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Both grow to the greatest perfection in damp and shady places, or on open commons, and hence it is that the seeds are arranged on the under surface of the leaves, some in spots, others in long lines, others again like lace-work on the serrated edges. Storms may beat heavily upon them, and whirlwinds that send the fruit from off the trees, and even sweep from out their ancient fastnesses the firmest oaks, may rage around them, but the fern-leaf bends and trembles in the gale, rises when the storm has passed, and bends again beneath its fury, but not a single seed is scattered to the earth, before the season of its full developement.

Beautiful, too, and useful in its mountain habitation is the vigahua, a single-leafed vegetable, about five feet in length, and two and a half in breadth, which grows profusely in the sheltered valleys of the Andes. The under surface is smooth, and of a vivid green, divided down the middle with a thick rib; the upper

is white, and covered with a fine and viscid down. Nothing can be more imposing than the effect produced by these elegant leaves, when seen beside the deep dark foliage of the fern. As the wind passes over them, first one and then another come into view; now the white appears, and now the green, and thus a graceful interchange of mingled tints is blended in striking contrast with the lichen-dotted rock, from which they spring.

Travellers have often recourse to the leaves of the vigahua, in order to construct a temporary shelter in desert places from the storms that are frequent in high latitudes.

Bending over the vigahua, the arborescent ferns,



and graceful bamboos, deep rooted in the rocks, and apparently coeval with the rocks themselves, rise bold groups of noble and majestic trees, lofty palms and cedars, varied with the lana de ceibo, a high and tufted tree, covered during summer with white blossoms, and in autumn with pods that open and throw out their cottony contents, which often hang in elegant festoons from branch to branch. This cotton is softer and more delicate than even that of Coromandel, and, should a method be discovered of manufacturing it for articles of dress, it might rather be called silk than cotton. For mattresses it has undoubtedly no equal, both with regard to softness and elasticity.

Three zones of vegetables extend far up the majestic sides of the vast Cordilleras. The valleys, or gunga, as they are termed, signifying dry plains, produce plantains, quineos, quiney pepper, and cherimoyas, with different roots, esculents, and fruittrees in great abundance. Higher up grow pears and peaches, nectarines and quaitambos, apricots and melons, orange, limes, and citrons, of the finest flavour. Another zone of plants succeeds, presenting a most beautiful appearance, and yielding Peruvian strawberries, that carpet the earth with their broad leaves and white saucer-shaped blossoms, varied with rich scarlet fruit. For here the seasons succeed not one the other as with us; but buds and blossoms appear in mingled beauty, while rising from this carpet of nature's making. Apple-trees of luxuriant growth are covered with fruits and blossoms throughout the year.

While this luxuriant vegetation adorns the lower



range of the Cordilleras de los Andes, as the Spaniards call them, the upper is covered with snow that never melts. Those who have as. cended to the highest elevation, affirm that the sky is always serene and bright, but that the air is so highly rarefied as often to render respiration difficult, while far beneath thunders are heard to roll, and the clouds that hover on the sides of the mountains, hide the lower range, with its woods and valleys, its deep solitudes, and sunny hills.

The natural historian may be allowed to diverge from his accustomed path, when in pursuit of animals or plants, he visits countries renowned for tales of other times. He may surely dwell on the history of by-gone days, and, in speaking of the Andes, it is interesting to associate with them the names of Ulloa and his companions; those enterprising men, who were sent forth by Louis XV. to measure a degree of the meridian, and who, having passed the woody belt of the Cordilleras, erected a solitary hut on the narrow summit of Pichincha. That hut stood at an elevation of two hundred yards above the highest part of the desert, it was based on one of the loftiest crags of the mountains, and was soon covered with snow and ice. The ascent was extremely rugged, and only admitted of being climbed on foot, during four hours of continual fatigue.

Thus circumstanced, the astronomers generally kept within the hut; they were constrained to do so by the severity of the weather, the violence of the wind, and the dense fogs in which they



were frequently enveloped. When the fog cleared away, the clouds descended nearer to the surface of the earth, and often surrounded the mountain to a vast distance, which appeared like a rocky island in the midst of a boundless expanse of ocean. Fearful were the sounds which then came from below, occasioned by the tempests that raged over Quito and the neighbouring country. Lightnings were seen to issue from the clouds, and loud thunders rolled far beneath, blended with furious winds; but a delightful serenity reigned on the summit of the mountain, the winds were lulled, having descended into the plains, the sky was clear, and the enlivening rays of the sun moderated the severity of the cold. But widely different was the condition of Ulloa and his companions when the clouds again resumed their high station. It was then impossible to breathe freely; snow and hail fell continually, and the wind returned with so much violence, that it was difficult to overcome the dread of being blown down the precipice, or buried by the daily accumulation of ice and snow.

The wind was often so terrific, that the sight became dazzled. Large blocks of stone were hurled by its fury from the side of the rock on which the hut was built; crashing as they fell, they broke the awful silence of the desert beneath; and frequently during the night, that rest which the adventurers so greatly wanted was disturbed by these sudden sounds. When the weather again was fair, and the clouds gathered around some other mountain, the astronomers left their hut, in order to take exercise. They then amused themselves with rolling large




masses of rock down the precipice, and this often required the united strength of the whole party, though continually effected by the mere force of the wind. But they took care not to venture too far from their hut, lest the clouds should suddenly gather round them, and preclude the possibility of returning. The door of the hut, meanwhile, was fastened with leather thongs, and not the smallest crevice was left unstopped: it was also compactly thatched with straw, yet still the wind penetrated through.

The days were seldom more cheerful than the nights, and all the light that could be obtained was that of two lamps, which the astronomers kept burning that they might distinguish one another, and employ their minds by reading. Though the hut was small, and crowded with inhabitants, the cold was such that each was obliged to have a chafing-dish of coals beside him. These precautions would have rendered the rigour of the climate supportable, had not the imminent danger of perishing by being blown down the precipice roused them every time it snowed, to encounter the severity of the outward air, and to sally out with shovels to free the roof of their hut from the accumulated weight. The party were not indeed without servants and Indians, but these were so benumbed with the cold, that it was difficult to induce them to move out of a small tent, where they kept a continual fire. All that could be obtained from them was to take their turn; even this was done unwillingly and consequently with little spirit.

Twenty-three tedious days were thus passed on

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