Obrazy na stronie

her Parmesan attendants, was perfect admiration of that Great Being who ly insulated in the solitary court of calmly forms these miracles to oper. Madrid. She naturally, therefore, ate on the minds and conduct of his turned to her countryman Alberoni, creatures, was impossible. It was to whom she principally owed her ele- impossible to view them without a vation, and who, besides his services sensation of exhausted strength ; a and attachment, and capacity of agent diposition of mind favour able to hufrom her father-in-law, was best a. muliation and reverence, and an acdapted to become her counsellor, knowledgmentofincapacity to analyze from his experience in public affairs, that which soars so much beyond the and intimate acquaintance with the calculation or comprehension of man. court in which she was to figure as a The guide to the Caldeiris, whose sovereign. By his advice she was feelings were blunted by the habit of principally governed ; and from the perusing this wonderful scene, paid moment of her arrival his power inay but little attention to the devotion of be dated; for the disgrace of the my manners : be burried me from princess relieved him from an irksome object to object; making the princidependence, and left him without a pal objects of curiosity divisible into, rival.

1. The Caldeiras ;—2. The Mud. dy Crater; 3. The Perforated Rock.

1. The Caldeiras of the Furnas Description of Volcanoes in the Island are discoverable by vast columns of of Sr MICHAEL, one of the Azores. boiling water rising from springs of

various diameters, and to a height in THROUGHOUT these wonderful the greatest degree not exceeding

isiands, nothing can be more op- twelve fect. The air is strongly imposite than the two districts of the pregnated with sulphur, and the imvalley of the Furnas, known by the pending atmosphere receives the burnames of the Caldeiras and the Vale ning vapour in the form of clouds, das Furnas. A dreary waste of vol. which exbibit a beautiful variety of canic sand, without shade or shelter, eccentric figures and lucid tints. The scorched by the burning rays of the water is so hot'as to boil an egg in sun, and intersected by deep ravines two minutes; and beans, potatoes, and yawning craters, where, instead and corn, in a proportionable time, of refreshing breezes, the most suffo- but it is so sulphuric and searching, cating vapours are spread, and boiling that it impregnates the vegetable waters, which, rising from the tremb. with the sulphurous acid it contains, ling earth, threaten to overwhelm the and thereby renders it unfit for the affrighted beholder, are descriptive fond of man. For several yards of the Caldeiras ; while, on the other round each Furnas or Caideira, slight hand, shady groves, green pastures, vapors issue from the earth, which flavid fields, streams of the purest leave traces of a sublimed sulphur ou water, fruits of the most delicious fla- the places exposed to their action, vour, and air of the most balıny fra- and exhibit colours in which green, grance, characterize the Vale das Fur- yellow, and azure are, for the most

part, predominant. The principal Some time elapsed before I could Caldeira makes a grand appearance: summon sufficient resolution minutely the water is cast from several hundred to examine the Caldeiras. To con- valves, and rises and falls as if ejected template sucli extraordinary appear through the spiracles of so many ances without emotion, and a fearful whales. When this action is viewed with attention opposite to the sun, strong presentiment of every change the spherical surface is seen adorned in it. It has been discovered, that with prismatic colours; and, were it! it possesses this quality in a more enot for the intense heat, and the ste- minent degree than any barometer in rilo and dreary scenes that surround the island. When the weather inil, it is a spectacle much more calcu- clines to rain or wind, its noise in. lated to excite a generous admiration creases from the dashing of waves to than a dastardly terror. But the heat the roar of a hurricane, and when the is so great, and the ruin and desola- weather is disposed to moderate, the tion so glaring and gigantic, that the roar subsides to the sound of waves mind shrinks from the idea of pleasure, beating against the strands of the sea. and falls into the melancholy con- Nor is it slightly prognostic of the sideration of such objects only as are changes which are about to take place sad, perishable, and subject to decay. in the air. The barometer foretels


2.“ The Muddy Crater," separa. the state of the weather only for ted from the Grand Caldeira by a about twenty-four hours, whereas bank of volcanic substance, can be there is a certainty that the weather viewed but with mingled sensations: will continue fine three or four weeks it is an object of stupendous horror when the noise of the crater subsides. that appears to appal the mind, and And such is the infallibility of this startle the intellect, at the first sight, natural barometer, that it has never and yet, after reason or experience been known entirely to subside beremoved the first impressions of my fore the most perfect equilibrium of fear, I made it also a foundation of all the constituent parts of the air inpleasurable enjoyment. It is the same dicates, with certainty, that this great with fire, ruins, hurricanes, a stormy decline of detonation will not be sky, a troubled ocean, a wild beast in made in vain. There are also artifichains, or a dead monster, which, cial causes which operate a change of either from their natural magnificence, this wonderful phenomenon : stones or extraordinary novelty, become sub- thrown into the vertex are succeeded jects of agreeable contemplation after by an increase of noise commensurate they have been acknowledged at with their magnitude, and cold water once dreadful and harmless. The cast in excites an effervescence and vertex of the muddy crater is on a uproar almost too horrible to be heard level with the plain, and leads to a or to behold. Under this experivast cavern, wherein its mineral and ment, and during heavy rains, the metallic contents are in a continued lava swells up with impetuosity to state of ebullition, and which it un- the vertex of the crater, and emits a ceasingly endeavours to discharge spray of the heat, colour, and consisthrough the vertex, and with a vio- tence of boiling lead. The ground, 'lence and uproar more powerful and for several yards round, is intensely mighty than the waves of the sea hot, and no vestige of vegetation can when they seek for admission into the be traced. The vertex of the crater recesses of their shores. But, strange is about forty-five feet in circumferas it may appear, the volcano has a ence; but, as it is hourly wasting by limited domination : its lavatic matter the ebullition and attrition of its fiery swells and rises to the exact periphery contents, its magnitude will ultimateof its vertex, but never overflows. It ly expand and absorb the Caldeiras is, however, generally known in the of clear water which at present play valley, that the state of the atmos- around its tremendous gulf. The phere has a visible effect upon this heat emitted was so excessive and sufcrater, and that it possesses a very fucating, that I could make no farther August 1813.


observations, and I gladly turned to-- chose this as the favourite theatre for

3." The Perforated Rock.” This their shocks, that I was frequently beautiful object lias been formed by terrified by the prospect of encounthe unremitting industry of a hot tering so many difliculties, and often spring immediately beneath it, and wished to return without effecting to which it now serves as a covering or the object of my pursuit. This timid dome. The rock is about six feet in disposition was not a little augmented circumference, about four feet deep by the discovery, that the distance in in the centre, and is perforated in finitely exceeded the accounts I had such a manner, that its surface se- received of it at Ribeira Grande.sembles a sicve through which the After travelling with insuperable hot water emits itself with wonderful dilliculty a space of five miles, I had impetuosity and force. I have seen the mortification to perceive that the stones wasted by attrition and hol- guide directed our attention to the lowed out by the tedious operation of summit of a mountain distant at least water falling from the eaves of a five miles further off, and separated louse, drop by drop, but I believe from us by mountains of smaller magthis is the only instance of a rock nitude, between which were deep being perforated through and through valleys, frightful precipices, yawning by the ebullition of a spring, or the chasins, and enbrinous rocks. Cauperpendicular action of water beating tiously progressing, however, we ar un against it from the ground. The length approached an object of inexwater is perfectly transparent, and pressible grandeur and beauty, and strongly iinpregnated with sulphuret which amply compensated for the of iron,

toils and disappointments I had unI will now proceed to inform you, dergone. Not that it was the crigi. that, the day after my arrival at Ri-nal object of our pursuit, which was beira Grande, I determined to visit a yet far distant, but seen unexpectedcaldeira of the most extraordinary ly, it had a peculiar charm, and an magnitude and character, and which influence over the mind perhaps more was said to be about six miles from powerful than if it had been the disthe town, and seated on the vertex of tinct object of research. a volcano on the top of the highest Having arrived, as I have just obimountain between Ponta Del Gada served, with much fatigue and danand the northern shore. Its road being ger, at the summit of one of the inrepresented to me impracticable for tervening mountains, I perceived å horses or asses, I was compelled to column of white vapour rise from the depart on foot, accompanied by Mr centre of the cone of a volcano, one Purvis, a gentleman of great geolo- side of which, by being rent from the gical knowledge, attended by two summit to the base, afforded the guides, who affected to know more of means of seeing the vapour rise in the country than I afterwards found several columns or streams, and also they did.

served as a passage for the spectator The obstructions to my journey to enter without impediment into the commenced and multiplied from the body of the cone or vertex, and there moment I left the baths. In fact, examine and discover the conduct of the hills I had to pass over were so nature in the formation of volcanic . rugged, and the mountains, which mountains and exhibition of volcanic lay between me and the object of my water. The effect of the grandeur research, so steep and elevated, so and sublimity of the scene was, on convuised by eruptions, ard so split the first instance of viewing it, someand rent by the earthquakes which what suppressed by awe and appre

he risuon,

hension, and also by the influence minished the height of the crater, and which the noxious vapours of the blocked up the mouth of the abyss. boiling water produced on the respi. The constant ebullition and action of ration. The heat, too, was so great boiling water at the bottom of this as to operate in the manner of a steam, volcanic abyss makes a noise similar and the ground itself so hot as to to the waves of a stormy sea, and the make it impossible to stand any time vapour which issues from it, when in the same place. But soon gaining condensed by the cold of an elevated strength and resolution from the ener- atmosphere, descends in heavy dew to gy inspired by the grandeur and mag- the earth, and preserves it, even in nificence of the object, I viewed with the ardent heat of summer, in the delight and astonishment the configu- most luxuriant fertility and verdure. ration of the borders, the internal Perhaps, too, it is not saying too sides, the form of the immense cone, much, that to the percolation of this its bottom on which I stood, and its dew, formed from this vapour, may vertex to which I looked up from a be attributed the numerous streams depth of about three hundred feet. In which supply the adjacent region the centre of this astonishing theatre with water. It is not easy to make the boiling water rose as if from sever a calculation of the quantity of water al thousand apertures, and to a va. produced by the vapour, but from rious height of from six to sixteen the numerous columns of water which feet, tapering off in the regular and give rise to it, and from the immense beautiful gradation of the ears of a volume of the vapour, it may be consheaf of wheat, and forming a bason jectured that it composes water at the around the base, hot, undulating, and rate of about ten tons in a ininute. transparent. The circumference of I do not pledge myself for the prethe crater, in which this grand exhi- cision of this calculation; I only mean bition is displayed to so much advan to say, that as there is no absolute tage, is two hundred and fifty paces, rain in this mountainous region duand the vapour which ascends rises ring the burning season of summer, with great velocity into the external and as the whole region is perpetually atınosphere, and forms a relucent verdant and fertile, it is reasonable to cloud over the vertex of the cone. conjecture that the vapour produces The upper edges of the cone or crater those springs and powers which alone are indented in several places, and the are capable of giving to verdure and internal sides are inclined at differ- fertility a prolific and permanent ef. ent angles in several parts, and fect. abound with concretions of diversified Animated with the vain hope of colours and fantastic shapes. From visiting a phenomenon of greater what I observed, I considered that magnitude and curiosity than that I the concretions were principally com- have just described, I left it, exhilaraposed of salt and sulphur, and the ted with renovated strength, and purzuriate of ammonia ; l also perceived sued my way along the bottoms of that in the lapse of time the crater the deepest valleys and over the sumhas undergone great changes, and · mits of the highest mountains, to the that there must have been in it for. final object of my research. merly an abyss as well as a funnel : Having reached the high summit whence it may be deduced that the in which the principal curiosity of the crater was once infinitely higher, and island was said to reside, I perceived that its summit or original vertex have the mouth of a volcano which repreing been precipitated into the gulf by sented a gently-inclining plain of some terrible eruption or shock, dis about half a mile in circumference,


and from the center of which arose a The horrid chasms formed by the conical mass of lavatic matter incrus- original eruption are also to be seen, ted with salts and sulphurs of differ- but they baffle description. They ent colours, or rather a variegated fun- form valleys more than three hundred nel rising from a verdant base, which feet deep, and where the fiery matter gave vent to the terrific and unfa- gained access during the eruption, or thomable gulph beneath, and in which eruptions, there exist beds of lava, or is heard the confused noises of boiling little mountains, according as the lava and running waters, and a continued did or did not meet with obstruction hollow murmur like the roaring of in its course. The terrible effects of the ocean during a violent storm.- these fiery streams may, however, be From this extraordinary aperture is. imagined from their amazing extent, sued innumerable columns of boiling and from the mountains which they water, and immense volumes of sul- form in the situations just named. phurous vapour, which being lighter The whole region around is also than the circumambient air, rose with covered with hardened lava, scoriæ, great rapidity, till coming to a more and stones; a proof that the volcano

dense atmosphere, it shoots off hori- must have been burning for ages i zontally, and forms a track in the air without ceasing, and that this greatest

according to the direction of the wonder of nature might have cast wind; sometimes forming clouds of forth its vast torrents of liquid fire, unusual brilliance, and sometimes re- and shot up its fiery rocks and sul. sembling in extent and whiteness the phurous smoke to this day, had not milky-way, or rather a pure flame an opposite element gained access to shooting across the skies.

the dreadful abyss, and confined its But the principal object of aston- action to the perpetual boiling of ishment and instruction of this won- waters whose source can be no other derful region exists in the prospect than the sea. I make this assertion which it so minutely affords of those from a consciousness that the island dreadful operations of nature, or of does not possess sufficient rivers or those violent efforts of internal fire fountains to supply the immensity of which has made her exterior appear- water which is wasted by the vapour ance so dreadful. From the vertex issuing from this volcano, and also of the cone the original operation of from an experience that, notwithstandthe first eruption was perfectly dis- ing the perpetual noise, made up of cernible. The fire, instead of rush- boiling springs and raging tempests, ing from the vertex in a direct line, there was an intermitting roaring as is usual, must have rose to a great which corresponded with the undulaheight, and then moved in several tion of water advancing to and redirections, covering the country tiring from fire. around, and laying every thing waste Exhausted by the fatigues of the within its range. This description is day, by mephitic vapours, and excesmanifest by the character of the lava sive heat, we resolved to pass

the in every direction from the volcano. night on the periphery of the crater, In some places it bears the appearance, and return the ensuing morning to of rivers or streams issuing from the Ribeira Grande. This night was summit of the crater in different di- highly interesting. Several beautiful rections, and in other parts it repre- picturesque effects were produced sents an irregular surface studded with which were not common to the day. huge lavatic rocks according to the' The huge summer clouds, which are power of the explosion and the man. formed by the action of the sun on ner in which the lava was cast forth. the surrounding ocean, collected round


« PoprzedniaDalej »