Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/34

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Mohammedanism—are distinguished for their high moral quality, and by this won their glorious victories; and their crystallization in the heart of a noble-minded prophet and reformer was in each case preceded by a great social and moral quickening throughout the community in which they arose. When the depths of the human heart are moved and the imperative claims of justice, truth, and purity once perceived, then the death-knell of mere nature-worship has. been rung in that land. As the pagan god, Wäinamöinen, in the Finnish epic of the Kalevala, when he hears of the birth of Christ, enters his canoe and paddles away to the northern wastes of snow and silence, so must the worship of force give way to the more majestic divinity of conscience. The varied influences of man's environment conspire with the aspiring instincts of his in most soul to conduct him constantly out of the imperfect toward the perfect. Whether or not he reach it, it is that that must be the goal of his striving.


THE island of Ischia, which has recently been so terribly rent by an earthquake, is situated in the northwestern part of the Bay of Naples, and near the Phlegrean fields, with which the little island of Procida, likewise volcanic, constitutes a connecting link. It forms a part of the Neapolitan volcanic region, which may be considered as still in a state of solfatarian activity, which is exemplified by the well known solfatara of Puzzuoli, where the sulphur is redeposited, as far as it is mined, by numerous gaseous emanations, and by the escape of carbonic acid in the Grotto del Cane near Lake Agnano. All of these exhalations, which are the mark of a declining volcanic activity, attest that this region, situated on a great line of fracture running northwest and southeast from Vesuvius to Vultura, is still in direct communication with the subterranean sources. The ancients fully recognized this, and regarded all those explosive craters, now transformed into a chain of remarkably picturesque lakes across the Phlegrean fields, as so many doors of Tartarus through which the infernal divinities took souls to the banks of the Acheron. The most celebrated of them, Lake Avernus, "Atri Janua Ditis" (the gate of black hell), now smiling and salubrious, then exhaled torrents of suffocating gases which well justified its name, and rendered a stay there mortal to the birds that ventured into its neighborhood.

The Neapolitan volcanic region extends from Vesuvius to Vultura, on the eastern edge of the Apennines, and includes the Phlegrean fields and the connected islands of Ischia and Procida. The volcanic activity