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value of articles, and one is so constantly driven to banter with, and be harassed by those with whom he deals, that he becomes degraded in his own esteem, and almost fancies that he himself is a jockey.
One of our most interesting excursions from Naples, was to Baia, Cuma, and Puzzoli, and the interesting places in their vicinity. Passing near what many suppose to be the tomb of Virgil, we entered the grotto of Pausilypo. This is a tunnel, cut through the solid rock of which the hill is composed, and resembles those which we sometimes meet with in our own country, on the routes of railroads and canals. It is from half a mile to a mile in length, fifty or sixty feet high, and wide enough for two carriages to pass. Two shafts open upwards from the roof, but it is mainly lighted by lamps, suspended along the sides. The region which meets the eye on leaving the grotto, is one of high interest, both in a physical and moral point of view. Puzzoli, formerly Puteoli, was, in early times, one of the most extensive seaports and places of trade, in the world. There, immense quantities of grain, raised on the fertile banks of the Nile, and other costly productions of the East, were landed. In one of the ships engaged in the vast commerce carried on between this port and Alexandria, in Egypt, St. Paul was shipwrecked at Malta; while in another of them, he took his passage thence, by the way of Syracuse and Rhegium, to Puteoli, where, finding Christians, he spent seven days with them before leaving for Rome. Beyond this is Baia, once crowded with the villas of the nobility and Emperors of Rome. Here the wealthy encroached upon the sea, in their eagerness to have a dwelling in a place combining so much of the beauty and highest magnificence, both of nature and of art. Next to this lies Cumæ, founded before the Trojan war, and one of the oldest and most populous cities of ancient Italy. The furthest point of this landscape, is Cape Misenus, a bold promontory, washed by the waves, and round whose base the feet of the Roman Emperors used to anchor. These points command a view of the rich and varied beauties with which the bay of Naples is surrounded; while near them are the Elysian Fields, the fabled abodes of the blessed, and Lake Avernus, with its dark and mysterious interest, and the grotto of the Cumæan Sibyl, the entrance to the world below; places which the genius of Virgil and of Homer have clothed with the rich and splendid drapery of religious poetry and romance. I need not pause to describe the Baths of Nero, and the numerous other mineral springs and wells, in some of which the water has been boiling for thousands of years, by means of volcanic heat. Nor need we notice, in detail, the villas of Cicero, and other distinguished Romans; nor the temples of Mars, and Jupiter; of Mercury, Venus, and Diana : but let us rather ask, - Where is now all this more than regal splendor and magnificence? What now remains of Roman pomp and grandeur, and of Roman vice, profligacy, and corruption! The earthquake and volcano have been busy there, a mountain, hundreds of feet in height, has risen from the famous Lucrine lake, - temples, with their firm and massive pillars, have been overthrown, - splendid mansions and costly villas have sunk beneath the waves, -- squalid filth, indolence, and beggary, now hold their sway where once rose the busy mart, crowded with the commerce of the world, and the whole coast around is broken and seared, presenting, in every direction, the marks of convulsion, desolation, and death. Indeed, the evidence of the just vengeance of Heaven, thus inflicted on a place so notorious for corruption and vice, is here stamped upon the face of nature, in characters more plain and palpable than those in which we read the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, as reflected from the dark and murky waves of that sea of death which now rolls over them.
Lake Avernus is surrounded by high banks, covered with wild vines and forest trees, and, like many other lakes of Italy, seems to occupy the crater of an extinguished vol
Its breadth may be half a mile, but its depth is unknown. It no longer sends forth those volcanic effluviæ, which, if we may credit ancient writers, caused death to birds which attempted to fly over its surface, and which induced the poets to fix upon it as the mouth of Hell. The thick forests which enclosed it, and which led Homer to speak of it as shrouded in eternal night, were cat down by order of the Emperor Augustus ; and Lake Avernus, like a thousand other objects of classic interest which I have witnessed, seemed strangely different, when lying directly before me, from what it appeared to be when viewed at a distance, through the wild and exaggerated medium of high-wrought poetic imagery.
The entrance to the Grotto of the Cumæan Sibyl, like that of almost every temple and other place of curiosity in Italy, is secured by a gate, that thus a fee may be extorted from
travellers, for the privilege of visiting them. We were lighted by two large torches, and thus passed along the “Facilis descensus Averni.” This passage, which is ten or twelve feet high, and as many broad, was probably made at first to shorten the distance between Lake Averpus and Cumæ. Even now the light can be seen glimmering through, at the end opposite that which we entered. The thought that Ulysses and Æneas had descended there before us, produced some symptoms of the classic fever; but though we did not bear for a defence the mystic golden bough, yet we saw no signs of grim old Cerberus, nor of Charon with his boat, nor Minos, the Inquisitor-General, nor the Furies with their hair of twisted snakes. At the distance of twenty or thirty rods from the entrance, a narrow passage turns to the right; and there, mounting on the shoulders of men, we passed through the dark waters of the lower regions, and were shown the niche from which the Sibyl used to utter her responses. Then it was that all our classic feelings forsook us; for though the sulphureous fumes of our torches, with which we were welloigh suffocated, might strongly remind us of old Pluto's realms, yet the ludicrous figure which we made, thus mounted on our guides, threw us into fits of laughter. What made the matter worse, was, that the heaviest man of our party, beneath whose weight even a donkey would bend, was carried by the smallest of the guides. The poor fellow crippled beneath his load; and, as the water was higher than his knees, he let down the feet of his rider into it; and what with the wheezing of the one, and the reeling and gasping of the other, it was a scene worthy of the pencil of Hogarth, or the pen of Cervantes.
The temple of Jupiter Serapis, at Puzzoli, presents ruins of uncommon interest. It was disinterred about eighty years 'since, and is one hundred and fifty feet long, and more than one hundred feet in breadth. It was surrounded by porticos composed of columns of red Egyptian marble, of which three only are now standing. They are sixty feet high, and eighteen in circumference. The pavement, with its mosaics, is now covered, to the depth of a few inches, with water, and parts of the splendid columns which supported the circular shrine in the centre, are still standing.
Ascending the hill in the rear of Puzzoli, we came to an amphitheatre, older than the Coliseum, at Rome, and nearly as large. Though the upper part is in ruins, yet the arches below are, many of them, perfect. It is regarded with great sanctity, from the fact that St. Januarius, the patron saint of Naples, here performed many miracles, and was at length torn in pieces by wild beasts. The fable of the liquefaction of the blood of this saint, on a given day each year, and also that he still performs many miracles, is religiously believed by great multitudes in Naples.
Solfaterra is on a hill more than a mile from Puzzoli. It is the crater of a volcano, which is still burning. The basin is of a circular form, and half a mile in diameter. It is enclosed by banks from fifty to one hundred feet in height, and its surface is covered with marl of a brown color, and so hot as quickly to burn the naked skin. Smoke issues from a number of orifices, which, at night, becomes a blue and lambent flame. Murat commenced obtaining materials for gunpowder here. The earth, which is highly charged with sulphur, is put into large boilers, where the sulphur, being fused by heat, sinks, and is drawn off by an orifice at the bottom. The earth reverberates with a hollow sound, when a large stone is thrown upon it. At the further end of the crater a number of large iron pots, for the preparation of alum, were placed near each other, and the liquid in them is kept constantly boiling, from the natural heat below. It was evident, that but a thin covering separated us from the tossing lake of fire and brimstone which rolled under our feet; and that but a slight convulsion of nature would fully disclose the flaming depth beneath. Such a scene could hardly fail of bringing vividly to mind, that strong and spirited imagery which is used in Scripture, in order to give us an idea of the sufferings of the lost. Our own situation, too, bore no slight analogy to the moral condition of those, who, reckless of the future, eagerly pursue the gay and airy phantoms of wealth and pleasure, while fiery billows roll beneath their feet.
Solfaterra excites peculiar interest from the fact, that Milton is supposed to have derived from it some of the most splendid imagery which he employs in describing the infernal regions. Thus was suggested what he says of the firm brimstone which filled all the plain : “ The burning marl, o'er which, with unblest feet, the arch-fiend held his way," “The plain, which underneath, had veins of liquid fire."
We returned from this excursion just at evening, and entered the city by the way of the Villa Reale. This is a long and broad street, where an immense number of carriages may
be seen for two or three hours every pleasant afternoon, pass. ing along in solid columns, and freighted with the wealth, nobility, and fashion of Naples. On one side of this street is a row of lofty houses, while on the other, for near a mile in extent, it is separated from the sea by a beautiful park, adorned with shaded walks, flower-gardens, fountains, and statues, which, united with the cool and beautiful sea breeze, make it a most delightful place for an evening promenade.