Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, & Technology
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4. An Englishman Views Etna, 1669

Winchilsea, Heneage Finch 3d earl of (d. 1689). A true and exact relation of the late prodigious earthquake & eruption of mount Aetna, or Mote-Gibello. London: Printed by T. Newcomb, 1669.

Heneage Finch, the 3rd earl of Winchilsea and former British ambassador to Constantinople, happened to be in Siciliy when Mount Etna came back to life in 1669. He was visiting the port city of Catania, which was partly overrun by the eruption, and Winchilsea had a first hand view of the events. In his narrative, he described how the lava stream advanced 600 yards into the sea, and how the lava stream carried by boulders as large as a table. After forty days of activity, the homes of 27,000 people had been destroyed. Winchelsea’s account was written in the form of a letter to King Charles II of England and was immediately "published by authority."

The engraving of the eruption appears as a frontispiece to Winchelsea’s pamphlet, and it can be seen by comparison that it was produced independently from the view that appears in Borelli’s book (see item 3).