Page images

o'clock on the morning of the 17th, there was heard an explosion so loud and long, that it could only be compared to a continued discharge of heavy cannon ; and a torrent of flaming lava was seen to burst from the western side of the crater, and pour

down the sides of the mountain in various directions.

The principal stream, a mile in width, bent its destructive course towards Torre del Greco, a town of fifteen or twenty thousand people, situated upon the bay, ten miles from Naples, aud five from the crater of Vesuvius.

A column of dense smoke now ascended from the orifice, in the shape of a cylinder, out of which darted in every direction immense stones in a state of ignition, producing the effect of forked lightnings, as they were impelled with irressistible violence to a distance of several miles.

The fiery lava swept every thing before it, and in less than three hours, overwhelmed Torre del Greco, and tumbled into the sea with a horrible explosion, of which some idea may

be formed from the violent effects produced by the contact of water with red-hot iron.

The sea hissed with a noise like that of the sharpest thunder, and the lava, curling itself up, as if sensible to the touch of the adverse element, instantly petrified into indescribable crimps and jags.

The vivid reflection of this fiery torrent illuminated the city of Naples till the dawn of day, and the furious concussion of the jarring elements continued all the next morning, and raised a ragged mole in the bay a quarter of a mile square.

This dreadful explosion had been awfully preceded by a sudden flow of the sea, probably accasioned by the impetuous rush that would naturally follow an abrupt absorption of it's waters in the cavities of the mountain, which are supposed to run under the bed of the bay.

Such an accident would have been sufficient to cause the instantaneous ejection of the liquid fire then boiling in the bowels of the volcano, by whose fearful contact the tremendous thunder with which it was accompanied might well have been produced.

The surface of the boiling liquid gradually hardened as it cooled, about the mouth of the orifice from which it had issued, and soon formed a crust of pumice and lava over the unfathomable pit, through the interstices of which the crater has continued to smoke ever since.

The French gentleman before mentioned, in company with two or three other inquisitive foreigners, actually descended to this false bottom, and examined the smoking crannias of the platform that conceals the boiling gulph, whilst their trembling guides protested against their presumption, and on their knees invoked St. Anthony, the Catholic guardian against fire, for the preservation of their adventurous charge.

Our fellow traveller brought away with him a large lump of crystalized salts, that he had himself picked out of the principal orifice; the air of which, fuming from beneath a volcanic rock, was hot enough to singe his hair.

Torre del Greco now exhibits an appearance little less curious than Herculaneum or Pompeii. Many of the houses were soon excavated, and others rebuilt upon the same spot, though the lava continued warm in some places for several years, and his Sicilian majesty had offered the inhabitants as much ground in another place, to induce them to rebuild the town in a less dangerous situation.

The ashes of this or some former eruption, are said to have been blown as far as Constantinople, to the great terror of the superstitious Turks ; and it is certain that a month before the memorable one I have just described, while Vesuvius was disgorging stones and fire at its ancient vomitory, a dense cloud was seen at Radicofani, coming from the south-east, the direction of Vesuvius, (two hundred miles distant), from which there fell a shower of ashes and volcanic stones.

During an eruption which took place in the year 1538, a new hill arose in the vicinity, to the height of six hundred feet ; and many of the mountains between Rome and Naples are said to digcover traces of a similar origin.

MR. EDITOR, Should the following curious account of the luminous fly, by M. de Bomare (the same, I presume, as the lantern Ay, by Mad. Merian, vide—Brighton Gleaner, No. X. page, 365, vol. I.), be deemed worthy a place in your valuable Miscellany, it is at your service.

I am, sir,

Your obliged Servant, Sept. 11, 1822.


The acudia is a flying and luminous insect, found in America, and suspected to be the same with the cucuju or cocojus.

It is of the class of scarabeus, of the bigness of the little finger, two inches long, and so luminous that, when it flies by night, it spreads great light, Some say, that if you rub the face with the humidity which issues in shiny spots or stars, from this little living phosphorous, it will appear resplendent. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Indians made no use of candles, but of these insects, to light their houses ; by one of which a person may read or write as easily as by a lighted candle.

When the Indians walked in the night, they fixed one of them

[blocks in formation]

to each toe of the foot, and others to the hand. When taken, these insects do not live above three weeks at most; while they are in good health they are very luminous, but their light decreases with their powers, and after they are dead they shine no more. They are doubly useful, for they fly about the house and devour the gnats.

It is uncertain whether the acudia is not the same insect as the lantern Ay; so called, because the fore-part of the head, whence the light issues, has been called a lantern.

There are shining flies found in Italy, or rather a species of scarabeus, about the size of a bee, the beliy of which is so luminous, that three of them, inclosed in a tube of white glass, will light a chamber.


A law, enacting that every person above seven years of

age, should wear, on Sundays and holidays, a cap of wool, knit made, thickened and dressed in England, by some of the trade of cappers, under the forfeiture of three farthings for every day's neglect, excepting maids, ladies, and gentlewomen, and every lord, knight, and gentleman of twenty marks of land, and their heirs, and such as have borne offices of worship in any city, town, or place, and the Wardens of the London companies.-1751.


In Adam's letters on Silesia, we have the following extraordinary effort of human art. At Bunzlau, a person of the name of Jacob, of mechanical genius, a carpenter by trade; made a machine, in which, by means of certain clockwork, a number of puppets, about six inches high, are made to move upon a kind of stage, so as to represent, in several successive scenes, the passion of Jesus Christ. The first exhibits him in the garden at prayer, while the three apostles* are sleeping at a distance. In the last he is shewn dead in the sepulchre, guarded by two Roman soldiers. The intervening scenes represent the treachery of Judas, the examination of Jesus before Caiaphas, the dialogue between Pilate and the Jews concerning him, the denial of Peter, the scourging and the crucifixion. It is all accompanied by a mournful dirge of music ; and the maker, by way of explanation, repeats the passages of Scripture which relate the events he has undertaken to shew. I have heard and read more than one eloquent sermon upon the passion, but I confess, none of the most laboured efforts of the pathetic ever touched my heart with one half the force of this puppet-shew. The traitor's kiss, the blow struck by the high priest's servant, the scourging, the nailing to the cross, the sponge of vinegar--every indignity offered, and every pain inflicted, occasioned a sensation, when thus made perceptible to the eye, which I had never felt at mere description.

* Peter, James, and John. Mark xiv. 33.


If you think it proper, Mr. Editor, you may add the following remarkable Echo, (mentioned by Mad. Genlis,) to those you have already recorded, on pages, 348, 349, 366, vol I. as it differs materially from the echoes heretofore noticed.

In the memoirs of the Academy of Sciences at Paris, for the year 1692, mention is made of the echo at Genetay, two leagues from Rouen, which has this peculiarity, that the person who sings does not hear the echo, but his voice only; and, on the contrary, those who listen do not hear the voice, but the echo, and that with surprising variations ; for the echo seems sometimes to approach and sometimes to retire; sometimes it is heard distinctly, at others not at all; some hear only a single voice, others several ; one hears to the right, another to the left, &c. This echo still exists, but is not what it was, because the environs have been planted with trees, which have greatly hurt the effect.


How a certain disposition of certain sounds should, through the medium of the ear, raise, depress, or tranquillize the spirits, is a problem difficult to be solved; yet, in a greater or less degree, all are convinced of its truth; and to gratify this universal feeling, Nature seems to have mingled harmony in all her works. Each crowded and tumultuous city may properly be called a temple of discord ; but wherever Nature holds undisputed dominion, music is the partner of her empire. The “ lonely voice of waters,” the hum of bees, the chorus of birds ; nay, if these be wanting, the very breeze that rustles through the foliage, is musical.

From this music of Nature, solitude gains all her charms : for dead silence, such as that which precedes a thunder-storm, rather terrifies than delights the mind.

On earth 'twas yet all calm around,
A pulseless silence-dread profound

More awful than the tempest's sound! Perhaps it is the idea of mortality which it awakens that makes absolute stillness so awful. We cannot bear to think that even Nature herself is inanimate : We love to feel her pulse throbbing beneath us, and to listen to her accents amid the still retirement of her deserts.

Flat solitude, in truth, which is described by our poets, as expanding the heart and tranquillizing the passions, though far removed from the inharmonious din of worldly business, is yet varied by such gentle sounds as are most likely to make the heart beat in unison with the serenity of all surrounding objects. Thus Gray

“ Now fades the glimmering landscape on my sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,

And drowsy tinklings Iull the distant folds." Even when Nature arrays herself in all her terrorswhen the thunder roars above our heads, and man, as he listens to the sound, shrinks at the sense of his own insignificance ; even this, without at all derogating from its awful character, máy be termed a grand chorus in the music of Nature.

Almost every scene in Nature has its peculiar music, by which its character, as cheering, melancholy, awful, or tranquillizing, is marked and defined. This appears in the alternate succession of day and night.

When the splendour of day has departed, how consonant with the sombre gloom of night, is the hum of the beetle, or the lonely, plaintive voice of the nightingale! But more especially, as the different seasons' revolve, a corresponding variation takes place in the music of Nature. As winter approaches, the voice of birds, which cheered the days of summer, ceases ; the breeze that was lately singing among the leaves, now shrilly hisses through the naked boughs; and the rill that, but a short time ágo, murmured softly as it flowed along, now, swelled by tributary waters, gushes headlong in a deafening torrent. It is not; therefore, in vain that, in the full spirit of prophetic song, Isaiah has called upon the mountains to break forth into singing--the forest, and every tree thereof." Thus we may literally be said to“ find tongues in trees_books in the running brooks ;” and as we look upward to the vault of heaven; we are inclined to believe that

« PreviousContinue »