« AnteriorContinuar »
sides to the distance of about eight miles. In the centre of this circle, the great crater of the mountain rears its burning head; and the regions of intense cold and of intense heat seem for ever to be united in the same point.
The Regione Deserta is immediately succeeded by the Sylvosa, or the woody region, which forms a circle or girdle of the most beautiful green, which surrounds the niountain on all sides, and is certainly one of the most delightful spots on earth. This presents a remarkable contrast with the desert region. It is not smooth and even like the greatest part of the latter; but is finely variegated by an infinite number of those beautiful little mountains that have been formed by the different eruptions of Ætna. All these have now acquired a wonderful degree of fertility, except a very few that are but newly formed ; that is, within these five or six hundred years; for it certainly requires some thousands to bring them to their greatest degree of per féction. We looked down into the craters of these, and attempted, but in vain, to number them.
The circumference of this zone or great circle, on Etna, is not less than seventy or eighty miles. It is every where succeeded by the vineyards, orchards and corn fields that compose the Regione Culta, or the fertilé region. This last zone is much broader than tho others, and extends on all sides to the foot of the moun tain. Its whole circumference, according to Recupero, is 183 miles. It is likewise covered with a number of little conical and spherical mountains, and exhibits a wonderful variety of forins and colors, and makes a des lightful contrast with the other two regions. It is bounded by the sea to the south and south-east, and on all its other sides by the rivers Simethus & Alcantara, which run almost round it. The whole course of these rivers is seen at once, and all their beautiful windings through these fertile valleys, looked upon as the favorite posses. sion of Ceres herself.
Cast your eyes a little farther, and you embrace the whole island, and see all its cities, rivers and moun. tains, delineated in the great chart of Nature : all the adjacent islands, the whole coast of Italy, as far as your eye can reach ; for it is no where bounded, but every where lost in space. On the sun's first rising, the sha dow of the mountain extends across the whole island, and makes a large track visible even in the sea and in the air. By degrees this is shortened, and in a little. time is confined only to the neighborhood of Ætna.
We had now time to examine a fourth region of that wonderful mountain, very different, indeed, from the others, and productive of very different sensations : but which has undoubtedly given being to all the rest; 1 mean the region of fire.
The present crater of this immense volcano is a circle of about three miles and a half in circumference. It goes shelving down on each side, and forms a regular hollow like a vast amphitheatre. From many places of this space issue volumes of sulphureous.smoke, which being much heavier than the circumambient air, instead of rising in it, as smoke generally does, immediately on its getting out of the crater, rolls down the side of the moun
ain like a torrent till coming to that part of the atmosphere of the same specific gravity with itself, it shoots off horizontally, and forms a large track in the air, according to the direction of the wind, which, happily for us, carried it exactly to the side opposite to that where we were placed. 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, che surface is so soft, there have been instances of peoole sinking into it, and paying for their temerity with (heir lives. Near the centre of the crater is the great mouth of the volcano ;-that tremendous gulf so celeorated in all ages, and looked upon as the terror and scourge both of this and another life. We heheld it with awe and with horror, and were not surprised that it had been considered as the place of eternal punishment. When we reflect upon the immensity of its depth, the vast cells and caverns whence so many lavas have issued; the force of its internal fire, to raise up those lavas to so vast a height, to support as it were in the air, and even to force them over the very summit of the crater, with all the dreadful accompaniments; the boiling of the matter, the shaking of the mountain, the explosion of flaming rocks, &c.; we must allow that the most enthusiastic imagination, in the midst of all its terrors, hardly ever formed an idea of a hell more dreadful.
SNOWDON. Few persons mount a towering eminence, but feel their souls elevated : the whole frame acquires unwonted elasticity; and the spirits flow, as it were, in one aspiring stream of satisfaction and delight. For what can be more animating than, from one spot, to behold the pomp of man, and the pride of nature, lying at our feet? Who can refrain from being charmed, when, observing those innumerable sections, which divide a long extent of country into mountains and vales; and which, in their turn, subdivide into fields, glens, and dinglès ; containing trees of every height; cottages of the humble; and mansions of the rich; here groups of cattle, there shepherds tending their flocks: and, at intervals, viewing, with admiration, a broad expansive river, sweeping iis course along an extended vale: now encircling a mountain, and now overflowing a valley; here gliding beneath large boughs of trees; there rolling over rough ledges of rocks; in one place concealing itself in ihe heart of a forest under huge massy cliffs, which impend over it; and in another washing the walls of some ivied ruin, bosomed in wood! “Behold the Eternal,” is written on every object; und in every view we are ready to exclaim with the poet of the East, “If there be a paradise upon earth, it is this, it is this.” Nerer can I cease to be grateful for the satisfaction I experienced, on the suminit of immortal Snowdon! After
paying a visit to the waterfall of Nant-Mill, we set out from a small cottage, situated on the side of the lake Cwellin. It was a morning of August; not a breath of air relieved the heat of the atmosphere, and not a tree offered a momentary shelter. In all the times the guide had travelled up this great mountain, he confessed that he had never been so oppressed with the intensity of the heat. Climbing for the space of an hour, sometimes over bogs, and sometimes over heaths, we arrived at what we earnestly hoped was the apex of the mountain :-it was, however, merely the first station. Who could fail to remember the fine passage in Pope, imitated from Drummond of Hawthornden, where he compares the progress of man, in the attainment of science, to the enlarged views that are spread progressively before the eye, in climbing lofty mountains ? The whole passage is eminently beautiful. As we ascended, those mountains, which from below bore the character of sublimity, shrunk into mere eminences : others more noble, rose in the perspective, and proceeding higher, they appeared, as it were, to approach us, and to be no longer at a distance. The road now lay over a smooth, mossy heath, where we sat down, entirely overcome with heat and fatigue. After resting for some time, the guide led us to the edge of a precipice, nearly fifteen hundred feet in depth; at the bottom of which appeared the dark green lake of Llyn-y-Glas, and Llyn-Llydaw. We approached to the edge of it, it appeared the fit abode of an echo!
The sombre lake of Llyn-y-Glas associates itself, in some degree, with tha: of a lake in the neighborhood of Bergen, the capital of Norway. That lake is, however, much darker than this: it is surrounded by high rocks; its water is motionless, and the stars being discerned on its bosom at noon-day, those who have surmounted the difficulty of climbing the rocks, become, on a sudden, so transported with the view of this “Heaven reversed,” that they feel an indescribable, and almost uncontrollable, desire to throw themselves into it. We had no! much time to contemplate the scene
before us; as a cloud suddenly appeared to rise out of the rocks beneath; and, rolling into a globular form, seemed like an immense balloon, balanced in the air; which, rising gradually up to the place where we stood, shul out the whole of this tremendous scene. Viewed from below, this precipice excites emotions of sublimity, unmixed with apprehensions; from its edge, terror is predominant. In the latter instance, our thoughts are, for a time, concentrated in our fears ; in the former, the mind, upon the instant, wings its course to heaven!
Height and depth create a much more awful sensation than length or width. The difference between looking up and looking down a precipice is well marked by Mr. Jefferson, in the account he furnished the Mar. quis de Chastelluse, of the Virginian bridge of rocks. “Though the sides of the bridge,” says he,“ are provided, in some parts, with a parapet of fixed rocks, yet few men have resolution to walk to them, and look over into the abyss. You involuntarily fall on your hands and knees, creep to the parapet, and look over it. Looking from the height about a minute, gave me a violent head ache. If the view from the top be painful and intolerable, that from below is delightful in the extrerne. It is impossible for the emotions, arising from the sublime, to be felt beyond what they are on the sight of so beautiful an arch, so elevated and so light, springing up, as it were, to Heaven. The rapture of the spectator, is indescribable.” After ascending above half a mile, we again paused to take a look around us. Below, appeared those innumerable mountains, by which Snowdon is, on all sides, surrounded. These are sometimes sludded with lakes, which appear like large mirrors, placed for the purpose of reflecting the clouds, which are seen in three different directions. They glide over our heads, their shadows are depicted on the mountains; they are reflected in the lakes below. Some of the mountains are round upon their summits; others wear a triangu. iar appearance; while some rise like pyramids. Now they seem like backs of immense whales, or couchant Lions; and while the apices of some resemble the cra