ELBA, an island of the Mediterranean, separated by a narrow channel from the western coast of Italy. It lies in 420 49' 6" N. Lat., and 100 9' 24" E. Long. from London. It is about 70 English miles in circuit, but the coast is very winding and irregular.
In the second, Elba supplied iron for naval and mili tary purposes, and was considered as one of the states which had saved the republic. In the contest be tween Sylla and Marius, the adherents of the latter fled thither for refuge, and Elba became thus involved in prescription and devastation, from the effects of which it never recovered under the Roman dominion. In modern times, it became attached to the commer cial republic of Pisa, under whose auspices it rose to a comparatively flourishing state. On the annexation of Pisa to Milan, Elba, with Pianosa, Monte Cristo,' Piombino, and other territories, was formed into a little principality, which continued for about two cen turies in the hands of Gherardo d'Appiano and his suc cessors; though it was repeatedly occupied as a mili tary station by Charles V. and his ally, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Being thus involved in the wars of that monarch with the Porte and the Barbary states, Elba became exposed to the incursions of the Turkish corsairs. It was laid waste with fire and sword, once by Barbarous, and twice by Dragut, and has never fully recovered from these ravages. Under Philip III. it merged into the possessions of Spain, and that prince ordered the construction of Porto Longone, which proved a barrier against the incursions of the corsairs. Several transferences then took place, the result of which was, that, from 1785, the King of Naples had possession of Porto Longone, and the Grand Duke of Tuscany of Porto Ferraio. Elba continued in this state till the French revolution, when it first became part of the kingdom of Etruria, and was then annexed to France. It afterwards attracted. a remarkable de gree of attention, by becoming the temporary residence of Napoleon Buonaparte. Upon his second downfall, Elba was ceded to the Grand Duke of Tuscany.
The island of Elba is entirely filled with moun tains, which are formed into three distinct clusters, separated by a valley, which widens as it approaches the sea. The highest are those situated on the wes tern part of the island, the pinnacle of which, called Monte Capanna, rises upwards of 3000 feet above the level of the sea. The greater part of these hills
present an arid, rugged, and ( )1 en ruinous aspect; but a few are embellished with 1 uyrtles, laurels, wild olives, and other verdant This western part is almost entirely composed of granite, which forms also the basis of the soil in this quarter of the island. Rock crystal is found abundantly, and often in htrge masses, but somewhat injured in its transparency, and when combined with alum and slate, produces numerous varieties of calcedony, particularly that called cachalong. The eastern mountains are com posed of serpentine and schistus, and abound with aluminous mixtures ; but they are chiefly distin guished by the iron which they contain.
From the earliest times, Elba has been celebrated for an uncommon iron mine. It is said by Pliny to have been mentioned in the treaty between Porsen na and the Romans, after the expulsion of the kings. Virgil calls it 44 resale, inethamtis ehalybtun generous metallis." This mine consists of one entire mountain, about 500 feet high, anti bathed by the channel which se parates the island from the opposite coast of Piom bino. The whole mountain is. filled with iron, dis tributed in confused masses, and in every known va riety of form ; green and black ore, mica, mknga nese, hematite, &c. The most rare and remarkable mineral here produced is the crystallized iron. The crystals are of various forms, some lenticular, others specular, with brilliant and polished fronts ; others like the comb of a cock, spires, pyramids, &c., while others are polygons and pointed, like dia monds. They have usually the colour and bright ness of polished steel, but are sometimes tinted green, red, black, yellow, brown, and violet. A few pieces offer to the enchanted eye the appearance of an as semblage of all the precious stones.. The mineralo gical cabinet of Florence contains a splendid collec tion of these specimens, and there are some good ones in the British Museum. The mine of iron ex tends about a mile into the mountain, and the work ing was formerly conducted by galleries, but now proceeds under the open sky. The Elbese do not possess the art of forging this iron, which is therefore carried to the founderies of Corsica, and of the oppo site coast of Italy. About 18,000 tons are sold, and about 120 vessels, of from 40 to 100 tons each, are employed in exporting it to the neighbouring coasts.