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Pinas, the cones are shorter; and farther up on the Peak, they are scarcely equal in length to the pines of Germany. In that situation, they also lose their singular appearance.
On the 4th June, we were in Puerto Orotava again.
On Monday, the 12th June, we repaired to Laguna. We came here into an entirely new world. The rich cultivated declivity on which the streets are built, every where recalled to our recollection the southern situation. St Ursula is entirely surrounded with palms, and Tacaronte is concealed among vineyards. Upon the high lying plains of Laguna, we enter into fog and clouds, that ascend daily from the sea. Corn-fields stretch along the flat hills, as in Thuringia; but neither orchards nor vineyards, and but few palms, are to be seen. Laguna is the principal place of the country. It is extensive and beautiful; and the residence of most of the landed proprietors, of Marquises and Counts, who are chiefly descended from the ancient conquistadores. We took possession of a large unoccupied house, with numerous balconies and windows, like an old castle. At the windows, Smith made a discovery that he did not anticipate, from so many travelling botanists having before climbed from Sta Cruz to Laguna. Every botanist, and every traveller, visiting Laguna for the first time, has been struck with the singular appearance of the town; for, all the roofs being closely covered with bushes of Sempervivum, have the appearance of hanging woods. Who would think that this plant, which has so much and so frequently excited attention, has never been examined, far less described. Very different from the Sempervivum canariense, for which it has been commonly taken. Smith thought himself fully entitled to consider it a new species, and to call it Sempervivum urbicum, after the singular place where it chiefly abounds. The heated air on the sea-coast rises, towards mid-day, on both sides, diffuses itself over the plains of Laguna, and cools there to the point of condensation of the vapour that rises with it from the sea, and thus thick fog is formed. Moisture, heat, and shelter from the too powerful rays of the sun, the chief promoters of the growth of Sempervivum, act with combined influence on the roofs of Laguna; and to these causes does the town owe the peculiarity which it shares with no other place in the Canary Islands, of OCTOBER-DECEMBER 1826.
having its walls covered and ornamented in so remarkable a But why these fogs surround Laguna more than the
other parts of the neighbouring plain, is owing to the town's being situated exactly in the place where we again begin to descend towards the south coast. When the north-east summer trade wind passes Laguna, it is turned to the north-west by the mountains. On the contrary, the sea-breeze below, blows during the day from the south. The air, on both sides, meets exactly where the town lies, and the decrease of heat is accordingly greater. Above, a little way down the declivity, stands a windmill, whose wings are continually turned towards the north-west. Below, half way to Sta Cruz, at an elevation of about 900 feet, stands another wind-mill, with its wings continually presented to the south; for the sea breeze rises to this height; and both mills are commonly in motion at the same time.
These fogs, and the beautiful springs which they produce, have a powerful influence on the vegetation of the hills. Lovelier trees than those in the splendid wood of Obispo, to the east of Laguna, were never seen; and here is found every tree that the woody region of the island produces. There is a glorious place at the Aqua de la mercede in the middle of the wood. Laurels of inaccessible height form a close and lofty arch above the source of these bright and translucent springs that run along the plains like copious rivulets. The elegant leaves and flowers of the Cinereria populifolia rankle so luxuriantly and delusively above the soil, that they must be narrowly inspected before we are convinced that they are not young copses of black populars.
Benches are placed around; and here we almost continually meet with company from Laguna, amusing themselves in the refreshing coolness of the place. This wood, the Barancos, the rocks on the height towards Punta di Naga, Tagauana curiously concealed among the cliffs, Tegueste and Tacaronte, detained us for a long time in this neighbourhood. We abandoned our large deserted habitation in Laguna, not without regret; and, on the 24th June, went down to Sta Cruz. Social life had its attractions also. M. Le Gros (Humboldt, Rel. i. 113), had instituted a school of arts, which had contributed much to the diffusion of taste among the inhabitants; and we found him with some thirty scholars, who were drawing from life. Dr Lavione
possessed a considerable collection of excellent philosophical instruments; and that modest individual was acquainted with their practical application, and discoursed intelligently upon them. The Marquis di Nava united literature with numerous scientific acquirements, and his library would do honour to any town. The judge of the tribunal Don Nicolas de las Torres was practically acquainted with every department of physical science, and very industriously collected every observation relative to it. We felt equal interest in the amiable family Canatho, and in many others.
At the advanced season of the year, Sta Cruz could scarcely offer any thing to the botanist which he had not seen before, and to greater advantage. Our meeting with Don Francisca Escolar was greatly in our favour, however. He had examined all the islands geognostically, and had made elegant, accurate, and spirited observations upon the whole of them. His collections and his information form an important part of the knowledge we obtained of these islands.
A large boat comes from Gran Canaria to Sta Cruz, two or three times a week, with fruit and cattle. This is the most common communication between the two islands. We went on
board one of these boats, on the 26th June, at 5 o'clock in the evening. We were led to expect that we would reach Canaria on the following morning; but the winds between the islands were two weak and variable. It was 4 P. M. before we could land on the coast, in the lonely and desolate creek De la Sardinia. Galdas, the nearest place, lay at the distance of a league, upon a flat hill of tuff. We were well received by the inhabitants of that place, and in a particularly hospitable manner by Don Joaquim, an old, wealthy, good-natured, benevolent man.
Upon the following day, a journey of about six leagues to Las Palmas, the chief town, was well calculated to make us acquainted with the peculiar character of this island. It was no longer Teneriffe. The features of Africa, and of eastern countries, were every where presented to us. The villages were surrounded with palms, that appear to grow extremely well. Water runs in every direction; and the lowlands are covered with rich plantations of Indian corn. We went through many valleys, the Valley of Moja and that of Teror, which are very conspi
cuous for their verdure and their stately palms; and when we descend into the valley to Palmas, the first houses and streets resemble those of Tunis and Algiers. The long, parched declivity of the mountain of St Nicolas stretches out along the side; and, under it, the inhabitants live in cellars and caverns; a street of swallows' nests. Next rise houses like walls, without roof or window; then lofty and spacious buildings. Every house in Sta Cruz itself, upon Teneriffe, had a roof, and above it a balcony. Every thing here is flat; every thing is divided by horizontal lines, which are but little relieved from the bare white back-ground of the hills. Palms shoot up on all sides, and many other trees that bear no resemblance to those of Europe, such as tamarinds, and Carica papaia, in great abundance. But every thing is Spanish: no oriental forms are met with in the streets.
Las Palmas, a town of greater magnitude than Orotava or Sta Cruz, is almost as large as Laguna, and contains 8096 inhabitants. Like Seville, it is divided into two very unequal parts, by the copious rivulet Guinegada. In the lesser division, De la Vegueta, stands the beautiful and handsome cathedral (Justicia), the court-house, the palace of the bishop, likewise all the houses of the canons, and their families, and of the (Majoratsherren) on the island. Hence the sable robes and the roof-like hats of the priests are by far the most numerous here. The tradesmen and the merchants live in La Triana, the greater division, and all the merchants' shops are in the same quarter. Between those two divisions, like an island, stand the two nunneries of the Clara and S. Bernando, and a monastery of Franciscans. Upon the top of the mountain rises the solitary Castello del Rey, which, by means of a wall on a steep precipice towards the sea, joins with the little Castello de Casa Mata, which again is connected with the Castello de Sta Anna, immediately on the seashore.
The Bishop shares the landed revenue with the king and the chapter, and his own income is estimated at 100,000 piastres. He is also understood to be the prime mover of all the affairs of the island. All who aim at spiritual promotion in the island flock to him; and his palace is surrounded by the establishments in which the youth destined to clerical offices are trained and
educated. Hence, whatever relates to the Bishop is the chief concern of the inhabitants. They trouble themselves but little about what is going on in Europe, and even in Spain itself, and for the most part know but little about it. With them, the battle of Waterloo, even at the moment of receiving the first intelligence, had but a kind of historical interest, such as a battle, that decided the fate of the sovereignty of China or Bucharest over the plains of Asia, would have among ourselves.
The Bishop, Don Nicholas de Berdugo, received us in a friendly manner, and assured us of his substantial protection during our stay on the island. He sent his body physician Don Juan Bandini Gatti along with us, and, in him, furnished us with one of the most agreeable and instructive companions we could have wished. Dr Bandini, many years ago, in confidential intimacy with the very deserving Viera, had followed him as successor. His very judicious collections comprehended every thing on the island that was useful or interesting; and his manuscripts contained many remarkable observations upon numerous natural phenomena. Such knowledge was not confined to himself alone. We saw, with surprise, the young people of the seminary, directed by his influence and example, disputing upon subjects which we could not readily expect to find treated upon here; namely, the sleep, motion, and irritability of plants, of nurseries, and their advantage to the island, the influence of light and heat on the life and growth of vegetation. To all these things the Bishop gives his most zealous support.
On the 5th July, after having seen many rocks and valleys in the neighbourhood of the town, we hastened towards the dry parched sea-coast at Telde, a place that, like many others clothed with verdure, and abounding in palms, resembles an oase in tuffa. From this, we ascended the valley to Val Sequillo, still nearer the rocks of the interior. Here the country expands into a plain, and is covered with fruitful corn-fields. Water tumbles down the defiles, and when it gushes out, is delightfully enclosed with gourds and large colocasia leaves. Above the village stands a high rock, Roque del Sancillo, in the cliffs of which Smith discovered a new and very beautiful Sempervivum, (S. cæspitosum), which is now an ornament of every botanical garden in Europe, and of many pri