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TROPICAL VEGETATION AT SANTOS.

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*

It was clear that on the slopes about Santos the native forests had been cleared, but on all the steeper parts, not reclaimed for cultivation, the indigenous vegetation had resumed the mastery. Trees and shrubs in wonderful variety contended for the mastery, and maintained, as they best could, a precarious struggle for existence with a crowd of climbers and parasites. So dense was the mass of vegetation that it was impossible to penetrate in any direction farther than a few yards, and there was no choice but to follow the track that led to the summit of the slope, on which stood a pretty house with an adjoining coffee-plantation. Among the many new forms of vegetation here seen, the most singular was that of the Tillandsia.* Long, whitish, smooth cords hang from the branches of the taller trees, and at eight or ten feet from the ground abruptly produce a rosette of stiff leaves, like those of a miniature pineapple, with a central spike of flowers. But the most brilliant ornament of this season was a species of trumpet-flower (Bignonia venusta, Ker = Pyrostegia ignea, Presl), which, partly supporting itself, and partly climbing over the shrubs and small trees, covered them with dense masses of brilliant orange or flame-coloured flowers.

Laden with specimens, I returned to the town just in time for the afternoon train to San Paulo. The railway was constructed by an English company, and is so far remarkable that a somewhat difficult problem has been solved in an efficient and probably economical fashion. The object is, within a distance of a few

* The species common here is allied to T. stricta, but is not, I think, identical.

miles, to raise a railway train about 2500 feet. This is done by four stationary engines. The line is laid on four rather steep inclines, with nearly level intermediate spaces, each ascending train being counterpoised by one descending in the opposite direction, and the loss of time in effecting the connections is quite inconsiderable.

On every map of Brazil that I have seen, the Serra do Mar, which we were here ascending, is represented as a range of mountains running parallel to the coast, and extending from near Rio Janeiro to the Bay of Paranagua in South Brazil, apparently dividing the strip of coast from the low country of the interior. Most travellers would probably have expected, as I did, that on reaching the summit we should descend considerably before reaching San Paulo, and it was with surprise that from the summit I saw before me what appeared to be a vast level plain, with some distant hills or mountains in the dim horizon. It is true that the drainage of the whole tract is carried westward and ultimately reaches the Paranà ; but the slope is quite insensible, and I do not think that, in the space of about sixty miles that lay between us and San Paulo, the descent can exceed two or three hundred feet. There was a complete change in the aspect of the vegetation, and open tracts of moorland recalled scenes of Northern Germany.

Night had closed before we reached the station at San Paulo. There was a difficulty about a carriage to convey us to the hotel. Perhaps the demands were unreasonable, or perhaps we were too unfamiliar with the coinage of Brazil, which is that of the mother

GERMAN COMMERCIAL TRAVELLERS.

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country; but on hearing from the driver a demand for several thousand rees, we indignantly resolved to walk, and engaged a man to convey our luggage to the hotel. We were favourably impressed by the appearance of this provincial capital. In the space of a mile we passed through several good streets, well lighted with gas, and better paved than any I had seen in South America. Many handsome houses with adjoining gardens were passed on the way, and, on reaching the Grand Hotel, nice clean rooms, and good food provided for the evening meal, further conduced to favourable first impressions of Brazil.

My young German companion, a traveller for a commercial house, was returning from a visit to the interior of Brazil. By steamer on the Paranà and Paraguay he had gone from Buenos Ayres to Cuyabà, the capital of the province of Matto Grosso, a vast region with undefined boundaries, probably larger than most of the European states. I have often been struck by the results of superior education among Germans engaged in business, as compared with men of the same class in other countries. It is not that they often merit the designation of intellectual men, and still more rarely do they show active interest in scientific inquiry ; but they retain a respect for the studies they have abandoned, are ready to talk intelligently on such subjects, and, as a rule, have a regard for accuracy as to facts which is so uncommon in the world, as much because the majority are too ignorant to appreciate their importance as owing to deliberate disregard of truth. I did not learn much as to the progress of inner Brazil, but my fellow-traveller mentioned a few particulars that had struck him as singular. He found the civil population of Cuyabà solicitous in their adherence to European fashions in dress, and, as a special note of respectability, the men always appearing in what are vulgarly called chimneypot hats. The current coin in all but small transactions consisted in English sovereigns, but he was unable to explain how these have reached a region which can have so few commercial relations with this country. He departed on the following morning, while I resolved to spend a day in visiting the neighbourhood of the city.

Although San Paulo lies exactly on the southern tropic, the winter climate is positively cool, and at sunrise on July 6 the thermometer stood at 58° Fahr. On a rough estimate from a single barometric observation it stands about 2400 feet above the sea. Its appearance was altogether unlike that of all the towns seen in Spanish America. The somewhat wearisome monotony of regular square blocks gave place to the irregular arrangement of some of the provincial towns in England, several streets running out into the country and ending in detached villas. The general impression was that of comfort and prosperity. Several well-appointed private carriages were seen in the streets, and the shops were as good as one commonly sees in a European town of the same class.

I was much interested by the short country excursion, which occupied most of the day, and by an aspect of vegetation entirely new to me.

The plants, with scarcely an exception, belonged to genera prevailing in tropical America, many of them now seen

FLORA OF THE BRAZILIAN PLATEAU.

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by me for the first time; but the species were nearly all different from those of the coast region, and the general aspect of the flora still more markedly different. There was

no trace of that luxuriance which we commonly expect in tropical vegetation; monocotyledonous plants, except grasses, were very few, and, in place of the large ferns that abounded at Santos, I found but a single Gleichenia, allied to a species that I had gathered in the Straits of Magellan.

Although a fair number of plants were still in flower, I soon came to the conclusion that night frosts must be not unfrequent at this season, and that a considerable proportion of the vegetation must be annually renewed. I found several groups of small trees, chiefly of the laurel family, and for the first time saw the Araucaria brasiliensis, possibly in a wild state; but none of the trees attained considerable height, and I doubt whether in a state of nature this plateau has ever been a forest region. I was rejoiced to see again, growing in some abundance, the splendid Bignonia venusta, and was led to doubt whether its real home may not be in the interior, and its appearance at Santos due to introduction by man.

We possess a fair amount of information as to the climate of the Brazilian coasts, but our knowledge of the meteorology of the interior provinces is miserably scanty. I was led to conjecture that, although the district surrounding San Paulo is not divided by a mountain range from the neighbouring coast region, the climate must be very much drier, and that the rainfall is mainly limited to the suinmer season.

In the course of my walk, I unexpectedly ap

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