Imagens da página


An eruption at Mount Vesuvius. In the year 1717, in the middle of April, with much difficulty I reached the top of Mount Vesuvius, in which I faw a vast aperture full of smoke, that hindered me from seeing its depth and figure. I heard within that horrid gulf, extraordinary sounds, which seemed to proceed from the bowels of the mountain ; and, at intervals, a noise like that of thunder or cannon, with a clattering like the falling of tiles from the tops of houses into the streets. Sometimes, as the wind changed, the smoke grew thinner, discovering a very ruddy flame, and the circumference of the crater streaked with red and several shades of yellow. After an hour's stay, the smoke being moved by the wind, we had short and partial prospects of the great hollow; in the flat bottom of which I could discern two furnaces almoit contiguous : that on the left, seeming about three yards over, glowing with ruddy fame, and throwing up red hot stones, with a hideous noise, which, as they fell back, cauíed the clattering already taken notice of. May 8, in the morning, I ascended the top of Vesuvius a second time, and found a different face of things. The smoke ascending upright, afforded a full prospect of the crater, which, as far as I could judge, was about a mile in circumference, and a hundred yards deep. Since my last visit, a conical mount had been formed in the middle of the bottom. This was made by the stones, thrown up and fallen back again into the crater, In this new hill remain. ed the two furnaces already mentioned. The one was seen to throw up every three or four minutes, with a dreadful sound, a vast number of red hot stones, at least three hun. dred feet higher than my head: but as there was no wind, they fell perpendicularly back from whence they had been discharged. The other was filled with red hot liquid matter, like that in the furnace of a glass-house ; raging and working like the waves of the sea, with a short abrupt noise. This matter sometimes boiled over, and ran down the fide of the conical hill, appearing at first red hot, but changing colour as it hardened and cooled. Had the wind set towards us, we should have been in no small dan. ger of being filled by the fulphurous smoke, ur killed by the masses of melted minerals that were shot from the bottom. at as the wind was favourable, I had an opportunity of furveying this amazing scene for above an hour and a half together." On the fifth of June, after a horrid noise, the mountain was seen at Naples to work over ; and about three days after, its thunders were so renewed, that not only the windows in the city, but all the houses shook. From that time, it continued to overflow, and sometimes at night exhibited columns of fire fhooting upward from its fummit. On the tenth, when all was thought to be over, the mountain again renewed its terrors, roaring and raging moft violently. One cannot form a julter idea of the noise, in the most violent fits of it, than by imagining a mixed found, made up of the raging of a tempest, the murmur of a troubled fea, and the roaring of thunder and artillery, all confused together. Though we heard this at the distance of twelve miles, yet it was very terrible. We resolved to approach nearer to the mountain ; and, accordingly, three or four of us entered a boat, and were set alhore at a little town, situated at the foot of the mountain. From thence we rode about four or five miles before we came to the torrent of fire that was descending from the fide of the volcano ; and here the roaring grew exceeding. ly loud and terrible. I observed a mixture of colours in the cloud, above the crater, green, yellow, red, blue. There was likewise a ruddy, dilmal light in the air, over that tract where the burning river flowed. These circumstances, fet off and augmented by the horror of the night, formed a scene the most uncommon and astonishing I ever faw ; which still increased as we approached the burning river. A vast torrent of liquid fire rolled from the top, down the fide of the mountain, and with irresistible fury bore down and consumed vines, olives, and houses ; and divided into different channels, according to the inequalities of the mountain. The largest stream seemed at least half a mile broad, and five miles long. I walked before my companions so far up the mountain, along the fide of the river of fire, that I was obliged to retire in great haste the fulphurous steam having furprised me, and almost taken away my breath. During our return, which was about three o'clock in the morning, the roar. ing of the mountain was heard all the way, while we observed it throwing up huge fpouts of fire and burning ftones, which, falling, resembled the stars in a rocket. Sometimes I observed two or three diftinct columns of dame, and sometimes one only that was large enough to

fill the whole crater. These burning columns and fiery stones seemed to be shot a thousand feet perpendicular above the summit of the volcano. In this manner the mountain continued raging for fix or eight days after. On the eighteenth of the same month the whole appearance ended, and Vesuvius remained perfectly quiet, with: out any visible smoke or flame.


SECTION III. Description of the preparations made by Xerxes, the Persian

monarch, for invading Greece. In the opening of spring, Xerxes directed his march to. wards the Hellefpont, where his fleet lay in all their pomp, expecting his arrival. When he came to this place, he was delirous of taking a survey of all his forces, wlrich formed an army, that was never equalled either before or fince. It was composed of the most powerful nations of the East, and of people scarcely known to posterity, except by name. The remotest India contributed its fupplies, while the coldest tracts of Scythia sent their albistance. Medes, Persians, Bactrians, Lydians, Assyrians, Hyrcanians, and many other nations of various forms, complex. ions, languages, dresses, and arms, united in this grand expedition. The land army, which he brought out of Afia, consisted of seventeen hundred thousand foot, and fourscore thousand horse. Three hundred thousand more that were added upon crossing the Hellespont, made his land forces all together amount to above two millions of

His feet, when it set out from Asia, consisted of twelve hundred and seven vessels, each carrying two hun. dred men

The Europeans augmented his feet with a hundred and twenty vessels, each of which carried iwo hundred men. Besides these, there were two thousand smaller vessels fitted for carrying provisions and Atores. The men contained in these, with the former, amounted to fx hundred thousand ;, so that the whole army might be said to. amount to iwo millions and a half; which, with the women, Naves, and suttlers, always accompanying a Persian army, might make the whole above five millions of fouls : a number, if rightly conducted, capable of overturning the greatest monarchy ; but which, commanded by presumption and ignorance, served only to obstruct and embarrass each other.


Lord of fo many and fuch various subjects, Xerxes found a pleasure in reviewing his forces ; and was desirous of beholding a naval engagement, of which he had not hitherto been a spectator. To this end a throne was erected for him upon an eminence ; and in that situation, beholding the earth covered with his troops, and the fea crowded with bis vefsels, he felt a fecret joy diffuse itself through his frame, from the consciousness of his own fuperior power. But all the workings of this monarch's mind were in the extreme ;'a sudden sadness foon took place of his pleasure'; and diffolving in a shower of tears, he gave himself up to a reflection, that not one of fo many thousands would be alive a hundred years after.

Artabanus, the king's uncle, who was much disposed to moralize en occurrences, took this occasion to discourse with him upon the shortness and miseries of human life. Finding this more diftant fubject attended to, he spoke closely to the present occafion ; insinuated his doubts of the fuccess of the expedition ; urged the many inconveniences the army had to suffer, if not from the enemy, at least from their own numbers. He alleged, that plagues, famine, and confufion, were the necessary attendants of such ungovernable multitudes : and that empty fame was the only reward of faccess. But it was now too late to turn this young monarch from his purpose. Xerxes informed his monitor, that great actions were always attended with proportionable danger : and that if his predeceffors had observed-such fcrupulous and timorous rules of conduct, the Persian empire would never have attained to its present height of glory.

Xerxes, in the mean time, had given orders to build a bridge of boats across the Hellefpont, for transporting his arıny into Europe. This narrow strait, which now goes by the name of the Dardanels, is nearly an Englisk mile over. Betsoon after the completion of this work, a violent storm arifing, the whole was broken and destroyed, and the labour was to be undertaken anew. The fury of Xerxes upon-this disappointment was attended with equal extrava. gance and cruelty. His vengeance knew no bounds. The workmen who had undertaken the task had their heads Atruck off by his order ; and that the sea itself might also know its duty, he ordered it to be lashed as a delinquent, and a pair of fetters to be thrown into it, to curb its future irregularities. Thus having given vent to his absurd refentment, two bridges were ordered to be built in the place of the former, one for the army to pass over, and the other for the baggage and the beasts of burden. The workmen, now warned by the face of their predeceffors, undertook to give their labours greater ftability. They placed three hundred and fixty vessels across the strait, some of them having three banks of oars, and others fifty oars a piece. They then calt large anchors into the water on both sides, in order to fix thele vessels against the violence of the winds, and the current. After this they drove large pilęs into the earth, with huge rings, fastened to them, to which were tied Gx vast cables that went over each of the two bridges. Over all these they laid trunks of trees, cut purposely for that use, and fat boats again over them fastened and join. ed together, so as to serve for a floor or solid bottom. When the whole work was thus completed, a day was appointed for their palling over ; and as soon as the first rays of the sun began to appear, sweet odours of all kinds were abundantly scattered over the new work, and the way was {trewed with myrtle. At the same time Xerxes poured out libations into the sea; and turning his face, towards the East, worshipped that bright luminary, which is the god of the Persians. Then, throwing the vessel which had held his libation into the sea, together with a golden cup and Persian scimitar, he went forward, and gave orders for the army to follow, . This immense train was seven days and seven nights in palling over ; while those who were appointed to conduct the march, quickened the troops by lashing them along ; for the soldiers of the Ealt, at that time, and to this very day, are treated like flaves.

This great army having landed in Europe, and being joined there by the several nations that acknowledged the Perfian power, Xerxes prepared for marching directly forward into Greece. After a variety of disastrous and adverse events, suffered in the prosecution of his vain gloriops defign, this haughty monarch was compelled to reliaquila it. Leaving his generals to take care of the army, he haltened back with a small retinue, to the sea-side. When he arriv. ed at the place, he found the bridge broken down by the violence of the waves, in a tempest that had lately happened there. He was, therefore, obliged to pafs the strait in a small boat ; which manner of returning, being compared with the oftentatious method in which he had set out, ren. dered his disgrace fill more poignant and afflicting. The army which he had ordered to follow him, having been un

« AnteriorContinuar »