The railroad tunnels are even more numerous than in the Black Forest. In some places it becomes impossible to read in the cars, as the train is much of the time under the mountains. From the window of the cars I saw a man with his bare feet in a tub treading grapes, for the purpose of making wine. It reminded me of the way, as it is said, some made their sourcrout in this country some forty-five or fifty years ago.
I spent a day among the ruins of Pompeii and in the ascent of Mount Vesuvius. Pompeii was a town of about 30,000 inhabitants when it was destroyed by an eruption of old Vesuvius in A.D. 79. On the 24th of August a dense shower of ashes covered the town 3 feet in thickness, but allowed the inhabitants time to escape. Only of those which returned to recover valuables, &c., were overtaken and covered by the shower of red hot rapilli, or fragments of pumice-stone, which, with succeeding showers of ashes, covered the town to the depth of 7-8 feet. “The present superincumbent mass is about 20 feet in thickness.” In the one third of the town already excavated the skeletons of some 500 have been found. Casts of bodies found in 1863, were made by pouring plaster of Paris into the cavities where they had lain, and the figures of the deceased in their death-struggle are thus obtained. Baedeker devotes 25 pages to a description of the wonders and curiosities of this exhumed town.
The ascent of Vesuvius required about six hours. We started at 6:30 in the morning and returned at 12:30 p.m. The distance from Pompeii, which stands at its foot, to the top of it is about 5 miles in a straight line, and eight miles by the paths. Mules can ascend half-way; but I took a guide and walked the whole distance. At the point where the mules must be abandoned, a number of guides offered to carry me up, or to drag me up by means of a rope! But I climbed it. A cloud hangs over it all the time, which is occasioned by the column of steam that issues from its crater. The entire upper part of the peak is perfectly bare of vegetation, and covered with fine cinders, rapilli, &c., through which escapes a gas that almost suffocates the ascending traveler. At the top we shouted into the crater and heard distinct echos after two seconds, which proves that the mouth of the crater reflected the sound at the depth of about 1,000 or 1,100 feet!
From Pompeii I returned to Naples and spent the night there. Early on Thursday morning I went to the “Stazione” (Station) and left for Brindisi. The temperature was 90 degrees in the shade, in the afternoon. Some people have constructed artificial caves which they use as stables, for their cattle; and possibly some have such rude grottos for their homes!
On the Mediterranean.
On Monday morning, September 26th, at 4:00 o’clock a.m., I stepped on board the steamship “Avoca” to take passage for Alexandria. Brindisi, like Havre, is one of the finest places in the world to leave! Almost everything about it is repulsive. I saw many children there that have possibly never seen a washing day in their lives! I sailed for Egypt with great reluctance, for I had already my misgivings about the property of tourists from civilized nations going thither for sight-seeing. Well one does see sights there—but, such sights!