Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

us

as

was

perfumes, of secret charms, as if tufts of grass. Even these soon beneath the veil of the gentle dark- became scarcer, and gradually we ness were hid many sweet secrets. were surrounded by the black waste. The old experience occurred to me, Nature, when she rages in her primthat Italy gives us northerners a itive fury, terrifies

with piece of the magical charms and evil, man-hating powers, but no

rils of the Tropics. Nature here where do her traces seem so really comes so cordially near us, yet in ugly, so adverse to all our senses, her gentle embrace lies something as on the bare lava fields. In the which softly seizes on the nerves of meantime we still advanced pretty the soul and dissolves thought and rapidly. The line of Vesuvius when will in delightful sensation. seen from Sorrento is exceedingly

Next morning we departed at beautiful; it goes up and down in day break. It a wonderful one pure delineation. As beautiful morning, the 27th April, fresh and as the mountain appears to the eye, colored and bright everywhere. as easy is it to ride up, because it April, the Italian month of flowers, rises everywhere gently and unihad not brought us this year much formly. One is on a consideragood; it had been a very damp ble height before one suspects it, April in Rome, a bitter northern and the view back on the splendid companion. But these last days at plains below becomes always wider the Bay were like the finest May and more magnificent. days with us, only interwoven with While the lava fields at Bosco tre Italy's golden sun and her wealth Case have been formed since fifty of flowers. The roses blossomed years, we came in an hour and a upon hedges and walls. The broad half to a species of small plateau cactuses and aloes shone leaden where two streams of lava cross one green in the sun, and the houses another, one of which was still seemed buried in vine leaves. smoking a little. This one was a

In Bosco tre Case the people put fortnight old, the other had flowed their heads out of the windows, and more than twenty years before. my companion often received a From this out it became steeper, friendly “ Early up, early up! bella and our horses had to take hold in donna.!” But scarcely had we left earnest. “ Macaroni! Macaroni !" the town behind us than three men was the cry with which the guides with cords and sticks came trotting urged them on. This word, which by our side. I knew the fellows exercises the greatest charm on the from old experience, and prepared people, must also sound joyfully in myself for an endless clatter of the ears of their horses. Neverthewords to the top of Vesuvius. It less they were cruelly beaten. Some did not last long, however, we saw

Italians treat their animals like them moving up to the mountain, machines, which feel nothing. I gray points on the dark ground. had to think of an esteemed lady They seemed so lazy, yet proceeded friend of mine in Rome, who in the so rapidly.

goodness of her heart had founded The vineyards accompanied us an asylum for old horses, in order far up the heights, when guides that they might not be whipped to and horses had been long since death under the Droskies.

A rewading in lava gravel. Wherever volting spectacle was by this means there was an opening in the black removed from the streets; but the lava rubbish a pair of vines spread Italians laughed at the waste of their green leaves in the dry desert. money, and a priest was not a little At length they ceased, here and indignant,-because horses had no there were still to be found coarse souls of their own! Our poor horses

[ocr errors]

panted and clambered up slowly, back of a black living monster were and began to stumble. We were rising up under one's feet and one heartily glad when the halting place were climbing up to his jaws. was reached and we alighted. If ** At length," said the guide, you fall here with your horse, you we are on the top; no farther can will not escape contusions, because we go." Not at all agreeably surthe pieces of lava are as sharp as prised, I saw a considerable mounglass and iron.

tain on my left, on whose summit The three men, who were waiting it unceasingly smoked, rattled, at the balting-place, rushed towards thundered, and discharged huge us to hold our horses and offer fragments of ashes and stones up sticks and cords. As we bad two to the sky. Before us, round the men with us, we did not need so foot of this head of Vesuvius, many services, and then began towards the side which is turned that wild play of grimaces, protes- from the sea, was a long break like tations, and oaths, which are meant a narrow smoking terrace, covered to soften or frighten the stranger. with ashes and pieces of lava, and They conjured us in a stream of streaks of yellow sulphurous dust. words; if they had shortened their From here down the streams of sweet night's rest for nothing and lava had poured quite recently into potbing only ? Merely on our ac- the valley, which formerly opened count had they got up so early. deep between the Somma and the Therefore we should be grateful cone of ashes. The sharp reefs of and considerate to them. As I the Somma still, indeed, projected, proceeded on, only laughing and but at their feet now lay heaped-up jesting with them, all five followed disorder like the remains of a us, and one cried louder than frightful deluge of black rubbish, another. But the higher

we sand, and stones. Also here above mounted the more civil they be- all was changed. Five years ago came, and at last all was pleasant Vesuvius had a broad flat summit, and satisfactory, when my wife in the middle of which was sunk seized on the cord of one and al- the circular crater. Of this sumlowed herself to be dragged along. mit only the edge seemed to me to Then the others stayed behind, and be left, on which we struggled forwished us friendly a good journey. ward, and the new cone of eruption

One could easily make the last near us had lifted itself out of the piece of the way passable for horses; old crater. What was formerly a for the present ascent from Pompeii, mountain of ashes now showed which is frequently, as it were, itself covered with hardened paved with pieces of lava, is not to streams of lava. One could also be compared with the former cone of see by the flying stones which ashes. For a lady, it is always a poured out thickly at the edge of laborious task to climb up between the new summit, that there no flat ashes and broken stones and blocks. surface any longer surrounded the Even a man must often stop to crater. take breath, because the air is so It was a real land of hell into warm. However, the whole is which we three were steering, all child's play to that which a chamois full of smoke, which now curled hunter goes through on the chase upwards, and now rolled lazily with his ritle on his shoulder. Our away, all black or gray or sulphumountains, indeed, are quite silent. rous yellow, rubbish, ashes, and Ascending the heights of Vesuvius, fragments thrown up above one one bas, on the contrary, the un- another as high as a house, and pleasant feeling as if the broad from the thunderer and rattler on the top new stones and blocks were ceeded, was only a hundred steps continually falling down. The farther up. As we wished to go to ground was hot everywhere, and if it, and the guide saw that my comone only pushed away a piece with panion had courage enough, he the foot, the warm vapor immedi. seized her again under the arm, ately poured out. A glance back- and the uncouth-looking man led

wards, when the smoke divided, on and lifted her skilfully and attenthe glittering landscape, on the tively over the clods and blocks light blue gulf beneath, it was as if which had very sharp edges. We from hell into paradise. Only the had to make a little circuit, which devil's kitchen was here high above, again led us through frightful sulwhile one thinks usually of the phurous vapors, and then clambered dear angels being in the blue at- up to the warm edge, until we stood mosphere.

close before the oven which vomited We first came to a circular gur- forth the red-hot stream. The lava gling hole of about ten feet in diame- came just like a stream from a ter, from which poured out steam steep mountain, which breaks out and warm sulphurous air. One suddenly without any grotto or looked down into the black gulf as cave, and flows down rapidly. On into a

round smoking chimney. its exit from the mountain the mass Pieces of lava, which I threw down, was glowing red; but in the air the gave no sound of striking against surface began to harden immedianything. Thus, far greater than ately, and break up into black scales the opening above is the interior and pieces. excavation, as if it were covered Never shall I forget the quarter with a crust. Were bandits to of an bour which I spent at this visit now, as they did five years lava fountain. The crater was ago, the heights of Vesuvius, they straight above us, and did its work would find this very convenient, if with hellish magnificence. Every they wished to destroy the traces two to three minutes there was a of some murderous robbery. For shove through the clouds of steam what is thrown into this gulf is which veiled the summit. Before doubtless consumed in a moment, this every time a dull roaring went skin and bones, by the glowing on, as if deep in the earth, the mass in its depths.

latter began to tremble gently, then When we had gone a few steps followed hissing and gurgling, then farther, the guide pointed to a rose whistling, rattling, thundering living stream before us. It seemed innumerable stones and blocks in a from the distance like black streaks perpendicular line to the sky with and shadows moving away rapidly incredible rapidity, whirling clouds in a vapor. To come up to it, we of ashes and steam between. High had to pass through a little hollow. in the air all spread out, and fell The guide lifted and belped my back into the crater like rain. wife quickly over it. I stumbled a Often the ashes were blown towards moment; it was but a second that I us; thousands of stones also fell had bent my head, but I thought I over the walls of the crater, and should have fallen lifeless, so stifling danced and tumbled down the was the hot fume of the sulphur. At heights, many times huge blocks the edge of the lava stream, we had rolled to our very feet. All went before us, as it were, a breaking as if by time, just as regularly as up of black floes, between which the the work of a colossal steam-kettle, red-hot mass looked out gloomily. which, indeed, would have to be The heat was terrible, for the open- four thousand feet high, and of in

, from which the stream pro- conceivable breadth at the bottom.

ocean.

It was as if subterranean water was could not reach it under half an entering the fire mountain by min- hour, and we could not see a partiutes and seconds, changed into cle on the top from the smoke and steam, and thrown out with all the clouds." rubbish which was in the chimney. As the guide persisted in his reWhenever there were two feebler fusal, there remained nothing for eruptions, one was certain to fol- us in the meantime but to breaklow which was so much the more fast. Stretched on the warm ashes, powerful, and which stood for a we let our eyes wander over the moment in the air like a gigantic splendid plains beneath. How the black tuft. I cannot tell how this gulf shone! How the mountain slow, solemn measure moved me, peaks projected deep blue into the in which the most enormous powers pure ether! Before and beneath of nature were here working. How us the true air of heaven, like a often bave I in the silent night sea of deep, pure water, so enticleaned overboard and watched the ing and so lovely that one might regular heaving and sinking of the wish for a swing to rock one's

As formerly on the sea, self and float in this pure element, here on the raging volcano I was -and then a hot fume of sulphur filled with a presage of the immu- came suddenly out of the black table swinging hither and thither waste bebind us, full of smoke and of the ever restless, ever equal pen- vapor and fury. Before us the air dulum, by which the immeasurable glittered with splendor and clearuniverse does its work.

ness, and if we turned round we The wind, which had hitherto could see it trembling over the helldriven the clouds of steam away ish oven, just as the air with us in from us, changed somewhat its winter trembles over the hot stoves. direction. Suddenly we breathed On the whole side of the mounin sulphurous vapors, scarcely tain the different streams of hard could we see the ground. More lava stretched clear down. The quickly than we had ascended, we stream which had poured down on hastened back to the point of exit. this side a fortnight before bad There the air was free, and the won- reinained on half the height of the derful prospect unspeakably re- mountain, and stretched over the freshing aud beneficial.

gray fields of ashes like a broad I bad observed that the eruptions river of black clods and pieces. fell only over one part of the sum- Deeper beneath, the older lava had mit, and that the clouds which formed a dark lake in the green veiled the crater had, moreover, pastures. Still farther down lay longer interstices between them. the ruins of Pompeii, which had I therefore proposed to the guide imbedded itself right in the midst that we should go from the place of a fruitful semicircle, beautifully where we now saw the movement bounded by hill and sea. of the lava only from a distance up Yet the eye was always drawn to the last height. He refused, away from the land as by a sparkling however, most decidedly. “It is mass of light to the gulf and its much too dangerous when the shining surface. Here, deep bemountain is as uneasy as it is now. neath us, the steep incline of VeHe would not take the responsibility. suvius rose straight up from the A stranger who had gone up three mirror of the sea. At both sides days before had returned with a the rocky coasts and, opposite, the shattered arm, half dead, struck by strand of the islands, were a falling block of lava. What did rounded by a mist like a thin sil. we want on the summit? We ver veil, but high above, throned in

sur

the blue sky, sharply notched, rose inica-so our guide was called-had

on the left the high-peaked Mont seated himself tranquilly. But Angelo; in the middle, the buge when we entered the clouds, he rock of Capri, lying straight before sprang up suddenly, was with us in the gulf; on the right, the proud a few bounds, and played again the royal head of the Epomeo at Ischia. diligent and obliging servant, pickOn a sharper examination, white ing his way skilfully between the points sparkled through the whit- yellow heaps of sulphur. In less ish mist, -the Castle of St. Elmo, than ten minutes we were on the Nisita Vivara, Procida, Ischia. top. As if stunned, we stood in

Yet also in our vicinity there was the beginning at the howling and something to see. Around our raging and crashing before us and breakfast-place there swarmed lit- beneath us. We looked as if from tle narrow chafers of a dark-brown the sharp edge of a wild uptorn color, like those one finds with us chain of mountains down into a under every loose stone. How came huge black gulf, full of steam, from they up? When one scratched the which boiling currents of air and ashes with a stick, a couple of them black masses were thrown up. By would fall dead immediately from degrees, when the clouds divided a the hot exhalation. They had not, little, the outlines became clearer therefore, crawled up. Neither and the view more quiet for obsercould their larvæ have lain among vation. It was the most frightful, the old rubbish; for the ashes, and at the same time most magnifiwhich had covered it, had come too cent, scene, one of those spectacles lately from the crater above us. which fix themselves powerfully in The chafers must, therefore, have the memory and remain benceforth been, while flying—for they had indestructible, just as when one has wing-sheaths—taken in swarms by seen for the first time the great a current of air, and carried up the ocean in a wild storm and tempest. mountain. Still, their great num- Five years before, as already reber remains enigmatical. This marked, the crater was on the level swarming little life near the hot summit of the mountain, in the jaws of desolation.

middle of which it formed a beautiWhen our breakfast was eaten, ful wide circle. Its inner walls and our guide appeared in better shone in every color, diversified humor, I again urged him to at- and hung with the most beantiful tempt climbing up the mountain. crystals of sulphur, green and red Again, with every appearance of and yellow and brown. The botterror, be refused and implored us tom was a level ground of ashes and to come some other day, when the sulphur; here and there a little cleft mountain was quieter. I asked him showed itself, out of which steam what he would do if we went up drizzled up. The whole was an without him? Then he would wait empty kettle of immense diameter two hours, he said, and, if we did sunk into the flat head of the mounnot come back, he would go down tain, quite empty, and with beautiand give notice. As my wife, also, ful yellow sides. had long been convinced that there It was now altogether different. was no danger, we began to climb The crater seemed much smaller up. It was not so difficult, because and much less deep, but it had black the ground, although very hot in fissured walls with sharp reefs, just some places, consisted less of loose like the Somma when seen from beashes than of stones and a new kind low. A deep and black uptorn of sulphur-cakes. On looking back mountain peak would give the best I saw that our good Curzo Dom- idea of it. The ground, however,

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »