Sayfadaki görseller

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, fometimes 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 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 soine Places form Sweeps of Circles, are in fome 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 Centre. We were now between nine hundred and a thousand Feet froin the Surface of the Ground where we came in; nor is this the Depth of the Descent ; our Guides told us, that the Passages continued between feven 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 deferve first Notice? The Dropstones hanging like Icicles froin 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 Incrustations in other places is often very clear and bright; but it is no where so pure as in this; it is here perfect 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 Mates rials. 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 from Angle to Angle among the Ornaments of the Roof and Sides, gave all the Colours of the Rainbow.

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 these Caverns there is always an ouzing of Water from the Roof, or there are Vapours ascending from below, which in the Hollows are condenfed 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 flow; it hangs and trickles in Drops from the Top, or it runs in the same flow Stream along the Side : In either Cafe it leaves behind it that crystalline Matter which it had contained, and fpreads 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 still contain a little of the crystalline Matter, though it had left the greater Part above, and this Remainder feparates 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 slowly there are formed Congeries of this pure stony Matter, of various Forms and Shapes, and in an infinite Variety. This is the general System of the Incrustations and Ornaments of Grottos; 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 smooth and gloffy 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 Mafles of this Crystal, rising from the common Pavement with large and thick Stones, and fpreading out into Heads and Tufts of Branches. Some of these were eight or ten Feet high, the Geo nerality between two and five Feet. They were all D 2


of the fame Materials with the Floor; and what added vastly to their Beauty, as well as their Reseme blance of Trees, was, that they were not smooth on the Surface, but covered all over with little fiining 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 Mars, stood pretty close to one another ; but their Tops distinct. The Breaking of the Light from the Flambeaux among these innumerable Pro. minences, 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 equat: Thickness to the Top: Its Surface is very gloffy, and of a pure and perfect Lustre. About this there Itands 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 de fired us to examine the Stump at its Top, and fhewed 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 Custs one over another. All the Stalactites or ftony Icicles of the Top, and even the Covering of the Sides, is composed of a Number of Crufts laid over one another in the same Manner. On the other parts of the


Floor, we saw 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 Crusts 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 some Places the plain Rock is covered with a vast Sheet of this Crystal, like a Cake of Ice, spread evenly 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 fome 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, riâng from each a single Stone, thick and irregular, and {preading into a globular Head, of a Diameter almoft 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 colourless, 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 fome 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

D 3


« ÖncekiDevam »