« AnteriorContinuar »
contained nothing more than a reservoir of water. Upon this information, we made an experiment, by throwing down some stones, which rumbling along the sides of the descent for some time, the sound seemed at last quashed in a bed of water. In order, however, to be more certain, we sent in a Levantine mariner, who, by the promise of a good reward, ventured, with a flambeau in his hand, into this narrow aperture. After continuing within it for about a quarter of an hour, he returned, bearing in his hand, some beautiful pieces of white spar, which art could neither equal nor imitate. Upon being informed by him that the place was full of these beautiful incrustations, I ventured in once more with him, about fifty paces, anxiously and cautiously descending, by a steep and dangerous way. Finding however, that we came to a precipice which led into a spacious amphitheatre, (if I may so call it,) still deeper than any other part, we returned, and being provided with a ladder, flambeau, and other things to expedite our descent, our whole company, man by man, ventured into the same opening; and descending one after another, we at last saw ourselves all together in the most magnificent part of the cavern."
The grotto of Antiparos continued.
OUR candles being now all lighted up, and the whole place completely illuminated, never could the eye be presented with a more glittering, or a more magnificent scene. The whole roof hung with solid icicles, transparent as glass, yet solid as marble.
eye could scarcely reach the lofty and noble ceiling; the sides were regularly formed with spars; and the whole presented the idea of a magnificent theatre, illuminated with an immense profusion of lights. The
floor consisted of solid marble; and, in several places magnificent columns, thrones, altars, and other objects, appeared, as if nature had designed to mock the cu riosities of art. Our voices, upon speaking or singing, were redoubled to an astonishing loudness; and upon the firing of a gun, the noise and reverberations were almost deafening. In the midst of this grand amphitheatre rose a concretion of about fifteen feet high, that, in some measure, resembled an altar; from which, taking the hint, we caused mass to be celebrated there. The beautiful columns that shot up round the altar, appeared like candlesticks; and many other natural objects represented the customary ornaments of this rite.
"Below even this spacious grotto, there seemed another cavern; down which I ventured with my former mariner, and descended about fifty paces by means of a rope. I at last arrived at a small spot of level ground, where the bottom appeared different from that of the amphitheatre, being composed of soft clay, yielding to the pressure, and in which I thrust a stick to the depth of six feet. In this however, as above, numbers of the most beautiful crystals were formed; one of which, particularly, resembled a table. Upon our egress from this amazing cavern, we perceived a Greek inscription upon a rock at the mouth, but so obliterated by time, that we could not read is distinctly. It seemed to import that one Antipater, in the time of Alexander, had come hither; but whether he penetrated into the depths of the cavern, he does not think fit to inform us."-This account of so beautiful and striking a scene, may serve to give us some idea of the subterraneous wonders of nature.
Earthquake at Catanea.
ONE of the earthquakes most particularly described in history, is that which happened in the year 1693; the damages of which were chiefly felt in Sicily, but. its motion was perceived in Germany, France, and England. It extended to a circumference of two thousand six hundred leagues; chiefly affecting the sea coasts, and great rivers; more perceivable also upon the mountains than in the valleys. Its motions were so rapid, that persons who lay at their length, were tossed from side to side, as upon a rolling billow. The walls were dashed from their foundations; and no fewer than fifty-four cities, with an incredible number of villages, were either destroyed or greatly damaged. The city of Catanea, in particular, was utterly overthrown. A traveller who was on his way thither, perceived, at the distance of some miles, a black cloud, like night, hanging over the place. The sea, all of a sudden, began to roar; mount Etna to send forth great spires of flame; and soon after a shock ensued, with a noise as if all the artillery in the world had been at once discharged. Our traveller being obliged to alight instantly, felt himself raised a foot from the ground; and turning his eyes to the city, he with amazement saw nothing but a thick cloud of dust in the air. The birds flew about astonished; the sun was darkened; the beasts ran howling from the hills; and although the shock did not continue above three minutes, yet near nineteen thousand of the inhabitants of Sicily perished in the ruins. Catanea, to which city the describer was travelling, seemed the principal scene of ruin; its place only was to be found; and not a footstep of its former magnificence was to be seen remaining.
In the progress of the Divine works and government, there arrived a period, in which this earth was to be called into existence. When the signal moment, predestined from all eternity, was come, the Deity arose in his might; and with a word created the world. What an illustrious moment was that, when, from nonexistence, there sprang at once into being, this mighty globe, on which so many millions of creatures now dwell! No preparatory measures were required. No long circuit of means was employed. "He spake; and it was done he commanded; and it stood fast. The earth was at first without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep." The Almighty surveyed the dark abyss; and fixed bounds to the several divisions of nature. He said, " Let there be light; and there was light. Then appeared the sea, and the dry land. The mountains rose; and the rivers flowed. The sun and moon began their course in the skies. Herbs and plants clothed the ground. The air, the earth, and the waters, were stored with their respective inhabitants. At last, man was made after the image of God. He appeared, walking with countenance erect; and received his Creator's benediction, as the Lord of this new world. The Almighty beheld his work when it was finished; and pronounced it GOOD. Superior beings saw with wonder this new accession to existence. "The morning stars sang together; and all the sons of God shouted for joy."
CHARITY is the same with benevolence or love; and is the term uniformly employed in the New Testament, to denote all the good affections which we ought to bear towards one another. It consists not in specu lative ideas of general benevolence, floating in the head, and leaving the heart, as speculations too often do, untouched and cold. Neither is it confined to that indo. lent good nature, which makes us rest satisfied with being free from inveterate malice, or ill-will to our fellow-creatures, without prompting us to be of service to any. True charity is an active principle. It is not properly a single virtue; but a disposition residing in the heart, as a fountain whence all the virtues of be nignity, candour, forbearance, generosity, compassion, and liberality flow, as so many native streams. From general good-will to all, it extends its influence particularly to those with whom we stand in nearest connexion, and who are directly within the sphere of our good offices. From the country or community to which we belong, it descends to the smaller associations of neighbourhoods, relations, and friends; and spreads itself over the whole circle of social and domestic life. I mean not that it imports a promiscuous undistinguished affection, which gives every man an equal title to our love. Charity, if we should endeavour to carry it so far, would be rendered an impracticable virtue; and would resolve itself into mere words, without affecting the heart. True charity attempts not to shut our eyes to the distinction between good and bad men ; nor to warm our hearts equally to those who befriend, and those who injure us. It reserves our esteem for good men, and our complacency for our friends. Towards our enemies it inspires forgiveness,