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On my return from a delightful walk, I found muchdesired letters from home awaiting me, and along with them the less welcome information that the departure of the Triumph was delayed for several weeks. Renouncing with regret the agreeable prospect of a voyage in company with Captain Markham, I at once wrote to secure a passage in the German steamer Rhamses, announced to leave Valparaiso on May 28.
Among other objects of interest at this place, I was struck by the proceedings of two captive condors, who, with clipped wings, roamed about the establishment, and seemed to have no desire to recover the liberty which they had lost as young birds. One of them was especially pertinacious in keeping to the side of the court near to the dining-room and kitchen, always on the look-out for scraps of meat and refuse. Contrary to my expectation, the colour of both birds, which were females, was a nearly uniform brown, with only a few white feathers beneath. They were larger than any eagles, but scarcely exceeded one or two of the largest lämmergeier of the Alps that I have seen in confinement.
On the morning of May 19 I with much regret took my departure from the baths, and found myself in company with an elderly gentleman and his pretty and agreeable daughter, who also desired to return to Santiago. Starting some two hours earlier than was at all necessary, we had spare time, which I employed in looking for plants at Rio Claro and about the
the poisonous principle contained in the plants of
Gualtro station; but at this season very little remained to interest the botanist. We reached the capital about five p.m., and, as the days were now short, the sun was setting as I went in an open carriage along the broad Alameda, which runs nearly due east. The better to enjoy the finest sunset which I had yet seen in America, I was sitting facing westward, with my back to the horses, when an unusual glow of bright light on the adjoining houses caused me to turn my head. Never shall I forget the extraordinary spectacle that met my eyes. I am well used to brilliant sunsets, for, so far as I know, they are nowhere in the world so frequent as in the part of north-eastern Italy approaching the foot of the Alps, with which I am familiar. But the scene on this evening was beyond all previous experience or imagination. The great range of the Cordillera that rises above the town, mostly covered with fresh snow, seemed ablaze in a glory of red flame of indescribable intensity, and the whole city was for some minutes transfigured in the splendour of the illumination.
The subject of sunset illumination has been much discussed of late in connection with the supposed effects of the great eruption of Krakatoa, and I confess to a suspicion that these have been considerably overrated. That the presence of finely comminuted particles in the higher region of the atmosphere is one of the chief causes that determine the colour of the sky, may be freely conceded by those who doubt whether a single volcanic eruption sufficed to alter the conditions over the larger part of the earth's surface. It is certain that some of the districts ordinarily noted
for sunsets of extraordinary brilliancy are remote from active volcanoes. So far as South America is concerned, it may, on the other hand, be remarked that if volcanic action be an efficient cause, it is present at many points of the continent as well as in Central America, while brilliant sunsets are, so far as I know, of rare occurrence except in Chili.
Baths of Apoquinto-Slopes of the Cordillera-Excursion to
Santa Rosa de los Andes and the valley of Aconcagua-
HAVING devoted the day following my return to Santiago to botanical work, chiefly in the herbarium of Dr. Philippi, I started on the following morning in company with his son, Professor Friedrich Philippi, for an excursion up the slopes of the mountain range nearest the city. My companion had kindly sent forward in advance his servant with horses, and we engaged a hackney coach to convey us to the Baths of Apoquinto, where a warm mineral spring bursts out at the very base of the mountain. The common carriages throughout South
ut South America are heavy lumbering vehicles, and the road, though nearly level, was deep in volcanic sand; but the horses are excellent, and, in spite of several halts to collect a few
BATHS ON APOQUINTO.
plants yet in flower, we accomplished the distance of nine miles in little over an hour.
The establishment at Apoquinto is on a small scale and somewhat rustic in character, but it had been recently taken by an Englishman, and now supplies fair accommodation, which would be prized by a naturalist who should be fortunate enough to visit Chili at a favourable season. We mounted our horses without delay, and at once commenced the ascent, gentle for a short way, but soon becoming so steep that it was more convenient to dismount at several places. Under the experienced guidance of my companion, I found more interesting plants still in flower or fruit than I had ventured to expect at this season. I here for the first time found a species of Mulinum, one of a large group of umbelliferous plants characteristic of the Chilian flora, and nearly all confined to South America. The leaves in the commonest species are divided into a few stiff pointed segments, reminding one somewhat of the Echinophora of the Mediterranean shores, once erroneously supposed to be a native of England.
I was especially struck on this day with the extraordinary variety of odours, pleasant or the reverse, that are exhaled by the native plants of Chili. As commonly happens in dry countries, a large proportion of the native plants contain resinous gums, each of which emits some peculiar and penetrating smell. I had already observed this elsewhere in the country, but, perhaps owing to the great variety of the vegetation on these slopes, the recollections of the day are indelibly associated with those of the im