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Few of the eminences of the earth merit more attention from the student of Geology, or the lover of the strange and wonderful, than the curious conical peak which rises up in the island of Mauritius, and which bears the name of Peter Botte Mountain. The island of Mauritius is better known at the present day for the vast imports of
sugar we receive from thence, and few of the British colonies exceed it in the amount of their trade and produce. The situation of the island is off the east coast of Africa, the great island of Madagascar lying between it and the mainland. The soil is rocky, and evidently the result of volcanic formation ; the mountain we are now describing owing the chief features of its shape and size to its volcanic origin. Bold, wedge-shaped, and formed of an assemblage of huge boulders, and shapeless fragments of the hardest rock, it looks like the work of a race of giants, who, in the age of fable, may have flung these blocks together in their sport, or have piled them up into a ladder, on the top of which they would confront the eagle, and bid defiance to the morning star. The aspect of the mountain is wild and singular in the extreme. It has no surrounding ramparts, no dikes, cliffs, or chasms, but rises out of the plain to a height of 1800 feet, a conical and isolated hill, formed of immense blocks of granite, many of which seem threatening, every instant, to precipitate themselves into the fertile plain below.
To reach the top of this mountain has been the desire of many. One adventurer is said to have climbed to the top some years ago; but having had the misfortune to roll from the summit to the bottom, he did not survive to recount his adventure. This was the supposed Peter Botte, from whom the mountain takes its name. Some sixty years since, a Frenchman boasted of having made the ascent and descent in safety, but he was belied for his pains, and the top of the mountain was still regarded as inaccessible.
In 1831, Captain Lloyd, civil engineer, accompanied by Mr. Dawkins, ascended the mountain, and got as far as the part called the Neck, which may be seen in the engraving, about half way up, at the foot of two immense adjoining rocks. Captain Lloyd, however, was convinced that the summit might be reached, and accordingly, on the 7th of September, 1833, he made another attempt, in company with Lieutenants Philpots, Keppel, and Taylor.
The arrangements included a staff of twenty sepoys,
several negros carrying food, and a necessary supply of ropes, ladders, and engineering implements. Along a path not a foot broad, they picked their way for some hundred yards, and at last stood on the little patch of land, called the Neck, which only measures 20 yards. Here the scene was most sublime. One extremity of the Neck was precipitous, and bounded by a narrow knife-like edge of rock, broken here and there into precipitous faces, aud running up in a conical form to about 350 feet above them; while on the pinnacle above, the great crowning mass of stone, called “Peter Botte," frowned sublimely upon them.
At this Neck was found the ladder which had been used by Captain Lloyd and Mr. Dawkins in 1831 ; and this was the first engine in the work of scaling the top. A negro boy ascended the ladder, and then climbed some distance up a cleft in the rock, carrying a cord round his middle. The line was made fast, and the boy cried, “All right !” Away up the face of the slippery rock scrambled the four adventurers, the ascent, even here, being fraught with the utmost danger, and the least false step, or crumbling of the rock, being certain to precipitate them into the plain below. Here sat Lieutenant Taylor astride a sharp ridge which commanded both sides of the mountain, so that he could kick his right shoe into the plain on one side, and his left shoe into the ravine on the other.
The next step was to scale the head of the mountain; but the question was, how to get a ladder up against the projecting edge of the upper rock. Captain Lloyd had provided some iron arrows, and having a gun, he made a line fast round his body, to which the other three held on, and going over the edge of the precipice on the opposite side, so as, in fact, to lean over the side of the precipice, bearing his whole weight on the rope held on the other side by his companions, he fired several arrows over the crowning rock, but without succeeding in getting over the rope. If the line had broken at this moment, he would have met with Peter Botte's fate, and have fallen 1800 feet. Then he tried to throw over a stone, attached
to a line, but the line would not catch, and away went the stone into the chasm below. At last a shift of wind occurred, and Lloyd flung a stone, with the assistance of Æolus, and away it went over the rock, and safely carried the line with it.
The rope being caught by Lloyd's companions on their side of the rock, was then made the medium for drawing up a ladder, the foot of which was securely lashed against the base on which they were standing. Away went Lloyd, followed by his three faithful satellites, all hallooing and scrambling, and the top of the Peter Botte was reached. The union-jack was unfurled, and recognised by the shipping in the harbour, and greeted with a grand salute, which the adventurers returned with their gun. A bottle of wine was then hauled up, and the rock christened King William's Peak, while the health of the king was drunk with all the honours.
Determined not to do things by halves, arrangements were made for sleeping on the top. Blankets, pea-jackets, and the necessary refreshments were hauled up, and in the meantime dinner was prepared by the negros on the shoulder below. After dinner, as darkness came on, they re-ascended to take their repose. “It was a glorious sight," says Lieutenant Taylor, " to look down from that giddy pinnacle over the whole island, lying so calm and beautiful in the moonlight, except where the broad, black i shadow of the other mountains intercepted the light. Here and there, we could see a light twinkling in the plains, or the fire of some sugar manufactory. But no sound of any sort reached us, except an occasional shout from the party down on the shoulder. At length, in the ! direction of Port Louis, a bright flash was seen, and after a long interval, the sullen boom of the evening gun. We', then prepared our pre-arranged signal, and whiz went a! rocket from our nest, lighting up for an instant the peaks of the hills below us, and then leaving us in darkness. We next burned a blue light, and nothing can be conceived more beautiful than the broad glare against the over-hanging rock. The wild-looking group we made in
our uncouth habiliments, and the narrow ledge on which we stood, were all distinctly shown ; while many of the tropical birds, frightened at our vagaries, came glancing by in the light, and then swooped away, screeching, into the gloom below ; for the gorge on our left was dark as Erebus."
Next morning, our adventurers found themselves, stiff, cold, and hungry; and after fixing a twelve-foot ladder on the summit, and crowning it with a water barrel ; and above all, a long staff bearing the union-jack, they bid adieu to this uncomfortable, but romantic resting-place, and effected a safe descent to the bottom. Regarding the expedition as an amusing, though daring experiment, it must be pronounced one of the most brilliant ever ' achieved.
THE SAMARITAN WOMAN'S QUESTION.
"Is NOT THIS THE CHRisT ?" JOHN IV. 29. My dear young Friends,
I dare say you have lived long enough to learn, that first impressions are not always correct, and that hasty conclusions are frequently wrong. For it often happens, that under an unpromising exterior, there is a cultivated mind, a warm, kind, and noble heart. But you are not the first to be agreeably surprised. The woman of Samaria did not at first see any thing in the Jewish stranger, whom she met at Jacob's well, to abate the prejudice of her people towards his nation. Therefore she replied to his request, as she would have done to that of an ordinary Jew. “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria ? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” But a little conversation with the kind stranger, led the woman to change her opinion of him, and her conduct towards him. What the stranger told her, brought back, like a faithful mirror, the chief incidents of her past life, which filled her with surprise and reverence, in spite of his being a Jew. Her