Imagens das páginas

10. Consider your parents. Form an idea of the anxiety which they feel on your account.

You must bave observed how eagerly they wish for your improvement. They feel a laudable ambition, which prompts them to desire that you may arrive at eminence in whatever profession or employment you may hereafter be engaged in by Providence. To them it would be a painful sight to see you contemptible and unsuccessful. But nothing can vindicate you from contempt, or insure your success so effectually as personal merit, or the qualities of a good disposition, adorned with a competent share of human learning and accomplishments.

11. Your parents do all in their power to promote your improvement; but, after all, they cannot but know that it remains with yourselves to give efficacy and final good success to their endeavours. The mind is not like a vessel, into which may be poured any quantity of whatever the possessor chooses to infuse. It is rather like a plant, which, by the operation of its own internal powers, imbibes the nutriment afforded by the earth. But, not to dwell on similes, it is certain that your instructers can serve you only in conjunction with your own efforts. Let me then entreat you to exert yourselves, if you have any regard for your parents, whose happiness so essentially depends on your conduct; if you have any regard for your own honour, success, and comfort; if you hope to be useful and respected in society, and happy in a future state.

Brydone's description of Mount Etna. 1. THERE is no place on the surface of this globe, which unites so many awful and sublime objects, as the summit of Mount Etna. The immense elevation from the surface of the earth, is drawn as it were, to a single point, without any neighbouring mountain for the senses and imagination to rest upon, and recover from their astonishment in their way down to the world. This point or pinnacle is raised on the brink of an almost bottomless gulph, as old as the world, often discharging rivers of fire, and throwing out burning rocks, with a noise which shakes the whole island; add to this, the unbounded extent of the prospect, comprehending the greatest diversity, and most beautiful scenery in nature, with the rising sun, advancing in the east, to illuminate the wondrous scene. The whole atmosphere by degrees kindled up, and showed dimly and faintly the boundless prospect around. Both sea and land looked dark and confused, as if only emerging from their original chaos ; and, light and darkness seemed still undivided ; till the morning, by degrees advancing, completed the separation.

2. The stars are extinguished, and the shades disappear. The forests,which but now seemed black and bottomless gulphs, whence no ray was reflected to show their form or colours, appear a new creation rising to the sight, catching life and beauty from every increasing beam. The scene still enlarges, and the horizon seems to widen and expand itself on all sides ; till the sun, like the great Creator, appears in the east, and with his plastic ray completes the mighty scene. All appears enchantment; and it is with difficulty we can believe we are still on earth. The senses, unaccustomed to the sublimity of such a scene, are bewildered and confounded; and it is not till after some time, that they are capable of separating and judging of the objects which compose it. The body of the sun is seen rising from the ocean, immense tracts both of sea and land, intervening; the islands of Lipari, Panairi, Alicudi, Strombolo, and Volcano, with their smoking summits, appear under your feet; and you look down on the whole of Sicily as on a map; and can trace every river through all its windings, from its source to its mouth.

3. The view is absolutely boundless on every side ; nor is there any one object, within the circle of vision, to interrupt it; so that the sight is every where lost in the immensity. The circumference of the visible horizon on the top of Etna, cannot be less than 2000 miles. At Malta, which is nearly 200 miles distant, they perceive all the irruptions from the second region; and that island is often discovered from about one half of the ele. vation of the mountain ; so that at the whole elevation, the hori. zon must extend to nearly double that distance. But this is by much too vast for our senses, not intended to grasp so boundless a scene.

I find by some of the Sicilian authors, that the African coast, as well as that of Naples, with many of its islands, has been discovered from the top of Etna. Of this, however, we cannot boast, though we can very well believe it.

4. But the most beautiful part of the scene is certainly the mountain itself, the island of Sicily, and the numerous islands łying round it. All these, by a kind of magic in vision, seem as if they were brought close round the skirts of Etna : the distances appearing reduced to nothing. The present crater of the volcano is a circle of about three miles and a half in cir. cumference. It goes shelying down on each side, and forms a regular hollow, like a vast amphitheatre.

5. From many places of this space, issue volumes of smoke,

which, being much heavier than the circumambient air, instead of rising in it as smoke generally does, it rolls down the side of the mountain like a torrent, till coming to that part of the atmosphere of the same specific gravity with itself, they shoot off borizontally, and form a large tract in the air, according to the direction of the wind. The crater is so hot, that it is very dangerous, if not impossible, to go down into it. Besides, the smoke is very incommodious ; and, in many places, the surface is so soft, that there have been instances of people sinking down into it, and paying for their temerity with their lives. Near the centre of the crater is the great mouth of the volcano. And, when we reflect on the immensity of its depth, the vast caverns whence so many lavas have issued; the force of its internal fire, sufficient to raise up those lavas to so great a height; the boiling of the matter, the shaking of the mountain, the explosion of flaming rocks, &c. we must allow, the most enthusiastic imagination, in the midst of all its terrours, can hardly form an idea more dreadful.

Description of an Eruption of Mount Vesuvius. 1. In the year 1717, in the middle of April, with much difficulty I reached the top of Mount Vesuvius, in which I saw a vast aperture full of smoke, that hindered me from seeing its depth and figure. I heard within that gutph 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 bollow; in the flat bottom of which I could discern two furnaces almost contiguous : that on the left, seeming about three yards over, glowing with ruddy flame, and throwing up red hot stones, with a hideous noise, which, as they fell back, caused the clattering already taken notice of.

2. The 8th of May, 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 cir cumference, and an 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 remained 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 hundred 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 glasshouse ; raging and working like the waves of the sea, with a short abrupt noise. This matter sometimes boiled over, and ran down' the sides of the conical hill, appearing at first red hot, but changing colour as it hardened and cooled.

3. Had the wind set towards us, we should have been in po small danger of being stifled by the sulphurous smoke, or killed by the masses of melted minerals, that were shot from the bottom. But as the wind was favourable, I had an opportunity of surveying this amazing scene for above an hour and a half together. On the fifth of June, after a horrid noise, the moun. tain was seen at Naples to work over; and about three days after its thunders were renewed so, that not only the windows in the city, but all the houses shook. From that time, it continued to overflow, and, sometimes at night, exbibited columns of fire shooting upward from its summit. On the tentb, when all was thought to be over, the mountain again renewed its terrours, roaring and raging most violently. One cannot form a juster idea of the noise, in the most violent fits of it, than by imagining a mixed sound, made up of the raging of a tempest the murmur of a troubled sea, and the roaring of thunder and artillery, confused all together.

4. 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 ashore 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 side 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, and blue. . There was, likewise, a ruddy dismal light in the air, over that tract where the burning river flowed. These circumstances, set off and augmented by the horrour of the night, formed a scene the most uncommon and astonishing I ever saw, which still increas ed as we approached the burning river.

A vast torrent of liquid fire rolled from the top, down the side of the mountain," and with irresistible fury bore dowo and consumed vines, olives,

[ocr errors]

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.

5. I walked before my companion so far up the mountain, along the side of the river of fire, that I was obliged to retire in great haste, the sulphurous stream having surprised me, and almost taken away my breath. During our return, which was about three o'clock in the morning, the roaring of the mountain was heard all the way, while we observed it throwing up huge spouts of fire and burning stones, which falling, resembled the stars from a rocket. Sometimes I observed two or three distinct columns of flame, and sometimes one only, which was large enough to fill the whole crater. These burning columns, and fiery stones, seemed to be shot a thousand feet perpendicularly above the summit of the volcano. In this manner the mountain continued raging for six or eight days after. On the eighteenth of the same month, the whole appearance ended, and Vesuvius remained perfectly quiet, without any visible smoke or flame.

Niagara River and Falls. 1. NIAGARA river connects the northern end of Lake Erie with the south end of Lake Ontario, and is about thirty miles in length. It forms a part of the western boundary between the state of New York and Upper-Canada. The falls of this river, which are about seven or eight miles south of Lake Ontario, form the greatest curiosity that this, or perhaps any other country affords. In order to have a tolerable idea of this stupendous cataract, it will be requisite to conceive, that Lake Erie, and that part of the country in which it is situated, is elevated about three hundred feet above that which contains Lake Ontario.

2. The slope which separates the upper and lower country, is generally very steep, and in many places almost perpendicular. Some have conjectured that from the great length of time, the quantity of water, and the distance through which it falls, the rocks have been worn away for about seven miles from Lake Ontario up the river towards Lake Erie ; by which such an astonishing chasm is formed, as strikes the beholder with terrour. Down this chasm the water rushes with an astonishing velocity, after it makes the first great pitch, which is a fall of nearly one hundred feet perpendicular.

3. It is not easy to bring the imagination to correspond to the greatness of the scene. A river extremely deep and rapid, and that serves to drain a great part of the waters of North Ameri

« AnteriorContinuar »