페이지 이미지
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][graphic]


above the sea level.



JANUARY, 1866.

I. TENERIFFE. An Ascent of the Peak and Sketch of the Island. Illustrated.

By ROBERT EDWARD ALISON. In this paper it is my intention to record briefly some of my experiences during a residence in the Island of Teneriffe, and I shall describe whatever appeared to me of value, according to my habits of investigation; imperfect as the narrative may be, I hope it will be the means of inducing more capable observers to visit that interesting island, which, on a small scale, offers a very ample field for the labours of the man of science; where the vegetations of most distant regions meet together, and where a climate can be obtained, varying within a few miles from the softest temperature of Italy to the cold of an English March.

In consequence of a very severe affection of the lungs, I was ordered to try the climate of Madeira; on my arrival at that beautiful island, the medical man I consulted told me that the climate of Funchal was not suitable for my complaint, and advised me to try that of Teneriffe, where I could reside during the summer months at a considerable elevation above the sea, and during the winter on the coast, and thus enjoy an equable temperature throughout the year; his advice appeared to me so good, that

ture telted to adopt itith a strong, 1 Feneriffe in abo

I left Funchal with a strong north-east trade wind, which we expected would enable us to reach Teneriffe in about thirty hours, as the distance is only about 200 miles.

After passing Madeira, we remarked the peculiar change in the colour of the sea, which passed from a cobalt blue to a very deep Prussian blue, probably caused by the increased depth of the ocean and the very blue colour of the sky. I had been told that the lofty cone of the Peak of Teneriffe could be distinctly seen at a distance of 120 miles; about an hour after sunrise we supposed that we were within one-half of that distance, but no Peak was to be seen, to my



great disappointment. I found afterwards that it is seldom seen at a great distance during the warmest months of summer, but is very clear and distinct during the cold months, or before rain and immediately after it, when the transparency of the air is greatly increased by a certain quantity of vapour which is held in suspension through the atmosphere. Besides, the upper part of the Peak, or "sugar-loaf,” which is the only part covered with whitish-coloured pumice, reflects more light than the sides of the volcano, which are covered with trachytic lava ; thus the cone reflects a whitish light, which contrasts with the surrounding sky, and enables it to be seen at a distance, when it subtends an angle sufficiently large to make an impression on the retina. As the Peak may serve to direct the navigator and enable him to verify his position, the exact distance from which it can be seen is of importance. We stood rapidly on our course, and when we approached within twenty miles of the island, we saw the top of the Peak glistening through some breaks in a mass of cumulose clouds ; from its extreme whiteness, I thought that the cone was covered with snow, but it was merely the reflected light from the pumice.

In a few hours we came to an anchor off Orotava, on the north side of the island, which is exposed to all the swell caused by the N.E. trade-winds. Such rolling I had never experienced, the vessels occasionally showing almost their keels, or what they had upon their decks. The landing, however, is not bad, as it is sheltered behind numerous pinnacles of volcanic rocks, which break the force of the rollers.

What a new scene presented itself when I put my foot on shore, so different from what I had left in London. Such rich dazzling colours, and such Murillo-looking countenances among the lower orders, set off in a great degree by a glowing mid-day sun. The graceful and picturesque dress of the peasantry was particularly striking to a new-comer; the women wear no bonnets, but a halfsquare of white kerseymere or cashmere, or fine flannel trimmed with white satin ribbon with rosettes at the corners, is thrown over the back of the head ; unfortunately, its neatness is spoilt by an odious steeple-crowned black hat, similar to that worn by women in parts of Wales. Their hair, which is always attended to with great care, is drawn tightly over the forehead, made as smooth as possible, and occasionally collected at the back into one or two tails, and most have a small round curl fixed close to the temples. Their tall figures and graceful movements are set off by their pretty feet, which are clothed, when they go to church, with silk stockings and coloured satin shoes. The ladies follow the Paris fashions, with the addition, when they go out, of the graceful mantilla of black lace, which hangs loose down on the figure, and that regular accompaniment of the Spanish belle, the expressive fan, the

dexterous management of which is quite an accomplishment of a lady of fashion.

The dress of the male peasantry is picturesque: it consists of a cloth jacket, a showy waistcoat embroidered at the back, velveteen breeches open at the knees, ornamented with a number of buttons ; when travelling their jacket is generally dispensed with; their well-made legs are covered with long leather gaiters ornamented with coloured leather; a straw hat shadows their generally fine features : altogether they present models of fine masculine forms capable of enduring great fatigue. This pretty and suitable dress is, however, spoilt in a great degree by wearing over it, even in the hottest day, an English blanket made into a sort of cloak formed by a running string round the neck. It is said, that this part of their dress was used by the Guanches, the ancient inhabitants of the island.

When I landed at Port Orotava in the begining of July, the thermometer in the shade ranged during the day from 73° to 77o, a temperature which I found relaxing, therefore I was anxious to remove to the romantically situated Villa de Orotava, three miles off and 1,141 feet above the port, with a temperature several degrees lower. But there was a serious obstacle to my intended residence at the Villa, as at that time both hotels and lodgings were unknown; however, I obtained a letter of introduction to the prior of the Augustine convent there, who possibly might give me (although a heretic) the use of a cell in his large, but thinly filled convent. Armed with my letter, I called on the worthy prior; on presenting it to him, I addressed him a few words in indifferent Spanish, but I was soon very agreeably surprised by being seized warmly by the hand and answered in a rich Hibernian accent, “How glad I am to see a countryman here.” He kindly offered me a choice of cells, but in doing that, he added, “I can only offer you the bare walls and the use of our cook as long as you think proper to reside among us." I soon sent up the necessary furniture, and passed twelve months most agreeably with the warm-hearted prior and his friars.

The career of the prior was not a common one ; he had passed his youth as an officer in the British army, and had served during the whole of the Peninsular war; having become tired of the ennui of his half-pay inactivity in Ireland, he went to pay a visit to his old friends in Spain, where he was persuaded to take the friar's cowl, and afterwards became a prior of the Augustine convent of the Villa de Orotava.

I can testify feelingly to the superiority of the climate of Teneriffe to that of any European district for all affections of the lungs. When I left England I had all the bad symptoms of pulmonary consumption, brought on by a neglected cough, yet in a very short

time, without any medicine, they all disappeared. As a proof of what climate did for me, I will mention that three months after my arrival I made an attempt to ascend the Peak, but was obliged to return when within a few hundred feet of the top, in consequence of my men refusing to go any higher. I do not wish it to be supposed that the climate will cure consumption, or where tubercular disease has occupied a considerable portion of the lungs, which it had not in my case; but its warm, dry, equable temperature, which can be obtained throughout the year by varying the altitude, is a most powerful remedial agent, and will do more to ward off that sad malady than any other part of the world, excepting possibly the city of Mendoza, on the eastern foot of the Andes, in the republic of Rio de la Plata. A scientific French gentleman who had observed the temperature of the Villa de Orotava during some years, informed me that his self-registering thermometer had never been below 12.5 C. = 54.5 F.: during the winter I passed there I never saw it below 55.5 F. The following is the mean temperature of Santa Cruz, the principal port and town on the south side of the island; San Christobal de la Laguna, the capital, 1,740 feet above the sea; and the upper part of the Villa de Orotava, 1,121 feet above the sea.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Mean Annual Temperature of Santa Cruz . . 70.05

Laguna . . . 62.51
Orctava . . 66.34

« 이전계속 »