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each separate pebble. The mass of matter
stood upon nothing, and we were actually on the
edge of the bottomless pit! Even our energetic
friend was calmed, and made no further attempt
to draw from its dread abode what, if it were
really a shoe, must have been either the glass
slipper of Cinderella, or the other brass one of
Empedocles, for no mere leather and prunella
could endure that vitrifying heat.

"By Jove! Isn't it like beer?" said a voice
at my side. The national simile was not ill
chosen: the heaving of the mass of glowing
embers, and the slight cracks which from time to
time permitted the escape of gas, were strikingly
like the movement observable in the scum of a
fermenting vat. The feeling of insecurity, and
the consciousness that we were there upon very
uncertain sufferance, induced us to retreat; and
the party were at various stages of the descent,
when we received a fearful warning that the
patience of the mountain had been tested too
long. A loud roar, followed by the screams of
those who, seated below, were watching our
descent, caused us all to look upward. The
scene was frightful. The whole sky seemed
filled with fiery projectiles of all sizes and
of fantastic shapes. Even at that moment I
distinctly remember thinking how like one mass
was to a Hansom:—a sort of visible embodiment
of Mr. Carlyle's holocaust of all the gigs in
creation. It was the affair of a moment.
Instinctively I threw myself down, so as in some
degree to shelter the little girl who was with me,
when, right, left, in front, behind, came the
hammer-like blows of the falling stonesa howling
Neapolitan tumbled against and over usa
number of red-hot balls bounded past usand we
were safe. I rose to my feet and looked round.
The American and a comrade were plunging
rapidly down the slope, closely pursued by a huge
blazing rock which ricocheted past in terrible
proximity to their flying forms. I hope, this time
at all events, the American's disappointment was
an agreeable one. The enthusiastic Englishman
was binding up his hand, at once bruised and
burnt by a stone, while another had lamed him,
though not seriously. His first thought was to
offer a "skewdy" (meaning a scudo) to any one
who would ascend and bring down the young lady
who was still on the edge of the pit's mouth.
But his good-natured energy was needless; her
guide, a steady old hand, had purposely kept his
ground, wisely judging that from falling stones
there was no escape, while by staying at the
summit they avoided the dangers of the ricochet.
We were soon reunited, glad to have got off so
cheaply, and warned by the strong hint we had
received, not to pry too closely into Nature's
secrets. My story must stop here. I pretend
to describe merely the preliminary rehearsals;
not the grand performance which followed some
months later, accompanied with an earthquake,
which shook all the seaboard of Tuscany. It
transcends my graphic skill.

Since that time, Vesuvius has undergone many
changes, ominous of approaching dissolution.
The crater has lost much of its picturesqueness,
and is now a yawning gulf, surrounded by
crumbling precipices, which have accumulated in
ill-compacted masses higher even than the Punta del
Palo, which for many years has been the highest
peak. Lava streams flow nowwhen they flow
at allnot from the crater, but from the base of
the cone; and the mephitic fissures which lately
opened at the foot of the mountain near the sea,
seem to point to a time when a further encroachment
to seaward on the part of the volcano shall
take place, and the present Vesuvius be left an
empty shell, like Somma, the Solfatara, or the
mob of nameless volcanoes which crowd the
gigantic base of Etna.


IT came into my mind that I would recal in
these notes a few of the many hostelries I have
rested at in the course of my journeys; and,
indeed, I had taken up my pen for the purpose,
when I was baffled by an accidental circumstance.
It was the having to leave off, to wish the
owner of a certain bright face that looked in at
my door, "many happy returns of the day."
Thereupon a new thought came into my mind,
driving its predecessor out, and I began to recal
instead of Innsthe birthdays that I have put
up at, on my way to this present sheet of paper.

I can very well remember being taken out to
visit some peach-faced creature in a blue sash,
and shoes to correspond, whose life I supposed to
consist entirely of birthdays. Upon seed-cake,
sweet wine, and shining presents, that glorified
young person seemed to me to be exclusively
reared. At so early a stage of my travels did I
assist at the anniversary of her nativity (and
become enamoured of her), that I had not yet
acquired the recondite knowledge that a birthday is
the common property of all who are born, but
supposed it to be a special gift bestowed by the
favouring Heavens on that one distinguished
infant. There was no other company, and we sat
in a shady bowerunder a table, as my better
(or worse) knowledge leads me to believeand
were regaled with saccharine substances and
liquids, until it was time to part. A bitter
powder was administered to me next morning,
and I was wretched. On the whole, a pretty
accurate foreshadowing of my more mature
experiences in such wise!

Then came the time when, inseparable from
one's own birthday, was a certain sense of merit,
a consciousness of well-earned distinction. When
I regarded my birthday as a graceful achievement
of my own, a monument of my perseverance,
independence, and good sense, redounding greatly
to my honour. This was at about the period when
Olympia Squires became involved in the
anniversary. Olympia was most beautiful (of course),
and I loved her to that degree, that I used to be
obliged to get out of my little bed in the night,
expressly to exclaim to Solitude, "O, Olympia
Squires!" Visions of Olympia, clothed entirely
in sage-green, from which I infer a defectively
educated taste on the part of her respected