Letter by Lieutenant William Glennie, giving his account of his ascent of Popocatapetl

William Glennie, 1797 - 1856 was resident in Mexico and was involved in Mining and engineering. The letter is addressed to his father Dr. William Glennie, Schoolmaster in Dulwich. Dr. William died in 1828. It is clear from his letter that his report was published in part in both Mexico and in England.Popocatapetl is an active volcano some 43 miles south east of Mexico City.

William Glennie's mother was Mary 1769 - 1848, was the daughter of John Gardiner by Beatrice Dundas.

It is believed that the letter was given to my father by Hope Hazelton, her mother was the daughter of Colonel Edward Glennie R.E., nephew of William Glennie. The typed copy passed down through the family does not include sketches mentioned in the text.

Transcribed from the original by Julian Rawes and Bryant Bayliffe.


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Copy of EXTRACT of a LETTER from Lieut. Wm. GLENNIE R.N. dated Mexico, 6th May 1827
regarding the ascent of POPOCATEPETL.

My Dear Father,
   But now I must tell you that I have succeeded after much difficulty, toil, and danger, in placing my barometer on the highest point of the loftiest mountain in North American!! Fredk, another young man and myself accomplished this arduous undertaking at 5 o'clock in the afternoon of the 20th April after 12 hours of almost incessant exertion, having left the highest limit of vegetation at half past 3 in the morning by moonlight. I shall now give you some account of the journey, the reason for undertaking it, our difficulties and disappointments.

I think I mentioned in a letter to my Mother the pleasure I derived from gaining the tops of high mountains and I should most likely attempt Popocatepetl at some future period It was not, however, the pleasure I derived from standing on the summit of a high mountain which led me to undertake the ascent of Popocatepetl. The ascertaining of the exact height, latitude and longitude of a mountain that can be seen at an immense distance, is of no small importance in rectifying the geography of a country but little known, from the facility it affords of situating with a tolerable degree of correctness all those points from which the summit of the mountain is visible; viz: by observing the angle between the summit of the mountain and the horizon, and finding, by the barometer, the difference of height between the mountain (Known) and the place of observation. This difference of height will be the measured base of a triangle of which one angle has been observed and another is a right angle. Therefore with a small correction for the curvature of the earth you have the exact distance and bearing of the place on observation from a known point.

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Humboldt made use of this method I fancy in correcting Vera Cruz and Mexico. Another and not a slight reason for the undertaking was to ascertain the actual state of the volcano; as so many contradictory stories were in circulation concerning it; some asserting that it did occasionally smoke, others stating as confidently that it never had smoked within the memory man. Then there were some who pronounced it impossible to gain the summit while there were not wanting some few who declared that they had been on the summit but yet could give no clear description of what they saw when there; and I am now fully persuaded on comparing what we saw with what any of them attempt to describe, that no person has ever reached the summit in modern days, and I have reason to believe that the edge of the crater was never trod by mortal footstep until the 20th April l827, notwithstanding the stories the supplies of sulphur for making gunpowder having been obtained from the crater in the days of the conquest.* To the above mentioned reasons for the undertaking, I may add not a small portion of curiosity, with the usual incitements of difficulty and danger, and a slight sprinkling of ambition and perhaps a little vanity in anticipation. These then were the motives which determined me on making the attempt. The time of the year was bad, the atmosphere is generally thick before the rains. The month of October would have been the best time of the year, as the atmosphere is very clear after the rainy seasons, but I shall not be in Mexico at that time; so I began making all enquiries of people who had been at the highest limit of vegetation. According to the information that I gathered from these people the greatest difficulty of the ascent consisted in crossing a great extent of very fine and deep sand, which from their description I concluded was a complete bar to any ascent. I therefore determined to make a journey of

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experiment, in order to ascertain what the difficulties actually were and what were the requisites for overcoming them; but at the same time I took-with me all the instruments that would be useful to me provided I was so fortunate as to reach the summit. A young man of the name of Tayleur offered to accompany me, and we settled the journey for Easter Monday. On the 16th of April we left this city in the morning, with very little hope on my part of being able to gain the summit at this time, Our party consisted of Frederick, Mr. Tayleur, Quintana, and the Arriero. We kept the Vera Cruz road until we got nearly to Buenavista, when we turned off to the South, and passing to the East of Chalco continued traversing the plain or valley of Mexico until we arrived at Ameca, a town situated near the foot of the volcano on the N.W. side, and through which the old road to Puebla passes. Here we slept, and on the 17th. took the road to Puebla, which passes between the two volcanoes. Our journey was directed to a town called Atlixco, having been informed that the ascent was easiest on that side, which is South of the volcano. Immediately on leaving the Ameca we began to ascend the mountain through a thick and beautiful forest, and on arriving at the highest point of the Puebla road, we struck off by a road leading towards Popocatepetl, and by which we hoped to be able to descend to Atlixco on the South side of the mountain. We continued to ascend until we reached the limit of the last pines 12544 feet above the sea. Here we overtook some men, who were going to the mountain for snow, and who told us that it was impossible to ascend the mountain on that side, and that we could not pass this way to Atlixco on account of the very deep sand with which the mountain was covered. We had therefore to return to the road we had left, and continued towards Puebla until we arrived at San Nicolas de los Ranchos, a village on the foot of the mountain on the East side, and where we passed the night of the 17th. The mountain was beautifully clear during the whole of this day, and as we were on the snowy side it was a magnificent and brilliant spectacle.

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On descending to Sn. Nicolas de los Ranchos we several times thought that we saw small columns of smoke issuing from the edge of the crater, which is considerably lower on the east than on the west side, but we did not allow ourselves to believe that it was really smoke; on the contrary we said that it must be some thin white cloud rising out of the crater, but that anyone might have taken it for smoke. I forgot to mention that Ameca is in Lat. 19 7' 40" N. Long. 0 23' 30" East of Mexico, and 8216 feet above the sea. San Nicolas de los Ranchos is in Lat. 19 4' 21" North. Long. 0 32' 30" E. of Mexico and 8087 feet above the sea. On the morning of the 18th. while the men were saddling and loading the mules, we were examining the mountain with a small telescope, and we felt our hopes of success much damped by the examination. The length of the ascent over loose sand appeared to deny all access to the summit, but we determined to proceed and do our best to ascend as far as possible. Leaving San Nicolas de los Ranchos we soon found ourselves on the plain of Cholula, and discovered that we had to make a circuit of some leagues to gain the south side of the mountain, on account of the country at the foot of the volcano on the East side being covered with small mountains formed of immense fragments of loose rock, which stretch into the plain to a considerable distance. The masses are probably the solid rock that original: formed the heart of the mountain, and which was thrown out of the first formation of the crater. Having rounded the eastern point of these rocks we learnt from some Indians that the village Tochirnilco was nearer to the foot of the mountain on the south side than that of Atlixco. We therefore directed our journey to Tochimilco, and we arrived there at 1 pm; and determined to pass the night there in order to gain all possible information concerning the mountain. On applying to the Alcalde he told us that he thought it possible to reach the summit if we could stand the fatigue. He did not know of anyone who had ever reached it, although many had made the attempt. He himself had once gained a projecting rock which he pointed out, and which appeared to be

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about half way between the limit of vegetation and the summit, and beyond that he did not think that anyone had yet ascended. He offered to accompany us, and provide us with Indians to carry our instruments and provisions, when the mules could go no further; and proposed that we should proceed next day to his farm; situated on the declivity of the mountain, two leagues from the village. The volcano actually belongs to this gentleman, as it stands upon the above mentioned estate, which is called Santa Catalina. The village of Tochinilco is 6930 feet above the sea. On the 19th. the Alcalde, being detained by business, we proceeded to his Hacienda or estate, accompanied by the four Indians, who were to carry the instruments etc. The Alcalde said he would overtake us at the Hacienda and therefore we waited for him. When he arrived he told us that important business would prevent his accompanying us but he would give us a guide who would conduct us to the limit of Vegetation. In this Hacienda we left everything that we did not actually require, that our Indians might be loaded as lightly as possible. We still however carried forward the mules, determined to carry them as far as they could possibly go; and not to load the Indians before it was absolutely necessary. The guide being provided, we left the Hacienda and began to ascend through a thick and most beautiful forest. The road was sometimes very steep, but we ascended slowly and the mules stood it better than we expected. After ascending to a considerable height, the forest began to open, the pines being confined to the ravines, and the intervening ridges open and covered with a coarse kind of long grass. Here at the height of 10784 feet, we found the remains of a Rancho called la Vagueria, and cattle feeding on the ridges of the mountain. The Indians wished to pass the night here, declaring that there was no water further on, but I had always determined to sleep under the last pine trees, in order to have as little ascent as possible for the day of trial. Seeing therefore that we might still ascend some distance without losing fire wood or pasture, we determined to proceed to the last pines, and under these we

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took up our quarters for the night at an elevation of 12,693 feet above the sea. There was still pasture for the mules, but at a very short distance beyond the pines, vegetation ceased entirely. The Indians found water at a little distance and we had wood sufficient to make a large fire, which was very comfortable at such an elevation, more especially as we only had a couple of blankets each with us Before going to sleep we portioned out to each, Indian his load for the morning, as the cargo mules could go no further. About midnight we had a slight shower of rain, and afterwards frost. On the 20th, at three in the morning the moon had risen sufficiently to give us light enough to find our way, and at half past three we were fairly off. The Arriero remained with the mules. Our Indians shouldered their burdens whilst we proceeded still on our saddle mules, determined to take advantage of them as far as possible. The guide who was no longer useful went with us to take the mules back when they could go no further. Almost immediately on leaving the pines we crossed the highest limit of vegetation and entered upon a vast extent of black sand, scattered over with fragments of rocks. This sand we fortunately found frozen, and were therefore still able to carry forward the mules by ascending diagonally towards the west side of the mountain. Still the ascent was steep and the mules sinking considerably in the sand, notwithstanding it was frozen at the surface, were very much fatigued and we were obliged to breathe them at every 20 yards. Shortly after daylight we observed above us, but at some distance, a ridge of rocks, and thinking that we should have a firmer footing and consequently more easy ascent if we could gain them we left the mules to return with the guide to the Arriero and each strapping a blanket or cloak over his shoulders, Quintana taking the barometer and we a leather bottle of water each, we commenced the ascent to gain the above mentioned rocks. And here commenced our troubles. The ground between us and the rocks was very steep, and composed of loose sand scattered over with fragments of pumice stone, and gave way under our feet at every step, render

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the ascent was uncommonly fatiguing, which added to the difficulty of breathing in so rarified an atmosphere, obliged us to rest at every 15 or 20 paces. In this manner after toiling till near 8 o'clock we gained the much wished for rocks, and sat down until the Indians, whom we had left oonsiderably behind, came up with us. When they arrived we took each a small piece of corned beef and bread by way of breakfast, and found that we could not drink afterwards because the stoppers were frozen in the bottles. The thermometer was at 28° Fahrenheit, and we felt very cold while sitting to rest. We were now on the West side of the mountain, and on that account did not see the sun till after 8 o'clock, The sky was perfectly clear overhead, but a thick haze prevented our seeing anything below us, Our friend Tayleur began to smoke a cigar, but he soon threw it away, finding that it had an almost instantaneous effect on his stomach. I had experienced the same thing on a former occasion and therefore refrained from smoking after getting to a certain height, The Indians had told us that the people who go for snow did not dare to drink the least drop of spirits while on the mountains, as it made them drunk immediately; and therefore it is natural to suppose that smoking would produce the same effect. Our friend continued very unwell for many hours after, and we were at one time much afraid that he would be obliged to give up and return to where we had left the mules. Quintana continued to smoke as his strong stomach was still proof, but the consequence will be seen in the sequence We did not remain long at this our station, as we were glad to move on to warm ourselves, We had supposed that our ascent over the rocks would have been more easy, but in this we were unfortunately mistaken, for what at a distance had appeared to us as a firm ridge turned out to be a confused mass of fragments of Basaltic rocks, rolled from the higher points of the mountain, and piled one on the other so loosely that many rolled from under our feet when we attempted to tread on them, bringing down masses of those above them, so that our path became

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more difficult and somewhat dangerous. Upon seeing what difficulties we should have to encounter, our Indians began to be frightened, and said they could go no further. However, by promising them rewards we got them to proceed a little, when finding that the road did not improve at all, but rather got worse, no offer could induce them to proceed. Seeing that they were determined, we began to seek a better road, and endeavoured to gain a small ravine, at a little distance to the left. To effect this, we had to pass a very steep slope covered with small fragments of rock, which made the footing very insecure, and the clouds now beginning to gather round the mountain, gave the whole so dismal and dangerous an appearance, that the Indians absolutely refused to proceed one step, and neither threats nor promises had the least effect upon them. This circumstance considerably damped our spirits, as we now saw that the main object of our expedition must fail from the impossibility of getting up the instruments, There was however no remedy, and having got so far, we determined to decide upon the practicability of the ascent, Taking from the Indians a small quantity of provisions, we ordered them to return to where we had slept the night before and wait there for us. We could not carry forward any instruments except the barometer and thermometer, as we were already loaded with our cloaks, provisions and water. As soon as the Indians left us we proceeded, and gained the ravine mentioned above; the clouds clearing off occasionally, sufficient to show us the most practicable road. The ravine we found very steep and thickly covered with fragments of loose stone, which slipped from under our feet and rolled down the mountain. It was necessary to ascend here formed in line, that the loose stones might not roll down on those below. We sometimes fell, and slipped down several yards, and could only stop ourselves from going down altogether by sticking in the ground the iron pointed legs of the Theodolite, which we had brought up by a way of pike staves. Such an ascent, with so false a footing, fatigued us so excessively that we could not

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advance more than 10 paces without resting. Continuing this ascent for about an hour and a half we came to a large amphitheatre of basaltic precipices which we began to climb with hands and feet. Having with great difficulty and no slight degree of danger gained about half the height of the precipices, we took advantage of a narrow ledge leading to the right, with overhanging precipices above and below. Along this we passed with some difficulty, crawling in some places under projecting rocks, till at length we arrived at the top of that ridge of rocks by which we had at first attempted to ascend. We were now again on open ground, and had before us a considerable extent of grey sand formed of pulverised pumice stone, and above which we saw the rock which the Alcalde had pointed out to us as the furthest point to which any one had ascended; although I am of opinion that very few had ever reached it, unless they found a much easier road than that we came. Some of the places we passed required a very good head, for they were somewhat terrific, but fortunately all our party were strong in the head perhaps headstrong for putting themselves to so much risk. We had a heavy pull over the sand which lay between us and the rock. It was steep and no longer hardened by the frost. We sunk deep and advanced little without resting. At length we arrived at the rock about half an hour before noon, and our companion, who had been very unwell since smoking in the morning, said that he thought he must now give it up; but we told him that we would not hear of any such thing, but we would give him an hours rest and something to eat, and then he would be able to go on very well This rock, which is visible from Mexico, and from the foot of the mountain, appears like a large stone that might be set a-rolling down the mountain, we found to be an enormous mass of compact basalt more than 50 feet high and effecting irregular pillars, the interstices and broken parts of which were filled with solid ice. We were now 15,895 feet above the sea, and began to be troubled with headaches, Quintana suffered severely, perhaps from having

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continued to smoke, but he could now smoke no longer. We made another attack on the corned beef, and having finished the water in our bottles we replenished them by melting some snow on a large flat rock exposed to the sun, and catching the water as it ran off. As soon as the hour had elapsed we waked Tayleur and Quintana, who had both fallen asleep. The former was much refreshed and we again set off. Our route now lay over a long ridge of fragments of loose rock at the same time very steep. We advanced but slowly making short stages and then resting, as our headaches increased and the difficulty of breathing also. I had been the least tired of the party throughout the day, at which I was very much astonished, not having walked much on foot for years, but I suppose the habit of going up and down the mines gave me an advantage. While my companions were resting I often went to examine the road further on and to find out the easiest ascent. Having passed the long ridge of loose rocks, we came to a second range of basaltic precipices, or rather three or four successive ranges one above the other, towering to an immense height and apparently insurmountable. The whole day I had been looking at these precipices in the idea that they were the great difficulty to be overcome. To ascend them appeared impossible, and therefore told my companions to wait where they were while I went to explore to the right in the idea that we might find the mountain less precipitous in that direction. I was not wrong. In turning the southern point of the range of precipices, I got a view of the summit of the mountain, which we had not seen since very early in the morning; and it appeared that by following a deep ravine which wound round the back of the precipices, we might perhaps get above them. The summit was still distant, but the sight of it was cheering, and I whistled to my companions who then joined me. We were now proceeding in a direct line towards the summit, the ascent steeper than any we had hitherto had, except the precipices, the ground composed of fine and deep black sand scattered over with fragments of rocks. On our left the

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precipices rise in a complete wall perfectly insurmountable, and on the right a deep valley of black sand which at a little distance from us presented an even surface uninterrupted by a single stone as far as the limit of vegetation. It was by the head of this valley, which closed into a narrow ravine a little above us, that we expected to get above the precipices. This was the most laborious ascent that we had yet encountered, and to add to our sorrows, we now observed that large stones of fragments of rocks were so continually rolling down the ravine before us that it would be extremely dangerous to attempt to ascend in that direction. So continuous was the descent of these stones that we at one time imagined that there must have been people above rolling them down. Still we thought this impossible, and attributed the fall to the rocks having been loosened by the heat of the sun or by the melting of the snow. We could now no longer continue this road in safety, and therefore we took advantage of a broken ledge in the face of the precipices, and found ourselves about half way up them and with very little hope of being able to scale the steep and rugged part still above us. However as we had got so far, I determined on a desperate effort to gain the top of these precipices as there was little apparent difficulty beyond them. After examining several places which were impracticable, I fixed on one I thought I could ascend and commenced immediately, knowing that my companions would not shrink from anything that I had overcome. This was the most hazardous part of the whole ascent, and were I ever to ascend again, I would certainly brave the falling stones in the ravine in preference. Here it was necessary to pull out every here and there loose stones in order to make steps and holes for the feet, and to shake every stone well before trusting to it, as a single slip would have precipitated us 600 or 700 feet at once. The roar of the loose stones that we threw down in order to make safe our road added to the horrors of our situation. Having gained a standing place, I stopped to render all the assistance in my power to my companions by making them

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hand me up their sticks and water bottles and the barometer. Some doubts were expressed as to our being able to get any further but still all seemed to be determined to use every effort to accomplish our object and the only remark was from poor Quintana, who was now really very ill, and who said we were seeking our death. The next pass was dreadful, for we could only advance by getting round the corner of a thin rock which projected over the face of the precipice. This we performed in this way, as I dont know how to describe it without a drawing:- [no drawing] Having passed this we got into a small break in the precipice, up which we ascended on hands and knees, and arrived on a small spot of level ground, but still surrounded by precipices and large overhanging rocks. Quintana now said that he would go no further for he thought his head must split, and his eyes felt as if they would fall out of the sockets.- In fact we were all tired and had severe headaches, and therefore determined to look for a place to pass the night in. The place we were in would not do, for it was, very wet from the melting of the snowy which we found there in considerable quantities in the fissures of the rocks and in all places shaded from the sun. Besides we were here also a great deal annoyed by falling stones, and being surrounded by overhanging rocks, did not think ourselves very safe. It was therefore determined that I should go in search of a place to sleep in, being the least tired of the party. I therefore commenced the ascent of the next precipice, which I accomplished by taking advantage of a diagonal ledge of rocks. Arrived at the top of the precipice, a few stages of ascent over deep sand brought me to the top of the ridge. Imagine my delight when I looked towards the summit and observed an unbroken ridge of firm looking sand and pumice stone of comparitively easy ascent, extending to the very highest point, covered with snow on the North

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side, but entirely free on the South. I saw at once that our object was accomplished, and forgetting all the fatigues of the day ran back to the edge of the precipice, and called out to my companions - "Victory!! Victory!!". Upon this they began to ascend, but Quintana got on but slowly until I relieved him of everything he was carrying, and took his burthen up to the place from which I had returned. This was a last effort of Quintana's, for arriving on the top of the ridge he fell down completely exhausted, and begged that we would leave him there and go on. As the ascent appeared easy to the summit, and the distance appeared much less than it actually was on account of the pureness of the atmosphere, my curiosity would not allow me to pause until I had placed the barometer on the very summit. It was determined therefore that Quintana should remain where he was and that we should return there to sleep. After another slight visit to the corned-beef, we started for the summit, leaving our cloaks with Quintana, and I shouldering the barometer, while Frederick and Tayleur carried a leather bottle each to fill with water from the snow. We found the ascent not so easy as we had imagined, for although the sand was somewhat firmer than what we had crossed before, the ascent was considerable and the respiration very difficult, so that we seldom advanced twenty paces without resting; We ascended along the edge of the snow, or rather ice all the way, which was beautiful beyond all imagination: no pen could describe it, no pencil could represent it. It formed pyramids, columns, obelisks, temples, altars, Chinese pagodas, pavilions, and every kind of figure that ever entered into the imagination of man. The average height of these was from three to four feet and in the spaces between them the snow was melted down to the very ground and small streams of water from the dropping and melting of these fantastic images were trickling among them. At length a long stage brought us within four or five paces of the very summit, which is a little round hill of sand and pumice stone in this shape -     - without any snow, forming a little

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dome about four or five yards in diameter, I said we were within four or five paces of the very summit, but we had made a long stage and could not gain the summit without resting. Still we saw nothing - we were within a few yards of the summit of the mountain and saw nothing that could have led us to think that the mountain had a crater had we not previously seen it from the plain of Cholula. From the time we had left Quintana we had continually heard distant thunder, which we found to increase as we approached the summit. From our last resting place, six paces brought us at the same time to the summit of the mountain and to the very edge of the crater, which yawned beneath us apparently an unfathomable abyss, vomiting forth smoke, ashes and masses of stone with a roaring noise which we had till now attributed to distant thunder. So suddenly and unexpectedly had this scene burst upon us that it caused an involuntary shudder: we retreated a few steps, our blood ran cold and we could feel that our hair was in motion, and Frederick and I experienced a slight sickness at the stomach. We looked at one another some moments without being able to speak, until, recovering a little from the surprise created by so sudden and awful a spectacle, we returned to the brink of the crater and began to examine it more minutely. We were on the West side of it, and on the very highest point, as the edge descends considerably towards the East thus,- Having no instrument we could not measure the diameter of the crater, and it is difficult to judge of distances in so rarified an atmosphere, but when I say it was a mile in diameter, I think I am just as likely to have said too little as too much. The interior of the crater is almost perpendicular and I doubt the possibility of descending into it, even would the eruption of stones permit it. We made several attempts to ascertain the depth of the crater, but from no point could we see the bottom. The walls are of primitive rock, marked by numerous channels descending towards the center, thus, - The channels are filled with black sand wherever it can find a resting place.

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It is also marked by four circles of different coloured rock which have appearance of so many zones, thus:- From various points in the edge of the crater issue small columns of white smoke which smell very strongly of sulphur, and on the eastern side at a very considerable depth issue three large columns of smoke so white, that it mingles with the atmosphere and becomes invisible before it rises above the edge of the crater. The noise is incessant and resembles that of the sea-shore during a storm, when heard from a little distance. Every two or three minutes the noise increases and becomes like the roll of distant thunder, at the end of which the stones are ejected, sometimes in small quantities and sometimes in immense masses. The great mass of stone ejected is not thrown above the level of the crater, and therefore falls again within the crater with a tremendous noise. Small stones are thrown over the edge at almost every eruption and roll down the mountain, which accounts for the number of stones we saw rolling down and one of which Quintana stopped early in the day and threw away immediately, saying "What a hot stone", but which at that time passed unnoticed. Finding a large loose rock on the edge of the crater, we managed to roll it in, saying that by the noise it made we should be able to judge of the size of the stones thrown up. It made comparitively no noise. The South edge of the crater appears to be very thin near the summit while the North edge is tolerably thick. All the northern side of the mountain was covered with snow or ice such as I have mentioned before, and the South side of the interior of the crater contained snow in the fissures of the rocks, but we could not determine to what depth it extended. The only objects we could distinguish were the volcanoes of Orizaba and Iztaccilmalt, everything else being enveloped in thick haze. The sky was clear overhead. Having placed the barometer on the highest spot the mercury fell to 15.630 inches: The fixed thermometer was at 39°, and the

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free one at 33° at 5 in the afternoon with the sun shining brightly. The absolute height of the mountain is 17,884 feet. We now returned to where we had left Quintana, having filled the water bottles from the small streams that were running among the ice, but this water was so strongly impregnated with sulphur that nothing short of extreme thirst could have induced us drink it. On joining Quintana we found him in a high fever with his head worse than ever, and fearing the consequences of his sleeping on the mountain in that state, with a single blanket, damp ground, and the thermometer below the freezing point before sunset. We therefore determined to commence the descent immediately, regretting extremely that we should not be able to spend the whole of the next day in examining more minutely the crater, as we had proposed. However, the life of a fellow creature was of more importance than any other consideration, so we shouldered our cloaks the barometer and what remained of provisions, emptying one of the bottles of water to lighten the weight, and commenced the descent just at sunset. To return by the way we came was impossible, therefore we determined to brave the falling stones and descend through the ravine before-mentioned, with the hope of gaining the sand before dark. Our descent was as rapid as the ascent had been tedious; we met with a few difficult passes, but when we gained the sand, we came down at a long swing trot without the least exertion on our part. The sand was soft and loose, and we sunk half way the knee at every step. Had it been otherwise we could not have attempted to descend by it as it was very steep. The night having come on very dark before we got to the limit of vegetation, we could not find our way to the place where we had left the mules. This did not give us much trouble as the only thing we wanted was fire wood; and making the best of our way to the nearest pines, we with some difficulty lighted a fire, and wrapping ourselves in our cloaks, we thought the ground a most excellent bed after 16 hours of incessant fatigue. I must mention that we came from the summit to the

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limit of vegetation in about an hour and a half. Quintana slept little, being too ill to do so, Frederick and I slept tremendously, except when we were roused up by Tayleur making so large a fire that we were almost baked. He could not sleep and amused himself by making a large fire. We all suffered much from thirst, as the bottle of sulphur water had been finished during the descent and there was none to be found near us. At daylight I ascended a small ridge on one side, and Tayleur one on the other, to see in which direction our mules lay. I soon discovered that they were on my side, and whistled for the rest to come to me. We passed through three or four deep ravines, and over as many ridges of the mountain, and at length came to the arriero, who was just sending off the Indians with water and provisions to look for us. After taking chocolate, which was very acceptable, we descended to the Vacaria, from whence I despatched the arriero for the things we had left in the Hacienda, and on his return we entered the forests on the West of the mountain with an Indian for a guide and descended to the village of Atlanca in the valley of Mexico, and got to Ameca about 7 o'clock p.m. On the 22nd, we left Ameca at 5 and got into Mexico at 10, having knocked off 14 leagues in 5 hours. Thinking that the expedition was rather an interesting one, I got Bustamante to put it into Spanish for me, and it is this day, the 8th May, published in the Sol newspaper. I am sending off several copies to our Directors and I hope they will find it sufficiently interesting to find a place in the English papers also, in case they should not, I send you a few copies also, which you may make use of as you think proper. The published account is not so minute as what I have given you in this letter, As it was to appear in the papers, we made it as concise as possible. And now I must finish as the express for the Packet goes off this evening, and I have other letters to write.