« PoprzedniaDalej »
make you acquainted with it. I beg therefore you would at least suspend your judgment for the present, and do not condemn me before I am heard.
After contemplating this delightful prospect, till sunset, the wind sprung up again, and we have now almost reached Capre, thirty miles distant from Naples. We have just spoken with an English ship. They tell us, that the Marquis of Carmarthen, Lord Fortrose, and Mr. Hamilton, observing the calm, took a boat to make us a visit; but unfortunately mistaking their vessel for ours, we have had the mortification to miss them.
The night is very dark; and Mount Vesuvius is flaming at a dreadful rate; we can observe the red-hot stones thrown to a vast height in the air; and, after their fall, rolling down the side of the mountain. Our ship is going so smooth, that we are scarce sensible of the motion; and if this wind continue, before tomorrow night, we shall be in sight of Sicily. Adieu. The captain is making a bowl of grog, : and promises us a happy voyage.
16th. All wrong-Sick to death-Execrable sirocco wind, and directly contrary-Vile heaving waves-A plague of all sea voyages That author was surely right, who said, that land voyages' * were much to be preferred.
17th, in the morning. For these twenty-four hours past we have been groaning to one another from our beds; execrating the waves, and wishing that we had rather been at the mercy of all the banditti of Calabria. We are now beginning to change our tune. The sirocco is gone, and the wind is considerably fallen ; however, we are
; still three woful figures. Our servants too are as sick and as helpless as we. The captain says, that Philip our Sicilian man was frightened out of his wits; and has been praying to St. Januarius with all his might. He now thinks he has heard him, and imputes the change of the weather entirely to his interest with his saint.
17th. Three o'clock. Weather pleasant and favourable.A fine breeze since ten ;-have just come in sight of Strombolo. Our pilot says it is near twenty leagues off. We have likewise a view of the mountains of Calabria, but at a very great distance. Ship steady; and sea-sickness almost gone.
Eleven at night. The weather is now fine, and we are all well. After spying Strombolo,
* See Tour to the East.
by degrees we came in sight of the rest of the Lipari islands, and part of the coast of Sicily. These islands are very picturesque, and several of them still emit smoke, particularly Volcano and Volcanello; but none of them, for some ages past, except Strombolo, have made any eruptions of fire. We are just now lying within three miles of that curious island, and can see its operations distinctly. It appears to be a volcano of a very different nature from Vesuvius, the explosions of which succeed one another with some degree of regularity, and have no great variety of duration. Now I have been observing Strombolo, ever since it fell dark, with a good deal of pleasure, but not without some degree of perplexity, as I cannot account for its variety. Sometimes its explosions resemble those of Vesuvius, and the light seems only to be occasioned by the quantity of fiery stones thrown into the air ; and as soon as these have fallen down, it appears to be extinguished, till another explosion causes a fresh illumination: this I have always observed to be the case with Vesuvius, except when the lava has risen to the summit of the mountain, and continued without variety to illuminate the air around it.. The light from Strombolo evidently depends on some other
cause. Sometimes a clear red flame issues from
, the crater of the mountain, and continues to blaze without interruption, for near the space of half an hour. The fire is of a different colour from the explosions of stones, and is evidently produced from a different cause. It would seem as if some inflammable substance were suddenly kindled up in the bowels of the mountain. It is attended with no noise, nor explosion that we are sensible of. It has now fallen calm, and we shall probably have an opportunity of examining this volcano more minutely to-morrow. We were told at Naples that it had lately made a violent eruption, and had begun to form a new island at some little distance from the old; which piece of intelligence was one of our great inducements to this expedition. We think we have discovered this island, as we have observed several times the appearance of a small flame arising out of the sea, a little to the southwest of Strombolo; and suppose it must have issued from this new island; but it is possible this light may come from the lower part of the island of Strombolo itself. We shall see to.
18th. We are still off Strombolo, but unfor. tunately at present it intercepts the view of
from whence we observed the flame to arise, and we can see no appearance of any new island, nor indeed of any lava that has of late sprung
from the old one. We have a distinct view of the crater of Strombolo, which seems to be different from Vesuvius, and all the old volcanoes that surround Naples. Of these, the craters are without exception in the centre, and form the highest part of the mountain. That of Strombolo is on its side, and not within two hundred yards of its summit. From the crater to the sea, the island is entirely composed of the same sort of ashes and burnt matter as the conical part of Vesuvius : and the quantity of this matter is perpetually increasing, from the uninterrupted discharge from the mountain ; for
; of all the volcanoes we read of, Strombolo seems to be the only one that burns without ceasing Ætna and Vesuvius often lie quiet for many months, even years, without the least appearance of fire, but Strombolo is ever at work, and for ages past has been looked upon as the great light-house of these seas.
It is truly wonderful, how such a constant and immense fire is maintained for thousands of years, in the midst of the ocean! That of the other Lipari islands seems now almost extinct,