31st Jan 1832

St Jago
This morning the view was very fine, the air being singularly clear and the mountains were projected against dark blue or black clouds. Judging from their appearances I should have thought the air was saturated with moisture. The Hygrometer proved the contrary, the diff: between Temp and Dew point being 29.6: this is nearly double what it has been any other morning: on the 20thand 21st it was 15.5. The dew formed at 42.2 and atmosphere was 71.8. On the previous morning the diff was only 8.8: and dew point 64,4. This uncommon dryness of the air was accompanied by continued flashes of lightning, consequent I suppose on the great change from unusual dampness to such extreme dryness.

The whole of this day I have been working very hard with microscope at yesterdays produce.

30th Jan 1832

St Jago
Walked to the coast West of Quail Island with King, and collected numerous marine animals, all of extreme interest. I am frequently in the position of the ass between two bundles of hay, so many beautiful animals do I generally bring home with me.

In the morning a few drops of rain fell.

29th Jan 1832

St Jago
Divine service was performed on Board, it is the first time I have seen it: it is a striking scene and the extreme attention of the men renders it much more imposing than I had expected. Every thing on board on Sunday is most delightfully clean, the lower decks would put to shame many gentlemens houses.

28th Jan 1832

St Jago
Collected a great number of curious and beautiful animals from the little pools left by the tide. The colours of the sponges and corallines are extremely vivid and it is curious how all animated nature becomes more gaudy as it approaches the hotter countrys. Birds, fishes, plants, shells are familiar to every one, but the colours in these marine animals will rival in brilliancy those of the higher classes.

27th Jan 1832

St Jago
Employed in working at yesterdays produce.

26th Jan 1832

St Jago
Rowlett, Bynoe and myself started early in the morning on a riding expedition to Ribera Grande. We went to Praya to get our horses and there had our breakfast. The greatest shopkeeper in the place was our host: He is an American and has married a Spanish woman and seems one of the most influential people in the place. After we had finished our Coffee in his large and airy rooms, we mounted our ponys.
The road to Ribera for the first six miles is totally uninteresting and till we arrived at the valley of St Martin the country presented its usual dull brown appearance: here our eyes were refreshed by the varied and beautiful forms of the tropical trees. The valley owes its fertility to a small stream and following its course Papaw trees, Bananas and Sugar cane flourished. I here got a rich harvest of flowers, and still richer one of fresh water shells. After having watered our active and sure footed little horses, we again commenced climbing. In the course of an hour, we arrived at Ribera and were astonished at the sight of a large ruined fort and a Cathedral: Ribera Grande which lies 9 miles to the West of Praya and was till within later years the principal place in the island. The filling up of its harbour has been the cause of the overthrow of its grandeur. It now presents a melancholy, but very picturesque appearance. The town is situated at the foot of a high black precipice, through which a narrow and abrupt valley has cut its way.
The vegetation in this little corner was most beautiful; it is impossible sufficiently to admire the exquisite form of the Cocoa-nut tree, and when, as in this case, they are seen waving their lofty heads above the dark green of an Orange Grove, one feels convinced that all the praise bestowed on tropical scenery is just. Having procured a black padre for a guide, and a Spaniard who had served in the Peninsular war for our interpreter, we visited a collection of buildings of which an antient Church forms the principal part. It is here the Governors and Captain Generals of the Islands are buried, some of the tombstones recorded dates of the fourteenth century; the heraldic ornaments were the only things in this retired place that reminded one of Europe.
This Church or Chapel formed one of the sides of a Quadrangle, in which Bananas were growing. On two of the others were the buildings in which the the people connected with the institution lived. On the fourth was a hospital, containing about a dozen of miserable looking inmates. In one of the rooms, to our surprise, we were shown a collection of tolerable paintings, the colouring and drawing of the drapery was excellent.
We then, accompanied as before, returned to the "Venda" and eat our dinner. To see which operation a concourse of black men, women and children had collected. We luckily had brought some cold meat: as the only things the men helped us to were wine and crumbs made from Indian corn. Certainly the whole scene was most amusing, our companions the blacks were extremely merry, every thing we said or did was followed by their hearty laughter. Our Spanish interpreter now left us, before mounting his donkey, he loaded a formidable pistol with slugs quietly remarking, "this very good for black man".
Before leaving Ribera, we visited the Cathedral. It is a building of some size, but does not appear from the absence of plate to be so rich as the smaller Church. It boasts however of a small organ, which sent forth most singularly inharmonious notes. We presented our friend the black priest (which the Spaniard with much candour said he thought made no difference) with a few shillings and wishing him good morning returned as fast as the Ponys would carry us to Porto Praya.

25th Jan 1832

St Jago
Collected some marine animals at Quail Island and spent most part of the day in examining them.

24th Jan 1832

St Jago
After our one oclock dinner, Wickham, the Captain and myself walked to the famous Baobob tree and measured it more accurately. Cap FitzRoy first took an angle by a pocket sextant and afterward climbed the tree and let down a string, both ways gave the same result, viz. 45 feet in height. Its circumference measured 2 feet from the grounds (there being no projecting roots) gave 35. Its form is oval, and its greatest visible diameter was 13 feet. So that in an accurate drawing its breadth height would be 3.4 of its height breadth. Cap FitzRoy made a sketch which gave a good idea of its proportion, yet in this the height was only about 2.4 of breadth. Proving, what one so often observes, that a faithful delineation of Nature does not give an accurate idea of it. We returned home, after our merry and pleasant walk, just as it was dark.

A very pretty schooner came in this morning: it is strongly suspected that she is a slaver in disguise, she says she is a general trader to the coast of Africa. The Captain means to overhaul her in the morning and make out what she is. I suppose every thing is well concealed, else she would not have come into a harbour where a pennant was flying.

23rd Jan 1832

St Jago
Walked with Maccormick to Flag Staff Hill. We passed over an extended plain of table land. There was scarcely one green leaf on the whole tract, yet large flocks of goats, together with some cattle, contrive to live. It rains but very seldom in this country and when it does a mass of vegetation springs up; this soon drys up and withers: and upon this such miserable sort of hay that the animals exist: at present it has not rained for a year, and I suppose will not till the proper time next year, viz. November and October. At these periods the island is very unhealthy: one ship some years past lost six of its junior officers.

A little to the North of the hill, we found a very curious ravine, not much above 30 yards across, about 200 feet high. We with some difficulty found one single path at the very end, where we descended. In this wild dell we found the building places of many birds. Hawks and Ravens and the beautiful Tropic bird were soaring about us: a large wild cat bounded across and reached its den before Maccormick could shoot it. The place seemed formed for wild animals: large blocks of rocks, entwined with succulent creepers and the ground strewed over with bleached bones of Goats would have been a fine habitation for a Tiger.

22nd Jan 1932

St Jago
This day has passed (and it is a subject for wonder) very much like any other Sunday out of the Magic line of the Tropics. In the evening I strolled about Quail Island and caught myself thinking of England and its politicks, it is my belief that the word reform has not passed the lips of any man on board since we saw Madeira. So absorbing is the interest of a new country.

21st Jan 1832

St Jago
All day I have been working at yesterdays produce. Geology is at present my chief pursuit and this island gives full scope for its enjoyment. There is something in the comparative nearness of time, which is very satisfactory whilst viewing Volcanic rocks.

There have been two bright meteors passing from East to West.

20th Jan 1832

St Jago
I took a long walk with Maccormick into the interior. Although in such a country the objects of interest are few, yet perhaps from this very reason, each individual one strikes the imagination the more. We followed one of the broad water courses, which serves as a road for the country people, by the greatest good luck it lead us to the celebrated Baobob trees. I had forgotten its existence, but the sight immediately recalled a description of it which I had formerly read. This enormous tree measured 36feet 2 inches at the height of 2’ 8” from ground. Its altitude in no way corresponds with its great thickness. I should not suppose it was 30 feet high. This tree is supposed to be one of longest lived that exists. Adanson supposed that some reached to the age of 6000 years. This one bears on its bark the signs of its notoriety it is as completely covered with initials and dates as any one in Kensington Gardens.

We passed on with nothing except the novelty of the scene that could give us any enjoyment: the glowing sun above our heads was the only thing that reminded us we were in the tropics. Nature is here sterile, nothing breaks the absolute stillness, nothing is seen to move: we may indeed except a gay coloured kingfisher and its prey, the less gaudy grasshopper. At midday, we seated ourselves under the shade of a Tamarind and measured out our small portion of water. The bluish green tint of its colour and the extreme lightness of its pinnate foliage gives to this Acacia a most pleasing appearance. We then left the valley and crossed over to Red hill, which is 1300 high and composed of more recent Volcanic rocks.

On road, two black men brought us some goats milk, to pay them we put some copper money on our open hands: they took a farthing, and when we gave them a penny, we hardly could prevent them pouring down a quart of milk into our very throats. These merry simple hearted men left us in roars of laughter. I never saw anything more intelligent than the Negros, especially the Negro or Mulatto children. They all immediately perceived and are astonished at the percussion guns, they examine every thing with the liveliest attention, and if you let them the children chattering away, will pull everything out of your pockets to examine them it. My silver pencil case was pulled out and much speculated upon. When catching a stinging ichneumon, the children pinched themselves in order to show that the insect would pain me.

We scaled the top of the Red hill and from it had a good view of the most desolate countrys in the world. Our road home, near to Praya, lay through a more fertile valley and few will imagine how refreshing is the sight of the dark green of the Palm.

We returned to the vessel very thirsty and covered with dust, but not much fatigued, neither did I suffer much from the heat of the sun.

19th Jan 1832

St Jago
I took a walk with Musters. I went to the West along the coast, and then returned by a more inland path. My imagination never pictured so utterly barren a place as this is, it is not the absence of vegetation solely that produces this effect: every thing adds to the idea of solitude: nothing meets the eye but plains strewed over with black and burnt rocks rising one above the other. And yet there was a grandeur in such scenery and to me the unspeakable pleasure of walking under a tropical sun on a wild and desert island. It is quite glorious the way my collections are increasing. I am even already troubled with the vain fear that there will be nobody in England who will have the courage to examine some of the less known branches.

I have been so incessantly engaged with objects full of new and vivid interest: that the three days appear of an indefinite length. I look back to the 16th as a period long gone by.

18th Jan 1832

St Jago
I have been excessively busy all day and have hardly time to write my days log: the little time I was out of my cabin, I spent geologising on Quail Island. The day has been very hot: and I have feasted on Tamarinds and a profusion of oranges, for dinner I had Barrow Cooter for fish and sweet potatoes for vegetables: quite tropical and correct.
Santiago (also spelled São Tiago or Sant'Iago) is the biggest island of the archipelago. It was the first to be discovered by the Portuguese navigators, in the 15th century. It was the first to be settled (followed by Fogo). It has more than half of the population in the archipelago. Santiago is also dry, but its hinterland has big mountains and some humidity that allows some farming. (RR)

17th Jan 1832

St Jago
Immediately after breakfast I went with the Captain to Quail Island. This is a miserable desolate spot, less than a mile in circumference. It is intended to fix here the observatory and tents; and will of course be a sort of headquarters to us. Uninviting as its first appearance was, I do not think the impression this day has made will ever leave me.

The first examining of Volcanic rocks must to a Geologist be a memorable epoch, and little less so to the naturalist is the first burst of admiration at seeing Corals growing on their native rock. Often whilst at Edinburgh, have I gazed at the little pools of water left by the tide: and from the minute corals of our own shore pictured to myself those of larger growth: little did I think how exquisite their beauty is and still less did I expect my hopes of seeing them would ever be realized. And in what a manner has it come to pass, never in the wildest castles in the air did I imagine so good a plan; it was beyond the bounds of the little reason that such day-dreams require. After having selected a series of geolog. specimens and collected numerous animals from the sea, I sat myself down to a luncheon of ripe tamarinds and biscuit; the day was hot, but not much more so than the summers of England and the sun tried to make cheerful the dark rocks of St Jago. The atmosphere was a curious mixture of haziness and clearness, distant objects were blended together: but every angle and streak of colour was brightly visible at the short distance on the nearer rocks.

Let those who have seen the Andes be discontented with the scenery of St Jago. I think its unusually sterile character gives it a grandeur which more vegetation might have spoiled. I suppose the view is truly African, especially to our left, where some round sandy hills were only broken by a few stunted Palms.

I returned to the ship heavily laden with my rich harvest, and have all evening been busily employed in examining its produce.

16th Jan 1832

St Jago
At about 11 oclock we neared the Western coast of St Jago and by about three we anchored in the bay of Porto Praya. St Jago viewed from the sea is even much more desolate than the land about Santa Cruz. The Volcanic fire of past ages and the scorching heat of a tropical sun have in most places rendered the soil sterile and unfit for vegetation. The country rises in successive steps of table land, interspersed by some truncate conical hills, and the horizon is bounded by an irregular chain of more lofty and bolder hills. The scene when viewed through the peculiar atmosphere of the tropics was one of great interest: if indeed a person fresh from sea and walking for the first time in a grove of Cocoa-nut trees, can be a judge of anything but his own happiness.

At three oclock I went with a party to announce our arrival to the "Governador". After having found out the house, which certainly is not suited to the grandeur of his title we were ushered into a room where the great man most courteously received us. After having made out our story in a very ludicrous mixture of Portuguese, English and French, we retreated under a shower of bows. We then called on the American Consul who likewise acts for the English. The Portugeese might with great advantage have instilled a little of his well-bred politesse into this quarter. I was surprised at the houses: the rooms are large and airy, but with uncommonly little furniture, and that little in vile taste.

We then strolled about the town, and feasted upon oranges: which I believe are now selling a hundred per shilling. I likewise tasted a Banana: but did not like it, being maukish and sweet with little flavor. The town is a miserable place, consisting of a square and some broad streets, if indeed they deserve so respectable a name. In the middle of these "Ruas" are lying together goats, pigs and black and brown children: some of whom boast of a shirt, but quite as many not: these latter look less like human beings than I could have fancied any degradation could have produced.- There are a good many black soldiers, it would be difficult I should think to pick out a less efficient body of men. Many of them only possess for arms a wooden staff.

Before returning to our boat, we walked across the town and came to a deep valley. Here I first saw the glory of tropical vegetation: Tamarinds, Bananas and Palms were flourishing at my feet. I expected a good deal, for I had read Humboldts descriptions and I was afraid of disappointments: how utterly vain such fear is, none can tell but those who have seen experienced what I to day have. It is not only the gracefulness of their forms or the novel richness of their colours, it is the numberless and confusing associations that rush together on the mind that produces the effect.

I returned to the shore, treading on Volcanic rocks, hearing the notes of unknown birds, and seeing new insects fluttering about still newer flowers. It has been for me a glorious day, like giving to a blind man eyes, he is overwhelmed with what he sees and cannot justly comprehend it. Such are my feelings, and such may they remain.

14th & 15th Jan 1832

Teneriffe to C.Verde Islands
These, like the last two days have rapidly glided past...

... with nothing to mark their transit. The weather has been light and to sailors very annoying: all the 15th we were tacking about the NW end of St Jago, making so little way from the effects of a strong current, that after some hours we scarcely got on a mile. Some few birds have been hovering about the vessel and a large gay coloured cricket found an insecure resting place within the reach of my fly-nippers. He must at the least have flown 370 miles from the coast of Africa.

12th & 13th Jan 1832

Teneriffe to C.Verde Islands
These have been two quiet uninteresting days...
... my time since the making of the net has been fully occupied with collecting and observing the numerous small animals in the sea. I find sea-life so far from unpleasant, that I am become quite indifferent whether we arrive a week sooner or later at any port. I cannot help much regretting we were unable to stay at Teneriffe: St Jago is so miserable a place that my first landing in a Tropical country will not make that lasting impression of beauty which so many have described.

11th Jan 1832

Teneriffe to C.Verde Islands
I am quite tired having worked all day at the produce of my net. The number of animals that the net collects is very great and fully explains the manner so many animals of a large size live so far from land. Many of these creatures so low in the scale of nature are most exquisite in their forms and rich colours. It creates a feeling of wonder that so much beauty should be apparently created for such little purpose. The weather is beautiful and the blueness of the sky when contrasted with white clouds is certainly striking.

Again did I admire the rapid course of the setting sun. It did not at first occur to me that it was owing to the change of Latitude: I forgot that the same vertical motion of the sun which causes the short twilight at the Equator, must necessarily hasten its disappearance beneath the horizon. — The mean Temp from 12 observations for the 10th gives was 73½.

10th Jan 1832

Teneriffe to C.Verde Islands
We crossed the Tropic this morning, if our route did not extend further, Neptune would here celebrate the aweful ceremonies of the Equator. The weather is beautiful, and very little hotter than the middle of our summer: we have all put on our light clothes; what a contrast one fortnight has brought about as compared to the miserable wet weather of Plymouth.

There was a glorious sunset this evening and is now followed by an equally fine moonlight night. I do not think I ever before saw the sun set in a clear horizon. I certainly never remarked the marvellous rapidity with which the disk after having touched the ocean dips behind it.

I proved to day the utility of a contrivance which will afford me many hours of amusement and work — it is a bag four feet deep, made of bunting, and attached to semicircular bow this by lines is kept upright, and dragged behind the vessel — this evening it brought up a mass of small animals, and tomorrow I look forward to a greater harvest.

8th & 9th Jan 1832

Teneriffe to C.Verde Islands
These two days have passed quietly reading...

... there was nothing to remind you that you were not sailing in the English Channel.

7th Jan 1832

Teneriffe to C.Verde Islands
We were beating about during the night with a light baffling wind and in the morning a most glorious view broke upon us. The sun was rising behind the Grand Canary and defined with the clearest outline its rugged form. Teneriffe, grey as yet from the morning mist, lay to the West: some clouds having floated past, the snowy peak was soon in all its grandeur. As the sun rose it illumined this massive pyramid, parts of which either stood relieved against the blue sky or were veiled by the white fleecy clouds: all rendered the scene most beautiful and varied. Such moments can and do repay the tedious suffering of sickness.

We stood on a tack in direction of Santa Cruz; but were soon becalmed before reaching it. The day has been one of great interest to me: every body in the ship was in activity, some shooting, others fishing, all amused. No one could withstand such delightful weather, nothing reminded one that there were are such extremes as hot or cold. During the day we frequently saw the Cone, but the rest of the mountain even to the waters edge was hidden — it is then that its extreme height most strikes one. Some old paintings, where you see Jupiter and other gods quietly conversing on a rock amongst the clouds do not give a very exaggerated idea of the Peak of Teneriffe.

A fine breeze is now blowing us from its coast: one has read so many accounts of this island, that it is like parting from a friend; a different feeling from what I shall experience when viewing the Andes.

6th Jan 1832

After heaving to during the night we came in sight of Teneriffe at day break, bearing SW about 12 miles off. We are now a few miles tacking with a light wind to Santa Cruz. Which at this distance looks a small town, built of white houses and lying very flat. Point Naga, which we are doubling, is a rugged uninhabited mass of lofty rock with a most remarkably bold and varied outline. In drawing it you could not make a line straight.

Every thing has a beautiful appearance: the colours are so rich and soft. The peak or sugar loaf has just shown itself above the clouds. It towers in the sky twice as high as I should have dreamed of looking for it. A dense bank of clouds entirely separates the snowy top from its rugged base. It is now about 11 oclock, and I must have another gaze at this long wished for object of my ambition.

Oh misery, misery. We were just preparing to drop our anchor within 1/2 a mile of Santa Cruz when a boat came alongside bringing with it our death-warrant. The consul declared we must perform a rigorous quarantine of twelve days. Those who have never experienced it can scarcely conceive what a gloom it cast on every one: Matters were soon decided by the Captain ordering all sail to be set and make a course for the Cape Verd Islands. And we have left perhaps one of the most interesting places in the world, just at the moment when we were near enough for every object to create, without satisfying, our utmost curiosity. The abrupt vallies which divided in parallel rows the brown and desolate hills were spotted with patches of a light green vegetation and gave the scenery to me a very novel appearance. I suppose however that Volcanic islands under the same zone have much the same character.

On deck to day the view was compared as very like to other places, especially to Trinidad in West Indies. Santa Cruz is generally accused of being ugly and uninteresting, it struck me as much the contrary. The gaudy coloured houses of white yellow and red; the oriental-looking Churches and the low dark batteries, with the bright Spanish flag waving over them were all most picturesque. The small trading vessels with their raking masts and the magnificent back ground of Volcanic rock would together have made a most beautiful picture. But it is past and tomorrow morning we shall probably only see the grey outline of the surrounding hills. We are however as yet only a few miles from the town. It is now about 10 oclock and we have been becalmed for several hours. The night does its best to smooth our sorrow — the air is still and deliciously warm — the only sounds are the waves rippling on the stern and the sails idly flapping round the masts.

Already can I understand Humboldts enthusiasm about the tropical nights, the sky is so clear and lofty, and stars innumerable shine so bright, that like little moons they cast their glitter on the waves.

5th Jan 1832

Devonport to Canary Islands
Passed this morning within a few miles of the Piton rock: the most Southern of the Salvages: it is a wild abrupt rock and uninhabited.

At noon we were 100 miles from Teneriffe. The day has been beautiful and I am so much better that I am able to enjoy it; the air is very mild and warm: something like a spring day in England, but here the sky is much brighter and atmosphere far more clear. There was a very long gradual swell on the sea, like what is seen on the Pacific: The ocean lost its flat appearance and looked more like an undulating plain.

4th Jan 1832

Devonport to Canary Islands
We heaved to during the night and at day break saw Porto Santo, in few hours we passed Madeira, leaving it on our West. As the anchorage there is bad and the landing difficult, it was not thought worth while to beat dead to Windward in order to reach it. Accordingly we steered for Teneriffe. I was so sick that I could not get up even to see Madeira, when within 12 miles. In the evening a little better but much exhausted.

3rd Jan 1832

Devonport to Canary Islands
We looked for the eight stones and passed over the spot where they are laid down in the charts. Perhaps their origin might have been Volcanic and have since disappeared.

2nd Jan 1832

Devonport to Canary Islands
Heavy weather. I very nearly fainted from exhaustion.

1st Jan 1832

Devonport to Canary Islands
The new year to my jaundiced senses bore a most gloomy appearance. In the morning almost a calm, but a long swell on the sea. in the evening it blew a stiff breeze against us. This and three following days were ones of great and unceasing suffering.