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at the spot where we were, this was difficult, at least for me, as a false step would have been fatal, and no assistance could be given. We lighted our cigars, and, with the assistance of a bamboo, we descended to within eighteen feet of the bottom; here we did not experience any difficulty in breathing, but a sickening nauseous smell. A dog was now fastened to the end of a bamboo eighteen feet long, and sent in;— we had our watches in our hands, and in fourteen seconds he fell on his back; he did not move his limbs or look round, but continued to breathe eighteen minutes. We then sent in another, or rather he got loose from the bamboo, and walked into where the other dog was lying; he then stood quite still, and in ten seconds fell on his face and never moved his limbs afterwards, though he continued to breathe for seven minutes. We then tried a fowl, which died in a minute and a half;... we threw in another, which died before touching the ground. During these experiments we experienced a heavy shower of rain, but were too much interested by the awful scene before us to regard it. On the opposite side of the valley is a large stone, near which is a skeleton of a human being, who must have perished on his back with his right arm under his head;—from being exposed to the weather, the bones were bleached as white as ivory. I was anxious to get this skeleton; but I soon found that any attempt to get at it would have been madness. After remaining two hours in this valley of death we began to retrace our steps, but found some difficulty in getting up; from the late heavy shower the sides of the valley had become slippery; and had it not been for two Japanese behind me, I certainly must have fallen some distance below ;—being rather heavy, I held on by the branch of a tree, when my foot slipped and the branch gave way. On reaching our rendezvous we had some brandy and water, and left this most extraordinary valley,—came down the slippery footpath sometimes on our hams and hands, to the main road, mounted our horses, and returned to Batur.
"' The human skeletons are supposed to have been rebels who had been pursued from the main road and had taken refuge in the difficult valleys. And a wanderer cannot know his danger till he is in the valley, and, when once there, he has not the power or presence of mind to return.'
"You will perceive from the above extract that there is a great difference between this and the Grotta del Cane, near Naples, where the air is confined to a small aperture, while here the circumference is fully half a mile.
"On my arrival in London I shall be happy to hear your opinion of the mineral constitution of the hills near this extraordinary valley, where there is not the least smell of sulphur, nor any appearance of an eruption ever having taken place near it, although I am aware that the whole range is volcanic, there being two craters at no great distance from the side of the road at the foot of the Djung, which constantly emit smoke."
[The above communication was at the same time illustrated by the following extract from a letter, written in 1825, by Mr. Hamilton, then British Envoy at the court of Naples, describing the Lago di Amsancto,
(Amancti Voiles of Virgil,) in the province of Principato Ultra, in the kingdom of Naples. Communicated by that gentleman.]
■* The next morning (Friday the 17th Oct.), we started at seven from Rocca St. Felice to visit the lake of Amsanctus, about a mile and a "half off. The hills here being high up among the mountains, are not in themselves very elevated, and from the ridge of land close to us descended a variety of rills or winter streams, working their way through the soft and moist earth till they meet in a kind of valley, one side of which is still thickly wooded with' a forest of chesnut trees, called Macchia di Rocca St. Felice; and the other would be equally so, but the ground has been cleared, and is now cultivated to within a hundred yards of the foot of the hill. Exactly where the valley begins, we found—(close under a steep shelving bank of decomposed limestone, on which were no signs whatever of vegetation, and on which we found here and there crystals of sulphate of lime, or selenite, impure sulphur, also sulphate of alumina, products of the limestone, &c, acted upon by sulphureous acid gas)—here, I say, we found a lake of a rhomboidal shape, being in its smallest dimension about twenty paces, and not more than thirty in its longest dimension, the water of which continually bubbles up over a large portion of the surface of the lake, with an explosion resembling distant thunder, though not reaching to the height of more than two feet. The water is of a dark ash colour, maybe almost called black, which is the effect of its mixture with earth blackened by the effect of the sulphureous acid gas. On one side of the lake is also a constant and rapid stream of the same blackish water rushing into it from under this barren rocky hill, but the fall is not more than a few feet. A little above are apertures in the ground, through which warm blasts of sulphuretted hydrogen gas are continually issuing, with more or less noise, according to the sizes of the openings,—some are oblong, others perfectly round. On the opposite side of this small lake is another smaller pool of water, on the surface of which are continually floating in rapid undulations thick masses of carbonic acid gas, which are visible one hundred yards off. This pool is called the Coccaio, or Cauldron, as having the appearance of being perpetually boiling. The larger lake is called Mephite, and the openings on the slope above are called Mephitinelle: these openings may be imagined to be the seevi apiracula ditis of Virgil,—and the Cauldron to be the specus horrendum of that poet. (See ./En. vii. 563—571.) The mephitic vapours arising from these waters are at times fatal, particularly when they are borne in a high wind in one direction. In calm weather, as was the case while we were there, the danger is much less, as the carbonic acid gas will not, in its natural state, rise more than two or three feet from the ground, so that we could walk all round the lake and Cauldron, and even step over some parts of it; but it was necessary to take care not to slip, so as to fall; as a very short time, with our faces too near the ground, would have sufficed to fix us to the spot. As it was, I had much difficulty in filling a small bottle with the water from the lake, as I was obliged to hold my head up high while I bent down (the peasants of the neighbourhood endeavouring to alarm us more than necessary by their own fears and ignorance;) nor could I stoop low enough to place an insect on the ground, on which I wished to try the experiment how long it could live on it; but we saw the dead bodies of many strewed upon the ground all round the lake. They say birds too sometimes fall down dead either into the lake or on the banks, and strayed sheep are frequently killed by the vapour. A Mr. Santoli, Inspector of Forests, who accompanied us to the spot, and who, as well ns a Mr. Brocchi, an Italian chemist, has written upon this natural phenomenon, described to us as the gaseous products of the lake,— 1. Carbonic acid gas; 2. Sulphuretted hydrogen gas; 3. Sulphureous acid gas; and, 4. Carbonated hydrogen gas. While Mr. Crawfurd was taking a view of the spot, I endeavoured to sit under the lee of a large stone among the decomposed calcareous rock; but I was soon obliged to quit my position, or rather to quit my neighbourhood to the ground, as I began to experience a disagreeable sensation in my throat, and a difficulty of breathing.
"In the same dip amongst the hills, and about one hundred and fifty yards from the lake, is a small stream of running water, in which, for the space of about ten yards, is a place called "The Vado Mortale," where is also a gurguglio, or bubbling of carbonic acid gas, with a mixture of sulphureous acid gas in the stream itself. The water is here very cold, and not disagreeable, but the earth about is considerably blackened. It is curious enough that there is no appearance of volcanic products in the surrounding country.
"The people in the neighbourhood described to us the noise of the principal lake as much diminished since the opening of the largest of the spiracula, as well as the height to which the bubbles of the water are raised;—of course, in the lapse of many years, many changes are likely to have arisen; but it is curious to observe still so many points of resemblance with the concise description of Virgil, though much must be allowed to the imagination of the poet. Some changes have been effected of late years by an attempt, which has failed, to establish a manufactory of sulphur close by, like that in the Solfaterra, to which we may attribute the disappearance of all remains of a temple (said by Pliny to have existed on the spot) to the Dea Mephitis. There have also been some disputes between the peasantry of the neighbourhood and the lord of the soil, in consequence of their having discovered that the deposit of the water of the greater lake, being a sulphate of alumine, was a cure for the scab or rot among their sheep and cattle. In order to get a quantity of it, they dug pits close to the lake to draw the water off and let it evaporate; and when the proprietor wished to make a profit of it for himself, they opened a ditch and let it all off at once; but Nature would not be so outwitted, and she continues to afford a sufficient supply for all the wants of the villages around; this being connected with another quality of the lake which I have not yet mentioned, namely,—that with a constant current rushing into it, and perhaps a supply from below with the rising gas, there is no apparent exit except when it overflows during the seasons of the rains. Another change had been effected also by another winter torrent very near the lake, which had destroyed a small lake similar to the great one, called the Frepoli, by carrying away at once the ground around it. About a quarter of a mile from the lake, on the hill above, in the corn-fields,
are also two very small pools, from which carbonic acid gas is continually escaping.
I have now told you nearly all we saw or heard of at this spot, which is curious in itself, and interesting from having been celebrated by Virgil, and seldom visited by modern travellers. Swinburne was there, but says very little on the subject. Addison (and many others have followed him) thought that Amsanctus was near Terni; but the authorities of Cicero, de Div. i. 36, and of Pliny, ii. 93, are quite sufficient to prove that it was in the country of the Hirpini.
The former of these writers says, that the earth at Amsanctus was mortifera, and the latter assures us that there was a spot near the temple of Mephitis, quern put intravere, moriuntur.
The Loss Of The Indian Oak.
Sunday, August 30th, A.m.; light westerly winds and fine weather. Barometer falling down to 29*60.
Mr. Field, first officer, one european seaman, one seacunny, and eight Lascars volunteered to proceed in the launch to Chusan. Embarked, and with the small cutter and several Loo-choo canoes, towed her clear of the reefs, when I took my leave and returned to the shore, about 8 A.m., leaving Captain Grainger and the second officer with the cutter to see her clear of the bay, the wind blowing dead on shore.
About lOh. the principal man, Tun-chung-faw, came to me in a great fright, and stated a number of bad men had arrived, to get all the people within the inclosure, and on no account to allow any one ont, as he could not be answerable for their safety: our visiters he called Too-chara men; he appeared much agitated and very anxious the launch should get clear; he repeated in strong terms our visiters were bad men, and not Loo-chooers, but Japanese. A short distance, about 100 yards from our enclosure, the Too-charas had collected, and evidently several of them men of rank, as they had large umbrellas held over them; they were all armed; every man had two swords and a matchlock, or bow and arrows. Tung-chung-faw strongly urged I would have all our arms put out of sight, as if seen by our visiters they would be taken; this, after some remonstrance, I did, the Loo-chooers begging we would make no resistance should the Too-charas come in, but receive them as friends. My reply was, that I should be very happy to see them as friends, but if any attempt at plunder was made I should certainly resist. Our friend was greatly agitated, and assured me, if I trusted to him and would conceal my arms, no resistance or plunder would take place, and that if the arms were seen his own person would suffer. I complied, well-knowing, in the event of an attack, they would be of little use, as we had no ammunition, and little confidence could be placed in any but the officers; nevertheless, I wa determined to put a good face upon the matter. Our launch appeared to make little head-way against the heavy swell rolling into the bay, and I greatly feared she would not get off. This greatly increased the
ENLARGED SERIES.—NO. 6.—TOL. FOR 1841. 3D
anxiety of my Loo-choo friend, who in good English said, "Long-boat come back, very bad. Too-chara man, very bad." These men were evidently soldiers; each wore a dark-blue handkerchief tied round the forehead, and differently dressed to the Loo-chooers. I should say they amounted to between three and four hundred in number; ray friend stated, besides chiefs and followers, they had 270. A party of the Too-charas visited the wreck, and three double canoes, with about fifty to sixty men were sent off, to detain and bring back the launch; fortunately they did not succeed, owing to the firmness of those on board the launch. The cutter towing astern of the launch was seized hold of by all three boats, motioning with their hands for the boats to return. One man, much fairer than the others, speaking very loud and with authority; on their being threatened from the launch, and the second officer and crew getting into the cutter, they let go and made for the shore: of this circumstance I was not aware until Captain Grainger returned; but, as it afterwards appeared, our Loo-choo friends were aware of the attempt, which caused their anxiety. About 2 P.m., the Too-charas moved off aud encamped at the back of the Peekoo village.
Sunset; bar. 25-65; cloudy, with squally appearance to the northward: launch well out clear of the reefs; upon seeing which, and the cutter, with Capt. Grainger and second officer return, our Loo-choo friends became more composed and cheerful, assuring us we should not now be visited by the Too-charas.
Midnight; light, variable winds, and cloudy, with light rain. Monday 31st, A.m.; light westerly winds and fine; long boat not in sight. All hands kept strictly within the fence, and informed, if any wished to visit the wreck they would be accompanied by two Loochoo men; that our Too-chara visiters were still in the neighbourhood. 8h. bar. 29-30.
3 P.m. bar. 29-75, ther. 900; latter part calms, with light variable airs from S.W. to W.N.W.
Tuesday, Sept. 1st, A.m.; light westerly winds and calms. Received permission for our people to visit the wreck as usual.
Noon; bar. 29-80, ther. 85-0; light southerly airs and fine weather. P.m. light showers of rain. Saw two large junks pass standing to the northward. J
Loo-chooers breaking up the wreck; poop and both decks off, with part of the outside planking. Several extra guard-houses building round our station. Midnight, light airs and calms.
Wednesday 2nd, A.m.; light easterly winds and fine weather: wishing to send an officer and part of the crew to the wreck, were informed we could not be allowed to pass the gate of the encampment; against which made a strong remonstrance, and stated it was absolutely necessary to take exercise as a preventative of sickness; upon which was told we must wait an answer from the higher authorities.
Noon, P.m.; received permission to walk within certain prescribed limits; latter part var able winds and calms.
Thursday 3rd, A.m.; light easterly airs and fine. Six small junks standing to the southward.
Noon; bar. 29-80, ther. 66; light easterly winds and fine.