« AnteriorContinuar »
veying this amazing scene for above an hour and a balf 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 shooting upward from its summit. On the tenth, when all was thought to be over, the mountain again renewed its terrors, 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, 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 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 exceedingly loud and terrible. I observed a mixture of colours in the cloud, above the crater, green, yellow, red, 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 horror of the night, formed a scene the most uncommon and astonishing I ever saw; which still increased 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 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 side of the river of fire, that I was obliged to retire in great haste, the sulphurous steam 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 in a rocket. Sometimes I observed two or three distinct columns of flame, 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 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. .
Description of the preparations made by Xerxes, the Persian
monarch, for invading Greece.
· In the opening of spring, Xerxes directed his march towards the Hellespont, where his fleet lay in all their pomp, expecting his arrival. When he came to this place, he was desirous of taking a survey of all his forces, which formed an army that was never equalled either before or since. 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 supplies, while the coldest tracts of Scythia sent their assistance. Medes, Persians, Bactrians, Lydians, Assyrians, Hyrcanians, and many other nations of various forms, complexions, languages, dresses, and arms, united in this grand expedition. The land army, which he brought out of Asia, consisted of seventeen hundred thousand foot, and four-score 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 men. His fleet, when it set out from Asia, consisted of twelve hundred and seven vessels, each carrying two hundred men. The Europeans augmented his fleet with a hundred and twenty vessels, each of which carried two hundred men. Besides these, there were two thousand smaller vessels fitted for carrying provisions and stores. The men contained in these, with the former, amounted to six hundred thousand, so that the whole army might be said to amount to two millions and a half; which, with the women, slaves, and suttlers, always accompanying a Persian army, might make the whole above five millions of souls : a number, it rightly conducted, capable of overturning the greatest monarchy; but which, commanded by presumption and ignorance, served only to obstruct and em; barrass each other.
Lord of so many and such 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 sea crowded with his vessels, he felt a secret' joy diffuse itself through his frame, from the consciousness of his own superior power. But all the workings of this monarch's mind were in the extreme : a sudden sadness soon took place of his pleasure ; and dissolving in a shower of tears, be gave himself up to a reflection, that not one of so many thousands would be alive a bundred years after.
Artabanus, the king's uncle, who was much disposed to moralize on occurrences, took this occasion to discourse with him upon the shortness and miseries of human life. Finding this more distant subject attended to, be spoke closely to the present occasion ; insinuated his doubts of the success 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 confusion, were the necessary attendants of such ungovernable multitudes; and that empty fame was the only reward of success. 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 predecessors had observed such scrupulous 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 Hellespont, for transporting his army into Europe. This narrow strait, which now goes by the name of the Dardanelles, is nearly an English mile over. But soon after the completion of this work, a violent storm arising, 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 extravagance and cruelty. His vengeance knew no bounds. The workmen who had undertaken the task, had their heads struck 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 resentment, 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 fate of their predecessors, undertook to give their labours greater stability. They placed three hundred and sixty vessels across the strait, some of them having three banks of oars, and others fifty oars apiece. They then cast large anchors into the water on both sides, in order to fix these vessels against the violence of the winds, and the current. After this they drove large piles into the earth, with huge rings fastened to them, to which were tied six vast cables that went over each of the two bridges. Over all these they laid trunks of trees, cut purposely for that use, and flat boats again over them, fastened and joined together, so as to servo for a floor or solid bottom. When the whole work was thus completed, a day was appointed for their passing 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 strewed 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 the golden cup and Persian scimetar, he went forward, and gave orders for the army to follow. This immense train was seven days and seven nights in passing over ; while those who were appointed to conduct the march, quickened the troops by lashing them along ; . for the soldiers of the East, at that time, and to this very day, are treated like slaves.
This great army having landed in Europe, and being joined there by the several nations that acknowledged the Persian power, Xerxes prepared for marching directly forward into Greece. After a variety of disastrous and adverse events, suffered in the prosecution of his vain-glorious design, this haughty monarch was compelled to relinquish it. Leaving his generals to take care of the army, he hastened back, with a small retinue, to the sea-side. When he arrived 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 pass the strait in a small boat; which manner of returning, being compared with the ostentatious method in which he had set out, rendered his disgrace still more poignant and afflicting. The army which
tie had ordered to follow him, having been unprovided with necessaries, suffered great hardships by the way. After having consumed all the corn they could find, they were obliged to live upon herbs, and even upon the bark and leaves of trees. Thus harassed and fatigued, a pestilence began to complete their misery; and, after a fatiguing journey of forty-five days, in which they were pursued rather by vultures and beasts of prey, than by men, they came to the Hellespont, where they had crossed over; and marched from thence to Sardis. Such was the end of Xerxes' expedition into Greece : a measure begun in pride and terminated in infamy.
Character of Martin Luther.
As Luther was raised up by Providence to be the author of one of the greatest and most interesting revolutions recorded in history, there is not perhaps any person, whose character has been drawn with such opposite colours. In his own age, one party, struck with horror and inflamed with rage, when they saw with what a daring hand he overturned every thing which they held to be sacred, or valued as beneficial, imputed to him not only all the defects and vices of a man, but the qualities of a demon. The other, warmed with admiration and gratitude, which they thought he merited, as the restorer of light and liberty to the Christian church, ascribed to him perfections above the condition of humanity; and viewed all his actions with a veneration bordering on that which should be paid to those only who are guided by the immediate inspiration of Heaven. It is his own conduct, not the undistinguishing censure, nor the exaggerated praise of his contemporaries, which ought to regulate the opinions of the present age concerning him. Zeal for what he re. garded as truth, undaunted intrepidity to maintain it, abilities both natural and acquired to defend it, and unwearied industry to propagate it, are virtues which shine so conspicuously in every part of his behaviour, that even his enemies must allow him to have possessed them in an eminentdegree. To these may be added, with equal justice, such purity, and even austerity of manners, as became one who assumed the character of a reform och sanctity of life as suited the