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of the same Materials with the Floor ; and what added vastly to their Beauty, as well as their Refemblance of Trees, was, that they were not smooth on the Surface, but covered all over with little shining Points: These, when examined, appeared to be Pyramids of the same Matter. They were in general about a Fifth of an Inch high, and of a triangular Figure: Their Bases, which grew upon the Mass, stood pretty close to one another ; but their Tops distinct. The Breaking of the Light from the Flambeaux among these innumerable Prominences, and all of them angular, had a very fine Effect. At some Distance from the Entrance we came up to a Pillar of Crystal of seven Feet in Height, and more than a Foot in Diameter. This rises immediately from the Floor, and is of equal Thickness to the Top: Its Surface is very glossy, and of a pure and perfect Lustre. About this there stands three or four others, of four Feet high, and a proportionate Thickness: One of these has been broken, and the Piece lies by it. Our Guides defired us to examine the Stump at its Top, and shewed us that it was like that of a Tree which had been cut off. They bid us remark the Heart, and the several Circles of the softer Wood round it. They told us, this was exactly the same as in the growing of Trees; and assured us, that these Trees of Crystal grew from the Floor in the same Manner. This is a System worthy the Intellects of Peasants : But we, who knew that these Columns, like the rest of the Ornaments of the Floor, are formed by Matter left from Drops of Water following one another in long Succession, saw a better Reason for the whole being composed of Crufts one over another. All the Stalactites or stony Icicles of the Top, and even the Covering of the Sides, is composed of a Number of Crufts laid over one another in the fame Manner. On the other parts of the
Floor, Floor, we faw little Hillocks of Crystal made in the fame Manner; and in some of the hollower Parts there lay a Parcel of round Stones as white as Snow, and of the Bigness of Musket Bullets. These, when broken, were composed of Crufts laid over one another just in the Manner of all the other Concretions, and in the Center of one of them we found a Drop of Water. The sides of the Grotto next came into consideration ; and what a Variety of Beauties did they afford! In fome Places the plain Rock is covered with a vast Sbeet of this Crystal, like a Cake of Ice, spread eveniy over it, and of the Thickness of an Inch or two; its Surface perfectly smooth, and every where following the Shape of a Rock. In other Places, this Sheet of Crystal is variegated with a strange Quantity of irregular and modulated Figures all over its Surface. These were in some Spots more raised, in others less; but their Meanders very beautiful. In other Parts, where the Walls were so prominent that Drops from the Roof could reach them, there grew from their Surface, in the same Manner as from the Floor, Shrubs of Crystal; but these were in general lower, and more spreading than the Floor. We faw, a great Number of about a Foot and Half in Height, rising from each a single Stone, thick and irregular, and spreading into a globular Head, of a Diameter almost equal to their Height. No Part of the Grotto appeared more beautiful than the sides where these were more frequent. They were some of them pure and colourleis, others white as Snow, and all of them covered over the whole Surface with those little Pyramids I have mentioned before. This however is little to the principal Beauty of the Sides. In some Places the Sheet of Crystal, instead of clinging immediately to the Wall' or Rock, stood out at a Distance from it, forming a Kind of Curtain of pure pellucid Matter. This was an Appear
ance at once singular and elegant, beyond all Things of the kind that I had feen or read of. These Cure tains of Crystal were ten or twelve Feet in Breadth, and in Height often twenty or more: They took their Origin from fome Part of the Sweep of the Arch, and hung to the Floor. They usually were contiguous to the Wall at one Edge, and at a con fiderable Distance at the other, so that they formed a Kind of Closets or Apartments within, which were very beautiful, and led an Afpect unlike all Things in the World. These Curtains of Crystal were not plain, but folded and plaited; and their Undulations added not a little to their Beauty. If in any Parts they projected out so far as to take more of the falling Drops, they were there covered with little Pyramids of Crystal, such as those of the Trees and Shrubs on the Floor; but all the Rest of the Expanse of the smooth and gloffy.
It yet remains that I describe the Roof of this wonderful Place; but there are not Terms in Language to express such a Variety of Objects which those who have hitherto used Language have never seen. In some Parts their diverged Rays of pure and glossy Crystal, in the Manner of a Star, form a lucid Center, stretching themselves to two or three Yards Diameter. In another, Clusters like vast Bunches of Grapes hung down; and from others there were continued Fcftoons, loose in the Middle, but fixed at cither End, and formed of a vaft Variety of Representations of Foliage, Fruits, and Flowers. There is a Rudenefs in all thote, that would, whenever one faw them, fpeak them the absolute Work of Nature ; but Art would be proud to in te them.
At cvery little Space between these there hung the Stalactites, or ftony Icicles, as they are called, in a surprising Number, but of a Magnitude inuch more surprising. Some of these bave doubtless been many
hundred Years in forming, and they are from ten to twenty or thirty Feet in Length. One hangs nearly from the Center of the Grotto, which mult be considerably more than that; it is eight or nine Feet longer than all the others, and at the Base seems five or fix Feet in Diameter. It is a Cone in Form, and its Point tolerably fine. Could a Thing of this Kind be got off whole, and conveyed into Europe without Injury, what would the Virtuofi say of it? A Cone of this Bignels of pure Crystal would be a more pompous Curiosity than all their Collections.
At the Points of many of these, and on some other Protuberances on the Grotto, we saw single Drops of a perfectly pellucid Water hanging: This was what had left its Crystal on their Sides, and had been adding its little Portion of Subitance to their Bulk.
Nearly under the Center of the Arch there is a large Pyramid of natural Congelations of the shrubby Kind of those already mentioned. It is the finest Cluster on the whole Floor, and is ornamented with a Parcel of Feftoons and Cones from the overkanging Part of the Roof, which make a Kind of Attic Story to it. Behind it there is one of the natural Closets curtained off from the main Hollow of the Grotto, and full of beautiful Congelations. They call this Pyramid, The Altar. Some of the Pieces have been cut down; and upon the Basis of the Pyramid we read an Inscription that puzzled us extremely, Hic ipse Christus adfuit ejus natali die media nocte celebrat). There was a Date of 1673 annexed; but not being of the Roman Communion, we could by no Means make out the Meaning of the Words, till our Guide had informed us, that a French Person of Quality, Ambassador to the Porte, had caused Mass to be celebrated there with great Solemnity on Christmas-day at that Time, and had
spent two or three Days in the Grotto with a numerous Company.
Whilft I was at the Bottom, the Thoughts of getting up again gave ine Pain enough, and the Sed revocare gradum of Virgil, rose up in my Mind with all its Terrors. However, I am out, and all is well. It was a horrible Piece of Work, and I shall have Occasion to remember it, being more hurt and bruised from this single Expedition, than from my whole Voyage, &c.
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