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The San Francisco Calamity

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extinct, following the line of the great east and west chains which
extend through southern Europe and Asia. There are some other
volcanic bands which exhibit a similar parallelism with mountain
chains; but, on the other hand, there are volcanoes between which
and the nearest mountain-axis no such connection can be traced.


There is one other fact concerning the mode of distribution of
volcanoes upon the surface of the globe, to which we must allude.
By a study of the evidences presented by coral-reefs, raised
beaches, submerged forests, and other phenomena of a similar kind,
it can be shown that certain wide areas of the land and of the
ocean-floor are at the present time in a state of subsidence, while
other equally large areas are being upheaved. And the observations
of the geologist prove that similar upward and downward movements
of portions of the earth's crust have been going on through all
geological times.

Now, as Mr. Darwin has so well shown in his work on "Coral Reefs,"
if we trace upon a map the areas of the earth's surface which are
undergoing upheaval and subsidence respectively, we shall find that
nearly all the active volcanoes of the globe are situated upon
rising areas and that volcanic phenomena are conspicuously absent
from those parts of the earth's crust which can be proved at the
present day to be undergoing depression.

The remarkable linear arrangement of volcanic vents has a
significance that is well worthy of fuller consideration. There
are facts known which point to the cause of this state of affairs.
It is not uncommon for small cones of scoriae to be seen following
lines on the flanks or at the base of a great volcanic mountain.
These are undoubtedly lines of fissure, caused by the subterranean
forces. In fact, such fissures have been seen opening on the sides
of Mount Etna, in whose bottom could be seen the glowing lava.
Along these fissures, in a few days, scoriae cones appeared; on one
occasion no less than thirty-six in number.

It is believed by geologists that the linear systems of volcanoes
are ranged along similar lines of fissure in the earth's crust--
enormous breaks, extending for thousands of miles, and the result
of internal energies acting through vast periods of time. Along
these immense fissures in the earth's rock-crust there appear, in
place of small scoriae cones, great volcanoes, built up through the
ages by a series of powerful eruptions, and only ceasing to spout
fire themselves when the portion of the great crack upon which they
lie is closed. The greatest of these fissures is that along the
vast sinuous band of volcanoes extending from near the Arctic
circle at Behring's Straits to the Antarctic circle at South
Victoria Land, not far from half round the earth. It doubtless
marks the line of mighty forces which have been active for millions
of years.


The Famous Vesuvius and the Destruction of Pompeii.

The famous volcano of southern Italy named Vesuvius, which is now
so constantly in eruption, was described by the ancients as a cone-
shaped mountain with a flat top, on which was a deep circular
valley filled with vines and grass, and surrounded by high
precipices. A large population lived on the sides of the mountain,
which was covered with beautiful woods, and there were fine
flourishing cities at its foot. So little was the terrible nature
of the valley on the top understood, that in A. D. 72, Spartacus, a
rebellious Roman gladiator, encamped there with some thousands of
fighting men, and the Roman soldiers were let down the precipices
in order to surprise and capture them.

There had been earthquakes around the mountain, and one of the
cities had been nearly destroyed; but no one was prepared for what
occurred seven years after the defeat of Spartacus. Suddenly, in
the year 79 A. D., a terrific rush of smoke, steam, and fire
belched from the mountain's summit; one side of the valley in which
Spartacus had encamped was blown off, and its rocks, with vast
quantities of ashes, burning stones, and sand, were ejected far
into the sky. They then spread out like a vast pall, and fell far
and wide. For eight days and nights this went on, and the enormous
quantity of steam sent up, together with the deluge of rain that
fell, produced torrents on the mountain-side, which, carrying
onward the fallen ashes, overwhelmed everything in their way.
Sulphurous vapors filled the air and violent tremblings of the
earth were constant.

A city six miles off was speedily rendered uninhabitable, and was
destroyed by the falling stones; but two others--Herculaneum and
Pompeii--which already had suffered from the down-pour of ashes,
were gradually filled with a flood of water, sand, and ashes, which
came down the side of the volcano, and covering them entirely.


The difference in ease of excavation is due to the following
circumstance. Herculaneum being several miles nearer the crater,
was buried in a far more consistent substance, seemingly composed
of volcanic ashes cemented by mud; Pompeii, on the contrary, was
buried only in ashes and loose stones. The casts of statues found
in Herculaneum show the plastic character of the material that fell
there, which time has hardened to rock-like consistency.

These statues represented Hercules and Cleopatra, and the theatre
proved to be that of the long-lost city of Herculaneum. The site
of Pompeii was not discovered until forty years afterward, but work
there proved far easier than at Herculaneum, and more progress was
made in bringing it back to the light of day.

The less solid covering of Pompeii has greatly facilitated the work
of excavation, and a great part of the city has been laid bare.
Many of its public buildings and private residences are now
visible, and some whole streets have been cleared, while a
multitude of interesting relics have been found. Among those are
casts of many of the inhabitants, obtained by pouring liquid
plaster into the ash moulds that remained of them. We see them to-
day in the attitude and with the expression of agony and horror
with which death met them more than eighteen centuries ago.

In succeeding eruptions much lava was poured out; and in A. D. 472,
ashes were cast over a great part of Europe, so that much fear was
caused at Constantinople. The buried cities were more and more
covered up, and it was not until about A. D. 1700 that, as above
stated, the city of Herculaneum was discovered, the peasants of the
vicinity being in the habit of extracting marble from its ruins.
They had also, in the course of years, found many statues. In
consequence, an excavation was ordered by Charles III, the earliest
result being the discovery of the theatre, with the statues above
named. The work of excavation, however, has not progressed far in
this city, on account of its extreme difficulty, though various
excellent specimens of art-work have been discovered, including the
finest examples of mural painting extant from antiquity. The
library was also discovered, 1803 papyri being found. Though these
had been charred to cinder, and were very difficult to unroll and
decipher, over 300 of them have been read.


Pliny the Younger, to whom we are indebted for the only
contemporary account of the great eruption under consideration, was
at the time of its occurrence resident with his mother at Misenum,
where the Roman fleet lay, under the command of his uncle, the
great author of the "Historia Naturalis". His account, contained
in two letters to Tacitus (lib. vi. 16, 20), is not so much a
narrative of the eruption, as a record of his uncle's singular
death, yet it is of great interest as yielding the impressions of
an observer. The translation which follows is adopted from the
very free version of Melmoth, except in one or two places, where it
differs much from the ordinary text. The letters are given entire,
though some parts are rather specimens of style than good examples
of description.

"Your request that I should send an account of my uncle's death, in
order to transmit a more exact relation of it to posterity,
deserves my acknowledgments; for if this accident shall be
celebrated by your pen, the glory of it, I am assured, will be
rendered forever illustrious. And, notwithstanding he perished by
a misfortune which, as it involved at the same time a most
beautiful country in ruins, and destroyed so many populous cities,
seems to promise him an everlasting remembrance; notwithstanding he
has himself composed many and lasting works; yet I am persuaded the
mention of him in your immortal works will greatly contribute to
eternize his name. Happy I esteem those to be, whom Providence has
distinguished with the abilities either of doing such actions as
are worthy of being related, or of relating them in a manner worthy
of being read; but doubly happy are they who are blessed with both
these talents; in the number of which my uncle, as his own writings
and your history will prove, may justly be ranked. It is with
extreme willingness, therefore, that I execute your commands; and
should, indeed, have claimed the task if you had not enjoined it.

"He was at that time with the fleet under his command at Misenum.
On the 24th of August, about one in the afternoon, my mother
desired him to observe a cloud which appeared of a very unusual
size and shape. He had just returned from taking the benefit of
the sun, and, after bathing himself in cold water, and taking a
slight repast, had retired to his study. He immediately arose, and
went out upon an eminence, from whence he might more distinctly
view this very uncommon appearance. It was not at that distance
discernible from what mountain the cloud issued, but it was found
afterward to ascend from Mount Vesuvius. I cannot give a more
exact description of its figure than by comparing it to that of a
pine tree, for it shot up to a great height in the form of a trunk,
which extended itself at the top into a sort of branches;
occasioned, I imagine, either by a sudden gust of air that impelled
it, the force of which decreased as it advanced upwards, or the
cloud itself being pressed back again by its own weight, and
expanding in this manner: it appeared sometimes bright, and
sometimes dark and spotted, as it was more or less impregnated with
earth and cinders.

"This extraordinary phenomenon excited my uncle's philosophical
curiosity to take a nearer view of it. He ordered a light vessel
to be got ready, and gave me the liberty, if I thought proper, to
attend him. I rather chose to continue my studies, for, as it
happened, he had given me an employment of that kind. As he was
passing out of the house he received dispatches: the marines at
Retina, terrified at the imminent peril (for the place lay beneath
the mountain, and there was no retreat but by ships), entreated his
aid in this extremity. He accordingly changed his first design,
and what he began with a philosophical he pursued with an heroical
turn of mind.


"He ordered the galleys to put to sea, and went himself on board
with an intention of assisting not only Retina but many other
places, for the population is thick on that beautiful coast. When
hastening to the place from whence others fled with the utmost
terror, he steered a direct course to the point of danger, and with
so much calmness and presence of mind, as to be able to make and
dictate his observations upon the motion and figure of that
dreadful scene. He was now so nigh the mountain that the cinders,
which grew thicker and hotter the nearer he approached, fell into
the ships, together with pumice-stones, and black pieces of burning
rock; they were in danger of not only being left aground by the
sudden retreat of the sea, but also from the vast fragments which
rolled down from the mountain, and obstructed all the shore.

"Here he stopped to consider whether he should return back again;
to which the pilot advised him. 'Fortune,' said he, 'favors the
brave; carry me to Pomponianus.' Pomponianus was then at Stabiae,
separated by a gulf, which the sea, after several insensible
windings, forms upon the shore. He (Pomponianus) had already sent
his baggage on board; for though he was not at that time in actual
danger, yet being within view of it, and indeed extremely near, if
it should in the least increase, he was determined to put to sea as
soon as the wind should change. It was favorable, however, for
carrying my uncle to Pomponianus, whom he found in the greatest
consternation. He embraced him with tenderness, encouraging and
exhorting him to keep up his spirits; and the more to dissipate his
fears he ordered, with an air of unconcern, the baths to be got
ready; when, after having bathed, he sat down to supper with great
cheerfulness, or at least (what is equally heroic) with all the
appearance of it.

"In the meantime, the eruption from Mount Vesuvius flamed out in
several places with much violence, which the darkness of the night
contributed to render still more visible and dreadful. But my
uncle, in order to soothe the apprehensions of his friend, assured
him it was only the burning of the villages, which the country
people had abandoned to the flames; after this he retired to rest,
and it was most certain he was so little discomposed as to fall
into a deep sleep; for, being pretty fat, and breathing hard, those
who attended without actually heard him snore. The court which led
to his apartment being now almost filled with stones and ashes, if
he had continued there any longer it would have been impossible for
him to have made his way out; it was thought proper, therefore, to
awaken him. He got up and went to Pomponianus and the rest of his
company, who were not unconcerned enough to think of going to bed.
They consulted together whether it would be most prudent to trust
to the houses, which now shook from side to side with frequent and
violent concussions; or to fly to the open fields, where the
calcined stone and cinders, though light indeed, yet fell in large
showers and threatened destruction. In this distress they resolved
for the fields as the less dangerous situation of the two--a
resolution which, while the rest of the company were hurried into
it by their fears, my uncle embraced upon cool and deliberate


"They went out, then, having pillows tied upon their heads with
napkins; and this was their whole defence against the storm of
stones that fell around them. It was now day everywhere else, but
there a deeper darkness prevailed than in the most obscure night;
which, however, was in some degree dissipated by torches and other
lights of various kinds. They thought proper to go down further
upon the shore, to observe if they might safely put out to sea; but
they found that the waves still ran extremely high and boisterous.
There my uncle, having drunk a draught or two of cold water, threw
himself down upon a cloth which was spread for him, when
immediately the flames, and a strong smell of sulphur which was the
forerunner of them, dispersed the rest of the company, and obliged
him to rise. He raised himself up with the assistance of two of
his servants, and instantly fell down dead, suffocated, as I
conjecture, by some gross and noxious vapor, having always had weak
lungs, and being frequently subject to a difficulty of breathing.

"As soon as it was light again, which was not till the third day
after this melancholy accident, his body was found entire, and
without any marks of violence upon it, exactly in the same posture
as that in which he fell, and looking more like a man asleep than
dead. During all this time my mother and I were at Misenum. But
this has no connection with your history, as your inquiry went no
farther than concerning my uncle's death; with that, therefore, I
will put an end to my letter. Suffer me only to add, that I have
faithfully related to you what I was either an eye-witness of
myself, or received immediately after the accident happened, and
before there was any time to vary the truth. You will choose out
of this narrative such circumstances as shall be most suitable to
your purpose; for there is a great difference between what is
proper for a letter and a history: between writing to a friend and
writing to the public. Farewell."

In this account, which was drawn up some years after the event,
from the recollections of a student eighteen years old, we
recognize the continual earthquakes; the agitated sea with its
uplifted bed; the flames and vapors of an ordinary eruption,
probably attended by lava as well as ashes. But it seems likely
that the author's memory, or rather the information communicated to
him regarding the closing scene of Pliny's life, was defective.
Flames and sulphurous vapors could hardly be actually present at
Stabiae, ten miles from the centre of the eruption.

That lava flowed at all from Vesuvius on this occasion has been
usually denied; chiefly because at Pompeii and Herculaneum the
causes of destruction were different--ashes overwhelmed the former,
mud concreted over the latter. We observe, indeed, phenomena on
the shore near Torre del Greco which seem to require the belief
that currents of lava had been solidified there at some period
before the construction of certain walls and floors, and other
works of Roman date. In the Oxford Museum, among the specimens of
lava to which the dates are assigned, is one referred to A. D. 79,
but there is no mode of proving it to have belonged to the eruption
of that date.


A second letter from Pliny to Tacitus (Epist. 20) was required to
satisfy the curiosity of that historian; especially as regards the
events which happened under the eyes of his friend. Here it is
according to Melmoth:

"The letter which, in compliance with your request, I wrote to you
concerning the death of my uncle, has raised, it seems, your
curiosity to know what terrors and danger attended me while I
continued at Misenum: for there, I think, the account in my former
letter broke off.

'Though my shocked soul recoils, my tongue shall tell.'

"My uncle having left us, I pursued the studies which prevented my
going with him till it was time to bathe. After which I went to
supper, and from thence to bed, where my sleep was greatly broken
and disturbed. There had been, for many days before, some shocks
of an earthquake, which the less surprised us as they are extremely
frequent in Campania; but they were so particularly violent that
night, that they not only shook everything about us, but seemed,
indeed, to threaten total destruction. My mother flew to my
chamber, where she found me rising in order to awaken her. We went
out into a small court belonging to the house, which separated the
sea from the buildings. As I was at that time but eighteen years
of age, I know not whether I should call my behavior, in this
dangerous juncture, courage or rashness; but I took up Livy, and
amused myself with turning over that author, and even making
extracts from him, as if all about me had been in full security.
While we were in this posture, a friend of my uncle's, who was just
come from Spain to pay him a visit, joined us; and observing me
sitting with my mother with a book in my hand, greatly condemned
her calmness at the same time that he reproved me for my careless
security. Nevertheless, I still went on with my author.

"Though it was now morning, the light was exceedingly faint and
languid; the buildings all around us tottered; and, though we stood
upon open ground, yet as the place was narrow and confined, there
was no remaining there without certain and great danger: we
therefore resolved to quit the town. The people followed us in the
utmost consternation, and, as to a mind distracted with terror
every suggestion seems more prudent than its own, pressed in great
crowds about us in our way out.

"Being got to a convenient distance from the houses, we stood
still, in the midst of a most dangerous and dreadful scene. The
chariots which we had ordered to be drawn out were so agitated
backwards and forwards, though upon the most level ground, that we
could not keep them steady, even by supporting them with large
stones. The sea seemed to roll back upon itself, and to be driven
from its banks by the convulsive motion of the earth; it is certain
at least that the shore was considerably enlarged, and many sea
animals were left upon it. On the other side a black and dreadful
cloud, bursting with an igneous serpentine vapor, darted out a long
train of fire, resembling flashes of lightning, but much larger.


"Upon this the Spanish friend whom I have mentioned, addressed
himself to my mother and me with great warmth and earnestness; 'If
your brother and your uncle,' said he, 'is safe, he certainly
wishes you to be so too; but if he has perished, it was his desire,
no doubt, that you might both survive him: why therefore do you
delay your escape a moment?' We could never think of our own
safety, we said, while we were uncertain of his. Hereupon our
friend left us, and withdrew with the utmost precipitation. Soon
afterward, the cloud seemed to descend, and cover the whole ocean;
as it certainly did the island of Capreae, and the promontory of
Misenum. My mother strongly conjured me to make my escape at any
rate, which, as I was young, I might easily do; as for herself, she
said, her age and corpulency rendered all attempts of that sort
impossible. However, she would willingly meet death, if she could
have the satisfaction of seeing that she was not the occasion of
mine. But I absolutely refused to leave her, and taking her by the
hand, I led her on; she complied with great reluctance, and not
without many reproaches to herself for retarding my flight.

"The ashes now began to fall upon us, though in no great quantity.
I turned my head and observed behind us a thick smoke, which came
rolling after us like a torrent. I proposed, while we yet had any
light, to turn out of the high road lest she should be pressed to
death in the dark by the crowd that followed us. We had scarce
stepped out of the path when darkness overspread us, not like that
of a cloudy night, or when there is no moon, but of a room when it
is all shut up and all the lights are extinct. Nothing then was to
be heard but the shrieks of women, the screams of children and the
cries of men; some calling for their children, others for their
parents, others for their husbands, and only distinguishing each
other by their voices; one lamenting his own fate, another that of
his family; some wishing to die from the very fear of dying; some
lifting their hands to the gods; but the greater part imagining
that the last and eternal night was come, which was to destroy the
gods and the world together. Among them were some who augmented
the real terrors by imaginary ones, and made the frighted multitude
believe that Misenum was actually in flames.

"At length a glimmering light appeared, which we imagined to be
rather the forerunner of an approaching burst of flames, as in
truth it was, than the return of day. However, the fire fell at
distance from us; then again we were immersed in thick darkness,
and a heavy shower of ashes rained upon us, which we were obliged
every now and then to shake off, otherwise we should have been
crushed and buried in the heap.

"I might boast that, during all this scene of horror, not a sigh or
expression of fear escaped me, had not my support been founded in
that miserable, though strong, consolation that all mankind were
involved in the same calamity, and that I imagined I was perishing
with the world itself! At last this dreadful darkness was
dissipated by degrees, like a cloud of smoke; the real day
returned, and soon the sun appeared, though very faintly, and as
when an eclipse is coming on. Every object that presented itself
to our eyes (which were extremely weakened) seemed changed, being
covered over with white ashes, as with a deep snow. We returned to
Misenum, where we refreshed ourselves as well as we could, and
passed an anxious night between hope and fear, for the earthquake
still continued, while several greatly excited people ran up and
down, heightening their own and their friends' calamities by
terrible predictions. However, my mother and I, notwithstanding
the danger we had passed and that which still threatened us, had no
thoughts of leaving the place till we should receive some account
from my uncle.

"And now you will read this narrative without any view of inserting
it in your history, of which it is by no means worthy; and, indeed,
you must impute it to your own request if it shall not even deserve
the trouble of a letter. Farewell!"


The story told by Pliny is the only one upon which we can rely.
Dion Cassius, the historian, who wrote more than a century later,
does not hesitate to use his imagination, telling us that Pompeii
was buried under showers of ashes "while all the people were
sitting in the theatre." This statement has been effectively made
use of by Bulwer, in his "Last Days of Pompeii." In this he
pictures for us a gladiatorial combat in the arena, with thousands
of deeply interested spectators occupying the surrounding seats.
The novelist works his story up to a thrilling climax in which the
volcano plays a leading part.

This is all very well as a vivid piece of fiction, but it does not
accord with fact, since Dion Cassius was undoubtedly incorrect in
his statement. We now know from the evidence furnished by the
excavations that none of the people were destroyed in the theatres,
and, indeed, that there were very few who did not escape from both
cities. It is very likely that many of them returned and dug down
for the most valued treasures in their buried habitations. Dion
Cassius may have obtained the material for his accounts from the
traditions of the descendants of survivors, and if so he shows how
terrible must have been the impression made upon their minds. He
assures us that during the eruption a multitude of men of
superhuman nature appeared, sometimes on the mountain and sometimes
in the environs, that stones and smoke were thrown out, the sun was
hidden, and then the giants seemed to rise again, while the sounds
of trumpets were heard.


Not far from Vesuvius lay the famous Lake Avernus, whose name was
long a popular synonym for the infernal regions. The lake is
harmless to-day, but its reputation indicates that it was not
always so. There is every reason to believe that it hides the
outlet of an extinct volcano, and that long after the volcano
ceased to be active it emitted gases as fatal to animal life as
those suffocating vapors which annihilated all the cattle on the
Island of Lancerote, in the Canaries, in the year 1730. Its name
signifies "birdless," indicating that its ascending vapors were
fatal to all birds that attempted to fly above its surface.

In the superstition of the Middle Ages Vesuvius assumed the
character which had before been given to Avernus, and was regarded
as the mouth of hell. Cardinal Damiano, in a letter to Pope
Nicholas II., written about the year 1060 tells the story of how a
priest, who had left his mother ill at Beneventum, went on his
homeward way to Naples past the crater of Vesuvius, and heard
issuing therefrom the voice of his mother in great agony. He
afterward found that her death coincided exactly with the time at
which he had heard her voice.

A trip to the summit of Vesuvius is one of the principal
attractions for strangers who are visiting Naples. There is a
fascination about that awful slayer of cities which few can resist,
and no less attractive is the city of Pompeii, now largely laid
bare after being buried for eighteen centuries. We are indebted to
Henry Haynie for the following interesting description: "Once seen,
it will never be forgotten. It is full of suggestions. It kindles
emotions that are worth the kindling, and brings on dreams that are
worth the dreaming. Of the three places overwhelmed, Herculaneum,
Pompeii and Stabiae, the last scarcely repays excavation in one
sense, and the first in another; but to watch the diggers at
Pompeii is fascinating, even when there is no reasonable
expectation of a find. Herculaneum was buried with lava, or rather
with tufa, and it is so very hard that the expense of uncovering of
only a small part of that city has been very great.


"Pompeii was smothered in ashes, however, and most of it is
uncovered now. But while there is much that is fascinating, and
all of it is instructive, there is nothing grand or awe-inspiring
in the ruins of Pompeii. No visitor stands breathless as in the
great hall of Karnak or in the once dreadful Coliseum at Rome, or
dreams with sensuous delight as before the Jasmine Court at Agra.

"The weirdness of the scene possesses us as a haunted chamber
might. We have before us the narrow lanes, paved with tufa, in
which Roman wagon wheels have worn deep ruts. We cross streets on
stepping-stones which sandaled feet ages ago polished. We see the
wine shops with empty jars, counters stained with liquor, stone
mills where the wheat was ground, and the very ovens in which bread
was baked more than eighteen centuries ago. 'Welcome' is offered
us at one silent, broken doorway; at another we are warned to
'Beware of the dog!' The painted figures,--some of them so
artistic and rich in colors that pictures of them are disbelieved,--
the mosaic pavements, the empty fountains, the altars and
household gods, the marble pillars and the small gardens are there
just as the owners left them. Some of the walls are scribbled over
by the small boys of Pompeii in strange characters which mock
modern erudition. In places we read the advertisements of
gladiatorial shows, never to come off, the names of candidates for
legislative office who were never to sit. There is nothing like
this elsewhere.

"The value of Pompeii to those classic students who would
understand, not the speech only, but the life and the every-day
habits, of the ancient world, is too high for reckoning. Its
inestimable evidence may be seen in the fact that any high-school
boy can draw the plan of a Roman house, while ripest scholars
hesitate on the very threshold of a Greek dwelling. This is
because no Hellenic Pompeii has yet been discovered, but thanks to
the silent city close to the beautiful Bay of Naples, the Latin
house is known from ostium to porticus, from the front door to the
back garden wall.


"The streets of Pompeii must have had a charm unapproached by those
of any city now in existence. The stores, indeed, were wretched
little dens. Two or three of them commonly occupied the front of a
house on either side of the entrance, the ostium; but when the door
lay open, as was usually the case, a passerby could look into the
atrium, prettily decorated and hung with rich stuffs. The sunshine
entered through an aperture in the roof, and shone on the waters of
the impluvium, the mosaic floor, the altar of the household gods
and the flowers around the fountain.

"As the life of the Pompeiians was all outdoors, their pretty homes
stood open always. There was indeed a curtain betwixt the atrium
and the peristyle, but it was drawn only when the master gave a
banquet. Thus a wayfarer in the street could see, beyond the hall
described and its busy servants, the white columns of the
peristyle, with creepers trained about them, flowers all around,
and jets of water playing through pipes which are still in place.
In many cases the garden itself could be observed between the
pillars of the further gallery, and rich paintings on the wall
beyond that.

"But how far removed those little palaces of Pompeii were from our
notion of well-being is scarcely to be understood by one who has
not seen them. It is a question strange in all points of view
where the family slept in the houses, nearly all of which had no
second story. In the most graceful villas the three to five
sleeping chambers round the atrium and four round the peristyle
were rather ornamental cupboards than aught else. One did not
differ from another, and if these were devoted to the household the
slaves, male and female, must have slept on the floor outside. The
master, his family and his guest used these small, dark rooms,
which were apparently without such common luxuries as we expect in
the humblest home. All their furniture could hardly have been more
than a bed and a footstool; but it should be remembered that the
public bath was a daily amusement. The kitchen of each villa
certainly was not furnished with such ingenuity, expense or thought
as the stories of Roman gormandising would have led us to expect.
In the house of the Aedile--so called from the fact that 'Pansam
Aed.' is inscribed in red characters by the doorway--the cook seems
to have been employed in frying eggs at the moment when increasing
danger put him to flight. His range, four partitions of brick, was
very small; a knife, a strainer, a pan lay by the fire just as they
fell from the slave's hand."


This description strongly presents to us the principal value of the
discovery of Pompeii. Interesting as are the numerous works of art
found in its habitations, and important as is their bearing upon
some branches of the art of the ancient world, this cannot compare
in interest with the flood of light which is here thrown on ancient
life in all its details, enabling us to picture to ourselves the
manners and habits of life of a cultivated and flourishing
population at the beginning of the Christian era, to an extent
which no amount of study of ancient history could yield.

Looking upon the work of the volcano as essentially destructive, as
we naturally do, we have here a valuable example of its power as a
preservative agent; and it is certainly singular that it is to a
volcano we owe much of what we know concerning the cities,
dwellings and domestic life of the people of the Roman Empire.

It would be very fortunate for students of antiquity if similar
disasters had happened to cities in other ancient civilized lands,
however unfortunate it might have been to their inhabitants. But
doubtless we are better off without knowledge gained from ruins
thus produced.


Eruptions of Vesuvius, Etna and Stromboli.

Mount Vesuvius is of especial interest as being the only active
volcano on the continent of Europe--all others of that region being
on the islands of the Mediterranean--and for the famous ancient
eruption described in the last chapter. Before this it had borne
the reputation of being extinct, but since then it has frequently
shown that its fires have not burned out, and has on several
occasions given a vigorous display of its powers.

During the fifteen hundred years succeeding the destructive event
described eruptions were of occasional occurrence, though of no
great magnitude. But throughout the long intervals when Vesuvius
was at rest it was noted that Etna and Ischia were more or less


In 1538 a startling evidence was given that there was no decline of
energy in the volcanic system of Southern Italy. This was the
sudden birth of the mountain still known as Monte Nuovo, or New
Mountain, which was thrown up in the Campania near Avernus, on the
spot formerly occupied by the Lucrine Lake.

For about two years prior to this event the district had been
disturbed by earthquakes, which on September 27 and 28, 1538,
became almost continuous. The low shore was slightly elevated, so
that the sea retreated, leaving bare a strip about two hundred feet
in width. The surface cracked, steam escaped, and at last, early
on the morning of the 29th, a greater rent was made, from which
were vomited furiously "smoke, fire, stones and mud composed of
ashes, making at the time of its opening a noise like the loudest

The ejected material in less than twelve hours built the hill which
has lasted substantially in the same form to our day. It is a
noteworthy fact that since the formation of Monte Nuovo there has
been no volcanic disturbance in any part of the Neapolitan district
except in Vesuvius, which for five centuries previous had remained
largely at rest.


The first recognised appearance of lava in the eruptions of
Vesuvius was in the violent eruption of 1036. This was succeeded
at intervals by five other outbreaks, none of them of great energy.
After 1500 the crater became completely quiet, the whole mountain
in time being grown over with luxuriant vegetation, while by the
next century the interior of the crater became green with
shrubbery, indicating that no injurious gases were escaping.

This was sleep, not death. In 1631 the awakening came in an
eruption of terrible violence. Almost in a moment the green mantle
of woodland and shrubbery was torn away and death and destruction
left where peace and safety had seemed assured.

Seven streams of lava poured from the crater and swept rapidly down
the mountain side, leaving ruin along their paths. Resina,
Granasello and Torre del Greco, three villages that had grown up
during the period of quiescence, were more or less overwhelmed by
the molten lava. Great torrents of hot water also poured out,
adding to the work of desolation. It was estimated that eighteen
thousand of the inhabitants were killed.

What made the horror all the greater was a frightful error of
judgment, similar to that of the Governor of Martinique at St.
Pierre. The Governor of Torre del Greco had refused to be warned
in time, and prevented the people from making their escape until it
was too late. Not until the lava had actually reached the walls
was the order for departure given. Before the order could be acted
upon the molten streams burst through the walls into the crowded
streets, and overwhelmed the vast majority of the inhabitants.

In this violent paroxysm the whole top of the mountain is said to
have been swept away, the new crater which took the place of the
old one being greatly lowered. From that date Vesuvius has never
been at rest for any long interval, and eruptions of some degree of
violence have been rarely more than a few years apart. Of its
various later manifestations of energy we select for description
that of 1767, of which an interesting account by a careful observer
is extant.


From the 10th of December, 1766, to March, 1767, Vesuvius was
quiet; then it began to throw up stones from time to time. In
April the throws were more frequent, and at night the red glare
grew stronger on the cloudy columns which hung over the crater.
These repeated throws of cinders, ashes and pumice-stones so much
increased the small cone of eruption which had been left in the
centre of the flat crateral space that its top became visible at a

On the 7th of August there issued a small stream of lava from a
breach in the side of a small cone; the lava gradually filled the
space between the cone and the crateral edge; on the 12th of
September it overflowed the crater, and ran down the mountain.
Stones were ejected which took ten seconds in their fall, from
which it may be computed that the height which the stones reached
was 1,600 feet. Padre Torre, a great observer of Vesuvius, says
they went up above a thousand feet. The lava ceased on the 18th of
October, but at 8 A. M. on the 19th it rushed out at a different
place, after volleys of stones had been thrown to an immense
height, and the huge traditional pine-tree of smoke reappeared. On
this occasion that vast phantom extended its menacing shadow over
Capri, at a distance of twenty-eight miles from Vesuvius.

The lava at first came out of a mouth about one hundred yards below
the crater, on the side toward Monte Somma. While occupied in
viewing this current, the observer heard a violent noise within the
mountain; saw it split open at the distance of a quarter of a mile,
and saw from the new mouth a mountain of liquid fire shoot up many
feet, and then, like a torrent, roll on toward him. The earth
shook; stones fell thick around him; dense clouds of ashes darkened
the air; loud thunders came from the mountain top, and he took to
precipitate flight. The Padre's account is too lively and
instructive for his own words to be omitted.


"I was making my observations upon the lava, which had already,
from the spot where it first broke out, reached the valley, when,
on a sudden, about noon, I heard a violent noise within the
mountain, and at a spot about a quarter of a mile off the place
where I stood the mountain split; and with much noise, from this
new mouth, a fountain of liquid fire shot up many feet high, and
then like a torrent rolled on directly towards us. The earth shook
at the same time that a volley of stones fell thick upon us; in an
instant clouds of black smoke and ashes caused almost a total
darkness; the explosions from the top of the mountain were much
louder than any thunder I ever heard, and the smell of the sulphur
was very offensive. My guide, alarmed, took to his heels; and I
must confess that I was not at my ease. I followed close, and we
ran near three miles without stopping; as the earth continued to
shake under our feet, I was apprehensive of the opening of a fresh
mouth which might have cut off our retreat.

"I also feared that the violent explosions would detach some of the
rocks off the mountain of Somma, under which we were obliged to
pass; besides, the pumice-stones, falling upon us like hail, were
of such a size as to cause a disagreeable sensation in the part
upon which they fell. After having taken breath, as the earth
trembled greatly I thought it most prudent to leave the mountain
and return to my villa, where I found my family in great alarm at
the continual and violent explosions of the volcano, which shook
our house to its very foundation, the doors and windows swinging
upon their hinges.

"About two of the clock in the afternoon (19th) another lava stream
forced its way out of the same place from whence came the lava of
last year, so that the conflagration was soon as great on this side
of the mountain as on the other which I had just left. I observed
on my way to Naples, which was in less than two hours after I had
left the mountain, that the lava had actually covered three miles
of the very road through which we had retreated. This river of
lava in the Atrio del Cavallo was sixty or seventy feet deep, and
in some places nearly two miles broad. Besides the explosions,
which were frequent, there was a continued subterranean and violent
rumbling noise, which lasted five hours in the night,--supposed to
arise from contact of the lava with rain-water lodged in cavities
within. The whole neighborhood was shaken violently; Portici and
Naples were in the extremity of alarm; the churches were filled;
the streets were thronged with processions of saints, and various
ceremonies were performed to quell the fury of the mountain.

"In the night of the 20th, the occasion being critical, the
prisoners in the public jail attempted to escape, and the mob set
fire to the gates of the residence of the Cardinal Archbishop
because he refused to bring out the relics of St. Januarius. The
21st was a quieter day, but the whole violence of the eruption
returned on the 22d, at 10 A. M., with the same thundering noise,
but more violent and alarming. Ashes fell in abundance in the
streets of Naples, covering the housetops and balconies an inch
deep. Ships at sea, twenty leagues from Naples, were covered with

"In the midst of these horrors, the mob, growing tumultuous and
impatient, obliged the Cardinal to bring out the head of St.
Januarius, at the extremity of Naples, toward Vesuvius; and it is
well attested here that the eruption ceased the moment the saint
came in sight of the mountain. It is true the noise ceased about
that time after having lasted five hours, as it had done the
preceding days.

"On the 23d the lava still ran, but on the 24th it ceased; but
smoke continued. On the 25th there rose a vast column of black
smoke, giving out much forked lightning with thunder, in a sky
quite clear except for the smoke of the volcano. On the 26th smoke
continued, but on the 27th the eruption came to an end."

This eruption was also described by Sir William Hamilton, who
continued to keep a close watch on the movements of the volcano for
many years. The next outbreak of especial violence took place in
1779, when what seemed to the eye a column of fire ascended two
miles high, while cinder fragments fell far and wide, destroying
the hopes of harvest throughout a wide district. They fell in
abundance thirty miles distant, and the dust of the explosion was
carried a hundred miles away.

In 1793 the crater became active again, and in 1794 after a period
of short tranquillity or comparative inaction, the mountain again
became agitated, and one of the most formidable eruptions known in
the history of Vesuvius began. It was in some respects unlike many
others, being somewhat peculiar as to the place of its outburst,
the temperature of the lava, and the course of the current.
Breislak, an Italian geologist, observed the characteristic
phenomena with the eye of science, and his account supplies many
interesting facts.


Breislak remarked certain changes in the character of the earth's
motions during this six hours' eruption, which led him to some
particular conjecture of the cause. At the beginning the trembling
was continual, and accompanied by a hollow noise, similar to that
occasioned by a river falling into a subterranean cavern. The
lava, at the time of its being disgorged, from the impetuous and
uninterrupted manner in which it was ejected, causing it to strike
violently against the walls of the vent, occasioned a continual
oscillation of the mountain. Toward the middle of the night this
vibratory motion ceased, and was succeeded by distant shocks. The
fluid mass, diminished in quantity, now pressed less violently
against the walls of the aperture, and no longer issued in a
continual and gushing stream, but only at intervals, when the
interior fermentation elevated the boiling matter above the mouth.
About 4 A. M. the shocks began to be less numerous, and the
intervals between them rendered their force and duration more

During this tremendous eruption at the base of the Vesuvian cone,
and the fearful earthquakes which accompanied it, the summit was
tranquil. The sky was serene, the stars were brilliant, and only
over Vesuvius hung a thick, dark smoke-cloud, lighted up into an
auroral arch by the glare of a stream of fire more than two miles
long, and more than a quarter of a mile broad. The sea was calm,
and reflected the red glare; while from the source of the lava came
continual jets of uprushing incandescent stones. Nearer to view,
Torre del Greco in flames, and clouds of black smoke, with falling
houses, presented a dark and tragical foreground, heightened by the
subterranean thunder of the mountain, and the groans and
lamentations of fifteen thousand ruined men, women and children.

The heavy clouds of ashes which were thrown out on this occasion
gathered in the early morning into a mighty shadow over Naples and
the neighborhood; the sun rose pale and obscure, and a long, dim
twilight reigned afterward.

Such were the phenomena on the western side of Vesuvius. They were
matched by others on the eastern aspect, not visible at Naples,
except by reflection of their light in the atmosphere. The lava on
this side flowed eastward, along a route often traversed by lava,
by the broken crest of the Cognolo and the valley of Sorienta. The
extreme length to which this current reached was not less than an
Italian mile. The cubic content was estimated to be half that
already assigned to the western currents. Taken together they
amounted to 20,744,445 cubic metres, or 2,804,440 cubic fathoms;
the constitution of the lava being the same in each, both springing
from one deep-seated reservoir of fluid rock.

The eruption of lava ceased on the 16th, and then followed heavy
discharges of ashes, violent shocks of earthquakes, thunder and
lightning in the columns of vapors and ashes, and finally heavy
rains, lasting till the 3d of July. The barometer during all the
eruption was steady.

Breislak made an approximate calculation of the quantity of ashes
which fell on Vesuvius during this great eruption, and states the
result as equal to what would cover a circular area 6 kilometres
(about 3 1/2 English miles) in radius, and 39 centimetres (about 15
inches) in depth.


Among the notable things which attended this eruption, it is
recorded that in Torre del Greco metallic and other substances
exposed to the current were variously affected. Silver was melted,
glass became porcelain, iron swelled to four times its volume and
lost its texture. Brass was decomposed, and its constituent copper
crystallized in cubic and octahedral forms aggregated in beautiful
branches. Zinc was sometimes turned to blende. During the
eruption, the lip of the crater toward Bosco Tre Case on the south
east, fell in, or was thrown off, and the height of that part was
reduced 426 feet.

On the 17th, the sea was found in a boiling state 100 yards off the
new promontory made by the lava of Torre del Greco, and no boat
could remain near it on account of the melting of the pitch in her
bottom. For nearly a month after the eruption vast quantities of
fine white ashes, mixed with volumes of steam, were thrown out from
the crater; the clouds thus generated were condensed into heavy
rain, and large tracts of the Vesuvian slopes were deluged with
volcanic mud. It filled ravines, such as Fosso Grande, and
concreted and hardened there into pumiceous tufa--a very
instructive phenomenon.

Immense injury was done to the rich territory of Somma, Ottajano
and Bosco by heavy rains, which swept along cinders, broke up the
road and bridges, and overturned trees and houses for the space of
fifteen days.

There were few years during the nineteenth century in which
Vesuvius did not show symptoms of its internal fires, and at
intervals it manifested much activity, though not equaling the
terrible eruptions of its past history. The severest eruptions in
that century were those of 1871 and 1876. In the first a sudden
emission of lava killed twenty spectators at the mouth of the
crater, and only spent its fury after San Sebastian and Massa had
been well nigh annihilated. Fragments of rock were thrown up to
the height of 4,000 feet, and the explosions were so violent that
the whole countryside fled panic stricken to Naples. The activity
of the volcano, accompanied by distinct shocks of earthquake,
lasted for a week.

In 1876, for three weeks together, lava streamed down the side of
Vesuvius, sweeping away the village of Cercolo and running nearly
to the sea at Ponte Maddaloni. There were then formed ten small
craters within the greater one. But these were united by a later
eruption in 1888, and pressure from beneath formed a vast cone
where they had been.


It may seem strange that so dangerous a neighborhood should be
inhabited. But so it is. Though Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae
lie buried beneath the mud and ashes belched out of the mouth of
Vesuvius, the villages of Portici and Revina, Torre del Greco and
Torre del Annunziata have taken their place, and a large
population, cheerful and prosperous, flourishes around the
disturbed mountain and over the district of which it is the
somewhat untrustworthy safety-valve.

It is thus that man, in his eagerness to cultivate all available
parts of the earth, dares the most frightful perils and ventures
into the most threatening situations, seeking to snatch the means
of life from the very jaws of death. The danger is soon forgotten,
the need of cultivation of the ground is ever pressing, and no
threats of peril seem capable of restraining the activity of man
for many years. Though the proposition of abandoning the Island of
Martinique has been seriously considered, the chances are that,
before many years have passed, a cheerful and busy population will
be at work again on the flanks of Mont Pelee.


On the eastern coast of the Island of Sicily, and not far from the
sea, rises in solitary grandeur Mount Etna, the largest and highest
of European volcanoes. Its height above the level of the sea is a
little over 10,870 feet, considerably above the limit of perpetual
snow. It accordingly presents the striking phenomenon of volcanic
vapors ascending from a snow-clad summit. The base of the mountain
is eighty-seven miles in circumference, and nearly circular; but
there is a wide additional extent all around overspread by its
lava. The lower portions of the mountain are exceedingly fertile,
and richly adorned with corn-fields, vineyards, olive-groves and
orchards. Above this region are extensive forests, chiefly of oak,
chestnut, and pine, with here and there clumps of cork-trees and
beech. In this forest region are grassy glades, which afford rich
pasture to numerous flocks. Above the forest lies a volcanic
desert, covered with black lava and slag. Out of this region,
which is comparatively flat rises the principal cone, about 1,100
feet in height, having on its summit the crater, whence sulphurous
vapors are continually evolved.

The great height of Etna has exerted a remarkable influence on its
general conformation: for the volcanic forces have rarely been of
sufficient energy to throw the lava quite up to the crater at the
summit. The consequence has been, that numerous subsidiary craters
and cones have been formed all around the flanks of the mountain,
so that it has become rather a cluster of volcanoes than a single
volcanic cone.

The eruptions of this mountain have been numerous, records of them
extending back to several centuries before the Christian era, while
unrecorded ones doubtless took place much further back. After the
beginning of the Christian era, and more especially after the
breaking forth of Vesuvius in 79 A. D., Etna enjoyed longer
intervals of repose. Its eruptions since that time have
nevertheless been numerous--more especially during the intervals
when Vesuvius was inactive--there being a sort of alternation
between the periods of great activity of the two mountains;
although there are not a few instances of their having been both in
action at the same time.


There is a great similarity in the character of the eruptions of
Etna. Earthquakes presage the outburst, loud explosions follow,
rifts and bocche del fuoco open in the sides of the mountain;
smoke, sand, ashes and scoriae are discharged, the action localizes
itself in one or more craters, cinders are thrown up and accumulate
around the crater and cone, ultimately lava rises and frequently
breaks down one side of the cone where the resistance is least;
then the eruption is at an end.

Smyth says: "The symptoms which precede an eruption are generally
irregular clouds of smoke, ferilli or volcanic lightnings, hollow
intonations and local earthquakes that often alarm the surrounding
country as far as Messina, and have given the whole province the
name of Val Demone, as being the abode of infernal spirits. These
agitations increase until the vast cauldron becomes surcharged with
the fused minerals, when, if the convulsion is not sufficiently
powerful to force them from the great crater (which, from its great
altitude and the weight of the candent matter, requires an uncommon
effort), they explode through that part of the side which offers
the least resistance with a grand and terrific effect, throwing
red-hot stones and flakes of fire to an incredible height, and
spreading ignited cinders and ashes in every direction."

After the eruption of ashes, lava frequently follows, sometimes
rising to the top of the cone of cinders, at others disrupting it
on the least resisting side. When the lava has reached the base of
the cone it begins to flow down the mountain, and, being then in a
very fluid state, it moves with great velocity. As it cools, the
sides and surface begin to harden, its velocity decreases, and
after several days it moves only a few yards an hour. The internal
portions, however, part slowly with their heat, and months after
the eruption clouds of steam arise from the black and externally
cold lava-beds after rain; which, having penetrated through the
cracks, has found its way to the heated mass within.


The most memorable of the eruptions of Etna was that which elevated
the double cone of Monte Rossi and destroyed a large part of the
city of Catania. It happened in the year 1669, and was preceded by
an earthquake, which overthrew the town of Nicolosi, situated ten
miles inland from Catania, and about twenty miles from the top of
Etna. The eruption began with the sudden opening of an enormous
fissure, extending from a little way above Nicolosi to within about
a mile of the top of the principal cone, its length being twelve
miles, its average breadth six feet, its depth unknown.

We have a more detailed account of this eruption than of any
preceding one, as it was observed by men of science from various
countries. The account from which we select is that of Alfonso
Borelli, Professor of Mathematics in Catania.

From the fissure above mentioned, he says, there came a bright
light. Six mouths opened in a line with it and emitted vast
columns of smoke, accompanied by loud bellowings which could be
heard forty miles off. Towards the close of the day a crater
opened about a mile below the others, which ejected red-hot stones
to a considerable distance, and afterward sand and ashes which
covered the country for a distance of sixty miles. The new crater
soon vomited forth a torrent of lava which presented a front of two
miles; it encircled Monpilieri, and afterward flowed towards
Belpasso, a town of 8,000 inhabitants, which was speedily
destroyed. Seven mouths of fire opened around the new crater, and
in three days united with it, forming one large crater 800 feet in
diameter. All this time the torrent of lava continued to descend,
it destroying the town of Mascalucia on the 23d of March. On the
same day the crater cast up great quantities of sand, ashes and
scoriae, and formed above itself the great double-coned hill now
called Monte Rossi, from the red color of the ashes of which it is
mainly composed.


On the 25th very violent earthquakes occurred, and the cone above
the great central crater was shaken down into the crater for the
fifth time since the first century A. D. The original current of
lava divided into three streams, one of which destroyed San Pietro,
the second Camporotondo, and the third the lands about Mascalucia
and afterward the village of Misterbianco. Fourteen villages were
altogether destroyed, and the lava flowed toward Catania. At
Albanelli, two miles from the city, it undermined a hill covered
with cornfields and carried it forward a considerable distance. A
vineyard was also seen to be floating on its fiery surface. When
the lava reached the walls of Catania, it accumulated without
progression until it rose to the top of the wall, 60 feet in
height, and it then fell over in a fiery cascade and overwhelmed a
part of the city. Another portion of the same stream threw down
120 feet of the wall and flowed into the city.

On the 23d of April the lava reached the sea, which it entered as a
stream 600 yards broad and 40 feet deep. The stream had moved at
the rate of thirteen miles in twenty days, but as it cooled it
moved less quickly, and during the last twenty-three days of its
course, it advanced only two miles. On reaching the sea the water,
of course, began to boil violently, and clouds of steam arose,
carrying with them particles of scoriae. Towards the end of April
the stream on the west side of Catania, which had appeared to be
consolidated, again burst forth, and flowed into the garden of the
Benedictine Monastery of San Niccola, and then branched off into
the city. Attempts were made to build walls to arrest its

An attempt of another kind was made by a gentleman of Catania,
named Pappalardo, who took fifty men with him, having previously
provided them with skins for protection from the intense heat and
with crowbars to effect an opening in the lava. They pierced the
solid outer crust of solidified lava, and a rivulet of the molten
interior immediately gushed out and flowed in the direction of
Paterno, whereupon 500 men of that town, alarmed for its safety,
took up arms and caused Pappalardo and his men to desist. The lava
did not altogether stop for four months, and two years after it had
ceased to flow it was found to be red hot beneath the surface.
Even eight years after the eruption quantities of steam escaped
from the lava after a shower of rain.


The stones which were ejected from the crater during this eruption
were often of considerable magnitude, and Borelli calculated that
the diameter of one which he saw was 50 feet; it was thrown to a
distance of a mile, and as it fell it penetrated the earth to a
depth of 23 feet. The volume of lava emitted during the eruption
amounted to many millions of cubic feet. Ferara considers that the
length of the stream was at least fifteen miles, while its average
width was between two and three miles, so that it covered at least
forty square miles of surface.

Among the towns overflowed by this great eruption was Mompilieri.
Thirty-five years afterward, in 1704, an excavation was made on the
site of the principal church of this place, and at the depth of
thirty-five feet the workmen came upon the gate, which was adorned
with three statues. From under an arch which had been formed by
the lava, one of these statues, with a bell and some coins, were
extracted in good preservation. This fact is remarkable; for in a
subsequent eruption, which happened in 1766, a hill about fifty
feet in height, being surrounded on either side by two streams of
lava, was in a quarter of an hour swept along by the current. The
latter event may be explained by supposing that the hill in
question was cavernous in its structure, and that the lava,
penetrating into the cavities, forced asunder their walls, and so
detached the superincumbent mass from its supports.

It is not by its streams of fire alone that Etna ravages the
valleys and plains at its base. It sometimes also deluges them
with great floods of water. On the 2d of March, 1755, two streams
of lava, issuing from the highest crater, were at once precipitated
on an enormous mass of very deep snow, which then clothed the
summit. These fiery currents ran through the snow to a distance of
three miles, melting it as they flowed. The consequence was, that
a tremendous torrent of water rushed down the sides of the
mountain, carrying with it vast quantities of sand, volcanic
cinders and blocks of lava, with which it overspread the flanks of
the mountain and the plains beneath, which it devastated in its

The volume of water was estimated at 16,000,000 cubic feet, it
forming a channel two miles broad and in some places thirty-four
feet deep, and flowing at the rate of two-thirds of a mile in a
minute. All the winter's snow on the mountain could not have
yielded such a flood, and Lyell considered that it melted older
layers of ice which had been preserved under a covering of volcanic

ETNA IN 1819

Another great eruption took place in 1819, which presented some
peculiarities. Near the point whence the highest stream of lava
issued in 1811, there were opened three large mouths, which, with
loud explosions, threw up hot cinders and sand, illuminated by a
strong glare from beneath. Shortly afterwards there was opened, a
little lower down, another mouth, from which a similar eruption
took place; and still farther down there soon appeared a fifth,
whence there flowed a torrent of lava which rapidly spread itself
over the Val del Bove. During the first forty-eight hours it
flowed nearly four miles, when it received a great accession. The
three original mouths became united into one large crater, from
which, as well as from the other two mouths below, there poured
forth a vastly augmented torrent of lava, which rushed with great
impetuosity down the same valley.

During its progress over this gentle slope, it acquired the usual
crust of hardened slag. It directed its course towards that point
at which Val del Bove opens into the narrow ravine beneath it--
there being between the two a deep and almost perpendicular
precipice. Arrived at this point, the lava-torrent leaped over the
precipice in a vast cascade, and with a thundering noise, arising
chiefly from the crashing and breaking up of the solid crust, which
was in a great measure pounded to atoms by the fall; it throwing up
such vast clouds of dust as to awaken an alarm that a fresh
eruption had begun at this place, which is within the wooded

A very violent eruption, which lasted more than nine months,
commenced on the 21st of August, 1852. It was first witnessed by a
party of English tourists, who were ascending the mountain from
Nicolosi in order to see the sunrise from the summit. As they
approached the Casa Inglesi the crater commenced to give forth
ashes and flames of fire. In a narrow defile they were met by a
violent hurricane, which overthrew both the mules and their riders,
and urged them toward the precipices of the Val del Bove. They
sheltered themselves beneath some masses of lava, when suddenly an
earthquake shook the mountain, and their mules in terror fled away.
As day approached they returned on foot to Nicolosi, fortunately
without having sustained injury. In the course of the night many
bocche del fuoco (small lava vents) opened in that part of the Val
del Bove called the Bazo di Trifoglietto, a great fissure opened at
the base of the Giannicola Grande, and a crater was thrown up from
which for seventeen days showers of sand and scoriae were ejected.


During the next day a quantity of lava flowed down the Val del
Bove, branching off so that one stream advanced to the foot of
Monte Finocchio, and the other to Monte Calanna. Afterwards it
flowed towards Zaffarana, and devastated a large tract of wooded
region. Four days later a second crater was formed near the first,
from which lava was emitted, together with sand and scoriae, which
caused cones to arise around the craters. The lava moved but
slowly, and towards the end of August it came to a stand, only a
quarter of a mile from Zaffarana.

On the second of September, Gemellaro ascended Monte Finocchio in
the Val del Bove in order to witness the outburst. He states that
the hill was violently agitated, like a ship at sea. The surface
of the Val del Bove appeared like a molten lake; scoriae were
thrown up from the craters to a great height, and loud explosions
were heard at frequent intervals. The eruption continued to
increase in violence. On October 6 two new mouths opened in the
Val del Bove, emitting lava which flowed towards the valley of
Calanna, and fell over the Salto della Giumenta, a precipice nearly
200 feet deep. The noise which it produced was like that of a
clash of metallic masses. The eruption continued with abated
violence during the early months of 1853, and it did not finally
cease till May 27. The entire mass of lava ejected is estimated to
have been equal to an area six miles long by two miles broad, with
an average depth of about twelve feet.

This eruption was one of the grandest of all the known eruptions of
Etna. During its outflow more than 2,000,000,000 cubic feet of
molten lava was spread out over a space of three square miles.
There have been several eruptions since its date, but none of
marked prominence, though the mountain is rarely quiescent for any
lengthened period.


South-eastward of Ischia, between Calabria and Sicily, the Lipari
Islands arrest attention for the volcanic phenomena they present.
On one of these is Mount Vulcano, or Volcano, from which all this
class of mountains is named. At present the best known of the
Lipari volcanoes is Stromboli, which consists of a single mountain,
having a very obtuse conical form. It has on one side of it
several small craters, of which only one is at present in a state
of activity.

The total height of the mountain is about 2000 feet, and the
principal crater is situated at about two-thirds of the height.
Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It is
mentioned as being in a state of activity by several writers before
the Christian era, and the commencement of its operations extends
into the past beyond the limits of tradition. Since history began
its action has never wholly ceased, although it may have varied in
intensity from time to time.

It has been observed that the violence of its eruptive force has a
certain dependence on the weather--being always most intense when
the barometer is lowest. From the position of the crater, it is
possible to ascend the mountain and look down upon it from above.
Even when viewed in this manner, it presents a very striking
appearance. While there is an uninterrupted continuance of small
explosions, there is a frequent succession of more violent
eruptions, at intervals varying in length from seven to fifteen


Several eminent observers have approached quite close to the
crater, and examined it narrowly. One of these was M. Hoffman, who
visited it in 1828.

This eminent geologist, while having his legs held by his
companions, stretched his head over the precipice, and, looking
right down into the mouth of one of the vents of the crater
immediately under him, watched the play of liquid lava within it.
Its surface resembled molten silver, and was constantly rising and
falling at regular intervals. A bubble of white vapor rose and
escaped, with a decrepitating noise, at each ascent of the lava--
tossing up red-hot fragments of scoria, which continued dancing up
and down with a sort of rhythmic play upon the surface. At
intervals of fifteen minutes or so, there was a pause in these
movements. Then followed a loud report, while the ground trembled,
and there rose to the surface of the lava an immense bubble of
vapor. This, bursting with a crackling noise, threw out to the
height of about 1200 feet large quantities of red-hot stones and
scoriae, which, describing parabolic curves, fell in a fiery,
shower all around. After another brief repose, the more moderate
action was resumed as before.

Lipari, a neighboring volcano, was formerly more active than
Stromboli, though for centuries past it has been in a state of
complete quiescence. The Island of Volcano lies south of Lipari.
Its crater was active before the Christian era, and still emits
sulphurous and other vapors. At present its main office is to
serve as a sulphur mine. Thus the peak which gives title to all
fire-breathing mountains has become a servant to man. So are the
mighty fallen!


Skaptar Jokull and Hecla, the Great Icelandic Volcanoes.

The far-northern island of Iceland, on the verge of the frozen
Arctic realm, is one of the most volcanic countries in the world,
whether we regard the number of volcanoes concentrated in so small
a space, or the extraordinary violence of their eruptions. Of
volcanic mountains there are no less than twenty which have been
active during historical times. Skaptar in the north, and Hecla in
the south, being much the best known. In all, twenty-three
eruptions are on record.

Iceland's volcanoes rival Mount Aetna in height and magnitude,
their action has been more continuous and intense, and the range of
volcanic products is far greater than in Sicily. The latter
island, indeed, is not one-tenth of volcanic origin, while the
whole of Iceland is due to the work of subterranean forces. It is
entirely made up of volcanic rocks, and has seemingly been built up
during the ages from the depths of the seas. It is reported,
indeed, that a new island, the work of volcanic forces, appeared
opposite Mount Hecla in 1563; but this statement is open to doubt.


The eruptions of the volcanoes in Iceland have been amongst the
most terrible of those carefully recorded. The cold climate of the
island and the height of the mountains produce vast quantities of
snow and ice, which cover the volcanoes and fill up the cracks and
valleys in their sides. When, therefore, an eruption commences,
the intense heat of the boiling lava, and of the steam which rushes
forth from the crater, makes the whole mountain hot, and vast
masses of ice, great fields of snow, and deluges of water roll down
the hill-sides into the plains. The lava pours from the top and
from cracks in the side of the mountain, or is ejected hundreds of
feet, to fall amongst the ice and snow; and the great masses of
red-hot stone cast forth, accompanied by cinders and fine ashes,
splash into the roaring torrent, which tears up rocks in its course
and devastates the surrounding country for miles.


An eruption of Kotlugja, in 1860, was accompanied by dreadful
floods. It began with a number of earthquakes, which shook the
surrounding country. Then a dark columnar cloud of vapor was seen
to rise by day from the mountain, and by night balls of fire
(volcanic bombs) and red-hot cinders to the height of 24,000 feet
(nearly five miles), which were seen at a distance of 180 miles.
Deluges of water rushed from the heights, bearing along whole
fields of ice and rocky fragments of every size, some vomited from
the volcano, but in great part torn from the flanks of the mountain
itself and carried to the sea, there to add considerably to the
coastline after devastating the intervening country. The fountain
of volcanic bombs consisted of masses of lava, containing gases
which exploded and produced a loud sound, which was said to have
been heard at a distance of 100 miles. The size of the bombs, and
the height to which they must have reached, were very great. But
the most remarkable of the historical eruptions in Iceland were
those of Skaptar Jokull in 1783, and of Hecla in 1845. Of these an
extended description is worthy of being given.

Of these two memorable eruptions, that of Skaptar Jokull began on
the 11th of June, 1783. It was preceded by a long series of
earthquakes, which had become exceedingly violent immediately
before the eruption. On the 8th, volcanic vapors were emitted from
the summit of the mountain, and on the 11th immense torrents of
lava began to be poured forth from numerous mouths. These torrents
united to form a large stream, which, flowing down into the river
Skapta, not only dried it up, but completely filled the vast gorge
through which the river had held its course. This gorge, 200 feet
in breadth, and from 400 to 600 feet in depth, the lava filled so
entirely as to overflow to a considerable extent the fields on
either side. On issuing from this ravine, the lava flowed into a
deep lake which lay in the course of the river. Here it was
arrested for a while; but it ultimately filled the bed of the lake
altogether--either drying up its waters, or chasing them before it
into the lower part of the river's course. Still forced onward by
the accumulation of molten lava from behind, the stream resumed its
advance, till it reached some ancient volcanic rocks which were
full of caverns. Into these it entered, and where it could not eat
its way by melting the old rock, it forced a passage by shivering
the solid mass and throwing its broken fragments into the air to a
height of 150 feet.


On the 18th of June there opened above the first mouth a second of
large dimensions, whence poured another immense torrent of lava,
which flowed with great rapidity over the solidified surface of the
first stream, and ultimately combined with it to form a more
formidable main current. When this fresh stream reached the fiery
lake, which had filled the lower portion of the valley of the
Skapta, a portion of it was forced up the channel of that river
towards the foot of the hill whence it takes its rise. After
pursuing its course for several days, the main body of this stream
reached the edge of a great waterfall called Stapafoss, which
plunged into a deep abyss. Displacing the water, the lava here
leaped over the precipice, and formed a great cataract of fire.
After this, it filled the channel of the river, though extending
itself in breadth far beyond it, and followed it until it reached
the sea.


The 3rd of August brought fresh accessions to the flood of lava
still pouring from the mountain. There being no room in the
channel, now filled by the former lurid stream, which had pursued a
northwesterly course, the fresh lava was forced to take a new
direction towards the southeast, where it entered the bed of
another river with a barbaric name. Here it pursued a course
similar to that which flowed through the channel of the Skapta,
filling up the deep gorges, and then spreading itself out into
great fiery lakes over the plains.

The eruptions of lava from the mountain continued, with some short
intervals, for two years, and so enormous was the quantity poured
forth during this period that, according to a careful estimate
which has been made, the whole together would form a mass equal to
that of Mont Blanc. Of the two streams, the greater was fifty, the
less forty, miles in length. The Skapta branch attained on the
plains a breadth varying from twelve to fifteen miles--that of the
other was only about half as much. Each of the currents had an
average depth of 100 feet, but in the deep gorges it was no less
than 600 feet. Even as late as 1794 vapors continued to rise from
these great streams, and the water contained in the numerous
fissures formed in their crust was hot.

The devastation directly wrought by the lava currents themselves
was not the whole of the evils they brought upon unfortunate
Iceland and its inhabitants. Partly owing to the sudden melting of
the snows and glaciers of the mountain, partly owing to the
stoppage of the river courses, immense floods of water deluged the
country in the neighborhood, destroying many villages and a large
amount of agricultural and other property. Twenty villages were
overwhelmed by the lava currents, while the ashes thrown out during
the eruption covered the whole island and the surface of the sea
for miles around its shores. On several occasions the ashes were
drifted by the winds over considerable parts of the European
continent, obscuring the sun and giving the sky a gray and gloomy
aspect. In certain respects they reproduced the phenomena of the
explosion of Mount Krakatoa, which, singularly, occurred just a
century later, in 1883. The strange red sunset phenomena of the
latter were reproduced by this Icelandic event of the eighteenth

Out of the 50,000 persons who then inhabited Iceland, 9,336
perished, together with 11,460 head of cattle, 190,480 sheep and
28,000 horses. This dreadful destruction of life was caused partly
by the direct action of the lava currents, partly by the noxious
vapors they emitted, partly by the floods of water, partly by the
destruction of the herbage by the falling ashes, and lastly in
consequence of the desertion of the coasts by the fish, which
formed a large portion of the food of the people.


After this frightful eruption, no serious volcanic disturbance took
place in Iceland until 1845, when Mount Hecla again became
disastrously active. Mount Hecla has been the most frequent in its
eruptions of any of the Icelandic volcanoes. Previous to 1845
there had been twenty-two recorded eruptions of this mountain,
since the discovery of Iceland in the ninth century; while from all
the other volcanoes in the island there had been only twenty during
the same period. Hecla has more than once remained in activity for
six years at a time--a circumstance that has rendered it the best
known of the volcanoes of this region.


After enjoying a long rest of seventy-nine years, this volcano
burst again into violent activity in the beginning of September,
1845. The first inkling of this eruption was conveyed to the
British Islands by a fall of volcanic ashes in the Orkneys, which
occurred on the night of September 2nd during a violent storm.
This palpable hint was soon confirmed by direct intelligence from
Copenhagen. On the 1st of September a severe earthquake, followed
the same night by fearful subterranean noises, alarmed the
inhabitants and gave warning of what was to come. About noon the
next day, with a dreadful crash, there opened in the sides of the
volcano two new mouths, whence two great streams of glowing lava
poured forth. They fortunately flowed down the northern and
northwestern sides of the mountain, where the low grounds are mere
barren heaths, affording a scanty pasture for a few sheep. These
were driven before the fiery stream, but several of them were burnt
before they could escape. The whole mountain was enveloped in
clouds of volcanic ashes and vapors. The rivers near the lava
currents became so hot as to kill the fish, and to be impassable
even on horseback.

About a fortnight later there was a fresh eruption, of greater
violence, which lasted twenty-two hours, and was accompanied by
detonations so loud as to be heard over the whole island. Two new
craters were formed, one on the southern, the other on the eastern
slope of the cone. The lava issuing from these craters flowed to a
distance of more than twenty-two miles. At about two miles from
its source the fiery stream was a mile wide, and from 40 to 50 feet
deep. It destroyed a large extent of fine pasture and many cattle.
Nearly a month later, on the 15th of October, a fresh flood of lava
burst from the southern crater, and soon heaped up a mass at the
foot of the mountain from 40 to 60 feet in height, three great
columns of vapor, dust and ashes rising at the same time from the
three new craters of the volcano. The mountain continued in a
state of greater or less activity during most of the next year; and
even as late as the month of October, 1846, after a brief pause, it
began again with renewed vehemence. The volumes of dust, ashes and
vapor, thrown up from the craters, and brightly illuminated by the
glowing lava beneath, assumed the appearance of flames, and
ascended to an immense height.


Among the stones tossed out of the craters was one large mass of
pumice weighing nearly half a ton, which was carried to a distance
of between four and five miles. The rivers were flooded by the
melting of ice and snow which had accumulated on the mountain. The
greatest mischief wrought by these successive eruptions was the
destruction of the pasturages, which were for the most part covered
with volcanic ashes. Even where left exposed, the herbage acquired
a poisonous taint which proved fatal to the cattle, inducing among
them a peculiar murrain. Fortunately, owing to the nature of the
district through which the lava passed, there was on this occasion
no loss of human life.

The Icelandic volcanoes are remarkable for the electric phenomena
which they produce in the atmosphere. Violent thunder-storms, with
showers of rain and hail, are frequent accompaniments of volcanic
eruptions everywhere; but owing to the coldness and dryness of the
air into which the vapors from the Icelandic volcanoes ascend,
their condensation is so sudden and violent that great quantities
of electricity are developed. Thunder-storms accompanied by the
most vivid lightnings are the result. Humboldt mentions in his
"Cosmos" that, during an eruption of Kotlugja, one of the southern
Icelandic volcanoes, the lightning from the cloud of volcanic vapor
killed eleven horses and two men (Cosmos i. 223). Great displays
of the aurora borealis usually accompany the volcanic eruptions of
this island--doubtless resulting from the quantity of electricity
imparted to the higher atmosphere by the condensation of the
ascending vapors. On the 18th of August, 1783, while the great
eruption of Skaptar Jokull was in progress, an immense fire-ball
passed over England and the European continent as far as Rome.
This ball which was estimated to have had a diameter exceeding half
a mile, is supposed to have been of electrical origin, and due to
the high state of electric tension in the atmosphere over Iceland
at that time.


Volcanoes of the Philippines and Other Pacific Islands.

We cannot do better than open this chapter with an account of the
work of volcanoes in the mountain-girdled East Indian island of
Java. This large and fertile tropical island has a large native
population, and many European settlers are employed in cultivating
spices, coffee and woods. The island is rather more than 600 miles
long, and it is not 150 miles broad in any part; and this narrow
shape is produced by a chain of volcanoes which runs along it.
There is scarcely any other region in the world where volcanoes are
so numerous, even in the East, where the volcano is a very common
product of nature. Some of the volcanoes of Java are constantly in
eruption, while others are inactive.

One of their number, Galung Gung, was previous to 1822 covered from
top to bottom with a dense forest; around it were populous
villages. The mountain was high; there was a slight hollow on its
top--a basin-like valley, carpeted with the softest sward; brooks
rippled down the hillside through the forests, and, joining their
silvery streams, flowed on through beautiful valleys into the
distant sea. In the month of July, 1822, there were signs of an
approaching disturbance; this tranquil peacefulness was at an end;
one of the rivers became muddy, and its waters grew hot.

In October, without any warning, a most terrific eruption occurred.
A loud explosion was heard; the earth shook, and immense columns of
hot water, boiling mud mixed with burning brimstone, ashes and
stones, were hurled upwards from the mountain top like a
waterspout, and with such wonderful force that large quantities
fell at a distance of forty miles. Every valley near the mountain
became filled with burning torrents; the rivers, swollen with hot
water and mud, overflowed their banks, and swept away the escaping
villagers; and the bodies of cattle, wild beasts, and birds were
carried down the flooded stream.


A space of twenty-four miles between the mountain and a river forty
miles distant was covered to such a depth with blue mud, that
people were buried in their houses, and not a trace of the numerous
villages and plantations was visible. The boiling mud and cinders
were cast forth with such violence from the crater, that while many
distant villages were utterly destroyed and buried, others much
nearer the volcano were scarcely injured; and all this was done in
five short hours.

Four days afterwards a second eruption occurred more violent than
the first, and hot water and mud were cast forth with masses of
slag like the rock called basalt some of which fell seven miles
off. A violent earthquake shook the whole district, and the top of
the mountain fell in, and so did one of its sides, leaving a gaping
chasm. Hills appeared where there had been level land before, and
the rivers changed their courses, drowning in one night 2,000
people. At some distance from the mountain a river runs through a
large town, and the first intimation the inhabitants had of all
this horrible destruction was the news that the bodies of men and
the carcases of stags, rhinoceroses, tigers, and other animals,
were rushing along to the sea. No less than 114 villages were
destroyed, and above 4,000 persons were killed by this terrible

Fifty years before this eruption, Mount Papandayang, one of the
highest burning mountains of Java, was constantly throwing out
steam and smoke, but as no harm was done, the natives continued to
live on its sides. Suddenly this enormous mountain fell in, and
left a gap fifteen miles long and six broad. Forty villages were
destroyed, some being carried down and others overwhelmed by mud
and burning lava. No less than 2,957 people perished, with vast
numbers of cattle; moreover, most of the coffee plantations in the
neighboring districts were destroyed.

Even more terrible was the eruption of Mount Salek, another of the
volcanoes of Java. The burning of the mountain was seen 100 miles
away, while the thunders of its convulsions and the tremblings of
the earth reached the same distance. Seven hills, at whose base
ran a river--crowded with dead buffaloes, deer, apes, tigers, and
crocodiles--slipped down and became a level plain. River-courses
were changed, forests were burnt up, and the whole face of the
country was completely altered.

Later volcanic eruptions in Java include that of 1843, when Mount
Guntur flung out sand and ashes estimated at the vast total of
thirty million tons, and those of 1849 and 1872 when Mount Merapi,
a very active volcano, covered a great extent of country with
stones and ashes, and ruined the coffee plantations of the
neighboring districts.

We have said nothing concerning the most terrible explosion of all,
that of the volcanic island of Krakatoa, off the Javan coast. This
event was so phenomenal as to deserve a chapter of its own, for
which we reserve it.

The United States, as one result of its recent acquisition of
island dominions, has added largely to its wealth in volcanic
mountains. The famous Hawaiian craters, far the greatest in the
world, now belong to our national estate, and the Philippine
Islands contain various others, of less importance, yet some of
which have proved very destructive. A description of those of the
Island of Luzon, which are the most active in the archipelago, is
here sub-joined.


Volcanoes have played an important part in the formation of the
Philippine Islands and have left traces of their former activity in
all directions. Most of them, however, have long been dead and
silent, only a few of the once numerous group being now active. Of
these there are three of importance in the southern region of
Luzon--Taal, Bulusan and Mayon or Albay.

The last named of these is the largest and most active of the
existing volcanoes. In form it is of marvellous grace and beauty,
forming a perfect cone, about fifty miles in circuit at base and
rising to a height of 8,900 feet. It is one of the most prominent
landmarks to navigators in the island. From its crater streams
upward a constant smoke, accompanied at times by flame, while from
its depths issue subterranean sounds, often heard at a distance of
many leagues. The whole surrounding country is marked by evidences
of old eruptions.

This mountain, in 1767, sent up a cone of flame of forty feet in
diameter at base, for ten days, and for two months a wide stream of
lava poured from its crater. A month later there gushed forth
great floods of water, which filled the rivers to overflow, doing
widespread damage to the neighboring plantations. But its greatest
and most destructive eruption took place in 1812, the year of the
great eruption of the St. Vincent volcano. On this fatal occasion
several towns were destroyed and no less than 12,000 people lost
their lives. The debris flung forth from the crater were so
abundant that deposits deep enough to bury the tallest trees were
formed near the mountain. In 1867 another disastrous explosion
took place, and still another in 1888. A disaster different in
kind and cause occurred in 1876, when a terrible tropical storm
burst upon the mountain. The floods of rain swept from its sides
the loose volcanic material, and brought destruction to the
neighboring country, more than six thousand houses being ruined by
the rushing flood.


Bulusan, a volcano on the southern extremity of the island,
resembles Vesuvius in shape. For many years it remained dormant,
but in 1852 smoke began to issue from its crater. In some respects
the most interesting of these three volcanoes is that of Taal,
which lies almost due south of Manila and about forty-five miles
distant, on a small island in the middle of a large lake, known as
Bombom or Bongbong. A remarkable feature of this volcanic mountain
is that it is probably the lowest in the world, its height being
only 850 feet above sea level. There are doubtful traditions that
Lake Bombom, a hundred square miles in extent, was formed by a
terrible eruption in 1700, by which a lofty mountain 8000 or 9000
feet high, was destroyed. The vast deposits of porous tufa in the
surrounding country are certainly evidences of former great
eruptions from Mount Taal.

The crater of this volcano is an immense, cup-shaped depression, a
mile or more in diameter and about 800 feet deep. When recently
visited by Professor Worcester, during his travels in these
islands, he found it to contain three boiling lakelets of
strangely-colored water, one being of a dirty brown hue, a second
intensely yellow in tint, and the third of a brilliant emerald
green. The mountain still steams and fumes, as if too actively at
work below to be at rest above. In past times it has shown the
forces at play in its depths by breaking at times into frightful
activity. Of the various explosions on record, the three most
violent were those of 1716, 1749, and 1754. In the last-named year
the earth for miles round quaked with the convulsive throes of the
deeply disturbed mountain, and vast quantities of volcanic dust
were hurled high into the air, sufficient to make it dark at midday
for many leagues around. The roofs of distant Manila were covered
with volcanic dust and ashes. Molten lava also poured from the
crater and flowed into the lake, which boiled with the intense
heat, while great showers of stones and ashes fell into its waters.


Extinct volcanoes are numerous in Luzon, and there are smoking
cones in the north, and also in the Babuyanes Islands still farther
north. Volcanoes also exist in several of the other islands. On
Negros is the active peak of Malaspina, and on Camiguin, an island
about ninety miles to the southeast, a new volcano broke out in
1876. The large island of Mindanao has three volcanoes, of which
Cottabato was in eruption in 1856 and is still active at intervals.
Apo, the largest of the three, estimated to be 10,312 feet high,
has three summits, within which lies the great crater, now extinct
and filled with water.

In evidence of former volcanic activity are the abundant deposits
of sulphur on the island of Leyte, the hot springs in various
localities, and the earthquakes which occasionally bring death and
destruction. Of the many of these on record, the most destructive
was in 1863, when 400 people were killed and 2,000 injured, while
many buildings were wrecked. Another in 1880 wrought great
destruction in Manila and elsewhere, though without loss of life.
An earthquake in Mindanao in 1675 opened a passage to the sea, and
a vast plain emerged. These convulsions of the earth affect the
form and elevation of buildings, which are rarely more than two
stories high and lightly built, while translucent sea-shells
replace glass in their windows.

While Java is the most prolific in volcanoes of the islands of the
Malayan Archipelago, other islands of the group possess active
cones, including Sumatra, Bali, Amboyna, Banda and others. In
Sanguir, an island north of Celebes, is a volcanic mountain from
which there was a destructive eruption in 1856. The country was
devastated with lava, stones and volcanic ashes, ruining a wide
district and killing nearly 3,000 of the inhabitants. Mount
Madrian in one of the Spice Islands, was rent in twain by a fierce
eruption in 1646, and since then has remained two distinct
mountains. It became active again in 1862, after two centuries of
repose, and caused great loss of life and property. Sorea, a small
island of the same group, forming but a single volcanic mountain,
had an eruption in 1693, the cone crumbling gradually till a vast
crater was formed, filled with liquid lava and occupying nearly
half the island. This lake of fire increased in size by the same
process till in the end it took possession of the island and forced
all the inhabitants to flee to more hospitable shores.


But of the East Indian Islands Sumbawa, lying east of Java,
contains the most formidable volcano--one indeed scarcely without a
rival in the world. This is named Tomboro. Of its various
eruptions the most furious on record was that of 1815. This, as we
are told by Sir Stamford Raffles, far exceeded in force and
duration any of the known outbreaks of Etna or Vesuvius. The
ground trembled and the echoes of its roar were heard through an
area of 1,000 miles around the volcano, and to a distance of 300
miles its effects were astounding.

In Java, 300 miles away, ashes filled the air so thickly that the
solar rays could not penetrate them, and fell to the depth of
several inches. The detonations were so similar to the reports of
artillery as to be mistaken for them. The Rajah of Sang'ir, who
was an eye-witness of the eruption, thus described it to Sir

"About 7 P. M. on the 10th of April, three distinct columns of
flame burst forth near the top of the Tomboro mountain (all of them
apparently within the verge of the crater), and, after ascending
separately to a very great height, their tops united in the air in
a troubled, confused manner. In short time the whole mountain next
Sang'ir appeared like a body of liquid fire, extending itself in
every direction. The fire and columns of flame continued to rage
with unabated fury, until the darkness caused by the quantity of
falling matter obscured them, at about 8 P. M. Stones at this time
fell very thick at Sang'ir--some of them as large as two fists, but
generally not larger than walnuts. Between 9 and 10 P. M. ashes
began to fall, and soon after a violent whirlwind ensued, which
blew down nearly every house in the village of Sang'ir--carrying
the roofs and light parts away with it. In the port of Sang'ir,
adjoining Tomboro, its effects were much more violent--tearing up
by the roots the largest trees, and carrying them into the air,
together with men, horses, cattle, and whatever else came within
its influence. This will account for the immense number of
floating trees seen at sea. The sea rose nearly twelve feet higher
than it had ever been known to do before, and completely spoiled
the only spots of rice-land in Sang'ir--sweeping away houses and
everything within its reach. The whirlwind lasted about an hour.
No explosions were heard till the whirlwind had ceased, at about 11
P.M. From midnight till the evening of the 11th, they continued
without intermission. After that time their violence moderated,
and they were heard only at intervals; but the explosions did not
cease entirely until the 15th of July. Of all the villages of
Tomboro, Tempo, containing about forty inhabitants, is the only one
remaining. In Pekate no vestige of a house is left; twenty-six of
the people, who were at Sumbawa at the time, are the whole of the
population who have escaped. From the most particular inquiries I
have been able to make, there were certainly no fewer than 12,000
individuals in Tomboro and Pekate at the time of the eruption, of
whom only five or six survive. The trees and herbage of every
description, along the whole of the north and west sides of the
peninsula, have been completely destroyed, with the exception of
those on a high point of land, near the spot where the village of
Tomboro stood."

Tomboro village was not only invaded by the sea on this occasion,
but its site permanently subsided; so that there is now eighteen
feet of water where there was formerly dry land.


The Japanese archipelago, as stated in an earlier chapter, is
abundantly supplied with volcanoes, a number of them being active.
Of these the best known to travelers is Asamayama, a mountain 8,500
feet high, of which there are several recorded eruptions. The
first of these was in 1650; after which the volcano remained feebly
active till 1783, when it broke out in a very severe eruption. In
1870 there was another of some severity, accompanied by violent
shocks of earthquake felt at Yokohama. The crater is very deep,
with irregular rocky walls of a sulphurous character.

Far the most famous of all the Japanese mountains, however, is that
named Fuji-san, but commonly termed in English Fujiyama or
Fusiyama. It is in the vicinity of the capital, and is the most
prominent object in the landscape for many miles around. The apex
is shaped somewhat like an eight-petaled lotus flower, and offers
to view from different directions from three to five peaks.

Though now apparently extinct, it was formerly an active volcano,
and is credited in history with several very disastrous eruptions.
The last of these was in 1707, at which time the whole summit burst
into flames. Rocks were split and shattered by the heat, and
stones fell to the depth of several inches in Yeddo (now Tokyo),
sixty miles away. At present there are in its crater, which has a
depth of 700 or 800 feet, neither sulphurous exhalations nor steam.
According to Japanese tradition this great peak was upheaved in a
single night from the bottom of the sea, more than twenty-one
hundred years ago.

Nothing can be more majestic than this volcano, extinct though it
be, rising in an immense cone from the plain to the height of over
twelve thousand feet, truncated at the top, and with its peak
almost always snow-covered. Its ascent is not difficult to an
expert climber, and has frequently been made. From its summit is
unfolded a panorama beyond the power of words to describe, and
probably the most remarkable on the globe. Mountains, valleys,
lakes, forests and the villages of thirteen counties may be seen.
As we gaze upon its beautifully shaped and lofty mass, visible even
from Yokohama and a hundred miles at sea, one does not wonder that
it should be regarded as a holy mountain, and that it should form a
conspicuous object in every Japanese work of art. It is to the
natives of Japan as Mont Blanc is to Europeans, the "monarch of

In summer pilgrimages are made around the base of the summit
elevation, and there are on the upward path a number of Buddhist
temples and shrines, made of blocks of stone, for devotion, shelter
and the storage of food for pilgrims. Hakone Lake is three
thousand feet above the sea, and probably lies in the crater of an
extinct volcano. Its waters are very deep; it is several miles
long and wide, and is surrounded by high hills which abound in fine
scenery, solfataras and mineral springs.


At this place the mountain seems to be smouldering, as sulphur
fumes and steam issue at many points, and the ground is covered
with a friable white alkaline substance. In many a hollow the
water bubbles with clouds of vapor and sulphuretted hydrogen; here
the soil is hot and evidently underlaid by active fires. It is not
safe to go very near, as the crust is thin and crumbling. The
water running down the hills has a refreshing sound and a tempting

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