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grief of parting with that excellent family whom you know so well ; which no person could ever leave without regret, or see without pleasure ; but the agreeable prospect of soon meeting again (probably better qualified to annuse and entera tain them) absorbed all melancholy thoughts, and even added to that alacrity, which the delightful tour before us had already inspired.
We sailed at five; and after firing our farewell signals to our friends on shore, (whom we discovered with our glasses at some miles distance,) we soon found ourselves in the middle of the Bay of Naples, surrounded by the most beautiful scenery
in the world. It fell calm for an hour, on purpose to give us time to contemplate all its beauties.
The bay is of a circular figure; in most places upwards of twenty miles in diameter; so that, including all its breaks and inequalities, the circumference is considerably more than sixty miles. The whole of this space is so wone derfully diversified, by all the riches both of art and nature, that there is scarce an object wanting to render the scene complete; and it is hard to say, whether the view is more pleasing from the singularity of many of these objects, or from the incredible variety of the whole. You see an amazing mixture of the ancient and modern ; some rising to fame, and some sinking to ruin. Palaces reared over the tops of other palaces, and ancient magnificence trampled under foot-by modern folly. Mountains and islands, that were celebrated for their fertility, changed into barren wastes, and barren wastes into fertile fields and rich vineyards. Mountains sunk into plains, and plains swelled into mountains. Lakes drunk up by volcanoes, and extinguished volcanoes turned into lakes. The earth still smoking in many places; and in others throwing out flame. In short, Nature seems to have formed this coast in her most capricious mood; for every object is a lusus naturæ. She never seems to have gone seriously to work; but to have devoted this spot to the most unlimited indulgence of caprice and frolic.
The bay is shut out from the Mediterranean by the island of Capre, so famous for the abode of Augustus ; and afterwards so infamous for that of Tiberius. A little to the west lie those of Ischia, Prosida, and Nisida; the celebrated promontory of Micæum, where Æneas landed; the classic fields of Baia, Cuma, and Puzzoli; with all the variety of scenery that formed both the Tartarus and Elysium of the ancients; the Camphi Phlegrei, or burning plains where Ju. piter overcame the giants; the Monte Novo, formed of late years by the fire; the Monte Barbaro; the picturesque city of Puzzoli, with
" the Solfaterra smoking above it; the beautiful promontory of Pausillippe, exhibiting the finest scenery that can be imagined; the great and opulent city of Naples with its three castles, its harbour full of ships from every nation, its palaces, churches, and convents innumerable; the rich country from thence to Portici, covered with noble houses and gardens, and appearing only a continuation of the city; the palace of the king, with many others surrounding it, all built over the roofs of those of Herculaneum, buried near a hundred feet, by the eruptions of Vesuvius; the black fields of lava that have run from that mountain, intermixed with gardens, vineyards, and orchards ; Vesuvius itself, in the back ground of the scene, discharging volumes of fire and smoke, and forming a broad track in the air over our heads, extending without being broken or dissipated to the utmost verge of the horizon ; a variety of beautiful towns and villages, round the base of the mountain, thoughtless of the impending ruin that daily threatens them. Some of these are reared over the very
roots of Pompeia and Stabia, where Pliny perished; and with their foundations have pierced through the sacred abodes of the ancient Romans; thousands of whom lie buried here, the victims of this inexorable mountain. Next follows the extensive and romantic coast of Castello Mare, Sorrentum, and Mola ; diversified with every picturesque object in nature. was the study of this wild and beautiful country that formed our greatest landscape painters. This was the school of Poussin and Salvator Rosa, but more particularly of the last, who composed many of his most celebrated pieces from the bold craggy rocks that surround this coast; and no doubt it was from the daily contemplation of these romantic objects, that they stored their minds with that variety of ideas they have communicated to the world with such elegance in their works.
Now, should I tell you that this extensive coast, this prodigious variety of mountains, valleys, promontories and islands, covered with an everlasting verdure, and loaded with the richest fruits, is all the produce of subterraneous fire ; it would require, I am afraid, too great a stretch of faith to believe me ; yet the fact is certain, and can only be doubted by those who have
wanted time or curiosity to examine it. It is strange, you
that Nature should make use of the same agent to create as to destroy ; and that what has only been looked upon as the consumer of countries, is in fact the very power that produces them. Indeed, this part of our earth seems already to have undergone the sentence pronounced upon the whole of it; but, like the phenix, has arisen again from its own ashes, in much greater beauty and splendour than before it was consumed. The traces of these dreadful conflagrations are still conspicuous in every corner; they have been violent in their operations, but in the end have proved salutary in their effects. The fire in many places is not extinguished, but Vesuvius is now the only spot where it rages with any degree of activity.
Mr. Hamilton, our minister here, who is no less distinguished in the learned, than in the polite world, has lately examined it with a truly philosophic eye, and this is the result of all his observations: however, at present I only sit down to give you an account of the prospect of this singular country, and not to write its natural history, which would lead me into too vast a field; I shall reserve that curious subject till our return, when I shall have more leisure to