Notes about events observed abroad.

[Footnote: It may be inferred from the character of the writing, which is in the style of the note in facsimile Vol. I, p. 297, that this passage was written between 1470 and 1480. As the figure 6 at the end of the text indicates, it was continued on another page, but I have searched in vain for it. The reverse of this leaf is coloured red for drawing in silver point, but has not been used for that purpose but for writing on, and at about the same date. The passages are given as Nos. 1217, 1218, 1219, 1162 and No. 994 (see note page 218). The text given above is obviously not a fragment of a letter, but a record of some personal experience. No. 1379 also seems to refer to Leonardo’s journeys in Southern Italy.]

Like a whirling wind which rushes down a sandy and hollow valley, and which, in its hasty course, drives to its centre every thing that opposes its furious course ...

No otherwise does the Northern blast whirl round in its tempestuous progress ...

Nor does the tempestuous sea bellow so loud, when the Northern blast dashes it, with its foaming waves between Scylla and Charybdis; nor Stromboli, nor Mount Etna, when their sulphurous flames, having been forcibly confined, rend, and burst open the mountain, fulminating stones and earth through the air together with the flames they vomit.

Nor when the inflamed caverns of Mount Etna [Footnote 13: Mongibello is a name commonly given in Sicily to Mount Etna (from Djebel, Arab.=mountain). Fr. FERRARA, Descrizione dell’ Etna con la storia delle eruzioni (Palermo, 1818, p. 88) tells us, on the authority of the Cronaca del Monastero Benedettino di Licordia of an eruption of the Volcano with a great flow of lava on Sept. 21, 1447. The next records of the mountain are from the years 1533 and 1536. A. Percy neither does mention any eruptions of Etna during the years to which this note must probably refer Memoire des tremblements de terre de la peninsule italique, Vol. XXII des Memoires couronnees et Memoires des savants etrangers. Academie Royal de Belgique).

A literal interpretation of the passage would not, however, indicate an allusion to any great eruption; particularly in the connection with Stromboli, where the periodical outbreaks in very short intervals are very striking to any observer, especially at night time, when passing the island on the way from Naples to Messina.], rejecting the ill-restained element vomit it forth, back to its own region, driving furiously before it every obstacle that comes in the way of its impetuous rage ...

Unable to resist my eager desire and wanting to see the great ... of the various and strange shapes made by formative nature, and having wandered some distance among gloomy rocks, I came to the entrance of a great cavern, in front of which I stood some time, astonished and unaware of such a thing. Bending my back into an arch I rested my left hand on my knee and held my right hand over my down-cast and contracted eye brows: often bending first one way and then the other, to see whether I could discover anything inside, and this being forbidden by the deep darkness within, and after having remained there some time, two contrary emotions arose in me, fear and desire—fear of the threatening dark cavern, desire to see whether there were any marvellous thing within it ...

Taken from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci edited by Jean Paul Richter, 1880.

Notebooks of Leonoardo da Vinci
XXI: Letters. Personal Records. Dated Notes.
Drafts of Letters and Reports referring to Armenia.
Notes about events observed abroad.
Drafts of Letters to Lodovico il Moro.
Draft of letter to be sent to Piacenza.
Letter to the Cardinal Ippolito d’ Este.
Draft of Letter to the Governor of Milan.
Drafts of Letters to the Superintendent of Canals and to Fr. Melzi.
Drafts of a letter to Giuliano de’ Medici.
Draft of letter written at Rome.
Miscellaneous Records.
Miscellaneous drafts of letters and personal records.
. . .