Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Voyage from Pole to Pole by way of the Center of the Earth (1721) — I


An Account of a Voyage
from the Arctic to the Antarctic Pole
by way
of the
Center of the Earth.

With the description of that perilous Passage, & of the
marvelous & astonishing things that were discovered
beneath the Antarctic Pole.

WITH FIGURES.


Amsterdam
M. DCC. XXI



TABLE OF CHAPTERS.

I. Departure of the Author from Amsterdam for Greenland; how the Author & his Companions began to realize that they were nearing the dreadful maelstrom which is under the Arctic Pole; description of the maelstrom.

II. How the Vessel was swallowed up at the center of the maelstrom; how they would find themselves in time under the Antarctic Pole, & how they knew that they were no longer under Northern Skies..

III. They land on the Coast, & penetrate about a league & a half into the country; description of the great Floating Island which is under the Antarctic Pole, & of the mountain of ice which is in the middle of a Pyramidal Figure, & which seems cut in facets; of the marvelous Meteors which appear from time to time around the Floating Island. 

IV. Of the marvelous lake whose waters are almost always warm, & of its five admirable Cascades; description of the Valley of White Roses, where they see a very remarkable Monument, a rare & singular Fountain, & some shrubs, very lovely & agreeable to the view.

V. Of some monstrous Fish that we saw in these Seas; tragic & lamentable Accident that happened to two Sailors of the crew; of the 7 inaccessible Isles, & what the Author saw there with a great Spyglass.

VI. Of the great Promontory or Cape which is always covered with clouds; of the miraculous Jet of water that was seen there; of the large & deep Cavern through which passes a deep & wide Torrent; extraordinary Combat between two white Bears & three Seals.

VII. Of the Strait of the Bears; of the marvelous rock archway or natural bridge; of the appalling precipice we saw between some high mountains near the Strait of the Bears; of the thunderous subterrainean noises accompanied by flashes that we heard in a large Rock far out to Sea.

VIII. Of a beautiful & spacious Plain enclosed by three great hills; of a very beautiful & strange Plant; of some ruins; of the curious remains of an ancient Wall in the vicinity of the Sea; of a marvelous Echo; of the crowned Bird which made its nest underground.

IX. Of a great & beautiful Harbor formed by a rocky enclosure on the same Gulf of which we just spoke; of a great & high Mountain which appeared suspended in the air; of an Archipelago or several islands clustered together; of a large & tall Column of Fire on the Sea & of a Phenomenon which had the shape of the Sun.

X. The Author & his companions set sail for the old world; some time after they find in their path a dreadful reef; they arrive at the Cape of Good Hope; extraordinary adventure that happened to the Author some days after landing.






THE PASSAGE
FROM THE ARCTIC POLE,
TO THE ANTARCTIC POLE,
BY WAY OF
THE CENTER OF THE EARTH.

Chapter I.

Departure of the Author from Amsterdam for Greenland; how the Author & his Companions began to realize that they were nearing the dreadful maelstrom which is under the Arctic Pole; description of the maelstrom.

Having always had, from my youth, a very great passion for Voyages, I have traveled, in order to satisfy my curiosity, through all the principal parts of the Old & New Worlds, & at the end of my last passage, I found myself in the great & famous City of Amsterdam, where I met with three or four great Merchants who told me that they were equipping a Vessel to carry them to Greenland to the Whale Fishery. At this news, I felt my natural inclinations rekindle, & I conceived at once the design to make that Voyage, having still not seen the icy Climates of the Frigid Zones. I commenced then & there to buy all that I believed necessary, & having put in order all my small equipage, I embarked on the third day of May, of the year seventeen hundred & fourteen.
We set off with a Favorable Wind & had perfect weather for some days, but on the tenth, towards evening, the Heavens darkened, & were covered in no time with dark & heavy clouds, & the Winds started to blow with such vehemence & fury that the crew was on the alert all the following night. That tempest carried us to the West so rapidly, despite all our maneuvers, that in the morning, around four o’clock, we found ourselves in view of the Coasts of the Isle of Iceland, which were only about three leagues distant. The Wind having dropped for the moment, a calm of twelve hours succeeded it, after which we resumed our route with a light South-East Wind. We we so fortunate in our sailing that within fourteen hours we perceived two Vessels which appeared to us to come from Greenland, & to take route to Holland. We were then at sixty-eight degrees, 17 minutes latitude. However, we quickly lost sight of the Vessels, for the weather changed suddenly, & we saw a fearsome Storm form to our East, which approached us in the space of a few minutes. We were first surround by an endless number of flashes, which were followed by appalling claps of thunder & a rain so heavy, strong & long, that the Heavens seemed to threaten the Earth with a second deluge. The darkness was so great that we could not distinguish objects from the Stern to the Prow. The waves were so heavy, & the Winds clattered with so much fury that our Pilot, although highly experienced, hardly knew what course to take. Finally, after we had been for a long time a mere hair's breadth from death, that horrible tempest began to dissipate. The sun reappeared & we found ourselves in a wide Sea, filled everywhere with great blocks of ice, which rolled against & onto one another. We were afraid of being capsized or crushed. It became very cold, & we saw around us neither Isles nor Coasts.
We had lost our route & consulting our sextant, we found ourselves at seventy-three degrees twenty-two minutes. A light South Wind pushed us always towards the North, & carried us finally to a place where the Sea seemed to us to slope slightly, & where the thread of the water led us, albeit slowly, always to one side of the Pole. Then an old Sailor told us he had once heard a famous Pilot, who had roamed much in the Seas of the North, say that there was beneath the Arctic Pole a terrifying maelstrom, which could be seventy or eighty leagues in circumference. He reckoned this to be the most dangerous hazard in the world, in the midst of which there must be a terrible & bottomless gulf, where all the waters of these Seas rush, having communication by way of the center of the earth, with the Seas which are beneath the Antarctic Pole. This tale chilled us with fright, & we trembled in all the parts of our bodies, for we saw what the course of the water would bring us to, & that it was impossible for us to reverse that course.
We took counsel, & it was concluded that, although there was hardly any hope of salvation for us, it was nonetheless necessary to take every imaginable precaution, & to seal all the openings of the Vessel, to close off every avenue to the water. We performed this task right away, with an incredible eagerness & diligence, after which we all went up on Deck to see if together we could not find a way to avoid the hideous peril which threatened us.
For the moment the Sun did not set, & we always saw it turning around us on the edges of the Horizon, but it was a bit pale. We saw towards the West a rather long Coast, which had three Capes, of which the middle one extended much further into the Sea than the other two. We saw there many high Mountains all covered with snow & ice, & of which the middle-ground appeared to us all on fire. On this same coast, by turning towards the right, we saw a great mass of clouds, of an almost green color, mixed with a very dark gray, & one part of which descended so low that it almost touched the Sea. There came out from it an endless flight of birds, whose numbers, as they flew towards us, was increased so prodigiously that all the air around us was darkened. One flock detached itself from the mass, & passing immediately above our heads, they entered into such a furious battle against one another that they crushed one another cruelly, & with such force that three fell dead on our Deck. Their plumage was deep black, & their beaks were red as blood. From the head down to the tip of the tail they had a stripe white as the snow. But soon all these birds were lost from view.
One will perhaps ask how the birds could traverse these vast Seas, but it is to be presumed that they rest from time to time on those great pieces of ice that one finds in various places in the Northern Seas.
Meanwhile, we had to always follow the penchant of the waters, until suddenly our Vessel made something like a half turn to the left, & then we sailed with a circular movement, which informed us that we had entered into the maelstrom.
That swirling Sea abounded with countless numbers of small Fish, about the size of Herring. From the middle of the body to the tip of the tail, they were of a very beautiful gold color, & as they almost always swam upside down & just below the surface, & as the Sun reflecting on all those tails which were entirely out of the water, that turning resembled a watery Heavens all covered with an infinite number of golden stars in a perpetual movement. An object of that nature would doubtless charm those people who could contemplate it with a tranquil eye.
After having made several turns, we perceived, in the midst of the maelstrom, a sort of floating isle more white than snow, but as our circular movement drew us steadily towards the center, we recognized that the supposed Isle was only a high mass of foam that the waters, pouring & rushing into that abyss, formed on their surface. We judged then that it was time for us to retire within the Vessel, which we did in an instant, all descending into the heart of the ship, to await that which Heaven had ordained for us.


Chapter II

How the Vessel was swallowed up at the center of the maelstrom; how they would find themselves in time under the Antarctic Pole, & how they knew that they were no longer under Northern Skies.

We had hardly been in the hold ten or twelve minutes when we felt ourselves sink with inconceivable speed into that deep abyss. The horrible whistling & humming that we heard around us constantly, carrying terror & dread into our souls, little by little robbed us of all cognizance, & cast us into a sort of swoon, leaving us in no state to recognize how long we remained among the appalling torrents which roll so impetuously in those terrifying underground regions. Finally, however, being awakened from the daze into which we had sunk, & not knowing clearly if we were alive or dead, we soon returned to our senses. Listening, we heard nothing at all, & it seemed to us all that our Vessel was nearly without movement.
Our Pilot, being the boldest of us, ventured to go upstairs. He opened a hatch on the stern side, & climbed onto the Deck. We all followed him, one after another, & we were astonished to find ourselves on a calm Sea, & surrounded by a fog so thick it was impossible to distinguish any object at all around us. The fog & the Sea was of the same color, so that that it seemed to us that our vessel was suspended in the air. But little by little the air cleared & the day was almost like Summer in our Climes, a mere half hour after the Sun has gone down.
It is easy to imagine the joy that filled us, having thought ourselves lost without resources, seeing that we could still hope to return to our homeland. However, we did not know where we were, & our Pilot having gone up, we found ourselves seventy-one degrees & eight minutes southern latitude, which let us know that we were in the Southern Seas, under the Antarctic Pole.
For some time there was not the least bit of wind, & we applied ourselves to restoring, as much as was possible, all our cordage & sails. We still had sufficient provisions in our vessel for some time.
After about four or five hours a light Northwest wind rose, but it was so terribly cold that the Sea was all frozen over in the space of a few moments. I can say that I have never felt a cold so penetrating, & I doubt that we could have withstood it if it had continued long. But, fortunately, a light, sweet rain suddenly began to fall, & we passed in a few minutes from the roughest Winter to Spring. Wise Providence, to make up for the lack of the Sun which strays for so long from these sad Climes, tempers their extreme cold with some warm vapors, which preserve the grasses, plants, & shrubs that we saw there even far into winter.
We sailed with all our canvas aloft, towards a great Coast that we could make out to the East, in the hope of being able to set foot on land somewhere, & we saw at one of its extremities, which advanced towards the Antarctic Pole, a light which rather resembled the aurora. We knew very well that this was not the precursor of the Sun, since several months must pass before it reappeared in these regions. We could no longer distinguish between the day & the night, or between morning & evening. However, the light was sufficient to prevent us from seeing the stars. Luminous vapors rose in the air during the absence of the Sun. Otherwise, the two cold zones would be by turns buried for six months in a terrible night.
As we sailed slowly toward that coast, we saw in four or five places, about the range of a musket from one another, heavy foam which rose high & furiously, forming above the surface of the Sea like little hills. These boilings of water & foam had so much strength, that as our vessel passed through them we thought we would be overturned. We could never understand what that Phenomenon could be, & we have not seen it since. However, the light of which I have just spoken, having little by little diffused the clouds that concealed it from us, rose suddenly, & shone so brightly before our eyes that we were all awestruck. It was a marvelous meteor, which formed a perfect oval of a very dark blue, & which was all studded with stars, of which the middle was the largest, & seemed to dominate all the others, as one can see in FIGURE A. That admirable Phenomenon increased the light on the Coast by half, so that we could see more distinctly all the objects around us. We were already very close, & having finally reached the Coast, we lowered the anchor, as we intended to go ashore.


Chapter III.

They land on the Coast, & penetrate about a league & a half into the country; description of the great Floating Island which is under the Antarctic Pole, & of the mountain of ice which is in the middle of a Pyramidal Figure, & which seems cut in facets; of the marvelous Meteors which appear from time to time around the Floating Island.

At the point where we dropped anchor, the coast was bordered everywhere with tall reeds, which out of the water appeared as tall as a pike & as large as an arm, & which ended in a very sharp point. They had nodes at intervals, & below these nodes hung large, wide, yellowish leaves, around the length of a Dutch ell. We lowered the longboat onto the sea to go ashore, & we had great difficulty passing through those reeds, because they were very dense & close to one another. We took all our firearms, as much to defend ourselves from ferocious beasts as to kill some game, if we chanced to encounter any.
We clambered up, because the terrain was steep, & found a beautiful Plain, all sown with a short & fine grass which gave off an agreeable aroma. The Plain was bounded by three great mountain ranges which extended out of sight to the right & left. These mountains appeared to us laid out like an Amphitheater, the second rank being higher than the first, & the third much higher than the second. The first range, the one closest to us, were properly only large hills, all covered with green moss. The mountains of the second were all covered with snow, & those of the third appeared in the distance a flaming red, which produced one of the most beautiful vistas that one can imagine.
When we had traversed the Plain, & gained the base of the hills, we went further, & saw that they formed in this place a large pen or enclosure around a full league in diameter. This enclosure was full of tall grass, so high that the two tallest men of our troop having entered there, we hardly saw the top of their heads. We noted that all around the enclosure there were in the hills large holes or dens, which we judged to be the retreats of some wild beasts, & indeed, a few moments later, we saw come out of the tall grass, two hundred paces from us, three white bears of prodigious size, which without turning to one side or the other, entered the den that was across from them. We did not think it proper after that to remain in this place, which seemed so perilous to us.
We came out onto the field, & advancing always towards the mountains, we found a small stream of fresh, clear water, on the banks of which we saw promenading a great number of birds roughly the size of quail. They were so tame that they let us take them in our hands. We killed a few of them, which we sent aboard our vessel.
By following this brook we were led gradually between two rocks, which we both very high & steep, & all covered from top to bottom with ice. We were shocked to feel an extreme cold there, & we could not understand how, starting from an atmosphere that was so mild & almost warm, we could enter one which was so harsh. We marched for the time being on a very hard-packed snow, & our little stream was entirely frozen in that space. The mountain which was on our right receiving on its icy surface all the light of the meteor of which I have spoken, & reflecting it on the mountain opposite it, they both shone in such a manner that our eyes were dazzled by it, & we could hardly see what was before us.
As soon as we came out from between these mountains, we felt a gentle & temperate breeze, & the stream flowed & wound as it had on the other side. Two hundred paces from there we saw it disappear into the earth, opposite a rock which had the shape of a large, round tower. Nature had dug a kind of Grotto there, which had three openings from top to bottom, in the form of Arches, & inside, in the middle we saw a great basin into which the stream burst by way of a subterranean tunnel. In that grotto were several niches, where we found the nests of birds, & in some of them we found eggs of a very pale green, three times larger than the eggs of ducks. The top of that rock was flat like a terrace, & full of an herb much like our purslane, but much larger. Its leaves were extremely wide & close to the thickness of a little finger, & its stalk was so long, that several hung the full length of the rock.
After admiring this work of Nature we did not judge it proper to push further forward, & we retraced the route to our vessel, but not by precisely the same road. We veered a little to the left, & after having walked for some little time, our ears were suddenly struck by horrible roars & howls which came from the same side where we had seen the three white bears. The air all around us resounded so loudly, that we judged that there must be a very great number of those wild animals in this place. We came gradually onto a flatt & stony terrain which led us towards a mass of large rocks placed very close to each other. They had red, green & blue veins almost like marble, & as we could see a sort of marsh to our right & to our left, we were forced to pass right across them. We found various paths which crossed one another as in a labyrinth, & so many that we were lost there for some time. But finally, one of us having found an exit, we left.
Hardly had we taken four strides, when a monstrous beast rushed at us from behind a small boulder. It had the shape & color of a toad, but it was infinitely larger. It had on its head a great crest of a pale, ugly blue & shot from time to time from its mouth a yellow & green foam. It turned towards the marsh & with a single bound, it plunged so deep into it that we no longer saw it. We did not doubt that there were several more in this place of the same species, & that these beasts might be very venomous.
We continued to walk with much difficulty down this rocky road, up to the beautiful plain where we had come ashore, & we went happily aboard ship, where we cooked the birds that we had taken. the flesh was very tough, but tasty enough & with a flavor like duck. We formed the intention of soon making a second trip & of taking these birds & all other species that we could find, in order to save the rest of our biscuit & the other provisions which could be preserved.
We observed with chagrin the vanishing of the beautiful meteor which had begun to appear when we arrived on that coast, & then we had a little rain mixed with snow & large hail which lasted more than fifteen hours. (We measured our time with an hourglass that we had been fortunate to find in the vessel.) The air became so cold that it was impossible for us to remain even an eighth of an hour on deck, but the rain having ceased, the air warmed so much that we seemed to breath an Autumn breeze, as it is in temperate climates, & another phenomenon appeared from the West side, which was not anywhere near as bright as the first, but still very beautiful. It formed an irregular zig-zag, & very much resembled a constellation. It had in the lower part a sort of tail which was very wide at the end, as one can see in FIGURE B.
 It should be noted, that since we had been at anchor, our view had always been limited towards the South, that is, from the side of the Antarctic Pole, by large, thick clouds which were finally dissipated by one of those beautiful luminous exhalations so frequent under the Poles, so much that that we suddenly discovered an isle which appeared to us to float on the surface of the waters, & that we in fact saw approach us to about the range of a cannon shot. That isle was nearly round, & was doubtless only a collection of those great pieces of ice that we saw in the seas, which are linked & frozen together. There was a great mountain of ice in the middle of which rose high in a pyramidal figure, & the pieces forming it were arranged by a surprising artifice, in such a way that it appeared all carved in facets like a diamond, with this difference, that the facets were proportional to the size, the isle was all covered with snow, & we saw on its banks at intervals that looked like little trees of ice, which flung out branches, laden with flockings of snow which served them in place of leaves & fruits. But on the mountain there was not the least bit of snow. All the ice was clear & transparent as crystal.
We considered all these things for quite a long time, & then we went to rest. After we had slept a few hours, wanting to go on deck, we were terrified to find the air all ablaze. But having cast a look in the direct of the isle, we knew that this great illumination proceeded from six amazing lights in the sky, which hung in the air at about an equal distance all around the mountain, like so many grand & magnificent chandeliers. They were all of the same shape & were each composed of four great globes of fire. The one on the bottom was the largest, the second, the third & the fourth being progressively smaller, as one can see in FIGURE C. All these luminous globes being infinitely multiplied in the facets of the mountain, made it appear to be all on fire. All these great & surprising objects taken together made an effect which ravished & enchanted the eye, & was of such strength, that we remained for some moments immobile as statues, struck with admiration & astonishment.
As we were still carefully contemplating  them, we perceived very high in the air three large birds which suddenly swooped down across from us on the coast. Their plumage was a mixture of gray & brown on their head. They had a large plume of three snow-white feathers, the ends of which were a very fine crimson, & their tails were longer than their bodies, & seemed a half-open fan. They were larger & broader than eagles, & after they had pecked & searched the grass for some time, they all three flew off rapidly toward the mountain of ice, & having flown around it for a long time, they mounted to its summit, & we saw them no longer. We judged that perhaps they had their nests there. They were very beautiful birds.


Chapter IV.

Of the marvelous lake whose waters are almost always warm, & of its five admirable Cascades; description of the Valley of White Roses, where they see a very remarkable Monument, a rare & singular Fountain, & some shrubs, very lovely & agreeable to the view.

As we were in a deep sleep, we were awakened by an impetuous wind, which gave such shocks to our vessel, that we all got up, fearing that our cable might be broken. But we no longer saw the floating isle, nor the beautiful phenomena which were all around. The sea was very rough, & full of large pieces of ice which piled up on one another, formed here & there small floating mountains.
As soon as the weather was better, which was not long, we resolved to make, as we had planned, a second trip into the country. Leaving two or three of us aboard ship, we took all our arms, & threaded a different path than the first time. It should be noted that this coast is very mountainous, but we found there a few small Plains & valleys. First we walked between some dry & sepia-colored rocks, where there was neither grass nor moss, & we found there frightful precipices, at the base of which rolled rough torrents with a dreadful noise. We were forced to travel some small paths, very narrow & very dangerous, but, finally, we fortunately came out of the place that we had entered, & we climbed a high mountain from which we could take a look in all directions. We saw Summer & Winter all at once, for on one side there were Plains where everything was frozen & covered with snow, & on the other valleys where a pleasant verdure reigned over all. The air there was so clear & so luminous, that without the aid of the Sun we could easily distinguish the smallest objects. We descended, & found all these places carpeted with a short & fine grass. Here & there we saw plants, which has long & thick foliage. We uprooted some of them, & the roots were round & smooth, almost as big around as your fist, & covered with a very thin black skin. The flesh was a reddish white & with a taste approaching that of the almond. We found a lot of it afterwards on the coast, near the place where we dropped anchor, which we ate instead of bread.
This place appeared so agreeable to us that we rested there for some time. From there we went between two long chains of mountains covered in moss from the foot all the way to the summit, which exuded a sort of odoriferous gum. That double chain was not straight, & formed a great elbow which entirely limited our view, but when we came to the end we suddenly discovered a lake, whose water was greenish, & nearly warm. It exhaled over all of its surface a multitude of little black vapors. We thought, & with reason, that the heat & the vapors proceeded from sulfurous & bituminous materials which must be in its depths. There was not the least little bit of grass on its banks. After following them for some time, we heard a noise & murmur which increased as we advanced, & finally we noted that the end of the lake was all bordered with small rocks, between which the water flowed down, caused the noise that we heard. We doubled our pace, & were very surprised to see five beautiful Cascades, of which the middle was the largest. It formed three great sheets of water, which fell on one another, at three roughly equal degrees of distance, & the water of all these Cascades merging a bit below, fell on a large, nearly flat rock, & falling from there, went on to be lost between the rocks which were below. Since this lake always remained equally full, despite all the water that flowed so abundantly from this side, it must have been the case that there were subterranean channels which constantly furnished it anew.
As we stood there in thought, there suddenly appeared, on a large Hill that was opposite us, a great herd of large & powerful Bears, white as snow. We noticed that there were two or three of them that were dappled with black all over their bodies. One of them descended the Hill, & having crossed a small Brook which was at the base, it slipped between two Rocks. Scarcely had it done so, than it began to make a certain cry, as if he called to the others, & they actually began to follow, jostling & hurrying one another. We had just lost sight of them, when we saw several Birds emerge from these same Rocks. They were soon followed by an even greater number, which all took flight towards some high, snow-covered mountains which were on our right. These Birds apparently had their nests in the cracks & fissures that we could see there, but they were in places that were so steep & so high that it was impossible to reach them.
Moving away from these five admirable Cascades, we descended with much difficulty down a mountain whose pitch was very steep into a long & narrow Plain, pierced all over by little holes which twisted deep into the earth. There must have been in this place a nearly infinite number of animals of some species, which doubtless was unknown to us, but we did not see even one. Walking among these holes, we heard a certain sound, as if there were caves or vaults beneath us. At the end of that Plain, we came out into a great Crossroads, where there were five different routes arranged in a star. We weighed for some time the choice of which we should take. There was one of them between mountains of a height so prodigious, that we were nearly terrified. One entered beneath a large & high portal, the structure of which was just a great piece of Rock, which being detached from one of the sides above, had follow across onto the other, & had perhaps remained suspended there for a very long time. That route was very sandy, & we sank in it up to the ankle. We followed another much more serviceable route. The mountains which lined it were of a nearly black Rock, with great white & gleaming veins, a bit like alum.
We found there above all a great quantity of a sort of Lizard. They were so tame that they constantly passed between our legs, & over our feet. They had a perfectly black head, a reddish body, & an extraordinarily long tail.
The more we advanced down this path, the more it widened. It led us finally into a very pretty and, & very spacious Valley, where we breathed a Spring air. It was covered all over with a plant like the violet. We saw on the majority, in the middle of the stem, a white flower of the size of a Ducatoon. That flower had eight serrated petals, the four largest above, & the smaller four below. The middle was covered with little red grains, It was not a bad likeness of a simple Rose, & had a very sweet odor. The tincture of these flowers, together with the green of their stems made a charming effect all through this Valley. A little Brook of very clear water wound towards the middle.
At the back of a hollow we perceived something white through the tall grass. Approaching, we saw to our great surprise, a small Building  of a singular structure. It was all of white stone. The upper part was a large, flat stone, in the shape of a triangle, set on six high columns about three feet, on an oval base which raised it four or five inches about the ground. On the triangular stone we saw an Inscription of bizarre characters, which were known to none of our party, & down low, on the circumference of the base, were spaced more of the same characters, but nearly effaced. This Monument gave rise in us to many speculations, for we could well see that it was not a Work of chance, but I leave the decision about it to those more clever than me. Leaving this place we walked right to the Brook I have just mentioned, & we followed it back towards its source. It came from a lovely Spring that was in a Grotto hollowed by nature in one of the mountains of the Valley.
I entered first. It was carpeted from top to bottom with a lovely green moss, & in the back of the grotto at the height of a man, we saw three channels in a line, & at equal distances. The water flowing out of these channels made a pleasant little murmur, which was like the twittering of birds, & fell into a sort of Basin, which being very full, poured out over all its banks, & gathering before a great crevasse which was in the Rock immediately in front of it, drained down. This Basin was around a foot deep, & in the bottom there were several small stones, red & flat & of different shapes, including square, round, triangular, & in the form of a heart. Wanting to take some, I could hardly endure the excessive cold of the water. Beside the Spring & within the Grotto, there was a round & very deep hole, about a span in width, which exhaled a steam so hot, that I thought it would burn my face. Being by chance close to both, it was not without an extreme astonishment that I saw emanate from nearly the same place hot & cold, all together.
There were in several places in this Valley, various very beautiful & very peculiar shrubs, & one among them of which I have given the picture in FIGURE E. Its leaves sprouted at three levels, equal distances from one another. They were all covered with a sort of down, which made them as soft to the touch as velvet, & they were edged all around with the most beautiful yellow in the world. Above the leaves, & precisely at the place where they were attached to the stalk, we saw some little red seeds sprout, each at the end of a very long stem. They were the size of peas, and formed a perfect circle, & at the top they bore a bouquet of these same seeds, very closely & tightly bunched, which was nearly the shape of a small Pinecone.


[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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