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but, with all our care, we did not reach the bottom without several falls and slight bruises.
The steep which we had descended was formed of volcanic matter, apparently a light red and gray kind of lava, vesicular, and lying in horizontal strata, varying in thickness from one to forty feet. In a small number of places, the different strata of lava were also rent in perpendicular or oblique directions, from the top to the bottom, either by earthquakes or other violent convulsions of the ground, connected with the action of the adjacent volcano. After walking some distance over the sunken plain, which in several places sounded hollow under our feet, we at length came to the edge of the great crater, where a spectacle sublime and even appalling, presented itself before us
“We stopped, and trembled."
Astonishment and awe for some moments rendered us mute, and, like statues, we stood fixed to the spot, with our eyes riveted on the abyss below. Immediately before us yawned an immense gulf, in the form of a crescent, about two miles in length, from north-east to south-west, nearly a mile in width, and apparently eight hundred feet deep. The bottom was covered with lava, and the southwest and northern parts of it were.one vast flood of burning matter, in a state of terrific ebullition, rolling to and fro its "fiery surge” and flaming billows. Fifty-one conical islands, of varied form and size, containing as many craters, rose either round the edge or from the surface of the burning lake. Twenty-two constantly emitted columns of gray smoke, or pyramids of brilliant flame; and several of these at the same time vomited from their ignited mouths streams of lava, which rolled in blazing torrents down their black, indented sides into the boiling mass below.
The existence of these conical craters led us to conclude, that the boiling caldron of lava before us did not
form the focus of the volcano; that this mass of melted lava was comparatively shallow ; and that the basin in which it was contained was separated, by a stratum of solid matter, from the great volcanic abyss, which constantly poured out its melted contents through these numerous craters into this upper reservoir. further inclined to this opinion, from the vast columns of vapor continually ascending from the chasms in the vicinity of the sulphur banks and pools of water, for they must have been produced by other fire than that which caused the ebullition in the lava at the bottom of the great crater ; and also by noticing a number of small craters, in vigorous action, situated high up the sides of the great gulf, and apparently quite detached from it. The streams of lava which they emitted rolled down into the lake, and mingled with the melted mass, which, though thrown up by different apertures, had, perhaps, been originally fused in one vast furnace.
The sides of the gulf before us, although composed of different strata of ancient lava, were perpendicular for about four hundred feet, and rose from a wide horizontal ledge of solid black lava of irregular breadth, but extending completely round. Beneath this ledge the sides sloped gradually towards the burning lake, which was, as nearly as we could judge, three or four hundred feet lower. It was evident that the large crater had been recently filled with liquid lava up to this black ledge, and had, by some subterranean canal, emptied itself into the sea, or upon the low land on the shore ; and in all probability this evacuation had caused the inundation of the Kapapala coast, which took place, as we afterwards learned, about three weeks prior to our visit. The gray, and in some places apparently calcined, sides of the great crater before us; the fissures which intersected the surface of the plain on which we were standing ; the long banks of sulphur on the opposite side of the abyss; the vigorous action of the numerous small craters on its borders ; the dense columns
of vapor and smoke that rose at the north and south end of the plain; together with the ridge of steep rocks by which it was surrounded, rising probably, in some places, three or four hundred feet in perpendicular height,-presented an immense volcanic panorama, the effect of which was greatly augmented by the constant roaring of the vast furnaces below.
After the first feelings of astonishment had subsided, we remained a considerable time contemplating a scene, which it is impossible to describe, and which filled us with wonder and admiration at the almost overwhelming manifestation it affords of the power of that dread Being who created the world, and who has declared that by fire he will one day destroy it. We then walked along the west side of the crater, and in half hour reached the north end.
Advantages of Decision of Character.-John Foster.
ONE signal advantage possessed by a mind of this character is, that its passions are not wasted. The whole amount of passion of which any mind, with important transactions before it, is capable, is not more than enough to supply interest and energy to its practical exertions; ,and, therefore, as little as possible of this sacred fire should be expended in a way that does not augment the force of action. But nothing can less contribute to vigor of effort, than protracted anxious fluctuation, intermixed with resolutions decided and revoked, while yet nothing causes a greater expense of feeling. The heart is fretted and exhausted by being subjected to an alternation of contrary excitements, with the ultimate mortifying consciousness of their contributing to no end.
The long-wavering deliberation, whether to perform some bold action of difficult virtue, has often cost more to feeling than the action itself, or a series of such actions, would have cost; with the great disadvantage, too, of being relieved by none of that invigoration which, to the man in action, would have sprung from the spirit of the action itself, and have renovated the ardor which it was expending. A person of decisive character, by consuming as little passion as possible in dubious musings and abortive resolutions, can secure its utmost value and use, by throwing it all into effective operation.
Another advantage of this character is, that it exempts from a great deal of interference and persecution, to which an irresolute man is subjected. Weakness, in every form, tempts arrogance; and a man may be allowed to wish for a kind of character with which stupidity and impertinence may not make so free. When a firm, decisive spirit is recognized, it is curious to see how the space clears around a man, and leaves him room and freedom. The disposition to interrogate, dictate or banter, preserves a respectful and politic distance, judging it not unwise to keep the peace with a
person of so much energy. A conviction that he understands and that he wills with extraordinary force, silences the conceit that intended to perplex or instruct him, and intimidates the malice that was disposed to attack him. There is a feeling, as in respect to fate, that the decrees of so inflexible a spirit must be right, or that, at least, they will be accomplished.
But not only will he secure the freedom of acting for himself, he will obtain also, by degrees, the coincidence of those in whose company he is to transact the business of life. If the manners of such a man are free from arrogance, and he can qualify his firmness with a moderate degree of insinuation; and if his measures have partly lost the appearance of being the dictates of his will, under the wider and softer sanction of some experience that they are reasonable; both competition and fear will be
laid to sleep, and his will may acquire an unresisted ascendency over many who will be pleased to fall into the mechanism of a system, which they find makes them more successful and happy than they could have been amidst the anxiety of adjusting plans and expedients of their own, and the consequences of often adjusting them ill. I have known several parents, both fathers and mothers, whose management of their families has answered this description ; and has displayed a striking example of the facile complacency with which a number of persons, of different ages and dispositions, will yield to the decisions of a firm mind, acting on an equitable and enlightened system.
The last resource of this character is hard, inflexible pertinacity, on which it may be allowed to rest its strength, after finding it can be effectual in none of its milder forms. I remember admiring an instance of this kind, in a firm, sagacious and very estimable old man, whom I well knew, and who is now dead. Being on a jury, in a trial of life and death, he was completely satisfied of the innocence of the prisoner; the other eleven were of the opposite opinion. But he was resolved the man should not be condemned; and, as the first effort for preventing it, very properly made application to the minds of his associates, spending several hours in laboring to convince them. But he found he made no impression, while he was exhausting the strength which was to be reserved for another mode of operation. He then calmly told them, it should now be a trial who could endure confinement and famine the longest, and that they might be quite assured he would sooner die than release them at the expense of the prisoner's life. In this situation they spent about twenty-four hours, when, at length, all acceded to his verdict of acquittal.