* Arrest Simoon. l. 65.
Bruce's Travels. Vol. IV. p. 557.
It is difficult to account for the narrow track of this pestilential wind, which is said not to exceed twenty yards, and for its small elevation of twelve feet. A whirlwind will pass forwards, and throw down an avenue of trees by its quick revolution as it passes, but nothing like a whirling is described as happening in these narrow streams of air, and whirlwinds ascend to greater heights. There seems but one known manner in which this channel of air could be effected, and that is by electricity.
The volcanic origin of these winds is mentioned in the note on Chunda in Vol. II. of this work; it must here be added, that Professor Vairo at Naples found, that during the eruption of Vesuvius perpendicular iron bars were electric; and others have observed suffocating damps to attend these eruptions. Ferber's Travels in Italy, p. 133. And lastly, that a current of air attends the passage of electric matter, as is seen in presenting an electrized point to the flame of a candle. In Mr. Bruce's account of this simoom, it was in its course over a quite dry desert of sand, (and which was in consequence unable to conduct an electric stream into the earth beneath it,) to some moist rocks at but a few miles distance; and thence would appear to be a stream of electricity from a volcano attended with noxious air; and as the bodies of Mr. Bruce and his attendants were insulated on the sand, they would not be sensible of their increased electricity, as it passed over them; to which it may be added, that a sulphurous or suffocating sensation is said to accompany flashes of lightning, and even strong sparks of artificial electricity. In the above account of the simoom, a great redness in the air is said to be a certain sign of its approach, which may be occasioned by the eruption of flame from a distant volcano in these extensive and impenetrable deserts of sand. See Note on l. 292 of this Canto.
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