Exerpts from Observations on Mount Vesuvius, Mount Etna, and Other Volcano's: in a series of letters addressed to the Royal Society from the Honorable Sir William Hamilton, London, T. Cadell, 1774.

These original letters use the old style letter s, which is much like an f. It has been retained in these extracts although a letter f has been used for this s The computer does not support the f with only the left half ot the cross-bar which is the letter which was used in this document. The original pagination haa been retained in these exerpts. The line length except on title pages and introduction has been altered from the original shorter line format.

The sections of this book quoted here were also published (without footnotes) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, London.

These exerpts are from Hamilton's letter number 5. Pages 156-157, which follow, refer to the birth of the volcano called Arso on the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples. There follows also a link to a map of the Bay of Naples, Hamilton's plate VIand to the excerpt pages 168-173 which contains the key to the numbers on the map.


          O B S E R V A T I O N S

		  			O N

         M O U N T  V E S U V I U S
	       		MOUNT ETNA


 .		   			IN

             A SERIES OF LETTERS,

 Addreffed to T H E  R O Y A L  S O C I E T Y,

    from the Honourable Sir W. HAMILTON,
                K.B. F.R.S.

His Magefty's Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

at the Court of N A P L E S,

To which are added, Explanatory Notes by the A U T H O R hitherto unpublifhed, A NEW EDITION L O N D O N, Printed for T. C A D E L L, in the Strand, MDCCLXXIV,



  T H E  E D I T O R


 HAVING mentioned to Sir
     general Defire of all Lovers of Natu
     ral History, that his Letters upon the
     Subject of VOLCANO should be col
     leflced together in one Volume, par
     ticularly for the Convenience of fuch
     as may have an Opportunity of vifit
     ing the curious Spots defcribed in
     them: He was not only pleafed to 


approve of my having undertaken, 
     this Pub1ication, but has likewife.  
     favoured with the additional explana-
     tory Notes and Drawings,

        The PUBLIC 'S  moft obliged,

		and devoted:

         			 humble  .Servant

				T.  CADELL

May 30, 1772.

The following pages ,156-159, include the description of the birth of the volcano Ischia.



Nearer the town of Ifchia, which is on the fea fhore, at a place called Le Cremate, there is a crater, from which, in the year I30I or 1302, a lava ran quite into the fea; there is not the leaft vegetation on this lava, but it is nearly in the fame ftate as the modern lavas of Vefuvius. Pontano, Maranti, and D. Francefco Lombardi, have recorded this eruption; the latter of whom fays, that it lafted two months; that many men and beafts were killed by the explofion; and that a number of the inha- bitants were obliged to feek for refuge at Naples and in the neighbouring islands. ln fhort, according to my idea, the ifland of Ifchia muft have taken its rife from the bottom of the fea, and been increafed to its prerent flze by divers later explofions. This is not extraordinary, when history tells us (and from my own ob- servation I have reafon to believe) that the Lipari iflands were formecl in the like manner. There has been no eruption in Ifchia fince that juft mentioned, but earth quakes ____


quakes are very frequent there; two years ago, as I was told, they had a very con- fiderable fhock of an earthquake in this island.

Father Goree's account of the formation of the new island in the Archipelago (situ- ated between the two islands called Kammeni, and near that of Santorini) of which he was an eye-witnefs, ftrongly confirms the probability of the conje&tures I venture to fend you, relative to tbe formation of thofe inands ancl that part of the continent above dercribed: it feems likewife to confirm the accounts given by Strabo, Pliny, Juftin, and other ancient authors, of many islands in the Archipelago, formerly called the Ciclades, having fprung; up from the bottom of the fea [footnote t] in the


[ Footnote t] By having rcmarked, that all the implements of ftone brought by Meff.. Banks and Solander from the new-difcovered iflands in the South-Seas, are evidently of fuch a nature as are only produced by Volcanos; and as thefe gentlemen have affured me, that no other kind of ftone is to be met with in the iflands; l am



like manner.........

[footnote t continued] induced to think that these islands (at fo great a diftance from any continent) may have likewise been pushed up from the bottom of the fea by like explofions.


The map of the Bay of Naples.

The following pages contain the key to the numbers indicating places on the map of the Bay of Naples including the island of Ischia and other localities of interest [Plate VI}


References to numbers on the map:

  1. 1. Naples
  2. 2. Porticii
  3. 3. Refina, under which Herculaneum is buried
  4. 4, Torre del Greco
  5. 5. Hermitage, at which travellers ufually fest, in their way up Mt. Vesuvius
  6. 6. St. Angerlo , a convent of Calmaldoece, fituated upon a conre f a mountain formed by an ancient explofion
  7. 7. Cones formed by the eruption of 1760, and lava thatr ran frpm them a;lmoft into the sea.
  8. 8. Mount Vefuvius and Somma
  9. 9. Village of Somma
  10. 10. The convent of the Madona del Arco, under which lavas have been found at 300 feet depth, and which muft have proceeded from the mountain of Somma, when an active Volcano.



  1. 11. Ottaiano,
  2. I2, Torre del Annunziata,
  3. 13. Caftel a Mare, neear whch the ancient town of Stabia is buried, and where Pliny the elder loft his life,
  4. I4. Vico,
  5. 15. Sorrento and the plain formed evidently. by fubterraneous fire.
  6. 16. Mafia.
  7. 17. Island of Caprea.
  8. 18. Thee.Grotto of .Paufilipo, cut through the mountain anciently, to make a road from Naples to Puzzole.
  9. 19. Point of Paufilipo.
  10. 20. The Gaiola, where there are ruins of ancient buildings, fuppofed to have belonged to Lucullus.
  11. 21. The ifland of Niflda, evidcntly formed by explofion.
  12. 22 The Lazaret.
  13. 23 The Bagnoli.
  14. 24 Puzzole or pozzuolo


  1. 25. The Solfaterra, anciently called Forum Vulcani: between the Solfaterra and the lake of Agnano, are the boiliiig waters of the Pfciarelli.
  2. 26. The New Mountain, formed by explofion in the year 1538; the fand of the fea fhore at its bafis burning hot.
  3. 27. The lake of Agnano, fuppofed the crater of an ancient Volcano: here are the baths called St. Germano, and the famous Grotto del Cane.
  4. 28. Aftruni, whlch has been evidently a Voleano, and is now a Royal Chace, the crater being furrounded with a' wall.
  5. 29. The Monte Gauro orBarbaro, ancientIy a Volcano.
  6. 30. The lake of Avernus, evidently the crater of an ancient Volcano.
  7. 31. Lake of Fufaro.
  8. 32. Point of Mifenum, from whence Pliny the elder difcovered the eruption of Vefiuvius that proved fatal to him; near this place, in a vault of an ancient building, is a conftant vapour, or Mofete, of the fame quality with that of the Grotto del Cane.


  1. 33. The Mare Morto, the ancient Roman Harbour,
  2. 34. Baïaut;a; behind the caftle are two evident craters of ancient Volcanos.
  3. 35. Ifland of Procita.
  4. 36. A perfect cone and crater of a Volcano near Caftiglione in the ifland of Ifchia.
  5. 37 Lava that ran into the fea in the laft eruption on this ifland, in the year 1301, or 1302: The place now calle~ Le Cremate
  6. 38. Town of Irchia and caftle.
  7. 39. Lake of Licola.
  8. 40. Lake of Patria.
  9. 41. The river Volturnus.
  10. 42. Capua,
  11. 43. Caferta.
  12. 44. Averra,
  13. 45. Mataloni.


  1. 46. Acerra.
  2. 47. Ifland of Ifchia. anciently called AEnaria, Inarime, and Pithecufa.
  3. 48. The.mountain of St. Nicola, anciently called Mons Epomeus, fuppofed the remains of the principal Volcano of the ifland.
  4. 49. Caftiglione, near which are the baths of Gurgitelli. .
  5. 50. Lacco, near which is that very cold vapour called by the natives ventarole.
  6. 5I. Ancient city of Pompeii, where his Sicilian Majefty's excavations are carrying on at prefent.
  7. 52, Rovig;iano
  8. 53. River of Sarno. .
  9. 54. Cuma.
  10. 55. Hot fands and fudatory called Nero's baths.
  11. 56. The Lucrine lake, fuppofed to have been here, and of which th¢re is ftill fome little remain .
  12. 57. Villa Angelica, Sir William Hamiilton's villa, from whence he has made many of his obfervations upon Mount Vefuvius


  1. 58. Cones formed by an ancient eruption called viuli; here are likewife cold vapours called ventaroli.
  2. 59. High grounds probably fections of cones of ancient Volcanos, being all compofed of tufa and ftrata of loofe pumice and burnt matter.
  3. 60. Plain of the Campagna Felice, four or five feet of, excellent foil under which strata of burnt and erupted matter,

Return to The Electronic Volcano