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part terminated by the sea. This is the common progress of an eruption ; however, it sometimes happens, thoughı rarely, that the lava bursts at once from the side of the moun. tain, without all these attending circumstances; and this is commonly the case with the eruptions of Vesuvius, where the elevation being so much smaller, the melted matter is generally carried up into the crater of the mountain, which then exhibits the phenomena I have described ; discharging showers of stones and ashes froin the mouth of the volcano, without forming any new mountain, but only adding considerably to the height of the old one; till at last the lava, rising near the summit, bursts the side of the crater, and the eruption is declared. This has literally been the case with two eruptions I have been an attentive witness of in that mountain ; but Ætna is upon a much larger scale, and one crater is not enough to give vent to such oceans of liquid fire.

Recupero assurés me, he saw in an eruption of that mountain, large rocks of fire discharged to the height of some thousand feet, with a noise much more terrible than that of thunder. He measured from the time of their greatest elevation till they reached the ground, and found they took twenty-one seconds to descend; which, according to the rule of the spaces, being as the squares of the times, amounts, I think, to upwards of 7000 feet,--a most astonishing height surely, and requiring a force of projection beyond what we have any conception of. I measured the height of the explosions of Vesuvius by the same rule, and never observed any of the stones thrown from it to take more than nine seconds to descend, which shews they had risen to little more than 1200 feet.

Our landlord at Nicolosi gave us an account of the singular fate of the beautiful country near Hybla, at no great distance from hence. It was so celebrated for its fertility, and particularly for its honey, that it was called Mel Passi, till it was overwhelmed by the lava of Ætna; and having then become totally barren, by a kind of pun its name was changed to Mal Passi. second eruption, by a shower of ashes from the mountain, it soon re-assumed its ancient beauty and fertility, and for many years was called Bel Passi. Last of all, in the unfortunate æra of 1669, it was again laid under an ocean of fire, and reduced to the most wretched sterility, since which time it is known again by its second ap

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pellation of Mal Passi. However, the lava, in its course over this beautiful country, has left · several little islands or hillocks, just enough to shew what it formerly was. These make a singular appearance, in all the bloom of the most luxuriant vegetation, surrounded and rendered almost inaccessible by large fields of black and rugged lava. The mountain from whence the first eruption issued, that covered Mel Passi, is known by the name of Monpelieri : I was struck with its beautiful appearance at a distance, and could not resist the desire I had of examining it minutely, as well as of observing the effects of the two eruptions that overwhelmed this celebrated country.

Monpelieri is rather of a spherical than a conical shape, and does not rise in perpendicular height above three hundred feet, but it is so perfectly regular on every side, and so richly overspread with fruits and flowers, that I could not leave so heavenly a spot without the greatest regret. Its cup or crater is large in proportion to the mountain, and is as exactly hollowed out as the best made bowl. I walked quite round its outward edge, and think the circumference must be somewhat more than a mile.

This mountain was formed by the first eruption that destroyed the country of Mel Passi, and is of a very old date. It buried a great number of villages and country-houses; and particularly two noble churches, which are more regretted than all the rest, on account of three statues, reckoned at that time the most perfect in the island. They have attempted, but in vain, to recover them; as the spot where the churches stood could never be justly ascertains ed. Indeed it is impossible it should; for these

1 churches were built of lava, which it is well known is immediately melted, when it comes into contact with a torrent of new erupted matter : and Massa says, that in some eruptions of Ætna, the lava has poured down with such a sudden impetuosity, that in the course of a few hours, churches, palaces and villages, have been entirely melted down, and the whole run off in fusion, without leaving the least mark of their former existence. But if the lava has had any considerable time to cool, this singular effect never happens.

The great eruption of 1669, after shaking the whole country around for four months, and forming a very large mountain of stones and ashes, burst out about a mile above Monpelieri,


and descending like a torrent, bore directly against the middle of that mountain, and they pretend) perforated it from side to side: this, however, I doubt, as it must have broken the regular form of the mountain, which is not the case. But certain it is, that it pierced it to a great depth. The lava then divided into two branches; and surrounding this mountain, joined again on its south side; and laying waste the whole country betwixt that and Catania, scaled the walls of that city, and poured its flaming torrent into the ocean.

In its way, it is said to have de stroyed the possessions of near 30,000 people, and reduced them to beggary. It formed several bills where there were formerly valleys, and filled up a large lake, of which there is not now the least vestige to be seen.

As the events of this eruption are better known than any other, they tell a great many singular stories of it: one of which, however incredible it may appear, is well ascertained. A vineyard, belonging to a convent of Jesuits, lay directly on its way.

This vineyard was formed on an ancient lava, probably a thin one, with a number of caverns and crevices under it. The liquid lava entering into these caverns, soon filled them up, and by degrees bore up the vineyard ; and

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