Графични страници
PDF файл

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 suc

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

vate gardens. From this we ascended to the greatest height, Pico del Pozo de las Nieves, 5842 feet high : but our expectation of surveying the whole island was not fulfilled. During the whole day, the atmosphere was loaded with very dense vapour, which was not aqueous, but which, on all sides, obstructed our vision. The nearest valleys were scarcely discernible, and the sea-coast was perfectly invisible. The summit itself was not much involved. It is a plain covered with small stones, with no plants upon it. The beautiful Peucedanum aureum is the only plant upon the height to reward the botanist for the labour of climbing. On the contrary, S. Matheo, which commenced near the top, welcomed us in a very pleasing and friendly manner. For, in the midst of rushing waters, there are tall broad leaved chesnut and nut trees; and fruit trees of every

kind are scattered over the green fields in great abundance. In Lecheguillo, the first place in the valley, and yet 3103 feet high, the inhabitants met us in a very friendly manner. Their habitations, surrounded with large galleries, and lying scattered on the declivity, had quite a pastoral appearance, and the houses round the church of S. Matheo were charmingły situated. We then come to the vineyards and the villas of the inhabitants of Palmas. The Vega de Sta Brigita, down to the scorching and violent heat of the inferior region, permits the growth of nothing but prickly small leaved shrubs.

(To be continued.)

Observations on the Arctic Sea and Ice, and the intended Ex

pedition of Captain Parry to the North Pole. By THOMAS

LATTA, M. D. (Communicated by the Author.) In earlier ages, when science was in its infancy, very erroneous opinions were entertained, in regard to the nature of our globe, It is scarce 300 years since its spherical shape was acknowledged ; and, prior to that period, a very considerable proportion of it was deemed uninhabitable; for, those countries sitųated under the Line, were considered an arid waste, burnt up by the fiery beams of a tropical sun, whilst it was supposed that far to the north lay regions of eternal frost, entirely destitute of organization. But these errors have disappeared with the progress of science, and the bright career of discovery has made us acquainted with almost the whole of the terraqueous globe. The only regions which, from their physical peculiarities, have hitherto resisted our attempts, are those immediately surrounding the Poles ; for the Antarctic Regions, notwithstanding the exertions of Cook, Billinghausen and Weddell, are but little known ; and the Arctic Regions, although the investigation of their nature has engaged the enterprise of Europe for a long series, of years, have not been explored beyond the 80° of latitude. Already upwards of forty expeditions have failed in exploring a North-West Passage into the Pacific; and the last navigator, after repeated failures, has, for the present, relinquished the enterprise, although convinced of the existence of the disputed passage. Comparatively few attempts have been made to sail directly towards the Pole, or through the North Eastern Seas to India ; and the expeditions in these directions have been so inefficient, that an almost untrodden field of discovery remains for the mariner.

The chief obstacle to the progress of discovery in the Frigid Zone, is the vast accumulation of ice which floats on the surface of the ocean, rendering all the efforts of navigation abortive. To overcome this opposition, a novel method has been suggested, the merits of which are to be tried during the approaching summer, by a party under the command of Captain Parry, in an attempt to reach the North Pole. They are to be conveyed to the north western extremity of Spitzbergen, in the Hecla, and from thence are to set out in boats made of light materials, so constructed that they may be converted into sledges, thus suited to the nature of the tract, whether it be water or ice. With these slender means, our brave navigators will endeavour to unfold the secrets of the Pole. The skill and daring they have already shewn, prove that they are worthy of the confidence reposed in them. Whilst they were employed on their former hazardous voyages, we felt solicitous about their welfare, and were not sanguine of success; we cannot but harbour impropitious auguries, when we glance at the scene of their future toils, which, though holding out a fairer prospect of success, is nevertheless pregnant with peril. The enterprise is so striking in its nature, that we, who have personally visited the

Arctic Regions, presume to lay before the public at this time a few observations.

In these it is intended, first, to delineate the general effects of the different seasons, on the Arctic Sea ; and, from the phenomena which occur in those parts, which are familiar to us, to form a few conjectures in regard to what may be the condition of the unexplored regions, north and east from Spitzbergen ; and, secondly, To consider the possibility of exploring these.

Probable State of the Globe at the Pole.--It may be premised, that an erroneous opinion has long been cherished, - ! that the vicinity of land is necessary, ere ice can be formed on the sea, an opinion which seems still to bias the minds of a few, notwithstanding the incontrovertible evidence of men of science, who have spent almost half their lives in the inhospitable regions of the polar seas. On this groundless opinion some ingenious speculations have been framed, the purport of which was, to demonstrate, that, if the Hyperborean Regions are covered with water, that this sea must be navigable ; for, there being no sheltering shores to aid the formation of ice, it must be but sparingly produced, and easily dissipated. by the warmth of a nightless summer. Although we are satisfied that such a conclusion is erroneous, it cannot be denied that windward islands, mural coasts, or sheltering promontories, may

facilitate the freezing process; yet undoubtedly the wide ocean, with all its disadvantages, may, under the rigours of a long winter, receive its firm covering of ice, No doubt, preparation for such an event is requisite, for the effects of many arctic winters would be required to reduce the temperature of such an immense body of water sufficiently, to admit of its surface being frozen; an event which, if the present motions in the ocean existed from the beginning, must have been much procrastinated, the perpetual efflux of cold water from the north is replaced by streams of higher temperature from southern seas. It is probable, however, that the extent of these interchanges are much circumscribed, and that the water of the Pole is beyond their limits,—a conclusion authorised by their apparent course and magnitude : for, the water which runs through Behring's Strait into the Frozen Ocean, and that which constitutes the nor


[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »