Phosphor/Chapter 3

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CHAPTER III.

Accordingly, I sold my practice, and three months after my mother's death, to be exact, on the second of December, 1882, I went on board the steamer to cross to Havre, and half-an-hour later, saw the cliffs of Dover fading from my sight.

We had a miserable passage across.

Havre is about the most cheerful of all the many Norman seaports, and its surrounding heights, its people dressed in quaint costumes, and busy quays and cafes, make it hard to believe it is only about six hours journey from England.

I engaged a valet, and amused myself for about a month by making excursions by sea to the numerous Norman watering-places.

I then went to Dieppe, and travelling through St Valery, Fecamp, etc., came back to Havre, and from there by way of Rouen up the lovely Valley of the Seine, to Paris.

Here I arrived about two months after leaving London.

The route is full of charm at every step, and makes the journey as attractive as that by Calais is uninteresting.

Staying for two months in Paris, I then went to Lyons, then to Switzerland, and stayed for a little while at Turin; from there to Parma, Modena, Florence, and Rome, where I stayed a few weeks.

From Rome, I took boat to Civita Vecchia, and horn there went to Naples, where I determined to rest.

For some time I amused myself making excursions to all the places of interest; but growing tired, deeded to cross to Ischia, and spend the summer on the island.

Boats leave twice a day for Procida and Ischia, and though they only take two and a half hours doing the trip, in fine weather it is delightful.

On the 21st of May, 1883, I went on board, and fifteen minutes later left the quay.

It was a lovely day, the rays of the sun tempered by a delicious breeze blowing across the bay.

We skirted the waterside of the bay of Pointa di Posilipo, then crossed the entrance to the Gulf of Puzzuoli.

The scenery is magnificent; we could see over Puzzuoli, Nisida, Baiæ, etc., and rounding the Capo di Miseiro, reached the Marina di Miseiro at the foot of its picturesque castle.

I left the steamer at the beach of Marina di Santa Maria, and, having procured a cart for my luggage, journeyed by the road which traverses the island from north to south to the little Bay of Chiaiocella, whence I again took boat for the town of Ischia.

Before I proceed, let me pause for a few moments and describe this most beautiful island of the Bay of Naples.

Ischia, known to the ancients as Pithecusa, Ænaria, and Inarimi, is the largest island in the vicinity of Naples, and is distant from it about twenty miles.

Its circumference is twenty miles, the widest part about four miles, and its breadth five and a half.

Its population numbers about 24,000.

Before Vesuvius resumed activity in the first century of our era, Ischia was the principal centre of volcanic action in South Italy.

Monte Epopeo, the Epopos of the Greek and Epopeus of the Latin poets, is near the centre of the island.

There is no trace of lava near the summit, and the volcano seems to have acted chiefly by lateral eruptions.

Several volcanic rents can be distinctly traced in its flanks and in many parts of its declivities.

The north and west portions of the island slope gradually down to the sea, whilst the south and east plunging into it form abrupt and lofty precipices.

Ischia is associated with volcanic action from an early period, and the mythology of the ancients connected with these phenomena has invested the island with a charm peculiarly its own.

About the time of the foundation of Cumæ a Greek colony from Chalcis and Erythrea settled in the island.

Their prosperity for a time was great, but they had to leave on account of the constant earthquake and volcanic action.

Finally they settled on the opposite coast ot Cumæ.

Tunæus mentions them, and records a tradition that shortly before his time (he lived about 262 B.C.) Monte Epomeo vomited forth fire and ashes, and that the land between it and the coast was forcibly cast into the sea, which receded three stadias, and returning overflowed the island and quenched the fire.

These occurrences are also recounted by Pliny, though his version of them differs from that given by Tunæus.

He says that Epomeo vomited forth flames.

That by one of the earthquakes accompanying the eruption a marsh was created, and that Procida was detached by another.

In 1302 one eruption took place, and a stream of lava issued from the north-east base of Monte Epomeo and flowed into the sea near the town of Ischia.

The ancient name Pithecusa was most likely derived by the Roman poets from Πιθηκος because the island was said to be inhabited by monkeys.

It has a beautiful climate, and its convenient situation has attracted numerous visitors in all ages.

Cool breezes from the sea make the hottest season delightful.

Its beautiful hills and vales, rugged rocks, barren mountains, and fruitful plains are interspersed one with the other in the most romantic confusion.

Bishop Berkely in a letter to Pope in 1717, says,—"The island Inarimi is an epitome of the whole earth contained in a compass of eighteen miles."

Wheat and Indian corn are grown in the vales, but fruit trees cover most part of the cultivated land. Apricots, peaches, oranges, lemons, pomegranates, figs, water melons, and numerous other fruits flourish amazingly.

Vines and chestnut groves covet some of the hills; others are covered with myrtle, and other natural growths.

Mons Epomeus is the principal feature in the landscape. Near the bottom it is covered with vines; higher up, it affords pastures for flocks of sheep and goats.

On the top, its pointed sandy neck gives one of the finest prospects in the world.

From it, on a clear day, you behold a tract of about 300 miles of Italy, from the Promontory of Antium to the Cape of Palenmus.

This was the delightful spot in which I proposed to spend a few months and try to forget some of my misery.

Lucky for us poor mortals that we cannot foretell what the future has in store for us—but I am anticipating.

I made Casamicciola my headquarters, and renting a comfortable cottage, installed myself in it with my valet, and one servant to do my cooking.

I fitted myself up a laboratory, and in it amused myself, when tired of making excursions in or around the island.