Sir George Thomas Staunton.

A complete view of the Chinese empire: Exhibited in a geographical ... online

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downi and are taken.

Neidier noxious animals tior serpen exist in Madeira ;
nor are there any hares or fences. AH sons of fish are on
the coast, except oysters and herrings. But the poor
chiefly eat salt cod, which is imported from America.
This diet probably occasions those scorbutic eruptions,
which* aie ^ common among them. Rhei|Biatisms are
also frequent; and the belter sort of people arc greatly^
subjed to paralytic afie(ftions> the tSdOi probably of ih-
dolence and repletion. The sm'alUpox is said to be most
fatal in summer; and superstition has prevented the use of

Though streams of water run through the streets of
Funchal, yet it is not kept clean, and the roofs of the houses
have great stones placed upon them, to prevent them
from being uncovered by the heavy gusts of wind which
come down the mountains. It contains about 15,000 in«
habitants, but its population and improvement are encreas-
ing. By the laws of the country the creditor can seize the
property of debtors, but he cannot imprison their persons*

The culture of the sugar-cane is almost abandoned. The
cane is like a common reed, with a jointed stem, its leaves
springing from the joints, and it grows to the height of about
eight feet. The best juice lies in the middle of the stem.
A few trees of the true cinnamon, widi three ribbed 8cente4
leaves, and a thin fragrant bturk, are.seen here.


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A t>arty oCgenilcoi^n* of ihe efl>ba$sy made au ftxcuruoa
lo the eastern g^n of .the island. The road in 4he begin-
niag wat,stcet> and craggy up hiU: it then became a nar^^
rour parity fenced on the one side by a perpendicuiar rock^
and on the other it w^ op^n. to a dreadful precipice.
Thiapath is in many pUce^* XkU to. be passed except otj^
foot, or by well-trained. mules* The party at last arrived
^ at a plain, oh which the^ myrdeand boxtref grew wjldg
and the whortle-beny^ , w^uch is here a shrub of considerar:
ble heights At die east end of the islaad appeared thci
crater of anextin£l volcano, four hundred yards in diauKi^^
4?i> ;»ttivi: which were scattered fragments pf lava*
^ Pr. Giiil^n observed that *^ tliere ^ad been several craters
iajhe^jigl?^, from which ^ppdons ba4^kei)'PlA<^ ^( v^*"
riou^ and distant ituepf^h^\ This was particularly manifesc
aear..t;h&3razen-headK yvbtn mighf be counted twelve dif«
fe^^mjC.eruptipns of ^va,^ from an acQacent crater. These
were jhifs distinguished. from, each other;; the bottom was
bard and, solid, or compa£l lava ; over which lay a layer
of cellular lava ; next came the scoriae, of the Jiature o£
pumice-stone ; and lastly the vokanic ashes*

From a .variety of appearances in and. about these craters^
particularly the existence of iron ore, in a natural state, ic
is evident that the island could not have been formed by vol-
caj^ic fire, and thrown up from th« bottom of die ocean*
*rhe liighest mountains have hardly any v.olcai^c appear-
ance* Their tops arc frequently bidden in the clouds, and
all the rivulets of the island descend from them. These
rivuletsi have formed deep passages in their dqjccnt, in which
are found pebbles of different sizes, and large masses of si-
Itfx, similar to what are met with in the torrents of the Alpi.
The bay of Funchal appears to be the segment of a large
crater> tlie outward part of which has -sunk- into the sea, for
quantities both of compadt and of cellular Uva are scat-


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t4 ^MbASSY to OHINA*

tcred on the beach. The points aho which ihake t^ t>ayj
are plainly the perpendicular fragments of the edges of A/i
crater, which have resisted tlie sitrge, dioug^ muoh Mrora
by Its violenoew**

From a carcfal consideratioil of its outward apjpearanc^^
and an examination into the bowels of the earth, it may be
concluded, thatMadeh'a is the summit of a primary moun-
tain, which has occasionally sent out volcanic matter,
end that the neighbouring islands were once joined to it,
but have been separated by some strong convulsioDS of

Madeira i^ natiiraHy defended by its rocky shores^ on
which the surge beatfe constantly "with violence. Art^
however, has been called in to its assistance. Along die
beach of Fnnchal is a line of works, consisting of 'four forts.
The first is called St. Jago, on tht ea«Mem extremity of die
beach, and is so bw as to be exposed to the fire of shipping.
The fort of St. Lorenzo, near two hundred yards of the
western extremity of the town, has three small basdouft
and a bafttery. This is the residence of the governor.
Peakrcastle stands at the N. W. angle of the town, on »
hill about hdlf a mile from the shore. The fort stands
upon the Loo rock, and is t^parently too weak to resist a

" The beach maybe maintained by musquctry from alow
wall, which, however, is better defended by the surge con-
standy beadng on it. A convenient landing-place is Said
to be about two miles to die westward of Funchal. The
Peak castle appears to afFord the best defence ; it has twelve
<5ld guns, of difierent stees. In this castle is a small
armoury of atbout one hundred and fifty stand of airms and
three English brass field pieces.


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kilftBASaY T0 OHlXi«


The ttgttlar fdroes on the island are one hamlrcd and
fifty artillery, and Aie same number of infantry ^ widn 2,000
militia, who clothe thtmsdves; and i6»oooiiregula|- militiay
who ane clothed at the public expence.

The ships having h^n futnish^- with. fresh provisions,
water, and wood for fuel, and instru^ons being left for the
Jackall to proceed to PortPraya, in the Island of St. JagO|
they sailed from FQnchal> O&ober 18) ij^*


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STEERTNG a soutJiHy course, the weather . grcMir
xvarmcr, and the Winter seemed to recede from them. It
being determined to touch at Santa Cruz, in Tcncriffc, to
obtciin a supply of wine for the Lion, the sliips proceeded
for that island, which they made on the 20th of OSober,
and came to apchor on the afternoon of the next day.

The anchorage is very bad, and it is recommended to
ships that call here in the Winter, to stand off and on, for
their own safety, and the preservation of the cables. And
even in the Slimmer it is netessary to bdoy the cables^ and
to veer out as little as possible. The plase Is defended by
batteries and a line of musquetry to the sea, and the shore
Is so rocky, on which the surge is constantly beating, as to
render it nearly inaccessible. A mole runs into the sea,
wliere boats may land at all tinnes : and at the end of it is a
battery of four guns. There afe also forts to the north
and south of the mole^ all close to the sea shore, the force of
each being from two to four guns. All the people capable
of bearing arras are mustered on occasion, but the regular
troops do not exceed three hundred men.

It is moreover dangerous to attempt tlie taking this place,
as the wind is hardly ever favourable for ships to get off
from the land In case of the failure of success. Great
danger threatened Admiral Blake in 1657, when he attacked
the Spanish galleons in this road» Though he succeeded in
destroy in2 the ships, ^et had aot die wind suddenly changed.


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by. which means he was able to bring his fleet off ^afe, the
advantages might have been dearly purchased.

The road of Santa Cruz lies in a8 deg. 2S min. north
latitude, and in 16 deg. 26 min. west longitude, the varia-
tion of the compass being 17 deg, 35 min. west. The tide
rises perpendicular. six feet.

For procuring refreshment, this place is preferable to
Madeira, as provisions are both reasonable and . good, and
the wine is of a stronger quality and at a cheaper rate^
being not above ten pounds a pipe. '

Several of the passengers and officers took advantage of
the delay, which the shipping the necessary supplies would
occasion, to explore the island. The town of Santa Cruz
is open, clean,, and well laid out. The pier is well built,
with conveniencies for landing. On the quay is a mall^
shaded with rows of trees, and in the square is a foun^
tain, ornamented with marble statues. The walks and
rides in tlie vicinity were agreeable, and the ^ir so pure
that they felt they were in 3l fortunate island, by wliich ap-
pellation this and the neighbouring isles' were formerly

Mr.Hickey ** ascended the mountains on the north sidq
of the town, to get a good view of the Peak, but wis dis-»
appointed by the clouds with which it was enveloped.

These mountains (the rocks of which appeared to be voU
canic) are cultivated to the very top, the soil, in regular
stages, being supported by heaps of stone. The produce
IS corn, beans, and grass for fodder. Various wild odori-
ferous herbs were scattered around, isome of a strong, disa-
greeable smell. The prickly pear tree grows here. The
fruit is not easily plucked or eaten; but an obliging peasant
removed the difficulty, by covering the fruit widi grass, and
thei) cutting the rind away with caution, he laid open the


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|nilp, which was grateful toihe palate, combinxiig die favour
of the fig, Hit winter hucgunity pear, aikl ttie water mekm.
Tii^:$ain^ peaaant iaformed him that the island CQ^tained
gold mines, hni that the ki&g of Spain h;rd forbade th^tn to
^ soia^t fOTf test they should t^cnpt the £ngUsh to render
themselves masters of the island/*

The chief party from the ships went another way inland^
tad soon arrived at 'the capital of the island, called St Chris-
tophe de Laguns^, though no lake is there to he seen. Here
the courts of justice arc held. The greatest part of th^
penoDS ip confinement were young girls, accused of incoq-
tinence, a crime they are naturally tempted to from thesoft-r
li^ss of the climate.

This city stands on an eminence, in a I^rge and fertile
plain, whijph hears vines, wheat, Indian com, potatoes, ,an4
|i small heap like a lupin. From th^ high grounds waier
is copveyed to fountains in the city by an aqi^ufl, coQ«
sisting of wooden troughs, supported by pol^.

This plain terminated in a rid^e of hills, from the top of
which appeared a winding valley, stretching to the west-
ward* at the fept of a chain of hills that bound it from die
sea. The scene was rendered highly gi<^ur^que by nomr.- ^
rous villages scattered along the valleyr The bosoms of
die mountains were well cultivated; and even theni|^
parts exhibited various plapts of the warm climates.

A heavy shower fell just before noon, and a villager in?
form^ them that this is the case at the same hour almost
every day in the ^ear. The party descended towsjirds «
|ich and extensive valley, in ^^ch is the city of Orotavsy
find about three rniles farther oq the sea coast, is the sea-post
pf the same name. The inhabitants of the first consist cbiefif
of persons of landed property ; and those of the second aie
^^jS^ sp¥y in cpmrnerce, principally the exppittitiQn of


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«MBAS8T TO €HrHA« ff

vM. Here, also, the trade is mostly in the hands of Bt itish
merchants. The ascenc of the Peak is usually attempted
at this place. Though the setem was against such aa
emerpri^) yet it was resolved upon to venture the triaL
Accordingly* on the moming of the 23d of OSbober^ the
weather being ferene, the f»aity set out about noon, and
travelled for some eiine tlirough a pleasant vale,' chiefij
covered with vineyards. They dien began to ascend s
mountain, by the ^ide of a Valley, aeariy covered with che8«
nut trees; aAcr passing'this vaBey they arrived at the top
of the <neen Afooqtain, 00 which was a large level plai%
coveitd wiih heath, mixed with myrtle, laurel^ ,and the
whortk-berry ; but there was here no human'^ultivatioQi
nor any abode of man.

At the tsni, of this ^am a sedood mountain arose^ very
4Ukrtni Aorii the firstt The road vras dangerous and on
tfie brink of precipices. The surface was covered with
lava, in which the only vegetation diat appeared were
the Spani^ brooiQ and cytistus ; a few pine trees grew on
the sides ; and the only animal seen was the wild goat.

Ascending foy rugged and narrow paths, the party at
last came to a vratering place in the hollow of a rock,
ehaded by a solitary pine. Here should be recorded &^
inflexible constancy of an artificer bek>nging to the em-
bassy. This man, who was called Thihaut, a native of
Turin, as a mafSiematical instrument maker, had the charge
of a barometer which was for the purpose of observing the
Jieight of the mountain. To ^^reserve this instrument, it was
necessary to hold it in a steady*uniferm posi ion. Thibau^
liolding the barometer with one hand against In breast^
and the bridle in the .other, never varied his position in all
the dangers of the road, or on any alarm that occurred.
By diis steading ^ party were enflUel|4n4lbe aAcmoos^


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eo ascertain that they had ascended near 6,000 feet above the
town of Orotava* Hence« chough the weather was hazy»
diey had an enlarged prosped;^ of land and sea. When
the sun was descending behind the Peak, the shadpw of the
^ mountain formed on the ocean, and lengthening gradually
to the horizon, formed ;an nncommon and striking pi&uie.
Now the clouds began to gather on the mountain,- and
impetuous gusts of wind ascended from the hoHows be-
tween the Saseof the great cone.and the mountain on which
they stood. Here the ascent wa3 not steep, but the surface
was covered with volcanic matter, dissimilar to what is
found on the sides of Vesuvius, Excavations abounded
here, which seemed to be craters of extindl vdcanoes.
The path was difficult to trace, the evening was setting in,
and the cold was unpleasant, the thermometer having fallen
-26 degrees. The travellers were, hovvever, anxions to
te^ch a spot called the resting place of the English, but (he
guides and muleteers were very unwilling to proceed ; at
length, an approaching tempest compelled them to take
shelter under a projeAing rock. One of the party ventured
to proceed on his mule up the liill, but was soon obliged to
return to his companions. Here they rested for the night,
« preading under them the branches of the Spanish broom,
having but slight shelter from the wind, and none from the
rain, which was frequent. The cold was sharp, the ther-
mometer being at 45 degrees^ but they contrived to kindle
a fire with the branches of the cytistus i the wind, however,
sometimes drove the flame in.t^eir faces and sometimes at
a distance. But, notwithstanding the disagreeableness of
their situation, they contemplated with pleasure the awful
scene that presented itself; th^ moon slione, at times, very
bright ; tlie Peak reared its lofty and tapering point to thp
;Benidi, which happened to be clear s and a« the eye d^^


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sc^hJed down the ^'des of die mountain, it perceived black
reeling clouds encircling the base; which rushing furiousljr
into the valUes far beneath, reached the ocean, on which
some hung suspended, while the others appeared blende^
with the waters.

Ac dawn the party rose, not refreshed by sleep, and their
clothes wet with the rain. The weather was yery stormy,
and (he rain fell heavily; the sumtnit of the upper cone
was visible, bgt, the fruHrum wliich supported it was lost
lit thiclc clouds, rolling in rapid succession, and precipitatr
ing themselves into the vallies, Where they fieU in raki. '

Here tlie company diyided. Dr. GjUan, Dr. Scott, Mr.
Barrow> and Mr.Hamikonof the Hiodostan, determined to
proceed, while the rest curiK:d their eyes back to Orotava,
accompanied by one of tfae guides* In their descent they
experienced such a rapid change' of climate, as if in that
space of time they haid hoen suddenly conveyed from the
frozen shore of Greenland to the warm latitudes of •the
South Sea* Near die city of Orotava, which is neatly
bnilt of stone, they measured a remarkable dragon's blood
tree, and found its trunk to be thirty-six feet in girth at thtt
height of ten feet, and at the height of fifteen feet it divided
into about twelve branches, which- sprout regularly, as it
from a centre, in an oblique direftion upwards, all of equal
fUmensions, producing ai: their extremities thjck leaves of
ti spongy nature, in shape like the common aloe, but much
smaller. It is said that this tree existed, of a large size, at
die first conquest of the island, about three centuries ago ;
^K^hen it was, as it b now, a lapd-mark to distinguish the
boundaries of property near it. The party who pers&vefed
in asctndiag the mountain were escorted by a guide, who
v^as one- of the few remaining of the aboriginal inhabitants,
or the Guanches. He bore sofne marks of that people^


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being (al! and strong-boned, aear six feet high> and waikej
u|fo-iglu and firm, though abote sixty years of age; the
lines of his countenance were strong, with hi^ archeJ
«ye*brow8, prominenc cheek-bones, a flat nose, ^nd thick
lips like the negroes.

This party soon arrived at die base of the great con^
which,being often covered with snow, occaisionfed the ancients
to give the name of Nivaria to the whole island. Here
was another large plain covered with Mack lava, exhibiting
no other mark of vegetation, except hens and there a soKtary
cyristus. The wind continued violent, the rain encreased,
the point of the Peak was obseurei) with clouds, and it was
difficttit for the riders to keep their seats. They had no^
ascended near two thousand feet above the spot where tbef
"passed the night; but here it seemed impossible to proceed,
from the intensenesR of the cold (the thermomeier being at
^i degrees,) and the violence of die tempest. Mr. Hamil-
ton was Uown off his horse. Dr. Scott pushed forward to
the base of the tone, and Dr* GiUan, in endeavouring to
follow, was forced, by the violence of the wind, to the brink
•f a precipice, down which, if his mule had not fallen
among some vakonic ashes, both must inevitably have
gone and perished. Nothing couM afterwards get the
mule to move forwards, and another having run under a
heap of lava, remained also immoveable. The attendants
having all disappeared, our travdlere tied their beasts to the
rocks, and began dieir journey on foot, through a valley,
to the bottom of the great cone from whence the Peak
arose; their design^ however, was soon frustrated, from thi
nature of the sii^ce, which, being composed of aihea and
ponice-stones, gave way at every step, and a sulphtil^eous
oflenstve dust arose which obstruded their breathing. The
tempest still continued^ the tbeunometer was at the fre»«


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ing [Somt ; to proceed appeared iorpossible, they, therefore,
Returned to their beasts, whose faces were no sooner turned
the other way than they fan down the hill with prodigious

The ^arty soon got amidst d^nse clolids, which poured
upon them in torrents of rain for near three hours; when
the weather cleared up the Peak ^as seen covered with

But though an excursioti to the Peak is so impradicable
at this season^ it is not difficult at another. Mr. Johnstone
of Madeira, whose name has already occurred, visited it
with some other gentlemen in the summer time, and hav-
ing provided tents and otlier necessaries, suffered little in
the accomplishments

They slept the night before they reached the top of the Peak
nearly about the place where the last mentioned travellers
finished their journey. There they encamped on a plain of
pumice-stone, with a stream of lava on each side, the Isle of
Grand Canary bearing S. £• About four in the morning,
August first, the moon shining bright, they began to
ascend a path along the fir^t great fhistrum leading, to the
wpper Sugar Loaf. This passage was steep, andcovered with
pumice-stone, which gave way at every step. After tra-
vdliDg an hour they reached the Alta Vista, where they
were obliged to climb over the lava, by leaping from one
stofie to another, till they came to the foot of the ^ Sugar
Loaf, when it was about half past five o'clock. To the S. K,
the horizon was very clear, and the rising sun beautifu}.
Here they rested for a short time, but the air was pene«
trating. Ascending the Sugar Loaf was th^most fatiguing
party from its steepness, and from its being covered with.
small pumice-stones. A little after six they reached the
suminit;^ The clouds below appeared like an immense

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^ £l5f»A^SY To CHtNA.

exi^t of frozen sea, covered with hillocks of flnoj«r, a^orr
whivh af)p<'ared the Grand Canary and neighbouring
islands. M thesun ascended, the cioudt dispersed, and
opened to the , view the syrrounding coast. The colours
itvhich they 'hoisted on their arrivul i^r'ere seen at Orotava
Enough telescopes.

'^he prospe6J: froni hence b wiie and romantic, the
coast beiniT clearly seen all round, and a distinft idea of the
island formed. The coast to* the N^ W; appeared well
cultivated ,. but to the S. E. k is dreary and* barren. Ob the
Peak is a pit at least eighty feet deep, into which they de-
scended, and gathered sulphur; but in- some parts the heat
is so great tliat the foot cannot rest above a minute on the
same spot. Smoke rises frequently from the earth; and
just beneath the surface ?s a soft clay, of a reddish colour^
*o hot that the hand put into it must be withdrawn on the
fnstaiitr The sulphureous smell is very offensi\'e hy the
pit, bnt <fn (he ridge it is easily endured. Here they could
plainly see Santa Cruz and the ships in the road, though
distant about twenty- five miles. Unforttinately their ba-
rometers were so injured that they could make no ob-
servations with them. They remained oil the top of the
Peak two hours and a half without any inconvenience from
the weather ; tlie thermometer about siHi-rise being at 51
degrees. They ran down the Sugar Loaf m a few mi-
nutes, and at the foot discovered sevei;ai caverns, some filled
with fine ytratcr, but very cold, and others filled with snow,
which continues all die year round.

As Captain Cook had asserted the latitude to be different

irom what it is said to be in the Requisite Tables for tlie

\ Nautical Ephenieris by six miler, Mr. Johnstone made an

observation to ascertain the fad, and found it to be within

'9. mife of what that navigator liad stated^ He had some


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time before, bv a survey made in the of&ng of Orotava,
^termined the perpendicular height of the mountain tp be
.2t023 English fathoms, ^od he also computed the distance
of the Peak from thfi port of Orotava to be about elevea
miles and a hal£ bearing S. 48 degrees, W. The varia-
tion of the compass was 16 degrees, W,

The storm which had impeded the progress of the party
belonging to ttie embassy was sev.erely felt at Santa Cru7. :
several dtips were driven from their moorings, and ^he '
Hindostan lost two anchors, but the^Lion sustained no

At Orotava the storm was also violent. The road there
being quite open,' the surge beats with great force against
the shore, and sometimes the waves have broke over i*ic
houses at some distance from the beaeb.- The pipes of
wine here are usually floated ofFto the diip&

There Vras formeily a good port on the north- west side
4>f the island, called Garrachica ; but the last eruption of the
Peak, in 1704, totally filled it up, sodtat houses now stand
where ships* once rode at anchor.

The inhabitants of Tenet iffe cool dieir wines with ice
coUe^ed by the peasants near the summit of the Peak.

Near the fort of Orotava is a^ollediion of plants brought
from the Spanish territories in America. These are in-
tended to be transplattted from hence, to Spain;

The inhabitants of Teneriffe have much of that /exterior
reKgion which is common in countries under the control
of the Inquisition. The ladies- are seldom seen but at
t^urph, and the uAfnanied being brought up in convents, ^
are often persuaded to take the veil, ihough they severely^
repent it- after wards. . "

The following circumstance made, at this lime, much
Kat Teoeriife.^ A young lady, ^Hiring ber noviciate.


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had seen a youth who had inspired her wuh a passion di&
fercnt from tJjat of religion. She, however, contrived to

Online LibrarySir George Thomas StauntonA complete view of the Chinese empire: Exhibited in a geographical ... → online text (page 7 of 35)