Page images
PDF

and foams on its banks; and, with mysterious groans and dreadful sighs, red-hot masses of rock and stone are dashed upward from time to time against the sides of the crater. The thought of climbing down the inner wall of the crater is of itself sufficient to inspire terror. Yet it has been attempted by many, and by some successfully.

Questions. — 1. What Is here said of Mount Mtna,? What, and where, is Sicily T 3. What mountains in Europe surpass Mta& in height 1 What is said of the Sierra Nevada? 3, 4. What is further said of this mountain in these paragraphs? 5. How is JStna divided? 5, 6. What is said of the first region? 7. How far does the second extend? 8. What are its productions? 9. Where does vegetation cease? 10. How high does the third zone extend? What are cryptogamic plants? 11. Why can not mow and ice remain on its top? 12-14. What is said of its ascent? 15,16. What is said of the crater T — What rule under modulation applies in reading this piece t Why?

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

Errors. — Cen'cAu-ry for cen'ru-ry (cent'yu-ry); col'yum for column (solium); fur'nu for fur'nace; cat'a-ra& for cat'a-ract.

THE ERUPTIONS OF MOUNT .ETNA.

1. The eruptions of Mount iEtna occur at long intervals, — not more than three or four times during a century. The ordinary peaceful state of this mountain is indicated by columns of white smoke ascending from its summit to the sky.

2. But when the outlets to the furnace underneath are choked up and want cleansing, the fact is indicated by the smoke becoming darker, — by lightnings darting from its towering columns at night; and a hollow noise, heard for miles around, issues from the inside of the mountain.

3. This state lasts for some weeks, during which time the quantity and blackness of the smoke are constantly increasing; and the lightnings grow more vivid and more frequent. Then, on a sudden, flames are seen breaking forth, a thousand feet high, which gradually form a continuous column of fire of sur« passing grandeur.

4. The subterranean roaring and groaning frighten man and beast. The thunder rolls; and the earth trembles and seems to quiver with terror. Earthquakes split the sides of the mountain; and yellow-tinted sulphur-smoke rushes from the rents.

5. By the force of the subterranean fire, new furnaces open, here and there, on the sides of the mountain. The summits of newly raised cones burst with dreadful explosions; and from the orifices blazing fluids are spouted in all directions. 'Huge, glowing fragments of rock are hurled forth; and clouds

of ashes obscure the sun, and fall down upon sea and land like a fiery rain.

6. This grand spectacle continues commonly for several weeks without interruption, being often attended by earthquakes, with their terrific and devastating consequences. At last, the bubbling lava fills the giant tub of the principal crater to the brim; and it streams forth over the wall, a furious torrent, moving on with incredible velocity, and tumbling down the sides of the mountain.

7. Streams of boiling sulphurous water often break forth at the same time from the sides, which, when meeting the torrent of lava, explode with detonations, as from a hundred batteries, audible at the distance p'f twenty leagues. The lava-torrents of iEtna often have a breadth of several miles; and they continue to flow for months, until their subterranean source is exhausted. Then they begin to harden, — a process which often requires a year or two for completion.

8. While the lava is streaming, the flames of the crater, the rain of ashes and stones, and the earthquakes, never cease. Day turns into night, and night, into day. Cities are overthrown; valleys are filled up; forests perish in flames; and where centuries of human labor had created an Eden, a wilderness is left.

9. Yet, in a few decades of years, a fresh and young life sprouts forth on the rent and dreary black crust whicji was once a stream of Are; for the porous lava is soon decomposed, and the warmed soil fosters the most luxuriant vegetation. The fertility of the land around ./Etna is proverbial, and so alluring, that man, though often chased away by these fearful eruptions, invariably returns again.

10. Among the recent eruptions of this volcano, the most celebrated one occurred in 1832, which laid waste the vicinity of Bronte,* and destroyed vast forests. Of older eruptions, none was more terrible than that of 1G69. The very preparations and warnings of the mountain startled all Sicily .f

11. Eighteen days before the outbreak, the heavens were black with smoke; and lightning flashed, and thunder rolled incessantly. At the same time the neighboring volcanoes were agitated with violent convulsions; Stromboli J and Vesuvius § belched forth flames, announcing the crisis of the mightier destroyer.

12. On the 11th of March, after a pause of two hours, JEtna itself burst forth with a sudden and terrible crash toward the direction of Catania; and a fire-torrent, many thousand feet in breadth, at once issued from the vast rent, seeking the plain like a cataract.

13. During the same night, the sides of the mountain opened in many places; and from the fissures the melted lava poured down, wasting and burning all in its course. This continued until the 25th of March, when the volcano was so terribly shattered by earthquakes, that the great cone, a mass eighteen hundred feet high and three miles in circumference at its base, fell in with a crash which made the earth tremble, and struck all Sicily with terror.

* Bron'te, (Bron'ta,) a town of Sicily on the west side of Mount JEtna, 22 miles from Catania. t Sicily. See note, page 351.

t Strom'bo-li, (stromljo-lY,) one of the Lipari Islands, in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Sicily.

g Ve-su'vi-us, a celebrated mountain and volcano in the south of Italy, on the eaa. of the Bay of Naples.

14. The immense gulf thus formed sent forth a volume of flame, ashes, and smoke of proportionate dimensions, and spouted the fragments of the cone, either glowing or halfnielted, some weighing thousands of tons, like shuttlecocks, to the distance of miles.

15. The lava-flood in a little time reached the plains at the foot of iEtna, — then a paradise, studded with towns and villages, and thickly populated. Before its flaming, flashing,, thundering waves, towns fell and were destroyed; and villages and forests vanished like dry leaves before the storm.

16. The huge walls of the city of Catania* were overturned; and after destroying the town completely, the torrent, on reaching the shore, dashed from the high bluffs into the deep sea. The sea, so rudely attacked, foamed mountains high, seething and raging and boiling with a noise more terrible than the loudest thunder.

17. Ancient streams of lava, which had been cultivated for centuries, were melted again by the subterranean heat; and with horror the fugitives beheld farm-houses, vineyards, and woodlands blazing and floating in the fiery inundations till they vanished in the waves.

18. Within the space of forty days,—the period of the eruption, — the houses, the gardens, and the fields of thirty-seven thousand families were destroyed! And of the twenty thousand inhabitants of Catania, seventeen thousand perished!

19. This was not the first time that this ill-fated city had been destroyed by Mount -<32tna. Thrice already had the lava filled her streets; and thrice had it changed life into death. In later times she has repeatedly been overthrown by war, — destruction following destruction; yet Catania has ever risen, fair and bright. •

20. The wonderful fertility of the country, the beautiful situation, and the tropical climate have ever attracted a new population after each overthrow; and, at the present day,

[ocr errors]

Catania has more than seventy thousand inhabitants; and, if not the largest, she is the most prosperous and wealthy city of Sicily.

Questions. — 1. How is the peaceful state of this mountain indicated? 2-4. What Is here said of it? 5. What effect does the subterranean fire have? 6- What is said of the lava? 7. What, of the streams of water? 8. What occurs during the eruption? 9. What is said of the soil in a few years? 10. What two eruptions are here mentioned? Where is Bronte? 11-17. Describe the eruption which took place in 1669. What, and where, is Strombolt? What, and where, is Vesuvius? 19, 20. What 'Is said of Catania in later times ? — What is the character of the composition of this piece? What general rule is applicable in reading it?

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

Errors. — Mor'twl for mor'tal; prog'n'ss for prog'ress; ad-vdnce' for ad-vance1; geid'ance for guid'ance (gid'ance)., •

AN EXTRACT FROM AN ADDRESS.*—Hiixiard.

1. The first great element which we desire to see in female character is virtuous principle; not a mere disposition to. conform to conventional requirements, but a heart really pure,and fond of goodness.

2. Without this, no beauty, no intellectual cultivation, no accomplishments, can make a woman really lovely. It is this property which

"Gives to woman every tender grace,
The smile of angels toll mortal face."

3. The religion inculcated by our Saviour is essential to the perfection of female character; it is the only resource

* This extract is from an address delivered by Henry W. Hilliard, of Alabama, before the young ladies of La Orange Female College, at La Grange, Ga., July 12,1854.

X

« PreviousContinue »