Page images

different origin and nature. Its greater propcrtion is composed of an aggregation of organic remains, and seems a cemetery of shells, fishes, marine animals, birds, and qua drupeds. Some of its beds consist of a range of certain species possessing a considerable similarity; while in others, animals of the most opposite habits, and inhabiting different regions of the globe, as well as different elements of nature, are strangely brought into contact, and confusedly blended in one heterogeneous mass. Shell-fish of the rivers and of the sea, corals, fishes of various kinds, insects, bones of different species of birds, remains of elephants, bears, and other quadrupeds, requiring for their existence different climates, are here united in an extraordinary assemblage. Connected with these, we find basaltic columns, scoriæ, lava, and other volcanic productions. These facts lead us to conclude, that this spot has witnessed wonderful revolutions, and that it has been subject, at different periods of its history, or perhaps nearly at the same time, to the dominion of two powerful elements, of which the ravages only are now visible.

PAUSILIPO, which is the next we would speak of, is a celebrated mountain of Naples, five miles from Puzzoli, famous for its grotto, or rather a subterraneous passage through it, which is near a mile long, about twenty feet broad, and from thirty to forty in height. The gentry who go there to gratify their curiosity, generally drive through it with lighted torches; but the country people find their way with little difficulty, by the light which enters at each end, and by two holes pierced through the mountain from the top, near the middle of the passage. This mountain is rendered an object of still greater fame and veneration, by possessing the tomb of Virgil, which is overgrown with ivy, and shadowed with the spreading boughs of an ancient laurel


MONTE NUOVO,-is a mountain in the environs of Naples, which blocks up the valley of Averno. "This mountain (Mr. Swinburne tells us) arose in 1538: after repeated quakings the earth burst asunder, and made way for a deluge of hot ashes and flames, which rising extremely high, and darkening the atmosphere, fell down again and formed a circular mound four miles in circumference, and one thousand feet high, with a large cup in the middle. The wind rising afterwards, wafted the lighter particles over the country, blasted vegetation, and killed the animals which grazed; the consequence was, that the place was deserted, till Don Pedro de Toledo, viceroy of Naples, encouraged the inhabitants by his example to return,

"Part of Monte Nuovo is cultivated, but the larger portion of its declivity is wildly overgrown with prickly broom, and rank weeds that emit a very fetid sulphureous smell. The water in the valley is shallow, its inside towards the mountain is clad with shrubs, and the little area at the bottom planted with fig and mulberry trees; a most striking specimen of the amazing vicissitudes that take place in this extraordinary country. I saw no traces of lava, or melted matter, and few stones within. Near the foot of this mountain the subterraneous fires act with such immediate power, that even the sand at the bottom of the sea is heated to an intolerable degree."

The next object that claims our attention is THE SPECTRE OF THE BROKEN.-A curious phenomenon observed on the Broken, one of the Hartz mountains in Hanover, of which the following account is given by M. Haree, "On being here. says he, for the thirtieth time, and having procured informa tion respecting the above-mentioned atmospheric phenomenon, I was at length, on the 23d of May, 1797, so fortunate as to have the pleasure of seeing it for myself; and perhaps a description of it may afford satisfaction to others who visit the Broken through curiosity. The sun rose about four o'clock, and the atmosphere being quite serene towards the east, his rays could pass without any obstruction over the Heinrich shöhe.

In the S. W. however, towards Achtermannshöe, a brisk west wind carried before it thin transparent vapours, which were not yet formed into thick heavy clouds. About a quarter past four I went towards the inn, and looked round to see whether the atmosphere would permit me to have a free prospect to the S. W.; when I observed, at a very great distance, towards Achtermannshöhe, a human figure of a monstrous size. A violent gust of wind having almost carried away my hat, I clapped my hand to it, by moving my arm towards my head; and the colossal figure did the same. The pleasure which I felt on this discovery can hardly be described, for I had already walked many a weary step in the hopes of seeing this shadowy image, without being able to gratify my curiosity. I immediately made another movement by bending my body; and the colossal figure before me repeated it. I was desirous of doing the same thing once more, but my colossus had vanished.


I remained in the same position, waiting to see whether it would return; and in a few minutes it again made its appearance on the Achtermannshöhe. I paid my respects to it a second time; and my compliment was returned by a similar inclination of the body, in the figure before me. I then called

the landlord of the Broken, and having both put ourselves in the same position I had taken alone, we looked towards the Achtermannshöhe, but saw nothing. We had not, however, atood long, before two similar colossal figures were formed over the above eminence, which, after repeating the various gesticulations of our bodies, vanished. We, however, still retained our position, keeping our eyes fixed on the same spot, and in a little while the two figures again stood before us, and were joined by a third, who had by this time added himself to our company. Every movement that we made by bending our bodies, these figures imitated,--but with this difference, that the phenomenon sometimes was weak and faint, and at others strong and well defined.


Having thus had an opportunity of discovering the whole secret of this extraordinary appearance, I can give the following information to such of my readers as may be desirous of seeing it for themselves. When the rising sun, and, according to analogy, the case will be the same when the setting sun throws his rays over the Broken, upon the body of a man standing opposite to fine light clouds floating around, or hovering past him, he needs only fix his eyes stedfastly upon them, and in all probability he will see the singular spectacle of his own shadow, extending to the length of five or six hundred feet, at the distance of about two miles before him." It is said, there is, in the Manchester Transactions, an account of a similar phenomenon observed by Dr. Ferrier, on a hill in England."

THE GAUTS, or INDIAN APPENINES.-These form a stupendous wall of mountains, which extends from Cape Comorin, the southern point of the Peninsula of Hindoostan, to the Tapty, or Surat river, at unequal distances from the sea coast; it is seldom more than sixty miles, commonly about forty, and in one part approaches within six miles. These mountains rise abruptly from the country of Concan, bounding, in the form of a terrace, a vast extent of fertile and populous plains, which are so elevated as to render the air cool and pleasant. The height is supposed to be from 3000 to 4000 feet.

This celebrated ridge does not terminate in a point when it approaches the Tapty; but, departing in this place from its meridional course, it bends eastward in a serpentine line, parallel to the river, and is afterwards lost among the hills in the neighbourhood of Burrhampour. In its course along the Tapty, it forms several passes or descents towards that river, from whence it derives the name of Gauts, which means a landing-place. The alternate N. E. and S. W. winds, called monsoons, occasion a rainy season only on one side, viz. on the windward side of these mountains

We would now wish to draw the attention of the reader from the Indian Appenines, to Pico, a mountain which rears its lofty head in an island of the same name. It is filled with dismal dark caverns, or volcanoes, which frequently emit flame, smoke, and ashes, to a great distance. At the foot of it, towards the east, is a spring of fresh water, which is generally cold, but sometimes is so heated with subterraneous fire, as to rush forth in torrents, with a kind of ebullition like boiling water; equalling that in heat, and sending forth a steam of sulphureous fetid vapours, mixed with liquefied stones, minerals, and flakes of earth, all on fire, in such quantities, and with such violence, as to form a kind of promontory, on the declivity of the coast, and at the distance of 1200 paces from the fountain, which is vulgarly called Mysterious. Such is the account given by Ortelius.

WRITTEN MOUNTAINS, MOUNTAINS OF INSCRIPTIONS, or JIBBEL EL MOKATTEB.-This is a mountain, or chain of mountains, said to be in the wilderness of Sinai; and the marble, of which it is composed, is reported to be inscribed to a considerable extent with innumerable characters, reaching from the ground sometimes to the height of twelve or fourteen feet. These were mentioned by a Greek author in the third century; but although some of them have been copied by Pococke, Montague, and other late writers, some have affected to entertain doubts whether even the mountains themselves really exist.

The vast number of these inscriptions, the desert place in which they are found, and the length of time requisite for executing the task, induced a notion that they are the work of the Israelites during their forty years' wandering in the wilderness. Others are of opinion, that they consist merely of the names of travellers, and the dates of their journeys. M. Niebuhr, who visited this country in September, 1762, made every attempt in his power, though without success, to obtain a sight of this celebrated mountain. After much vain inquiry, he was at last conducted to some rocks, upon which there were inscriptions in unknown characters. They are most numerous in a narrow pass between two mountains, named Omer-ridstein; and, says M. Niebuhr, "the pretended Jibbel El Mokatteb, may possibly be in its neighbourhood." Some of these inscriptions were copied by our author, but he does not look upon them to be of any consequence. At length, when M. Niebuhr arrived at the mountain to which the shiek had promised to conduct him, he found no inscription; but On climbing up to the top, he discovered an Egyptian cemetery, the stones of which were covered with hieroglyphics. The tomb stones were from five to seven feet long, some being

erect, and others lying flat; and "the more carefully they are examined, (says he,) the more certainly do they appear to be sepulchral stones, having epitaphs inscribed on them." The translator of Volney's Travels ascribes these inscriptions to the pilgrims who have visited Mount Sinai; but they ought surely to have been written in a language which somebody could understand; yet from the copies that have been taken of them by Dr. Pococke and others, it does not appear that they could be explained by any person. When Dr. Clayton, bishop of Clogher, visited this part of the world, about 1723, he expressed the greatest desire to have the matter concerning these written mountains ascertained, and even made am offer of £500 sterling to any literary person, who would undertake the journey, and endeavour to decipher the inscriptions; but no such person appeared.

The next object that rises in our view is MOUNT ATHOS,a mountain of Chalcidia in Macedonia, equally celebrated in ancient and modern times. The ancients entertained extravagant notions concerning its height. Mela affirmed it to be so high as to reach above the clouds, which at that time might have been considered a bold assertion; and Martianus Capellinus says, that its elevation was six miles. It was a received opinion, that mount Athos was above the middle region of the air, and that it never rained upon or near its summit, because the ashes left on the altars there, were always found as they had been left, dry and unscattered.

The modern Greeks, struck with its singular situation, and the venerable appearance of its towering ascent, erected so many churches, monasteries, hermitages, &c. upon it, that it became in a manner inhabited by a company of religious devotees; and from thence received the name of Monte Santo, or the Holy Mountain; which appellation it still retains, though many of those consecrated buildings are now fallen into ruin and decay.

According to the accounts of modern travellers, this mountain advances into the Archipelago, on the south of the gulf of Contessa, and is joined to the continent by an isthmus about half a league in breadth. It is estimated to be thirty miles in circumference, and two in perpendicular height. It may be travelled over in about three days, and is to be seen at the great distance of ninety miles. There is a fine prospect from the top; but, like all other high mountains, the cold on its summit is excessive. It abounds with many different kinds of plants and trees, particularly the pine and fir. In the valleys grows a plant called elegia, whose branches serve to make pens for writing. In short, this mountain is said to be adorned with a variety of herbage and evergreens, a multi

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »