Page images

so listen, friend Minstrel, and I'll give illuminated saloon, or the loveliest you a subject for your rhymes. There

Donna of Naples.” is in Torre del Greco a young Signor “ Alas for the unhappy Signor," reof a most wild and romantic habit; in plied Ricciardetto; and after tuning deed, to such an excess has he carried his strings he remained for a few mothis feeling, that he allows superstition ments looking on the ground: then he to be predominant to every other pas suddenly turned his eyes upwards, and sion; he would visit the most hazardous as the moon beam shot upon his face, and solitary parts of the world to gra I saw that it wore a smile of triumph: tify it; and he can look with more he now struck the wires of the guitar pleasure upon a haunted mine, or the decidedly and proudly, and immediately most ghastly spectre, than upon an aster swept off into the following verses.

When from the thrones of bliss and life divine,

By crimson lightenings followed Satan fell,
No more the beauty of the morn to shine,

No more in glory and delight to dwell,
But live in fiercest pain, an awful sign,

In all the dread eternity of hell.
No late repentance woke his heart within
But the vain hope of vengeance lured to sin.

Then writhing in his agony, he swore

The deadliest hate to his almighty foe,
Whose swift creating and destroying power

Alike did that rebellious spirit kuow:
Deeply he vowed amidst the Demon war

Which filled the Pandemonium realms below,
Still in opposing arms 'gainst Heaven to stand,
And brave the terrors of the Almighty's hand.

When the young Sun sailed glowing up the skies,

And Adam from the dust to life was brought,
The fiend beheld with fiery-flashing eyes,

And thus expressed the malice of his thought:
« Behold my slave! To me the prayers shall rise

Of all this wide creation, which was wrought
To glorify the great and thundering Lord,
But I o'er all the earth will be adored.”

And soon, by that accursed spirit's arts,

From his fair Paradise was Adam thrown,
His children plunged in guilt and death's keen darts,

Till then alike undreaded and unknown,
Launch'd round the hapless earth ; for sin imparts

So swift its subtle poisons where 'tis sown,
That tears of blood may weep throughout all time
The fatal influence of au hour of crime.

What 'vails it now the record sad to trace

Of man's deep sins and sorrows ? crimsoned Cain,-
The thousand spots on nature's lovely face,

On lier fair robe the deep and lasting stain,-
The crimes that called the Deluge to erase

From earth the form of man, and blot again
This bright creation, till an alter'd scene
Should rise unlike to that which erst had been.

And thou didst cause this change, accursed one,

Thou chief of the Apostates, thou didst send
A fearful sprite on earth; while time shall run

Her boundless reign, and power shall never end.
Oh, she hath many a hapless soul undone;

Aided by thy dark spells, remorseless fiend,
Pale superstitiou rode upon the wind,
To kill, to curse, to conquer, and to bind.

She has had thousand victims, every land
And every age

have bowed before her shrine;
Ev’n they, who most in God's own heart did stand,

His praise for Baal or Isis did resign:
Incense and gifts from many a faithless hand

Have blazed on altars with a name divine,
When superstition, 'twas to thee alone,
Or to the Demous who support thy throne.

But chief o'er all, on ardent hearts and souls,

Thy spells are scattered and thy chains are cast,
Thy mystic power each act of life controls,

Thy magic terrors half its pleasures blast ;
Woe, woe to them o'er whom thy thunder rolls,

Woe, woe to them whom thou hast fettered fast.
Nor hope nor joy bath superstition's slave,
'Tis death while yet he breathes, a living grave.
Yet deem ye not that ne'er to man is shewn

The image of the future; fate hath said,
• Pass but a season and the land shall groan,

Beneath a fiery flood with drooping head.'
Vesuvius roars for prey; soon shall be thrown

A thousand terrors round, and flames shall spread
O'er ruined streets to many a distant view,
So Heaven hath will’d, and time shall prove it true!


“ Bravissimo,” cried di Lermia, as hat, flapped down upon his face, which the old minstrel concluded ; “ bravo, darkened its own already swarthy feaRicciardetto; why you're not only an Im tures. As he drew near to us, he seemed provisatore but a prophet! How comes to know the history which I was singthis? How have


learned the secrets ing; and without saluting me, said in of the mountain, eh, friend rhymer?" good Italian, . That explosion was a

“ You shall hear, noble Lermia ; and fatal one, but ere long you'll see you too, Signor, listen, for haply the worse.' Amazed at the stranger's words, tale may interest you ; and indeed, I I answered, · How in the name of the doubt not, that you are he of whom Virgin do you know this?'. • Look to the stranger of last night spake to me. the signs on the mountain, and the

“What stranger? What spake he?" signs on the earth, and the signs in the interrupted the Conte, “ why this is as air, and the signs in the water,' replied incomprehensible as thy prophecy." he; look to them, and take care of

“My lord,” said Ricciardetto; yourself while you may. But it was I was last night sitting in my vineyard, not for this that I sought you; you are, and playing over, to my wife and young I believe, called Ricciardetto Il Rimare, ones, the history of the last great erup by professionanImprovisatore?' Having tion of Vesuvius, there came to me a answered in the aflirmative, he continutall man, of an olive-coloured Spanish ed, “to-morrow evening at this hour complexion ; dressed in a long brown go to the casino of the Conte di Lermia, cloak, which he folded close about him; which stands near the Capuchin Monasand wearing upon his head a Spanish tery, at the foot of the mountain; there Eur. Mag. Vol. 81. May 1822.



[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

offer to exercise your talent, and he will golden token of my belief; for, whogive you for a subject the “ Power of ever discredits it, I dare not.” Superstition.” In the course of your “ Santa Margarita,” exclaimed di verses, speak particularly of the signs Lermia,“ or rather, Santo Lucca, I of a dreadful eruption from Vesuvius, should say, for he's the guardian of Luand tell them of their danger. It is natics; this poor young Signor's brain probable that they will consider either will be turned by such ghostly invitayou mad, or me an impostor; but let tions. As for you, Master Ricciardetto, that pass, and address yourself to one if your Bianca had waked you from whom you shall find there from a re your conference with a strappado, and mote island, and say, that by three dispossessed the devil that way, she had hours after sun-rise on the following done good service to the church.” morning, I shall await him upon the “ So it may please your lordship to heights of Vesuvius, alone.'

I was say,” returned the old man, calmly; about to speak, but the stranger looked “ and yet I think if you will honour sternly upon me, and said, • interrupt me with your ear in private, for a few me not, for the most imminent hazard moments only, you will believe more of will follow it. Say to the young Signor my relation than at present." that which I have said to thee: bid him “In good truth I cannot believe less," to follow his destiny, and meet me, or said the Count, smiling; and leaving remain in bitter and unavailing repent the veranda, he walked with the Improance for the rest of his life. Tell him visatore up the garden. A short time as a token, that I have been with him after he returned alone, endeavouring in three elements, and that I wait to to appear as gay as when he went; but conduct him through a fourth ; and bid his spirits were now evidently forced; him to remember the Sea-Monster, the it was clear that he had learned someSpirit of Air, and the Red Miner. Fail what far from pleasing ; and by degrees not in all this,' continued this amazing a gloom spreading itself over the whole stranger ; 'your life will be endanger- company, we at length separated and ed if you neglect it; and if you ob retired to rest. Before I parted with serve my warning concerning the moun di Lermia on that evening, and it was tain, you will be rewarded for it.'” the last time I ever saw him, he came to

By Saint Anthony of Padua,” said me and said, “ You are right, Signor di Lermia,” laughing heartily as the Raymond; you are right, my young Improvisatore finished;

16 this is as

friend; superstition will rise within our goodly a legend as any since the Mor- minds, notwithstanding all our endeagante; and thou art as wild a romancer vours to prevent it. Who would have as Archbishop Turpin himself. Is there thought now, that the dream of that any more of it?"

old rhymer, who is of course privileged Only, my lord," answered Ricciar to invent what he likes, should have detto, « that while I was wondering at made such an impression upon my mind? the stranger's speech, a cloud came over When we retired up the garden, he told the moon, which hid it, and we were for me, that this Diavolo incognito prophea while quite in darkness; and when the cied that the Capuchin Monastery yonlight came again, the strange figure was der, and this casino, should both be gone! I started forward, and the first buried in the lava of the next eruption; thing I heard was my Bianca and my and that all the family of di Lermia children, scolding me for having slept should sleep beneath the ruins." so long. All my assertions about the Madre del Pieta!” I exclaimed; stranger were in vain : they maintained “and will not you, my lord, fly from stoutly that no one had come into the this terrible fate?" vineyard ; that I had never uttered a “No;" answered di Lermia ; “whereword; but that I had fallen asleep sud- fore should I fly from that which I fear denly, and that they had unsuccessfully not? It is true that his words have tried to awake me. As they did not awakened an unpleasing sensation in believe one part of my story, I never my mind, but I have still no tincture of told them the rest ; but to try how far belief in them; I have rather the senit might prove true, I came to-night to sation of anger at my depression of the casino,"

spirits, than that of fear for my fate." “Thanks, Ricciardetto," said I,“ for It was in vain that I endeavoured, by my part of thy story, and there is a every possible argument, to urge the

[ocr errors]

Conte to quit the casino for a less dan was black, and some, which was shaded gerous situation; and it was equally in from the sun's light, glowing as it were vain that he endeavoured to prevail with fire. The road upon which I proupon me not to give the meeting to the ceeded was only an incrustation formed unknown stranger. We parted, mutu above a stream of living lava, which ally grieved at the other's constancy, poured out from all sides of it. This and mutually convinced that we should path at length led me to the foot of the see each other no more. By an early crater, which is circular, and surroundhour on the following morning, I was ed by a sort of natural wall, formed by on the road to Vesuvius, alone. It was the lower cone of the mountain, within a lovely day in June, and the weather which is a road of old black lava, while was oppressively hot; the sky wore all the crater itself seems to be formed that clear cerulean blue for which Italy of ashes, cinders, loose stones, and is so famous; and darkly against that other volcanic materials. As the mounbeautiful azure rose the upper cone or tain, notwithstanding several convulsive crater of the mountain, which was now

noises within it, seemed to be in a state clear of vapours; and out of which a of rest, and as yet I could not discover thin light column of smoke was ascend any signs of the mysterious being who ing to the air. One of the ascents to had summoned me there, my spirit of Vesuvius is by a winding road, which enterprize began to come upon me in leads from the north-east of Torre del that ardent yet terrific manner which I Greco, through Resina, which now co have already described ; and I ascendvers the subterranean City of Hercula ed the crater alone, after considerable neum, up to the Hermitage of Il Salva- difficulty in climbing up such a loose tore, which stands upon Monte Cante and steep mound, I at length reached rini, a flat part of the mountain, almost the summit, which is about three thou. at the foot of the upper cone.

All be sand nine hundred feet above the sea. neath me was beautiful in the extreme: Upon looking over, I discovered a kind there were the rich vineyards and town of narrow path a short distance within, of Resina on the left, stretching down covered with plants and trees, and leadwards to the sea shore ; and yet

further, ing down for

a considerable depth to a the beautiful road between Portici and deep cavern. Having descended into this Torre del Greco. Before me was spread cave, I found it to be a subterranean pasout a rich portion of the Campagna sage leading to another plain, surroundFelice, decreasing in altitude till it fell ed by other dark recesses.

From these down into the Gulf of Naples. On the poured forth dense volumes of smoke right hand I looked out towards the with sulphurous fumes, and upon my Monte di Somma, which some have looking down into one, I seemed to supposed to have been the original vol see flashes of fire, and to hear mourncano, before Vesuvius was formed; and ful sounds of thunderings and cries. lowering above me behind rose up the All these had so dreadful an effect upon crater of the burning mountain itself. me, that my senses failed me, and I fell All this scene was diversified by a thous down into the cavern, to what I then sand colours: there were the warm tints thought, an interminable depth. It will of purple and green in the vineyards; be imagined with what terror it was, the rich brown and slate-coloured ap that I found myself falling, into a place pearance of the volcanic roads and that had as yet been unentered by mortracks of lava; the glowing verdure of tal; the very name of which was dreadthe trees and hedge-rows, lighted up ful in every point of view. Indeed, and illuminated with the bright yellow many have supposed Vesuvius, Etna, hues of a summer sun; and above all Hecla, and the Isles of Vulcano, to be there was a glorious blue canopy that only so many mouths of the infernal seemed almost in motion with its own world; and Dr. Antonio Santorelli, brightness. It was with a high degree Professor of Natural Philosophy in the of enjoyment that I gazed upon this University of Naples, says, when speakgrand view, before I entered the Her- ing of the explosion of Mount Vesuvius mitage to rest me ere I continued my in 1631, “ Se questo incendio sia opera journey upwards After a short halt at de' demonii ?” *• Whether this eruption i Salvatore, I proceeded over a rough be the work of devils ?”

When we are and broken road, formed of lava of dif- in danger or distress memory is indeed ferent ages and colours, some of which a pain, since it turns only to those cir

cumstances which tend to heighten our side. Nor did they sparkle with reafflictions; so on the present occasion, flected light only, for each of them every recollection left me, excepting seemed to have fire within itself, glowthose of the dreadful legends of Vesu- ing and flashing in all its splendid covius, which gave additional horror to lours. While I was viewing this scene my situation. I had expected that the with some pleasure, much wonder, and chasm into which I had fallen was more horror, I could perceive that one of many thousand fathoms deep, but in a the red figures was within a few paces very few seconds I found myself thrown of me; and as he approached, I readily violently against the ground, upon discovered the features that Ricciarwhich I started to my feet and looked detto had described. When he stopped, wildly around me. I seemed to stand he turned his fiery eyes full upon me in a sort of circular gallery, which was and said, “ What, Raymond Mortlake, surrounded by the entrances to the re not yet satisfied? Must the four elecesses already mentioned, the path to ments administer to thy curiosity ? Are which lay up a long rugged passage, the boundaries of God and the terrors with the light shining like a star at the of man no laws for thee!" end of it. Below me appeared a large “Insulting tempter," I replied, “ who vaulted conical hall, at the top of which brought me here? Nay, who planted appeared the irregular mouth of the those wishes in


heart ??? crater at a great distance; and in the “Oh," answered the spirit sarcastibottom was, as it were, a large bason cally,

they arose not in


virtuous filled with crimson coloured fire, into self! No, man, man, ever the same, which a number of tall figures shaped devises evil, and then believes it to be like men, of a very deep red

flesh colour, the production of a fiend. But listen, were tossing vast quantities of minerals, thou who wouldst roam through the which they brought from dark recesses worlds of life and death to gratify thy round about the mountain. At every insatiate curiosity; these spirits are the time they threw a fresh portion of mi sons of Vulcan, and they are preparing nerals into the cauldron, the flame blazed for a new and terrible eruption of this vehemently upwards with such volumes mountain, in which the town beneath of dense black smoke, that I was fre shall be destroyed. This has been their quently, enveloped with thick masses of labour ever since the last explosion, that volcanic vapour, which a modern and now their work is perfected. Anotraveller has declared will take and re ther hour and the crater will be blown tain the impression of a seal. Indeed into air." it is so perfectly impervious, that it was “ Heavens," I internally ejaculated, as if I had been immersed in a grave, “ how shall I descend?" and it pressed upon me with all the “That you should have done sooner,' force of the leaden shrouds of the early said the spirit, “why linger here for christians. Whenever the cauldron

so many days?" blazed up in this manner, the red Days," I answered, “I entered the figures uttered a thousand wild shouts, crater scarcely an hour since!” which were answered by shrieks and Fool," returned the spirit, moans and tremblings from the earth days have passed, since you have been beneath. When the interior of the within this cavern only; here time is mountain was visible, the fire shone eternity! and in your world eternity is brightly upon the beautiful volcanic regarded as time." As he finished minerals of which it was formed. There speaking, a loud and deafening shout

a thousand variously-coloured rose from the figures beneath, the smoke tufas, made of ashes and pumice- and flames soared upwards in a most stones enclosing an infinite number of terrific manner, I fell down suffocated natural productions, splendidly varie- by the dreadful fumes, and I remember gated pieces of lava polished like mar no more. Upon the return of reason, I ble, with beautifully tinted sulphur and thought myself to be in the dreadful brilliant cinnabar. Vitrified pumice and cavern where my senses departed ; for volcanic-glass, with many Vesuvian every object was tinted with the red gems, such as black chrystal, green glare of fire, while sulphuric vapour, chrysolites, deep yellow topazes, brown smoke, and showers of ashes and cinjacinths, partridge-eyed lava, and pur- ders were pouring downwards; but I ple tin-stone were shining on every soon found I was in the streets of Torre

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »