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about ; feels himself animated by the object, and prays to her with all his might.
Adieu.-We are going to be very busy; and are preparing every thing for one of the greatest objects of our expedition, the examination of Mount Ætna. Indeed, we have received but bad encouragement; and are beginning to doubt of the possibility of success. Recupero tells us, that the season is not far enough ad. vanced yet, by some months; and that he does not think it will be possible to get near the summit of the mountain. The last winter, he says, was so uncommonly severe, that the circle of snow extended much nearer the foot of the mountain than usual ; that, although this circle is now greatly contracted, it still extends nine or ten miles below the crater.--He advises us to return this way in the month of August ; and, if possible, make Ætna the last part of our expedition. If we do not succeed to-morrow, we shall probably follow his advice; but we are all determined to make a bold push for it. The weather is the most favourable that can be imagined: here is a delightful evening, and by the star-light we can observe the smoke rolling down the side of the mountain like a vast torrent. Recupero says, this is a sure indica
tion of the violence of the cold in these exalted regions of the atmosphere, which condenses the vapour, and makes it fall down the moment it issues out of the crater. He advises us, by all means, to provide plenty of liquors, warm fur cloaks, and hatchets to cut wood; as we shall probably be obliged to pass the night in the open air, in a climate, he assures us, as cold as that of Greenland. It is very singular if this be true; for at present we are melting with heat, in thin suits of taffeta, Adieu, You shall know it all on our return, if we do not share the fate of Empedocles.
Catania, May 29.
On the 27th, by day-break, we set off to visit mount Ætna, that venerable and respectable father of mountains. His base, and his immense declivities are covered over with a numerous progeny of his own; for every great eruption produces a new mountain; and perhaps by the number of these, better than by any other method, the number of eruptions, and the age of Ætna itself, might be ascertained.
The whole mountain is divided into three distinct regions, called La Regione Culta or Piedmontese, the Fertile Region ; La Regione Sylvosa or Nemorosa, the Woody Region; and La Regione Deserta or Scoperta, the Barren Region.
These three are as different, both in climate and productions, as the three zones of the earth; and perhaps, with equal propriety, might have been styled the Torrid, the Temperate, and the Frigid zone. The first region surrounds the foot of the mountain, and constitutes the most fertile country in the world on all sides of it, to the extent of about fourteen or fifteen miles, where the woody region begins. It is composed almost entirely of lava, which, after a number of ages, is at last converted into the most fertile of all soils. At Nicolosi, which is twelve miles
the mountain, we found the barometer at 27:14; at Catania it stood at 29:84; although the foriner elevation is not very great, probably not exceeding 3000 feet, yet the climate was totally changed. At Catania, the harvest was entirely over, and the heats were insupportable; here they were moderate, and in many places the corn is as yet green. The road for these twelve miles is the worst I ever travelled; entirely over old lavas and the mouths of extinguished volcanoes, now converted into cornfields, vineyards, and orchards.
The fruit of this region is reckoned the finest in Sicily, particularly the figs, of which they have a great variety. One of these, of a very large size, esteemed superior in flavour to all the rest, they pretend is peculiar to Ætna.
The lavàs, which as I have already said form this region of the mountain, take their rise from an infinite number of the most beautiful little mountains on earth, which are every where scattered on the immense declivity of Ætna. These are all of a regular figure; either that of a cone, or a semisphere; and all but a very few are covered with beautiful trees, and the richest verdure : every eruption generally forms one of these mountains. As the great crater of Ætna itself is raised to such an enormous height above the lower regions of the mountain, it is not possible, that the internal hre raging for a vent, even round the base,
and no doubt vastly below it, should be carried to the height of twelve or thirteen thousand feet, for probably so high is the summit of Ætna. It has therefore generally happened, that after shaking the mountain and its neighbourhood for some time, it at last bursts open its side, and this is called an eruption. At first it only sends forth a thick smoke and showers of ashes, that lay waste the adjacent country; these are soon followed by red-hot stones, and rocks of a great size, thrown to an immense height in the air. The fall of these stones, together with the quantities of ashes discharged at the same time, at last form the spherical and conical mountains I have mentioned. Sometimes this process is finished in the course of a few days, sometimes it lasts for months, which was the case in the great eruption 1669. In that case, the mountain formed is of a great size ; some of them are not less than seven or eight miles round, and upwards of 1000 feet in perpendicular height; others are not more than two or three miles round, and 300 or 400 feet high.
After the new mountain is formed, the lava generally bursts out from its lower side; and bearing every thing before it, is for the most