata, the regular succession of which unfolds the history of our planet. As every being considered apart is impressed with a particular type, so, in like manner, we find the same distinctive impression in the arrangement of brute matter organized in rocks, and also in the distribution and mutual relations of plants and animals. The great problem of the physical description of the globe, is the determination of the form of these types, the laws of their relations with each other, and the eternal ties which link the phenomena of life, and those of inanimate nature.

Having stated the general object I had in view in my expeditions, I will now hasten to give a slight sketch of the whole of the collections and observations which we have accumulated, and the union of which is the aim and end of every scientific journey. The maritime war, during our abode in America, having rendered communication with Europe very uncertain, we found ourselves compelled, in order to diminish the chance of losses, to form three different collections. Of these, the first was embarked for Spain and France, the second for the United States and England, and the third, which was the most considerable, remained almost constantly under our own eyes. Towards the close of our expedition, this last collection formed forty-two boxes, containing an herbal of six thousand equinoctial plants, seeds, shells, insects, and (what had hitherto never been brought to Europe) geological specimens, from the Chimborazo, New Grenada, and the banks of the river Amazon.

After our journey to the Orinoco, we left a part of these collections at the island of Cuba, intending to take them on our return from Peru to Mexico. The rest followed us during the space of five years, on the chain of the Andes, across New Spain, from the shores of the Pacific to the coasts of the Caribbean Sea. The conveyance of these objects, and the minute care they required, occasioned embarrassments scarcely conceiveable even by those who have traversed the most uncultivated parts of Europe. Our progress was often retarded by the necessity of dragging after us, during expeditions of five or six months, twelve, fifteen, and sometimes more than twenty loaded mules, exchanging these animals every eight or ten days, and superintending the Indians who were employed in driving the numerous caravan. Often, in order to add to our collections of new mineral substances, we found ourselves obliged to throw away others, which we had collected a considerable time before. These sacrifices were not less vexatious than the losses we accidentally sustained. Sad experience taught us but too late, that from the sultry humidity of the climate, and the frequent falls of the beasts of burden, we could preserve neither the skins of animals hastily prepared, nor the fishes and reptiles placed in phials filled with alcohol. I enter into these details, because, though little interesting in themselves, they serve to show that we had no means of bringing back, in their natural state, many objects of zoology and comparative anatomy, of which we have published descriptions and drawings. Notwithstanding some obstacles, and the expense occasioned by the carriage of these articles, I had reason to applaud the resolution I had taken before my departure, of sending to Europe the duplicates only of the productions we collected. I cannot too often repeat, that when the seas are infested with privateers, a traveller can be sure only of the objects in his own possession. A very few of the duplicates, which we shipped for Europe during our abode in America, were saved; the greater part fell into the hands of persons who feel no interest for science. When a ship is condemned in a foreign port, boxes containing only dried plants or stones, instead of being sent to the scientific men to whom they are addressed, are put aside and forgotten. Some of our geological collections taken in the Pacific were, however, more fortunate. We were indebted for their preservation to the generous activity of Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society of London, who, amidst the political agitations of Europe, unceasingly laboured to strengthen the bonds of union between scientific men of all nations.

In our investigations we have considered each phenomenon under different aspects, and classed our remarks according to the relations they bear to each other. To afford an idea of the method we have followed, I will here add a succinct enumeration of the materials with which we were furnished for describing the volcanoes of Antisana and Pichincha, as well as that of Jorullo: the latter, during the night of the 20th of September, 1759, rose from the earth one thousand five hundred and seventy-eight French feet above the surrounding plains of Mexico. The position of these singular mountains in longitude and latitude was ascertained by astronomical observations. We took the heights of the different parts by the aid of the barometer, and determined the dip of the needle and the intensity of the magnetic forces. Our collections contain the plants which are spread over the flanks of these volcanoes, and specimens of different rocks which, superposed one upon another, constitute their external coat. We are enabled to indicate, by measures sufficiently exact, the height above the level of the ocean, at which we found each group of plants, and each volcanic rock. Our journals furnish us with a series of observations on the humidity, the temperature, the electricity, and the degree of transparency of the air on the brinks of the craters of Pichincha and Jorullo; they also contain topographical plans and geological profiles of these mountains, founded in part on the measure of vertical bases, and on angles of altitude. Each observation has been calculated according to the tables and the methods which are considered most exact in the present state of our knowledge; and in order to judge of the degree of confidence which the results may claim, we have preserved the whole detail of our partial operations.

It would have been possible to blend these different materials in a work devoted wholly to the description of the volcanoes of Peru and New Spain. Had I given the physical description of a single province, I could have treated separately everything relating to its geography, mineralogy, and botany; but how could I interrupt the narrative of a journey, a disquisition on the manners of a people, or the great phenomena of nature, by an enumeration of the productions of the country, the description of new species of animals and plants, or the detail of astronomical observations. Had I adopted a mode of composition which would have included in one and the same chapter all that has been observed on one particular point of the globe, I should have prepared a work of cumbrous length, and devoid of that clearness which arises in a great measure from the methodical distribution of matter. Notwithstanding the efforts I have made to avoid, in this narrative, the errors I had to dread, I feel conscious that I have not always succeeded in separating the observations of detail from those general results which interest every enlightened mind. These results comprise in one view the climate and its influence on organized beings, the aspect of the country, varied according to the nature of the soil and its vegetable covering, the direction of the mountains and rivers which separate races of men as well as tribes of plants; and finally, the modifications observable in the condition of people living in different latitudes, and in circumstances more or less favourable to the development of their faculties. I do not fear having too much enlarged on objects so worthy of attention: one of the noblest characteristics which distinguish modern civilization from that of remoter times is, that it has enlarged the mass of our conceptions, rendered us more capable of perceiving the connection between the physical and intellectual world, and thrown a more general interest over objects which heretofore occupied only a few scientific men, because those objects were contemplated separately, and from a narrower point of view.

As it is probable that these volumes will obtain the attention of a greater number of readers than the detail of my observations merely scientific, or my researches on the population, the commerce, and the mines of New Spain, I may be permitted here to enumerate all the works which I have hitherto published conjointly with M. Bonpland. When several works are interwoven in some sort with each other, it may perhaps be interesting to the reader to know the sources whence he may obtain more circumstantial information.


This work, to which are added historical researches on the position of several points important to navigators, contains, first, the original observations which I made from the twelfth degree of southern to the forty-first degree of northern latitude; the transits of the sun and stars over the meridian; distances of the moon from the sun and the stars; occultations of the satellites; eclipses of the sun and moon; transits of Mercury over the disc of the sun; azimuths; circum-meridian altitudes of the moon, to determine the longitude by the differences of declination; researches on the relative intensity of the light of the austral stars; geodesical measures, etc. Secondly, a treatise on the astronomical refractions in the torrid zone, considered as the effect of the decrement of caloric in the strata of the air; thirdly, the barometric measurement of the Cordillera of the Andes, of Mexico, of the province of Venezuela, of the kingdom of Quito, and of New Grenada; followed by geological observations, and containing the indication of four hundred and fifty-three heights, calculated according to the method of M. Laplace, and the new co-efficient of M. Ramond; fourthly, a table of near seven hundred geographical positions on the New Continent; two hundred and thirty-five of which have been determined by my own observations, according to the three co-ordinates of longitude, latitude, and height.


M. Bonpland has in this work given figures of more than forty new genera of plants of the torrid zone, classed according to their natural families. The methodical descriptions of the species are both in French and Latin, and are accompanied by observations on the medicinal properties of the plants, their use in the arts, and the climate of the countries in which they are found.


Comprising upwards of a hundred and fifty species of melastomaceae, which we collected during the course of our expeditions, and which form one of the most beautiful ornaments of tropical vegetation. M. Bonpland has added the plants of the same family, which, among many other rich stores of natural history, M. Richard collected in his interesting expedition to the Antilles and French Guiana, and the descriptions of which he has communicated to us.


I have endeavoured to collect in one point of view the whole of the physical phenomena of that part of the New Continent comprised within the limits of the torrid zone from the level of the Pacific to the highest summit of the Andes; namely, the vegetation, the animals, the geological relations, the cultivation of the soil, the temperature of the air, the limit of perpetual snow, the chemical constitution of the atmosphere, its electrical intensity, its barometrical pressure, the decrement of gravitation, the intensity of the azure colour of the sky, the diminution of light during its passage through the successive strata of the air, the horizontal refractions, and the heat of boiling water at different heights. Fourteen scales, disposed side by side with a profile of the Andes, indicate the modifications to which these phenomena are subject from the influence of the elevation of the soil above the level of the sea. Each group of plants is placed at the height which nature has assigned to it, and we may follow the prodigious variety of their forms from the region of the palms and arborescent ferns to those of the johannesia (chuquiraga, Juss.), the gramineous plants, and lichens. These regions form the natural divisions of the vegetable empire; and as perpetual snow is found in each climate at a determinate height, so, in like manner, the febrifuge species of the quinquina (cinchona) have their fixed limits, which I have marked in the botanical chart belonging to this essay.


I have comprised in this work the history of the condor; experiments on the electrical action of the gymnotus; a treatise on the larynx of the crocodiles, the quadrumani, and birds of the tropics; the description of several new species of reptiles, fishes, birds, monkeys, and other mammalia but little known. M. Cuvier has enriched this work with a very comprehensive treatise on the axolotl of the lake of Mexico, and on the genera of the Protei. That naturalist has also recognized two new species of mastodons and an elephant among the fossil bones of quadrupeds which we brought from North and South America. For the description of the insects collected by M. Bonpland we are indebted to M. Latreille, whose labours have so much contributed to the progress of entomology in our times. The second volume of this work contains figures of the Mexican, Peruvian, and Aturian skulls, which we have deposited in the Museum of Natural History at Paris, and respecting which Blumenbach has published observations in the 'Decas quinta Craniorum diversarum gentium.'


This work, based on numerous official memoirs, presents, in six divisions, considerations on the extent and natural appearance of Mexico, on the population, on the manners of the inhabitants, their ancient civilization, and the political division of their territory. It embraces also the agriculture, the mineral riches, the manufactures, the commerce, the finances, and the military defence of that vast country. In treating these different subjects I have endeavoured to consider them under a general point of view; I have drawn a parallel not only between New Spain, the other Spanish colonies, and the United States of North America, but also between New Spain and the possessions of the English in Asia; I have compared the agriculture of the countries situated in the torrid zone with that of the temperate climates; and I have examined the quantity of colonial produce necessary to Europe in the present state of civilization. In tracing the geological description of the richest mining districts in Mexico, I have, in short, given a statement of the mineral produce, the population, the imports and exports of the whole of Spanish America. I have examined several questions which, for want of precise data, had not hitherto been treated with the attention they demand, such as the influx and reflux of metals, their progressive accumulation in Europe and Asia, and the quantity of gold and silver which, since the discovery of America down to our own times, the Old World has received from the New. The geographical introduction at the beginning of this work contains the analysis of the materials which have been employed in the construction of the Mexican Atlas.


(*Atlas Pittoresque, ou Vues des Cordilleres, 1 volume folio, with 69 plates, part of which are coloured, accompanied by explanatory treatises. This work may be considered as the Atlas to the historical narrative of the travels.)

This work is intended to represent a few of the grand scenes which nature presents in the lofty chain of the Andes, and at the same time to throw some light on the ancient civilization of the Americans, through the study of their monuments of architecture, their hieroglyphics, their religious rites, and their astrological reveries. I have given in this work a description of the teocalli, or Mexican pyramids, and have compared their structure with that of the temple of Belus. I have described the arabesques which cover the ruins of Mitla, the idols in basalt ornamented with the calantica of the heads of Isis; and also a considerable number of symbolical paintings, representing the serpent-woman (the Mexican Eve), the deluge of Coxcox, and the first migrations of the natives of the Aztec race. I have endeavoured to prove the striking analogies existing between the calendar of the Toltecs and the catasterisms of their zodiac, and the division of time of the people of Tartary and Thibet, as well as the Mexican traditions on the four regenerations of the globe, the pralayas of the Hindoos, and the four ages of Hesiod. In this work I have also included (in addition to the hieroglyphical paintings I brought to Europe), fragments of all the Aztec manuscripts, collected in Rome, Veletri, Vienna, and Dresden, and one of which reminds us, by its lineary symbols, of the kouas of the Chinese. Together with the rude monuments of the aborigines of America, this volume contains picturesque views of the mountainous countries which those people inhabited; for example, the cataract of Tequendama, Chimborazo, the volcano of Jorullo and Cayambe, the pyramidal summit of which, covered with eternal ice, is situated directly under the equinoctial line. In every zone the configuration of the ground, the physiognomy of the plants, and the aspect of lovely or wild scenery, have great influence on the progress of the arts, and on the style which distinguishes their productions. This influence is so much the more perceptible in proportion as man is farther removed from civilization.

I could have added to this work researches on the character of languages, which are the most durable monuments of nations. I have collected a number of materials on the languages of America, of which MM. Frederic Schlegel and Vater have made use; the former in his Considerations on the Hindoos, the latter in his Continuation of the Mithridates of Adelung, in the Ethnographical Magazine, and in his Inquiries into the Population of the New Continent. These materials are now in the hands of my brother, William von Humboldt, who, during his travels in Spain, and a long abode at Rome, formed the richest collection of American vocabularies in existence. His extensive knowledge of the ancient and modern languages has enabled him to trace some curious analogies in relation to this subject, so important to the philosophical study of the history of man. A part of his labours will find a place in this narrative.

Of the different works which I have here enumerated, the second and third were composed by M. Bonpland, from the observations which he made in a botanical journal. This journal contains more than four thousand methodical descriptions of equinoctial plants, a ninth part only of which have been made by me. They appear in a separate publication, under the title of Nova Genera et Species Plantariem. In this work will be found, not only the new species we collected, which, after a careful examination by one of the first botanists of the age, Professor Willdenouw, are computed to amount to fourteen or fifteen hundred, but also the interesting observations made by M. Bonpland on plants hitherto imperfectly described. The plates of this work are all engraved according to the method followed by M. Labillardiere, in the Specimen Planterum Novae Hollandiae, a work remarkable for profound research and clearness of arrangement.

After having distributed into separate works all that belongs to astronomy, botany, zoology, the political description of New Spain, and the history of the ancient civilization of certain nations of the New Continent, there still remained many general results and local descriptions, which I might have collected into separate treatises. I had, during my journey, prepared papers on the races of men in South America; on the Missions of the Orinoco; on the obstacles to the progress of society in the torrid zone arising from the climate and the strength of vegetation; on the character of the landscape in the Cordilleras of the Andes compared with that of the Alps in Switzerland; on the analogies between the rocks of the two hemispheres; on the physical constitution of the air in the equinoctial regions, etc. I had left Europe with the firm intention of not writing what is usually called the historical narrative of a journey, but to publish the fruit of my inquiries in works merely descriptive; and I had arranged the facts, not in the order in which they successively presented themselves, but according to the relation they bore to each other. Amidst the overwhelming majesty of Nature, and the stupendous objects she presents at every step, the traveller is little disposed to record in his journal matters which relate only to himself, and the ordinary details of life.

I composed a very brief itinerary during the course of my excursions on the rivers of South America, and in my long journeys by land. I regularly described (and almost always on the spot) the visits I made to the summits of volcanoes, or mountains remarkable for their height; but the entries in my journal were interrupted whenever I resided in a town, or when other occupations prevented me from continuing a work which I considered as having only a secondary interest. Whenever I wrote in my journal, I had no other motive than the preservation of some of those fugitive ideas which present themselves to a naturalist, whose life is almost wholly passed in the open air. I wished to make a temporary collection of such facts as I had not then leisure to class, and note down the first impressions, whether agreeable or painful, which I received from nature or from man. Far from thinking at the time that those pages thus hurriedly written would form the basis of an extensive work to be offered to the public, it appeared to me, that my journal, though it might furnish certain data useful to science, would present very few of those incidents, the recital of which constitutes the principal charm of an itinerary.

The difficulties I have experienced since my return, in the composition of a considerable number of treatises, for the purpose of making known certain classes of phenomena, insensibly overcame my repugnance to write the narrative of my journey. In undertaking this task, I have been guided by the advice of many estimable persons, who honour me with their friendship. I also perceived that such a preference is given to this sort of composition, that scientific men, after having presented in an isolated form the account of their researches on the productions, the manners, and the political state of the countries through which they have passed, imagine that they have not fulfilled their engagements with the public, till they have written their itinerary.

An historical narrative embraces two very distinct objects; the greater or the less important events connected with the purpose of the traveller, and the observations he has made during his journey. The unity of composition also, which distinguishes good works from those on an ill-constructed plan, can be strictly observed only when the traveller describes what has passed under his own eye; and when his principal attention has been fixed less on scientific observations than on the manners of different people and the great phenomena of nature. Now, the most faithful picture of manners is that which best displays the relations of men towards each other. The character of savage or civilized life is portrayed either in the obstacles a traveller meets with, or in the sensations he feels. It is the traveller himself whom we continually desire to see in contact with the objects which surround him; and his narration interests us the more, when a local tint is diffused over the description of a country and its inhabitants. Such is the source of the interest excited by the history of those early navigators, who, impelled by intrepidity rather than by science, struggled against the elements in their search for the discovery of a new world. Such is the irresistible charm attached to the fate of that enterprising traveller (Mungo Park.), who, full of enthusiasm and energy, penetrated alone into the centre of Africa, to discover amidst barbarous nations the traces of ancient civilization.

In proportion as travels have been undertaken by persons whose views have been directed to researches into descriptive natural history, geography, or political economy, itineraries have partly lost that unity of composition, and that simplicity which characterized those of former ages. It is now become scarcely possible to connect so many different materials with the detail of other events; and that part of a traveller's narrative which we may call dramatic gives way to dissertations merely descriptive. The numerous class of readers who prefer agreeable amusement to solid instruction, have not gained by the exchange; and I am afraid that the temptation will not be great to follow the course of travellers who are incumbered with scientific instruments and collections.

To give greater variety to my work, I have often interrupted the historical narrative by descriptions. I first represent phenomena in the order in which they appeared; and I afterwards consider them in the whole of their individual relations. This mode has been successfully followed in the journey of M. de Saussure, whose most valuable work has contributed more than any other to the advancement of science. Often, amidst dry discussions on meteorology, it contains many charming descriptions; such as those of the modes of life of the inhabitants of the mountains, the dangers of hunting the chamois, and the sensations felt on the summit of the higher Alps.

There are details of ordinary life which it may be useful to note in an itinerary, because they serve for the guidance of those who afterwards journey through the same countries. I have preserved a few, but have suppressed the greater part of those personal incidents which present no particular interest, and which can be rendered amusing only by the perfection of style.

With respect to the country which has been the object of my investigations, I am fully sensible of the great advantages enjoyed by persons who travel in Greece, Egypt, the banks of the Euphrates, and the islands of the Pacific, in comparison with those who traverse the continent of America. In the Old World, nations and the distinctions of their civilization form the principal points in the picture; in the New World, man and his productions almost disappear amidst the stupendous display of wild and gigantic nature. The human race in the New World presents only a few remnants of indigenous hordes, slightly advanced in civilization; or it exhibits merely the uniformity of manners and institutions transplanted by European colonists to foreign shores. Information which relates to the history of our species, to the various forms of government, to monuments of art, to places full of great remembrances, affect us far more than descriptions of those vast solitudes which seem destined only for the development of vegetable life, and to be the domain of wild animals. The savages of America, who have been the objects of so many systematic reveries, and on whom M. Volney has lately published some accurate and intelligent observations, inspire less interest since celebrated navigators have made known to us the inhabitants of the South Sea islands, in whose character we find a striking mixture of perversity and meekness. The state of half-civilization existing among those islanders gives a peculiar charm to the description of their manners. A king, followed by a numerous suite, presents the fruits of his orchard; or a funeral is performed amidst the shade of the lofty forest. Such pictures, no doubt, have more attraction than those which pourtray the solemn gravity of the inhabitant of the banks of the Missouri or the Maranon.

America offers an ample field for the labours of the naturalist. On no other part of the globe is he called upon more powerfully by nature to raise himself to general ideas on the cause of phenomena and their mutual connection. To say nothing of that luxuriance of vegetation, that eternal spring of organic life, those climates varying by stages as we climb the flanks of the Cordilleras, and those majestic rivers which a celebrated writer (M. Chateaubriand.) has described with such graceful accuracy, the resources which the New World affords for the study of geology and natural philosophy in general have been long since acknowledged. Happy the traveller who may cherish the hope that he has availed himself of the advantages of his position, and that he has added some new facts to the mass of those previously acquired!

Since I left America, one of those great revolutions, which at certain periods agitate the human race, has broken out in the Spanish colonies, and seems to prepare new destinies for a population of fourteen millions of inhabitants, spreading from the southern to the northern hemisphere, from the shores of the Rio de la Plata and Chile to the remotest part of Mexico. Deep resentments, excited by colonial legislation, and fostered by mistrustful policy, have stained with blood regions which had enjoyed, for the space of nearly three centuries, what I will not call happiness but uninterrupted peace. At Quito several of the most virtuous and enlightened citizens have perished, victims of devotion to their country. While I am giving the description of regions, the remembrance of which is so dear to me, I continually light on places which recall to my mind the loss of a friend.

When we reflect on the great political agitations of the New World, we observe that the Spanish Americans are by no means in so favourable a position as the inhabitants of the United States; the latter having been prepared for independence by the long enjoyment of constitutional liberty. Internal dissensions are chiefly to be dreaded in regions where civilization is but slightly rooted, and where, from the influence of climate, forests may soon regain their empire over cleared lands if their culture be abandoned. It may also be feared that, during a long series of years, no foreign traveller will be enabled to traverse all the countries which I have visited. This circumstance may perhaps add to the interest of a work which pourtrays the state of the greater part of the Spanish colonies at the beginning of the 19th century. I even venture to indulge the hope that this work will be thought worthy of attention when passions shall be hushed into peace, and when, under the influence of a new social order, those countries shall have made rapid progress in public welfare. If then some pages of my book are snatched from oblivion, the inhabitant of the banks of the Orinoco and the Atabapo will behold with delight populous cities enriched by commerce, and fertile fields cultivated by the hands of free men, on those very spots where, at the time of my travels, I found only impenetrable forests and inundated lands.
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Re: Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions

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From my earliest youth I felt an ardent desire to travel into distant regions, seldom visited by Europeans. This desire is characteristic of a period of our existence when appears an unlimited horizon, and when we find an irresistible attraction in the impetuous agitations of the mind, and the image of positive danger. Though educated in a country which has no direct communication with either the East or the West Indies, living amidst mountains remote from coasts, and celebrated for their numerous mines, I felt an increasing passion for the sea and distant expeditions. Objects with which we are acquainted only by the animated narratives of travellers have a peculiar charm; imagination wanders with delight over that which is vague and undefined; and the pleasures we are deprived of seem to possess a fascinating power, compared with which all we daily feel in the narrow circle of sedentary life appears insipid. The taste for herborisation, the study of geology, rapid excursions to Holland, England, and France, with the celebrated Mr. George Forster, who had the happiness to accompany captain Cook in his second expedition round the globe, contributed to give a determined direction to the plan of travels which I had formed at eighteen years of age. No longer deluded by the agitation of a wandering life, I was anxious to contemplate nature in all her variety of wild and stupendous scenery; and the hope of collecting some facts useful to the advancement of science, incessantly impelled my wishes towards the luxuriant regions of the torrid zone. As personal circumstances then prevented me from executing the projects by which I was so powerfully influenced, I had leisure to prepare myself during six years for the observations I proposed to make on the New Continent, as well as to visit different parts of Europe, and to explore the lofty chain of the Alps, the structure of which I might afterwards compare with that of the Andes of Quito and of Peru.

I had traversed a part of Italy in 1795, but had not been able to visit the volcanic regions of Naples and Sicily; and I regretted leaving Europe without having seen Vesuvius, Stromboli, and Etna. I felt, that in order to form a proper judgment of many geological phenomena, especially of the nature of the rocks of trap-formation, it was necessary to examine the phenomena presented by burning volcanoes. I determined therefore to return to Italy in the month of November, 1797. I made a long stay at Vienna, where the fine collections of exotic plants, and the friendship of Messrs. de Jacquin, and Joseph van der Schott, were highly useful to my preparatory studies. I travelled with M. Leopold von Buch, through several cantons of Salzburg and Styria, countries alike interesting to the landscape-painter and the geologist; but just when I was about to cross the Tyrolese Alps, the war then raging in Italy obliged me to abandon the project of going to Naples.

A short time before, a gentleman passionately fond of the fine arts, and who had visited the coasts of Greece and Illyria to inspect their monuments, made me a proposal to accompany him in an expedition to Upper Egypt. This expedition was to occupy only eight months. Provided with astronomical instruments and able draughtsmen, we were to ascend the Nile as far as Assouan, after minutely examining the positions of the Said, between Tentyris and the cataracts. Though my views had not hitherto been fixed on any region but the tropics, I could not resist the temptation of visiting countries so celebrated in the annals of human civilization. I therefore accepted this proposition, but with the express condition, that on our return to Alexandria I should be at liberty to continue my journey through Syria and Palestine. The studies which I entered upon with a view to this new project, I afterwards found useful, when I examined the relations between the barbarous monuments of Mexico, and those belonging to the nations of the old world. I thought myself on the point of embarking for Egypt, when political events forced me to abandon a plan which promised me so much satisfaction.

An expedition of discovery in the South Sea, under the direction of captain Baudin, was then preparing in France. The plan was great, bold, and worthy of being executed by a more enlightened commander. The purpose of this expedition was to visit the Spanish possessions of South America, from the mouth of the river Plata to the kingdom of Quito and the isthmus of Panama. After visiting the archipelago of the Pacific, and exploring the coasts of New Holland, from Van Diemen's Land to that of Nuyts, both vessels were to stop at Madagascar, and return by the Cape of Good Hope. I was in Paris when the preparations for this voyage were begun. I had but little confidence in the personal character of captain Baudin, who had given cause of discontent to the court of Vienna, when he was commissioned to conduct to Brazil one of my friends, the young botanist, Van der Schott; but as I could not hope, with my own resources, to make a voyage of such extent, and view so fine a portion of the globe, I determined to take the chances of this expedition. I obtained permission to embark, with the instruments I had collected, in one of the vessels destined for the South Sea, and I reserved to myself the liberty of leaving captain Baudin whenever I thought proper. M. Michaux, who had already visited Persia and a part of North America, and M. Bonpland, with whom I then formed the friendship that still unites us, were appointed to accompany this expedition as naturalists.

I had flattered myself during several months with the idea of sharing the labours directed to so great and honourable an object when the war which broke out in Germany and Italy, determined the French government to withdraw the funds granted for their voyage of discovery, and adjourn it to an indefinite period. Deeply mortified at finding the plans I had formed during many years of my life overthrown in a single day, I sought at any risk the speediest means of quitting Europe, and engaging in some enterprise which might console me for my disappointment.

I became acquainted with a Swedish consul, named Skioldebrand, who having been appointed by his court to carry presents to the dey of Algiers, was passing through Paris, to embark at Marseilles. This estimable man had resided a long time on the coast of Africa; and being highly respected by the government of Algiers, he could easily procure me permission to visit that part of the chain of the Atlas which had not been the object of the important researches of M. Desfontaines. He despatched every year a vessel for Tunis, where the pilgrims embarked for Mecca, and he promised to convey me by the same medium to Egypt. I eagerly seized so favourable an opportunity, and thought myself on the point of executing a plan which I had formed previously to my arrival in France. No mineralogist had yet examined that lofty chain of mountains which, in the empire of Morocco, rises to the limits of the perpetual snow. I flattered myself, that, after executing some operations in the alpine regions of Barbary, I should receive in Egypt from those illustrious men who had for some months formed the Institute of Cairo, the same kind attentions with which I had been honoured during my abode in Paris. I hastily completed my collection of instruments, and purchased works relating to the countries I was going to visit. I parted from a brother who, by his advice and example, had hitherto exercised a great influence on the direction of my thoughts. He approved the motives which determined me to quit Europe; a secret voice assured us that we should meet again; and that hope, which did not prove delusive, assuaged the pain of a long separation. I left Paris with the intention of embarking for Algiers and Egypt; but by one of those vicissitudes which sway the affairs of this life, I returned to my brother from the river Amazon and Peru, without having touched the continent of Africa.

The Swedish frigate which was to convey M. Skioldebrand to Algiers, was expected at Marseilles toward the end of October. M. Bonpland and myself repaired thither with great celerity, for during our journey we were tormented with the fear of being too late, and missing our passage.

M. Skioldebrand was no less impatient than ourselves to reach his place of destination. Several times a day we climbed the mountain of Notre Dame de la Garde, which commands an extensive view of the Mediterranean. Every sail we descried in the horizon excited in us the most eager emotion; but after two months of anxiety and vain expectation, we learned by the public papers, that the Swedish frigate which was to convey us, had suffered greatly in a storm on the coast of Portugal, and had been forced to enter the port of Cadiz, to refit. This news was confirmed by private letters, assuring us that the Jaramas, which was the name of the frigate, would not reach Marseilles before the spring.

We felt no inclination to prolong our stay in Provence till that period. The country, and especially the climate, were delightful, but the aspect of the sea reminded us of the failure of our projects. In an excursion we made to Hyeres and Toulon, we found in the latter port the frigate la Boudeuse, which had been commanded by M. de Bougainville, in his voyage round the world. She was then fitting out for Corsica. M. de Bougainville had honoured me with particular kindness during my stay in Paris, when I was preparing to accompany the expedition of captain Baudin. I cannot describe the impression made upon my mind by the sight of the vessel which had carried Commerson to the islands of the South Sea. In some conditions of the mind, a painful emotion blends itself with all our feelings.

We still persisted in the intention of visiting the African coast, and were nearly becoming the victims of our perseverance. A small vessel of Ragusa, on the point of setting sail for Tunis, was at that time in the port of Marseilles; we thought the opportunity favourable for reaching Egypt and Syria, and we agreed with the captain for our passage. The vessel was to sail the following day; but a circumstance trivial in itself happily prevented our departure. The live-stock intended to serve us for food during our passage, was kept in the great cabin. We desired that some changes should be made, which were indispensable for the safety of our instruments; and during this interval we learnt at Marseilles, that the government of Tunis persecuted the French residing in Barbary, and that every person coming from a French port was thrown into a dungeon. Having escaped this imminent danger, we were compelled to suspend the execution of our projects. We resolved to pass the winter in Spain, in hopes of embarking the next spring, either at Carthagena, or at Cadiz, if the political situation of the East permitted.

We crossed Catalonia and the kingdom of Valencia, on our way to Madrid. We visited the ruins of Tarragona and those of ancient Saguntum; and from Barcelona we made an excursion to Montserrat, the lofty peaks of which are inhabited by hermits, and where the contrast between luxuriant vegetation and masses of naked and arid rocks, forms a landscape of a peculiar character. I employed myself in ascertaining by astronomical observations the position of several points important for the geography of Spain, and determined by means of the barometer the height of the central plain. I likewise made several observations on the inclination of the needle, and on the intensity of the magnetic forces.

On my arrival at Madrid I had reason to congratulate myself on the resolution I had formed of visiting the Peninsula. Baron de Forell, minister from the court of Saxony, treated me with a degree of kindness, of which I soon felt the value. He was well versed in mineralogy, and was full of zeal for every undertaking that promoted the progress of knowledge. He observed to me, that under the administration of an enlightened minister, Don Mariano Luis de Urquijo, I might hope to obtain permission to visit, at my own expense, the interior of Spanish America. After the disappointments I had suffered, I did not hesitate a moment to adopt this idea.

I was presented at the court of Aranjuez in March 1799 and the king received me graciously. I explained to him the motives which led me to undertake a voyage to the new world and the Philippine Islands, and I presented a memoir on the subject to the secretary of state. Senor de Urquijo supported my demand, and overcame every obstacle. I obtained two passports, one from the first secretary of state, the other from the council of the Indies. Never had so extensive a permission been granted to any traveller, and never had any foreigner been honoured with more confidence on the part of the Spanish government.

Many considerations might have induced us to prolong our abode in Spain. The abbe Cavanilles, no less remarkable for the variety of his attainments than his acute intelligence; M. Nee, who, together with M. Haenke, had, as botanist, made part of the expedition of Malaspina, and who had formed one of the greatest herbals ever seen in Europe; Don Casimir Ortega, the abbe Pourret, and the learned authors of the Flora of Peru, Messrs. Ruiz and Pavon, all opened to us without reserve their rich collections. We examined part of the plants of Mexico, discovered by Messrs. Sesse, Mocino, and Cervantes, whose drawings had been sent to the Museum of Natural History of Madrid. This great establishment, the direction of which was confided to Senor Clavijo, author of an elegant translation of the works of Buffon, offered us, it is true, no geological representation of the Cordilleras, but M. Proust, so well known by the great accuracy of his chemical labours, and a distinguished mineralogist, M. Hergen, gave us curious details on several mineral substances of America. It would have been useful to us to have employed a longer time in studying the productions of the countries which were to be the objects of our research, but our impatience to take advantage of the permission given us by the court was too great to suffer us to delay our departure. For a year past, I had experienced so many disappointments, that I could scarcely persuade myself that my most ardent wishes would be at length fulfilled.

We left Madrid about the middle of May, crossed a part of Old Castile, the kingdoms of Leon and Galicia, and reached Corunna, whence we were to embark for Cuba. The winter having been protracted and severe, we enjoyed during the journey that mild temperature of the spring, which in so southern a latitude usually occurs during March and April. The snow still covered the lofty granitic tops of the Guadarama; but in the deep valleys of Galicia, which resemble the most picturesque spots of Switzerland and the Tyrol, cistuses loaded with flowers; and arborescent heaths clothed every rock. We quitted without regret the elevated plain of the two Castiles, which is everywhere devoid of vegetation, and where the severity of the winter's cold is followed by the overwhelming heat of summer. From the few observations I personally made, the interior of Spain forms a vast plain, elevated three hundred toises (five hundred and eighty-four metres) above the level of the ocean, is covered with secondary formations, grit-stone, gypsum, sal-gem, and the calcareous stone of Jura. The climate of the Castiles is much colder than that of Toulon and Genoa; its mean temperature scarcely rises to 15 degrees of the centigrade thermometer.

We are astonished to find that, in the latitude of Calabria, Thessaly, and Asia Minor, orange-trees do not flourish in the open air. The central elevated plain is encircled by a low and narrow zone, where the chamaerops, the date-tree, the sugar-cane, the banana, and a number of plants common to Spain and the north of Africa, vegetate on several spots, without suffering from the rigours of winter. From the 36th to 40th degrees of latitude, the medium temperature of this zone is from 17 to 20 degrees; and by a concurrence of circumstances, which it would be too long to explain, this favoured region has become the principal seat of industry and intellectual improvement.

When, in the kingdom of Valencia, we ascend from the shore of the Mediterranean towards the lofty plains of La Mancha and the Castiles, we seem to discern, far inland, from the lengthened declivities, the ancient coast of the Peninsula. This curious phenomenon recalls the traditions of the Samothracians, and other historical testimonies, according to which it is supposed that the irruption of the waters through the Dardanelles, augmenting the basin of the Mediterranean, rent and overflowed the southern part of Europe. If we admit that these traditions owe their origin, not to mere geological reveries, but to the remembrance of some ancient catastrophe, we may conceive the central elevated plain of Spain resisting the efforts of these great inundations, till the draining of the waters, by the straits formed between the pillars of Hercules, brought the Mediterranean progressively to its present level, lower Egypt emerging above its surface on the one side, and the fertile plains of Tarragona, Valencia, and Murcia, on the other. Everything that relates to the formation of that sea,* (* Some of the ancient geographers believed that the Mediterranean, swelled by the waters of the Euxine, the Palus Maeotis, the Caspian Sea, and the Sea of Aral, had broken the pillars of Hercules; others admitted that the irruption was made by the waters of the ocean. In the first of these hypotheses, the height of the land between the Black Sea and the Baltic, and between the ports of Cette and Bordeaux, determine the limit which the accumulation of the waters may have reached before the junction of the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic, as well to the north of the Dardanelles, as to the east of this strip of land which formerly joined Europe to Mauritania, and of which, in the time of Strabo, certain vestiges remained in the Islands of Juno and the Moon.) which has had so powerful an influence on the first civilization of mankind, is highly interesting. We might suppose, that Spain, forming a promontory amidst the waves, was indebted for its preservation to the height of its land; but in order to give weight to these theoretic ideas, we must clear up the doubts that have arisen respecting the rupture of so many transverse dikes;—we must discuss the probability of the Mediterranean having been formerly divided into several separate basins, of which Sicily and the island of Candia appear to mark the ancient limits. We will not here risk the solution of these problems, but will satisfy ourselves in fixing attention on the striking contrast in the configuration of the land in the eastern and western extremities of Europe. Between the Baltic and the Black Sea, the ground is at present scarcely fifty toises above the level of the ocean, while the plain of La Mancha, if placed between the sources of the Niemen and the Borysthenes, would figure as a group of mountains of considerable height. If the causes, which may have changed the surface of our planet, be an interesting speculation, investigations of the phenomena, such as they offer themselves to the measures and observations of the naturalist, lead to far greater certainty.

From Astorga to Corunna, especially from Lugo, the mountains rise gradually. The secondary formations gently disappear, and are succeeded by the transition rocks, which indicate the proximity of primitive strata. We found considerable mountains composed of that ancient grey stone which the mineralogists of the school of Freyberg name grauwakke, and grauwakkenschiefer. I do not know whether this formation, which is not frequent in the south of Europe, has hitherto been discovered in other parts of Spain. Angular fragments of Lydian stone, scattered along the valleys, seemed to indicate that the transition schist is the basis of the strata of greywacke. Near Corunna even granitic ridges stretch as far as Cape Ortegal. These granites, which seem formerly to have been contiguous to those of Britanny and Cornwall, are perhaps the wrecks of a chain of mountains destroyed and sunk in the waves. Large and beautiful crystals of feldspar characterise this rock. Common tin ore is sometimes discovered there, but working the mines is a laborious and unprofitable operation for the inhabitants of Galicia.

The first secretary of state had recommended us very particularly to brigadier Don Raphael Clavijo, who was employed in forming new dock-yards at Corunna. He advised us to embark on board the sloop Pizarro,* (* According to the Spanish nomenclature, the Pizarro was a light frigate (fragata lijera).) which was to sail in company with the Alcudia, the packet-boat of the month of May, which, on account of the blockade, had been detained three weeks in the port. Senor Clavijo ordered the necessary arrangements to be made on board the sloop for placing our instruments, and the captain of the Pizarro received orders to stop at Teneriffe, as long as we should judge necessary to enable us to visit the port of Orotava, and ascend the peak.

We had yet ten days to wait before we embarked. During this interval, we employed ourselves in preparing the plants we had collected in the beautiful valleys of Galicia, which no naturalist had yet visited: we examined the fuci and the mollusca which the north-west winds had cast with great profusion at the foot of the steep rock, on which the lighthouse of the Tower of Hercules is built. This edifice, called also the Iron Tower, was repaired in 1788. It is ninety-two feet high, its walls are four feet and a half thick, and its construction clearly proves that it was built by the Romans. An inscription discovered near its foundation, a copy of which M. Laborde obligingly gave me, informs us, that this pharos was constructed by Caius Sevius Lupus, architect of the city of Aqua Flavia (Chaves), and that it was dedicated to Mars. Why is the Iron Tower called in the country by the name of Hercules? Was it built by the Romans on the ruins of a Greek or Phoenician edifice? Strabo, indeed, affirms that Galicia, the country of the Callaeci, had been peopled by Greek colonies. According to an extract from the geography of Spain, by Asclepiades the Myrlaean, an ancient tradition stated that the companions of Hercules had settled in these countries.

The ports of Ferrol and Corunna both communicate with one bay, so that a vessel driven by bad weather towards the coast may anchor in either, according to the wind. This advantage is invaluable where the sea is almost always tempestuous, as between capes Ortegal and Finisterre, which are the promontories Trileucum and Artabrum of ancient geography. A narrow passage, flanked by perpendicular rocks of granite, leads to the extensive basin of Ferrol. No port in Europe has so extraordinary an anchorage, from its very inland position. The narrow and tortuous passage by which vessels enter this port, has been opened, either by the irruption of the waves, or by the reiterated shocks of very violent earthquakes. In the New World, on the coasts of New Andalusia, the Laguna del Obispo (Bishop's lake) is formed exactly like the port of Ferrol. The most curious geological phenomena are often repeated at immense distances on the surface of continents; and naturalists who have examined different parts of the globe, are struck with the extreme resemblance observed in the rents on coasts, in the sinuosities of the valleys, in the aspect of the mountains, and in their distribution by groups. The accidental concurrence of the same causes must have everywhere produced the same effects; and amidst the variety of nature, an analogy of structure and form is observed in the arrangement of inanimate matter, as well as in the internal organization of plants and of animals.

Crossing from Corunna to Ferrol, over a shallow, near the White Signal, in the bay, which according to D'Anville is the Portus Magnus of the ancients, we made several experiments by means of a valved thermometrical sounding lead, on the temperature of the ocean, and on the decrement of caloric in the successive strata of water. The thermometer on the bank, and near the surface, was from 12.5 to 13.3 degrees centigrades, while in deep water it constantly marked 15 or 15.3 degrees, the air being at 12.8 degrees. The celebrated Franklin and Mr. Jonathan Williams* (* Author of a work entitled "Thermometrical Navigation," published at Philadelphia.) were the first to invite the attention of naturalists to the phenomena of the temperature of the Atlantic over shoals, and in that zone of tepid and flowing waters which runs from the gulf of Mexico to the banks of Newfoundland and the northern coasts of Europe. The observation, that the proximity of a sand-bank is indicated by a rapid descent of the temperature of the sea at its surface, is not only interesting to the naturalist, but may become also very important for the safety of navigators. The use of the thermometer ought certainly not to lead us to neglect the use of the lead; but experiments sufficiently prove, that variations of temperature, sensible to the most imperfect instruments, indicate danger long before the vessel reaches the shoals. In such cases, the frigidity of the water may induce the pilot to heave the lead in places where he thought himself in the most perfect safety. The waters which cover the shoals owe in a great measure the diminution of their temperature to their mixture with the lower strata of water, which rise towards the surface on the edge of the banks.

The moment of leaving Europe for the first time is attended with a solemn feeling. We in vain summon to our minds the frequency of the communication between the two worlds; we in vain reflect on the great facility with which, from the improved state of navigation, we traverse the Atlantic, which compared to the Pacific is but a larger arm of the sea; the sentiment we feel when we first undertake so distant a voyage is not the less accompanied by a deep emotion, unlike any other impression we have hitherto felt. Separated from the objects of our dearest affections, entering in some sort on a new state of existence, we are forced to fall back on our own thoughts, and we feel within ourselves a dreariness we have never known before. Among the letters which, at the time of our embarking, I wrote to friends in France and Germany, one had a considerable influence on the direction of our travels, and on our succeeding operations. When I left Paris with the intention of visiting the coast of Africa, the expedition for discoveries in the Pacific seemed to be adjourned for several years. I had agreed with captain Baudin, that if, contrary to his expectation, his voyage took place at an earlier period, and intelligence of it should reach me in time, I would endeavour to return from Algiers to a port in France or Spain, to join the expedition. I renewed this promise on leaving Europe, and wrote to M. Baudin, that if the government persisted in sending him by Cape Horn, I would endeavour to meet him either at Monte Video, Chile, or Lima, or wherever he should touch in the Spanish colonies. In consequence of this engagement, I changed the plan of my journey, on reading in the American papers, in 1801, that the French expedition had sailed from Havre, to circumnavigate the globe from east to west. I hired a small vessel from Batabano, in the island of Cuba, to Portobello, and thence crossed the isthmus to the coast of the Pacific; this mistake of a journalist led M. Bonpland and myself to travel eight hundred leagues through a country we had no intention to visit. It was only at Quito, that a letter from M. Delambre, perpetual secretary of the first class of the Institute, informed us, that captain Baudin went by the Cape of Good Hope, without touching on the eastern or western coasts of America.

We spent two days at Corunna, after our instruments were embarked. A thick fog, which covered the horizon, at length indicated the change of weather we so anxiously desired. On the 4th of June, in the evening, the wind turned to north-east, a point which, on the coast of Galicia, is considered very constant during the summer. The Pizarro prepared to sail on the 5th, though we had intelligence that only a few hours previously an English squadron had been seen from the watch-tower of Sisarga, appearing to stand towards the mouth of the Tagus. Those who saw our ship weigh anchor asserted that we should be captured in three days, and that, forced to follow the fate of the vessel, we should be carried to Lisbon. This prognostic gave us the more uneasiness, as we had known some Mexicans at Madrid, who, in order to return to Vera Cruz, had embarked three times at Cadiz, and having been each time taken at the entrance of the port, were at length obliged to return to Spain through Portugal.

The Pizarro set sail at two in the afternoon. As the long and narrow passage by which a ship sails from the port of Corunna opens towards the north, and the wind was contrary, we made eight short tacks, three of which were useless. A fresh tack was made, but very slowly, and we were for some moments in danger at the foot of fort St. Amarro, the current having driven us very near the rock, on which the sea breaks with considerable violence. We remained with our eyes fixed on the castle of St. Antonio, where the unfortunate Malaspina was then a captive in a state prison. On the point of leaving Europe to visit the countries which this illustrious traveller had visited with so much advantage, I could have wished to have fixed my thoughts on some object less affecting.

At half-past six we passed the Tower of Hercules, which is the lighthouse of Corunna, as already mentioned, and where, from a very remote time, a coal-fire has been kept up for the direction of vessels. The light of this fire is in no way proportionate to the noble construction of so vast an edifice, being so feeble that ships cannot perceive it till they are in danger of striking on the shore. Towards the close of day the wind increased and the sea ran high. We directed our course to north-west, in order to avoid the English frigates, which we supposed were cruising off these coasts. About nine we spied the light of a fishing-hut at Sisarga, which was the last object we beheld in the west of Europe.

On the 7th we were in the latitude of Cape Finisterre. The group of granitic rocks, which forms part of this promontory, like that of Torianes and Monte de Corcubion, bears the name of the Sierra de Torinona. Cape Finisterre is lower than the neighbouring lands, but the Torinona is visible at seventeen leagues' distance, which proves that the elevation of its highest summit is not less than 300 toises (582 metres). Spanish navigators affirm that on these coasts the magnetic variation differs extremely from that observed at sea. M. Bory, it is true, in the voyage of the sloop Amaranth, found in 1751, that the variation of the needle determined at the Cape was four degrees less than could have been conjectured from the observations made at the same period along the coasts. In the same manner as the granite of Galicia contains tin disseminated in its mass, that of Cape Finisterre probably contains micaceous iron. In the mountains of the Upper Palatinate there are granitic rocks in which crystals of micaceous iron take the place of common mica.

On the 8th, at sunset, we descried from the mast-head an English convoy sailing along the coast, and steering towards south-east. In order to avoid it we altered our course during the night. From this moment no light was permitted in the great cabin, to prevent our being seen at a distance. This precaution, which was at the time prescribed in the regulations of the packet-ships of the Spanish navy, was extremely irksome to us during the voyages we made in the course of the five following years. We were constantly obliged to make use of dark-lanterns to examine the temperature of the water, or to read the divisions on the limb of the astronomical instruments. In the torrid zone, where twilight lasts but a few minutes, our operations ceased almost at six in the evening. This state of things was so much the more vexatious to me as from the nature of my constitution I never was subject to sea-sickness, and feel an extreme ardour for study during the whole time I am at sea.

On the 9th of June, in latitude 39 degrees 50 minutes, and longitude 16 degrees 10 minutes west of the meridian of the observatory of Paris, we began to feel the effects of the great current which from the Azores flows towards the straits of Gibraltar and the Canary Islands. This current is commonly attributed to that tendency towards the east, which the straits of Gibraltar give to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. M. de Fleurieu observes that the Mediterranean, losing by evaporation more water than the rivers can supply, causes a movement in the neighbouring ocean, and that the influence of the straits is felt at the distance of six hundred leagues. Without derogating from the respect I entertain for the opinion of that celebrated navigator, I may be permitted to consider this important object in a far more general point of view.

When we cast our eyes over the Atlantic, or that deep valley which divides the western coasts of Europe and Africa from the eastern coasts of the new world, we distinguish a contrary direction in the motion of the waters. Within the tropics, especially from the coast of Senegal to the Caribbean Sea, the general current, that which was earliest known to mariners, flows constantly from east to west. This is called the equinoctial current. Its mean rapidity, corresponding to different latitudes, is nearly the same in the Atlantic and in the Pacific, and may be estimated at nine or ten miles in twenty-four hours, consequently from 0.59 to 0.65 of a foot every second! In those latitudes the waters run towards the west with a velocity equal to a fourth of the rapidity of the greater part of the larger rivers of Europe. The movement of the ocean in a direction contrary to that of the rotation of the globe, is probably connected with this last phenomenon only as far as the rotation converts into trade winds* (* The limits of the trade winds were, for the first time, determined by Dampier in 1666.) the polar winds, which, in the low regions of the atmosphere bring back the cold air of the high latitudes toward the equator. To the general impulsion which these trade-winds give the surface of the sea, we must attribute the equinoctial current, the force and rapidity of which are not sensibly modified by the local variations of the atmosphere.

In the channel which the Atlantic has dug between Guiana and Guinea, on the meridian of 20 or 23 degrees, and from the 8th or 9th to the 2nd or 3rd degrees of northern latitude, where the trade-winds are often interrupted by winds blowing from the south and south-south-west, the equinoctial current is more inconstant in its direction. Towards the coasts of Africa, vessels are drawn in the direction of south-east; whilst towards the Bay of All Saints and Cape St. Augustin, the coasts of which are dreaded by navigators sailing towards the mouth of the Plata, the general motion of the waters is masked by a particular current (the effects of which extend from Cape St. Roche to the Isle of Trinidad) running north-west with a mean velocity of a foot and a half every second.

The equinoctial current is felt, though feebly, even beyond the tropic of Cancer, in the 26th and 28th degrees of latitude. In the vast basin of the Atlantic, at six or seven hundred leagues from the coasts of Africa, vessels from Europe bound to the West Indies, find their sailing accelerated before they reach the torrid zone. More to the north, in 28 and 35 degrees, between the parallels of Teneriffe and Ceuta, in 46 and 48 degrees of longitude, no constant motion is observed: there, a zone of 140 leagues in breadth separates the equinoctial current (the tendency of which is towards the west) from that great mass of water which runs eastward, and is distinguished for its extraordinary high temperature. To this mass of waters, known by the name of the Gulf-stream,* (* Sir Francis Drake observed this extraordinary movement of the waters, but he was unacquainted with their high temperature.) the attention of naturalists was directed in 1776 by the curious observations of Franklin and Sir Charles Blagden.

The equinoctial current drives the waters of the Atlantic towards the coasts inhabited by the Mosquito Indians, and towards the shores of Honduras. The New Continent, stretching from south to north, forms a sort of dyke to this current. The waters are carried at first north-west, and passing into the Gulf of Mexico through the strait formed by Cape Catoche and Cape St. Antonio, follow the bendings of the Mexican coast, from Vera Cruz to the mouth of the Rio del Norte, and thence to the mouths of the Mississippi, and the shoals west of the southern extremity of Florida. Having made this vast circuit west, north, east, and south, the current takes a new direction northward, and throws itself with impetuosity into the Gulf of Florida. At the end of the Gulf of Florida, in the parallel of Cape Cannaveral, the Gulf-stream, or current of Florida, runs north-east. Its rapidity resembles that of a torrent, and is sometimes five miles an hour. The pilot may judge, with some certainty, of the proximity of his approach to New York, Philadelphia, or Charlestown when he reaches the edge of the stream; for the elevated temperature of the waters, their saltness, indigo-blue colour, and the shoals of seaweed which cover their surface, as well as the heat of the surrounding atmosphere, all indicate the Gulf-stream. Its rapidity diminishes towards the north, at the same time that its breadth increases and the waters become cool. Between Cayo Biscaino and the bank of Bahama the breadth is only 15 leagues, whilst in the latitude of 28 1/2 degrees, it is 17, and in the parallel of Charlestown, opposite Cape Henlopen, from 40 to 50 leagues. The rapidity of the current is from three to five miles an hour where the stream is narrowest, and is only one mile as it advances towards the north. The waters of the Mexican Gulf; forcibly drawn to north-east, preserve their warm temperature to such a point, that in 40 and 41 degrees of latitude I found them at 22.5 degrees (18 degrees R.) when, out of the current, the heat of the ocean at its surface was scarcely 17.5 degrees (14 degrees R.). In the parallel of New York and Oporto, the temperature of the Gulf-stream is consequently equal to that of the seas of the tropics in the 18th degree of latitude, as, for instance, in the parallel of Porto Rico and the islands of Cape Verd.

To the east of the port of Boston, and on the meridian of Halifax, in latitude 41 degrees 25 minutes, and longitude 67 degrees, the current is near 80 leagues broad. From this point it turns suddenly to the east, so that its western edge, as it bends, becomes the western limit of the running waters, skirting the extremity of the great bank of Newfoundland, which M. Volney ingeniously calls the bar of the mouth of this enormous sea-river. The cold waters of this bank, which according to my experiments are at a temperature of 8.7 or 10 degrees (7 or 8 degrees R.) present a striking contrast with the waters of the torrid zone, driven northward by the Gulf-stream, the temperature of which is from 21 to 22.5 degrees (17 to 18 degrees R.). in these latitudes, the caloric is distributed in a singular manner throughout the ocean; the waters of the bank are 9.4 degrees colder than the neighbouring sea; and this sea is 3 degrees colder than the current. These zones can have no equilibrium of temperature, having a source of heat, or a cause of refrigeration, which is peculiar to each, and the influence of which is permanent.

From the bank of Newfoundland, or from the 52nd degree of longitude to the Azores, the Gulf-stream continues its course to east and east-south-east. The waters are still acted upon by the impulsion they received near a thousand leagues distance, in the straits of Florida, between the island of Cuba and the shoals of Tortoise Island. This distance is double the length of the course of the river Amazon, from Jaen or the straits of Manseriche to Grand Para. On the meridian of the islands of Corvo and Flores, the most western of the group of the Azores, the breadth of the current is 160 leagues. When vessels, on their return from South America to Europe, endeavour to make these two islands to rectify their longitude, they are always sensible of the motion of the waters to south-east. At the 33rd degree of latitude the equinoctial current of the tropics is in the near vicinity of the Gulf-stream. In this part of the ocean, we may in a single day pass from waters that flow towards the west, into those which run to the south-east or east-south-east.

From the Azores, the current of Florida turns towards the straits of Gibraltar, the isle of Madeira, and the group of the Canary Islands. The opening of the Pillars of Hercules has no doubt accelerated the motion of the waters towards the east. We may in this point of view assert, that the strait, by which the Mediterranean communicates with the Atlantic, produces its effects at a great distance; but it is probable also, that, without the existence of this strait, vessels sailing to Teneriffe would be driven south-east by a cause which we must seek on the coasts of the New World. Every motion is the cause of another motion in the vast basin of the seas as well as in the aerial ocean. Tracing the currents to their most distant sources, and reflecting on their variable celerity, sometimes decreasing as between the gulf of Florida and the bank of Newfoundland; at other times augmenting, as in the neighbourhood of the straits of Gibraltar, and near the Canary Islands, we cannot doubt but the same cause which impels the waters to make the circuitous sweep of the gulf of Mexico, agitates them also near the island of Madeira.

On the south of that island, we may follow the current, in its direction south-east and south-south-east towards the coast of Africa, between Cape Cantin and Cape Bojador. In those latitudes a vessel becalmed is running on the coast, while, according to the uncorrected reckoning, it was supposed to be a good distance out at sea. Were the motion of the waters caused by the opening at the straits of Gibraltar, why, on the south of those straits, should it not follow an opposite direction? On the contrary, in the 25th and 26th degrees of latitude, the current flows at first direct south, and then south-west. Cape Blanc, which, after Cape Verd, is the most salient promontory, seems to have an influence on this direction, and in this parallel the waters, of which we have followed the course from the coasts of Honduras to those of Africa, mingle with the great current of the tropics to resume their tour from east to west. Several hundred leagues westward of the Canary Islands, the motion peculiar to the equinoctial waters is felt in the temperate zone from the 28th and 29th degrees of north latitude; but on the meridian of the island of Ferro, vessels sail southward as far as the tropic of Cancer, before they find themselves, by their reckoning, eastward of their right course.* (* See Humboldt's Cosmos volume 1 page 312 Bohn's edition.)

We have just seen that between the parallels of 11 and 43 degrees, the waters of the Atlantic are driven by the currents in a continual whirlpool. Supposing that a molecule of water returns to the same place from which it departed, we can estimate, from our present knowledge of the swiftness of currents, that this circuit of 3800 leagues is not terminated in less than two years and ten months. A boat, which may be supposed to receive no impulsion from the winds, would require thirteen months to go from the Canary Islands to the coast of Caracas, ten months to make the tour of the gulf of Mexico and reach Tortoise Shoals opposite the port of the Havannah, while forty or fifty days might be sufficient to carry it from the straits of Florida to the bank of Newfoundland. It would be difficult to fix the rapidity of the retrograde current from this bank to the shores of Africa; estimating the mean velocity of the waters at seven or eight miles in twenty-four hours, we may allow ten or eleven months for this last distance. Such are the effects of the slow but regular motion which agitates the waters of the Atlantic. Those of the river Amazon take nearly forty-five days to flow from Tomependa to Grand Para.

A short time before my arrival at Teneriffe, the sea had left in the road of Santa Cruz the trunk of a cedrela odorata covered with the bark. This American tree vegetates within the tropics, or in the neighbouring regions. It had no doubt been torn up on the coast of the continent, or of that of Honduras. The nature of the wood, and the lichens which covered its bark, bore evidence that this trunk had not belonged to these submarine forests which ancient revolutions of the globe have deposited in the polar regions. If the cedrela, instead of having been cast on the strand of Teneriffe, had been carried farther south, It would probably have made the whole tour of the Atlantic, and returned to its native soil with the general current of the tropics. This conjecture is supported by a fact of more ancient date, recorded in the history of the Canaries by the abbe Viera. In 1770, a small vessel laden with corn, and bound from the island of Lancerota, to Santa Cruz, in Teneriffe, was driven out to sea, while none of the crew were on board. The motion of the waters from east to west, carried it to America, where it went on shore at La Guayra, near Caracas.

Whilst the art of navigation was yet in its infancy, the Gulf-stream suggested to the mind of Christopher Columbus certain indications of the existence of western regions. Two corpses, the features of which indicated a race of unknown men, were cast ashore on the Azores, towards the end of the 15th century. Nearly at the same period, the brother-in-law of Columbus, Peter Correa, governor of Porto Santo, found on the strand of that island pieces of bamboo of extraordinary size, brought thither by the western currents. The dead bodies and the bamboos attracted the attention of the Genoese navigator, who conjectured that both came from a continent situate towards the west. We now know that in the torrid zone the trade-winds and the current of the tropics are in opposition to every motion of the waves in the direction of the earth's rotation. The productions of the new world cannot reach the old but by the very high latitudes, and in following the direction of the current of Florida. The fruits of several trees of the Antilles are often washed ashore on the coasts of the islands of Ferro and Gomera. Before the discovery of America, the Canarians considered these fruits as coming from the enchanted isle of St. Borondon, which according to the reveries of pilots, and certain legends, was situated towards the west in an unknown part of the ocean, buried, as was supposed, in eternal mists.

My chief view in tracing a sketch of the currents of the Atlantic is to prove that the motion of the waters towards the south-east, from Cape St. Vincent to the Canary Islands, is the effect of the general motion to which the surface of the ocean is subjected at its western extremity. We shall give but a very succinct account of the arm of the Gulf-stream, which in the 45th and 50th degrees of latitude, near the bank called the Bonnet Flamand, runs from south-west to north-east towards the coasts of Europe. This partial current becomes very strong at those times when the west winds are of long continuance: and, like that which flows along the isles of Ferro and Gomera, it deposits every year on the western coasts of Ireland and Norway the fruit of trees which belong to the torrid zone of America. On the shores of the Hebrides, we collect seeds of Mimosa scandens, of Dolichos urens, of Guilandina bonduc, and several other plants of Jamaica, the isle of Cuba, and of the neighbouring continent. The current carries thither also barrels of French wine, well preserved, the remains of the cargoes of vessels wrecked in the West Indian seas. To these examples of the distant migration of the vegetable world, others no less striking may be added. The wreck of an English vessel, the Tilbury, burnt near Jamaica, was found on the coast of Scotland. On these same coasts are sometimes found various kinds of tortoises, that inhabit the waters of the Antilles. When the western winds are of long duration, a current is formed in the high latitudes, which runs directly towards east-south-east, from the coasts of Greenland and Labrador, as far as the north of Scotland. Wallace relates, that twice (in 1682 and 1684), American savages of the race of the Esquimaux, driven out to sea in their leathern canoes, during a storm, and left to the guidance of the currents, reached the Orkneys. This last example is the more worthy of attention, as it proves at the same time how, at a period when the art of navigation was yet in its infancy, the motion of the waters of the ocean may have contributed to disseminate the different races of men over the face of the globe.
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Re: Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions

Postby admin » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:55 am

Part 2 of 2

In reflecting on the causes of the Atlantic currents, we find that they are much more numerous than is generally believed; for the waters of the sea may be put in motion by an external impulse, by difference of heat and saltness, by the periodical melting of the polar ice, or by the inequality of evaporation, in different latitudes. Sometimes several of these causes concur to one and the same effect, and sometimes they produce several contrary effects. Winds that are light, but which, like the trade-winds, are continually acting on the whole of a zone, cause a real movement of transition, which we do not observe in the heaviest tempests, because these last are circumscribed within a small space. When, in a great mass of water, the particles at the surface acquire a different specific gravity, a superficial current is formed, which takes its direction towards the point where the water is coldest, or where it is most saturated with muriate of soda, sulphate of lime, and muriate or sulphate of magnesia. In the seas of the tropics we find, that at great depths the thermometer marks 7 or 8 centesimal degrees. Such is the result of the numerous experiments of commodore Ellis and of M. Peron. The temperature of the air in those latitudes being never below 19 or 20 degrees, it is not at the surface that the waters can have acquired a degree of cold so near the point of congelation, and of the maximum of the density of water. The existence of this cold stratum in the low latitudes is an evident proof of the existence of an under-current, which runs from the poles towards the equator: it also proves that the saline substances which alter the specific gravity of the water, are distributed in the ocean, so as not to annihilate the effect produced by the differences of temperature.

Considering the velocity of the molecules, which, on account of the rotatory motion of the globe, vary with the parallels, we may be tempted to admit that every current, in the direction from south to north, tends at the same time eastward, while the waters which run from the pole towards the equator, have a tendency to deviate westward. We may also be led to think that these tendencies diminish to a certain point the speed of the tropical current, in the same manner as they change the direction of the polar current, which in July and August, is regularly perceived during the melting of the ice, on the parallel of the bank of Newfoundland, and farther north. Very old nautical observations, which I have had occasion to confirm by comparing the longitude given by the chronometer with that which the pilots obtained by their reckoning, are, however, contrary to these theoretical ideas. In both hemispheres, the polar currents, when they are perceived, decline a little to the east; and it would seem that the cause of this phenomenon should be sought in the constancy of the westerly winds which prevail in the high latitudes. Besides, the particles of water do not move with the same rapidity as the particles of air; and the currents of the ocean, which we consider as most rapid, have only a swiftness of eight or nine feet a second; it is consequently very probable, that the water, in passing through different parallels, gradually acquires a velocity correspondent to those parallels, and that the rotation of the earth does not change the direction of the currents.

The variable pressure on the surface of the sea, caused by the changes in the weight of the air, is another cause of motion which deserves particular attention. It is well known, that the barometric variations do not in general take place at the same moment in two distant points, which are on the same level. If in one of these points the barometer stands a few lines lower than in the other, the water will rise where it finds the least pressure of air, and this local intumescence will continue, till, from the effect of the wind, the equilibrium of the air is restored. M. Vaucher thinks that the tides in the lake of Geneva, known by the name of the seiches, arise from the same cause. We know not whether it be the same, when the movement of progression, which must not be confounded with the oscillation of the waves, is the effect of an external impulse. M. de Fleurieu, in his narrative of the voyage of the Isis, cites several facts, which render it probable that the sea is not so still at the bottom as naturalists generally suppose. Without entering here into a discussion of this question, we shall only observe that, if the external impulse is constant in its action, like that of the trade-winds, the friction of the particles of water on each other must necessarily propagate the motion of the surface of the ocean even to the lower strata; and in fact this propagation in the Gulf-stream has long been admitted by navigators, who think they discover the effects in the great depth of the sea wherever it is traversed by the current of Florida, even amidst the sand-banks which surround the northern coasts of the United States. This immense river of hot waters, after a course of fifty days, from the 24th to the 45th degree of latitude, or 450 leagues, does not lose, amidst the rigours of winter in the temperate zone, more than 3 or 4 degrees of the temperature it had under the tropics. The greatness of the mass, and the small conductibility of water for heat, prevent a more speedy refrigeration. If, therefore, the Gulf-stream has dug a channel at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean, and if its waters are in motion to considerable depths, they must also in their inferior strata keep up a lower temperature than that observed in the same parallel, in a part of the sea which has neither currents nor deep shoals. These questions can be cleared up only by direct experiments, made by thermometrical soundings.

Sir Erasmus Gower remarks, that, in the passage from England to the Canary islands, the current, which carries vessels towards the south-east, begins at the 39th degree of latitude. During our voyage from Corunna to the coast of South America, the effect of this motion of the waters was perceived farther north. From the 37th to the 30th degree, the deviation was very unequal; the daily average effect was 12 miles, that is, our sloop drove towards the east 75 miles in six days. In crossing the parallel of the straits of Gibraltar, at a distance of 140 leagues, we had occasion to observe, that in those latitudes the maximum of the rapidity does not correspond with the mouth of the straits, but with a more northerly point, which lies on the prolongation of a line passing through the strait and Cape St. Vincent. This line is parallel to the direction which the waters follow from the Azores to Cape Cantin. We should moreover observe (and this fact is not uninteresting to those who examine the nature of fluids), that in this part of the retrograde current, on a breadth of 120 or 140 leagues, the whole mass of water has not the same rapidity, nor does it follow precisely the same direction. When the sea is perfectly calm, there appears at the surface narrow stripes, like small rivulets, in which the waters run with a murmur very sensible to the ear of an experienced pilot. On the 13th of June, in 34 degrees 36 minutes north latitude, we found ourselves in the midst of a great number of these beds of currents. We took their direction with the compass, and some ran north-east, others east-north-east, though the general movement of the ocean, indicated by comparing the reckoning with the chronometrical longitude, continued to be south-east. It is very common to see a mass of motionless waters crossed by threads of water, which run in different directions, and we may daily observe this phenomenon on the surface of lakes; but it is much less frequent to find partial movements, impressed by local causes on small portions of waters in the midst of an oceanic river, which occupies an immense space, and which moves, though slowly, in a constant direction. In the conflict of currents, as in the oscillation of the waves, our imagination is struck by those movements which seem to penetrate each other, and by which the ocean is continually agitated.

We passed Cape St. Vincent, which is of basaltic formation, at the distance of more than eighty leagues. It is not distinctly seen at a greater distance than 15 leagues, but the granitic mountain called the Foya de Monchique, situated near the Cape, is perceptible, as pilots allege, at the distance of 26 leagues. If this assertion be exact, the Foya is 700 toises (1363 metres), and consequently 116 toises (225 metres) higher than Vesuvius.

From Corunna to the 36th degree of latitude we had scarcely seen any organic being, excepting sea-swallows and a few dolphins. We looked in vain for sea-weeds (fuci) and mollusca, when on the 11th of June we were struck with a curious sight which afterwards was frequently renewed in the southern ocean. We entered on a zone where the whole sea was covered with a prodigious quantity of medusas. The vessel was almost becalmed, but the mollusca were borne towards the south-east, with a rapidity four times greater than the current. Their passage lasted near three quarters of an hour. We then perceived but a few scattered individuals, following the crowd at a distance as if tired with their journey. Do these animals come from the bottom of the sea, which is perhaps in these latitudes some thousand fathoms deep? or do they make distant voyages in shoals? We know that the mollusca haunt banks; and if the eight rocks, near the surface, which captain Vobonne mentions having seen in 1732, to the north of Porto Santo, really exist, we may suppose that this innumerable quantity of medusas had been thence detached; for we were but 28 leagues from the reef. We found, beside the Medusa aurita of Baster, and the Medusa pelagica of Bosc with eight tentacula (Pelagia denticulata, Peron), a third species which resembles the Medusa hysocella, and which Vandelli found at the mouth of the Tagus. It is known by its brownish-yellow colour, and by its tentacula, which are longer than the body. Several of these sea-nettles were four inches in diameter: their reflection was almost metallic: their changeable colours of violet and purple formed an agreeable contrast with the azure tint of the ocean.

In the midst of these medusas M. Bonpland observed bundles of Dagysa notata, a mollusc of a singular construction, which Sir Joseph Banks first discovered. These are small gelatinous bags, transparent, cylindrical, sometimes polygonal, thirteen lines long and two or three in diameter. These bags are open at both ends. In one of these openings, we observed a hyaline bladder, marked with a yellow spot. The cylinders lie longitudinally, one against another, like the cells of a bee-hive, and form chaplets from six to eight inches in length. I tried the galvanic electricity on these mollusca, but it produced no contraction. It appears that the genus dagysa, formed at the time of Cook's first voyage, belongs to the salpas (biphores of Bruguiere), to which M. Cuvier joins the Thalia of Brown, and the Tethys vagina of Tilesius. The salpas journey also by groups, joining in chaplets, as we have observed of the dagysa.

On the morning of the 13th of June, in 34 degrees 33 minutes latitude, we saw large masses of this last mollusc in its passage, the sea being perfectly calm. We observed during the night, that, of three species of medusas which we collected, none yielded any light but at the moment of a very slight shock. This property does not belong exclusively to the Medusa noctiluca, which Forskael has described in his Fauna Aegyptiaca, and which Gmelin has applied to the Medusa pelagica of Loefling, notwithstanding its red tentacula, and the brownish tuberosities of its body. If we place a very irritable medusa on a pewter plate, and strike against the plate with any sort of metal, the slight vibrations of the plate are sufficient to make this animal emit light. Sometimes, in galvanising the medusa, the phosphorescence appears at the moment that the chain closes, though the exciters are not in immediate contact with the organs of the animal. The fingers with which we touch it remain luminous for two or three minutes, as is observed in breaking the shell of the pholades. If we rub wood with the body of a medusa, and the part rubbed ceases shining, the phosphorescence returns if we pass a dry hand over the wood. When the light is extinguished a second time, it can no longer be reproduced, though the place rubbed be still humid and viscous. In what manner ought we to consider the effect of the friction, or that of the shock? This is a question of difficult solution. Is it a slight augmentation of temperature which favours the phosphorescence? or does the light return, because the surface is renewed, by putting the animal parts proper to disengage the phosphoric hydrogen in contact with the oxygen of the atmospheric air? I have proved by experiments published in 1797, that the shining of wood is extinguished in hydrogen gas, and in pure azotic gas, and that its light reappears whenever we mix with it the smallest bubble of oxygen gas. These facts, to which several others may be added, tend to explain the causes of the phosphorescence of the sea, and of that peculiar influence which the shock of the waves exercises on the production of light.

When we were between the island of Madeira and the coast of Africa, we had slight breezes and dead calms, very favourable for the magnetic observations, which occupied me during this passage. We were never weary of admiring the beauty of the nights; nothing can be compared to the transparency and serenity of an African sky. We were struck with the innumerable quantity of falling stars, which appeared at every instant. The farther progress we made towards the south, the more frequent was this phenomenon, especially near the Canaries. I have observed during my travels, that these igneous meteors are in general more common and luminous in some regions of the globe than in others; but I have never beheld them so multiplied as in the vicinity of the volcanoes of the province of Quito, and in that part of the Pacific ocean which bathes the volcanic coasts of Guatimala. The influence which place, climate, and season appear to exercise on the falling stars, distinguishes this class of meteors from those to which we trace stones that drop from the sky (aerolites), and which probably exist beyond the boundaries of our atmosphere. According to the observations of Messrs. Benzenberg and Brandes, many of the falling stars seen in Europe have been only thirty thousand toises high. One was even measured which did not exceed fourteen thousand toises, or five nautical leagues. These measures, which can give no result but by approximation, deserve well to be repeated. In warm climates, especially within the tropics, falling stars leave a tail behind them, which remains luminous 12 or 15 seconds: at other times they seem to burst into sparks, and they are generally lower than those in the north of Europe. We perceive them only in a serene and azure sky; they have perhaps never been below a cloud. Falling stars often follow the same direction for several hours, which direction is that of the wind. In the bay of Naples, M. Gay-Lussac and myself observed luminous phenomena very analogous to those which fixed my attention during a long abode at Mexico and Quito. These meteors are perhaps modified by the nature of the soil and the air, like certain effects of the looming or mirage, and of the terrestrial refraction peculiar to the coasts of Calabria and Sicily.

When we were forty leagues east of the island of Madeira, a swallow* (* Hirundo rustica, Linn.) perched on the topsail-yard. It was so fatigued, that it suffered itself to be easily taken. It was remarkable that a bird, in that season, and in calm weather, should fly so far. In the expedition of d'Entrecasteaux, a common swallow was seen 60 leagues distant from Cape Blanco; but this was towards the end of October, and M. Labillardiere thought it had newly arrived from Europe. We crossed these latitudes in June, at a period when the seas had not for a long time been agitated by tempests. I mention this last circumstance, because small birds and even butterflies, are sometimes forced out to sea by the impetuosity of the winds, as we observed in the Pacific ocean, when we were on the western coast of Mexico.

The Pizarro had orders to touch at the isle of Lancerota, one of the seven great Canary Islands; and at five in the afternoon of the 16th of June, that island appeared so distinctly in view that I was able to take the angle of altitude of a conic mountain, which towered majestically over the other summits, and which we thought was the great volcano which had occasioned such devastation on the night of the 1st of September, 1730.

The current drew us toward the coast more rapidly than we wished. As we advanced, we discovered at first the island of Forteventura, famous for its numerous camels;* (* These camels, which serve for labour, and sometimes for food, did not exist till the Bethencourts made the conquest of the Canaries. In the sixteenth century, asses were so abundant in the island of Forteventura, that they became wild and were hunted. Several thousands were killed to save the harvest. The horses of Forteventura are of singular beauty, and of the Barbary race.—"Noticias de la Historia General de las Islas Canarias" por Don Jose de Viera, tome 2 page 436.) and a short time after we saw the small island of Lobos in the channel which separates Forteventura from Lancerota. We spent part of the night on deck. The moon illumined the volcanic summits of Lancerota, the flanks of which, covered with ashes, reflected a silver light. Antares threw out its resplendent rays near the lunar disk, which was but a few degrees above the horizon. The night was beautifully serene and cool. Though we were but a little distance from the African coast, and on the limit of the torrid zone, the centigrade thermometer rose no higher than 18 degrees. The phosphorescence of the ocean seemed to augment the mass of light diffused through the air. After midnight, great black clouds rising behind the volcano shrouded at intervals the moon and the beautiful constellation of the Scorpion. We beheld lights carried to and fro on shore, which were probably those of fishermen preparing for their labours. We had been occasionally employed, during our passage, in reading the old voyages of the Spaniards, and these moving lights recalled to our fancy those which Pedro Gutierrez, page of Queen Isabella, saw in the isle of Guanahani, on the memorable night of the discovery of the New World.

On the 17th, in the morning, the horizon was foggy, and the sky slightly covered with vapour. The outlines of the mountains of Lancerota appeared stronger: the humidity, increasing the transparency of the air, seemed at the same time to have brought the objects nearer our view. This phenomenon is well known to all who have made hygrometrical observations in places whence the chain of the Higher Alps or of the Andes is seen. We passed through the channel which divides the isle of Alegranza from Montana Clara, taking soundings the whole way; and we examined the archipelago of small islands situated northward of Lancerota. In the midst of this archipelago, which is seldom visited by vessels bound for Teneriffe, we were singularly struck with the configuration of the coasts. We thought ourselves transported to the Euganean mountains in the Vicentin, or the banks of the Rhine near Bonn. The form of organized beings varies according to the climate, and it is that extreme variety which renders the study of the geography of plants and animals so attractive; but rocks, more ancient perhaps than the causes which have produced the difference of the climate on the globe, are the same in both hemispheres. The porphyries containing vitreous feldspar and hornblende, the phonolite, the greenstone, the amygdaloids, and the basalt, have forms almost as invariable as simple crystallized substances. In the Canary Islands, and in the mountains of Auvergne, in the Mittelgebirge in Bohemia, in Mexico, and on the banks of the Ganges, the formation of trap is indicated by a symmetrical disposition of the mountains, by truncated cones, sometimes insulated, sometimes grouped, and by elevated plains, both extremities of which are crowned by a conical rising.

The whole western part of Lancerota, of which we had a near view, bears the appearance of a country recently convulsed by volcanic eruptions. Everything is black, parched, and stripped of vegetable mould. We distinguished, with our glasses, stratified basalt in thin and steeply-sloping strata. Several hills resembled the Monte Novo, near Naples, or those hillocks of scoria and ashes which the opening earth threw up in a single night at the foot of the volcano of Jorullo, in Mexico. In fact, the abbe Viera relates, that in 1730, more than half the island changed its appearance. The great volcano, which we have just mentioned, and which the inhabitants call the volcano of Temanfaya, spread desolation over a most fertile and highly cultivated region: nine villages were entirely destroyed by the lavas. This catastrophe had been preceded by a tremendous earthquake, and for several years shocks equally violent were felt. This last phenomenon is so much the more singular, as it seldom happens after an eruption, when the elastic vapours have found vent by the crater, after the ejection of the melted matter. The summit of the great volcano is a rounded hill, but not entirely conic. From the angles of altitude which I took at different distances, its absolute elevation did not appear to exceed three hundred toises. The neighbouring hills, and those of Alegranza and Isla Clara, were scarcely above one hundred or one hundred and twenty toises. We may be surprised at the small elevation of these summits, which, viewed from the sea, wear so majestic a form; but nothing is more uncertain than our judgment on the greatness of angles, which are subtended by objects close to the horizon. From illusions of this sort it arose, that before the measures of Messrs. de Churruca and Galleano, at Cape Pilar, navigators considered the mountains of the straits of Magellan, and those of Terra del Fuego, to be extremely elevated.

The island of Lancerota bore formerly the name of Titeroigotra. On the arrival of the Spaniards, its inhabitants were distinguished from the other Canarians by marks of greater civilization. Their houses were built with freestone, while the Guanches of Teneriffe dwelt in caverns. At Lancerota, a very singular custom prevailed at that time, of which we find no example except among the people of Thibet. A woman had several husbands, who alternately enjoyed the prerogatives due to the head of a family. A husband was considered as such only during a lunar revolution, and whilst his rights were exercised by others, he remained classed among the household domestics. In the fifteenth century the island of Lancerota contained two small distinct states, divided by a wall; a kind of monument which outlives national enmities, and which we find in Scotland, in China, and Peru.

We were forced by the winds to pass between the islands of Alegranza and Montana Clara, and as none on board the sloop had sailed through this passage, we were obliged to be continually sounding. We found from twenty-five to thirty-two fathoms. The lead brought up an organic substance of so singular a structure that we were for a long time doubtful whether it was a zoophyte or a kind of seaweed. The stem, of a brownish colour and three inches long, has circular leaves with lobes, and indented at the edges. The colour of these leaves is a pale green, and they are membranous and streaked like those of the adiantums and Gingko biloba. Their surface is covered with stiff whitish hairs; before their opening they are concave, and enveloped one in the other. We observed no mark of spontaneous motion, no sign of irritability, not even on the application of galvanic electricity. The stem is not woody, but almost of a horny substance, like the stem of the Gorgons. Azote and phosphorus having been abundantly found in several cryptogamous plants, an appeal to chemistry would be useless to determine whether this organized substance belonged to the animal or vegetable kingdom. Its great analogy to several sea-plants, with adiantum leaves, especially the genus caulerpa of M. Lamoureux, of which the Fucus proliter of Forskael is one of the numerous species, engaged us to rank it provisionally among the sea-wracks, and give it the name of Fucus vitifolius. The bristles which cover this plant are found in several other fuci.* (* Fucus lycopodioides, and F. hirsutus.) The leaf, examined with a microscope at the instant we drew it up from the water, did not present, it is true, those conglobate glands, or those opaque points, which the parts of fructification in the genera of ulva and fucus contain; but how often do we find seaweeds in such a state that we cannot yet distinguish any trace of seeds in their transparent parenchyma.

The vine-leaved fucus presents a physiological phenomenon of the greatest interest. Fixed to a piece of madrepore, this seaweed vegetates at the bottom of the ocean, at the depth of 192 feet, notwithstanding which we found its leaves as green as those of our grasses. According to the experiments of Bouguer, light is weakened after a passage of 180 feet in the ratio of 1 to 1477.8. The seaweed of Alegranza consequently presents a new example of plants which vegetate in great obscurity without becoming white. Several germs, enveloped in the bulbs of the lily tribes, the embryo of the malvaceae, of the rhamnoides, of the pistacea, the viscum, and the citrus, the branches of some subterraneous plants; in short, vegetables transported into mines, where the ambient air contains hydrogen or a great quantity of azote, become green without light. From these facts we are inclined to admit that it is not exclusively by the influence of the solar rays that this carburet of hydrogen is formed in the organs of plants, the presence of which makes the parenchyma appear of a lighter or darker green, according as the carbon predominates in the mixture.

Mr. Turner, who has so well made known the family of the seaweeds, as well as many other celebrated botanists, are of opinion that most of the fuci which we gather on the surface of the ocean, and which, from the 23rd to the 35th degree of latitude and 32nd of longitude, appear to the mariner like a vast inundated meadow, grow primitively at the bottom of the ocean, and float only in their ripened state, when torn up by the motion of the waves. If this opinion be well founded, we must agree that the family of seaweeds offers formidable difficulties to naturalists, who persist in thinking that absence of light always produces whiteness; for how can we admit that so many species of ulvaceae and dictyoteae, with stems and green leaves, which float on the ocean, have vegetated on rocks near the surface of the water?

From some notions which the captain of the Pizarro had collected in an old Portuguese itinerary, he thought himself opposite to a small fort, situated north of Teguisa, the capital of the island of Lancerota. Mistaking a rock of basalt for a castle, he saluted it by hoisting the Spanish flag, and sent a boat with an officer to inquire of the commandant whether any English vessels were cruising in the roads. We were not a little surprised to learn that the land which we had considered as a prolongation of the coast of Lancerota, was the small island of Graciosa, and that for several leagues there was not an inhabited place. We took advantage of the boat to survey the land, which enclosed a large bay.

The small part of the island of Graciosa which we traversed, resembles those promontories of lava seen near Naples, between Portici and Torre del Greco. The rocks are naked, with no marks of vegetation, and scarcely any of vegetable soil. A few crustaceous lichen-like variolariae, leprariae, and urceorariae, were scattered about upon the basalts. The lavas which are not covered with volcanic ashes remain for ages without any appearance of vegetation. On the African soil excessive heat and lengthened drought retard the growth of cryptogamous plants.

The basalts of Graciosa are not in columns, but are divided into strata ten or fifteen inches thick. These strata are inclined at an angle of 80 degrees to the north-west. The compact basalt alternates with the strata of porous basalt and marl. The rock does not contain hornblende, but great crystals of foliated olivine, which have a triple cleavage.* (* Blaettriger olivin.) This substance is decomposed with great difficulty. M. Hauy considers it a variety of the pyroxene. The porous basalt, which passes into mandelstein, has oblong cavities from two to eight lines in diameter, lined with chalcedony, enclosing fragments of compact basalt. I did not remark that these cavities had the same direction, or that the porous rock lay on compact strata, as happens in the currents of lava of Etna and Vesuvius. The marl,* (* Mergel.) which alternates more than a hundred times with the basalts, is yellowish, friable by decomposition, very coherent in the inside, and often divided into irregular prisms, analogous to the basaltic prisms. The sun discolours their surface, as it whitens several schists, by reviving a hydro-carburetted principle, which appears to be combined with the earth. The marl of Graciosa contains a great quantity of chalk, and strongly effervesces with nitric acid, even on points where it is found in contact with the basalt. This fact is the more remarkable, as this substance does not fill the fissures of the rock, but its strata are parallel to those of the basalt; whence we may conclude that both fossils are of the same formation, and have a common origin. The phenomenon of a basaltic rock containing masses of indurated marl split into small columns, is also found in the Mittelgebirge, in Bohemia. Visiting those countries in 1792, in company with Mr. Freiesleben, we even recognized in the marl of the Stiefelberg the imprint of a plant nearly resembling the Cerastium, or the Alsine. Are these strata, contained in the trappean mountains, owing to muddy irruptions, or must we consider them as sediments of water, which alternate with volcanic deposits? This last hypothesis seems so much the less admissible, since, from the researches of Sir James Hall on the influence of pressure in fusions, the existence of carbonic acid in substances contained in basalt presents nothing surprising. Several lavas of Vesuvius present similar phenomena. In Lombardy, between Vicenza and Albano, where the calcareous stone of the Jura contains great masses of basalt, I have seen the latter enter into effervescence with the acids wherever it touches the calcareous rock.

We had not time to reach the summit of a hill very remarkable for having its base formed of banks of clay under strata of basalt, like a mountain in Saxony, called the Scheibenbergen Hugel, which is become celebrated on account of the disputes of volcanean and neptunean geologists. These basalts were covered with a mammiform substance, which I vainly sought on the Peak of Teneriffe, and which is known by the names of volcanic glass, glass of Muller, or hyalite: it is the transition from the opal to the chalcedony. We struck off with difficulty some fine specimens, leaving masses that were eight or ten inches square untouched. I never saw in Europe such fine hyalites as I found in the island of Graciosa, and on the rock of porphyry called el Penol de los Banos, on the bank of the lake of Mexico.

Two kinds of sand cover the shore; one is black and basaltic, the other white and quartzose. In a place exposed to the rays of the sun, the first raised the thermometer to 51.2 degrees (41 degrees R.) and the second to 40 degrees (32 degrees R.) The temperature of the air in the shade was 27.7 or 7.5 degrees higher than that of the air over the sea. The quartzose sand contains fragments of feldspar. It is thrown back by the water, and forms, in some sort, on the surface of the rocks, small islets on which seaweed vegetates. Fragments of granite have been observed at Teneriffe; the island of Gomora, from the details furnished me by M. Broussonnet, contains a nucleus of micaceous schist:—the quartz disseminated in the sand, which we found on the shore of Graciosa, is a different substance from the lavas and the trappean porphyries so intimately connected with volcanic productions. From these facts it seems to be evident that in the Canary Islands, as well as on the Andes of Quito, in Auvergne, in Greece, and throughout the greater part of the globe, subterraneous fires have pierced through the rocks of primitive formation. In treating hereafter of the great number of warm springs which we have seen issuing from granite, gneiss, and micaceous schist, we shall have occasion to return to this subject, which is one of the most important of the physical history of the globe.

We re-embarked at sunset, and hoisted sail, but the breeze was too feeble to permit us to continue our course to Teneriffe. The sea was calm; a reddish vapour covered the horizon, and seemed to magnify every object. In this solitude, amidst so many uninhabited islets, we enjoyed for a long time the view of rugged and wild scenery. The black mountains of Graciosa appeared like perpendicular walls five or six hundred feet high. Their shadows, thrown over the surface of the ocean, gave a gloomy aspect to the scenery. Rocks of basalt, emerging from the bosom of the waters, wore the resemblance of the ruins of some vast edifice, and carried our thoughts back to the remote period when submarine volcanoes gave birth to new islands, or rent continents asunder. Every thing which surrounded us seemed to indicate destruction and sterility; but the back-ground of the picture, the coasts of Lancerota presented a more smiling aspect. In a narrow pass between two hills, crowned with scattered tufts of trees, marks of cultivation were visible. The last rays of the sun gilded the corn ready for the sickle. Even the desert is animated wherever we can discover a trace of the industry of man.

We endeavoured to get out of this bay by the pass which separates Alegranza from Montana Clara, and through which we had easily entered to land at the northern point of Graciosa. The wind having fallen, the currents drove us very near a rock, on which the sea broke with violence, and which is noted in the old charts under the name of Hell, or Infierno. As we examined this rock at the distance of two cables' length, we found that it was a mass of lava three or four toises high, full of cavities, and covered with scoriae resembling coke. We may presume that this rock,* (* I must here observe, that this rock is noted on the celebrated Venetian chart of Andrea Bianco, but that the name of Infierno is given, as in the more ancient chart of Picigano, made in 1367, to Teneriffe, without doubt because the Guanches considered the peak as the entrance into hell. In the same latitudes an island made its appearance in 1811.) which modern charts call the West Rock (Roca del Oeste), was raised by volcanic fire; and it might heretofore have been much higher; for the new island of the Azores, which rose from the sea at successive periods, in 1638 and 1719, had reached 354 feet when it totally disappeared in 1723, to the depth of 480 feet. This opinion on the origin of the basaltic mass of the Infierno is confirmed by a phenomenon, which was observed about the middle of the last century in these same latitudes. At the time of the eruption of the volcano of Temanfaya, two pyramidal hills of lithoid lava rose from the bottom of the ocean, and gradually united themselves with the island of Lancerota.

As we were prevented by the fall of the wind, and by the currents, from repassing the channel of Alegranza, we resolved on tacking during the night between the island of Clara and the West Rock. This resolution had nearly proved fatal. A calm is very dangerous near this rock, towards which the current drives with considerable force. We began to feel the effects of this current at midnight. The proximity of the stony masses, which rise perpendicularly above the water, deprived us of the little wind which blew: the sloop no longer obeyed the helm, and we dreaded striking every instant. It is difficult to conceive how a mass of basalt, insulated in the vast expanse of the ocean, can cause so considerable a motion of the waters. These phenomena, worthy the attention of naturalists, are well known to mariners; they are extremely to be dreaded in the Pacific ocean, particularly in the small archipelago of the islands of Galapagos. The difference of temperature which exists between the fluid and the mass of rocks does not explain the direction which these currents take; and how can we admit that the water is engulfed at the base of these rocks, (which often are not of volcanic origin) and that this continual engulfing determines the particles of water to fill up the vacuum that takes place.

The wind having freshened a little towards the morning on the 18th, we succeeded in passing the channel. We drew very near the Infierno the second time, and remarked the large crevices, through which the gaseous fluids probably issued, when this basaltic mass was raised. We lost sight of the small islands of Alegranza, Montana Clara, and Graciosa, which appear never to have been inhabited by the Guanches. They are now visited only for the purpose of gathering archil, which production is, however, less sought after, since so many other lichens of the north of Europe have been found to yield materials proper for dyeing. Montana Clara is noted for its beautiful canary-birds. The note of these birds varies with their flocks, like that of our chaffinches, which often differs in two neighbouring districts. Montana Clara yields pasture for goats, a fact which proves that the interior of this islet is less arid than its coasts. The name of Alegranza is synonymous with the Joyous, (La Joyeuse,) which denomination it received from the first conquerors of the Canary Islands, the two Norman barons, Jean de Bethencourt and Gadifer de Salle. This was the first point on which they landed. After remaining several days at Graciosa, a small part of which we examined, they conceived the project of taking possession of the neighbouring island of Lancerota, where they were welcomed by Guadarfia, sovereign of the Guanches, with the same hospitality that Cortez found in the palace of Montezuma. The shepherd king, who had no other riches than his goats, became the victim of base treachery, like the sultan of Mexico.

We sailed along the coasts of Lancerota, of the island of Lobos, and of Forteventura. The second of these islands seems to have anciently formed part of the two others. This geological hypothesis was started in the seventeenth century by the Franciscan, Juan Galindo. That writer supposed that king Juba had named six Canary Islands only, because, in his time, three among them were contiguous. Without admitting the probability of this hypothesis, some learned geographers have imagined they recognized, in the two islands Nivaria and Ombrios, the Canaria and Capraria of the ancients.

The haziness of the horizon prevented us, during the whole of our passage from Lancerota to Teneriffe, from discovering the summit of the peak of Teyde. If the height of this volcano is 1905 toises, as the last trigonometrical measure of Borda indicates, its summit ought to be visible at a distance of 43 leagues, supposing the eye on a level with the ocean, and a refraction equal to 0.079 of distance. It has been doubted whether the peak has ever been seen from the channel which separates Lancerota from Forteventura, and which is distant from the volcano, according to the chart of Varela, 2 degrees 29 minutes, or nearly 50 leagues. This phenomenon appears nevertheless to have been verified by several officers of the Spanish navy. I had in my hand, on board the Pizarro, a journal, in which it was noted, that the peak of Teneriffe had been seen at 135 miles distance, near the southern cape of Lancerota, called Pichiguera. Its summit was discovered under an angle considerable enough to lead the observer, Don Manual Baruti, to conclude that the volcano might have been visible at nine miles farther. It was in September, towards evening, and in very damp weather. Reckoning fifteen feet for the elevation of the eye, I find, that to render an account of this phenomenon, we must suppose a refraction equal to 0.158 of the arch, which is not very extraordinary for the temperate zone. According to the observations of General Roy, the refractions vary in England from one-twentieth to one-third; and if it be true that they reach these extreme limits on the coast of Africa, (which I much doubt,) the peak, in certain circumstances, may be seen on the deck of a vessel as far off as 61 leagues.

Navigators who have much frequented these latitudes, and who can reflect on the physical causes of the phenomena, are surprised that the peaks of Teyde and of the Azores* (* The height of this peak of the Azores, according to Fleurieu, is 1100 toises; to Ferrer, 1238 toises; and to Tofino, 1260 toises: but these measures are only approximative estimates. The captain of the Pizarro, Don Manuel Cagigal, proved to me, by his journal, that he observed the peak of the Azores at the distance of 37 leagues, when he was sure of his latitude within two minutes. The volcano was seen at 4 degrees south-east, so that the error in longitude must have an almost imperceptible influence in the estimation of the distance. Nevertheless, the angle which the peak of the Azores subtended was so great, that the captain of the Pizarro was of opinion this volcano must be visible at more than 40 or 42 leagues. The distance of 37 leagues supposes an elevation of 1431 toises.) are sometimes visible at a very great distance, though at other times they are not seen when the distance is much less, and the sky appears serene and the horizon free from fogs. These circumstances are the more worthy of attention because vessels returning to Europe, sometimes wait impatiently for a sight of these mountains, to rectify their longitude; and think themselves much farther off than they really are, when in fine weather these peaks are not perceptible at distances where the angles subtended must be very considerable. The constitution of the atmosphere has a great influence on the visibility of distant objects. It may be admitted, that in general the peak of Teneriffe is seldom seen at a great distance, in the warm and dry months of July and August; and that, on the contrary, it is seen at very extraordinary distances in the months of January and February, when the sky is slightly clouded, and immediately after a heavy rain, or a few hours before it falls. It appears that the transparency of the air is prodigiously increased, as we have already observed, when a certain quantity of water is uniformly diffused through the atmosphere. Independent of these observations, it is not astonishing, that the peak of Teyde should be seldomer visible at a very remote distance, than the summits of the Andes, to which, during so long a time, my observations were directed. This peak, inferior in height to those parts of the chain of Mount Atlas at the foot of which is the city of Morocco, is not, like those points, covered with perpetual snows. The Piton, or Sugar-loaf, which terminates the peak, no doubt reflects a great quantity of light, owing to the whitish colour of the pumice-stone thrown up by the crater; but the height of that little truncated cone does not form a twenty-second part of the total elevation. The flanks of the volcano are covered either with blocks of black and scorified lava, or with a luxuriant vegetation, the masses of which reflect the less light, as the leaves of the trees are separated from each other by shadows of more considerable extent than that of the part enlightened.

Hence it results that, setting aside the Piton, the peak of Teyde belongs to that class of mountains, which, according to the expression of Bouger, are seen at considerable distances only in a NEGATIVE MANNER, because they intercept the light which is transmitted to us from the extreme limits of the atmosphere; and we perceive their existence only on account of the difference of intensity subsisting between the aerial light which surrounds them, and that which is reflected by the particles of air placed between the mountains and the eye of the observer. As we withdraw from the isle of Teneriffe, the Piton or Sugar-loaf is seen for a considerable space of time in a POSITIVE MANNER, because it reflects a whitish light, and clearly detaches itself from the sky. But as this cone is only 80 toises high, by 40 in breadth at its summit, it has recently been a question whether, from the diminutiveness of its mass, it can be visible at distances which exceed 40 leagues; and whether it be not probable, that navigators distinguish the peaks as a small cloud above the horizon, only when the base of the Piton begins to be visible on it. If we admit, that the mean breadth of the Sugar-loaf is 100 toises, we find that the little cone, at 40 leagues distance, still subtends, in the horizontal direction, an angle of more than three minutes. This angle is considerable enough to render an object visible; and if the height of the Piton greatly exceeded its base, the angle in the horizontal direction might be still smaller, and the object still continue to make an impression on our visual organs; for micrometrical observations have proved that the limit of vision is but a minute only, when the dimensions of the objects are the same in every direction. We distinguish at a distance, by the eye only, trunks of trees insulated in a vast plain, though the subtended angle be under twenty-five seconds.

As the visibility of an object detaching itself in a brown colour, depends on the quantities of light which the eye meets on two lines, one of which ends at the mountain, and the other extends to the surface of the aerial ocean, it follows that the farther we remove from the object, the smaller the difference becomes between the light of the surrounding atmosphere, and that of the strata of air before the mountain. For this reason, when less elevated summits begin to appear above the horizon, they present themselves at first under a darker hue than those we discern at very great distances. In the same manner, the visibility of mountains seen only in a negative manner, does not depend solely on the state of the lower regions of the air, to which our meteorological observations are limited, but also on the transparency and physical constitution of the air in the most elevated parts; for the image detaches itself better in proportion as the aerial light, which comes from the limits of the atmosphere, has been originally more intense, or has undergone less loss in its passage. This consideration explains to a certain point, why, under a perfectly serene sky, the state of the thermometer and the hygrometer being precisely the same in the air nearest the earth, the peak is sometimes visible, and at other times invisible, to navigators at equal distances. It is even probable, that the chance of perceiving this volcano would not be greater, if the ashy cone, at the summit of which is the mouth of the crater, were equal, as in Vesuvius, to a quarter of the total height. These ashes, being pumice-stone crumbled into dust, do not reflect as much light as the snow of the Andes; and they cause the mountain, seen from afar, to detach itself not in a bright, but in a dark hue. The ashes also contribute, if we may use the expression, to equalize the portions of aerial light, the variable difference of which renders the object more or less distinctly visible. Calcareous mountains, devoid of vegetable earth, summits covered with granitic sand, the high savannahs of the Cordilleras,* (* Los Pajonales, from paja, straw. This is the name given to the region of the gramina, which encircles the zone of the perpetual snows.) which are of a golden yellow, are undoubtedly distinguished at small distances better than objects which are seen in a negative manner; but the theory indicates a certain limit, beyond which these last detach themselves more distinctly from the azure vault of the sky.

The colossal summits of Quito and Peru, towering above the limit of the perpetual snows, concentre all the peculiarities which must render them visible at very small angles. The circular summit of the peak of Teneriffe is only a hundred toises in diameter. According to the measures I made at Riobamba, in 1803, the dome of the Chimborazo, 153 toises below its summit, consequently in a point which is 1300 toises higher than the peak, is still 673 toises (1312 metres) in breadth. The zone of perpetual snows also forms a fourth of the height of the mountain; and the base of this zone, seen on the coast of the Pacific, fills an extent of 3437 toises (6700 metres). But though Chimborazo is two-thirds higher than the peak, we do not see it, on account of the curve of the globe, at more than 38 miles and a third farther distant. The radiant brilliancy of its snows, when, at the port of Guayaquil, at the close of the rainy season, Chimborazo is discerned on the horizon, may lead us to suppose, that it must be seen at a very great distance in the South Sea. Pilots highly worthy of credit have assured me, that they have seen it from the rock of Muerto, to the south west of the isle of Puna, at a distance of 47 leagues. Whenever it has been seen at a greater distance, the observers, uncertain of their longitude, have not been in a situation to furnish precise data.

Aerial light, projected on mountains, increases the visibility of those which are seen positively; its power diminishes, on the contrary, the visibility of objects which, like the peak of Teneriffe and that of the Azores, detach themselves in a brown tint. Bouguer, relying on theoretical considerations, was of opinion that, according to the constitution of our atmosphere, mountains seen negatively cannot be perceived at distances exceeding 35 leagues. It is important here to observe, that these calculations are contrary to experience. The peak of Teneriffe has been often seen at the distance of 36, 38, and even at 40 leagues. Moreover, in the vicinity of the Sandwich Islands, the summit of Mowna-Roa, at a season when it was without snows, has been seen on the skirt of the horizon, at the distance of 53 leagues. This is the most striking example we have hitherto known of the visibility of a mountain; and it is the more remarkable, that an object seen negatively furnishes this example.

The volcanoes of Teneriffe, and of the Azores, the Sierra Nevada of Santa Martha, the peak of Orizaba, the Silla of Caracas, Mowna-Roa, and Mount St. Elias, insulated in the vast extent of the seas, or placed on the coasts of continents, serve as sea-marks to direct the pilot, when he has no means of determining the position of the vessel by the observation of the stars; everything which has a relation to the visibility of these natural seamarks, is interesting to the safety of navigation.
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Re: Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions

Postby admin » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:58 am

Part 1 of 4


From the time of our departure from Graciosa, the horizon continued so hazy, that, notwithstanding the considerable height of the mountains of Canary,* (* Isla de la Gran Canaria.) we did not discover that island till the evening of the 18th of June. It is the granary of the archipelago of the Fortunate Islands; and, what is very remarkable in a region situated beyond the limits of the tropics, we were assured, that in some districts, there are two wheat harvests in the year; one in February, and the other in June. Canary has never been visited by a learned mineralogist; yet this island is so much the more worthy of observation, as the physiognomy of its mountains, disposed in parallel chains, appeared to me to differ entirely from that of the summits of Lancerota and Teneriffe. Nothing is more interesting to the geologist, than to observe the relations, on the same point of the globe, between volcanic countries, and those which are primitive or secondary. When the Canary Islands shall have been examined, in all the parts which compose the system of these mountains, we shall find that we have been too precipitate in considering the whole group as raised by the action of submarine fires.

On the morning of the 19th, we discovered the point of Naga, but the peak of Teneriffe was still invisible: the land, obscured by a thick mist, presented forms that were vague and confused. As we approached the road of Santa Cruz we observed that the mist, driven by the winds, drew nearer to us. The sea was strongly agitated, as it most commonly is in those latitudes. We anchored after several soundings, for the mist was so thick, that we could scarcely distinguish objects at a few cables' distance; but at the moment we began to salute the place, the fog was instantly dispelled. The peak of Teyde appeared in a break above the clouds, and the first rays of the sun, which had not yet risen on us, illumined the summit of the volcano.

We hastened to the prow of the vessel to behold the magnificent spectacle, and at the same instant we saw four English vessels lying to, and very near our stern. We had passed without being perceived, and the same mist which had concealed the peak from our view, had saved us from the risk of being carried back to Europe. The Pizarro stood in as close as possible to the fort, to be under its protection. It was on this shore, that, in the landing attempted by the English two years before our arrival, in July 1797, admiral Nelson had his arm carried off by a cannon-ball.

The situation of the town of Santa Cruz is very similar to that of La Guayra, the most frequented port of the province of Caraccas. The heat is excessive in both places, and from the same causes; but the aspect of Santa Cruz is more gloomy. On a narrow and sandy beach, houses of dazzling whiteness, with flat roofs, and windows without glass, are built close against a wall of black perpendicular rock, devoid of vegetation. A fine mole, built of freestone, and the public walk planted with poplars, are the only objects which break the sameness of the landscape. The view of the peak, as it presents itself above Santa Cruz, is much less picturesque than that we enjoy from the port of Orotava. There, a highly cultured and smiling plain presents a pleasing contrast to the wild aspect of the volcano. From the groups of palm trees and bananas which line the coast, to the region of the arbutus, the laurel, and the pine, the volcanic rock is crowned with luxuriant vegetation. We easily conceive how the inhabitants, even of the beautiful climates of Greece and Italy, might fancy they recognised one of the Fortunate Isles in the western part of Teneriffe. The eastern side, that of Santa Cruz, on the contrary, is every where stamped with sterility. The summit of the peak is not more arid than the promontory of basaltic lava, which stretches towards the point of Naga, and on which succulent plants, springing up in the clefts of the rocks, scarcely indicate a preparation of soil. At the port of Orotava, the top of the Piton subtends an angle in height of more than eleven degrees and a half; while at the mole of Santa Cruz* (* The oblique distances from the top of the volcano to Orotava and to Santa Cruz are nearly 8600 toises and 22,500 toises.) the angle scarcely exceeds 4 degrees 36 minutes.

Notwithstanding this difference, and though in the latter place the volcano rises above the horizon scarcely as much as Vesuvius seen from the mole of Naples, the aspect of the peak is still very majestic, when those who anchor in the road discern it for the first time. The Piton alone was visible to us; its cone projected itself on a sky of the purest blue, whilst dark thick clouds enveloped the rest of the mountain to the height of 1800 toises. The pumice-stone, illumined by the first rays of the sun, reflected a reddish light, like that which tinges the summits of the higher Alps. This light by degrees becomes dazzlingly white; and, deceived like most travellers, we thought that the peak was still covered with snow, and that we should with difficulty reach the edge of the crater.

We have remarked, in the Cordillera of the Andes, that the conical mountains, such as Cotopaxi and Tungurahua, are oftener seen free from clouds, than those of which the tops are broken into bristly points, like Antisana and Pichincha; but the peak of Teneriffe, notwithstanding its pyramidical form, is a great part of the year enveloped in vapours, and is sometimes, during several weeks, invisible from the road of Santa Cruz. Its position to the west of an immense continent, and its insulated situation in the midst of the sea, are no doubt the causes of this phenomenon. Navigators are well aware that even the smallest islets, and those which are without mountains, collect and harbour the clouds. The decrement of heat is also different above the plains of Africa, and above the surface of the Atlantic; and the strata of air, brought by the trade winds, cool in proportion as they advance towards the west. If the air has been extremely dry above the burning sands of the desert, it is very quickly saturated when it enters into contact with the surface of the sea, or with the air that lies on that surface. It is easy to conceive, therefore, why vapours become visible in the atmospherical strata, which, at a distance from the continent, have no longer the same temperature as when they began to be saturated with water. The considerable mass of a mountain, rising in the midst of the Atlantic, is also an obstacle to the clouds, which are driven out to sea by the winds.

On entering the streets of Santa Cruz, we felt a suffocating heat, though the thermometer was not above twenty-five degrees. Those who have for a long time inhaled the air of the sea suffer every time they land; not because this air contains more oxygen than the air on shore, as has been erroneously supposed, but because it is less charged with those gaseous combinations, which the animal and vegetable substances, and the mud resulting from their decomposition, pour into the atmosphere. Miasms that escape chemical analysis have a powerful effect on our organs, especially when they have not for a long while been exposed to the same kind of irritation.

Santa Cruz, the Anaza of the Guanches, is a neat town, with a population of 8000 souls. I was not struck with the vast number of monks and secular ecclesiastics, which travellers have thought themselves bound to find in every country under the Spanish government; nor shall I stop to enter into the description of the churches; the library of the Dominicans, which contains scarcely a few hundred volumes; the mole, where the inhabitants assemble to inhale the freshness of the evening breeze; or the famed monument of Carrara marble, thirty feet high, dedicated to Our Lady of Candelaria, in memory of the miraculous appearance of the Virgin, in 1392, at Chimisay, near Guimar. The port of Santa Cruz may be considered as a great caravanserai, on the road to America and the Indies. Every traveller who writes the narrative of his adventures, begins by a description of Madeira and Teneriffe; and if in the natural history of these islands there yet remains an immense field untrodden, we must admit that the topography of the little towns of Funchal, Santa Cruz, Laguna, and Orotava, leaves scarcely anything untold.

The recommendation of the court of Madrid procured for us, in the Canaries, as in all the other Spanish possessions, the most satisfactory reception. The captain-general gave us immediate permission to examine the island. Colonel Armiaga, who commanded a regiment of infantry, received us into his house with kind hospitality. We could not cease admiring the banana, the papaw tree, the Poinciana pulcherrima, and other plants, which we had hitherto seen only in hot-houses, cultivated in his garden in the open air. The climate of the Canaries however is not warm enough to ripen the real Platano Arton, with triangular fruit from seven to eight inches long, and which, requiring a temperature of 24 centesimal degrees, does not flourish even in the valley of Caracas. The bananas of Teneriffe are those named by the Spanish planters Camburis or Guineos, and Dominicos. The Camburi, which suffers least from cold, is cultivated with success even at Malaga, where the temperature is only 18 degrees; but the fruit we see occasionally at Cadiz comes from the Canary Islands by vessels which make the passage in three or four days. In general, the musa, known by every people under the torrid zone, though hitherto never found in a wild state, has as great a variety of fruit as our apple and pear trees. These varieties, which are confounded by the greater part of botanists, though they require very different climates, have become permanent by long cultivation.

We went to herborize in the evening in the direction of the fort of Passo Alto, along the basaltic rocks that close the promontory of Naga. We were very little satisfied with our harvest, for the drought and dust had almost destroyed vegetation. The Cacalia Kleinia, the Euphorbia canariensis, and several other succulent plants, which draw their nourishment from the air rather than the soil on which they grow, reminded us by their appearance, that this group of islands belongs to Africa, and even to the most arid part of that continent.

Though the captain of the Pizarro had orders to stop long enough at Teneriffe to give us time to scale the summit of the peak, if the snows did not prevent our ascent, we received notice, on account of the blockade of the English ships, not to expect a longer delay than four or five days. We consequently hastened our departure for the port of Orotava, which is situated on the western declivity of the volcano, where we were sure of finding guides. I could find no one at Santa Cruz who had mounted the peak, and I was not surprised at this. The most curious objects become less interesting, in proportion as they are near to us; and I have known inhabitants of Schaffhausen, in Switzerland, who had never seen the fall of the Rhine but at a distance.

On the 20th of June, before sunrise, we began our excursion by ascending to the Villa de Laguna, estimated to be at the elevation of 350 toises above the port of Santa Cruz. We could not verify this estimate of the height, the surf not having permitted us to return on board during the night, to take our barometers and dipping-needle. As we foresaw that our expedition to the peak would be very precipitate, we consoled ourselves with the reflection that it was well not to expose instruments which were to serve us in countries less known by Europeans. The road by which we ascended to Laguna is on the right of a torrent, or baranco, which in the rainy season forms fine cascades; it is narrow and tortuous. Near the town we met some white camels, which seemed to be very slightly laden. The chief employment of these animals is to transport merchandise from the custom-house to the warehouses of the merchants. They are generally laden with two chests of Havannah sugar, which together weigh 900 pounds; but this load may be augmented to thirteen hundred-weight, or 52 arrobas of Castile. Camels are not numerous at Teneriffe, whilst they exist by thousands in the two islands of Lancerota and Forteventura; the climate and vegetation of these islands, which are situated nearer Africa, are more analogous to those of that continent. It is very extraordinary, that this useful animal, which breeds in South America, should be seldom propagated at Teneriffe. In the fertile district of Adexe only, where the plantations of the sugar-cane are most considerable, camels have sometimes been known to breed. These beasts of burden, as well as horses, were brought into the Canary Islands in the fifteenth century by the Norman conquerors. The Guanches were previously unacquainted with them; and this fact seems to be very well accounted for by the difficulty of transporting an animal of such bulk in frail canoes, without the necessity of considering the Guanches as a remnant of the people of Atlantis, or a different race from that of the western Africans.

The hill, on which the town of San Christobal de la Laguna is built, belongs to the system of basaltic mountains, which, independent of the system of less ancient volcanic rocks, form a broad girdle around the peak of Teneriffe. The basalt on which we walked was darkish brown, compact, half-decomposed, and when breathed on, emitted a clayey smell. We discovered amphibole, olivine,* (* Peridot granuliforme. Hauy.) and translucid pyroxenes, * (* Augite.—Werner.) with a perfectly lamellar fracture, of a pale olive green, and often crystallized in prisms of six planes. The first of these substances is extremely rare at Teneriffe; and I never found it in the lavas of Vesuvius; but those of Etna contain it in abundance. Notwithstanding the great number of blocks, which we stopped to break, to the great regret of our guides, we could discover neither nepheline, leucite,* (* Amphigene.—Hauy.) nor feldspar. This last, which is so common in the basaltic lavas of the island of Ischia, does not begin to appear at Teneriffe, till we approach the volcano. The rock of Laguna is not columnar, but is divided into ledges, of small thickness, and inclined to the east at an angle of 30 or 40 degrees. It has nowhere the appearance of a current of lava flowing from the sides of the peak. If the present volcano has given birth to these basalts, we must suppose, that, like the substances which compose the Somma, at the back of Vesuvius, they are the effect of a submarine effusion, in which the liquid mass has formed strata. A few arborescent Euphorbias, the Cacalia Kleinia, and Indian figs (Cactus), which have become wild in the Canary Islands, as well as in the south of Europe and the whole continent of Africa, are the only plants we see on these arid rocks. The feet of our mules were slipping every moment on beds of stone, which were very steep. We nevertheless recognized the remains of an ancient pavement. In these colonies we discover at every step some traces of that activity which characterized the Spanish nation in the 16th century.

As we approached Laguna, we felt the temperature of the atmosphere gradually become lower. This sensation was so much the more agreeable, as we found the air of Santa Cruz very oppressive. As our organs are more affected by disagreeable impressions, the change of temperature becomes still more sensible when we return from Laguna to the port: we seem then to be drawing near the mouth of a furnace. The same impression is felt, when, on the coast of Caracas, we descend from the mountain of Avila to the port of La Guayra. According to the law of the decrement of heat, three hundred and fifty toises in height produce in this latitude only three or four degrees difference in temperature. The heat which overpowers the traveller on his entrance into Santa Cruz, or La Guayra, must consequently be attributed to the reverberation from the rocks, against which these towns are built.

The perpetual coolness which prevails at Laguna causes it to be considered in the Canaries a delightful abode. Situated in a small plain, surrounded by gardens, protected by a hill which is crowned by a wood of laurels, myrtle, and arbutus, the capital of Teneriffe is very beautifully placed. We should be mistaken if, relying on the account of some travellers, we believed it seated on the border of a lake. The rain sometimes forms a sheet of water of considerable extent; and the geologist, who beholds in everything the past rather than the present state of nature, can have no doubt but that the whole plain is a great basin dried up. Laguna has fallen from its opulence, since the lateral eruptions of the volcano have destroyed the port of Garachico, and since Santa Cruz has become the central point of the commerce of the island. It contains only 9000 inhabitants, of whom nearly 400 are monks, distributed in six convents. The town is surrounded with a great number of windmills, which indicate the cultivation of wheat in these high countries. I shall observe on this occasion, that different kinds of grain were known to the Guanches. They called wheat at Teneriffe tano, at Lancerota triffa; barley, in the grand Canary, bore the name of aramotanoque, and at Lancerota it was called tamosen. The flour of roasted barley (gofio) and goat's-milk constituted the principal food of the people, on the origin of which so many systematic fables have been current. These aliments sufficiently prove that the race of the Guanches belonged to the nations of the old continent, perhaps to those of Caucasus, and not like the rest of the Atlantides,* to the inhabitants of the New World (* Without entering here into any discussion respecting the existence of the Atlantis, I may cite the opinion of Diodorus Siculus, according to whom the Atlantides were ignorant of the use of corn, because they were separated from the rest of mankind before these gramina were cultivated.); these, before the arrival of the Europeans, were unacquainted with corn, milk, and cheese.

A great number of chapels, which the Spaniards call ermitas, encircle the town of Laguna. Shaded by trees of perpetual verdure, and erected on small eminences, these chapels add to the picturesque effect of the landscape. The interior of the town is not equal to its external appearance. The houses are solidly built, but very antique, and the streets seem deserted. A botanist ought not to complain of the antiquity of the edifices. The roofs and walls are covered with Canary house-leek and those elegant trichomanes, mentioned by every traveller. These plants are nourished by the abundant mists.

Mr. Anderson, the naturalist in the third voyage of captain Cook, advises physicians to send their patients to Teneriffe, on account of the mildness of the temperature and the equal climate of the Canaries. The ground on these islands rises in an amphitheatre, and presents simultaneously, as in Peru and Mexico, the temperature of every climate, from the heat of Africa to the cold of the higher Alps. Santa Cruz, the port of Orotava, the town of the same name, and that of Laguna, are four places, the mean temperatures of which form a descending series. In the south of Europe the change of the seasons is too sensibly felt to present the same advantages. Teneriffe, on the contrary, situated as it were on the threshold of the tropics, though but a few days' sail from Spain, shares in the charms which nature has lavished on the equinoctial regions. Vegetation here displays some of her fairest and most majestic forms in the banana and the palm-tree. He who is alive to the charms of nature finds in this delicious island remedies still more potent than the climate. No abode appeared to me more fitted to dissipate melancholy, and restore peace to the perturbed mind, than that of Teneriffe or Madeira. These advantages are the effect not of the beauty of the site and the purity of the air alone: the moral feeling is no longer harrowed up by the sight of slavery, the presence of which is so revolting in the West Indies, and in every other place to which European colonists have conveyed what they call their civilization and their industry.

In winter the climate of Laguna is extremely foggy, and the inhabitants often complain of the cold. A fall of snow, however, has never been seen; a fact which may seem to indicate that the mean temperature of this town must be above 18.7 degrees (15 degrees R.), that is to say, higher than that of Naples. I do not lay this down as an unexceptional conclusion, for in winter the refrigeration of the clouds does not depend so much on the mean temperature of the whole year, as on the instantaneous diminution of heat to which a district is exposed by its local situation. The mean temperature of the capital of Mexico, for instance, is only 16.8 degrees (13.5 degrees R.), nevertheless, in the space of a hundred years snow has fallen only once, while in the south of Europe and in Africa it snows in places where the mean temperature is above 19 degrees.

The vicinity of the sea renders the climate of Laguna more mild in winter than might be expected, arising from its elevation above the level of the ocean. I was astonished to learn that M. Broussonnet had planted in the midst of this town, in the garden of the Marquis de Nava, the bread-fruit tree (Artocarpus incisa), and cinnamon-tree (Laurus Cinnamomum). These valuable productions of the South Sea and the East Indies are naturalized there as well as at Orotava. Does not this fact prove that the bread-fruit might flourish in Calabria, Sicily, and Granada? The culture of the coffee-tree has not equally succeeded at Laguna, though its fruit ripens at Teguesta, as well as between the port of Orotava and the village of St. Juan de la Rambla. It is probable that some local circumstances, perhaps the nature of the soil and the winds that prevail in the flowering season, are the cause of this phenomenon. In other regions, in the neighbourhood of Naples, for instance, the coffee-tree thrives abundantly, though the mean temperature scarcely rises above 18 centigrade degrees.

No person has ascertained in the island of Teneriffe, the lowest height at which snow falls every year. This fact, though easy of verification by barometrical measurements, has hitherto been generally neglected under every zone. It is nevertheless highly interesting both to agriculture in the colonies and meteorology, and fully as important as the measure of the limit of the perpetual snows. My observations furnished me with the data, set down in the following table:—

Column 1: North latitude.

Column 2: Lowest height in toises at which snow falls.

Column 3: Lowest height in metres at which snow falls.

Column 4: Inferior limit in toises of the perpetual snows.

Column 5: Inferior limit in metres of the perpetual snows.

Column 6: Difference in toises of columns 4 and 5.

Column 7: Difference in metres of columns 4 and 5.

Column 8: Mean temperature degrees centigrade.

Column 9: Mean temperature degrees Reaum.

0 : 2040 : 3976 : 2460 : 4794 : 420 : 818 : 27 : 21.6.

20 : 1550 : 3020 : 2360 : 4598 : 810 : 1578 : 24.5 : 19.6.

40 : 0 : 0 : 1540 : 3001 : 1540 : 3001 : 17 : 13.6.

This table presents only the ordinary state of nature, that is to say, the phenomena as they are annually observed. Exceptions founded on particular local circumstances, exist. Thus it sometimes snows, though seldom, at Naples, at Lisbon, and even at Malaga, consequently as low as the 37th degree of latitude: and, as we have just observed, snow has been seen to fall at Mexico, the elevation of which is 1173 toises above the level of the ocean. This phenomenon, which had not been seen for several centuries, took place on the day that the Jesuits were expelled, and was attributed by the people to that act of severity. A more striking exception was found in the climate of Valladolid, the capital of the province of Mechoacan. According to my measures, the height of this town, situate in latitude 19 degrees 42 minutes, is only a thousand toises: and yet, a few years before our arrival in New Spain, the streets were covered with snow for some hours.

Snow had been seen to fall also at Teneriffe, in a place lying above Esperanza de la Laguna, very near the town of that name, in the gardens of which the artocarpus flourishes. This extraordinary fact was confirmed to M. Broussonnet by very aged persons. The Erica arborea, the Myrica Faya, and the Arbutus callicarpa,* (* This fine arbutus, imported by M. Broussonnet, is very different from the Arbutus laurifolia, with which it has been confounded, but which belongs to North America.) did not suffer from the snow; but it destroyed all the vines in the open air. This observation is interesting to vegetable physiology. In hot countries, the plants are so vigorous, that cold is less injurious to them, provided it be of short duration. I have seen the banana cultivated in the island of Cuba, in places where the thermometer descends to seven centesimal degrees, and sometimes very near freezing point. In Italy and Spain the orange and date-trees do not perish, though the cold during the night may be two degrees below freezing point. In general it is remarked by cultivators, that the trees which grow in a fertile soil are less delicate, and consequently less affected by great changes in the temperature, than those which grow in land that affords but little nutriment.* (* The mulberries, cultivated in the thin and sandy soils of countries bordering on the Baltic Sea, are examples of this feebleness of organization. The late frosts do more injury to them, than to the mulberries of Piedmont. In Italy a cold of 5 degrees below freezing point does not destroy robust orange trees. According to M. Galesio, these trees, less tender than the lemon and bergamot orange trees, freeze only at ten centesimal degrees below freezing point.)

In order to pass from the town of Laguna to the port of Orotava and the western coast of Teneriffe, we cross at first a hilly region covered with black and argillaceous earth, in which are found some small crystals of pyroxene. The waters most probably detach these crystals from the neighbouring rocks, as at Frascati, near Rome. Unfortunately, strata of ferruginous earth conceal the soil from the researches of the geologist. It is only in some ravines, that we find columnar basalts, somewhat curved, and above them very recent breccia, resembling volcanic tufa. The breccia contain fragments of the same basalts which they cover; and it is asserted that marine petrifactions are observed in them. The same phenomenon occurs in the Vicentin, near Montechio Maggiore.

The valley of Tacoronte is the entrance into that charming country, of which travellers of every nation have spoken with rapturous enthusiasm. Under the torrid zone I found sites where nature is more majestic, and richer in the display of organic forms; but after having traversed the banks of the Orinoco, the Cordilleras of Peru, and the most beautiful valleys of Mexico, I own that I have never beheld a prospect more varied, more attractive, more harmonious in the distribution of the masses of verdure and of rocks, than the western coast of Teneriffe.

The sea-coast is lined with date and cocoa trees. Groups of the musa, as the country rises, form a pleasing contrast with the dragon-tree, the trunks of which have been justly compared to the tortuous form of the serpent. The declivities are covered with vines, which throw their branches over towering poles. Orange trees loaded with flowers, myrtles, and cypress trees encircle the chapels reared to devotion on the isolated hills. The divisions of landed property are marked by hedges formed of the agave and the cactus. An innumerable quantity of cryptogamous plants, among which ferns are the most predominant, cover the walls, and are moistened by small springs of limpid water. In winter, when the volcano is buried under ice and snow, this district enjoys perpetual spring. In summer, as the day declines, the breezes from the sea diffuse a delicious freshness. The population of this coast is very considerable; and it appears to be still greater than it is, because the houses and gardens are distant from each other, which adds to the picturesque beauty of the scene. Unhappily the real welfare of the inhabitants does not correspond with the exertions of their industry, or with the advantages which nature has lavished on this spot. The farmers are not land-owners; the fruits of their labour belong to the nobles; and those feudal institutions, which, for so long a time, spread misery throughout Europe, still press heavily on the people of the Canary Islands.

From Tegueste and Tacoronte to the village of St. Juan de la Rambla (which is celebrated for its excellent malmsey wine), the rising hills are cultivated like a garden. I might compare them to the environs of Capua and Valentia, if the western part of Teneriffe was not infinitely more beautiful on account of the proximity of the peak, which presents on every side a new point of view. The aspect of this mountain is interesting not merely from its gigantic mass; it excites the mind, by carrying it back to the mysterious source of its volcanic agency. For thousands of years, no flames or light have been perceived on the summit of the Piton, nevertheless enormous lateral eruptions, the last of which took place in 1798, are proofs of the activity of a fire still far from being extinguished. There is also something that leaves a melancholy impression on beholding a crater in the centre of a fertile and well cultivated country. The history of the globe informs us, that volcanoes destroy what they have been a long series of ages in creating. Islands, which the action of submarine fires has raised above the waters, are by degrees clothed in rich and smiling verdure; but these new lands are often laid waste by the renewed action of the same power which caused them to emerge from the bottom of the ocean. Islets, which are now but heaps of scoriae and volcanic ashes, were once perhaps as fertile as the hills of Tacoronte and Sauzal. Happy the country, where man has no distrust of the soil on which he lives!

Pursuing our course to the port of Orotava, we passed the smiling hamlets of Matanza and Victoria. These names are mingled together in all the Spanish colonies, and they form an unpleasing contrast with the peaceful and tranquil feelings which those countries inspire. Matanza signifies slaughter, or carnage; and the word alone recalls the price at which victory has been purchased. In the New World it generally indicates the defeat of the natives: at Teneriffe, the village of Matanza was built in a place* (* The ancient Acantejo.) where the Spaniards were conquered by those same Guanches who soon after were sold as slaves in the markets of Europe.

Before we reached Orotava, we visited a botanic garden at a little distance from the port. We there found M. Le Gros, the French vice-consul, who had often scaled the summit of the Peak, and who served us as an excellent guide. He was accompanying captain Baudin in a voyage to the West Indies, when a dreadful tempest, of which M. Le Dru has given an account in the narrative of his voyage to Porto Rico, forced the vessel to put into Teneriffe. There M. Le Gros was led by the beauty of the spot to settle. It was he who augmented scientific knowledge by the first accurate ideas of the great lateral eruption of the Peak, which has been very improperly called the explosion of the volcano of Chahorra. This eruption took place on the 8th of June, 1798.

The establishment of a botanical garden at Teneriffe is a very happy idea, on account of the influence it is likely to have on the progress of botany, and on the introduction of useful plants into Europe. For the first conception of it we are indebted to the Marquis de Nava. He undertook, at an enormous expense, to level the hill of Durasno, which rises as an amphitheatre, and which was begun to be planted in 1795. The marquis thought that the Canary Islands, from the mildness of their climate and geographical position, were the most suitable place for naturalising the productions of the East and West Indies, and for inuring the plants gradually to the colder temperature of the south of Europe. The plants of Asia, Africa, and South America, may easily be brought to Orotava; and in order to introduce the bark-tree* into Sicily, Portugal, or Grenada, it should be first planted at Durasno, or at Laguna, and the shoots of this tree may afterwards be transported into Europe from the Canaries. (* I speak of the species of bark-tree (cinchona), which at Peru, and in the kingdom of New Granada, flourish on the back of the Cordilleras, at the height of between 1000 and 1500 toises, in places where the thermometer is between nine and ten degrees during the day, and from three to four during the night. The orange bark-tree (Cinchona lancifolia) is much less delicate than the red bark-tree (C. oblongifolia).) In happier times, when maritime wars shall no longer interrupt communication, the garden of Teneriffe may become extremely useful with respect to the great number of plants which are sent from the Indies to Europe; for ere they reach our coasts, they often perish, owing to the length of the passage, during which they inhale an air impregnated with salt water. These plants would meet at Orotava with the care and climate necessary for their preservation. At Durasno, the protea, the psidium, the jambos, the chirimoya of Peru,* (* Annona cherimolia. Lamarck.) the sensitive plant, and the heliconia, grow in the open air. We gathered the ripened seeds of several beautiful species of glycine from New Holland, which the governor of Cumana, Mr. Emparan, had successfully cultivated, and which grow wild on the coasts of South America.

We arrived very late at the port of Orotava,* (* Puerto de la Cruz. The only fine port of the Canary Islands is that of St. Sebastian, in the isle of Gomara.) if we may give the name of port to a road in which vessels are obliged to put to sea whenever the winds blow violently from the north-west. It is impossible to speak of Orotava without recalling to the remembrance of the friends of science the name of Don Bernardo Cologan, whose house at all times was open to travellers of every nation.

We could have wished to have sojourned for some time in Don Bernardo's house, and to have visited with him the charming scenery of St. Juan de la Rambla and of Rialexo de Abaxo.* (* This last-named village stands at the foot of the lofty mountain of Tygayga.) But on a voyage such as we had undertaken, the present is but little enjoyed. Continually haunted by the fear of not executing the designs of the morrow, we live in perpetual uneasiness. Persons who are passionately fond of nature and the arts feel the same sensations, when they travel through Switzerland and Italy. Enabled to see but a small portion of the objects which allure them, they are disturbed in their enjoyments by the restraints they impose on themselves at every step.

On the morning of the 21st of June, we were on our way to the summit of the volcano. M. Le Gros, whose attentions were unwearied, M. Lalande, secretary to the French Consulate at Santa Cruz, and the English gardener at Durasno, joined us on this excursion. The day was not very fine, and the summit of the peak, which is generally visible at Orotava from sunrise till ten o'clock, was covered with thick clouds.

We were agreeably surprised by the contrast between the vegetation of this part of Teneriffe, and that of the environs of Santa Cruz. Under the influence of a cool and humid climate, the ground was covered with beautiful verdure; while on the road from Santa Cruz to Laguna the plants exhibited nothing but capsules emptied of their seeds. Near the port of Santa Cruz, the strength of the vegetation is an obstacle to geological research. We passed along the base of two small hills, which rise in the form of bells. Observations made at Vesuvius and in Auvergne lead us to think that these hills owe their origin to lateral eruptions of the great volcano. The hill called Montanita de la Villa seems indeed to have emitted lavas; and according to the tradition of the Guanches, an eruption took place in 1430. Colonel Franqui assured Borda, that the place is still to be seen whence the melted matter issued; and that the ashes which covered the ground adjacent, were not yet fertilized. Whenever the rock appeared, we discovered basaltic amygdaloid* (* Basaltartiger Mandelstein. Werner.) covered with hardened clay,* (* Bimstein-Conglomerat. W.) which contains rapilli, or fragments of pumice-stone. This last formation resembles the tufas of Pausilippo, and the strata of puzzolana, which I found in the valley of Quito, at the foot of the volcano of Pichincha. The amygdaloid has very long pores, like the superior strata of the lavas of Vesuvius, arising probably from the action of an elastic fluid forcing its way through the matter in fusion. Notwithstanding these analogies, I must here repeat, that in all the low region of the peak of Teneriffe, on the side of Orotava, I have met with no flow of lava, nor any current, the limits of which are strongly marked. Torrents and inundations change the surface of the globe, and when a great number of currents of lava meet and spread over a plain, as I have seen at Vesuvius, in the Atrio dei Cavalli, they seem to be confounded together, and wear the appearance of real strata.

The villa de Orotava has a pleasant aspect at a distance, from the great abundance of water which runs through the principal streets. The spring of Agua Mansa, collected in two large reservoirs, turns several mills, and is afterward discharged among the vineyards of the adjacent hills. The climate is still more refreshing at the villa than at the port of La Cruz, from the influence of the breeze, which blows strong after ten in the morning. The water, which has been dissolved in the air at a higher temperature, frequently precipitates itself; and renders the climate very foggy. The villa is nearly 160 toises (312 metres) above the level of the sea, consequently 200 toises lower than the site on which Laguna is built: it is observed also, that the same kind of plants flower a month later in this latter place.

Orotava, the ancient Taoro of the Guanches, is situated on a very steep declivity. The streets seem deserted; the houses are solidly built, and of a gloomy appearance. We passed along a lofty aqueduct, lined with a great number of fine ferns; and visited several gardens, in which the fruit trees of the north of Europe are mingled with orange trees, pomegranate, and date trees. We were assured, that these last were as little productive here as on the coast of Cumana. Although we had been made acquainted, from the narratives of many travellers, with the dragon-tree of the garden of M. Franqui, we were not the less struck with its enormous magnitude. We were told, that the trunk of this tree, which is mentioned in several very ancient documents as marking the boundaries of a field, was as gigantic in the fifteenth century as it is at the present time. Its height appeared to us to be about 50 or 60 feet; its circumference near the roots is 45 feet. We could not measure higher, but Sir George Staunton found that, 10 feet from the ground, the diameter of the trunk is still 12 English feet; which corresponds perfectly with the statement of Borda, who found its mean circumference 33 feet 8 inches, French measure. The trunk is divided into a great number of branches, which rise in the form of a candelabrum, and are terminated by tufts of leaves, like the yucca which adorns the valley of Mexico. This division gives it a very different appearance from that of the palm-tree.

Among organic creations, this tree is undoubtedly, together with the Adansonia or baobab of Senegal, one of the oldest inhabitants of our globe. The baobabs are of still greater dimensions than the dragon-tree of Orotava. There are some which near the root measure 34 feet in diameter, though their total height is only from 50 to 60 feet. But we should observe, that the Adansonia, like the ochroma, and all the plants of the family of bombax, grow much more rapidly* than the dracaena, the vegetation of which is very slow. (* It is the same with the plane-tree (Platanus occidentalis) which M. Michaux measured at Marietta, on the banks of the Ohio, and which, at twenty feet from the ground, was 15.7 feet in diameter. —"Voyage a l'Ouest des Monts Alleghany" 1804 page 93. The yew, chestnut, oak, plane-tree, deciduous cypress, bombax, mimosa, caesalpina, hymenaea, and dracaena, appear to me to be the plants which, in different climates, present specimens of the most extraordinary growth. An oak, discovered together with some Gallic helmets in 1809, in the turf pits of the department of the Somme, near the village of Yseux, seven leagues from Abbeville, was about the same size as the dragon-tree of Orotava. According to a memoir by M. Traullee, the trunk of this oak was 14 feet in diameter.) That in M. Franqui's garden still bears every year both flowers and fruit. Its aspect forcibly exemplifies "that eternal youth of nature," which is an inexhaustible source of motion and of life.

The dracaena, which is seen only in cultivated spots in the Canary Islands, at Madeira, and Porto Santo, presents a curious phenomenon with respect to the migration of plants. It has never been found in a wild state on the continent of Africa. The East Indies is its real country. How has this tree been transplanted to Teneriffe, where it is by no means common? Does its existence prove, that, at some very distant period, the Guanches had connexions with other nations originally from Asia?* (* The form of the dragon-tree is exhibited in several species of the genus Dracaena, at the Cape of Good Hope, in China, and in New Zealand. But in New Zealand it is superseded by the form of the yucca; for the Dracaena borealis of Aiton is a Convallaria, of which it has all the appearance. The astringent juice, known in commerce by the name of dragon's blood, is, according to the inquiries we made on the spot, the produce of several American plants, which do not belong to the same genus and of which some are lianas. At Laguna, toothpicks steeped in the juice of the dragon-tree are made in the nunneries, and are much extolled as highly useful for keeping the gums in a healthy state.)

On leaving Orotava, a narrow and stony pathway led us through a beautiful forest of chestnut trees (el monte de Castanos), to a site covered with brambles, some species of laurels, and arborescent heaths. The trunks of the latter grow to an extraordinary size; and the flowers with which they are loaded form an agreeable contrast, during a great part of the year, to the Hypericum canariense, which is very abundant at this height. We stopped to take in our provision of water under a solitary fir-tree. This station is known in the country by the name of Pino del Dornajito. Its height, according to the barometrical measurement of M. de Borda, is 522 toises; and it commands a magnificent prospect of the sea, and the whole of the northern part of the island. Near Pino del Dornajito, a little on the right of the pathway, is a copious spring of water, into which we plunged the thermometer, which fell to 15.4 degrees. At a hundred toises distance from this spring is another equally limpid. If we admit that these waters indicate nearly the mean heat of the place whence they issue, we may fix the absolute elevation of the station at 520 toises, supposing the mean temperature of the coast to be 21 degrees, and allowing one degree for the decrement of caloric corresponding under this zone to 93 toises. We should not be surprised if this spring remained a little below the heat of the air, since it probably takes its source in some more elevated part of the peak, and possibly communicates with the small subterranean glaciers of which we shall speak hereafter. The accordance just observed between the barometrical and thermometrical measures is so much more striking, because in mountainous countries, with steep declivities, the springs generally indicate too great a decrement of caloric, for they unite small currents of water, which filtrate at different heights, and their temperature is consequently the mean between the temperature of these currents. The spring of Dornajito has considerable reputation in the country; and at the time I was there, it was the only one known on the road which leads to the summit of the volcano. The formation of springs demands a certain regularity in the direction and inclination of the strata. On a volcanic soil, porous and splintered rocks absorb the rain waters, and convey them to considerable depths. Hence arises that aridity observed in the greater part of the Canary Islands, notwithstanding the considerable height of their mountains, and the mass of clouds which navigators behold incessantly overhanging this archipelago.

From Pino del Dornajito to the crater of the volcano we continued to ascend without crossing a single valley; for the small ravines (barancos) do not merit this name. To the eye of the geologist the whole island of Teneriffe is but one mountain, the almost elliptical base of which is prolonged to the north-east, and in which may be distinguished several systems of volcanic rocks formed at different epochs. The Chahorra, or Montana Colorada, and the Urca, considered in the country as insulated volcanoes, are only little hills abutting on the peak, and masking its pyramidal form. The great volcano, the lateral eruptions of which have given birth to vast promontories, is not however precisely in the centre of the island, and this peculiarity of structure appears the less surprising, if we recollect that, as the learned mineralogist M. Cordier has observed, it is not perhaps the small crater of the Piton which has been the principal agent in the changes undergone by the island of Teneriffe.

Above the region of arborescent heaths, called Monte Verde, is the region of ferns. Nowhere, in the temperate zone, have I seen such an abundance of the pteris, blechnum, and asplenium; yet none of these plants have the stateliness of the arborescent ferns which, at the height of five or six hundred toises, form the principal ornament of equinoctial America. The root of the Pteris aquilina serves the inhabitants of Palma and Gomera for food; they grind it to powder, and mix with it a quantity of barley-meal. This composition, when boiled, is called gofio; the use of so homely an aliment is a proof of the extreme poverty of the lower order of people in the Canary Islands.

Monte Verde is intersected by several small and very arid ravines (canadas), and the region of ferns is succeeded by a wood of juniper trees and firs, which has suffered greatly from the violence of hurricanes. In this place, mentioned by some travellers under the name of Caravela,* (* "Philosophical Transactions" volume 29 page 317. Carabela is the name of a vessel with lateen sails. The pines of the peak formerly were used as masts of vessels.) Mr. Eden states that in the year 1705 he saw little flames, which, according to the doctrine of the naturalists of his time, he attributes to sulphurous exhalations igniting spontaneously. We continued to ascend, till we came to the rock of La Gayta and to Portillo: traversing this narrow pass between two basaltic hills, we entered the great plain of Spartium. At the time of the voyage of Laperouse, M. Manneron had taken the levels of the peak, from the port of Orotava to this elevated plain, near 1400 toises above the level of the sea; but the want of water, and the misconduct of the guides, prevented him from taking the levels to the top of the volcano. The results of the operation, (which was two-thirds completed,) unfortunately were not sent to Europe, and the work is still to be recommenced from the sea-coast.
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Re: Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions

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Part 2 of 4

We spent two hours and a half in crossing the Llano del Retama, which appears like an immense sea of sand. Notwithstanding the elevation of this site, the centigrade thermometer rose in the shade toward sunset, to 13.8 degrees, or 3.7 degrees higher than toward noon at Monte Verde. This augmentation of heat could be attributed only to the reverberation from the ground, and the extent of the plain. We suffered much from the suffocating dust of the pumice-stone, in which we were continually enveloped. In the midst of this plain are tufts of the retama, which is the Spartium nubigenum of Aiton. M. de Martiniere, one of the botanists who perished in the expedition of Laperouse, wished to introduce this beautiful shrub into Languedoc, where firewood is very scarce. It grows to the height of nine feet, and is loaded with odoriferous flowers, with which the goat hunters, that we met in our road, had decorated their hats. The goats of the peak, which are of a deep brown colour, are reckoned delicious food; they browse on the spartium, and have run wild in the deserts from time immemorial. They have been transported to Madeira, where they are preferred to the goats of Europe.

As far as the rock of Gayta, or the entrance of the extensive Llano del Retama, the peak of Teneriffe is covered with beautiful vegetation. There are no traces of recent devastation. We might have imagined ourselves scaling the side of some volcano, the fire of which had been extinguished as remotely as that of Monte Cavo, near Rome; but scarcely had we reached the plain covered with pumice-stone, when the landscape changed its aspect, and at every step we met with large blocks of obsidian thrown out by the volcano. Everything here speaks perfect solitude. A few goats and rabbits only bound across the plain. The barren region of the peak is nine square leagues; and as the lower regions viewed from this point retrograde in the distance, the island appears an immense heap of torrefied matter, hemmed round by a scanty border of vegetation.

From the region of the Spartium nubigenum we passed through narrow defiles, and small ravines hollowed at a very remote time by the torrents, first arriving at a more elevated plain (el Monton de Trigo), then at the place where we intended to pass the night. This station, which is more than 1530 toises above the coast, bears the name of the English Halt (Estancia de los Ingleses* (* This denomination was in use as early as the beginning of the last century. Mr. Eden, who corrupts all Spanish words, as do most travellers in our own times, calls it the Stancha: it is the Station des Rochers of M. Borda, as is proved by the barometrical heights there observed. These heights were in 1803, according to M. Cordier, 19 inches 9.5 lines; and in 1776, according to Messrs. Borda and Varela, 19 inches 9.8 lines; the barometer at Orotava keeping within nearly a line at the same height.)), no doubt because most of the travellers, who formerly visited the peak, were Englishmen. Two inclined rocks form a kind of cavern, which affords a shelter from the winds. This point, which is higher than the summit of the Canigou, can be reached on the backs of mules; and here has ended the expedition of numbers of travellers, who on leaving Orotava hoped to have ascended to the brink of the crater. Though in the midst of summer, and under an African sky, we suffered from cold during the night. The thermometer descended as low as to five degrees. Our guides made a large fire with the dry branches of retama. Having neither tents nor cloaks, we lay down on some masses of rock, and were singularly incommoded by the flame and smoke, which the wind drove towards us. We had attempted to form a kind of screen with cloths tied together, but our enclosure took fire, which we did not perceive till the greater part had been consumed by the flames. We had never passed a night on a point so elevated, and we then little imagined that we should, one day, on the ridge of the Cordilleras, inhabit towns higher than the summit of the volcano we were to scale on the morrow. As the temperature diminished, the peak became covered with thick clouds. The approach of night interrupts the play of the ascending current, which, during the day, rises from the plains towards the high regions of the atmosphere; and the air, in cooling, loses its capacity of suspending water. A strong northerly wind chased the clouds; the moon at intervals, shooting through the vapours, exposed its disk on a firmament of the darkest blue; and the view of the volcano threw a majestic character over the nocturnal scenery. Sometimes the peak was entirely hidden from our eyes by the fog, at other times it broke upon us in terrific proximity; and, like an enormous pyramid, threw its shadow over the clouds rolling beneath our feet.

About three in the morning, by the sombrous light of a few fir torches, we started on our journey to the summit of the Piton. We scaled the volcano on the north-east side, where the declivities are extremely steep; and after two hours' toil, we reached a small plain, which, on account of its elevated position, bears the name of Alta Vista. This is the station of the neveros, those natives, whose occupation it is to collect ice and snow, which they sell in the neighbouring towns. Their mules, better practised in climbing mountains than those hired by travellers, reach Alta Vista, and the neveros are obliged to transport the snow to that place on their backs. Above this point commences the Malpays, a term by which is designated here, as well as in Mexico, Peru, and every other country subject to volcanoes, a ground destitute of vegetable mould, and covered with fragments of lava.

We turned to the right to examine the cavern of ice, which is at the elevation of 1728 toises, consequently below the limit of the perpetual snows in this zone. Probably the cold which prevails in this cavern, is owing to the same causes which perpetuate the ice in the crevices of Mount Jura and the Apennines, and on which the opinions of naturalists are still much divided. This natural ice-house of the peak has, nevertheless, none of those perpendicular openings, which give emission to the warm air, while the cold air remains undisturbed at the bottom. It would seem that the ice is preserved in it on account of its mass, and because its melting is retarded by the cold, which is the consequence of quick evaporation. This small subterraneous glacier is situated in a region, the mean temperature of which is probably not under three degrees; and it is not, like the true glaciers of the Alps, fed by the snow waters that flow from the summits of the mountains. During winter the cavern is filled with ice and snow; and as the rays of the sun do not penetrate beyond the mouth, the heats of summer are not sufficient to empty the reservoir. The existence of a natural ice-house depends, consequently, rather on the quantity of snow which enters it in winter, and the small influence of the warm winds in summer, than on the absolute elevation of the cavity, and the mean temperature of the layer of air in which it is situated. The air contained in the interior of a mountain is not easily displaced, as is exemplified by Monte Testaccio at Rome, the temperature of which is so different from that of the surrounding atmosphere. On Chimborazo enormous heaps of ice are found covered with sand, and, in the same manner as at the peak, far below the inferior limit of the perpetual snows.

It was near the Ice-Cavern (Cueva del Hielo), that, in the voyage of Laperouse, Messrs. Lamanon and Monges made their experiments on the temperature of boiling water. These naturalists found it 88.7 degrees, the barometer at nineteen inches one line. In the kingdom of New Grenada, at the chapel of Guadaloupe, near Santa-Fe de Bogota, I have seen water boil at 89.9 degrees, under a pressure of 19 inches 1.9 lines, At Tambores, in the province of Popayan, Senor Caldas found the heat of boiling water 89.5 degrees, the barometer being at 18 inches 11.6 lines. These results might lead us to suspect, that, in the experiment of M. Lamanon, the water had not reached the maximum of its temperature.

Day was beginning to dawn when we left the ice-cavern. We observed, during the twilight, a phenomenon which is not unusual on high mountains, but which the position of the volcano we were scaling rendered very striking. A layer of white and fleecy clouds concealed from us the sight of the ocean, and the lower region of the island. This layer did not appear above 800 toises high; the clouds were so uniformly spread, and kept so perfect a level, that they wore the appearance of a vast plain covered with snow. The colossal pyramid of the peak, the volcanic summits of Lancerota, of Forteventura, and the isle of Palma, were like rocks amidst this vast sea of vapours, and their black tints were in fine contrast with the whiteness of the clouds.

While we were climbing over the broken lavas of the Malpays, we perceived a very curious optical phenomenon, which lasted eight minutes. We thought we saw on the east side small rockets thrown into the air. Luminous points, about seven or eight degrees above the horizon, appeared first to move in a vertical direction; but their motion was gradually changed into a horizontal oscillation. Our fellow-travellers, our guides even, were astonished at this phenomenon, without our having made any remark on it to them. We thought, at first sight, that these luminous points, which floated in the air, indicated some new eruption of the great volcano of Lancerota; for we recollected that Bouguer and La Condamine, in scaling the volcano of Pichincha, were witnesses of the eruption of Cotopaxi. But the illusion soon ceased, and we found that the luminous points were the images of several stars magnified by the vapours. These images remained motionless at intervals, they then seemed to rise perpendicularly, descended sideways, and returned to the point whence they had departed. This motion lasted one or two seconds. Though we had no exact means of measuring the extent of the lateral shifting, we did not the less distinctly observe the path of the luminous point. It did not appear double from an effect of mirage, and left no trace of light behind. Bringing, with the telescope of a small sextant by Troughton, the stars into contact with the lofty summit of a mountain in Lancerota, I observed that the oscillation was constantly directed towards the same point, that is to say, towards that part of the horizon where the disk of the sun was to appear; and that, making allowance for the motion of the star in its declination, the image returned always to the same place. These appearances of lateral refraction ceased long before daylight rendered the stars quite invisible. I have faithfully related what we saw during the twilight, without undertaking to explain this extraordinary phenomenon, of which I published an account in Baron Zach's Astronomical Journal, twelve years ago. The motion of the vesicular vapours, caused by the rising of the sun; the mingling of several layers of air, the temperature and density of which were very different, no doubt contributed to produce an apparent movement of the stars in the horizontal direction. We see something similar in the strong undulations of the solar disk, when it cuts the horizon; but these undulations seldom exceed twenty seconds, while the lateral motion of the stars, observed at the peak, at more than 1800 toises, was easily distinguished by the naked eye, and seemed to exceed all that we have thought it possible to consider hitherto as the effect of the refraction of the light of the stars. On the top of the Andes, at Antisana, I observed the sun-rise, and passed the whole night at the height of 2100 toises, without noting any appearance resembling this phenomenon.

I was anxious to make an exact observation of the instant of sun-rising at an elevation so considerable as that we had reached on the peak of Teneriffe. No traveller, furnished with instruments, had as yet taken such an observation. I had a telescope and a chronometer, which I knew to be exceedingly correct. In the part where the sun was to appear the horizon was free from vapour. We perceived the upper limb at 4 hours 48 minutes 55 seconds apparent time, and what is very remarkable, the first luminous point of the disk appeared immediately in contact with the limit of the horizon, consequently we saw the true horizon; that is to say, a part of the sea farther distant than 43 leagues. It is proved by calculation that, under the same parallel in the plain, the rising would have begun at 5 hours 1 minute 50.4 seconds, or 11 minutes 51.3 seconds later than at the height of the peak. The difference observed was 12 minutes 55 seconds, which arose no doubt from the uncertainty of the refraction for a zenith distance, of which observations are wanting.

We were surprised at the extreme slowness with which the lower limb of the sun seemed to detach itself from the horizon. This limb was not visible till 4 hours 56 minutes 56 seconds. The disc of the sun, much flattened, was well defined; during the ascent there was neither double image nor lengthening of the lower limb. The duration of the sun's rising being triple that which we might have expected in this latitude, we must suppose that a fog-bank, very uniformly extended, concealed the true horizon, and followed the sun in its ascent. Notwithstanding the libration of the stars,* which we had observed towards the east, we could not attribute the slowness of the rising to an extraordinary refraction of the rays occasioned by the horizon of the sea; for it is precisely at the rising of the sun, as Le Gentil daily observed at Pondicherry, and as I have several times remarked at Cumana, that the horizon sinks, on account of the elevation of temperature in the stratum of the air which lies immediately over the surface of the ocean. (* A celebrated astronomer, Baron Zach, has compared this phenomenon of an apparent libration of the stars to that described in the Georgics (lib. 50 v. 365). But this passage relates only to the falling stars, which the ancients, (like the mariners of modern times) considered as a prognostic of wind.)

The road, which we were obliged to clear for ourselves across the Malpays, was extremely fatiguing. The ascent is steep, and the blocks of lava rolled from beneath our feet. I can compare this part of the road only to the Moraine of the Alps or that mass of pebbly stones which we find at the lower extremity of the glaciers. At the peak the lava, broken into sharp pieces, leaves hollows, in which we risked falling up to our waists. Unfortunately the listlessness of our guides contributed to increase the difficulty of this ascent. Unlike the guides of the valley of Chamouni, or the nimble-footed Guanches, who could, it is asserted, seize the rabbit or wild goat in its course, our Canarian guides were models of the phlegmatic. They had wished to persuade us on the preceding evening not to go beyond the station of the rocks. Every ten minutes they sat down to rest themselves, and when unobserved they threw away the specimens of obsidian and pumice-stone, which we had carefully collected. We discovered at length that none of them had ever visited the summit of the volcano.

After three hours' walking, we reached, at the extremity of the Malpays, a small plain, called La Rambleta, from the centre of which the Piton, or Sugar-loaf, takes its rise. On the side toward Orotava the mountain resembles those pyramids with steps that are seen at Fayoum and in Mexico; for the elevated plains of Retama and Rambleta form two tiers, the first of which is four times higher than the second. If we suppose the total height of the Peak to be 1904 toises, the Rambleta is 1820 toises above the level of the sea. Here are found those spiracles, which are called by the natives the Nostrils of the Peak (Narices del Pico). Watery and heated vapours issue at intervals from several crevices in the ground, and the thermometer rose to 43.2 degrees. M. Labillardiere had found the temperature of these vapours, eight years before us, 53.7 degrees; a difference which does not perhaps prove so much a diminution of activity in the volcano, as a local change in the heating of its internal surface. The vapours have no smell, and seem to be pure water. A short time before the great eruption of Mount Vesuvius, in 1805, M. Gay-Lussac and myself had observed that water, under the form of vapour, in the interior of the crater, did not redden paper which had been dipped in syrup of violets. I cannot, however, admit the bold hypothesis, according to which the Nostrils of the Peak are to be considered as the vents of an immense apparatus of distillation, the lower part of which is situated below the level of the sea. Since the time when volcanoes have been carefully studied, and the love of the marvellous has been less apparent in works on geology, well founded doubts have been raised respecting these direct and constant communications between the waters of the sea and the focus of the volcanic fire.* (* This question has been examined with much sagacity by M. Brieslak, in his "Introduzzione alla Geologia," tome 2 pages 302, 323, 347. Cotopaxi and Popocatepetl, which I saw ejecting smoke and ashes, in 1804, are farther from both the Pacific and the Gulf of the Antilles, than Grenoble is from the Mediterranean, and Orleans from the Atlantic. We must not consider the fact as merely accidental, that we have not yet discovered an active volcano more than 40 leagues distant from the ocean; but I consider the hypothesis, that the waters of the sea are absorbed, distilled, and decomposed by volcanoes, as very doubtful.) We may find a very simple explanation of a phenomenon, that has in it nothing very surprising. The peak is covered with snow during part of the year; we ourselves found it still so in the plain of Rambleta. Messrs. O'Donnel and Armstrong discovered in 1806 a very abundant spring in the Malpays, a hundred toises above the cavern of ice, which is perhaps fed partly by this snow. Everything consequently leads us to presume that the peak of Teneriffe, like the volcanoes of the Andes, and those of the island of Manilla, contains within itself great cavities, which are filled with atmospherical water, owing merely to filtration. The aqueous vapours exhaled by the Narices and crevices of the crater, are only those same waters heated by the interior surfaces down which they flow.

We had yet to scale the steepest part of the mountain, the Piton, which forms the summit. The slope of this small cone, covered with volcanic ashes, and fragments of pumice-stone, is so steep, that it would have been almost impossible to reach the top, had we not ascended by an old current of lava, the debris of which have resisted the ravages of time. These debris form a wall of scorious rock, which stretches into the midst of the loose ashes. We ascended the Piton by grasping these half-decomposed scoriae, which often broke in our hands. We employed nearly half an hour to scale a hill, the perpendicular height of which is scarcely ninety toises. Vesuvius, three times lower than the peak of Teneriffe, is terminated by a cone of ashes almost three times higher, but with a more accessible and easy slope. Of all the volcanoes which I have visited, that of Jorullo, in Mexico, is the only one that is more difficult to climb than the Peak, because the whole mountain is covered with loose ashes.

When the Sugar-loaf (el Piton) is covered with snow, as it is in the beginning of winter, the steepness of its declivity may be very dangerous to the traveller. M. Le Gros showed us the place where captain Baudin was nearly killed when he visited the Peak of Teneriffe. That officer had the courage to undertake, in company with the naturalists Advenier, Mauger, and Riedle, an excursion to the top of the volcano about the end of December, 1797. Having reached half the height of the cone, he fell, and rolled down as far as the small plain of Rambleta; happily a heap of lava, covered with snow, hindered him from rolling farther with accelerated velocity. I have been told, that in Switzerland a traveller was suffocated by rolling down the declivity of the Col de Balme, over the compact turf of the Alps.

When we gained the summit of the Piton, we were surprised to find scarcely room enough to seat ourselves conveniently. We were stopped by a small circular wall of porphyritic lava, with a base of pitchstone, which concealed from us the view of the crater.* (* Called La Caldera, or the caldron of the peak, a denomination which recalls to mind the Oules of the Pyrenees.) The west wind blew with such violence that we could scarcely stand. It was eight in the morning, and we suffered severely from the cold, though the thermometer kept a little above freezing point. For a long time we had been accustomed to a very high temperature, and the dry wind increased the feeling of cold, because it carried off every moment the small atmosphere of warm and humid air, which was formed around us from the effect of cutaneous perspiration.

The brink of the crater of the peak bears no resemblance to those of most of the other volcanoes which I have visited: for instance, the craters of Vesuvius, Jorullo, and Pichincha. In these the Piton preserves its conic figure to the very summit: the whole of their declivity is inclined the same number of degrees, and uniformly covered with a layer of pumice-stone very minutely divided; when we reach the top of these volcanoes, nothing obstructs the view of the bottom of the crater. The peaks of Teneriffe and Cotopaxi, on the contrary, are of very different construction. At their summit a circular wall surrounds the crater; which wall, at a distance, has the appearance of a small cylinder placed on a truncated cone. On Cotopaxi this peculiar construction is visible to the naked eye at more than 2000 toises distance; and no person has ever reached the crater of that volcano. On the peak of Teneriffe, the wall, which surrounds the crater like a parapet, is so high, that it would be impossible to reach the Caldera, if, on the eastern side, there was not a breach, which seems to have been the effect of a flowing of very old lava. We descended through this breach toward the bottom of the funnel, the figure of which is elliptic. Its greater axis has a direction from north-west to south-east, nearly north 35 degrees west. The greatest breadth of the mouth appeared to us to be 300 feet, the smallest 200 feet, which numbers agree very nearly with the measurement of MM. Verguin, Varela, and Borda.

It is easy to conceive, that the size of a crater does not depend solely on the height and mass of the mountain, of which it forms the principal air-vent. This opening is indeed seldom in direct ratio with the intensity of the volcanic fire, or with the activity of the volcano. At Vesuvius, which is but a hill compared with the Peak of Teneriffe, the diameter of the crater is five times greater. When we reflect, that very lofty volcanoes throw out less matter from their summits than from lateral openings, we should be led to think, that the lower the volcanoes, their force and activity being the same, the more considerable ought to be their craters. In fact, there are immense volcanoes in the Andes, which have but very small openings; and we might establish as a geological principle, that the most colossal mountains have craters of little extent at the summits, if the Cordilleras did not present many instances to the contrary.* (* The great volcanoes of Cotopaxi and Rucupichincha have craters, the diameters of which, according to my measurements, exceed 400 and 700 toises.) I shall have occasion, in the progress of this work, to cite a number of facts, which will throw some light on what may be called the external structure of volcanoes. This structure is as varied as the volcanic phenomena themselves; and in order to raise ourselves to geological conceptions worthy of the greatness of nature, we must set aside the idea that all volcanoes are formed after the model of Vesuvius, Stromboli, and Etna.

The external edges of the Caldera are almost perpendicular. Their appearance is somewhat like the Somma, seen from the Atrio dei Cavalli. We descended to the bottom of the crater on a train of broken lava, from the eastern breach of the enclosure. The heat was perceptible only in a few crevices, which gave vent to aqueous vapours with a peculiar buzzing noise. Some of these funnels or crevices are on the outside of the enclosure, on the external brink of the parapet that surrounds the crater. We plunged the thermometer into them, and saw it rise rapidly to 68 and 75 degrees. It no doubt indicated a higher temperature, but we could not observe the instrument till we had drawn it up, lest we should burn our hands. M. Cordier found several crevices, the heat of which was that of boiling water. It might be thought that these vapours, which are emitted in gusts, contain muriatic or sulphurous acid; but when condensed, they have no particular taste; and experiments, which have been made with re-agents, prove that the chimneys of the peak exhale only pure water. This phenomenon, analogous to that which I observed in the crater of Jorullo, deserves the more attention, as muriatic acid abounds in the greater part of volcanoes, and as M. Vauquelin has discovered it even in the porphyritic lavas of Sarcouy in Auvergne.

I sketched on the spot a view of the interior edge of the crater, as it presented itself in the descent by the eastern break. Nothing is more striking than the manner in which these strata of lava are piled on one another, exhibiting the sinuosities of the calcareous rock of the higher Alps. These enormous ledges, sometimes horizontal, sometimes inclined and undulating, are indicative of the ancient fluidity of the whole mass, and of the combination of several deranging causes, which have determined the direction of each flow. The top of the circular wall exhibits those curious ramifications which we find in coke. The northern edge is most elevated. Towards the south-west the enclosure is considerably sunk and an enormous mass of scorious lava seems glued to the extremity of the brink. On the west the rock is perforated; and a large opening gives a view of the horizon of the sea. The force of the elastic vapours perhaps formed this natural aperture, at the time of some inundation of lava thrown out from the crater.

The inside of this funnel indicates a volcano, which for thousands of years has vomited no fire but from its sides. This conclusion is not founded on the absence of great openings, which might be expected in the bottom of the Caldera. Those whose experience is founded on personal observation, know that several volcanoes, in the intervals of an eruption, appear filled up, and almost extinguished; but that in these same mountains, the crater of the volcano exhibits layers of scoriae, rough, sonorous, and shining. We observe hillocks and intumescences caused by the action of the elastic vapours, cones of broken scoriae and ashes which cover the funnels. None of these phenomena characterise the crater of the peak of Teneriffe; its bottom is not in the state which ensues at the close of an eruption. From the lapse of time, and the action of the vapours, the inside walls are detached, and have covered the basin with great blocks of lithoid lavas.

The bottom of the Caldera is reached without danger. In a volcano, the activity of which is principally directed towards the summit, such as Vesuvius, the depth of the crater varies before and after each eruption; but at the peak of Teneriffe the depth appears to have remained unchanged for a long time. Eden, in 1715, estimated it at 115 feet; Cordier, in 1803, at 110 feet. Judging by mere inspection, I should have thought the funnel of still less depth. Its present state is that of a solfatara; and it is rather an object of curious investigation, than of imposing aspect. The majesty of the site consists in its elevation above the level of the sea, in the profound solitude of these lofty regions, and in the immense space over which the eye ranges from the summit of the mountain.

The wall of compact lava, forming the enclosure of the Caldera, is snow-white at its surface. The same colour prevails in the inside of the Solfatara of Puzzuoli. When we break these lavas, which might be taken at some distance for calcareous stone, we find in them a blackish brown nucleus. Porphyry, with basis of pitch-stone, is whitened externally by the slow action of the vapours of sulphurous acid gas. These vapours rise in abundance; and what is rather remarkable, through crevices which seem to have no communication with the apertures that emit aqueous vapours. We may be convinced of the presence of the sulphurous acid, by examining the fine crystals of sulphur, which are everywhere found in the crevices of the lava. This acid, combined with the water with which the soil is impregnated, is transformed into sulphuric acid by contact with the oxygen of the atmosphere. In general, the humidity in the crater of the peak is more to be feared than the heat; and they who seat themselves for a while on the ground find their clothes corroded. The porphyritic lavas are affected by the action of the sulphuric acid: the alumine, magnesia, soda, and metallic oxides gradually disappear; and often nothing remains but the silex, which unites in mammillary plates, like opal. These siliceous concretions,* (* Opalartiger kieselsinter. The siliceous gurh of the volcanoes of the Isle of France contains, according to Klaproth, 0.72 silex, and 0.21 water; and thus comes near to opal, which Karsten considers as a hydrated silex.) which M. Cordier first made known, are similar to those found in the isle of Ischia, in the extinguished volcanoes of Santa Fiora, and in the Solfatara of Puzzuoli. It is not easy to form an idea of the origin of these incrustations. The aqueous vapours, discharged through great spiracles, do not contain alkali in solution, like the waters of the Geyser, in Iceland. Perhaps the soda contained in the lavas of the peak acts an important part in the formation of these deposits of silex. There may exist in the crater small crevices, the vapours of which are not of the same nature as those on which travellers, whose attention has been directed simultaneously to a great number of objects, have made experiments.

Seated on the northern brink of the crater, I dug a hole of some inches in depth; and the thermometer placed in this hole rose rapidly to 42 degrees. Hence we may conclude what must be the heat in this solfatara at the depth of thirty or forty fathoms. The sulphur reduced into vapour is condensed into fine crystals, which however are not equal in size to those M. Dolomieu brought from Sicily. They are semi-diaphanous octahedrons, very brilliant on the surface, and of a conchoidal fracture. These masses, which will one day perhaps be objects of commerce, are constantly bedewed with sulphurous acid. I had the imprudence to wrap up a few, in order to preserve them, but I soon discovered that the acid had consumed not only the paper which contained them, but a part also of my mineralogical journal. The heat of the vapours, which issue from the crevices of the caldera, is not sufficiently great to combine the sulphur while in a state of minute division, with the oxygen of the atmospheric air; and after the experiment I have just cited on the temperature of the soil, we may presume that the sulphurous acid is formed at a certain depth,* in cavities to which the external air has free access. (* An observer, in general very accurate, M. Breislack, asserts that the muriatic acid always predominates in the vapours of Vesuvius. This assertion is contrary to what M. Gay-Lussac and myself observed, before the great eruption of 1805, and while the lava was issuing from the crater. The smell of the sulphurous acid, so easy to distinguish, was perceptible at a great distance; and when the volcano threw out scoriae, the smell was mingled with that of petroleum.)

The vapours of heated water, which act on the fragments of lava scattered about on the caldera, reduce certain parts of it to a state of paste. On examining, after I had reached America, those earthy and friable masses, I found crystals of sulphate of alumine. MM. Davy and Gay-Lussac have already made the ingenious remark, that two bodies highly inflammable, the metals of soda and potash, have probably an important part in the action of a volcano; now the potash necessary to the formation of alum is found not only in feldspar, mica, pumice-stone, and augite, but also in obsidian. This last substance is very common at Teneriffe, where it forms the basis of the tephrinic lava. These analogies between the peak of Teneriffe and the Solfatara of Puzzuoli, might no doubt be shown to be more numerous, if the former were more accessible, and had been frequently visited by naturalists.

An expedition to the summit of the volcano of Teneriffe is interesting, not solely on account of the great number of phenomena which are the objects of scientific research; it has still greater attractions from the picturesque beauties which it lays open to those who are feelingly alive to the majesty of nature. It is a difficult task to describe the sensations, which are the more forcible, inasmuch as they have something undefined, produced by the immensity of the space as well as by the vastness, the novelty, and the multitude of the objects, amidst which we find ourselves transported. When a traveller attempts to describe the loftiest summits of the globe, the cataracts of the great rivers, the tortuous valleys of the Andes, he incurs the danger of fatiguing his readers by the monotonous expression of his admiration. It appears to me more conformable to the plan I have proposed to myself in this narrative, to indicate the peculiar character that distinguishes each zone: we exhibit with more clearness the physiognomy of the landscape, in proportion as we endeavour to sketch its individual features, to compare them with each other, and to discover by this kind of analysis the sources of the enjoyments, furnished by the great picture of nature.

Travellers have learned by experience, that views from the summits of very lofty mountains are neither so beautiful, picturesque, nor so varied, as those from heights which do not exceed that of Vesuvius, Righi, and the Puy-de-Dome. Colossal mountains, such as Chimborazo, Antisana, or Mount Rosa, compose so large a mass, that the plains covered with rich vegetation are seen only in the immensity of distance, and a blue and vapoury tint is uniformly spread over the landscape. The peak of Teneriffe, from its slender form and local position, unites the advantages of less lofty summits with those peculiar to very great heights. We not only discern from its top a vast expanse of sea, but we perceive also the forests of Teneriffe, and the inhabited parts of the coasts, in a proximity calculated to produce the most beautiful contrasts of form and colour. We might say, that the volcano overwhelms with its mass the little island which serves as its base, and it shoots up from the bosom of the waters to a height three times loftier than the region where the clouds float in summer. If its crater, half extinguished for ages past, shot forth flakes of fire like that of Stromboli in the Aeolian Islands, the peak of Teneriffe, like a lighthouse, would serve to guide the mariner in a circuit of more than 260 leagues.

When we were seated on the external edge of the crater, we turned our eyes towards the north-west, where the coasts are studded with villages and hamlets. At our feet, masses of vapour, constantly drifted by the winds, afforded us the most variable spectacle. A uniform stratum of clouds, similar to that already described, and which separated us from the lower regions of the island, had been pierced in several places by the effect of the small currents of air, which the earth, heated by the sun, began to send towards us. The port of Orotava, its vessels at anchor, the gardens and the vineyards encircling the town, shewed themselves through an opening which seemed to enlarge every instant. From the summit of these solitary regions our eyes wandered over an inhabited world; we enjoyed the striking contrast between the bare sides of the peak, its steep declivities covered with scoriae, its elevated plains destitute of vegetation, and the smiling aspect of the cultured country beneath. We beheld the plants divided by zones, as the temperature of the atmosphere diminished with the elevation of the site. Below the Piton, lichens begin to cover the scorious and lustrous lava: a violet,* (* Viola cheiranthifolia.) akin to the Viola decumbens, rises on the slope of the volcano at 1740 toises of height; it takes the lead not only of the other herbaceous plants, but even of the gramina, which, in the Alps and on the ridge of the Cordilleras, form close neighbourhood with the plants of the family of the cryptogamia. Tufts of retama, loaded with flowers, adorn the valleys hollowed out by the torrents, and encumbered with the effects of the lateral eruptions. Below the retama, lies the region of ferns, bordered by the tract of the arborescent heaths. Forests of laurel, rhamnus, and arbutus, divide the ericas from the rising grounds planted with vines and fruit trees. A rich carpet of verdure extends from the plain of spartium, and the zone of the alpine plants even to the groups of the date tree and the musa, at the feet of which the ocean appears to roll. I here pass slightly over the principal features of this botanical chart, as I shall enter hereafter into some farther details respecting the geography of the plants of the island of Teneriffe.* (* See below.)

The seeming proximity, in which, from the summit of the peak, we behold the hamlets, the vineyards, and the gardens on the coast, is increased by the prodigious transparency of the atmosphere. Notwithstanding the great distance, we could distinguish not only the houses, the sails of the vessels, and the trunks of the trees, but we could discern the vivid colouring of the vegetation of the plains. These phenomena are owing not only to the height of the site, but to the peculiar modifications of the air in warm climates. In every zone, an object placed on a level with the sea, and viewed in a horizontal direction, appears less luminous, than when seen from the top of a mountain, where vapours arrive after passing through strata of air of decreasing density. Differences equally striking are produced by the influence of climate. The surface of a lake or large river is less resplendent, when we see it at an equal distance, from the top of the higher Alps of Switzerland, than when we view it from the summit of the Cordilleras of Peru or of Mexico. In proportion as the air is pure and serene, the solution of the vapours becomes more complete, and the light loses less in its passage. When from the shores of the Pacific we ascend the elevated plain of Quito, or that of Antisana, we are struck for some days by the nearness at which we imagine we see objects which are actually seven or eight leagues distant. The peak of Teyde has not the advantage of being situated in the equinoctial region; but the dryness of the columns of air which rise perpetually above the neighbouring plains of Africa, and which the eastern winds convey with rapidity, gives to the atmosphere of the Canary Islands a transparency which not only surpasses that of the air of Naples and Sicily, but perhaps exceeds the purity of the sky of Quito and Peru. This transparency may be regarded as one of the chief causes of the beauty of landscape scenery in the torrid zone; it heightens the splendour of the vegetable colouring, and contributes to the magical effect of its harmonies and contrasts. If the mass of light, which circulates about objects, fatigues the external senses during a part of the day, the inhabitant of the southern climates has his compensation in moral enjoyment. A lucid clearness in the conceptions, and a serenity of mind, correspond with the transparency of the surrounding atmosphere. We feel these impressions without going beyond the boundaries of Europe. I appeal to travellers who have visited countries rendered famous by the great creations of the imagination and of art,—the favoured climes of Italy and Greece.

We prolonged in vain our stay on the summit of the Peak, awaiting the moment when we might enjoy the view of the whole of the archipelago of the Fortunate Islands:* we, however, descried Palma, Gomera, and the Great Canary, at our feet. (* Of all the small islands of the Canaries, the Rock of the East is the only one which cannot be seen, even in fine weather, from the top of the Peak. Its distance is 3 degrees 5 minutes, while that of the Salvage is only 2 degrees 1 minute. The island of Madeira, distant 4 degrees 29 minutes, would be visible, if its mountains were more than 3000 toises high.) The mountains of Lancerota, free from vapours at sunrise, were soon enveloped in thick clouds. Supposing only an ordinary refraction, the eye takes in, in calm weather, from the summit of the volcano, a surface of the globe of 5700 square leagues, equal to a fourth of the superficies of Spain. The question has often been agitated, whether it be possible to perceive the coast of Africa from the top of this colossal pyramid; but the nearest parts of that coast are still farther from Teneriffe than 2 degrees 49 minutes, or 56 leagues. The visual ray of the horizon from the Peak being 1 degree 57 minutes, cape Bojador can be seen only on the supposition of its height being 200 toises above the level of the ocean. We are ignorant of the height of the Black Mountains near cape Bojador, as well as of that peak, called by navigators the Penon Grande, farther to the south of this promontory. If the summit of the volcano of Teneriffe were more accessible, we should observe without doubt, in certain states of the wind, the effects of an extraordinary refraction. On perusing what Spanish and Portuguese authors relate respecting the existence of the fabulous isle of San Borondon, or Antilia, we find that it is particularly the humid wind from west-south-west, which produces in these latitudes the phenomena of the mirage. We shall not however admit with M. Vieyra, "that the play of the terrestrial refractions may render visible to the inhabitants of the Canaries the islands of Cape Verd, and even the Apalachian mountains of America."* (* The American fruits, frequently thrown by the sea on the coasts of the islands of Ferro and Gomera, were formerly supposed to emanate from the plants of the island of San Borondon. This island, said to be governed by an archbishop and six bishops, and which Father Feijoa believed to be the image of the island of Ferro, reflected on a fog-bank, was ceded in the 16th century, by the King of Portugal, to Lewis Perdigon, at the time the latter was preparing to take possession of it by conquest.)

The cold we felt on the top of the Peak, was very considerable for the season. The centigrade thermometer, at a distance from the ground, and from the apertures that emitted the hot vapours, fell in the shade to 2.7 degrees. The wind was west, and consequently opposite to that which brings to Teneriffe, during a great part of the year, the warm air that floats above the burning desert of Africa. As the temperature of the atmosphere, observed at the port of Orotava by M. Savagi, was 22.8 degrees, the decrement of caloric was one degree every 94 toises. This result perfectly corresponds with those obtained by Lamanon and Saussure on the summits of the Peak and Etna, though in very different seasons. The tall slender form of these mountains facilitates the means of comparing the temperature of two strata of the atmosphere, which are nearly in the same perpendicular plane; and in this point of view the observations made in an excursion to the volcano of Teneriffe resemble those of an ascent in a balloon. We must nevertheless remark, that the ocean, on account of its transparency and evaporation, reflects less caloric than the plains, into the upper regions of the air; and also that summits which are surrounded by the sea are colder in summer, than mountains which rise from a continent; but this circumstance has very little influence on the decrement of atmospherical heat; the temperature of the low regions being equally diminished by the proximity of the ocean.

It is not the same with respect to the influence exercised by the direction of the wind, and the rapidity of the ascending current; the latter sometimes increases in an astonishing manner the temperature of the loftiest mountains. I have seen the thermometer rise, on the slope of the volcano of Antisana, in the kingdom of Quito, to 19 degrees, when we were 2837 toises high. M. Labillardiere has seen it, on the edge of the crater of the peak of Teneriffe, at 18.7 degrees, though he had used every possible precaution to avoid the effect of accidental causes.

On the summit of the Peak, we beheld with admiration the azure colour of the sky. Its intensity at the zenith appeared to correspond to 41 degrees of the cyanometer. We know, by Saussure's experiment, that this intensity increases with the rarity of the air, and that the same instrument marked at the same period 39 degrees at the priory of Chamouni, and 40 degrees at the top of Mont Blanc. This last mountain is 540 toises higher than the volcano of Teneriffe; and if, notwithstanding this difference, the sky is observed there to be of a less deep blue, we must attribute this phenomenon to the dryness of the African air, and the proximity of the torrid zone.
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Re: Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions

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Part 3 of 4

We collected on the brink of the crater, some air which we meant to analyse on our voyage to America. The phial remained so well corked, that on opening it ten days after, the water rushed in with impetuosity. Several experiments, made by means of nitrous gas in the narrow tube of Fontana's eudiometer, seemed to prove that the air of the crater contained 0.09 degrees less oxygen than the air of the sea; but I have little confidence in this result obtained by means which we now consider as very inexact. The crater of the Peak has so little depth, and the air is renewed with so much facility, that it is scarcely probable the quantity of azote is greater there than on the coasts. We know also, from the experiments of MM. Gay-Lussac and Theodore de Saussure, that in the highest as well as in the lowest regions of the atmosphere, the air equally contains 0.21 of oxygen.* (* During the stay of M. Gay-Lussac and myself at the hospice of Mont Cenis, in March 1805, we collected air in the midst of a cloud loaded with electricity. This air, analysed in Volta's eudiometer, contained no hydrogen, and its purity did not differ 0.002 of oxygen from the air of Paris, which we had carried with us in phials hermetically sealed.)

We saw on the summit of the Peak no trace of psora, lecidea, or other cryptogamous plants; no insect fluttered in the air. We found however a few hymenoptera adhering to masses of sulphur moistened with sulphurous acid, and lining the mouths of the funnels. These are bees, which appear to have been attracted by the flowers of the Spartium nubigenum, and which oblique currents of air had carried up to these high regions, like the butterflies found by M. Ramond at the top of Mont Perdu. The butterflies perished from cold, while the bees on the Peak were scorched on imprudently approaching the crevices where they came in search of warmth.

Notwithstanding the heat we felt in our feet on the edge of the crater, the cone of ashes remains covered with snow during several months in winter. It is probable, that under the cap of snow considerable hollows are found, like those existing under the glaciers of Switzerland, the temperature of which is constantly less elevated than that of the soil on which they repose. The cold and violent wind, which blew from the time of sunrise, induced us to seek shelter at the foot of the Piton. Our hands and faces were nearly frozen, while our boots were burnt by the soil on which we walked. We descended in the space of a few minutes the Sugar-loaf which we had scaled with so much toil; and this rapidity was in part involuntary, for we often rolled down on the ashes. It was with regret that we quitted this solitude, this domain where Nature reigns in all her majesty. We consoled ourselves with the hope of once again visiting the Canary Islands, but this, like many other plans we then formed, has never been executed.

We traversed the Malpays but slowly; for the foot finds no sure foundation on the loose blocks of lava. Nearer the station of the rocks, the descent becomes extremely difficult; the compact short-swarded turf is so slippery, that we were obliged to incline our bodies continually backward, in order to avoid falling. In the sandy plain of Retama, the thermometer rose to 22.5 degrees; and this heat seemed to us suffocating in comparison with the cold, which we had suffered from the air on the summit of the volcano. We were absolutely without water; our guides, not satisfied with drinking clandestinely the little supply of malmsey wine, for which we were indebted to Don Cologan's kindness, had broken our water jars. Happily the bottle which contained the air of the crater escaped unhurt.

We at length enjoyed the refreshing breeze in the beautiful region of the arborescent erica and fern; and we were enveloped in a thick bed of clouds stationary at six hundred toises above the plain. The clouds having dispersed, we remarked a phenomenon which afterwards became familiar to us on the declivities of the Cordilleras. Small currents of air chased trains of cloud with unequal velocity, and in opposite directions: they bore the appearance of streamlets of water in rapid motion and flowing in all directions, amidst a great mass of stagnant water. The causes of this partial motion of the clouds are probably very various; we may suppose them to arise from some impulsion at a great distance; from the slight inequalities of the soil, which reflects in a greater or less degree the radiant heat; from a difference of temperature kept up by some chemical action; or perhaps from a strong electric charge of the vesicular vapours.

As we approached the town of Orotava, we met great flocks of canaries.* (* Fringilla Canaria. La Caille relates, in the narrative of his voyage to the Cape, that on Salvage Island these canaries are so abundant, that you cannot walk there in a certain season without breaking their eggs.) These birds, well known in Europe, were in general uniformly green. Some, however, had a yellow tinge on their backs; their note was the same as that of the tame canary. It is nevertheless remarked, that those which have been taken in the island of the Great Canary, and in the islet of Monte Clara, near Lancerota, have a louder and at the same time a more harmonious song. In every zone, among birds of the same species, each flock has its peculiar note. The yellow canaries are a variety, which has taken birth in Europe; and those we saw in cages at Orotava and Santa Cruz had been bought at Cadiz, and in other ports of Spain. But of all the birds of the Canary Islands, that which has the most heart-soothing song is unknown in Europe. It is the capirote, which no effort has succeeded in taming, so sacred to his soul is liberty. I have stood listening in admiration of his soft and melodious warbling, in a garden at Orotava; but I have never seen him sufficiently near to ascertain to what family he belongs. As to the parrots, which were supposed to have been seen at the period of captain Cook's abode at Teneriffe, they never existed but in the narratives of a few travellers, who have copied from each other. Neither parrots nor monkeys inhabit the Canary Islands; and though in the New Continent the former migrate as far as North Carolina, I doubt whether in the Old they have ever been met with beyond the 28th degree of north latitude.

Toward the close of day we reached the port of Orotava, where we received the unexpected intelligence that the Pizarro would not set sail till the 24th or 25th. If we could have calculated on this delay, we should either have lengthened our stay on the Peak,* or have made an excursion to the volcano of Chahorra. (* As a great number of travellers who land at Santa Cruz, do not undertake the excursion to the Peak, because they are ignorant of the time it occupies, it may be useful to lay down the following data: In making use of mules as far as the Estancia de los Ingleses, it takes twenty-one hours from Orotava to arrive at the summit of the Peak, and return to the port; namely, from Orotava to the Pino del Dornajito three hours; from the Pino to the Station of the Rocks six hours; and from this station to the Caldera three hours and a half. I reckon nine hours for the descent. In this calculation I count only the time employed in walking, without reckoning that which is necessary for examining the productions of the Peak, or for taking rest. Half a day is sufficient for going from Santa Cruz to Orotava.) We passed the following day in visiting the environs of Orotava, and enjoying the agreeable company we found at Don Cologan's. We perceived that Teneriffe had attractions not only to those who devote themselves to the study of nature: we found at Orotava several persons possessing a taste for literature and music, and who have transplanted into these distant climes the amenity of European society. In these respects the Canary Islands have no great resemblance to the other Spanish colonies, excepting the Havannah.

We were present on the eve of St. John at a pastoral fete in the garden of Mr. Little. This gentleman, who rendered great service to the Canarians during the last famine, has cultivated a hill covered with volcanic substances. He has formed in this delicious site an English garden, whence there is a magnificent view of the Peak, of the villages along the coast, and the isle of Palma, which is bounded by the vast expanse of the Atlantic. I cannot compare this prospect with any, except the views of the bays of Genoa and Naples; but Orotava is greatly superior to both in the magnitude of the masses and in the richness of vegetation. In the beginning of the evening the slope of the volcano exhibited on a sudden a most extraordinary spectacle. The shepherds, in conformity to a custom, no doubt introduced by the Spaniards, though it dates from the highest antiquity, had lighted the fires of St. John. The scattered masses of fire and the columns of smoke driven by the wind, formed a fine contrast with the deep verdure of the forests which covered the sides of the Peak. Shouts of joy resounding from afar were the only sounds that broke the silence of nature in these solitary regions.

Don Cologan's family has a country-house nearer the coast than that I have just mentioned. This house, called La Paz, is connected with a circumstance that rendered it peculiarly interesting to us. M. de Borda, whose death we deplored, was its inmate during his last visit to the Canary Islands. It was in a neighbouring plain that he measured the base, by which he determined the height of the Peak. In this geometrical operation the great dracaena of Orotava served as a mark. Should any well-informed traveller at some future day undertake a new measurement of the volcano with more exactness, and by the help of astronomical repeating circles, he ought to measure the base, not near Orotava, but near Los Silos, at a place called Bante. According to M. Broussonnet there is no plain near the Peak of greater extent. In herborizing near La Paz we found a great quantity of Lichen roccella on the basaltic rocks bathed by the waters of the sea. The archil of the Canaries is a very ancient branch of commerce; this lichen is however found in less abundance in the island of Teneriffe than in the desert islands of Salvage, La Graciosa, and Alegranza, or even in Canary and Hierro. We left the port of Orotava on the 24th of June.

To avoid disconnecting the narrative of the excursion to the top of the Peak, I have said nothing of the geological observations I made on the structure of this colossal mountain, and on the nature of the volcanic rocks of which it is composed. Before we quit the archipelago of the Canaries, I shall linger for a moment, and bring into one point of view some facts relating to the physical aspect of those countries.

Mineralogists who think that the end of the geology of volcanoes is the classification of lavas, the examination of the crystals they contain, and their description according to their external characters, are generally very well satisfied when they come back from the mouth of a burning volcano. They return loaded with those numerous collections, which are the principal objects of their research. This is not the feeling of those who, without confounding descriptive mineralogy (oryctognosy) with geognosy, endeavour to raise themselves to ideas generally interesting, and seek, in the study of nature, for answers to the following questions:—

Is the conical mountain of a volcano entirely formed of liquified matter heaped together by successive eruptions, or does it contain in its centre a nucleus of primitive rocks covered with lava, which are these same rocks altered by fire? What are the affinities which unite the productions of modern volcanoes with the basalts, the phonolites, and those porphyries with bases of feldspar, which are without quartz, and which cover the Cordilleras of Peru and Mexico, as well as the small groups of the Monts Dores, of Cantal, and of Mezen in France? Has the central nucleus of volcanoes been heated in its primitive position, and raised up, in a softened state, by the force of the elastic vapours, before these fluids communicated, by means of a crater, with the external air? What is the substance, which, for thousands of years, keeps up this combustion, sometimes so slow, and at other times so active? Does this unknown cause act at an immense depth; or does this chemical action take place in secondary rocks lying on granite?

The farther we are from finding a solution of these problems in the numerous works hitherto published on Etna and Vesuvius, the greater is the desire of the traveller to see with his own eyes. He hopes to be more fortunate than those who have preceded him; he wishes to form a precise idea of the geological relations which the volcano and the neighbouring mountains bear to each other: but how often is he disappointed, when, on the limits of the primitive soil, enormous banks of tufa and puzzolana render every observation on the position and stratification impossible! We reach the inside of the crater with less difficulty than we at first expect; we examine the cone from its summit to its base; we are struck with the difference in the produce of each eruption, and with the analogy which still exists between the lavas of the same volcano; but, notwithstanding the care with which we interrogate nature, and the number of partial observations which present themselves at every step, we return from the summit of a burning volcano less satisfied than when we were preparing to visit it. It is after we have studied them on the spot, that the volcanic phenomena appear still more isolated, more variable, more obscure, than we imagine them when consulting the narratives of travellers.

These reflections occurred to me on descending from the summit of the peak of Teneriffe, the first unextinct volcano I had yet visited. They returned anew whenever, in South America, or in Mexico, I had occasion to examine volcanic mountains. When we reflect how little the labours of mineralogists, and the discoveries in chemistry, have promoted the knowledge of the physical geology of mountains, we cannot help being affected with a painful sentiment; and this is felt still more strongly by those, who, studying nature in different climates, are more occupied by the problems they have not been able to solve, than with the few results they have obtained.

The peak of Ayadyrma, or of Echeyde,* (* The word Echeyde, which signifies Hell in the language of the Guanches, has been corrupted by the Europeans into Teyde.) is a conic and isolated mountain, which rises in an islet of very small circumference. Those who do not take into consideration the whole surface of the globe, believe, that these three circumstances are common to the greater part of volcanoes. They cite, in support of their opinion, Etna, the peak of the Azores, the Solfatara of Guadaloupe, the Trois-Salazes of the isle of Bourbon, and the clusters of volcanoes in the Indian Sea and in the Atlantic. In Europe and in Asia, as far as the interior of the latter continent is known, no burning volcano is situated in the chains of mountains; all being at a greater or less distance from those chains. In the New World, on the contrary, (and this fact deserves the greatest attention,) the volcanoes the most stupendous for their masses form a part of the Cordilleras themselves. The mountains of mica-slate and gneiss in Peru and New Grenada immediately touch the volcanic porphyries of the provinces of Quito and Pasto. To the south and north of these countries, in Chile and in the kingdom of Guatimala, the active volcanoes are grouped in rows. They are the continuation, as we may say, of the chains of primitive rocks, and if the volcanic fire has broken forth in some plain remote from the Cordilleras, as in mount Sangay and Jorullo,* (* Two volcanoes of the Provinces of Quixos and Mechoacan, the one in the southern, and the other in the northern hemisphere.) we must consider this phenomenon as an exception to the law, which nature seems to have imposed on these regions. I may here repeat these geological facts, because this presumed isolated situation of every volcano has been cited in opposition to the idea that the peak of Teneriffe, and the other volcanic summits of the Canary Islands, are the remains of a submerged chain of mountains. The observations which have been made on the grouping of volcanoes in America, prove that the ancient state of things represented in the conjectural map of the Atlantic by M. Bory de St. Vincent* (* Whether the traditions of the ancients respecting the Atlantis are founded on historical facts, is a matter totally distinct from the question whether the archipelago of the Canaries and the adjacent islands are the vestiges of a chain of mountains, rent and sunk in the sea during one of the great convulsions of our globe. I do not pretend to form any opinion in favour of the existence of the Atlantis; but I endeavour to prove, that the Canaries have no more been created by volcanoes, than the whole body of the smaller Antilles has been formed by madrepores.) is by no means contradictory to the acknowledged laws of nature; and that nothing opposes the supposition that the summits of Porto Santo, Madeira, and the Fortunate Islands, may heretofore have formed, either a distinct range of primitive mountains, or the western extremity of the chain of the Atlas.

The peak of Teyde forms a pyramidal mass like Etna, Tungurahua, and Popocatepetl. This physiognomic character is very far from being common to all volcanoes. We have seen some in the southern hemisphere, which, instead of having the form of a cone or a bell, are lengthened in one direction, having the ridge sometimes smooth, and at others bristled with small pointed rocks. This structure is peculiar to Antisana and Pichincha, two burning mountains of the province of Quito; and the absence of the conic form ought never to be considered as a reason excluding the idea of a volcanic origin. I shall develop, in the progress of this work, some of the analogies, which I think I have perceived between the physiognomy of volcanoes and the antiquity of their rocks. It is sufficient to state, generally speaking, that the summits, which are still subject to eruptions of the greatest violence, and at the nearest periods to each other, are SLENDER PEAKS of a conic form; that the mountains with LENGTHENED SUMMITS, and rugged with small stony masses, are very old volcanoes, and near being extinguished; and that rounded tops, in the form of domes, or bells, indicate those problematic porphyries, which are supposed to have been heated in their primitive position, penetrated by vapours, and forced up in a mollified state, without having ever flowed as real lithoidal lavas. To the first class belong Cotopaxi, the peak of Teneriffe, and the peak of Orizava in Mexico. In the second may be placed Cargueirazo and Pichincha, in the province of Quito; the volcano of Puracey, near Popayan; and perhaps also Hecla, in Iceland. In the third and last we may rank the majestic figure of Chimborazo, and, (if it be allowable to place by the side of that colossus a hill of Europe,) the Great Sarcouy in Auvergne.

In order to form a more exact idea of the external structure of volcanoes, it is important to compare their perpendicular height with their circumference. This, however, cannot be done with any exactness, unless the mountains are isolated, and rising on a plain nearly on a level with the sea. In calculating the circumference of the peak of Teneriffe in a curve passing through the port of Orotava, Garachico, Adexe, and Guimar, and setting aside the prolongations of its base towards the forest of Laguna, and the north-east cape of the island, we find that this extent is more than 54,000 toises. The height of the Peak is consequently one twenty-eighth of the circumference of its basis. M. von Buch found a thirty-third for Vesuvius; and, which perhaps is less certain, a thirty-fourth for Etna.* (* Gilbert, Annalen der Physik B. 5 page 455. Vesuvius is 133,000 palmas, or eighteen nautical miles in circumference. The horizontal distance from Resina to the crater is 3700 toises. Italian mineralogists have estimated the circumference of Etna at 840,000 palmas, or 119 miles. With these data, the ratio of the height to the circumference would be only a seventy-second; but I find on tracing a curve through Catania, Palermo, Bronte, and Piemonte, only 62 miles in circumference, according to the best maps. This increases the ratio to a fifty-fourth. Does the basis fall on the outside of the curve that I assume?) If the slope of these three volcanoes were uniform from the summit to the base, the peak of Teyde would have an inclination of 12 degrees 29 minutes, Vesuvius 12 degrees 41 minutes, and Etna 10 degrees 13 minutes, a result which must astonish those who do not reflect on what constitutes an average slope. In a very long ascent, slopes of three or four degrees alternate with others which are inclined from 25 to 30 degrees; and the latter only strike our imagination, because we think all the slopes of mountains more steep than they really are. I may cite in support of this consideration the example of the ascent from the port of Vera Cruz to the elevated plain of Mexico. On the eastern slope of the Cordillera a road has been traced, which for ages has not been frequented except on foot, or on the backs of mules. From Encero to the small Indian village of Las Vigas, there are 7500 toises of horizontal distance; and Encero being, according to my barometric measurement, 746 toises lower than Las Vigas, the result, for the mean slope, is only an angle of 5 degrees 40 minutes.

In the following note will be seen the results of some experiments I have made on the difficulties arising from the declivities in mountainous countries.*

(* In places where there were at the same time slopes covered with tufted grass and loose sands, I took the following measures:—

5 degrees, slope of a very marked inclination. In France the high
roads must not exceed 4 degrees 46 minutes by law;
15 degrees, slope extremely steep, and which we cannot descend in a
37 degrees, slope almost inaccessible on foot, if the ground be
naked rock, or turf too thick to form steps. The body falls
backwards when the tibia makes a smaller angle than 53 degrees with
the sole of the foot;
42 degrees, the steepest slope that can be climbed on foot in a
ground that is sandy, or covered with volcanic ashes.

When the slope is 44 degrees, it is almost impossible to scale it, though the ground permits the forming of steps by thrusting in the foot. The cones of volcanoes have a medium slope from 33 to 40 degrees. The steepest parts of these cones, either of Vesuvius, the Peak of Teneriffe, the volcano of Pichincha, or Jorullo, are from 40 to 42 degrees. A slope of 55 degrees is quite inaccessible. If seen from above it would be estimated at 75 degrees.)

Isolated volcanoes, in the most distant regions, are very analogous in their structure. At great elevations all have considerable plains, in the middle of which arises a cone perfectly circular. Thus at Cotopaxi the plains of Suniguaicu extend beyond the farm of Pansache. The stony summit of Antisana, covered with eternal snow, forms an islet in the midst of an immense plain, the surface of which is twelve leagues square, while its height exceeds that of the peak of Teneriffe by two hundred toises. At Vesuvius, at three hundred and seventy toises high, the cone detaches itself from the plain of Atrio dei Cavalli. The peak of Teneriffe presents two of these elevated plains, the uppermost of which, at the foot of the Piton, is as high as Etna, and of very little extent; while the lowermost, covered with tufts of retama, reaches as far as the Estancia de los Ingleses. This rises above the level of the sea almost as high as the city of Quito, and the summit of Mount Lebanon.

The greater the quantity of matter that has issued from the crater of a mountain, the more elevated is its cone of ashes in proportion to the perpendicular height of the volcano itself. Nothing is more striking, under this point of view, than the difference of structure between Vesuvius, the peak of Teneriffe, and Pichincha. I have chosen this last volcano in preference, because its summit* enters scarcely within the limit of the perpetual snows. (* I have measured the summit of Pichincha, that is the small mountain covered with ashes above the Llano del Vulcan, to the north of Alto de Chuquira. This mountain has not, however, the regular form of a cone. As to Vesuvius, I have indicated the mean height of the Sugar-loaf, on account of the great difference between the two edges of the crater.) The cone of Cotopaxi, the form of which is the most elegant and most regular known, is 540 toises in height; but it is impossible to decide whether the whole of this mass is covered with ashes.


Column 1: Name of the volcano.

Column 2: Total height in toises.

Column 3: Height of the cone covered with ashes.

Column 4: Proportion of the cone to the total height.

Vesuvius : 606 : 200 : 1/3.

Peak of Teneriffe : 1904 : 84 : 1/22.

Pichincha : 2490 : 240 : 1/10.

This table seems to indicate, what we shall have an opportunity of proving more amply hereafter, that the peak of Teneriffe belongs to that group of great volcanoes, which, like Etna and Antisana, have had more copious eruptions from their sides than from their summits. Thus the crater at the extremity of the Piton, which is called the Caldera, is extremely small. Its diminutive size struck M. de Borda, and other travellers, who took little interest in geological investigations.

As to the nature of the rocks which compose the soil of Teneriffe, we must first distinguish between productions of the present volcano, and the range of basaltic mountains which surround the Peak, and which do not rise more than five or six hundred toises above the level of the ocean. Here, as well as in Italy, Mexico, and the Cordilleras of Quito, the rocks of trap-formation* are at a distance from the recent currents of lava (* The trap-formation includes the basalts, green-stone (grunstein), the trappean porphyries, the phonolites or porphyrschiefer, etc.); everything shows that these two classes of substances, though they owe their origin to similar phenomena, date from very different periods. It is important to geology not to confound the modern currents of lava, the heaps of basalt, green-stone, and phonolite, dispersed over the primitive and secondary formations, with those porphyroid masses having bases of compact feldspar,* which perhaps have never been perfectly liquified, but which do not less belong to the domain of volcanoes. (* These petrosiliceous masses contain vitreous and often calcined crystals of feldspar, of amphibole, of pyroxene, a little of olivine, but scarcely any quartz. To this very ambiguous formation belong the trappean porphyries of Chimborazo and of Riobamba in America, of the Euganean mountains in Italy, and of the Siebengebirge in Germany; as well as the domites of the Great-Sarcouy, of Puy-de-Dome, of the Little Cleirsou, and of one part of the Puy-Chopine in Auvergne.)

In the island of Teneriffe, strata of tufa, puzzolana, and clay, separate the range of basaltic hills from the currents of recent lithoid lava, and from the eruptions of the present volcano. In the same manner as the eruptions of Epomeo in the island of Ischia, and those of Jorullo in Mexico, have taken place in countries covered with trappean porphyry, ancient basalt, and volcanic ashes, so the peak of Teyde has raised itself amidst the wrecks of submarine volcanoes. Notwithstanding the difference of composition in the recent lavas of the Peak, there is a certain regularity of position, which must strike the naturalist least skilled in geognosy. The great elevated plain of Retama separates the black, basaltic, and earthlike lava, from the vitreous and feldsparry lava, the basis of which is obsidian, pitch-stone, and phonolite. This phenomenon is the more remarkable, inasmuch as in Bohemia and in other parts of Europe, the porphyrschiefer with base of phonolite* (* Klingstein. Werner.) covers also the convex summits of basaltic mountains.

It has already been observed, that from the level of the sea to Portillo, and as far as the entrance on the elevated plain of the Retama, that is, two-thirds of the total height of the volcano, the ground is so covered with plants, that it is difficult to make geological observations. The currents of lava, which we discover on the slope of Monte Verde, between the beautiful spring of Dornajito and Caravela, are black masses, altered by decomposition, sometimes porous, and with very oblong pores. The basis of these lower lavas is rather wacke than basalt; when it is spongy, it resembles the amygdaloids* of Frankfort-on-the-Main. (* Wakkenartiger mandelstein. Steinkaute.) Its fracture is generally irregular; wherever it is conchoidal, we may presume that the cooling has been more rapid, and the mass has been exposed to a less powerful pressure. These currents of lava are not divided into regular prisms, but into very thin layers, not very regular in their inclination; they contain much olivine, small grains of magnetic iron, and augite, the colour of which often varies from deep leek-green to olive green, and which might be mistaken for crystallized olivine, though no transition from one to the other of these substances exists.* (* Steffens, Handbuch der Oryktognosie tome 1 s. 364. The crystals which Mr. Friesleben and myself have made known under the denomination of foliated olivine (blattriger olivin) belong, according to Mr. Karsten, to the pyroxene augite. Journal des Mines de Freiberg 1791 page 215.) Amphibole is in general very rare at Teneriffe, not only in the modern lithoid lavas, but also in the ancient basalts, as has been observed by M. Cordier, who resided longer at the Canaries than any other mineralogist. Nepheline, leucite, idocrase, and meionite have not yet been seen at the peak of Teneriffe; for a reddish-grey lava, which we found on the slope of Monte Verde, and which contains small microscopic crystals, appears to me to be a close mixture of basalt and analcime.* (* This substance, which M. Dolomieu discovered in the amygdaloids of Catania in Sicily, and which accompanies the stilbites of Fassa in Tyrol, forms, with the chabasie of Hauy, the genus Cubicit of Werner. M. Cordier found at Teneriffe xeolite in an amygdaloid which covers the basalts of La Punta di Naga.) In like manner the lava of Scala, with which the city of Naples is paved, contains a close mixture of basalt, nepheline, and leucite. With respect to this last substance, which has hitherto been observed only at Vesuvius and in the environs of Rome, it exists perhaps at the peak of Teneriffe, in the old currents of lava now covered by more recent ejections. Vesuvius, during a long series of years, has also thrown out lavas without leucites: and if it be true, as M. von Buch has rendered very probable, that these crystals are formed only in the currents which flow either from the crater itself, or very near its brink, we must not be surprised at not finding them in the lavas of the peak. The latter almost all proceed from lateral eruptions, and consequently have been exposed to an enormous pressure in the interior of the volcano.

In the plain of Retama, the basaltic lavas disappear under heaps of ashes, and pumice-stone reduced to powder. Thence to the summit, from 1500 to 1900 toises in height, the volcano exhibits only vitreous lava with bases of pitch-stone* (* Petrosilex resinite. Hauy.) and obsidian. These lavas, destitute of amphibole and mica, are of a blackish brown, often varying to the deepest olive green. They contain large crystals of feldspar, which are not fissured, and seldom vitreous. The analogy of those decidedly volcanic masses with the resinite porphyries* (* Pechstein-porphyr. Werner.) of the valley of Tribisch in Saxony is very remarkable; but the latter, which belong to an extended and metalliferous formation of porphyry, often contain quartz, which is wanting in the modern lavas. When the basis of the lavas of the Malpays changes from pitchstone to obsidian, its colour is paler, and is mixed with grey; in this case, the feldspar passes by imperceptible gradations from the common to the vitreous. Sometimes both varieties meet in the same fragment, as we observed also in the trappean porphyries of the valley of Mexico. The feldsparry lavas of the Peak, of a much less black tinge than those of Arso in the island of Ischia, whiten at the edge of the crater from the effect of the acid vapours; but internally they are not found to be colourless like that of the feldsparry lavas of the Solfatara at Naples, which perfectly resemble the trappean porphyries at the foot of Chimborazo. In the middle of the Malpays, at the height of the cavern of ice, we found among the vitreous lavas with pitch-stone and obsidian bases, blocks of real greenish-grey, or mountain-green phonolite, with a smooth fracture, and divided into thin laminae, sonorous and keen edged. These masses were the same as the porphyrschiefer of the mountain of Bilin in Bohemia; we recognised in them small long crystals of vitreous feldspar.

This regular disposition of lithoid basaltic lava and feldsparry vitreous lava is analogous to the phenomena of all trappean mountains; it reminds us of those phonolites lying in very ancient basalts, those close mixtures of augite and feldspar which cover the hills of wacke or porous amygdaloids: but why are the porphyritic or feldsparry lavas of the Peak found only on the summit of the volcano? Should we conclude from this position that they are of more recent formation than the lithoid basaltic lava, which contains olivine and augite? I cannot admit this last hypothesis; for lateral eruptions may have covered the feldsparry nucleus, at a period when the crater had ceased its activity. At Vesuvius also, we perceive small crystals of vitreous feldspar only in the very ancient lavas of the Somma. These lavas, setting aside the leucite, very nearly resemble the phonolitic ejections of the Peak of Teneriffe. In general, the farther we go back from the period of modern eruptions, the more the currents increase both in size and extent, acquiring the character of rocks, by the regularity of their position, by their division into parallel strata, or by their independence of the present form of the ground.

The Peak of Teneriffe is, next to Lipari, the volcano that has produced most obsidian. This abundance is the more striking, as in other regions of the earth, in Iceland, in Hungary, in Mexico, and in the kingdom of Quito, we meet with obsidians only at great distances from burning volcanoes. Sometimes they are scattered over the fields in angular pieces; for instance, near Popayan, in South America; at other times they form isolated rocks, as at Quinche, near Quito. In other places (and this circumstance is very remarkable), they are disseminated in pearl-stone, as at Cinapecuaro, in the province of Mechoacan,* (* To the west of the city of Mexico.) and at the Cabo de Gates, in Spain. At the peak of Teneriffe the obsidian is not found towards the base of the volcano, which is covered with modern lava: it is frequent only towards the summit, especially from the plain of Retama, where very fine specimens may be collected. This peculiar position, and the circumstance that the obsidian of the Peak has been ejected by a crater which for ages past has thrown out no flames, favour the opinion, that volcanic vitrifications, wherever they are found, are to be considered as of very ancient formation.

Obsidian, jade, and Lydian-stone,* (* Lydischerstein.) are three minerals, which nations ignorant of the use of copper or iron, have in all ages employed for making keen-edged weapons. We see that wandering hordes have dragged with them, in their distant journeys, stones, the natural position of which the mineralogist has not yet been able to determine. Hatchets of jade, covered with Aztec hieroglyphics, which I brought from Mexico, resemble both in their form and nature those made use of by the Gauls, and those we find among the South Sea islanders. The Mexicans dug obsidian from mines, which were of vast extent; and they employed it for making knives, sword-blades, and razors. In like manner the Guanches, (in whose language obsidian was called tabona,) fixed splinters of that mineral to the ends of their lances. They carried on a considerable trade in it with the neighbouring islands; and from the consumption thus occasioned, and the quantity of obsidian which must have been broken in the course of manufacture, we may presume that this mineral has become scarce from the lapse of ages. We are surprised to see an Atlantic nation substituting, like the natives of America, vitrified lava for iron. In both countries this variety of lava was employed as an object of ornament: and the inhabitants of Quito made beautiful looking-glasses with an obsidian divided into parallel laminae.

There are three varieties of obsidian at the Peak. Some form enormous blocks, several toises long, and often of a spheroidal shape. We might suppose that they had been thrown out in a softened state, and had afterwards been subject to a rotary motion. They contain a quantity of vitreous feldspar, of a snow-white colour, and the most brilliant pearly lustre. These obsidians are, nevertheless, but little transparent on the edges; they are almost opaque, of a brownish black, and of an imperfect conchoidal fracture. They pass into pitch-stone; and we may consider them as porphyries with a basis of obsidian. The second variety is found in fragments much less considerable. It is in general of a greenish black, sometimes of murky grey, very seldom of a perfect black, like the obsidian of Hecla and Mexico. Its fracture is perfectly conchoidal, and it is extremely transparent on the edges. I have found in it neither amphibole nor pyroxene, but some small white points, which seem to be feldspar. None of the obsidians of the Peak appear in those grey masses of pearl or lavender-blue, striped, and in separate wedge-formed pieces, like the obsidian of Quito, Mexico, and Lipari, and which resemble the fibrous plates of the crystalites of our glass-houses, on which Sir James Hall, Dr. Thompson, and M. de Bellevue, have published some curious observations.* (* The name crystalites has been given to the crystalized thin plates observed in glass cooling slowly. The term glastenized glass is employed by Dr. Thompson and others to indicate glass which by slow cooling is wholly unvitrified, and has assumed the appearance of a fossil substance, or real glass-stone.)

The third variety of obsidian of the Peak is the most remarkable of the whole, from its connexion with pumice-stone. It is, like that above described, of a greenish black, sometimes of a murky grey, but its very thin plates alternate with layers of pumice-stone. Dr. Thomson's fine collection at Naples contained similar examples of lithoid lava of Vesuvius, divided into very distinct plates, only a line thick. The fibres of the pumice-stone of the Peak are very seldom parallel to each other, and perpendicular to the strata of obsidian; they are most commonly irregular, asbestoidal, like fibrous glass-gall; and instead of being disseminated in the obsidian, like crystalites, they are found simply adhering to one of the external surfaces of this substance. During my stay at Madrid, M. Hergen showed me several specimens in the mineralogical collection of Don Jose Clavijo; and for a long time the Spanish mineralogists considered them as furnishing undoubted proofs, that pumice-stone owes its origin to obsidian, in some degree deprived of colour, and swelled by volcanic fire. I was formerly of this opinion, which, however, must be understood to refer to one variety only of pumice. I even thought, with many other geologists, that obsidian, so far from being vitrified lava, belonged to rocks that were not volcanic; and that the fire, forcing its way through the basalts, the green-stone rocks, the phonolites, and the porphyries with bases of pitchstone and obsidian, the lavas and pumice-stone were no other than these same rocks altered by the action of the volcanoes. The deprivation of colour and extraordinary swelling which the greater part of the obsidians undergo in a forge-fire, their transition into pitch-stone, and their position in regions very distant from burning volcanoes, appear to be phenomena very difficult to reconcile, when we consider the obsidians as volcanic glass. A more profound study of nature, new journeys, and observations made on the productions of burning volcanoes, have led me to renounce those ideas.

It appears to me at present extremely probable, that obsidians, and porphyries with bases of obsidian, are vitrified masses, the cooling of which has been too rapid to change them into lithoid lava. I consider even the pearlstone as an unvitrified obsidian: for among the minerals in the King's cabinet at Berlin there are volcanic glasses from Lipari, in which we see striated crystalites, of a pearl-grey colour, and of an earthy appearance, forming gradual approaches to a granular lithoid lava, like the pearlstone of Cinapecuaro, in Mexico. The oblong bubbles observed in the obsidians of every continent are incontestible proofs of their ancient state of igneous fluidity; and Dr. Thompson possesses specimens from Lipari, which are very instructive in this point of view, because fragments of red porphyry, or porphyry lavas, which do not entirely fill up the cavities of the obsidian, are found enveloped in them. We might say, that these fragments had not time to enter into complete solution in the liquified mass. They contain vitreous feldspar, and augite, and are the same as the celebrated columnar porphyries of the island of Panaria, which, without having been part of a current of lava, seem raised up in the form of hillocks, like many of the porphyries in Auvergne, in the Euganean mountains, and in the Cordilleras of the Andes.

The objections against the volcanic origin of obsidians, founded on their speedy loss of colour, and their swelling by a slow fire, have been shaken by the ingenious experiments of Sir James Hall. These experiments prove, that a stone which is fusible only at thirty-eight degrees of Wedgwood's pyrometer, yields a glass that softens at fourteen degrees; and that this glass, melted again and unvitrified (glastenized), is fusible again only at thirty-five degrees of the same pyrometer. I applied the blowpipe to some black pumice-stone from the volcano of the isle of Bourbon, which, on the slightest contact with the flame, whitened and melted into an enamel.

But whether obsidians be primitive rocks which have undergone the action of volcanic fire, or lavas repeatedly melted within the crater, the origin of the pumice-stones contained in the obsidian of the Peak of Teneriffe is not less problematic. This subject is the more worthy of being investigated, since it is generally interesting to the geology of volcanoes; and since that excellent mineralogist, M. Fleuriau de Bellevue, after having examined Italy and the adjacent islands with great attention, affirms, that it is highly improbable that pumice-stone owes its origin to the swelling of obsidian.

The experiments of M. da Camara, and those I made in 1802, tend to support the opinion, that the pumice-stones adherent to the obsidians of the Peak of Teneriffe do not unite to them accidentally, but are produced by the expansion of an elastic fluid, which is disengaged from the compact vitreous matter. This idea had for a long time occupied the mind of a person highly distinguished for his talents and reputation at Quito, who, unacquainted with the labours of the mineralogists of Europe, had devoted himself to researches on the volcanoes of his country. Don Juan de Larea, one of those men lately sacrificed to the fury of faction, had been struck with the phenomena exhibited by obsidians exposed to a white heat. He had thought, that, wherever volcanoes act in the centre of a country covered with porphyry with base of obsidian, the elastic fluids must cause a swelling of the liquified mass, and perform an important part in the earthquakes preceding eruptions. Without adopting an opinion, which seems somewhat bold, I made, in concert with M. Larea, a series of experiments on the tumefaction of the volcanic vitreous substances at Teneriffe, and on those which are found at Quinche, in the kingdom of Quito. To judge of the augmentation of their bulk, we measured pieces exposed to a forge-fire of moderate heat, by the water they displaced from a cylindric glass, enveloping the spongy mass with a thin coating of wax. According to our experiments, the obsidians swelled very unequally: those of the Peak and the black varieties of Cotopaxi and of Quinche increased nearly five times their bulk.

The colour of the pumice-stones of the Peak leads to another important observation. The sea of white ashes which encircles the Piton, and covers the vast plain of Retama, is a certain proof of the former activity of the crater: for in all volcanoes, even when there are lateral eruptions, the ashes and the rapilli issue conjointly with the vapours only from the opening at the summit of the mountain. Now, at Teneriffe, the black rapilli extend from the foot of the Peak to the sea-shore; while the white ashes, which are only pumice ground to powder, and among which I have discovered, with a lens, fragments of vitreous feldspar and pyroxene, exclusively occupy the region next to the Peak. This peculiar distribution seems to confirm the observations made long ago at Vesuvius, that the white ashes are thrown out last, and indicate the end of the eruption. In proportion as the elasticity of the vapours diminishes, the matter is thrown to a less distance; and the black rapilli, which issue first, when the lava has ceased running, must necessarily reach farther than the white rapilli. The latter appear to have been exposed to the action of a more intense fire.

I have now examined the exterior structure of the Peak, and the composition of its volcanic productions, from the region of the coast to the top of the Piton:—I have endeavoured to render these researches interesting, by comparing the phenomena of the volcano of Teneriffe with those that are observed in other regions, the soil of which is equally undermined by subterranean fires. This mode of viewing Nature in the universality of her relations is no doubt adverse to the rapidity desirable in an itinerary; but it appears to me that, in a narrative, the principal end of which is the progress of physical knowledge, every other consideration ought to be subservient to those of instruction and utility. By isolating facts, travellers, whose labours are in every other respect valuable, have given currency to many false ideas of the pretended contrasts which Nature offers in Africa, in New Holland, and on the ridge of the Cordilleras. The great geological phenomena are subject to regular laws, as well as the forms of plants and animals. The ties which unite these phenomena, the relations which exist between the varied forms of organized beings, are discovered only when we have acquired the habit of viewing the globe as a great whole; and when we consider in the same point of view the composition of rocks, the causes which alter them, and the productions of the soil, in the most distant regions.
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Re: Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions

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Part 4 of 4

Having treated of the volcanic substances of the isle of Teneriffe, there now remains to be solved a question intimately connected with the preceding investigation. Does the archipelago of the Canary Islands contain any rocks of primitive or secondary formation; or is there any production observed, that has not been modified by fire? This interesting problem has been considered by the naturalists of Lord Macartney's expedition, and by those who accompanied captain Baudin in his voyage to the Austral regions. Their opinions are in direct opposition to each other; and the contradiction is the more striking, as the question does not refer to one of those geological reveries which we are accustomed to call systems, but to a positive fact.

Doctor Gillan imagined that he observed, between Laguna and the port of Orotava, in very deep ravines, beds of primitive rocks. This, however, is a mistake. What Dr. Gillan calls somewhat vaguely, mountains of hard ferruginous clay, are nothing but an alluvium which we find at the foot of every volcano. Strata of clay accompany basalts, as tufas accompany modern lavas. Neither M. Cordier nor myself observed in any part of Teneriffe a primitive rock, either in its natural place, or thrown out by the mouth of the Peak; and the absence of these rocks characterizes almost every island of small extent that has an unextinguishied volcano. We know nothing positive of the mountains of the Azores; but it is certain, that the island of Bourbon as well as Teneriffe, exhibits only a heap of lavas and basalts. No volcanic rock rears its head, either on the Gros Morne, or on the volcano of Bourbon, or on the colossal pyramid of Cimandef, which is perhaps more elevated than the Peak of the Canary Islands.

Bory St. Vincent nevertheless asserted, that lavas including fragments of granite have been found on the elevated plain of Retama; and M. Broussonnet informed me, that on a hill above Guimar, fragments of mica-slate, containing beautiful plates of specular iron, had been found. I can affirm nothing respecting the accuracy of this latter statement, which it would be so much the more important to verify, as M. Poli, of Naples, is in possession of a fragment of rock thrown out by Vesuvius,* which I found to be a real mica-slate. (* In the valuable collection of Dr. Thomson, who resided at Naples till 1805, is a fragment of lava enclosing a real granite, which is composed of reddish feldspar with a pearly lustre like adularia, quartz, mica, hornblende, and, what is very remarkable, lazulite. But in general the masses of known primitive rocks, (I mean those which perfectly resemble our granites, our gneiss, and our mica-slates) are very rare in lavas; the substances we commonly denote by the name of granite, thrown out by Vesuvius, are mixtures of nepheline, mica, and pyroxene. We are ignorant whether these mixtures constitute rocks sui generis placed under granite, and consequently of more ancient date; or simply form either intermediate strata on veins, in the interior of the primitive mountains, the tops of which appear at the surface of the globe.) Every thing that tends to enlighten us with respect to the site of the volcanic fire, and the position of rocks subject to its action, is highly interesting to geology.

It is possible, that at the Peak of Teneriffe, the fragments of primitive rocks thrown out by the mouth of the volcano may be less rare than they at present appear to be, and may be heaped together in some ravine, not yet visited by travellers. In fact, at Vesuvius, these same fragments are met with only in one single place, at the Fossa Grande, where they are hidden under a thick layer of ashes. If this ravine had not long ago attracted the attention of naturalists, when masses of granular limestone, and other primitive rocks, were laid bare by the rains, we might have thought them as rare at Vesuvius, as they are, at least in appearance, at the Peak of Teneriffe.

With respect to the fragments of granite, gneiss, and mica-slate, found on the shores of Santa Cruz and Orotava, they were probably brought in ships as ballast. They no more belong to the soil where they lie, than the feldsparry lavas of Etna, seen in the pavements of Hamburg and other towns of the north. The naturalist is exposed to a thousand errors, if he lose sight of the changes, produced on the surface of the globe by the intercourse between nations. We might be led to say, that man, when expatriating himself; is desirous that everything should change country with him. Not only plants, insects, and different species of small quadrupeds, follow him across the ocean; his active industry covers the shores with rocks, which he has torn from the soil in distant climes.

Though it be certain, that no scientific observer has hitherto found at Teneriffe primitive strata, or even those trappean and ambiguous porphyries, which constitute the bases of Etna, and of several volcanoes of the Andes, we must not conclude from this isolated fact, that the whole archipelago of the Canaries is the production of submarine fires. The island of Gomera contains mountains of granite and mica-slate; and it is, undoubtedly, in these very ancient rocks, that we must seek there, as well as on all other parts of the globe, the centre of the volcanic action. Amphibole, sometimes pure and forming intermediate strata, at other times mixed with granite, as in the basanites or basalts of the ancients, may, of itself, furnish all the iron contained in the black and stony lavas. This quantity amounts in the basalt of the modern mineralogists only to 0.20, while in amphibole it exceeds 0. 30.

From several well-informed persons, to whom I addressed myself, I learned that there are calcareous formations in the Great Canary, Forteventura, and Lancerota.* (* At Lancerota calcareous stone is burned to lime with a fire made of the alhulaga, a new species of thorny and arborescent Sonchus.) I was not able to determine the nature of this secondary rock; but it appears certain, that the island of Teneriffe is altogether destitute of it; and that in its alluvial lands it exhibits only clayey calcareous tufa, alternating with volcanic breccia, said to contain, (near the village of La Rambla, at Calderas, and near Candelaria,) plants, imprints of fishes, buccinites, and other fossil marine productions. M. Cordier brought away some of this tufa, which resembles that in the environs of Naples and Rome, and contains fragments of reeds. At the Salvages, which islands La Perouse took at a distance for masses of scoriae, even fibrous gypsum is found.

I had seen, while herborizing between the port of Orotava and the garden of La Paz, heaps of greyish calcareous stones, of an imperfect conchoidal fracture, and analogous to that of Mount Jura and the Apennines. I was informed that these stones were extracted from a quarry near Rambla; and that there were similar quarries near Realejo, and the mountain of Roxas, above Adexa. This information led me into an error. As the coasts of Portugal consist of basalts covering calcareous rocks containing shells, I imagined that a trappean formation, like that of the Vicentin in Lombardy, and of Harutsh in Africa, might have extended from the banks of the Tagus and Cape St. Vincent as far as the Canary Islands; and that the basalts of the Peak might perhaps conceal a secondary calcareous stone. These conjectures exposed me to severe animadversions from M. G.A. de Luc, who is of opinion that every volcanic island is only an accumulation of lavas and scoriae. M. de Luc declares it is impossible that real lava should contain fragments of vegetable substances. Our collections, however, contain pieces of trunks of palm-trees, enclosed and penetrated by the very liquid lava of the isle of Bourbon.

Though Teneriffe belongs to a group of islands of considerable extent, the Peak exhibits nevertheless all the characteristics of a mountain rising on a solitary islet. The lead finds no bottom at a little distance from the ports of Santa Cruz, Orotava, and Garachico: in this respect it is like St. Helena. The ocean, as well as the continents, has its mountains and its plains; and, if we except the Andes, volcanic cones are formed everywhere in the lower regions of the globe.

As the Peak rises amid a system of basalts and old lava, and as the whole part which is visible above the surface of the waters exhibits burnt substances, it has been supposed that this immense pyramid is the effect of a progressive accumulation of lavas; or that it contains in its centre a nucleus of primitive rocks. Both of these suppositions appear to me ill-founded. I think there is as little probability that mountains of granite, gneiss, or primitive calcareous stone have existed where we now see the tops of the Peak, of Vesuvius, and of Etna, as in the plains where almost in our own time has been formed the volcano of Jorullo, which is more than a third of the height of Vesuvius. On examining the circumstances which accompanied the formation of the new island, called Sabrina, in the archipelago of the Azores;* (* At Sabrina island, near St. Michael's, the crater opened at the foot of a solid rock, of almost a cubical form. This rock, surmounted by a small elevated plain perfectly level, is more than two hundred toises in breadth. Its formation was anterior to that of the crater, into which, a few days after its opening, the sea made an irruption. At Kameni, the smoke was not even visible till twenty-six days after the appearance of the upheaved rocks. Philosophical Transactions volume 26 pages 69 and 200, volume 27 page 353. All these phenomena, on which Mr. Hawkins collected very valuable observations during his abode at Santorino, are unfavourable to the idea commonly entertained of the origin of volcanic mountains. They are usually ascribed to a progressive accumulation of liquified matter, and the diffusion of lavas issuing from a central mouth.) on carefully reading the minute and simple narrative, given by the Jesuit Bourguignon of the slow appearance of the islet of the little Kameni, near Santorino; we find that these extraordinary eruptions are generally preceded by a swelling of the softened crust of the globe. Rocks appear above the waters before the flames force their way, or lavas issue from the crater: we must distinguish between the nucleus raised up, and the mass of lavas and scoriae, which successively increases its dimensions.

It is true that from all existing records of revolutions of this kind, the perpendicular height of the stony nucleus appears never to have exceeded one hundred and fifty or two hundred toises; even taking into the account the depth of the sea, the bottom of which had been lifted up: but when considering the great effects of nature, and the intensity of its forces, the bulk of the masses must not deter the geologist in his speculations. Every thing indicates that the physical changes of which tradition has preserved the remembrance, exhibit but a feeble image of those gigantic catastrophes which have given mountains their present form, changed the positions of the rocky strata, and buried sea-shells on the summits of the higher Alps. Doubtless, in those remote times which preceded the existence of the human race, the raised crust of the globe produced those domes of trappean porphyry, those hills of isolated basalt on vast elevated plains, those solid nuclei which are clothed in the modern lavas of the Peak, of Etna, and of Cotopaxi. The volcanic revolutions have succeeded each other after long intervals, and at very different periods: of this we see the vestiges in the transition mountains, in the secondary strata, and in those of alluvium. Volcanoes of earlier date than the sandstone and calcareous rocks have been for ages extinguished; those which are yet in activity are in general surrounded only with breccias and modern tufas; but nothing hinders us from admitting, that the archipelago of the Canaries may exhibit some real rocks of secondary formation, if we recollect that subterranean fires have been there rekindled in the midst of a system of basalts and very ancient lavas.

We seek in vain in the Periplus of Hanno or of Scylax for the first written notions on the eruptions of the Peak of Teneriffe. Those navigators sailed timidly along the coast, anchoring every evening in some bay, and had no knowledge of a volcano distant fifty-six leagues from the coast of Africa. Hanno nevertheless relates, that he saw torrents of light, which seemed to fall on the sea; that every night the coast was covered with fire; and that the great mountain, called the Car of the Gods, appeared to throw up sheets of flame, which rose even to the clouds. But this mountain, situated northward of the island of the Gorilli, formed the western extremity of the Atlas chain; and it is also very uncertain whether the flames seen by Hanno were the effect of some volcanic eruption, or whether they must be attributed to the custom, common to many nations, of setting fire to the forests and dry grass of the savannahs. In our own days similar doubts were entertained by the naturalists, who, in the voyage of d'Entrecasteaux, saw the island of Amsterdam covered with a thick smoke. On the coast of the Caracas, trains of reddish fire, fed by the burning grass, appeared to me, for several nights, under the delusive semblance of a current of lava, descending from the mountains, and dividing itself into several branches.

Though the narratives of Hanno and Scylax, in the state in which they have reached us, contain no passage which we can reasonably apply to the Canary Islands, it is very probable that the Carthaginians, and even the Phoenicians, had some knowledge of the Peak of Teneriffe. In the time of Plato and Aristotle, vague notions of it had reached the Greeks, who considered the whole of the coast of Africa, beyond the Pillars of Hercules, as thrown into disorder by the fire of volcanoes. The Abode of the Blessed, which was sought first in the north, beyond the Riphaean mountains, among the Hyperboreans, and next to the south of Cyrenaica, was supposed to be situated in regions that were considered to be westward, being the direction in which the world known to the ancients terminated. The name of Fortunate Islands was long in as vague signification, as that of El Dorado among the conquerors of America. Happiness was thought to reside at the end of the earth, as we seek for the most exquisite enjoyments of the mind in an ideal world beyond the limits of reality.* (* The idea of the happiness, the great civilization, and the riches of the inhabitants of the north, was common to the Greeks, to the people of India, and to the Mexicans.)

We must not be surprised that, previous to the time of Aristotle, we find no accurate notion respecting the Canary Islands and the volcanoes they contain, among the Greek geographers. The only nation whose navigations extended toward the west and the north, the Carthaginians, were interested in throwing a veil of mystery over those distant regions. While the senate of Carthage was averse to any partial emigration, it pointed out those islands as a place of refuge in times of trouble and public misfortune; they were to the Carthaginians what the free soil of America has become to Europeans amidst their religious and civil dissensions.

The Canaries were not better known to the Romans till eighty-four years before the reign of Augustus. A private individual was desirous of executing the project, which wise foresight had dictated to the senate of Carthage. Sertorius, conquered by Sylla, and weary of the din of war, looked out for a safe and peaceable retreat. He chose the Fortunate Islands, of which a delightful picture had been drawn for him on the shores of Baetica. He carefully combined the notions he acquired from travellers; but in the little that has been transmitted to us of those notions, and in the more minute descriptions of Sebosus and Juba, there is no mention of volcanoes or volcanic eruptions. Scarcely can we recognise the isle of Teneriffe, and the snows with which the summit of the Peak is covered in winter, in the name of Nivaria, given to one of the Fortunate Islands. Hence we might conclude, that the volcano at that time threw out no flames, if it were allowable so to interpret the silence of a few authors, whom we know only by short fragments or dry nomenclatures. The naturalist vainly seeks in history for documents of the first eruptions of the Peak; he nowhere finds any but in the language of the Guanches, in which the word Echeyde denotes, at the same time, hell and the volcano of Teneriffe.

Of all the written testimonies, the oldest I have found in relation to the activity of this volcano dates from the beginning of the sixteenth century. It is contained in the narrative of the voyage of Aloysio Cadamusto, who landed at the Canaries in 1505. This traveller was witness of no eruptions, but he positively affirms that, like Etna, this mountain burns without interruption, and that the fire has been seen by christians held in slavery by the Guanches of Teneriffe. The Peak, therefore, was not at that time in the state of repose in which we find it at present; for it is certain that no navigator or inhabitant of Teneriffe has seen issue from the mouth of the Peak, I will not say flames, but even any smoke visible at a distance. It would be well, perhaps, were the funnel of the Caldera to open anew; the lateral eruptions would thereby be rendered less violent, and the whole group of islands would be less endangered by earthquakes.

The eruptions of the Peak have been very rare for two centuries past, and these long intervals appear to characterize volcanoes highly elevated. The smallest one of all, Stromboli, is almost always burning. At Vesuvius, the eruptions are rarer than formerly, though still more frequent than those of Etna and the Peak of Teneriffe. The colossal summits of the Andes, Cotopaxi and Tungurahua, scarcely have an eruption once in a century. We may say, that in active volcanoes the frequency of the eruptions is in the inverse ratio of the height and the mass. The Peak also had seemed extinguished during ninety-two years, when, in 1798, it made its last eruption by a lateral opening formed in the mountain of Chahorra. In this interval Vesuvius had sixteen eruptions.

The whole of the mountainous part of the kingdom of Quito may be considered as an immense volcano, occupying more than seven hundred square leagues of surface, and throwing out flames by different cones, known under the particular denominations of Cotopaxi, Tungurahua, and Pichincha. The group of the Canary Islands is situated on the same sort of submarine volcano. The fire makes its way sometimes by one and sometimes by another of these islands. Teneriffe alone contains in its centre an immense pyramid terminating in a crater, and throwing out, from one century to another, lava by its flanks. In the other islands, the different eruptions have taken place in various parts; and we nowhere find those isolated mountains to which the volcanic effects are confined. The basaltic crust, formed by ancient volcanoes, seems everywhere undermined; and the currents of lava, seen at Lancerota and Palma, remind us, by every geological affinity, of the eruption which took place in 1301 at the island of Ischia, amid the tufas of Epomeo.

The exclusively lateral action of the peak of Teneriffe is a geological phenomenon, the more remarkable as it contributes to make the mountains which are backed by the principal volcano appear isolated. It is true, that in Etna and Vesuvius the great flowings of lava do not proceed from the crater itself, and that the abundance of melted matter is generally in the inverse ratio of the height of the opening whence the lava is ejected. But at Vesuvius and Etna a lateral eruption constantly terminates by flashes of flame and by ashes issuing from the crater, that is, from the summit of the mountain. At the Peak this phenomenon has not been witnessed for ages: and yet recently, in the eruption of 1798, the crater remained quite inactive. Its bottom did not sink in; while at Vesuvius, as M. von Buch has observed, the greater or less depth of the crater is an infallible indication of the proximity of a new eruption.

I might terminate these geological sketches by enquiring into the nature of the combustible which has fed for so many thousands of years the fire of the peak of Teneriffe;—I might examine whether it be sodium or potassium, the metallic basis of some earth, carburet of hydrogen, or pure sulphur combined with iron, that burns in the volcano;—but wishing to limit myself to what may be the object of direct observation, I shall not take upon me to solve a problem for which we have not yet sufficient data. We know not whether we may conclude, from the enormous quantity of sulphur contained in the crater of the Peak, that it is this substance which keeps up the heat of the volcano; or whether the fire, fed by some combustible of an unknown nature, effects merely the sublimation of the sulphur. What we learn from observation is, that in craters which are still burning, sulphur is very rare; while all the ancient volcanoes end in becoming sulphur-pits. We might presume that, in the former, the sulphur is combined with oxygen, while, in the latter, it is merely sublimated; for nothing hitherto authorises us to admit that it is formed in the interior of volcanoes, like ammonia and the neutral salts. When we were yet unacquainted with sulphur, except as disseminated in the muriatiferous gypsum and in the Alpine limestone, we were almost forced to the belief, that in every part of the globe the volcanic fire acted on rocks of secondary formation; but recent observations have proved that sulphur exists in great abundance in those primitive rocks which so many phenomena indicate as the centre of the volcanic action. Near Alausi, at the back of the Andes of Quito, I found an immense quantity in a bed of quartz, which formed a layer of mica-slate. This fact is the more important, as it is in strict conformity with the conclusions deduced from the observation of those fragments of ancient rocks which are thrown out intact by volcanoes.

We have just considered the island of Teneriffe merely in a geological point of view; we have seen the Peak towering amid fractured strata of basalt and mandelstein; let us examine how these fused masses have been gradually adorned with vegetable clothing, what is the distribution of plants on the steep declivity of the volcano, and what is the aspect or physiognomy of vegetation in the Canary Islands.

In the northern part of the temperate zone, the cryptogamous plants are the first that cover the stony crust of the globe. The lichens and mosses, that develop their foliage beneath the snows, are succeeded by grumina and other phanerogamous plants. This order of vegetation differs on the borders of the torrid zone, and in the countries between the tropics. We there find, it is true, whatever some travellers may have asserted, not only on the mountains, but also in humid and shady places, almost on a level with the sea, Funaria, Dicranum, and Bryum; and these genera, among their numerous species, exhibit several which are common to Lapland, to the Peak of Teneriffe, and to the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. (This extraordinary fact was first observed by M. Swarz. It was confirmed by M. Willdenouw when he carefully examined our herbals, especially the collection of cryptogamous plants, which we gathered on the tops of the Andes, in a region of the world where organic life is totally different from that of the old world.) Nevertheless, in general, it is not by mosses and lichens that vegetation in the countries near the tropics begins. In the Canary Islands, as well as in Guinea, and on the rocky coasts of Peru, the first vegetation which prepares the soil are the succulent plants; the leaves of which, provided with an infinite number of orifices* (* The pores corticaux of M. Decandolle, discovered by Gleichen, and figured by Hedwig.) and cutaneous vessels, deprive the ambient air of the water it holds in solution. Fixed in the crevices of volcanic rocks, they form, as it were, that first layer of vegetable earth with which the currents of lithoid lava are clothed. Wherever these lavas are scorified, and where they have a shining surface, as in the basaltic mounds to the north of Lancerota, the development of vegetation is extremely slow, and many ages may pass away before shrubs can take root. It is only when lavas are covered with tufa and ashes, that the volcanic islands, losing that appearance of nudity which marks their origin, bedeck themselves in rich and brilliant vegetation.

In its present state, the island of Teneriffe, the Chinerfe* (* Of Chinerfe the Europeans have formed, by corruption, Tchineriffe and Teneriffe.) of the Guanches, exhibits five zones of plants, which we may distinguish by the names—region of vines, region of laurels, region of pines, region of the retama, and region of grasses. These zones are ranged in stages, one above another, and occupy, on the steep declivity of the Peak, a perpendicular height of 1750 toises; while fifteen degrees farther north, on the Pyrenees, snow descends to thirteen or fourteen hundred toises of absolute elevation. If the plants of Teneriffe do not reach the summit of the volcano, it is not because the perpetual snow and the cold of the surrounding atmosphere mark limits which they cannot pass; it is the scorified lava of the Malpays, the powdered and barren pumice-stone of the Piton, which impede the migration of plants towards the brink of the crater.

The first zone, that of the vines, extends from the sea-shore to two or three hundred toises of height; it is that which is most inhabited, and the only part carefully cultivated. In the low regions, at the port of Orotava, and wherever the winds have free access, the centigrade thermometer stands in winter, in the months of January and February, at noon, between fifteen and seventeen degrees; and the greatest heats of summer do not exceed twenty-five or twenty-six degrees. The mean temperature of the coasts of Teneriffe appears at least to rise to twenty-one degrees (16.8 degrees Reaumur); and the climate in those parts keeps at the medium between the climate of Naples and that of the torrid zone.

The region of the vines exhibits, among its vegetable productions, eight kinds of arborescent Euphorbia; Mesembrianthema, which are multiplied from the Cape of Good Hope to the Peloponnesus; the Cacalia Kleinia, the Dracaena, and other plants, which in their naked and tortuous trunks, in their succulent leaves, and their tint of bluish green, exhibit distinctive marks of the vegetation of Africa. It is in this zone that the date-tree, the plantain, the sugar-cane, the Indian fig, the Arum Colocasia, the root of which furnishes a nutritive fecula, the olive-tree, the fruit trees of Europe, the vine, and corn are cultivated. Corn is reaped from the end of March to the beginning of May: and the culture of the bread-fruit tree of Otaheite, that of the cinnamon tree of the Moluccas, the coffee-tree of Arabia, and the cacao-tree of America, have been tried with success. On several points of the coast the country assumes the character of a tropical landscape; and we perceive that the region of the palms extends beyond the limits of the torrid zone. The chamaerops and the date-tree flourish in the fertile plains of Murviedro, on the coasts of Genoa, and in Provence, near Antibes, between the thirty-ninth and forty-fourth degrees of latitude; a few trees of the latter species, planted within the walls of the city of Rome, resist even the cold of 2.5 degrees below freezing point. But if the south of Europe as yet only partially shares the gifts lavished by nature on the zone of palms, the island of Teneriffe, situated on the parallel of Egypt, southern Persia, and Florida, is adorned with the greater part of the vegetable forms which add to the majesty of the landscape in the regions near the equator.

On reviewing the different tribes of indigenous plants, we regret not finding trees with small pinnated leaves, and arborescent gramina. No species of the numerous family of the sensitive-plants has migrated as far as the archipelago of the Canary Islands, while on both continents they have been seen in the thirty-eighth and fortieth degrees of latitude. On a more careful examination of the plants of the islands of Lancerota and Forteventura, which are nearest the coast of Morocco, we may perhaps find a few mimosas among many other plants of the African flora.

The second zone, that of the laurels, comprises the woody part of Teneriffe: this is the region of the springs, which gush forth amidst turf always verdant, and never parched with drought. Lofty forests crown the hills leading to the volcano, and in them are found four species of laurel,* (* Laurus indica, L. foetens, L. nobilis, and L. Til. With these trees are mingled the Ardisia excelsa, Rhamnus glandulosus, Erica arborea and E. texo.) an oak nearly resembling the Quercus Turneri* (* Quercus canariensis, Broussonnet.) of the mountains of Tibet, the Visnea mocanera, the Myrica Faya of the Azores, a native olive (Olea excelsa), which is the largest tree of this zone, two species of Sideroxylon, the leaves of which are extremely beautiful, the Arbutus callicarpa, and other evergreen trees of the family of myrtles. Bindweeds, and an ivy very different from that of Europe (Hedera canariensis) entwine the trunks of the laurels; at their feet vegetate a numberless quantity of ferns,* (* Woodwardia radicans, Asplenium palmatum, A. canariensis, A. latifolium, Nothalaena subcordata, Trichomanes canariensis, T. speciosum, and Davallia canariensis.) of which three species* (* Two Acrostichums and the Ophyoglossum lusitanicum.) alone descend as low as the region of the vines. The soil, covered with mosses and tender grass, is enriched with the flowers of the Campanula aurea, the Chrysanthemum pinnatifidum, the Mentha canariensis, and several bushy species of Hypericum.* (* Hypericum canariense, H. floribundum, and H. glandulosum.) Plantations of wild and grafted chestnut-trees form a broad border round the region of the springs, which is the greenest and most agreeable of the whole.

In the third zone (beginning at nine hundred toises of absolute height), the last groups of Arbutus, of Myrica Faya, and of that beautiful heath known to the natives by the name of Texo, appear. This zone, four hundred toises in breadth, is entirely filled by a vast forest of pines, among which mingles the Juniperus cedro of Broussonnet. The leaves of these pines are very long and stiff, and they sprout sometimes by pairs, but oftener by threes in one sheath. Having had no opportunity of examining the fructification, we cannot say whether this species, which has the appearance of the Scotch fir, is really different from the eighteen species of pines with which we are already acquainted in Europe. M. Decandolle is of opinion that the pine of Teneriffe is equally distinct from the Pinus atlantica of the neighbouring mountains of Mogador, and from the pine of Aleppo,* (* Pinus halepensis. M. Decandolle observes, that this species, which is not found in Portugal, but grows on the Mediterranean shores of France, Spain, and Italy, in Asia Minor, and in Barbary, would be better named Pinus mediterranea. It composes the principal part of the pine-forests of the south-east of France, where Gouan and Gerard have confounded it with the Pinus sylvestris. It comprehends the Pinus halepensis, Mill., Lamb., and Desfont., and the Pinus maritima, Lamb.) which belongs to the basin of the Mediterranean, and does not appear to have passed the Pillars of Hercules. We met with these last pines on the slope of the Peak, near twelve hundred toises above the level of the sea. In the Cordilleras of New Spain, under the torrid zone, the Mexican pines extend to the height of two thousand toises. Notwithstanding the similarity of structure existing between the different species of the same genus of plants, each of them requires a certain degree of temperature and rarity in the ambient air to attain its due growth. If in temperate climates, and wherever snow falls, the uniform heat of the soil be somewhat above the mean heat of the atmosphere, it is probable that at the height of Portillo the roots of the pines draw their nourishment from a soil, in which, at a certain depth, the thermometer rises at most to nine or ten degrees.

The fourth and fifth zones, the regions of the retama and the gramina, occupy heights equal to the most inaccessible summits of the Pyrenees. It is the sterile part of the island where heaps of pumice-stone, obsidian, and broken lava, form impediments to vegetation. We have already spoken of those flowery tufts of alpine broom (Spartium nubigenum), which form oases amidst a vast desert of ashes. Two herbaceous plants, the Scrophularia glabrata and the Viola cheiranthifolia, advance even to the Malpays. Above a turf scorched by the heat of an African sun, an arid soil is overspread by the Cladonia paschalis. Towards the summit of the Peak the Urceolarea and other plants of the family of the lichens, help to work the decomposition of the scorified matter. By this unceasing action of organic force the empire of Flora is extended over islands ravaged by volcanoes.

On surveying the different zones of the vegetation of Teneriffe, we perceive that the whole island may be considered as a forest of laurels, arbutus, and pines, containing in its centre a naked and rocky soil, unfit either for pasturage or cultivation. M. Broussonnet observes, that the archipelago of the Canaries may be divided into two groups of islands; the first comprising Lancerota and Forteventura, the second Teneriffe, Canary, Gomera, Ferro, and Palma. The appearance of the vegetation essentially differs in these two groups. The eastern islands, Lancerota and Forteventura, consist of extensive plains and mountains of little elevation; they have very few springs, and bear the appearance, still more than the other islands, of having been separated from the continent. The winds blow in the same direction, and at the same periods: the Euphorbia mauritanica, the Atropa frutescens, and the arborescent Sonchus, vegetate there in the loose sands, and afford, as in Africa, food for camels. The western group of the Canaries presents a more elevated soil, is more woody, and is watered by a greater number of springs.

Though the whole archipelago contains several plants found also in Portugal,* (* M. Willdenouw and myself found, among the plants of the peak of Teneriffe, the beautiful Satyrium diphyllum (Orchis cordata, Willd.) which Mr. Link discovered in Portugal. The Canaries have, in common with the Flora of the Azores, not the Dicksonia culcita, the only arborescent heath found at the thirty-ninth degree of latitude, but the Asplenium palmatum, and the Myrica Faya. This last tree is met with in Portugal, in a wild state. Count Hoffmansegg has seen very old trunks of it; but it was doubtful whether it was indigenous, or imported into that part of our continent. In reflecting on the migrations of plants, and on the geological possibility, that lands sunk in the ocean may have heretofore united Portugal, the Azores, the Canaries, and the chain of Atlas, we conceive, that the existence of the Myrica Faya in western Europe is a phenomenon at least as striking as that of the pine of Aleppo would be at the Azores.), in Spain, at the Azores, and in the north-west of Africa, yet a great number of species, and even some genera, are peculiar to Teneriffe, to Porto Santo, and to Madeira. Such are the Mocanera, the Plocama, the Bosea, the Canarina, the Drusa, and the Pittosporum. A form which may be called northern, that of the cruciform plant (Among the small number of cruciform species contained in the Flora of Teneriffe, we shall here mention Cheiranthus longifolius, l'Herit.; Ch. fructescens, Vent.; Ch. scoparius, Brouss.; Erysimum bicorne, Aiton; Crambe strigosa, and C. laevigata, Brouss.), is much rarer in the Canaries than in Spain and in Greece. Still farther to the south, in the equinoctial regions of both continents, where the mean temperature of the air rises above twenty-two degrees, the cruciform plants are scarcely ever to be seen.

A question highly interesting to the history of the progressive marks of organization on the globe has been very warmly discussed in our own times, that of ascertaining whether the polymorphous plants are more common in the volcanic islands. The vegetation of Teneriffe is unfavourable to the hypothesis that nature in new countries is but little subject to permanent forms. M. Broussonnet, who resided so long at the Canaries, asserts that the variable plants are not more common there than in the south of Europe. May it not to be presumed, that the polymorphous species, which are so abundant in the isle of Bourbon, are assignable to the nature of the soil and climate rather than to the newness of the vegetation?

Before we take leave of the old world to pass into the new, I must advert to a subject which is of general interest, because it belongs to the history of man, and to those fatal revolutions which have swept off whole tribes from the face of the earth. We inquire at the isle of Cuba, at St. Domingo, and in Jamaica, where is the abode of the primitive inhabitants of those countries? We ask at Teneriffe what is become of the Guanches, whose mummies alone, buried in caverns, have escaped destruction? In the fifteenth century almost all mercantile nations, especially the Spaniards and the Portuguese, sought for slaves at the Canary Islands, as in later times they have been sought on the coast of Guinea.* (* The Spanish historians speak of expeditions made by the Huguenots of Rochelle to carry off Guanche slaves. I have some doubt respecting these expeditions, which are said to have taken place subsequently to the year 1530.) The Christian religion, which in its origin was so highly favourable to the liberty of mankind, served afterwards as a pretext to the cupidity of Europeans. Every individual, made prisoner before he received the rite of baptism, became a slave. At that period no attempt had yet been made to prove that the blacks were an intermediate race between man and animals. The swarthy Guanche and the African negro were simultaneously sold in the market of Seville, without a question whether slavery should be the doom only of men with black skins and woolly hair.

The archipelago of the Canaries was divided into several small states hostile to each other, and in many instances the same island was subject to two independent princes. The trading nations, influenced by the hideous policy still exercised on the coast of Africa, kept up intestine warfare. One Guanche then became the property of another, who sold him to the Europeans; several, who preferred death to slavery, killed themselves and their children. The population of the Canaries had considerably suffered by the slave trade, by the depredations of pirates, and especially by a long period of carnage, when Alonzo de Lugo completed the conquest of the Guanches. The surviving remnants of the race perished mostly in 1494, in the terrible pestilence called the modorra, which was attributed to the quantity of dead bodies left exposed in the open air by the Spaniards after the battle of La Laguna. The nation of the Guanches was extinct at the beginning of the seventeenth century; a few old men only were found at Candelaria and Guimar.

It is, however, consoling to find that the whites have not always disdained to intermarry with the natives; but the Canarians of the present day, whom the Spaniards familiarly call Islenos (Islanders), have very powerful motives for denying this mixture. In a long series of generations time effaces the characteristic marks of a race; and as the descendants of the Andalusians settled at Teneriffe are themselves of dark complexion, we may conceive that intermarriages cannot have produced a perceptible change in the colour of the whites. It is very certain that no native of pure race exists in the whole island. It is true that a few Canarian families boast of their relationship to the last shepherd-king of Guimar, but these pretensions do not rest on very solid foundations, and are only renewed from time to time when some Canarian of more dusky hue than his countrymen is prompted to solicit a commission in the service of the king of Spain.

A short time after the discovery of America, when Spain was at the highest pinnacle of her glory, the gentle character of the Guanches was the fashionable topic, as we in our times laud the Arcadian innocence of the inhabitants of Otaheite. In both these pictures the colouring is more vivid than true. When nations, wearied with mental enjoyments, behold nothing in the refinement of manners but the germ of depravity, they are pleased with the idea, that in some distant region, in the first dawn of civilization, infant society enjoys pure and perpetual felicity. To this sentiment Tacitus owed a part of his success, when he sketched for the Romans, subjects of the Caesars, a picture of the manners of the inhabitants of Germany. The same sentiment gives an ineffable charm to the narrative of those travellers who, at the close of the last century, visited the South Sea Islands.

The inhabitants of those islands, too much vaunted (and previously anthropophagi), resemble, under more than one point of view, the Guanches of Teneriffe. Both nations were under the yoke of feudal government. Among the Guanches, this institution, which facilitates and renders a state of warfare perpetual, was sanctioned by religion. The priests declared to the people: "The great Spirit, Achaman, created first the nobles, the achimenceys, to whom he distributed all the goats that exist on the face of the earth. After the nobles, Achaman created the plebeians, achicaxnas. This younger race had the boldness to petition also for goats; but the supreme Spirit answered, that this race was destined to serve the nobles, and that they had need of no property." This tradition was made, no doubt, to please the rich vassals of the shepherd-kings. The faycan, or high priest, also exercised the right of conferring nobility; and the law of the Guanches expressed that every achimencey who degraded himself by milking a goat with his own hands, lost his claim to nobility. This law does not remind us of the simplicity of the Homeric age. We are astonished to see the useful labours of agriculture, and of pastoral life, exposed to contempt at the very dawn of civilization.

The Guanches, famed for their tall stature, were the Patagonians of the old world. Historians exaggerated the muscular strength of the Guanches, as, previous to the voyage of Bougainville and Cordoba, colossal proportions were attributed to the tribe that inhabited the southern extremity of America. I never saw Guanche mummies but in the cabinets of Europe. At the time I visited the Canaries they were very scarce; a considerable number, however, might be found if miners were employed to open the sepulchral caverns which are cut in the rock on the eastern slope of the Peak, between Arico and Guimar. These mummies are in a state of desiccation so singular, that whole bodies, with their integuments, frequently do not weigh above six or seven pounds; or a third less than the skeleton of an individual of the same size, recently stripped of the muscular flesh. The conformation of the skull has some slight resemblance to that of the white race of the ancient Egyptians; and the incisive teeth of the Guanches are blunted, like those of the mummies found on the banks of the Nile. But this form of teeth is the result of art; and on examining more carefully the physiognomy of the ancient Canarians, Blumenbach and other able anatomists have recognized in the cheek bones and the lower jaw perceptible differences from the Egyptian mummies. On opening those of the Guanches, remains of aromatic plants are discovered, among which the Chenopodium ambrosioides is constantly perceived: the bodies are often decorated with small laces, to which are hung little discs of baked earth, which appear to have served as numerical signs, and resemble the quippoes of the Peruvians, the Mexicans, and the Chinese.

The population of islands being in general less exposed than that of continents to the effect of migrations, we may presume that, in the time of the Carthaginians and the Greeks, the archipelago of the Canaries was inhabited by the same race of men as were found by the Norman and Spanish conquerors. The only monument that can throw any light on the origin of the Guanches is their language; but unhappily there are not above a hundred and fifty words extant, and several express the same object, according to the dialect of the different islanders. Independently of these words, which have been carefully noted, there are still some valuable fragments existing in the names of a great number of hamlets, hills, and valleys. The Guanches, like the Biscayans, the Hindoos, the Peruvians, and all primitive nations, named places after the quality of the soil, the shape of the rocks, the caverns that gave them shelter, and the nature of the tree that overshadowed the springs.*

(* It has been long imagined, that the language of the Guanches had no analogy with the living tongues; but since the travels of Hornemann, and the ingenious researches of Marsden and Venturi, have drawn the attention of the learned to the Berbers, who, like the Sarmatic tribes, occupy an immense extent of country in the north of Africa, we find that several Guanche words have common roots with words of the Chilha and Gebali dialects. We shall cite, for instance, the words:


Column 1: Word.

Column 2: In Guanche.

Column 3: In Berberic.

Heaven : Tigo : Tigot.
Milk : Aho : Acho.
Barley : Temasen : Tomzeen.
Basket : Carianas : Carian.
Water : Aenum : Anan.

I doubt whether this analogy is a proof of a common origin; but it is an indication of the ancient connexion between the Guanches and Berbers, a tribe of mountaineers, in which the ancient Numidians, Getuli, and Garamanti are confounded, and who extend themselves from the eastern extremity of Atlas by Harutsh and Fezzan, as far as the oasis of Siwah and Augela. The natives of the Canary Islands called themselves Guanches, from guan, man; as the Tonguese call themselves bye, and tongui, which have the same signification as guan. Besides the nations who speak the Berberic language are not all of the same race; and the description which Scylax gives, in his Periplus, of the inhabitants of Cerne, a shepherd people of tall stature and long hair, reminds us of the features which characterize the Canarian Guanches.)

The greater attention we direct to the study of languages in a philosophical point of view, the more we must observe that no one of them is entirely distinct. The language of the Guanches would appear still less so, had we any data respecting its mechanism and grammatical construction; two elements more important than the form of words, and the identity of sounds. It is the same with certain idioms, as with those organized beings that seem to shrink from all classification in the series of natural families. Their isolated state is merely apparent; for it ceases when, on embracing a greater number of objects, we come to discover the intermediate links. Those learned enquirers who trace Egyptians wherever there are mummies, hieroglyphics, or pyramids, will imagine perhaps that the race of Typhon was united to the Guanches by the Berbers, real Atlantes, to whom belong the Tibboes and the Tuarycks of the desert: but this hypothesis is supported by no analogy between the Berberic and Coptic languages, which are justly considered as remnants of the ancient Egyptian.

The people who have succeeded the Guanches are descended from the Spaniards, and in a more remote degree from the Normans. Though these two races have been exposed during three centuries past to the same climate, the latter is distinguished by the fairer complexion. The descendants of the Normans inhabit the valley of Teganana, between Punta de Naga and Punta de Hidalgo. The names of Grandville and Dampierre are still pretty common in this district. The Canarians are a moral, sober, and religious people, of a less industrious character at home than in foreign countries. A roving and enterprising disposition leads these islanders, like the Biscayans and Catalonians, to the Philippines, to the Ladrone Islands, to America, and wherever there are Spanish settlements, from Chile and La Plata to New Mexico. To them we are in a great measure indebted for the progress of agriculture in those colonies. The whole archipelago does not contain 160,030 inhabitants, and the Islenos are perhaps more numerous in the new continent than in their own country.
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Re: Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions

Postby admin » Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:03 am


We left the road of Santa Cruz on the 25th of June, and directed our course towards South America. We soon lost sight of the Canary Islands, the lofty mountains of which were covered with a reddish vapour. The Peak alone appeared from time to time, as at intervals the wind dispersed the clouds that enveloped the Piton. We felt, for the first time, how strong are the impressions left on the mind from the aspect of those countries situated on the limits of the torrid zone, where nature appears at once so rich, so various, and so majestic. Our stay at Teneriffe had been very short, and yet we withdrew from the island as if it had long been our home.

Our passage from Santa Cruz to Cumana, the most eastern part of the New Continent, was very fine. We cut the tropic of Cancer on the 27th; and though the Pizarro was not a very fast sailer, we made, in twenty days, the nine hundred leagues, which separate the coast of Africa from that of the New Continent. We passed fifty leagues west of Cape Bojador, Cape Blanco, and the Cape Verd islands. A few land birds, which had been driven to sea by the impetuosity of the wind followed us for several days.

The latitude diminished rapidly, from the parallel of Madeira to the tropic. When we reached the zone where the trade-winds are constant, we crossed the ocean from east to west, on a calm sea, which the Spanish sailors call the Ladies' Gulf, el Golfo de las Damas. In proportion as we advanced towards the west, we found the trade-winds fix to eastward.

These winds, the most generally adopted theory of which is explained in a celebrated treatise of Halley,* are a phenomenon much more complicated than most persons admit. (* The existence of an upper current of air, which blows constantly from the equator to the poles, and of a lower current, which blows from the poles to the equator, had already been admitted, as M. Arago has shown, by Hooke. The ideas of the celebrated English naturalist are developed in a Discourse on Earthquakes published in 1686. "I think (adds he) that several phenomena, which are presented by the atmosphere and the ocean, especially the winds, may be explained by the polar currents."—Hooke's Posthumous Works page 364.) In the Atlantic Ocean, the longitude, as well as the declination of the sun, influences the direction and limits of the trade-winds. In the direction of the New Continent, in both hemispheres, these limits extend beyond the tropics eight or nine degrees; while in the vicinity of Africa, the variable winds prevail far beyond the parallel of 28 or 27 degrees. It is to be regretted, on account of the progress of meteorology and navigation, that the changes of the currents of the equinoctial atmosphere in the Pacific are much less known than the variation of these same currents in a sea that is narrower, and influenced by the proximity of the coasts of Guinea and Brazil. The difference with which the strata of air flow back from the two poles towards the equator cannot be the same in every degree of longitude, that is to say, on points of the globe where the continents are of very different breadths, and where they stretch away more or less towards the poles.

It is known, that in the passage from Santa Cruz to Cumana, as in that from Acapulco to the Philippine Islands, seamen are scarcely ever under the necessity of working their sails. We pass those latitudes as if we were descending a river, and we might deem it no hazardous undertaking if we made the voyage in an open boat. Farther west, on the coast of Santa Martha and in the Gulf of Mexico, the trade-wind blows impetuously, and renders the sea very stormy.* (* The Spanish sailors call the rough trade-winds at Carthagena in the West Indies los brisotes de Santa Martha; and in the Gulf of Mexico, las brizas pardas. These latter winds are accompanied with a grey and cloudy sky.)

The wind fell gradually the farther we receded from the African coast: it was sometimes smooth water for several hours, and these short calms were regularly interrupted by electrical phenomena. Black thick clouds, marked by strong outlines, rose on the east, and it seemed as if a squall would have forced us to hand our topsails; but the breeze freshened anew, there fell a few large drops of rain, and the storm dispersed without our hearing any thunder. Meanwhile it was curious to observe the effect of several black, isolated, and very low clouds, which passed the zenith. We felt the force of the wind augment or diminish progressively, according as small bodies of vesicular vapour approached or receded, while the electrometers, furnished with a long metallic rod and lighted match, showed no change of electric tension in the lower strata of the air. It is by help of these squalls, which alternate with dead calms, that the passage from the Canary Islands to the Antilles, or southern coast of America, is made in the months of June and July.

Some Spanish navigators have lately proposed going to the West Indies and the coasts of Terra Firma by a course different from that which was taken by Columbus. They advise, instead of steering directly to the south in search of the trade-winds, to change both latitude and longitude, in a diagonal line from Cape St. Vincent to America. This method, which shortens the way, cutting the tropic nearly twenty degrees west of the point where it is commonly cut by pilots, was several times successfully adopted by Admiral Gravina. That able commander, who fell at the battle of Trafalgar, arrived in 1802 at St. Domingo, by the oblique passage, several days before the French fleet, though orders of the court of Madrid would have forced him to enter Ferrol with his squadron, and stop there some time.

This new system of navigation shortens the passage from Cadiz to Cumana one-twentieth; but as the tropic is attained only at the longitude of forty degrees, the chance of meeting with contrary winds, which blow sometimes from the south, and at other times from the south-west, is more unfavourable. In the old system, the disadvantage of making a longer passage is compensated by the certainty of catching the trade-winds in a shorter space of time, and keeping them the greater part of the passage. At the time of my abode in the Spanish colonies, I witnessed the arrival of several merchant-ships, which from the fear of privateers had chosen the oblique course, and had had a very short passage.

Nothing can equal the beauty and mildness of the climate of the equinoctial region on the ocean. While the trade wind blew strongly, the thermometer kept at 23 or 24 degrees in the day, and at 22 or 22.5 degrees during the night. The charm of the lovely climates bordering on the equator, can be fully enjoyed only by those who have undertaken the voyage from Acapulco or the coasts of Chile to Europe in a very rough season. What a contrast between the tempestuous seas of the northern latitudes and the regions where the tranquillity of nature is never disturbed! If the return from Mexico or South America to the coasts of Spain were as expeditious and as agreeable as the passage from the old to the new continent, the number of Europeans settled in the colonies would be much less considerable than it is at present. To the sea which surrounds the Azores and the Bermuda Islands, and which is traversed in returning to Europe by the high latitudes, the Spaniards have given the singular name of Golfo de las Yeguas (the Mares' Gulf). Colonists who are not accustomed to the sea, and who have led solitary lives in the forests of Guiana, the savannahs of the Caracas, or the Cordilleras of Peru, dread the vicinity of the Bermudas more than the inhabitants of Lima fear at present the passage round Cape horn.

To the north of the Cape Verd Islands we met with great masses of floating seaweeds. They were the tropic grape, (Fucus natans), which grows on submarine rocks, only from the equator to the fortieth degree of north and south latitude. These weeds seem to indicate the existence of currents in this place, as well as to south-west of the banks of Newfoundland. We must not confound the latitudes abounding in scattered weeds with those banks of marine plants, which Columbus compares to extensive meadows, the sight of which dismayed the crew of the Santa Maria in the forty-second degree of longitude. I am convinced, from the comparison of a great number of journals, that in the basin of the Northern Atlantic there exist two banks of weeds very different from each other. The most extensive is a little west of the meridian of Fayal, one of the Azores, between the twenty-fifth and thirty-sixth degrees of latitude.* (* It would appear that Phoenician vessels came "in thirty days' sail, with an easterly wind," to the weedy sea, which the Portuguese and Spaniards call mar de zargasso. I have shown, in another place (Views of Nature Bohn's edition page 46), that the passage of Aristotle, De Mirabil. (ed. Duval page 1157), can scarcely be applied to the coasts of Africa, like an analogous passage of the Periplus of Scylax. Supposing that this sea, full of weeds, which impeded the course of the Phoenician vessels, was the mar de zargasso, we need not admit that the ancients navigated the Atlantic beyond thirty degrees of west longitude from the meridian of Paris.) The temperature of the Atlantic in those latitudes is from sixteen to twenty degrees, and the north winds, which sometimes rage there very tempestuously, drive floating isles of seaweed into the low latitudes as far as the parallels of twenty-four and even twenty degrees. Vessels returning to Europe, either from Monte Video or the Cape of Good Hope, cross these banks of Fucus, which the Spanish pilots consider as at an equal distance from the Antilles and Canaries; and they serve the less instructed mariner to rectify his longitude. The second bank of Fucus is but little known; it occupies a much smaller space, in the twenty-second and twenty-sixth degrees of latitude, eighty leagues west of the meridian of the Bahama Islands. It is found on the passage from the Caiques to the Bermudas.

Though a species of seaweed* (* The baudreux of the Falkland Islands; Fucus giganteus, Forster; Laminaria pyrifera, Lamour.) has been seen with stems eight hundred feet long, the growth of these marine cryptogamia being extremely rapid, it is nevertheless certain, that in the latitudes we have just described, the Fuci, far from being fixed to the bottom, float in separate masses on the surface of the water. In this state, the vegetation can scarcely last longer than it would in the branch of a tree torn from its trunk; and in order to explain how moving masses are found for ages in the same position, we must admit that they owe their origin to submarine rocks, which, lying at forty or sixty fathoms' depth, continually supply what has been carried away by the equinoctial currents. This current bears the tropic grape into the high latitudes, toward the coasts of Norway and France; and it is not the Gulf-stream, as some mariners think, which accumulates the Fucus to the south of the Azores.

The causes that unroot these weeds at depths where it is generally thought the sea is but slightly agitated, are not sufficiently known. We learn only, from the observations of M. Lamouroux, that if the fucus adhere to the rocks with the greatest firmness before its fructification, it separates with great facility after that period, or during the season which suspends its vegetation like that of the terrestrial plants. The fish and mollusca which gnaw the stems of the seaweeds no doubt contribute also to detach them from their roots.

From the twenty-second degree of latitude, we found the surface of the sea covered with flying-fish,* (* Exocoetus volitans.) which threw themselves up into the air, twelve, fifteen, or eighteen feet, and fell down on the deck. I do not hesitate to speak on a subject of which voyagers discourse as frequently as of dolphins, sharks, sea-sickness, and the phosphorescence of the ocean. None of these topics can fail to afford interesting observations to naturalists, provided they make them their particular study. Nature is an inexhaustible source of investigation, and in proportion as the domain of science is extended, she presents herself to those who know how to interrogate her, under forms which they have never yet examined.

I have named the flying-fish, in order to direct the attention of naturalists to the enormous size of their natatory bladder, which, in an animal of 6.4 inches, is 3.6 inches long, 0.9 of an inch broad, and contains three cubic inches and a half of air. As this bladder occupies more than half the size of the fish, it is probable that it contributes to its lightness. We may assert that this reservoir of air is more fitted for flying than swimming; for the experiments made by M. Provenzal and myself have proved, that, even in the species which are provided with this organ, it is not indispensably necessary for the ascending movement to the surface of the water. In a young flying-fish, 5.8 inches long, each of the pectoral fins, which serve as wings, presented a surface to the air of 3 7/16 square inches. We observed, that the nine branches of nerves, which go to the twelve rays of these fins, are almost three times the size of the nerves that belong to the ventral fins. When the former of these nerves are excited by galvanic electricity, the rays which support the membrane of the pectoral fin extend with five times the force with which the other fins move when galvanised by the same metals. Thus, the fish is capable of throwing itself horizontally the distance of twenty feet before retouching the water with the extremity of its fins. This motion has been aptly compared to that of a flat stone, which, thrown horizontally, bounds one or two feet above the water. Notwithstanding the extreme rapidity of this motion, it is certain, that the animal beats the air during the leap; that is, it alternately extends and closes its pectoral fins. The same motion has been observed in the flying scorpion of the rivers of Japan: they also contain a large air-bladder, with which the great part of the scorpions that have not the faculty of flying are unprovided. The flying-fish, like almost all animals which have gills, enjoy the power of equal respiration for a long time, both in water and in air, by the same organs; that is, by extracting the oxygen from the atmosphere as well as from the water in which it is dissolved. They pass a great part of their life in the air; but if they escape from the sea to avoid the voracity of the Dorado, they meet in the air the Frigate-bird, the Albatross, and others, which seize them in their flight. Thus, on the banks of the Orinoco, herds of the Cabiai, which rush from the water to escape the crocodile, become the prey of the jaguar, which awaits their arrival.

I doubt, however, whether the flying-fish spring out of the water merely to escape the pursuit of their enemies. Like swallows, they move by thousands in a right line, and in a direction constantly opposite to that of the waves. In our own climates, on the brink of a river, illumined by the rays of the sun, we often see solitary fish fearlessly bound above the surface as if they felt pleasure in breathing the air. Why should not these gambols be more frequent with the flying-fish, which from the strength of their pectoral fins, and the smallness of their specific gravity, can so easily support themselves in the air? I invite naturalists to examine whether other flying-fish, for instance the Exocoetus exiliens, the Trigla volitans, amid the T. hirundo, have as capacious an air-bladder as the flying-fish of the tropics. This last follows the heated waters of the Gulf-stream when they flow northward. The cabin-boys amuse themselves with cutting off a part of the pectoral fins, and assert, that these wings grow again; which seems to me not unlikely, from facts observed in other families of fishes.

At the time I left Paris, experiments made at Jamaica by Dr. Brodbelt, on the air contained in the natatory bladder of the sword-fish, had led some naturalists to think, that within the tropics, in sea-fish, that organ must be filled with pure oxygen gas. Full of this idea, I was surprised at finding in the air-bladder of the flying-fish only 0.04 of oxygen to 0.94 of azote and 0.02 of carbonic acid. The proportion of this last gas, measured by the absorption of lime-water in graduated tubes, appeared more uniform than that of the oxygen, of which some individuals yielded almost double the quantity. From the curious phenomena observed by MM. Biot, Configliachi, and Delaroche, we might suppose, that the swordfish dissected by Dr. Brodbelt had inhabited the lower strata of the ocean, where some fish* have as much as 0.92 of oxygen in the air-bladder. (* Trigla cucullus.)

On the 3rd and 4th of July, we crossed that part of the Atlantic where the charts indicate the bank of the Maal-stroom; and towards night we altered our course to avoid the danger, the existence of which is, however, as doubtful as that of the isles Fonseco and St. Anne. It would have been perhaps as prudent to have continued our course. The old charts are filled with rocks, some of which really exist, though most of them are merely the offspring of those optical illusions which are more frequent at sea than in inland places. As we approached the supposed Maal-stroom, we observed no other motion in the waters than the effect of a current which bore to the north-west, and which hindered us from diminishing our latitude as much as we wished. The force of this current augments as we approach the new continent; it is modified by the configuration of the coasts of Brazil and Guiana, and not by the waters of the Orinoco and the Amazon, as some have supposed.

From the time we entered the torrid zone, we were never weary of admiring, at night, the beauty of the southern sky, which, as we advanced to the south, opened new constellations to our view. We feel an indescribable sensation when, on approaching the equator, and particularly on passing from one hemisphere to the other, we see those stars, which we have contemplated from our infancy, progressively sink, and finally disappear. Nothing awakens in the traveller a livelier remembrance of the immense distance by which he is separated from his country, than the aspect of an unknown firmament. The grouping of the stars of the first magnitude, some scattered nebulae, rivalling in splendour the milky way, and tracts of space remarkable for their extreme blackness, give a peculiar physiognomy to the southern sky. This sight fills with admiration even those who, uninstructed in the several branches of physical science, feel the same emotion of delight in the contemplation of the heavenly vault, as in the view of a beautiful landscape, or a majestic site. A traveller needs not to be a botanist, to recognize the torrid zone by the mere aspect of its vegetation. Without having acquired any notions of astronomy, without any acquaintance with the celestial charts of Flamsteed and De La Caille, he feels he is not in Europe, when he sees the immense constellation of the Ship, or the phosphorescent Clouds of Magellan, arise on the horizon. The heavens and the earth,—everything in the equinoctial regions, presents an exotic character.

The lower regions of the air were loaded with vapours for some days. We saw distinctly for the first time the Southern Cross only on the night of the 4th of July, in the sixteenth degree of latitude. It was strongly inclined, and appeared from time to time between the clouds, the centre of which, furrowed by uncondensed lightnings, reflected a silvery light. If a traveller may be permitted to speak of his personal emotions, I shall add, that on that night I experienced the realization of one of the dreams of my early youth.

When we begin to fix our eyes on geographical maps, and to read the narratives of navigators, we feel for certain countries and climates a sort of predilection, which we know not how to account for at a more advanced period of life. These impressions, however, exercise a considerable influence over our determinations; and from a sort of instinct we endeavour to connect ourselves with objects on which the mind has long been fixed as by a secret charm. At a period when I studied the heavens, not with the intention of devoting myself to astronomy, but only to acquire a knowledge of the stars, I was disturbed by a feeling unknown to those who are devoted to sedentary life. It was painful to me to renounce the hope of beholding the beautiful constellations near the south pole. Impatient to rove in the equinoctial regions, I could not raise my eyes to the starry firmament without thinking of the Southern Cross, and recalling the sublime passage of Dante, which the most celebrated commentators have applied to that constellation:—

Io mi volsi a man' destra e posi mente
All' altro polo, e vidi quattro stelle
Non viste mai fuorch' alla prima gente.
Goder parea lo ciel di lor fiammelle;
O settentrional vedovo sito
Poiche privato sei di mirar quelle!

The pleasure we felt on discovering the Southern Cross was warmly shared by those of the crew who had visited the colonies. In the solitude of the seas we hail a star as a friend, from whom we have long been separated. The Portuguese and the Spaniards are peculiarly susceptible of this feeling; a religious sentiment attaches them to a constellation, the form of which recalls the sign of the faith planted by their ancestors in the deserts of the New World.

The two great stars which mark the summit and the foot of the Cross having nearly the same right ascension, it follows that the constellation is almost perpendicular at the moment when it passes the meridian. This circumstance is known to the people of every nation situated beyond the tropics, or in the southern hemisphere. It has been observed at what hour of the night, in different seasons, the Cross is erect or inclined. It is a timepiece which advances very regularly nearly four minutes a-day, and no other group of stars affords to the naked eye an observation of time so easily made. How often have we heard our guides exclaim in the savannahs of Venezuela, or in the desert extending from Lima to Truxillo, "Midnight is past, the Cross begins to bend!" How often those words reminded us of that affecting scene, where Paul and Virginia, seated near the source of the river of Lataniers, conversed together for the last time, and where the old man, at the sight of the Southern Cross, warns them that it is time to separate.

The last days of our passage were not so felicitous as the mildness of the climate and the calmness of the ocean had led us to hope. The dangers of the sea did not disturb us, but the germs of a malignant fever became manifest on board our vessel as we drew near the Antilles. Between decks the ship was excessively hot, and very much crowded. From the time we passed the tropic, the thermometer was at thirty-four or thirty-six degrees. Two sailors, several passengers, and, what is remarkable enough, two negroes from the coast of Guinea, and a mulatto child, were attacked with a disorder which appeared to be epidemic. The symptoms were not equally alarming in all the cases; nevertheless, several persons, and especially the most robust, fell into delirium after the second day. No fumigation was made. A Gallician surgeon, ignorant and phlegmatic, ordered bleedings, because he attributed the fever to what he called heat and corruption of the blood. There was not an ounce of bark on board; for we had emitted to take any with us, under the impression that this salutary production of Peru could not fail to be found on board a Spanish vessel.

On the 8th of July, a sailor, who was near expiring, recovered his health from a circumstance worthy of being mentioned. His hammock was so hung, that there was not ten inches between his face and the deck. It was impossible to administer the sacrament in this situation; for, agreeably to the custom on board Spanish vessels, the viaticum must be carried by the light of tapers, and followed by the whole crew. The patient was removed into an airy place near the hatchway, where a small square berth had been formed with sailcloth. Here he was to remain till he died, which was an event expected every moment; but passing from an atmosphere heated, stagnant, and filled with miasma, into fresher and purer air, which was renewed every instant, he gradually revived from his lethargic state. His recovery dated from the day when he quitted the middle deck; and as it often happens in medicine that the same facts are cited in support of systems diametrically opposite, this recovery confirmed our doctor in his idea of the inflammation of the blood, and the necessity of bleeding, evacuating, and all the asthenic remedies. We soon felt the fatal effects of this treatment.

For several days the pilot's reckoning differed 1 degree 12 minutes in longitude from that of my time. This difference was owing less to the general current, which I have called the current of rotation, than to that particular movement, which, drawing the waters toward the north-west, from the coast of Brazil to the Antilles, shortens the passage from Cayenne to Guadaloupe.* (* In the Atlantic Ocean there is a space where the water is constantly milky, though the sea is very deep. This curious phenomenon exists in the parallel of the island of Dominica, very near the 57th degree of longitude. May there not be in this place some sunken volcanic islet, more easterly still than Barbadoes?) On the 12th of July, I thought I might foretell our seeing land next day before sunrise. We were then, according to my observations, in latitude 10 degrees 46 minutes, and west longitude 60 degrees 54 minutes. A few series of lunar distances confirmed the chronometrical result; but we were surer of the position of the vessel, than of that of the land to which we were directing our course, and which was so differently marked in the French, Spanish, and English charts. The longitudes deduced from the accurate observations of Messrs. Churruca, Fidalgo, and Noguera, were not then published.

The pilots trusted more to the log than the timekeeper; they smiled at the prediction of so speedily making land, and thought themselves two or three days' sail from the coast. It was therefore with great pleasure, that on the 13th, about six in the morning, I learned that very high land was seen from the mast-head, though not clearly, as it was surrounded with a thick fog. The wind blew hard, and the sea was very rough. Large drops of rain fell at intervals, and every indication menaced tempestuous weather. The captain of the Pizarro intended to pass through the channel which separates the islands of Tobago and Trinidad; and knowing that our sloop was very slow in tacking, he was afraid of falling to leeward towards the south, and approaching the Boca del Drago. We were in fact surer of our longitude than of our latitude, having had no observation at noon since the 11th. Double altitudes which I took in the morning, after Douwes's method, placed us in 11 degrees 6 minutes 50 seconds, consequently 15 minutes north of our reckoning. Though the result clearly proved that the high land on the horizon was not Trinidad, but Tobago, yet the captain continued to steer north-north-west, in search of this latter island.

An observation of the meridian altitude of the sun fully confirmed the latitude obtained by Douwes's method. No more doubt remained as to the position of the vessel, with respect to the island, and we resolved to double Cape North (Tobago) to pass between that island and Grenada, and steer towards a port in Margareta.

The island of Tobago presents a very picturesque aspect. It is merely a heap of rocks carefully cultivated. The dazzling whiteness of the stone forms an agreeable contrast to the verdure of some scattered tufts of trees. Cylindric and very lofty cactuses crown the top of the mountains, and give a peculiar physiognomy to this tropical landscape. The sight of the trees alone is sufficient to remind the navigator that he has reached an American coast; for these cactuses are as exclusively peculiar to the New World, as the heaths are to the Old.

We crossed the shoal which joins Tobago to the island of Grenada. The colour of the sea presented no visible change; but the centigrade thermometer, plunged into the water to the depth of some inches, rose only to 23 degrees; while farther at sea eastward on the same parallel, and equally near the surface, it kept at 25.6 degrees. Notwithstanding the currents, the cooling of the water indicated the existence of the shoal, which is noted in only a very few charts. The wind slackened after sunset, and the clouds disappeared as the moon reached the zenith. The number of falling stars was very considerable on this and the following nights; they appeared less frequent towards the north than the south over Terra Firma, which we began to coast. This position seems to prove the influence of local causes on meteors, the nature of which is not yet sufficiently known to us.

On the 14th at sunrise, we were in sight of the Boca del Drago. We distinguished Chacachacarreo, the most westerly of the islands situated between Cape Paria and the north-west cape of Trinidad. When we were five leagues distant from the coast, we felt, near Punta de la Boca, the effect of a particular current which carried the ship southward. The motion of the waters which flow through the Boca del Draco, and the action of the tides, occasion an eddy. We cast the lead, and found from thirty-six to forty-three fathoms on a bottom of very fine green clay. According to the rules established by Dampier, we ought not to have expected so little depth near a coast formed by very high and perpendicular mountains. We continued to heave the lead till we reached Cabo de tres Puntas* (* Cape Three Points, the name given to it by Columbus.) and we every where found shallow water, apparently indicating the prolongation of the ancient coast. In these latitudes the temperature of the sea was from twenty-three to twenty-four degrees, consequently from 1.5 to two degrees lower than in the open ocean, beyond the edge of the bank.

The Cabo de tres Puntas is, according to my observations, in 65 degrees 4 minutes 5 seconds longitude. It seemed to us the more elevated, as the clouds concealed the view of its indented top. The aspect of the mountains of Paria, their colour, and especially their generally rounded forms, made us suspect that the coast was granitic; but we afterwards recognized how delusive, even to those who have passed their lives in scaling mountains, are impressions respecting the nature of rocks seen at a distance.

A dead calm, which lasted several hours, permitted us to determine with exactness the intensity of the magnetic forces opposite the Cabo de tres Puntas. This intensity was greater than in the open sea, to the east of the island of Tobago, in the ratio of from 237 to 229. During the calm the current drew us on rapidly to the west. Its velocity was three miles an hour, and it increased as we approached the meridian of Testigos, a heap of rocks which rises up amidst the waters. At the setting of the moon, the sky was covered with clouds, the wind freshened anew, and the rain descended in one of those torrents peculiar to the torrid zone.

The malady which had broken out on board the Pizarro had made rapid progress, from the time when we approached the coasts of Terra Firma; but having then almost reached the end of our voyage we flattered ourselves that all who were sick would be restored to health, as soon as we could land them at the island of St. Margareta, or the port of Cumana, places remarkable for their great salubrity.

This hope was unfortunately not realised. The youngest of the passengers attacked with the malignant fever fell a victim to the disease. He was an Asturian, nineteen years of age, the only son of a poor widow. Several circumstances rendered the death of this young man affecting. His countenance bore the expression of sensibility and great mildness of disposition. He had embarked against his own inclination; and his mother, whom he had hoped to assist by the produce of his efforts, had made a sacrifice of her affection in the hope of securing the fortune of her son, by sending him to the colonies to a rich relation, who resided at the island of Cuba. The unfortunate young man expired on the third day of his illness, having fallen from the beginning into a lethargic state interrupted only by fits of delirium. The yellow fever, or black vomit, at Vera Cruz, scarcely carries off the sick with so alarming a rapidity. Another Asturian, still younger, did not leave for one moment the bed of his dying friend; and, what is very remarkable, did not contract the disorder.

We were assembled on the deck, absorbed in melancholy reflections. It was no longer doubtful, that the fever which raged on board had assumed within the last few days a fatal aspect. Our eyes were fixed on a hilly and desert coast on which the moon, from time to time, shed her light athwart the clouds. The sea, gently agitated, emitted a feeble phosphoric light. Nothing was heard but the monotonous cry of a few large sea-birds, flying towards the shore. A profound calm reigned over these solitary regions, but this calm of nature was in discordance with the painful feelings by which we were oppressed. About eight o'clock the dead man's knell was slowly tolled. At this lugubrious sound, the sailors suspended their labours, and threw themselves on their knees to offer a momentary prayer: an affecting ceremony, which brought to our remembrance those times when the primitive christians all considered themselves as members of the same family. All were united in one common sorrow for a misfortune which was felt to be common to all. The corpse of the young Asturian was brought upon deck during the night, but the priest entreated that it might not be committed to the waves till after sunrise, that the last rites might be performed, according to the usage of the Romish church. There was not an individual on board, who did not deplore the death of this young man, whom we had beheld, but a few days before, full of cheerfulness and health.

Those among the passengers who had not yet felt symptoms of the disease, resolved to leave the vessel at the first place where she might touch, and await the arrival of another packet, to pursue their course to the island of Cuba and to Mexico. They considered the between-decks of the ship as infected; and though it was by no means clear to me that the fever was contagious, I thought it most prudent to land at Cumana. I wished not to visit New Spain, till I had made some sojourn on the coasts of Venezuela and Paria; a few of the productions of which had been examined by the unfortunate Loefling. We were anxious to behold in their native site, the beautiful plants which Bose and Bredemeyer had collected during their journey to the continent, and which adorn the conservatories of Schoenbrunn and Vienna. It would have been painful to have touched at Cumana, or at Guayra, without visiting the interior of a country so little frequented by naturalists.

The resolution we formed during the night of the 14th of July, had a happy influence on the direction of our travels; for instead of a few weeks, we remained a whole year in this part of the continent. Had not the fever broken out on board the Pizarro, we should never have reached the Orinoco, the Cassiquiare, or even the limits of the Portuguese possessions on the Rio Negro. To this direction given to our travels we were perhaps also indebted for the good health we enjoyed during so long an abode in the equinoctial regions.

It is well known, that Europeans, during the first months after their arrival under the scorching sky of the tropics, are exposed to the greatest dangers. They consider themselves to be safe, when they have passed the rainy season in the West India islands, at Vera Cruz, or at Carthagena. This opinion is very general, although there are examples of persons, who, having escaped a first attack of the yellow fever, have fallen victims to the same disease in one of the following years. The facility of becoming acclimated, seems to be in the inverse ratio of the difference that exists between the mean temperature of the torrid zone, and that of the native country of the traveller, or colonist, who changes his climate; because the irritability of the organs, and their vital action, are powerfully modified by the influence of the atmospheric heat. A Prussian, a Pole, or a Swede, is more exposed on his arrival at the islands or on the continent, than a Spaniard, an Italian, or even an inhabitant of the South of France. With respect to the people of the north, the difference of the mean temperature is from nineteen to twenty-one degrees, while to the people of southern countries it is only from nine to ten. We were fortunate enough to pass safely through the interval during which a European recently landed runs the greatest danger, in the extremely hot, but very dry climate of Cumana, a city celebrated for its salubrity.

On the morning of the 15th, when nearly on a line with the hill of St. Joseph, we were surrounded by a great quantity of floating seaweed. Its stems had those extraordinary appendages in the form of little cups and feathers, which Don Hippolyto Ruiz remarked on his return from the expedition to Chile, and which he described in a separate memoir as the generative organs of the Fucus natans. A fortunate accident allowed us the means of verifying a fact which had been but once observed by naturalists. The bundles of fucus collected by M. Bonpland were completely identical with the specimens given us by the learned authors of the Flora of Peru. On examining both with the microscope, we found that the supposed parts of fructification, the stamina and pistils, belong to a new genus, of the family of the Ceratophytae.

The coast of Paria stretches to the west, forming a wall of rocks of no great height, with rounded tops and a waving outline. We were long without perceiving the bold coasts of the island of Margareta, where we were to stop for the purpose of ascertaining whether we could touch at Guayra. We had learned, by altitudes of the sun, taken under very favourable circumstances, how incorrect at that period were the most highly-esteemed marine charts. On the morning of the 15th, when the time-keeper placed us in 66 degrees 1 minute 15 seconds longitude, we were not yet in the meridian of Margareta island; though according to the reduced chart of the Atlantic ocean, we ought to have passed the very lofty western cape of this island, which is laid down in longitude 66 degrees 0 minutes. The inaccuracy with which the coasts were delineated previously to the labours of Fidalgo, Noguera, and Tiscar, and I may venture to add, before the astronomical observations I made at Cumana, might have become dangerous to navigators, were not the sea uniformly calm in those regions. The errors in latitude were still greater than those in longitude, for the coasts of New Andalusia stretch to the westward of Cape Three Points (or tres Puntas) fifteen or twenty miles more to the north, than appears in the charts published before the year 1800.

About eleven in the morning we perceived a very low islet, covered with a few sandy downs, and on which we discovered with our glasses no trace of habitation or culture. Cylindrical cactuses rose here and there in the form of candelabra. The soil, almost destitute of vegetation, seemed to have a waving motion, in consequence of the extraordinary refraction which the rays of the sun undergo in traversing the strata of air in contact with plains strongly heated. Under every zone, deserts and sandy shores appear like an agitated sea, from the effect of mirage.

The coasts, seen at a distance, are like clouds, in which each observer meets the form of the objects that occupy his imagination. Our bearings and our chronometer being at variance with the charts which we had to consult, we were lost in vain conjectures. Some took mounds of sand for Indian huts, and pointed out the place where they alleged the fort of Pampatar was situated; others saw herds of goats, which are so common in the dry valley of St. John; or descried the lofty mountains of Macanao, which seemed to them partly hidden by the clouds. The captain resolved to send a pilot on shore, and the men were preparing to get out the long-boat when we perceived two canoes sailing along the coast. We fired a gun as a signal for them, and though we had hoisted Spanish colours, they drew near with distrust. These canoes, like all those in use among the natives, were constructed of the single trunk of a tree. In each canoe there were eighteen Guayqueria Indians, naked to the waist, and of very tall stature. They had the appearance of great muscular strength, and the colour of their skin was something between brown and copper-colour. Seen at a distance, standing motionless, and projected on the horizon, they might have been taken for statues of bronze. We were the more struck with their appearance, as it did not correspond with the accounts given by some travellers respecting the characteristic features and extreme feebleness of the natives. We afterwards learned, without passing the limits of the province of Cumana, the great contrast existing between the physiognomy of the Guayquerias and that of the Chaymas and the Caribs.

When we were near enough to hail them in Spanish, the Indians threw aside their mistrust, and came straight on board. They informed us that the low islet near which we were at anchor was Coche, which had never been inhabited; and that Spanish vessels coming from Europe were accustomed to sail farther north, between this island and that of Margareta, to take a coasting pilot at the port of Pampatar. Our inexperience had led us into the channel to the south of Coche; and as at that period the English cruisers frequented this passage, the Indians had at first taken us for an enemy's ship. The southern passage is, in fact, highly advantageous for vessels going to Cumana and Barcelona. The water is less deep than in the northern passage, which is much narrower; but there is no risk of touching the ground, if vessels keep very close to the island of Lobos and the Moros del Tunal. The channel between Coche and Margareta is narrowed by the shoals off the north-west cape of Coche, and by the bank that surrounds La Punta de los Mangles.

The Guayquerias belong to that tribe of civilized Indians who inhabit the coasts of Margareta and the suburbs of the city of Cumana. Next to the Caribs of Spanish Guiana they are the finest race of men in Terra Firma. They enjoy several privileges, because from the earliest times of the conquest they remained faithful friends to the Castilians. The king of Spain styles them in his public acts, "his dear, noble, and loyal Guayquerias." The Indians of the two canoes we had met had left the port of Cumana during the night. They were going in search of timber to the forests of cedar (Cedrela odorata, Linn.), which extend from Cape San Jose to beyond the mouth of Rio Carupano. They gave us some fresh cocoa-nuts, and very beautifully coloured fish of the Chaetodon genus. What riches to our eyes were contained in the canoes of these poor Indians! Broad spreading leaves of Vijao* (* Heliconia bihai.) covered bunches of plantains. The scaly cuirass of an armadillo (Dasypus), the fruit of the Calabash tree (Crescentia cujete), used as a cup by the natives, productions common in the cabinets of Europe, had a peculiar charm for us, because they reminded us that, having reached the torrid zone, we had attained the end to which our wishes had been so long directed.

The master of one of the canoes offered to remain on board the Pizarro as coasting pilot (practico). He was a Guayqueria of an excellent disposition, sagacious in his observations, and he had been led by intelligent curiosity to notice the productions of the sea as well as the plants of the country. By a fortunate chance, the first Indian we met on our arrival was the man whose acquaintance became the most useful to us in the course of our researches. I feel a pleasure in recording in this itinerary the name of Carlos del Pino, who, during the space of sixteen months, attended us in our course along the coasts, and into the inland country.

The captain of the corvette weighed anchor towards evening. Before we left the shoal or placer of Coche, I ascertained the longitude of the east cape of the island, which I found to be 66 degrees 11 minutes 53 seconds. As we steered westward, we soon came in sight of the little island of Cubagua, now entirely deserted, but formerly celebrated for its fishery of pearls. There the Spaniards, immediately after the voyages of Columbus and Ojeda, founded, under the name of New Cadiz, a town, of which there now remains no vestige. At the beginning of the sixteenth century the pearls of Cubagua were known at Seville, at Toledo, and at the great fairs of Augsburg and Bruges. New Cadiz having no water, that of the Rio Manzanares was conveyed thither from the neighbouring coast, though for some reason, I know not what, it was thought to be the cause of diseases of the eyes. The writers of that period all speak of the riches of the first planters, and the luxury they displayed. At present, downs of shifting sand cover this uninhabited land, and the name of Cubagua is scarcely found in our charts.

Having reached these latitudes, we saw the high mountains of Cape Macanao, on the western side of the island of Margareta, which rose majestically on the horizon. If we might judge from the angles of altitude of the tops, taken at eighteen miles' distance, they appeared to be about 500 or 600 toises high. According to Berthoud's time-keeper, the longitude of Cape Macanao is 66 degrees 47 minutes 5 seconds. I speak of the rocks at the extremity of the cape, and not that strip of very low land which stretches to the west, and loses itself in a shoal. The position of Macanao and that which I have assigned to the east point of the island of Coche, differ only four seconds in time, from the results obtained by M. Fidalgo.

There being little wind, the captain preferred standing off and on till daybreak. We passed a part of the night on deck. The Guayqueria pilot conversed with us respecting the animals and plants of his country. We learned with great satisfaction that there was, a few leagues from the coast, a mountainous region inhabited by the Spaniards, in which the cold was sensibly felt; and that in the plains there were two species of crocodiles, very different from each other, besides, boas, electric eels, and several kinds of tigers. Though the words bava, cachicamo, and temblador, were entirely unknown to us, we easily guessed, from the pilot's simple description of their manners and forms, the species which the creoles distinguished by these denominations.
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