The lovely scenery of the Bay of Naples is again made awfully grand and dangerously sublime, by the streams of lava which are descending the sides of this volcano. For the last two years, Vesuvius has been unusually quiet, and has nearly made the world forget the frightful devastations which old eruptions have made, and Neapolitan lazzaroni and Hermitage guides were almost dying of ennui, because their expected stimulant woul'd not vomit forth his clouds of ashes and streams of fire. In May last, there were many indications of a coming eruption, and at the close of last month, it fairly set in. From the crater formed by the eruption of 1794, which is two miles in circumference, clouds of smoke began to issue, and then through the cracks in its sides small streams of melted lava were seen to glide. Gradually, but surely, these have increased in volume, covering the mountain's flank with broadening sheets of melted mineral, crackling as it cools. These streams have now covered many vineyards, and surrounded many houses. Palmieri, the Director of the Observatory, has fled, and all the instruments are removed, as the building was threatened with destruction every minute, and we suppose has long ere this been destroyed. Thousands of persons were congregated on the spot within a short distance of the danger, and feasting, revelling and merry-making were going on where, ere now, the scenes of Herculaneeum and Pompeii may have been again enacted. The people seemed to be perfectly indifferent, and were plucking grapes with great unconcern while their neighbors were fleeing for their lives, and the only sensation which appeared to be awakened among the non-sufferers was that produced by the grandeur of the scene. Vesuvius is very capricious, and this eruption may stop suddenly or may decimate the locality, but up to the last accounts (June 5th) it was increasing in intensity. The first and most dreadful demonstration of this natural forge was in the year 79 A. D., when Pompeii and Herculanum were destroyed, and more than a quarter of a million of human beings were overwhelmed in the resistless flood. In 1631, the town of Torre del Grecco with four thousand people was destroyed, and in 1759, 1767, and 1794 terrible eruptions occurred, being the thirty-fifth time since Pompeii was destroyed, and the second destruction of Torre del Grecco. Since that period, there have been no severe manifestations, with the exception of one of short duration in 1855, and it was hoped, from the gradual decrease of the eruptions that the volcanic action of Vesuvius would cease, and the surrounding country be securely habitable, but such hopes seem now to be vanishing away. EXPLANATION.—Two articles that appear in this number, namely. Snpcrjtjf Qjf American Photographs" and "Hints for KeepingJy were published in a few of jfe first issues of our last week's number. When we heard of the proposition of the Health Officer to open the U. S. frigate Sus-quehanna at this season, and thus expose our inhabitants to the yellow fever, we felt it our duty as a matter of local importance to protest against it ; and we therefore thought proper to stop the press, take out the articles above named, and make room for some remarks upon this proposed outrage on our com-munity.
This article was originally published with the title "Eruption of Vesuvius" in Scientific American 13, 43, 340 (July 1858)