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An account of the Eruption of Mount a cruft, which formed a plain, not
Vesuvius, in 1767 : In a Letter to unlike the solfaterra in miniature; the Earl of Morton, President of in the midst of this plain was a the Royal Society, from the tionour. little mountain, whose top did not able William Hamilton, his Ma- rise so high as the rim of the anjefty's Envoy Extraordinary at cient crater. I went into this plain, Naples.
and up the little mountain, which [Read Feb. 11, 1968.]
was perforated, and served as the
principal chimney to the volcano ; Naples, Dec. 29, 1767. . when I threw down large stones, I
could hear that they met with many My Lord,
obstructions in their way, and could НЕ favourable réception, count a hundred moderately before
which my account of last they reached the bottom. year's eruption of Mount Vesuvius Vesuvius was quiet till March met with from your Lordship, the 1767, when it began to throw up approbation which the Royal So. ftones, from time to time; in April ciety was pleased to Thew, by hav- the tlırows were more frequent, and ing ordered the same to be printed at night fire was visible on the top in their Philosophical Transactions, of the mountain ; 'or, more properly and your Lordihip’s commands in speaking, the sinoke, which hung your letter of the 3d instant, en- over the crater, was tinged by the courage me to trouble you with a reflection of the fire within the vol. plain narrative of what came im
These repeated throws of mediately under my observation cinders, alhes, and pumice ftones, during the late violent eruption, increased the little mountain fo which began October 19, 17676 much, that in May its top was viand is reckoned to be the 27th since fible above the rim of the ancient that, which, in the tims of Titus,
The 7th of Auguft there destroyed Herculaneum and Pom- issued a small fi ream of lava, front peii.
a breach in the side of this litde The eruption in 1766 continued mountain, which: gradually filled in fome degree, till the roth of De- the valley between it and the ancember, about nine months in all, cient crater; so that the 12th of yet in that space of time the moun- September the lava overflowed the tain did not cast us a third of the ancient crater, and took its course quantity of lava, which it disgorged down the fides of the great mounin only seven days, the term of this tain; by this time the throws were last eruption. On the 15th of De- much more frequent, and the redcember, last year, within the ancient hot stones went fo high as to take crater of Mount Vesuvius, and up ten seconds in their fall. Padre about twenty feet deep, there was Torre, a great observer of Mount
Vesuvius, says they went up above way towards the place where it à thousand feet.
burst out the following day. As I The 15th of O&tober, the height had, contrary to the opinion of of the little mountain (formed in most people here, foretold the apabout eight months) was measured proaching eruption,* and had obby Don Andrea Pigonati, a very in- ferved a great' fermentation in the genious young man in his Sicilian mountain after the heavy rains, majesty's service, who assured me which fell the 13th and 14th of that its height was one hundred and October, I was not surprised on the eighty-five French Feet.
19th following, at seven o'clock in From my villa, situated between the morning, to perceive from my Herculaneum and Pompeii, near villa every symptom of the eruption the convent of the Calmaldolese, being just at hand. From the top I had watched the growing of this of the little mountain, iflued a thick little mountain, and by taking black smoke, fo thick, that it seem. drawings of it from time to time, I ed to have difficulty in forcing its could perceive its increase most way out; cloud after cloud mountminutely. I make no doubt buted with a hafty spiral motion, and that the whole of Mount Vesuvius every minute a volley of great
stones has been formed in the same man- were shot up to an immense height ner; and as these observations seem in the midst of these clouds ; by to me to account for the various degrees, the smoke took the exact irregular strata, which are met with hape of a huge pine tree, such as in the neighbourhood of volcanos, Pliny the younger described in his I have ventured to enclose for your letter to Tacitus, where he gives Lordship's inspection a copy of the an account of the fatal eruption in above-mentioned drawings.
which his uncle perished t. This The lava continued to run over column of black smoke, after havthe ancient crater in small streams, ing mounted extraordinary sometimes on one side, and some- height, bent with the wind towards,
another, till the 18th of Caprea, and actually reached ovet October, when I took particular that island, which is not less than notice that there was not the least twenty-eight miles from Vesuvius. lava to be seen, owing, I imagine, I warned my family not to be to its being employed in forcing its alarmed, as I expected there would
* This plainly appears from the following extract of a letter from the fame gentleman to the president, dated Naples, October 6, 1767. “ Mount Vesuvius
is preparing for another eruption, or rather a second part of the last, as it has never been quiet since the beginning of the year 1765. The lava already
runs over the crater; and by the quantity of stones and ashes, the montagnola " has almost filled the crater, and has risen at léaft eighty feet within these laht three
+ These are his words, " Nubes (incertum procul intuentibus ex quo monte ; Vesuvium fujssc poftea cognitum eft) oriebatur, cujus fimilitudinem & formam, non alia magis arbor, quam pinus expresserit. Nam longissimo veluti
trunco elata in altum, quibusdam ramis. diffundebatur, credo quia recenti spi"ritu evecta, dein senescente eo deftituta, aut etiam pondere fuo victa, in latitudinem eva“nescebat: candida interdum, interdum fordida & maculofa, prout terram ci tremve fuftulerat." Plin. Lib. VI. Ep. 16.
be an earthquake at the moment of without stopping! as the earth con. the lava's bursting out; but before tinued to shake under our feet, I eight of the clock in the morning was apprehensive of the opening of a I perceired that the mountain had freth mouth, which might have cut opened à mouth, without noise, off our retreat.' I also feared that the about an hundred yards lower than violent explosions would detach the ancient crater, on the side to- some of the rocks off the mountain wards the Monte di Somma; and I of Somma, under which we were plainly perceived, by a white smoke obliged to pass; besides, the puwhich always accoinpanies the lava, mice-stones, falling upon us like that it had forced its way out; as hail, were of such a fize as to cause foon as it had vent, the muke no a disagreeable sensation upon the longer came out with that violence párt where they fell. After having from the top. As I imagined that taken breath, as the earth ftill there would be no danger in ap- trembled greatly, I thought it most proaching the mountain when the prudent to leave the mountain, and lava had vent, I went up imme- return to my villa, where I found diately, accompanied by one pea- my family in a great alarm at the fant only. I failed the hermitage, continual and violent explofions of and proceeded as far as the valley the volcano, which thook our house between the mountain of Somma to its very foundation, the door and that of Vefurins, which is call and windows swinging upon their ed Atrio di Cavallo. I was making hinges. About two of the clock my observations upon the lava, in the afternoon another lava forced which had already, from the spot its way out of the fame place from where it first broke out, reached whence came the lava last year, fo the valley, when, on a sudden, that the conflagration was foon as about noon, I heard a violent noise great on this side of the mountain, within the mountain, and at about a as on the other which I had just quarter of a mile off the place where left. I stood, the mountain split; and, The noise and smell of fulphur with much noise, from this new increasing, we removed from our mouth a fountain of liquid fire hot villa to Naples; and I thought up many feet high, and then, like proper, as I passed by Portici, to a torrent, rolled on directly towards inform the court of what I had
The earth shook at the same feen; and humbly offered it as my time that a volley of pumice stones opinion, that his Sicilian majesty, fell thick upon us; in an instant, should leave the neighbourhood of clouds of black smoke and ashes the threatening mountain. Howcaused almost a total darkness; the ever, the court did not leave Porexplosions from the top of the tici till about twelve o'clock.mountain were much louder than Observed, in my way to Naples
, any thunder I ever heard, and the which was in less than two hours smell of the fulphur was very offen- after I had left the mountain, that five. ' My guide alarmed, took to the lava had actually covered three his heels; and I must confefs that miles of the very 'road through
I was not at my ease. I followed which we had retreated. It is close, and we ran pear three miles astonishing that it should run fo
falt; lat; as I have since seen that the four years ago, Mount Atna in Siriver of lava, in the Atrio di Ca- cily threw up hot water also, during vallo, was fixty and seventy feet an eruption. deep, and in some places near two The confusion at Naples this miles broad. When his Sicilian night cannot be defcribed; his Simajesty quitted Portici, the noise cilian majesty's hasty retreat from was greatly increased, and the con- Portici added to the alarm ; all the fusion of the air from the explosions churches were opened and filled, was fo violent, that, in the king's the streets were thronged with propalace, doors and windows were cesons of saints; but I shall avoid forced open, and even one door entering upon a description of the there, which was locked, was ne- various ceremonies that were pervertheless burst open. At Naples, formed in this capital, to quell the fame night, many windows and the fury of the turbulent moundoors flew open ; in my house, tain. which is not on the side of the Tuesday the 20th, it was impostown next Vesuvius, I tried the ex- fible to judge of the situation of periment of unbolting my windows, Vesuvius, on account of the smoke when they few wide open upon and ashes which covered it intirely, every explosion of the mountain. and spread over Naples also, the Besides these explosions, which were fun appearing as through a thick very frequent, there was a coutin London fog, or a smoaked glass ; nued subterraneous and violent small afhes fell all this day at Tumbling noise, which lasted this Naples. The lavas on both sides night above five hours. I have ima- of the mountain ran violently; gined that this extraordinary noise but there was little or no noise till might be owing to the lava in the about nine o'clock at night, when bowels of the mountain having met the fame uncommon rumbling bewith a deposition of rain water, gan again, accompanied with ex. and that the conflict between the plosions as before, which lasted fire and the water may, in fome about four hours; it seemed as if measure, account for so extraordi. the mountain would split in pieces. nary a crackling and hissing noise. The Parisian barometer was, as yesPadre Torre, who has wrote fo terday, at 27. 9. and Fahrenheit's much and so well upon the subject thermometer at 70 degrees; where. of Mount Vesuvius, is also of my as, for some days preceding the opinion ; and indeed it is natural eruption, it had been at 65 and 66. to imagine, that there may be rain During the confusion of this night water lodged in many of the ca- the prisoners in the public jail at. verns of the mountain, as in the tempted to escape, having wounded great eruption of Mount Vesuvius the jailer, but were prevented by in 1663, it is well attested, that fe. the troops. The mob also set fire veral towns, among which Portici to the cardinal archbishop's gate, and Turre del Greco, were de- because he refused to bring out the ftroyed by a torrent of boiling was relicks of Saint Januarius. ter having burst out of the moun- Wednesday the 21st was more tain with the lava, by which thou- quiet than the preceding days, sands of lives were loft. About though the lavas ran briskly. Por
tici was once in fome danger, had out, to its extremity, where it furnot the lava taken a different course, rounded the chapel of St. Vito, is when it was only a mile and a half about fix miles. In the Atrio di from it; towards night the lava Cavallo, and in a deep valley, that slackened.
lies between Vesuvius and the herThursday the 22d, about ten of mitage, the lava is in some places the clock in the morning, the same two miles broad, and in thundering noise began again, but most places from fixty to seventy with more violence than the pre- feet deep; "the lava ran down a ceding days;, the oldest men de hollow way, called Fosse grande
, clared they had never heard the made by the currents of rain wa, like, and, indeed, it was very ter; it is not less than two hundred alarıning; we were in expectation feet deep, and one hundred broad ; every moment of some dire cala- yet the lava in one place has filled mity. The ashes, or rather small it up. I could not have believed cinders, showered down so fast, that that so great a quantity of matter the people in the streets could have been thrown out in fo obliged to use umbrellas, or flap short a time, if I had not fince extheir hats, these alhes being very amined the whole course of the lava offensive to the eyes. The tops of myself. This great compact body the houses, and the balconies, were will certainly retain fome beat covered above an inch thick with many months; at this time, moch these cinders. Ships at sea, twenty rain' having fallen for some days leagues from Naples, were also co- past, the lava smokes as if it ran vered with them, to the great afto. afresh; and about ten days ago, nishment of the sailors, In the when I was up the mountain with midft of these horrors, the mob Lord Stormont, we thruft sticks growing tumultuous and impatient, into the crevices of the lava, which obliged the cardinal to bring out took fire immediately: But to prothe head of St. Januarius, and go ceed with my journal. with it in procession to the Ponte The 24th, Vesuvius continued to Maddalena,' at the extremity of throw up stones as on the preceding Naples, towards Vesuvius; and it day; during the whole of this is well attested here, that the erup- eruption it had differed in this cir
. tion ceased the moment the Saint cunstance from the eruption in came in light of the mountain; it 1766, when no-stones were thrown is true the noise ceased ahout that out of the crater from the moment time, after having lafted five hours, the lava ran freely. as it had done the preceding days. Sunday 25th, small alhes fell all
Friday 23d, the lavas still ran, day at Naples, they itsued from the and the mountain continued to crater of the volcano, and formed throw up quantities of stones from a vast colun.n, , as black as the its crater; there was no noise heard mountain itself; fo that the shadow at Naples this day, and but little of it was marked out on the surface alhes fell there.
of the fea; continual fialhes of Saturday 24th, the lava ceased forked, or zig-zag lightning, het running ; the extent of the lava, from this black column, the thunfrom the spor where I saw it break der of which was heard in the neigh,