The lava at first came out of a mouth about one hundred yards below the crater, on the side toward Monte Somma. While occupied in viewing this current, the observer heard a violent noise within the mountain; saw it split open at the distance of a quarter of a mile, and saw from the new mouth a mountain of liquid fire shoot up many feet, and then, like a torrent, roll on toward him. The earth shook; stones fell thick around him; dense clouds of ashes darkened the air; loud thunders came from the mountain top, and he took to precipitate flight. The Padre’s account is too lively and instructive for his own words to be omitted.
PADRE TORRE’S NARRATIVE
“I was making my observations upon the lava, which had already, from the spot where it first broke out, reached the valley, when, on a sudden, about noon, I heard a violent noise within the mountain, and at a spot about a quarter of a mile off the place where I stood the mountain split; and with much noise, from this new mouth, a fountain of liquid fire shot up many feet high, and then like a torrent rolled on directly towards us. The earth shook at the same time that a volley of stones fell thick upon us; in an instant clouds of black smoke and ashes caused almost a total darkness; the explosions from the top of the mountain were much louder than any thunder I ever heard, and the smell of the sulphur was very offensive. My guide, alarmed, took to his heels; and I must confess that I was not at my ease. I followed close, and we ran near three miles without stopping; as the earth continued to shake under our feet, I was apprehensive of the opening of a fresh mouth which might have cut off our retreat.
“I also feared that the violent explosions would detach some of the rocks off the mountain of Somma, under which we were obliged to pass; besides, the pumice-stones, falling upon us like hail, were of such a size as to cause a disagreeable sensation in the part upon which they fell. After having taken breath, as the earth trembled greatly I thought it most prudent to leave the mountain and return to my villa, where I found my family in great alarm at the continual and violent explosions of the volcano, which shook our house to its very foundation, the doors and windows swinging upon their hinges.
“About two of the clock in the afternoon (19th) another lava stream forced its way out of the same place from whence came the lava of last year, so that the conflagration was soon as great on this side of the mountain as on the other which I had just left. I observed on my way to Naples, which was in less than two hours after I had left the mountain, that the lava had actually covered three miles of the very road through which we had retreated. This river of lava in the Atrio del Cavallo was sixty or seventy feet deep, and in some places nearly two miles broad. Besides the explosions, which were frequent, there