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of another Precipice. This was less steep, but much deeper than the former. Our Guide placed himself on his Breech, and, with his Torch held up in both Hands, flid down with a frightful Rapidity : We followed him, and I hoped we were now at the Bottom. Alas! what an Imagination! We had Leisure here to breathe again, and there was something in the perfect Stillness of the Place that appeared awful, and yet pleasing: It was a frightful Confideration to think how far we were out of the Reach of Day; but our Torches and Flambeaus burnt well, and all about us was sufficiently enlightened : The Air was not at all close or disagreeable as if confined, but warm and pleasant, and fo, perfectly out of the Reach of all Interruption, we had Opportunities of examining very favourably all about us.
The Rocks at the sides of the Cavern in which we now stood, were in general of a Kind of Porphyry, with a great deal of Purple in it; a Stone very frequent in these Islands, and which would certainly be very beautiful if cut: The rough and prominent Edges in several Parts of these, were at once terrible and beautiful. The Roof was out of the Reach of the Eye, at least the Light of the Flambeaux did not reach it with Strength sufficient to give us any diftinct View of it. The Floor or Pavement was of a Stone quite different from the Sides, a rough and soft grey Flag-stone, like those of some Parts of Yorkshire, which they use in Building; and in this there were lodged a vast Number of petrified Shells, cornua ammonis, & canchae anominae, which stood up above the Level, and made it very disagreeable to the Feet.
From this Place our Conductor led us to the Brink of another Precipice, not deep, but horribly steep. He in a Moment flung himself down this, and then turned a Ladder, which hung down on one Side, and thrusting it up within the Reach of our Feet, held the Bottom steady while we descended by it: I cannot remember any Thing equal to the Terror I conceived at letting myself down with my Breast to the Rock, and hanging by my Hands above, to get my Feet to the top Round of this Ladder. From hence I descended with less Pain : But it was a terrible Prospect, from the Left Hand to see Precipices and opening Caverns ready to swallow any one up, who should have the least Slip with the Foot. From the Plain on which we found ourfelves after this last Descent, we were conducted along narrow and low Passages, and sometimes through broader, but all the Way upon the Descent to a considerable Distance.
Here I was in Hopes we were at the End of our Expedition ; but no such Matter : Our Guide, who had been once before down, crept with trembling Feet before us, and warned us of a Precipice more terrible than any of the former : This was no way to be descended but by Means of a Ladder, that was brought on Purpose by our Guides, and unfortunately it was not quite so long as it should have been. We had great Difficulty to let the Fellow down by a Rope, and when he had fixed the Ladder, we had the same Difficulty as before to get to the first Round. From the Bottom of this Cavern, which was not Rock like the rest, but Earth, and somewhat moist, proceeded to another Declivity too deep for our Ladder, but not so steep as to have absolute Necessity for it. We were reduced to fix our Cord once again here, and one by one to slide down the Rock on our Backs, with a firm Hold to the Rope. The Ridge of the Rock on which we made our Way in this Descent, terminated on the Right Hand very abruptly, and we could diftinguish Water in the Depth below.
When we had got to the Bottom of this last Descent, the Danger was over, but we were not yet at the End of our Expedition ; we had yet a long and uncomfortable Way; we crept sometimes on all Fours, sometimes we nid on our Backs, and in other Places we were obliged to crawl on our Bellies over very ragged Rocks, where there was not three Feet Height in the Passages. All this was continued thro' a gradual Descent. We at length arrived at a vast Bed of Rock, which threw itself in such a Manner before us, as it seemed to stop all farther Passage ; but our Guide promised better Things. He left us in the Care of one of his Fellows, and taking the rest with him round the jetting Rock, desired us to wait his Return a few Minutes. He took that Opportunity to enlighten the Grotto, at the very Entrance of which we now were ; they had tied Flambeaux to many Parts of the Rock that stood out beyond the rest, and had fixed several on the Floor: These were all blazing when he led us in.
The most uncomfortable Part of the Expedition had been that we had last of all suffered, left only with one Guide, enlightened only by one Flambeau, in a narrow Passage, and with a Rock before us ; but from this the Change was beyond Description amazing. He led us into the Grotto, the Opening of which is behind the prominent Rock: The Light of eight Flambeaux in full Blaze was at first too much for the Eyes; the Splendor of the whole Place almost intolerable. We found ourselves in a Cavern the most amazing, and at the same Time the most beautiful that could be conceived.
The Grotto is a vast Vault, the Roof arched and irregular, the Pavement in some Places very even, and in others rough enough; the sides, which in some Places form Sweeps of Circles, are in some of the naked Rock, but in others they are covered with an infinite Variety of Incrustations. The Height of VOL. III.
the Roof is about eighty Feet, the Length of the Grotto about three Hundred, and its Breadth nearly as much: The greatest Depth is towards the Middle, but not exactly in the Center. We were now between nine hundred and a thousand Feet from the Surface of the Ground where we came in; nor is this the Depth of the Defcent; our Guides told us, that the Passages continued between seven and eight hundred Feet deeper; but this we took their Words for, as we suppose they had taken that of some others; for it is not probable that any Body went farther than this place.
I know not where to begin describing it; among fuch Variety of Splendor what can deserve first Notice? The Dropftones hanging like Icicles from the Roof of Caverns in the Mines, and in the Æolian Hills, the Incrustations of different Kinds on their Sides, and Masses of fine Spar at the Bottom; those who have not seen the Grotto of Antiparos may think beautiful : But it is here they are found in a Perfection that makes every Thing elsewhere appear contemptible. The Matter which forms these Incrusta. tions in other Places is often very clear and bright; but it is where so pure as in this; it is here perm fect bright Crystal, and the Surface of the Cavern, Roof, Floor, and Sides, are covered with it. You. will think this alone must have been fine; but the Form into which it was thrown exceeds the Materials. And think what must be the Splendor of an Arch thus covered, and thus illuminated! The Light of the Flambeaux was reflected from above, from below, and from all Sides; and as it was thrown back froni Angle to Angle among the Ornaments of the Roof and Sides, gave all the Colours of the Rainbow. į It was long that the Eye was lost in such a complicated Blaze of Splendor, before I could direct it to any particular Object; at length I began to view
the Roof, hung with pendant Gems as it appeared : In thefe Caverns there is always an ouzing of Water from the Roof, or there are Vapours afcending from below, which in the Hollows are condensed into a Water; either the one or the other of them contains at all Times the Particles of this crystalline Matter. The Quantity of Water is small, and its Course Now; it hangs and trickles in Drops from the Top, or it runs in the same slow Stream along the Side: In either Case it leaves behind it that crystalline Matter which it had contained, and spreads a little Glazing on either Wall, or forms the Rudiment of a stony Icicle from the Roof: Every following Drop extends the Icicle, or enlarges the Glazing; and, in Length of Time, covers the Wall, and forms a thousand inverted Pyramids from the Roof. Nor is this all : what Drops fall from the Top ftill contain a little of the crystalline Matter, though it had left the greater Part above, and this Remainder separates from it there. By this Means is formed the plain Glazing of the Floor, where the Drops fall faster ; where they succeed one another more flowly there are formed Congeries of this pure ftony Matter, of various Forms and Shapes, and in aiz infinite Variety. This is the general System of the Incrustations and Ornaments of Grottoes; and this of Antiparos, as one of the largest and deepest in the World, contains them in the greatest Perfection.
We entered among a Grove of crystal Trees; the Floor was in general of a fimooth and glofly Spar, fo M. called it, but I call it Crystal, of which it has all the Appearances. We walked on this bright Pavement in a Kind of ferpentine Meander, among Shrubs and taller Masses of this Crystal, rising from the common Pavement with large and thick Stones, and spreading out into Heads and Tufts of Branches. Some of these were eight or ten Feet high, the Generality between two and five Feet. They were all