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Consul of the United States at Barbados 


Member of the Geographical Society of Philadelphia and of the Academy of Natural Sciences 
and Author of many Valuable Treatises on Physical Phenomena 


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Entered according to Act of 
Congress in the year 1902 by 
W. E. SCULL, In the office 
of the Librarian of Congress, 
at Washington, D. C. 

All Rights Reserved 





B.C. 285 — Japan, earthquake, 800 square miles engulfed, volcanic 
mountain formed. 

A.D. 63 — Italy, earthquake, Pompeii and Hrrculaneum partly de- 
stroyed, large numbers killed. 

A.D. 79 — Italy, volcanic eruption of Vesuvius. Pompeii and Hercu- 

laneum buried. Most of their people killed. 
A.D. 526 — Antioch, earthquake, 250,000 killed. 
A.D. 893 — India, earthquake, 180,000 killed. 

1139 — Persia, earthquake, 100,000 killed. 

1170 — Sicily and Calabria, earthquake, 15,000 killed. 

1456 — Kingdom of Naples, earthquake, 60,000 killed. 

1531 — Lisbon, earthquake, 30,000 killed. 

1693 — Sicily, earthquake, 93,000 killed. 

1703 — Yeddo, earthquake, 190,000 killed. 

1731 — Peking, earthquake, 95,000 killed. 

1746 — Lima, earthquake, 18,000 killed. 

1755 — Lisbon, earthquake, 40,000 killed. 

1772 — Java, volcanic eruption, 3000 killed. 

1773 — Guatemala, earthquake, 33,000 killed. 

1783 — Calabria, earthquake, 40,000 killed. 

1783 — Iceland, volcanic eruption, 10,000 killed. 

1797 — Riobamba, Ecuador, earthquake, 41,000 killed. 

1812 — Caracas, earthquake, 10,000 killed. 

1815 — Island of Sumbawa, volcanic eruption, 12,000 killed. 

1822 — Aleppo, earthquake, 120,000 killed. 

1822 — Java, volcanic eruption, 4000 killed. 

1853 — Shiraz, Persia, earthquake, 12,000 killed. 

1854 — San Salvador, Guatemala, earthquake, 5000 killed. 

1857 — Kingdom of Naples, earthquake, 30, OOO killed. 

1859 — Quito, earthquake, city destroyed, few lives lost. 

1861 — Mendoza, South America, earthquake, 10,000 killed. 

1868 — Ecuador and Peru, earthquake, 20,000 killed. 

1883 — Krakatoa, volcanic eruption, 36, OOO killed. 

1886 — Charleston, earthquake, few lives lost. 

1891 — Island of Hondo, Japan, earthquake, 10,000 killed. 

1894 — Venezuela, earthquake, 3000 killed. 

1902 — Guatemala, earthquake, 2000 killed. 

1902 — St. Pierre, Martinique, volcanic eruption, 30,000 killed. 

1902 — Island of St. Vincent, volcanic eruption, 1600 killed. 



A Typical Home of the Wealthy in the West Indies. A Sketch by Our Artist. 


TACITUS relates how the palaces and noble residences of the 
beautiful ancient city of Pompeii were buried in ashes 
fathoms deep when Vesuvius awoke in its wrath ; and sacred 
history reveals the fate of the doomed Cities of the Plain when a 
rain of fire and brimstone poured down upon their spires and 
domes. No record of the past comes to us in more appalling form 
than these stories of sudden ruin and terrible slaughter by the 
elemental powers of the underworld. But once again, in our own 
days, these powers have awakened, and death and destruction 
have been showered down upon the tropical city of St. Pierre, the 
Pompeii of modern times. Dreadful as were the disasters of the 
past, this frightful calamity of the present surpasses them all in 
suddenness and fury. For days the ashes of Vesuvius rained 
down upon the famed Roman city before its destruction was com- 
plete, but minutes sufficed for the total overthrow of the fated 
West Indian city and the hurling into the valley of death of its 
thirty thousand doomed inhabitants. Here is a record of ruin 
never equalled in the history of volcanic fury, and one that should 
live in the memory of man as long as has that of the Roman city 
of summer palaces or of Sodom and Gomorrah, far remote in time. 
Dreadful is the work that follows the clashing of sinking 
seas with the lakes of liquid fire pent up in the earth. Rack and 
ruin attend their meeting, and the dense solid shell of the earth is 

/ ix 


rent asunder by their might. It is to the battle of fire and water 
in the depths of the rocks that the volcano and the earthquake are 
due, and when these demons of the depths are at war man's puny 
strength is as powerless as that of the leaf before the cyclone. 
Then terror comes ; then the earth trembles to its heart and is rent 
in twain ; then the ashes of a terrible burning are cast forth to bury 
fertile plains and flourishing cities; then showers of burning rocks 
bombard the air and rivers of glowing lava scorch the earth, and 
human hopes and the results of man's labor are whelmed alike 
beneath the dread torrent of death and dismay. 

In ruined St. Pierre a myriad of dead were left entombed in 
fiery lava and grey volcanic ash, while the few trembling fugitives 
wandered homeless and hopeless, with bereavement tugging at 
their heart-strings and famine dogging their errant footsteps. No 
human power could restore the vanished island landscapes nor 
bring back life to the charred cinders of what were once strong 
men and noble women. All that the benevolent world could do 
was to send quick relief to the starving fugitives and give fitting 
sepulture to the bodies of the dead, while offering up fervent 
prayers to the Almighty to stay the pent-up powers of the earth and 
save man from a renewal of such death-dealing calamities as that 
which befel the fair city of the tropic isles. 

Mankind should not soon forget this dread disaster that has 
horrified the world. Nothing that has happened in modern times 
so amply deserves to be put upon record and thus kept for present 
and future generations to read. The man and woman who are not 
vitally interested in this story of terror can have no red blood in 
their veins, no human feeling in their hearts. That it may not be 
soon forgotten and its dread events rests as a shapeless horror in 
our thoughts, this story of its intensely stirring incidents has been 


written. It is a story that should be read far and wide throughout 
the land and the memory of the terrible disaster thus fitly pre- 
served. It is no work of the imagination of man that we present, no 
wild flight of fancy into the realms of the terrible and the appalling, 
but sober fact and actual history; but yet more thrilling in its 
details than anything that fiction could well invent. Bulwer, in 
his " Last Days of Pompeii," surrounds the fall of the Roman city 
with all the glamour of a story of the imagination, but for the 
record of the " Last Days of St. Pierre " sober truth will suffice ; 
fiction could add no new interest to its dread details. 

The fate of Martinique and St. Vincent cannot fail to awaken 
a desire to learn of the work of the volcano and the earthquake, 
those terrible sisters, in all times and all lands ; the ruin caused by 
the far-famed Vesuvius and Etna; the frightful work of East 
Indian Krakatoa ; the terrible slaughter done by the quaking earth 
in fifty far-removed regions ; the horrors that have widely enveloped 
mankind when the demonic furies of the earth's deeps went forth 
"conquering and to conquer," treading the nations beneath their 
iron feet and leaving leagues of land a desolation and a curse. 

The ruin of St. Pierre has served us as a text for many another 
tale of destructive fury in past and recent ages and far and near 
places. All the greatest convulsions of the earth are here recorded, 
all those terrible phenomena of nature which have made man 
almost fear to set his foot upon the earth, lest he might waken the 
demons sleeping far below. The whole story is one replete with 
pictures of the strength and force of the elemental powers, before 
which the power of man is like that of a fragment of driftwood 
borne on the ocean billows in their wrath. 

We present here the record of the work of the dread sisters, from 
the tale of Pompeii down to that of St. Pierre. No one can read it 



without a deep sense of awe and a feeling of the instability of 
man's works and the insecurity of human life. Truth is indeed 
stranger than fiction, and it is also more absorbing and thought- 
compelling when the truth is not that of the petty details of every- 
day life, but the vast events that come to us once in a generation. 
Such is the truth that is recorded in this book. Read it and be 











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The Volcano and the Earthquake, Earth's 
Demons of Destruction. 

TO most of us, dwellers upon the face of the earth, this terres- 
trial sphere is quite a comfortable place of residence. The 
forces of Nature everywhere and at all times surround us, 
forces capable, if loosened from their bonds, of bringing death and 
destruction to man and the work of his hands. But usually they 
are mild and beneficent in their action, not agents of destruction 
and lords of elemental misrule. The air, without whose presence 
we could not survive a minute, is usually a pleasant companion, now 
resting about us in soft calm, now passing by in mild breezes. The 
alternation of summer and winter is to us generally an agreeable 
relief from the monotony of a uniform climate. The variation 
from sunlight to cloud, from dry weather to rainfall, is equally 
viewed as a pleasant escape from the weariness of too great fixity 
of natural conditions. The change from day to night, from hours 
of activity to hours of slumber, are other agreeable variations in the 
events of our daily life. In short, a great pendulum seems to be 
swinging above us, held in Nature's kindly hand, and adapting its 
movements to our best good and highest enjoyment. 

But has Nature, — if we are justified in personifying the laws 
and forces of the universe, — has mother Nature really our pleasure 
and benefit in mind, or does she merely suffer us to enjoy life like 
so many summer insects, until she is in the mood to sweep us like 

2 17 


leaves from her path ? It must seem the latter to many of the 
inhabitants of the earth, especially to the dwellers in certain ill- 
conditioned regions. For all the beneficent powers above named 
may at a moment's notice change to destructive ones. 


The wind, for instance, is a demon in chains. At times it 
breaks its fetters and rushes on in mad fury, rending and destroy- 
ing, and sweeping such trifles as cities and those who dwell therein 
to common ruin. Sunshine and rain are subject to like wild 
caprices. The sun may pour down burning rays for weeks and 
months together, scorching the fertile fields, drying up the life- 
giving streams, bringing famine and misery to lands of plenty and 
comfort, almost making the blood to boil in our veins. Its an- 
tithesis, the rainstorm, is at times a still more terrible visitant. From 
the dense clouds pour frightful floods, rushing down the lofty 
hills, sweeping over fertile plains, overflowing broad river valleys, 
and, wherever they go, leaving terror and death in their path. We 
may say the same of the alternation of the seasons. Summer, while 
looked forward to with joyous anticipation, may bring us only suf- 
fering by its too ardent grasp ; and winter, often welcomed with like 
pleasurable anticipations, may prove a period of terror from cold 
and destitution. 

Such is the make-up of the world in which we live, such the 
vagaries of the forces which surround us. But those enumerated 
are not the whole. Can we say, with a stamp of the foot upon the 
solid earth, " Here at least I have something I can trust ; let the 
winds blow and the rains descend, let the summer scorch and the 
winter chill, the good earth still stands firm beneath me, and of it 
at least I am sure?" 


Who says so speaks hastily and heedlessly, for the earth can 
show itself as unstable as the air, and our solid footing become as 
insecure as the deck of a ship laboring in a storm at sea. The 
powers of the atmosphere, great as they are and mighty for destruction 
as they may become, are at times surpassed by those which abide 
within the earth, deep laid in the so-called everlasting rocks, slum- 
bering often through generations, but at any time likely to awaken 
in wrath, to lift the earth into quaking billows like those of the sea, 
or pour forth torrents of liquid fire that flow in glowing and burn- 
ing rivers over leagues of ruined land. Such is the earth with 
which we have to deal, such the ruthless powers of nature that 
spread around us and lurk beneath us, such the terrific forces which 
only bide their time to break forth and sweep too-confident man 
from the earth's smiling face. 


The subterranean powers here spoken of, those we had de- 
nominated earth's demons of destruction, are the volcano and the 
earthquake, the great moulding forces of the earth, tearing down 
to rebuild, rending to reconstitute, and in this elemental work 
often bringing ruin to man's boasted fanes and palaces. 

No one who has ever seen a volcano or " burning mountain " 
casting forth steam, huge red-hot stones, smoke, cinders and lava, 
can possibly forget the grandeur of the spectacle. At night it is 
doubly terrible, when the darkness shows the red-hot lava rolling 
in glowing streams down the mountain's side. At times, indeed, 
the volcano is quiet, and only a little smoke curls from its top. 
Even this may cease, and the once burning summit may be covered 
over with trees and grass, like any other hill. But deep down in the 
earth the gases and pent-up steam, are ever preparing to force their 


way upward through the mountain, and to carry with them dis- 
solved rocks, and the stones which block their passage. Some- 
times, while all is calm and beautiful on the mountains, suddenly 
deep-sounding noises are heard, the ground shakes, and a vast 
torrent tears its way through the bowels of the volcano, and is 
flung hundreds of feet high in the air, and, falling again to the 
earth, destroys every living thing for miles around. 

It is the same with the earthquake as with the volcano. The 
surface of the earth is never quite still. Tremors are constantly 
passing onward which can be distinguished by delicate instruments, 
but only rarely are these of sufficient force to become noticeable, 
except by instrumental means. At intervals, however, the power 
beneath the surface raises the ground in long, billow-like motions, 
before which, when of violent character, no edifice or human habita- 
tion can for a moment stand. The earth is frequently rent asunder, 
great fissures and cavities being formed. The course of rivers is 
changed and the waters are swallowed up by fissures rent in the 
surface, while ruin impends in a thousand forms. The cities 
become death pits and the cultivated fields are buried beneath 
floods of liquid mud. Fortunately these convulsions, alike of the 
earthquake and volcano, are comparative rarities and are confined 
to limited regions of the earth's surface. What do we know of 
those deep-lying powers, those vast buried forces dwelling in uneasy 
isolation beneath our feet ? With all our science we are but a step 
beyond the ancients, to whom these were the Titans, great rebel 
giants whom Jupiter overthrew and bound under the burning 
mountains, and whose throes of agony shook the earth in quaking 
convulsions. To us the volcanic crater is the mouth from which 
comes the fiery breath of demon powers which dwell far down in 
the earth's crust. The Titans themselves were dwarfs beside these 


mighty agents of destruction whose domain extends for thousands 
of miles beneath the earth's surface and which in their convulsions 
shake whole continents at once. Such was the case in 181 2, when 
the eruption of Mont Soufriere on St. Vincent, as told in a later 
chapter, formed merely the closing event in a series of earthquakes 
which had made themselves felt under thousands of miles of land. 


In olden times volcanoes were regarded with superstitious awe, 
and it would have been considered highly impious to make any 
investigation of their actions. We are told by Virgil that Mt. Etna 
marks the spot where the gods in their anger buried Enceladus, 
one of the rebellious giants. To our myth-making ancestors one 
of the volcanoes of the Mediterranean, set on a small island of the 
Lipari group, was the workshop of Vulcan, the god of fire, within 
whose depths he forged the thunderbolts of the gods. From below 
came sounds as of a mighty hammer on a vast anvil. Through the 
mountain vent came the black smoke and lurid glow from the fires 
of Vulcan's forge. This old myth is in many respects more con- 
sonant with the facts of nature than myths usually are. In agree- 
ment with the theory of its internal forces, the mountain in question 
was given the name of Volcano. To-day it is scarcely known at 
all, but its name clings to all the fire-breathing mountains of the 

As before said, at the present day we are little in advance of 
the ancients in actual knowledge of what is going on so far beneath 
our feet. We speak of forces where they spoke of fettered giants, 
but can only form theories where they formed myths. Is the 
earth's centre made up of liquid fire ? Does its rock crust resemble 
the thick ice crust on the Arctic Seas, or is the earth, as later 


scientists believe, solid to the core ? Is it heated so fiercely, miles 
below our feet, that at every release of pressure the solid rock 
bursts into molten lava? Is the steam from the contact of under- 
ground rivers and deep-lying fires the origin of the terrible rending 
powers of the volcano's depths ? Truly we can answer none of these 
questions with assurance, and can only guess and conjecture from ; 
the few facts open to us what lies concealed far beneath. 


In the history of earthquakes nothing is more remarkable than 
the extreme fewness of those recorded before the beginning of the 
Christian era, in comparison with those that have been registered 
since that time. It is to be borne in mind, however, that before the 
birth of Christ only a small portion of the globe was inhabited by 
those likely to make a record of natural events. The vast apparent 
increase in the number of earthquakes in recent times is owing to a 
greater knowledge of the earth's surface and to the spread of civil- 
ization over lands once inhabited by savages. The same is to be 
said of volcanic eruptions, which also have apparently increased 
greatly since the beginning of the Christian era. There may possi- 
bly have been a natural increase in these phenomena, but this is 
hardly probable, the change being more likely due to the increase 
in the number of observers. 

The structure of a volcano is very different from that of other 
mountains, really consisting of layers of lava and volcanic ashes, 
alternating with each other and all sloping away from the center. 
These elevations, in fact, are formed in a different manner from 
ordinary mountains. The latter have been uplifted by the influence of 
pressure in the interior of the earth, but the volcano is an immediate 
resuit of the explosive force of which we have spoken, the mountain 



being gradually built up by the lava and other materials which it 
has flung up from below. In this way mountains of immense 
height and remarkable regularity have been formed. Mount Orizabo, 
near the City of Mexico, for instance, is a remarkably regular cone, 
undoubtedly formed in this way, and the same may be said of Mount 
Mayon, on the Island of Luzon. 

In many cases the irregularity of the volcano is due to subse- 
quent action of its forces, which may blow the mountain itself to 
pieces. In the case of Krakatoa, in the East Indies, for instance, 
the whole mountain was rent into fragments, which were flung as 
dust miles high into the air. The main point we wish to indicate 
is that volcanoes are never formed by ordinary elevating forces and 
that they differ in this way from all other mountains. On the con- 
trary, they have been piled up like rubbish heaps, resembling the 
small mountains of coal dust near the mouths of anthracite mines. 

It is to the burning heat of the earth's crust and the influence 
of pressure, and more largely to the influx of water to the molten 
rocks which lie miles below the surface, that these convulsions of 
nature are due. Water, on reaching these overheated strata, explodes 
into volumes of steam, and if there is no free vent to the surface, 
it is apt to rend the very mountain asunder in its efforts to escape. 
Such is supposed to have been the case in the eruption of Krakatoa, 
and was probably the case also in the recent case of Mt. Pelee. 


If we should seek to give a general description of volcanic 
eruptions, it would be in some such words as follows : An eruption 
is usually preceded by earthquakes which affect the whole sur- 
rounding country, and associated with which are underground explo- 
sions that seem like the sound of distant artillery. The mountain 


quivers with internal convulsions, due to the efforts of its confined 
forces to find an opening. The drying up of wells and disappear- 
ance of springs are apt to take place, the water sinking downward 
through cracks newly made in the rocks. Finally the fierce un- 
chained energy rends an opening through the crater and an eruption 
begins. It comes usually with a terrible burst that shakes the 
mountain to its foundation ; explosions following rapidly and with 
increasing violence, while steam issues and mounts upward in a lofty 
column. The steam and escaping gases in their fierce outbreaks hurl 
up into the air great quantities of solid rock torn from the sides of 
the opening. The huge blocks, meeting each other in their rise 
and fall, are gradually broken and ground into minute fragments, 
forming dust or so-called ashes, often of extreme fineness, and in 
such quantities as frequently to blot out the light of the sun. There 
is another way in which a great deal of volcanic dust is made ; the 
lava is full of steam, which in its expansion tears the molten rock 
into atoms, often converting it into the finest dust. 

The eruption of Mt. Skaptar, in Iceland, in 1783, sent up such 
volumes of dust that the atmosphere was loaded with it for months, 
and it was carried to the northern part of Scotland, 600 miles away, 
in such quantities as to destroy the crops. During the eruption of 
Tomboro, in the East Indies, in 181 5, so great was the quantity of 
dust thrown up that it caused darkness at midday in Java 300 miles 
away and covered the ground to a depth of several inches. Float- 
ing pumice formed a layer on the ocean surface two and a half feet 
in thickness, through which vessels had difficulty in forcing their way. 

The steam which rises in large volumes into the air may be- 
come suddenly condensed with the chill of the upper atmosphere 
and fall as rain, torrents of which often follow an eruption. The 
rain, falling through the clouds of volcanic dust, brings it to the 


earth as liquid mud, which pours in thick streams down the sides of 
the mountain. The torrents of flowing mud are sometimes on such 
a great scale that large towns, as in the instance of the great city 
of Herculaneum, may be completely buried beneath them. Over 
this city the mud accumulated to the depth of over 70 feet. In 
addition to these phenomena, molten lava often flows from the lip of 
the crater, occasionally in vast quantities. In the Icelandic erup- 
tion of 1783 the lava streams were so great in quantity as to fill 
river gorges 600 ft. deep and 200 ft. wide, and to extend over an 
open plain to a distance of 12 to 15 miles, forming lakes of 
lava 100 feet deep. The volcanoes of Hawaii often send forth 
streams of lava which cover an area of over 100 square miles to 
a great depth. 


In the course of ages lava outflows of this kind have built up 
in Hawaii a volcanic mountain estimated to contain enough material 
to cover the whole of the United States with a layer of rock 50 feet 
deep. These great outflows of lava are not confined to mountains, 
but take place now and then from openings in the ground, or from 
long cracks in the surface rocks. Occasionally great eruptions 
have taken place beneath the ocean's surface, throwing up material 
in sufficient quantity to form new islands. 

The formation of mud is not confined to the method given, but 
great quantities of this plastic material flow at times from volcanic 
craters. In the year 1691 Imbaburu, one of the peaks of the Andes, 
sent out floods of mud which contained dead fish in such abund- 
ance that their decay caused a fever in the vicinity. The volcanoes 
of Java have often buried large tracts of fertile country under 
volcanic mud. 


An observation of volcanoes shows us that they have three 
well marked phases of action. The first of these is the state of 
permanent eruption, as in case of the volcano of Stromboli in the 
Mediterranean. This state is not a dangerous one, since the steam, 
escaping continually, acts as a safety valve. The second stage is 
one of milder activity with an occasional somewhat violent erup- 
tion ; this is apt to be dangerous, though not often very greatly so. 
The. safety valve is partly out of order. The third phase is one in 
which long periods of repose, sometimes lasting for centuries, are 
followed by eruptions of intense energy. These are often of 
extreme violence and cause widespread destruction. In this case 
the safety valve has failed to work and the boiler bursts. 


Such are the general features of action in the vast powers 
which dwell deep beneath the surface, harmless in most parts of the 
earth, frightfully perilous in others. Yet even here they often rest 
for long terms of years in seeming apathy, until men gather above 
their lurking places in multitudes, heedless or ignorant of the 
sleeping demons that bide their time below. Their time is sure to 
come, after years, perhaps after centuries. Suddenly the solid earth 
begins to tremble and quake ; roars as of one of the buried giants 
of old strike all men with dread ; then, with a fierce convulsion, a 
mountain is rent in twain and vast torrents of steam, burning rock, 
and blinding dust are hurled far upward into the air, to fall again 
and bury cities, perhaps, with all their inhabitants in indiscriminate 
ruin and death. A thrilling: instance of this is that which came 
upon the beautiful West Indian Island of Martinique in May, 1902, ? 
the story of which it is our purpose to relate. 



The Volcanoes of the West Indian Regions. 

THE volcanic outburst in the Caribbean Islands, which has so 
astonished the world, can hardly have been a matter of sur- 
prise for any geologist. In truth it should have been ex- 
pected, although nobody could have predicted the time when it 
would occur, or the exact point that would be most affected, nor, 
indeed, the extent of the disaster. Our knowledge of the earth's 
crust is too incomplete for that. 

Still the character of the chain of islands running southward 
from Guadeloupe and forming the eastern border of the Caribbean 
Sea was well enough understood to enable any geologist to affirm 
the existence of danger there. That line is notoriously one of the 
danger points of the earth. Within a distance of a very few 
hundred miles are ranged three or four volcanic vents whose ap- 
pearance and history show that they are fully the rivals of Vesu- 
vius in destructive power. Being situated on islands, and conse- 
quently surrounded on all sides by water, they have the proper 
environment to induce an outbreak whenever other circumstances 
are favorable to such an occurence. 

Moreover, the Caribbean Sea bottom is subject to earthquake 
disturbances, which are, perhaps, the direct result of the slow 
rising of the neighboring coast of South America. Wherever 
such an elevation is in progress a strain is necessarily brought to 
bear upon the rocks composing the underlying strata of the earth's 



crust in the vicinity of the rising area, and every now and then a 
sudden slip, or break, is certain to occur, resulting in the formation 
of new fissures and the transmission of shocks which may act like 
the pulling of a trigger in releasing pent-up forces of vast magni- 

Leeward and Windward are the names given by mariners to 
the islands comprising the Lesser Antilles, lying to the southeast 
of San Domingo and Porto Rico, including Guadeloupe, Dominica 
and Martinique to the north or Leeward, and Barbados, St. Lucia, 
Saint Vincent, Grenadine, Grenada and others to the south, called 
the Windward group. These islands are of volcanic origin, and 
many of them possess occasionally active volcanoes. They are 
looked upon as forming part of that great volcanic range which 
extends along the Pacific slope of America from Alaska to Chili. 


Of the islands named, Martinique and Guadeloupe belong to 
the French ; the others are English possessions. Martinique, the 
central scene of the catastrophe that is threatening all of the islands 
of the Lesser Antilles, was a prosperous colony. It had, previous to 
the late disaster, a population of about 175,000, including about 
10,000 white persons. The natives have been called by Lafcadio 
Hearn, the author, who spent two years among them, "the finest 
mixed race in the West Indies." The women are beautiful and the 
men tall, well formed and strongf. 

Of the 4,500 inhabitants of the island of St. Lucia not more 
than 2,000 are white. The majority of the white residents are 
French or of French origin. The natives are negroes and half- 
breeds of all shades of color, from full black to the nearly white 
octoroons. The original inhabitants were Caribs when Columbus 


discovered the island in 1502. It was settled by the English in 
1639. There were many struggles between the French and the 
English for its possession, first one power, then another, governing 
the island until 1803, when it passed finally under British authority. 
Two cone-shaped rocks rise out of the sea to a height of 3,000 
feet, and near these are the craters of the long extinct volcanoes 
that now have entered upon a dangerous activity. Near them are 
the sulphur pits so often seen in mountains of the West Indies, that 
often send forth steam, reminding the visitors that the subterranean 
fires have never been entirely extinguished. 


At the northwest corner of the island of St. Vincent, one of 
the British West Indies, rises the volcano La Soufriere, that now 
threatens its destruction. It has often belched forth death to the 
inhabitants, but of late years has shown no signs of activity. 

On the northeast corner, across the bay, and a few miles away 
from La Soufriere, is Kingstown, the capital of the island, with a 
population of about 6,000. The others of the 35,000 souls living 
on the island, which is only seventeen miles long, inhabit the moun- 
tains, and it is upon them that the present disaster will fall most 
heavily. Nearly all of the inhabitants are negroes or half-breeds. 
About 4,000 whites live on the island. 

The population of Dominica is about 35,000. The capital is 
Roseau. The island is twenty-nine miles long and sixteen miles in 
width. Its surface is covered by volcanic rocks, and hot sulphur- 
springs abound. 

Grenada is one of the most beautiful of the West Indian is- 
lands. Its mountains of volcanic origin, rugged and higher than 
those of the other islands, traverse it from north to south. It has 
a population of about 65,000, 


Guadeloupe is really two islands — that to the north, or Guade- 
loupe proper, being mountainous and wild. The southern island is 
low and marshy. The population of the island is about 135,000. 
It is one of the principal French colonies in the West Indies. 

Trinidad, a partly volcanic island, which lies south of the An- 
tilles, is famous for its lake of semi-liquid pitch or asphaltum — one 
of the most remarkable of natural productions. 


There are some scientists who ascribe the catastrophe to the 
tidal strain produced by the moon, which happened on the very 
day of the blowing up of Mont Pelee to be in conjunction with 
the sun and close to its perigee point, or point of nearest approach 
to the earth. 

It is well known that in such circumstances the combined tidal 
power of the sun and moon has nearly its greatest value, this 
producing the highest tides, those known as spring tides. While 
the effect upon the crust of the earth must be relatively slight, yet 
it might be conceived to act in the manner of the pressure that 
causes a trigger to fall and thereby let loose the giant force stored 
up in a cannon. 

It should be said, however, with regard to the theory that 
earthquakes and volcanic phenomena connected with them are 
more liable to occur when the moon is in conjunction or opposition 
to the sun than at other times, all efforts to find a satisfactory basis 
for the theory in the history of seismic phenomena have been here- 
tofore unsuccessful. The evidence, in other words, is self-contra- 
dictory. Not long ago Mr. Egmetis, of the observatory at Athens, 
Greece, made public a report bearing on this question, and show- 
ing that it had been impossible to trace a connection between the 
positions of the moon and the hundreds of earthquake tremors felt 


in Greece during the year 1900. But, on the other hand, the fact 
that the Martinique explosion occurred at new moon, and when the 
moon was nearly in perigee, may be taken, as far as it goes, as an 
instance in favor of the theory. 

But whatever the remote causes of the outburst may have 
been, it is difficult to believe that the immediate cause can have 
been anything else than a gigantic explosion of steam in the 
bowels of the volcano. It is known that water penetrates to con- 
siderable depths in the earth, even in the middle of continents. 
Wherever crevices and caverns in the rocks exist water is to be 
found deep beneath the surface of the earth. Huge streams that may 
almost be described as rivers flow deep under some of the dry and 
barren lava fields and semi-deserts of the far West. Every farmer 
who drives a well to procure water for his stock where no surface 
streams exist has a practical acquaintance with the wonderful 
veining of the earth's crust with hidden water channels. 

This water penetrates as deep as the gradually increasing heat 
of the planet will permit it to do while retaining the liquid form. If 
it encounters no excessively heated area of rocks capable of sud- 
denly turning a great quantity of it into steam it causes no damages, 
and if slowly vaporized recondenses into water again before it 
reaches the surface. 


But when, as occurs at many points near the edges of the 
ocean basins — and, among other places, on the eastern side of the 
Caribbean Sea — the water that has leaked down from above, either 
from rivers or from the superincumbent seas, encounters deep 
cracks and fissures which allow it to penetrate to a region where 
the heat is sufficient to liquefy solid bodies, it is changed into 
superheated steam — a thing whose resistless power defies the 


mightiest bonds ; and if the fissures are of considerable extent and 
the quantity of water is also great, even the rocky crust of the 
globe cannot withstand the explosive energy that is thus brought 
to bear upon it. This action and influence of subterranean waters 
will be found considered more at length in a later chapter. 

But, it may be asked, why do not such explosions take place 
anywhere, at random, instead of through the crater of an existing 
volcano ? The reply is that sometimes they do take place at ran- 
dom, if such an expression can properly be applied to a natural 
event, and when that happens we see the phenomenon of 
the formation of a new volcano. But ordinarily the explosion 
occurs through the vent, or throat, of an already existing volcano, 
because the weakest points, or lines, in the earth's crust are the 
places where new fissures are likely to be formed, and along these 
lines of weakness the volcanoes stand like rows of safety valves. 

Such a fissure is believed to exist along the curving course of 
the Caribbean Islands, the fact being indicated by their general 
volcanic origin and the line of volcanoes which follow this remark- 
ably regular crescent-like curve. Each island of this chain, begin- 
ning with Saba in the north and ending with Grenada in the south, 
is volcanic in character, and the chord of the arc they describe is 
about 360 miles in length. 


Lying along the northern curve, oceanward, is a fragmentary 
chain of isles and islets which are coralline in structure — at least 
above the sea, though they may be erected upon volcanic bases 
far oeneath. Each island is practically a single mountain thrown 
up from the ocean depths, the altitudes varying from 2,000 to 5,000 
feet, and so evidently of volcanic origin that one may not err in 


ascribing them to Vulcan's mighty hand. Mountain-tops, spires, 
pinnacles, thrust up through the sea, suggest the remains of a lost 
continent, or perhaps the beginnings of a newer one. A far-west 
Atlantis may yet appear, out of the debris of wrecked isles, a resur- 
rected continent, lifting its head above the sea, and verifying the 
Platonian legend. 

Should these islands be destroyed, and, in effect, disappear, 
one cannot conceive of their places being taken by any more beau- 
tiful ones. As every mountain shoots upward abruptly to an altitude 
that gives it practically the range of two climatic zones, temperate 
and tropical, every beautiful aspect of vegetation may be noted 
here. The sides of each partially submerged volcano, from base to 
peak, and even some of the crater-walls, are hung with richest tapes- 
tries in varying shades of green. 


The northernmost of the volcanic islands is Saba, a mountain 
rising above the ocean floor nobody knows how many thousand 
feet, but extending about 2,800 feet above water. It has been for 
many years a Dutch possession, and is the smallest property of 
Holland in the West Indies, perhaps in the world, having an area 
of about seven square miles only, and supporting not more than 
1,800 inhabitants. The majority of the population is white, a rare 
thing in these islands. There are Dutch residents in other West 
Indian islands, but they are not the sturdy, clear-complexioned 
Dutch of Saba Island. The secret of their sturdiness and their 
healthfulness is found in the altitude at which they live ; not one of 
them less than 800 or 900 feet above sea level. 

The town of Bottom, 960 feet above the sea, where most of 
the people live, is so called because it lies at the bottom of an 


extinct crater ; at least, it is supposed to be extinct, but this, as 
recent events have shown, is not too sure a thing to trust to in the 
West Indies. 

Indubitable evidence of volcanic action is to be found in the 
vast deposits of crude sulphur, which is mined out of the cliffs 
hundreds of feet above the sea and sent down to vessels' holds by 
means of a wire tramway. As there is no harbor in Saba, so there 
is no roadway for vehicle or beast of burden, all the freight arriving 
there and all the produce shipped thence being carried on the backs 
of men and women. 

Next neighbor to Saba is the Dutch island of Saint Eustatius, 
better known in that region as Statia. It has seen better days, but 
could not be more beautiful, at least so far as its mountain cone is 
concerned, which is about 1,500 feet in height and perfectly sym- 
metrical. Its crater is covered with gigantic forest trees. Statia 
was once very wealthy, but is now poor and forgotten, though it is 
celebrated as the first place in which a foreign Power saluted the 
American flag. It has no harbor, only a roadstead. 


Of these islands none is more attractive from the sea than 
Saint Kitts, named by Columbus after his patron saint, Christopher. 
He discovered it, as indeed all these islands of the northern Carib- 
bees, in the year 1493. This island was the original home of the 
buccaneers. Off its leeward coast a great naval battle was fought 
between English and French. Across a narrow channel rises the 
symmetrical peak of Nevis, which, like Mount Misery on St. Kitts, is 
forest-clad and with a fertile, verdant belt around it. Nevis was the 
birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, and here Lord Nelson was mar- 
ied. Next south of Nevis lies Montserrat, smaller yet, and between 

This was one of the Prominent Edifices of the City. 


the two islands the great rock of Redonda, a pinnacle shooting up 
out of the sea. Montserrat has a fine crater or " soufriere," and 
before it was devastated by a hurricane a few years ago was covered 
with groves of limes. Nevis has no well-defined crater, but has 
numerous hot and mineral springs. 

The island next southerly, Guadeloupe, is the largest of the 
volcanic chain. It was discovered by Columbus on his second 
voyage, in 1493, and he, like all voyagers who have come after him, 
was enamored of its scenery, speaking enthusiastically of its mag- 
nificent forests and waterfalls. The town of Basse Terre on the 
coast line has an open roadstead, while Point-a-Pitre, the commer- 
cial port, has a fairly good harbor. In 1843 Guadeloupe had its 
disaster, not in the form of a volcanic eruption, but of an earth- 
quake of destructive force, 5,000 lives being lost in Point-a-Pitre 
alone, while devastation extended widely over the island. 

Dominica, about thirty miles south of Guadeloupe, is the most 
picturesque of the chain, containing grand and gloomy mountains, 
deep gorges, extensive forests, waterfalls, hot springs, a " boiling 
lake " in its crater, and many wonders of the faunal and botanical 
world. Dominica's only good harbor, that of Prince Ruperts, is 
unused on account of the insalubrity of the adjacent country, while 
Roseau, the commercial port, is an open roadstead. Mont Diab- 
lotin in Dominica is the highest peak of the chain, exceeding 5,000 

Martinique, the next in the chain, calls for no description here, 
the following chapter being devoted to it. In Martinique and St. 
Lucia, but not in Dominica, next north of Martinique, is found that 
terribly venomous serpent, the " fer de lance," which is evil enough 
to have been the product of the particular Vulcan that forged the 
thunderbolts cast by Pelee at the devoted city of St. Pierre. More 


than one of those who escaped from the flames may have met 
death from the poison fangs of this serpent as they sought succor 
after the eruption or groped their way blindly through the suffocat- 
ing fumes and ashes to a place of safety. 


Saint Lucia is but another Martinique on a smaller scale. It 
has a "Soufriere," or sulphur mine, larger than that in the crater 
of Mont Pelee, but situated at, or near, the southern end of the 
island, distant from the town of Castries, above which latter frown 
the fortifications erected by the British at an expense of many mil- 
lions. Lying about midway between Martinique and Saint Vincent, 
it seems wonderful to the lay mind that Saint Lucia should thus far 
have escaped disaster. It is about one hundred miles as the crow 
flies, from Mont Pelee, at the north end of Martinique, to 
the Soufriere, at the north end of Saint Vincent, the erup- 
tion from which was almost synchronous with that from the 
former. There is no town nearer the volcano than a little set- 
tlement called Chateau Belaire, on the leeward coast, which lies 
about opposite the port of Georgetown at the windward — as the 
east coast is called. From one town to the other, all the way round 
the north end of the island, the plantations and provision grounds 
have been absolutely wiped out. Not many of the lives lost were 
those of white people in either island, the majority being colored. 

Space remains only for a mere allusion to the southernmost 
island of the Caribbean chain, little Grenada, which, with a crater 
in its central hills, and its chief harbor in a crater, is in a good sit- 
uation for some interesting developments, if volcanic activity should 
in the future spread from the two islands midway the chain to its 
two extremes. 


The Island of Martinique and the City of St 


SAINT PIERRE is the principal city of the French island of 
Martinique, having a population of over 25,000, and is one 
of the most important cities in the Lesser Antilles. Situated 
on the west coast of the island of Martinique, the town faces an 
open roadstead sheltered by high mountains from the easterly 
trade winds, and affording anchorage for hundreds of vessels. The 
town proper is built on the slope of a high range of hills separated 
by a valley and a small stream, which have been made into a park, 
with stately avenues extending up the valley to the rear of the 
town, where it joins what is conceded to be the handsomest botani- 
cal garden in the West Indies. 

Originally it was built entirely of stone. After several earth- 
quakes, which resulted in terrible loss of life, the inhabitants built 
their houses of wood. Then the town was fire swept and stone was 
again used as the general building material. After several earth- 
quakes wood once more was used, but the place was destroyed by 
fire again about eight years ago. 

The streets of the town, while narrow, are paved, with broad 
gutters in the centre, down which flows a steady stream of water 
from springs in the hills, keeping the streets in a condition of 
nearly absolute cleanliness. Adjoining the city on the north are 
several large sugar factories, including the Guerin Works, one of 



the largest in the West Indies. A tramway connects the southern 
portion of the city with the northern, a peculiar feature of the line 
being the women conductors. The motive power is mules. In 
addition to the many factories producing sugar, rum and Florida 
water, Saint Pierre is the distributing point of the French West 
Indies and for French Guiana. Two handsome cathedrals, 
the new and the old, several attractive public buildings, and a 
municipal opera house, which maintains a permanent opera com- 
pany, are among the noteworthy features of the city. 


The natives are for the most part negroes. The other natives 
are of French extraction, and the language of the latter nation is 
universally spoken. The picturesque situation of the city, with the 
gay costumes of the natives, gives the place a decidedly operatic 
appearance. The climate is almost perfect. 

The population of St. Pierre is like the people of the Arabian 
Nights European, negro and Indian combined to make this 
strange race, but the Indian seemed to predominate. It is many 
colored, but the general, dominant tint is yellow, like that of the 
town of St. Pierre itself. It is a race of half-breeds, the finest mixed 
race in the West Indies. Lafcadio Hearn says of these people : 
" Straight as palms and supple and tall, these colored women and 
men impress one wonderfully by their dignified carriage and easy 
elegance of movement. They walk without swinging of the shoul- 
ders — the perfectly set torso seems to remain rigid ; yet the step is 
a long, full stride, and the whole weight is springingly poised on 
the very tip of the bare foot. All, or nearly all, are without shoes ; 
the treading of many feet over the heated pavement makes a con- 
tinuous, whispering sound. 



" Perhaps the most novel impression of all is that produced by 
the singularity and brilliancy of certain of the women's costumes, 
especially their head-dress. It is merely an immense Madras hand- 
kerchief, which is folded about the head with admirable art, like a 
turban — one bright end pushed through at the top in front being 
left sticking up like a plume. Then this turban, always full of bright 
canary color, is fastened with golden brooches — one in front and one 


at either side. As for the remainder of the dress, it is simple enough ; 
an embroidered, lowcut chemise with sleeves ; a skirt or jupe, very 
long behind, but caught up and fastened in front below the breast 
so as to bring the hem everywhere to a level with the end of the 
long chemise, and finally a foulard or silken kerchief thrown over 
the shoulders. These jupes and foulards, however, are exquisite in 


pattern and color ; bright crimson, bright yellow, bright blue, bright 
green — lilac, violet, rose — sometimes mingled in plaidings or check- 
erings or stripings, black with orange, sky-blue with purple. 

" But few are thus attired. The greater number of the women 
carrying burdens on their heads — peddling vegetables, cakes, fruit, 
ready-cooked food from door to door — are very simply dressed in a 
single plain robe of vivid colors reaching from neck to feet, and 
made with a train, but generally girded well up so as to sit close to 
the figure and leave the lower limbs partly bare and perfectly free. 
These women can walk all day long up and down hill in the hot 
sun, without shoes, carrying loads of from one hundred to one hun- 
dred and fifty pounds on their heads, and if their little stock some- 
times fails to come up to the accustomed weight stones are added 
to make it heavy enough. And the Creole street cries, uttered in a 
sonorous, far-reaching high key, interblend and produce random 
harmonies very pleasing to hear." 

The people of Martinique are very poor, although outwardly 
their houses and shops give an impression of wealth. The build- 
ings are very pretty, are in colors red, white and blue, and are kept 
up very well. Inside the shops the displays appear to be quite lav- 
ish, but there are few moneyed purchasers. The credit system pre- 
vails almost exclusively. The majority of the people — who are black, 
of course — live on next to nothing. Four pence (eight cents) a day 
is the usual wage for labor, and is about as much as the employers 
can afford to pay. The laborers work very hard for the small wage. 
As in most of the West Indian Islands, the women greatly outnum- 
ber the men, and do the brunt of the manual labor. 

We have spoken, as the reader will perceive, in the present 
tense, as though St. Pierre were a thing of the present, and its in- 
habitants living and breathing men and women. But in truth these 




people, with few exceptions, have ceased to live, and their former 
place of habitation is a city of the past, a Pompeii of the West Indies. 


Merchants and ship captains who know the Windward Islands 
cannot conceive of the gay little port of St. Pierre de Martinique 
being covered with ashes and lava. As do all the colonial capitals of 
the French, St. Pierre followed as closely as the steamers and mails 
would permit the customs and fashions of Paris. At the Hotel 
des Bains, at the "absinthe hour," one might always find a gather- 
ing of young men of the town, who sat sipping their liqueurs and 
chatting gaily. 

The Rue de Victor Hugo was the principal thoroughfare. All 
of the best shops were located on it, and it served as a parade for 
the fashionables when they made their appearance in the cool of the 
evening, arrayed in their white ducks, Panama hats, and low-cut 
patent leather shoes, and the women either in the year-old fashions 
of Paris or in the striking, gaily colored native garb. 

The Cathedral, the Opera House (where traveling companies 
played before enthusiastic audiences), the Hotel des Bains and the 
banks were probably the largest and best built buildings in the 
town. French was the common language, and nearly all of the 
white people were of French extraction. It was a lively little 
place, and its people had some of the light spirit and gaiety of their 
Gallic kinsmen. Always on coming into the harbor passengers 
noted the apparent freshness and cleanliness of the place. The 
white houses, with their green blinds and tiled or thatched roofs, 
the gay striped awnings and vivid green of the background, made 
a cool, pleasant picture. Ashore, the bright costumes of the native 
girls, the movement of the street life and the strangeness of the new 
scenes were a source of constant. interest to tourists. 


The upper or new town was the most attractive part of the 
place. The streets were broader and cleaner, and the buildings of 
a better quality. All of the streets were narrow, even the Rue de 
Victor Hugo being scarcely wide enough to permit two carriages 
to pass abreast. 

Through every street, as above said, ran an open gutter of 
water, and early in the morning, just when the cool dawn wind was 
coming down from the mountains, these gutters would be alive with 
people. The native women would bring out their tall earthen jars, 
called "Welsh hats" by the resident Englishmen, to be filled with 
the cool, flowing water. Babies were brought out and allowed to 
disport themselves, while their mothers cleansed the household 
utensils. The streams being fed from mountain lakes, cleanliness 
in dress and habitation was common, even anions the lowest classes. 

Back from St. Pierre about eight miles, on a winding mountain 
road, was the fashionable native resort, Morne Rouge. Here the 
rich residents had their country homes. In the season, which began 
about June i, there were usually 4,000 or 5,000 persons at Morne 
Rouge. Probably half that number had gone out this year to open 
their villas. 


There were no wharves or quays at St. Pierre, and really no 
harbor — simply an open roadstead with deep water inshore. The 
island rises sheerly from the sea, and there was no anchorage until 
the ships got within 300 feet of the buildings on shore. Skip- 
pers of sailing vessels would take their ships close in and anchor 
with bows pointed seaward and with a stern line out to steady the 
craft. They had to be alert during the rainy or stormy season, be- 
cause of their exposed condition, and be ready to slip anchors and 
run out to sea. 


Where St. Pierre was, the coast line curves inland like a slightly 
bent bow. Describing it, one of the shopkeepers on the Rue de 
Victor Hugo used to say that the town was situated on a bay 
shaped " like a dilemma, with a volcano on one horn and a tropical 
jungle on the other." He had got the phrase from an English corres- 
pondent, who had wondered what the inhabitants would do if such 
a calamity as the present one ever occurred. The Englishman had 
noted the lack of roads leading from the town and the futility of 
any hope of escape. 

The town was built on the flat, narrow foreshore that lay be- 
tween the foot, of the steep wooded mountains and the sea. The 
houses and shops were built down to the water's edge and clustered 
in irregular groups about the Cathedral, which was situated directly 
opposite where the ships lay in the roadstead, and was the promi- 
nent architectural feature of the town. It was built of a whitish 
stone, and with its two towers, in which bells were hung, was 
sharply accentuated against the green background of the moun 
tains. The water front of the town extended for nearly two miles 
along the gently curving coast. All the space back to the hills that 
shut in the town was filled with the low white houses of the people. 
Some twenty or twenty-five streets ran down from the hills to the 
water front. These were cut by irregular cross-streets. 

There were a great many Americans in business in St. Pierre. 
The business of the island seemed to be about equally divided be- 
tween French and American merchants. There were very few 
Englishmen on the island. The whites were practically all Ameri- 
cans and French. During- the Winter there have been thousands of 
American tourists on the island. It was a delightful place to spend 
a few weeks; the climate always was superb, and everything about 
the place was sure to charm the visitor. 


Martinique, the island of which St. Pierre was the commercial 
city, is the longest and most northerly of the Windward Islands, 
which form a portion of the chain of the Lesser Antilles. It is 
placed about the middle of the series which stretches in a curved 
line from Porto Rico almost to the coast of Venezuela. It is situ- 
ated almost midway between Dominica and St. Lucia, twenty miles 
north of the latter place, and is about forty-five miles long and from 
ten to fifteen miles wide. Extensive masses of volcanic rocks cover 
the interior of the island, in which there are six extinct volcanoes, 
in addition to the active Mont Pelee, which has just shown itself 
the reverse of extinct. Only about two-fifths of the island is under 
cultivation, but the land is of extraordinary fertility, producing 
great quantities of sugar, coffee and cocoa. 


The island, which was discovered by the Spaniards in 1493, 
was settled by the French in 1635, captured by the British in 1794 
and again in 1809, Dut restored to France for the second time in 
1814. The population is 160,000, mostly colored. 

Due in part to the bounty system of the French Government, 
Martinique and Guadeloupe are prosperous and contented, in strong 
contrast to the now poor and needy British islands adjoining. This 
condition is so apparent that even the casual visitor cannot fail to 
notice the difference. The native population is also more sprightly 
and more gaudily dressed than the negroes of the adjoining islands 
of St. Lucia, Dominica and particularly Antigua, yet the sugar trade, 
which is practically the only commercial industry of the Island of 
Martinique, has not been profitable of late years, and the future of 
both Martinique and Guadaloupe, even before the eruption of 
Mont Pelee, was very gloomy. The French Government, it is 


said, intends to remove the bounty from sugar, and without this 
bounty the industry cannot live, and without the industry the people 
of the island cannot very well subsist. 

Martinique is probably best known as having been the birth- 
place of the unfortunate Empress Josephine, in whose honor a 
handsome statue has been erected at Fort de France, a seaport on 
the east coast, the centre of an important coal trade, numerous and 
regular shipments of coal being made from this port. 

Fort de France was originally known as Port Royal, this being 
changed on the advent of Republican rule. Two rivers border it, 
while the hills recede farther from the shore than at St. Pierre. 
Trees are scarce save in the park, where are long and thickly 
planted rows of tamarinds and mangoes, a double line of them 
enclosing a large open space, covered with luxuriant grass. In the 
centre of this space stands the statue of which we have spoken, the 
queenly Josephine, a figure of majestic poise and graceful outline, 
its material the purest white marble. Surrounding it is a circle of 
magnificent palms, whose glorious crowns rival that which adorns 
the head of the Empress, whose left hand rests on a medallion of 
Napoleon. On the pedestal a bas relief in bronze represents 
Napoleon before Josephine and in the act of placing a crown 

upon her head. 

Near the southern end of Martinique the island is nearly 
divided in two by a deep bay. On the northern side of this stands 
Fort de France, and directly south of it lies the little town of 
Trois-Ilets, hidden from view by a deep cape. In the vicinity of 
this small place is the plantation of La Pagerie, the birthplace of 
the child who was to become the Empress of France. It is a place 
which all tourists to the island visit. In its present state the dwell- 
ing is not of attractive aspect, it being a low wooden-house, with 


a roof of tiles, the whole old and dilapidated, while over the door 
is the common shop sign Debit de la Ferme, showing that rum and 
salt-fish are here on sale. This, however, the visitor soon learns, is 
not the house in which was born the future Empress, but its suc- 
cessor, the original house having been destroyed by a hurricane 
shortly after her birth. But the materials of which it is constructed 
came from the birth-place of Josephine. Of the buildings of her 
period there remain only the old kitchen and the sugar house of 
the estate. 

Another native of Martinique to whom some degree of nota- 
bility attaches, was Alexandre de Beauharnais, the first husband of 
the future bride of Napoleon and Empress of France. He was one 
of the victims of the Revolution, but his son, Eugene de Beau- 
harnais, rose high in the favor of Napoleon, was made a prince 
and viceroy of Italy, and in 181 2 commanded a corps of the grand 


Mont Pelee and its Harvest of Death. 

THE city of St. Pierre, Martinique, lies along the coast of its 
bay, for a length of about a mile, with high cliffs hemming 
it in, the houses of stone and brick, covered with brown 
earthen tiles, climb up to the hills, tier upon tier. At one place, 
where a river breaks through the cliffs, the city creeps further up 
towards the mountains. As seen from the bay, its appearance is 
picturesque and charming, with the soft tints of its tiles, the grey of 
its walls, the clumps of verdure in its midst, and the wall of green 
in the rear. Seen from its strtets this beauty disappears, and the 
chief attraction of the town is gone. 

Back from the three miles of hills which sweep in an arc 
round the town, is the noble Montague Pelee lying several miles to 
the north of the city, a mass of dark rock some four thousand feet 
high, with jagged outline, and cleft with gorges and ravines, down 
which flow numerous streams, gushing from the crater lake of the 
great volcano. 

Though known to be a volcano, it was looked upon as practi- 
cally extinct, though as late as August, 1856, it had been in eruption. 
No lava at that time came from its crater, but it hurled out great 
quantities of ashes and mud, with strong sulphurous odor. Then it 
went to rest again, and slept till 1902. 

The people had long ceased to fear it. No one expected that 
grand old Mont Pelee, the slumbering (so it was thought), 


tranquil old hill, would ever spurt forth fire and death. This was 
entirely unlooked for„ Mont Pelee was regarded by the natives as 
a sort of protector ; they had an almost superstitious affection for it. 
From the outskirts of the city it rose gradually, its sides grown 
thick with rich grass, and dotted here and there with spreading 
shrubbery and drooping trees. There was no pleasanter outing for 
an afternoon than a journey up the green, velvet-like sides of the 
towering mountain and a view of the quaint, picturesque city slum- 
bering at its base. 


There were no rocky cliffs, no crags, no protruding boulders. 
The mountain was peace itself, It seemed to promise perpetual 
protection. The poetic natives relied upon it to keep back storms 
from the land and frighten, with its stern brow, the tempests from 
the sea. They pointed to it with profoundest pride as one of the 
most beautiful mountains in the world. 

Children played in its bowers and arbors ; families picnicked 
there day after day during the balmy weather; hundreds of tour- 
ists ascended to the summit and looked with pleasure at the beauti- 
ful crystal lake which sparkled and glinted in the sunshine. Mont 
Pelee was the place of enjoyment of the people of St. Pierre. I 
can hear the placid natives say: "Old Father Pelee is our protec- 
tor—not our destroyer." 

Not until two weeks before the eruption ; did the slumbering 
mountain show signs of waking to death and disaster. On the 23d 
of April it first displayed symptoms of internal disquiet, A 
great column of smoke began to rise from it, and was accompanied 
from time to time by showers of ashes and cinders. 

Despite these signals, there was nothing until Monday, May 
5th, to indicate actual danger. On that day a stream of smoking 


mud and lava burst through the top of the crater and plunged into 
the valley of the River Blanche, overwhelming the Guerin sugar 
works and killing twenty-three workmen and the son of the proprie- 
tor. Mr. Guerin's was one of the largest sugar works on the island ; 
its destruction entailed a heavy loss. The mud which overwhelmed it 
followed the beds of streams towards the north of the island. 

The alarm in the city was great, but it was somewhat allayed 
by the report of an expert commission appointed by the Governor, 
which decided that the eruption was normal and that the city was 
in no peril. To further allay the excitement, the Governor, with 
several scientists, took up his residence in St. Pierre. He could 
not restrain the people by force, but the moral effect of his pre- 
sence and the decision of the scientists had a similar disastrous 


The existing state of affairs during these few waiting days is 
so graphically given in a letter from Mrs. Thomas T. Prentis, wife 
of the United States Consul at St. Pierre, to her sister in Melrose, 
a suburban city of Boston, that we quote it here : 

"My Dear Sister : This morning the whole population of the 
city is on the alert and every eye is directed toward Mont Pelee, 
an extinct volcano. Everybody is afraid that the volcano has taken 
into its heart to burst forth and destroy the whole island. 

" Fifty years ago Mont Pelee burst forth with terrific force and 
destroyed everything within a radius of several miles. For several 
days the mountain has been bursting forth in flame and immense 
quantities of lava are flowing down its sides. 

"All the inhabitants are going up to see it. There is not a 
horse to be had on the island, those belonging to the natives being 
kept in readiness to leave at a moment's notice. 


" Last Wednesday, which was April 23rd, I was in my room 
with little Christine, and we heard three distinct shocks. They 
were so great that we supposed at first that there was some one at 
the door, and Christine went and found no one there. The first 
report was very loud, and the second and third were so great that 
dishes were thrown from the shelves and the house was rocked. 


"We can see Mont Pelee from the rear windows of our house, 
and although it is fully four miles away, we can hear the roar of 
the fire and lava issuing from it. 

" The city is covered with ashes and clouds of smoke have 
been over our heads for the last five days. The smell of sulphur is 
so strong that horses on the streets stop and snort, and some of 
them are obliged to give up, drop in their harness and die from 
suffocation. Many of the people are obliged to wear wet handker- 
chiefs over their faces to protect them from the fumes of sulphur. 


" My husband assures me that there is no immediate danger, 
and when there is the least particle of danger we will leave the 
place. There is an American schooner, the R. J. Morse, in the 
harbor, and she will remain here for at least two weeks. If the 
volcano becomes very bad we shall embark at once and go out to 
sea. The papers in this city are asking if we are going to experi- 
ence another earthquake similar to that which struck here some fifty 
years ago." 


The writer of this letter and her husband, Consul Prentis, 
trusted Mont Pelee too long. They perished, with all the inhabi- 
tants of the city, in a deadly flood of fire and ashes that descended 
on the devoted place on the fateful morning of Thursday, May 
8th. Only for the few who were rescued from the ships in the 
harbor there would be scarcely a living soul to tell that dread story 
of ruin and death. The most graphic accounts are those given by 
rescued officers of the Roraima, one of the fleet of the Quebec 
Steamship Co., trading with the West Indies. This vessel had left 
the Island of Dominica for Martinique at midnight of Wednesday, 
and reached St. Pierre about 7 o'clock Thursday morning. The 
greatest difficulty was experienced in getting into port, the air 
being thick with falling ashes and the darkness intense. The ship 
had to grope its way to the anchorage. Appalling sounds were 
issuing from the mountain behind the town, which was shrouded 
in darkness. The ashes were falling thickly on the steamer's deck, 
where the passengers and others were gazing at the town, some 
being engaged in photographing the scene. 

The best way in which we can describe a scene of which few 
lived to tell the story, is to give the narratives of a number of the 
survivors. From their several stories a coherent idea of the terrible 


scene can be formed. From the various accounts given of the ter- 
rible explosion by officers of the Roraima, we select as a first 
example the following description by Assistant Purser Thompson : 


" I saw St. Pierre destroyed. It was blotted out by one great 
flash of fire. Nearly 40,000 persons were all killed at once. Out 
of eighteen vessels lying in the roads only one, the British steam- 
ship ' Roddam, escaped, and she, I hear, lost more than half on 
board. It was a dying crew that took her out. 

" Our boat, the Roraima, of the Quebec Line, arrived at St. 
Pierre early Thursday morning. For hours before we entered the 
roadstead we could see flames and smoke rising - from Mont Pelee. 
No one on board had any idea of danger. Captain G. T. Muggah 
was on the bridge, and all hands got on deck to see the show. 

"The spectacle was magnificent. As we approached St. 
Pierre we could distinguish the rolling and leaping of the red 
flames that belched from the mountain in huge volumes and gushed 
high into the sky. Enormous clouds of black smoke hung over the 

" When we anchored at St. Pierre I noticed the cable steam- 
ship Grappler, the Roddam, three or four American schooners and 
a number of Italian and Norwegian barks. The flames were then 
spurting straight up in the air, now and then waving to one side or 
the other for a moment and again leaping suddenly higher up. 

"There was a constant muffled roar. It was like the biggest 
oil refinery in the world burning up on the mountain top. There 
was a tremendous explosion about 7.45 o'clock, soon after we got 
in. The mountain was blown to pieces. There was no warn- 
ing. The side, of the volcano was ripped out, and there was hurled 


straight toward us a solid wall of flame. It sounded like thousands 
of cannon. 

" The wave of fire was on us and over us like a lightning 
flash. It was like a hurricane of fire. I saw it strike the cable 
steamship Grappler broadside on and capsize her. From end to 
end she burst into flames and then sank. The fire rolled in mass 
straight down upon St. Pierre and the shipping. The town van- 
ished before our eyes and the air grew stifling hot, and we were in 
the thick of it. 

" Wherever the mass of fire struck the sea the water boiled 
and sent up vast clouds of steam. The sea was torn into huge 
whirlpools that careened toward the open sea. 

" One of these horrible hot whirlpools swung under the Ror- 
aima and pulled her down on her beam ends with the suction. She 
careened way over to port, and then the fire hurricane from the 
volcano smashed her, and over she went on the opposite side. The 
fire wave swept off the masts and smokestack as if they were cut 
with a knife. 


" Captain Muggah was the only one on deck not killed out- 
right. He was caught by the fire wave and terribly burned. He 
yelled to get up the anchor, but, before two fathoms were heaved in 
the Roraima was almost upset by the boiling whirlpool, and the fire 
wave had thrown her down or her beam ends to starboard. Cap- 
tain Muggah was overcome by the flames. He. fell unconscious 
from the bridge and toppled overboard. 

" The blast of fire from the volcano lasted only a few minutes. 
It shriveled and set fire to everything it touched. Thousands of 
casks of rum were stored in St. Pierre, and these were exploded by 
the terrific heat, The burning rum ran in streams down, every street 



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Copyright, J. Murray Jordan. 


An Interior View of a Modern House. 2. A Farmer's Plantation. 3. The Home of a Government Official 

4. A Beautiful Garden Vista. 



(I.) An Ancient Volcanic Peak. (2) A Street Corner in Trinidad. (3) A View of Hamilton, 
Bermuda, where Ashes Fell. (4) Landing of Relief Ship. 

I ♦ 




and out to the sea. This blazing rum set fire to the Roraima several 
times. Before the volcano burst the landings of St. Pierre were 
crowded with people. After the explosion not one living being was 
seen on land. Only twenty-five of those on the Roraima out of 
sixty-eight were left after the first flash. 

"The French cruiser Suchet came in and took us off at 2 
p. m. She remained nearby, helping all she could, until 5 o'clock, 
then went to Fort de France with all the people she had rescued. 
At that time it looked as if the entire north end of the island was 
on fire." 

C. C. Evans, of Montreal, and John G, Morris, of New York, 
who were among those rescued, say the vessel arrived at 6 o'clock. 
As eight bells were struck a frightful explosion was heard up the 
mountain. A cloud of fire, toppling and roaring, swept with light- 
ning speed down the mountain side and over the town and bay. 
The Roraima was nearly sunk, and caught fire at once. 

" I can never forget the horrid, fiery, choking whirlwind which 
enveloped me," said Mr. Evans. " Mr. Morris and I rushed below. 
We are not very badly burned, not so bad as most of them. 
When the fire came we were going to our posts (we are engineers) 
to weigh anchor and get out. When we came up we found the 
ship afire aft, and fought it forward until 3 o'clock, when the 
Suchet came to our rescue. We were then building a raft." 

" Ben " Benson, the carpenter of the Roraima, said : " I was 
on deck, amidships, when I heard an explosion. The captain or- 
dered me to up anchor. I got to the windlass, but when the fire 
came I went into the forecastle and got my 'duds.' When I came 
out I talked with Captain Muggah, Mr. Scott, the first officer and 
others. They had been on the bridge. The captain was horribly 
burned, He had inhaled flames and wanted to jump into the sea. 


I tried to make him take a life-preserver. The captain, who was 
undressed, jumped overboard and hung on to a line for a while. 
Then he disappeared." 


James Taylor, a cooper employed on the Roraima, gives the 
following account of his experience of the disaster : 

"Hearing a tremendous report and seeing the ashes falling 
thicker, I dived into a room, dragging with me Samuel Thomas, a 
gangway man and fellow countryman, shutting the door tightly. 
Shortly after I heard a voice, which I recognized as that of the 
chief mate, Mr. Scott. Opening the door with great caution, 
I drew him in. The nose of Thomas was burned by the intense heat. 

"We three and Thompson, the assistant purser, out of sixty- 
eight souls on board, were the only persons who escaped practically 
uninjured. The heat being unbearable, I emerged in a few 
moments, and the scene that presented itself to my eyes baffles de- 
scription. All around on the deck were the dead and dying cov- 
ered with boiling mud. There they lay, men, women and little 
children, and the appeals of the latter for water were heart-rending. 
When water was given them they could not swallow it, owing 
to their throats being- filled with ashes or burnt with the heated air. 

" The ship was burning aft, and I jumped overboard, the 
sea being intensely hot. I was at once swept seaward by a tidal 
wave, but, the sea receding a considerable distance, the return 
wave washed me against an upturned sloop to which I clung. I 
was joined by a man so dreadfully burned and disfigured as to 
be unrecognizable. Afterwards I found he was the captain of the 
Roraima, Captain Muggah. He was in dreadful agony, begging 
piteously to be put on board his ship. 


" Picking up some wreckage which contained bedding and 
a tool chest, I, with the help of five others who had joined me 
on the wreck, constructed a rude raft, on which we placed the cap- 
tain. Then, seeing an upturned boat, I asked one of the five, a 
native of Martinique, to swim and fetch it. Instead of returning to 
us, he picked up two of his countrymen and went away in the di- 
rection of Fort de France. Seeing the Roddam, which arrived in 
port shortly after we anchored, making for the Roraima, I said 
good-bye to the captain and swam back to the Roraima. 

" The Roddam, however, burst into flames and put to sea. I 
reached the Roraima at about half-past 2, and was afterwards taken 
off by a boat from the French warship Suchet. Twenty-four others 
with myself were taken on to Fort de France. Three of these 
died before reaching port. A number of others have since died." 

Samuel Thomas, the gangway man, whose life was saved by 
the forethought of Taylor, says that the scene on the burning ship 
was awful. The groans and cries of the dying, for whom nothing 
could be done, were horrible. He describes a woman as being 
burned to death with a living babe in her arms. He says that it 
seemed as if the whole world was afire. 


The inflammable material in the forepart of the ship that 
would have ignited that part of the vessel was thrown overboard 
by him and the other two uninjured men. The Grappler, the 
telegraph company's ship, was seen opposite the Usine Guerin, 
and disappeared as if blown up by a submarine explosion. The 
captain's body was subsequently found by a boat from the Suchet. 

Consul Ayme, of Guadeloupe, who, as already stated, had 
hastened to Fort de France on hearing of the terrible event, tells 
the story of the disaster in the following words : 


" Thursday morning the inhabitants of the city awoke to find 
heavy clouds shrouding Mont Pelee crater. All day Wednesday 
horrid detonations had been heard. These were echoed from St. 
Thomas on the north to Barbados on the south. The cannonad- 
ing ceased on Wednesday night, and fine ashes fell like rain on 
St. Pierre. The inhabitants were alarmed, but Governor Mouttet, 
who had arrived at St. Pierre the evening before, did everything 
possible to allay the panic. 

" The British steamer Roraima reached St. Pierre on Thursday 
with ten passengers, among whom were Mrs. Stokes and her three 
children, and Mrs. H. J. I nee. They were watching the rain of 
ashes, when, with a frightful roar and terrific electric discharges, 
a cyclone of fire, mud and steam swept down from the crater over 
the town and bay, sweeping all before it and destroying the fleet 
of vessels at anchor off the shore. There the accounts of the 
catastrophe so far obtainable cease. Thirty thousand corpses are 
strewn about, buried in the ruins of St. Pierre, or else floating, 
gnawed by sharks, in the surrounding seas. Twenty-eight charred, 
half-dead human beings were brought here. Sixteen of them are 
already dead, and only four of the whole number are expected to 


a woman's experience on the "roraima" 

Margaret Stokes, the 9 year old daughter of the late Clement 
Stokes, of New York, who, with her mother, a brother aged 4 and 
a sister aged 3 years, was on the ill-fated steamer Roraima, was 
saved from that vessel, but is not expected to live. Her nurse, 
Clara King, tells the following story of her experience : 

She says she was in her stateroom, when the steward of the 
Roraima called out to her : 

" Look at Mont Pelee," 


She went on deck and saw a vast mass of black cloud coming 
down from the volcano. The steward ordered her to return to the 
saloon, saying, " It is coming." 

Miss King then rushed to the saloon. She says she experi- 
enced a feeling of suffocation, which was followed by intense heat. 
The afterpart of the Roraima broke out in flames. Ben Benson, 
the carpenter of the Roraima, severely burned, assisted Miss King 
and Margaret Stokes to escape. With the help of Mr. Scott, the 
first mate of the Roraima, he constructed a raft, with life preservers. 
Upon this Miss King and Margaret were placed. 

While this was being done Margaret's little brother died. 
Mate Scott brought the child water at great personal danger, but 
it was unavailing. Shortly after the death of the little boy Mrs. 
Stokes succumbed. Margaret and Miss King eventually got away 
on the raft, and were picked up by the steamer Korona. Mate 
Scott also escaped. Miss King did not sustain serious injuries. 
She covered the face of Margaret with her dress, but still the child 
was probably fatally burned. 

The only woman known at that time to have survived the dis- 
aster at St. Pierre was a negress named Fillotte. She was found 
in a cellar Saturday afternoon, where she had been for three days. 
She was still alive, but fearfully burned from head to toes. She died 
afterward in the hospital. 


Of the vessels in the harbor of St. Pierre on the fateful morn- 
ing, only one, the British steamer Roddam, escaped, and that with 
a crew of whom few reached the open sea alive. Those who did 
escape were terribly injured. Captain Freeman, of this vessel, tells 
yhat he experienced in the following thrilling language : 


"St. Lucia, British West Indies, May 1 i. — The steamer Roddam, 
of which I am captain, left St. Lucia at midnight of May 7, and 
was off St. Pierre, Martinique, at 6 o'clock on the morning of the 
8th. I noticed that the volcano, Mont Pelee, was smoking, and 
crept slowly in toward the bay, finding there among others the 
steamer Roraima, the telegraph repairing steamer Grappler and 
four sailing vessels. I went to anchorage between 7 and 8 and had 
hardly moored when the side of the volcano opened out with a 
terrible explosion. A wall of fire swept over the town and the bay. 
The Roddam was struck broadside by the burning mass. The 
shock to the ship was terrible, nearly capsizing her. 


' Hearing the awful report of the explosion and seeing the 
great wall of flames approaching the steamer, those on deck sought 
shelter wherever it was possible, jumping into the cabin, the fore- 
castle and even into the hold. I was in the chart room, but the 
burning embers were borne by so swift a movement of the air that 
they were swept in through the door and port holes, suffocating and 
scorching me badly. I was terribly burned by these embers about 
the face and hands, but managed to reach the deck. Then, as soon 
as it was possible, I mustered the few survivors who seemed 
able to move, ordered them to slip the anchor, leaped for the bridge 
and ran the engine for full speed astern. The second and the third 
engineer and a fireman were on watch below and so escaped injury. 
They did their part in the attempt to escape, but the men on deck 
could not work the steering gear because it was jammed by the 
"debris from the volcano. We accordingly went ahead and astern 
until the gear was free, but in this running backward and forward 
it was two hours after the first shock before we were clear of the bay. 


"One of the most terrifying conditions was that, the atmosphere 
being charged with ashes, it was totally dark. The sun was com- 
pletely obscured, and the air was only illuminated by the flames from 
the volcano and those of the burning town and shipping. It seems 
small to say that the scene was terrifying in the extreme. As we 
backed out we passed close to the Roraima, which was one mass of 
blaze. The steam was rushing from the engine room, and the 
screams of those on board were terrible to hear. The cries for help 
were all in vain, for I could do nothing but save my own ship. 
When I last saw the Roraima she was settling down by the stern. 
That was about 10 o'clock in the morning. 

" When the Roddam was safely out of the harbor of St. Pierre, 
with its desolations and horrors, I made for St. Lucia. Arriving 
there, and when the ship was safe, I mustered the survivors as well 
as I was able and searched for the dead and injured. Some I found 
in the saloon where they had vainly sought for safety, but the cabins 
were full of burning embers that had blown in through the port 
holes. Through these the fire swept as through funnels and burned 
the victims where they lay or stood, leaving a circular imprint of 
scorched and burned flesh. I brought ten on deck who were thus 
burned; two of them were dead, the others survived, although in a 
dreadful state of torture from their burns. Their screams of agony 
were heartrending. Out of a total of twenty-three on board the 
Roddam, which includes the captain and the crew, ten are dead and 
several are in the hospital. My first and second mates, my chief 
engineer and my supercargo, Campbell by name, were killed. The 
ship was covered from stem to stern with tons of powdered lava, 
which retained its heat for hours after it had fallen. In many cases 
it was practically incandescent, and to move about the deck in this 
burning mass was not only difficult but absolutely perilous. I am 


only now able to begin thoroughly to clear and search the ship for 
any damage done by this volcanic rain, and to see if there are any 
corpses in out-of-the-way places. For instance, this morning, I found 
one body in the peak of the forecastle. The body was horribly burned 
and the sailor had evidently crept in there in his agony to die. 

" On the arrival of the Roddam at St. Lucia the ship presented 
an appalling appearance. Dead and calcined bodies lay about the 
deck, which was also crowded with injured, helpless and suffering 
people. Prompt assistance was rendered to the injured by the 
authorities here and my poor, tortured men were taken to the hos- 
pital. The dead were buried. I have omitted to mention that 
out of twenty-one black laborers that I brought from Grenada to 
help in stevedoring, only six survived. Most of the others threw 
themselves overboard to escape a dreadful fate, but they met a 
worse one, for it is an actual fact that the water around the ship 
was literally at a boiling heat. The escape of my vessel was miracu- 
lous. The woodwork of the cabins and bridge and everything in- 
flammable on deck were constantly igniting, and it was with great 
difficulty that we few survivors managed to keep the flames down. 
My ropes, awnings, tarpaulins were completely burned up. 

" I witnessed the entire destruction of St. Pierre. The flames 
enveloped the town in every quarter with such rapidity that it was 
impossible that any person could be saved. As I have said, the 
day was suddenly turned to night, but I could distinguish by the 
light of the burning town people distractedly running about on the 
beach. The burning buildings stood out from the surrounding 
darkness like black shadows. All this time the mountain was roar- 
ing and shaking, and in the intervals between these terrifying sounds 
I could hear the cries of despair and agony from the thousands who 
were perishing. These cries added to the terror of the scene, but 


it is impossible to describe its horror or the dreadful sensations it 
produced. It was like witnessing the end of the world. 

" Let me add that, after the first shock was over, the survivors 
of the crew rendered willing help to navigate the ship to this port. 
Mr. Plissoneau, our agent in Martinique, happening to be on board, 
was saved, and I really believe that he is the only survivor of St. 
Pierre. As it is, he is seriously burned on the hands and face. 

"Master British Steamship Roddam" 


The British steamer Eto7ta, of the Norton Line, stopped at 
St. Lucia to coal on May ioth. Captain Cantell there visited the 
Roddam&nd had an interview with Captain Freeman. On the i ith 
the Etona put to sea again, passing St. Pierre in the afternoon. 
We subjoin her captain's story : 

" The weather was clear and we had a fine view, but the old 
outlines of St. Pierre were not recognizable. Everything was a 
mass of blue lava, and the formation of the land itself seemed to 
have changed. When we were about eight miles off the northern 
end of the island Mount Pelee began to belch a second time. 
Clouds of smoke and lava shot into the air and spread over all the 
sea, darkening the sun. Our decks in a few minutes were covered 
with a substance that looked like sand dyed a bluish tint, and which 
smelled like phosphorus. For all that the day was clear, there was 
little to be seen satisfactorily. Over the island there hung a blue 
haze. It seemed to me that the formation, the topography, of the 
island was altered. 

" Everything seemed to be covered with a blue dust, such as 
had fallen aboard us every day since we had been within the affected 


region. It was blue lava dust. For more than an hour we scanned 
the coast with our glasses, now and then discovering something 
that looked like a ruined hamlet or collection of buildings. There 
was no life visible. Suddenly we realized that we might have to 
,<fight for our lives as the Roddams people had done. 

" We were about four miles off the northern end of the island 
when suddenly there shot up in the air to a tremendous height a 
column of smoke. The sky darkened and the smoke seemed to 
swirl down upon us. In fact, it spread all around, darkening the 
atmosphere as far as we could see. I called Chief Engineer Far- 
rish to the deck. 

" ' Do you see that over there ?' I asked, pointing to the 
eruption, for it was the second eruption of Mont Pelee. He saw- 
it all right. Captain Freeman's story was fresh in my mind. 

" ' Well, Farrish, rush your engines as they have never been 
rushed before,' I said to him. He went below, and soon we began 
to burn coal and pile up the feathers in our forefoot. 

" I was on watch with Second Officer Gibbs. At once we 
began to furl awnings and make secure against fire. The crew 
were all showing an anxious spirit, and everybody on board, includ- 
ing the four passengers, were serious and apprehensive. 

" We began to cut through the water at almost twelve knots. 
Ordinarily we make ten knots. We could see no more of the land 
contour, but everything seemed to be enveloped in a great cloud. 
There was no fire visible, but the lava dust rained down upon us 
steadily. In less than an hour there were two inches of it upon 
our deck. 

" The air smelled like phosphorous. No one dared to look 
up to try to locate the sun, because one's eyes would fill with lava 
dust. Some of the blue lava dust is sticking to our mast yet, 


although we have swabbed 'decks and rigging again and again to be 
clear of it. 

" After a little more than an hour's fast running we saw day- 
light ahead and be^an to breathe easier. If I had not talked 
with Captain Freeman and heard from him just how the black 
swirl of wind and fire rolled down upon him, I would not have 
been so apprehensive, but would have thought that the darkness 
and cloud that came down upon us meant just an unusually heavy 


" The Etonas run from Montevideo was a fast one — I think 
a record breaker. We were 22 days and 2 1 hours from port to port. 
Off Martinique I stared at the coast for about an hour, and 
then went below. The blue lava that covered everything faded 
into the haze that hung over the island so that nothing was dis- 
tinctly visible. Through my glass I discovered a stream of lava, 
though. It stretched down the mountain side, and seemed to be 
flowing into the sea. It was not clearly and distinctly visible, 

" About 3 o'clock I went below to take forty winks. I had 
been in my berth only a few minutes when the steward told me the 
captain wanted me on the bridge. 

' ' Do you see that, Farrish ?' he asked, pointing at the land. 
An outburst of smoke seemed to be sweeping down upon us. It 
made me think of the Roddam's experience. Smoke and dust 
closed in about us, shutting out the sunlight, and precipitating a fall 
of lava on our decks. 

" ' Go below and drive her,' said the captain, and I didn't lose 
any time, I can tell you. We burned coal as though it didn't cost 


a cent. The safety valve was jumping every second, even though 
we were making twelve knots an hour. For two hours we kept up 
the pace, and then, running into clear daylight, let the engines slow 
down and we all cheered up a bit." 


Captain Cantell went on board the Roddam, whose frightful 
condition he thus describes : 

" "At St. Lucia, on May nth, I went on board the British 
steamship Roddam, which had escaped from the terrible volcanic 
eruption at Martinique two days before. The state of the ship 
was enough to show that those on board must have undergone an 
awful experience. 

"The Roddam was covered with a mass of fine bluish gray 
dust or ashes of cement-like appearance. In some parts it lay two 
feet deep on the decks. This matter had fallen in a red-hot state 
all over the steamer, setting fire to everything it struck that was 
burnable, and, when it fell on the men on board, burning off limbs 
and large pieces of flesh. This was shown by finding portions of 
human flesh when the decks were cleared of the debris. The rig- 
ging, ropes, tarpaulins, sails, awnings, etc., were charred or burned, 
and most of the upper stanchions and spars were swept over- 
board or destroyed by fire. Skylights were smashed and cabins 
were filled with volcanic dust. The scene of ruin was deplorable. 
"The captain, though suffering the greatest agony, succeeded in 
navigating his vessel safely to the port of Castries, St. Lucia, with 
eighteen dead bodies on the deck and human limbs scattered about. 
A sailor stood by constantly wiping the captain's injured eyes. 

" I think the performance of the Roddam s captain was most 
wonderful, and the more so when I saw his pitiful condition. I do 


not understand how he kept up, yet when the steamer arrived at 
St. Lucia and medical assistance was procured, this brave man 
asked the doctors to attend to the others first and refused to be 
treated until this was done. 

" My interview with the captain brought out this account. I 
left him in good spirits and receiving every comfort. The sight of 
his face would frighten anyone not prepared to see it." 


To the accounts given by the survivors of the Roraima and the 
officers of the Etona, it will be well to add the following graphic 
story told by M. Albert, a planter of the island, the owner of an 
estate situated only a mile to the northeast of the burning crater of 
Mont Pelee. His escape from death had in it something of the 
marvellous. He says : 

" Mont Pelee had given warning of the destruction that was to 
come, but we, who had looked upon the volcano as harmless, did 
not believe that it would do more than spout fire and steam, as it 
had done on other occasions. It was a little before eight o'clock on 
the morning of May 8 that the end came. I was in one of the fields 
of my estate when the ground trembled under my feet, not as it 
does when the earth quakes, but as though a terrible struggle was 
going on within the mountain. A terror came upon me, but I could 
not explain my fear. 

" As I stood still Mont Pelee seemed to shudder, and a moaning 
sound issued from its crater. It was quite dark, the sun being ob- 
scured by ashes and fine volcanic dust. The air was dead about 
me, so dead that the floating dust seemingly was not disturbed. 
Then there was a rending, crashing, grinding noise, which I can 
only describe as sounding as though every bit of machinery in the 


world had suddenly broken down. It was deafening, and the flash 
of light that accompanied it was blinding, more so than any light- 
ning I have ever seen. 

" It was like a terrible hurricane, and where a fraction of a 
second before there had been a perfect calm, I felt myself drawn 
into a vortex and I had to brace myself firmly. It was like a great 
express train rushing by, and I was drawn by its force. The mys- 
terious force levelled a row of strong trees, tearing them up by the 
roots and leaving bare a space of ground fifteen yards wide and 
more than one hundred yards long. Transfixed I stood, not know- 
ing in what direction to flee. I looked toward Mont Pelee, and 
above its apex there appeared a great black cloud which reached high 
in the air. It literally fell upon the city of St. Pierre. It moved with 
a rapidity that made it impossible for anything to escape it. From 
the cloud came explosions that sounded as though all of the navies 
of the world were in titanic combat. Lightning played in and out 
in broad forks, the result being that intense darkness was followed 
by light that seemed to be of magnifying power. 

" That St. Pierre was doomed I knew, but I was prevented 
from seeing the destruction by a spur of the hill that shut off the 
view of the city. It is impossible for me to tell how long I stood 
there inert. Probably it was only a few seconds, but so vivid were 
my impressions that it now seems as though I stood as a spectator 
for many minutes. When I recovered possession of my senses I 
ran to my house and collected the members of the family, all of 
whom were panic stricken. I hurried them to the seashore, where 
we boarded a small steamship, in which we made the trip in safety 
to Fort de France. 

" I know that there was no flame in the first wave that was 
sent down upon St. Pierre. It was a heavy gas, like firedamp, and 


it must have asphyxiated the inhabitants before they were touched 
by the fire, which quickly followed. As we drew out to sea in the 
small steamship, Mont Pelee was in the throes of a terrible convul- 
sion. New craters seemed to be opening all about the summit and 
lava was flowing in broad streams in every direction. My estate 
was ruined while we were still in sight of it. Many women who 
lived in St. Pierre escaped only to know that they were left 
widowed and childless. This is because many of the wealthier men 
sent their wives away, while they remained in St. Pierre to attend 
to their business affairs." 


The British steamer Horace experienced the effect of the explo- 
sion when farther from land. After touching at Barbados, she 
reached the vicinity of Martinique on May 9th, her decks being 
covered with several inches of dust when she was a hundred and 
twenty-five miles distant. We quote engineer Anderson's story : 

" On the afternoon of May 8 (Thursday) we noticed a peculiar 
haze in the direction of Martinique. The air seemed heavy and 
oppressive. The weather conditions were not at all unlike those 
which precede the great West Indian hurricanes, but, knowing it 
was not the season of the year for them, we all remarked in the 
engine room that there must be a heavy storm approaching. 

"Several of the sailors, experienced deep water seamen, laughed 
at our prognostications, and informed us there would be no storm 
within the next sixty hours, and insisted that, according to all 
fo'cas'le indications, a dead calm was in sight. 

"So unusually peculiar were the weather conditions that we 
talked of nothing else during the evening. That night, in the direc- 
tion of Martinique, there was a very black sky, an unusual thing at 


this season of the year, and a storm was apparently brewing in a 
direction from which storms do not come at this season. 


" As the night wore on those on watch noticed what appeared 
to be great flashes of lightning in the direction of Martinique. It 
seemed as though the ordinary conditions were reversed, and even 
the fo'cas'le prophets were unable to offer explanations. 

'" Occasionally, over the pounding of the engines and the rush of 
water, we thought we could hear long, deep roars, not unlike the 
ending of a deep peal of thunder. Several times we heard the 
rumble or roar, but at the time we were not certain as to exactly 
what it was, or even whether we really heard it. 

" There would suddenly come great flashes of light from the 
dark bank toward Martinique. Some of them seemed to spread 
over a great area, while others appeared to spout skyward, funnel 
shaped. All night this continued, and it was not until day came 
that the flashes disappeared. The dark bank that covered the hori- 
zon toward Martinique, however, did not fade away with the break- 
ing of day, and at eight in the morning of the 9th (Friday) the 
whole section of the sky in that direction seemed dark and troubled. 

" About nine o'clock Friday morning I was sitting on one of 
the hatches aft with some of the other engineers and officers of the 
ship, discussing the peculiar weather phenomena. I noticed a sort 
of grit that got into my mouth from the end of the cigar I was 

" I attributed it to some rather bad coal which we had shipped 
aboard, and, turning to Chief Engineer Evans, I remarked that 
'that coal was mighty dirty,' and he said that it was covering the 
ship with a sort of grit Then I noticed that grit was getting on 


my clothes, and finally some one suggested that we go forward of 
the funnels, so we would not get dirt on us. As we went forward 
we met one or two of the sailors from the forecastle, who wanted to 
know about the dust that was falling on the ship. Then we found 
that the grayish-looking ash was sifting all over the ship, both for- 
ward and aft. 


" Every moment the ashes rained down all over the ship, and 
at the same time grew thicker. A few moments later, the lookout 
called down that we were running into a fog-bank dead ahead. Fog 
banks in that section are unheard of at nine o'clock in the morning 
at this season, and we were more than a hundred miles from land, 
and what could fog and sand be doing there. 

" Before we knew it, we went into the fog, which proved to be 
a big dense bank of this same sand, and it rained down on us from 
every side. Ventilators were quickly brought to their places, and 
later even the hatches were battened down. The dust became suffo- 
cating, and the men at times had all they could do to keep from 
choking. What the stuff was we could not at first conjecture, or 
rather, we didn't have much time to speculate on it, for we had to 
get our ship in shape to withstand we hardly knew what. 

" At first we thought that the sand must have been blown from 
shore. Then we decided that if the Captain's figures were right we 
wouldn't be near enough to shore to have sand blow on us, and as 
we had just cleared Barbados, we knew that the Captain's figures 
had to be right. 

"Just as the storm of sand was at its height, Fourth Engineer 
Wild was nearly suffocated by it, but was easily revived. About 
this time it became so dark that we found it necessary to start up 
the electric lights, and it was not until after we got clear from the 


fog that we turned the current off. In the meantime they had 
burned from nine o'clock in the morning until after two in the after- 


"Then there was another anxious moment shortly after nine 
o'clock. Third Engineer Rennie had been running the donkey 
engine, when suddenly it choked, and when he finally got it clear 
from the sand or ashes, he found the valves were all cut out, and 
then it was we discovered that it was not sand, but some sort of a 
composition that seemed to cut steel like emery. Then came the 
danger that it would get into the valves of the engine and cut them 
out, and for several moments all hands scurried about and helped 
make the engine room tight, and even then the ash drifted in and 
kept all the engine room force wiping the engines clear of it. 

" Toward three o'clock in the afternoon of Friday we were 
practically clear of the sand, but at eleven o'clock that night we ran 
into a second bank of it, though not as bad as the first. We made 
some experiments, and found the stuff was superior to emery dust. 
It cut deeper and quicker, and only about half as much was required 
to do the work. We made up our minds we would keep what came 
on board, as it was better than the emery dust and much cheaper, 
so we gathered it up. 

" That night there were more of the same electric phenomena 
toward Martinique, but it was not until we got into St. Lucia, where 
we saw the Roddam, that we learned of the terrible disaster at St. 
Pierre, and then we knew that our sand was lava dust." 

The volcanic ash which fell on the decks of the Horace was 
ground as fine as rifle powder, and was much finer than that which 
covered the decks of the Etona. 


Returning to the stories told by officers of the Roraima, of 
which a number have been given, it seems desirable to add here 
the narrative of Ellery S. Scott, the mate of the ruined ship, since 
it gives a vivid and striking account of his personal experience of 
the frightful disaster, with many details of interest not related by 


"We got to St. Pierre in the Roraima," began Mr. Scott, "at 
6.30 o'clock on Thursday morning. That's the morning the moun- 
tain and the town and the ships were all sent to hell in a minute. 

"All hands had had breakfast. I was standing- on the fo'c's'l 
head trying to make out the marks on the pipes of a ship 'way out 
and heading for St. Lucia. I wasn't looking at the mountain at 
all. But I guess the captain was, for he was on the bridge, and the 
last time I heard him speak was when he shouted, ' Heave up, Mr. 
Scott ; heave up.' I gave the order to the men, and I think some 
of them did jump to get the anchor up, but nobody knows what 
really happened for the next fifteen minutes. I turned around to- 
ward the captain and then I saw the mountain. 

" Did you ever sec the tide come into the Bay of Fundy. It 
doesn't sneak in a little at a time as it does 'round here. It rolls 
in in waves. That's the way the cloud of fire and mud and white- 
hot stones rolled down from that volcano over the town and over 
the ships. It was on us in almost no time, but I saw it and in the 
same glance I saw our captain bracing himself to meet it on the 
bridge. He was facing the fire cloud with both hands gripped hard 
to the bridge rail, his legs apart and his knees braced back stiff. 
I've seen him brace himself that same way many a time in a tough 
sea with the spray going mast-head high and green water pouring 
along the decks- 


" I saw the captain, I say, at the same instant I saw that ruin 
coming down on us. I don't know why, but that last glimpse of 
poor Muggah on his bridge will stay with me just as long as I 
remember St. Pierre and that will be long enough. 

"In another instant it was all over for him. As I was looking 
at him he was all ablaze. He reeled and fell on the bridge with his 
face toward me. His mustache and eyebrows were gone in a jiffy. 
His hat had gone, and his hair was aflame, and so were his clothes 
from . head to foot. I knew he was conscious when he fell, by 
the look in his eyes, but he didn't make a sound. 

" That all happened a long way inside of half a minute ; then 
something new happened. When the wave of fire was going over 
us, a tidal wave of the sea came out from the shore and did the rest. 
That wall of rushing water was so high and so solid that it seemed to 
rise up and join the smoke and flame above. For an instant we 
could see nothing but the water and the flame. 

" That tidal wave picked the ship up like a canoe and then 
smashed her. After one list to starboard the ship righted, but the 
masts, the bridge, the funnel and all the upper works had gone 

" I had saved myself from fire by jamming a metal ventilator 
cover over my head and jumping from the fo'c's'l head. Two St. 
Kitts negroes saved me from the water by grabbing me by the legs 
and pulling me down into the fo'c's'l after them. Before I could 
get up three men tumbled in on top of me. Two of them were dead. 

" Captain Muggah went overboard, still clinging to the frag- 
ments of his wrecked bridge. Daniel Taylor, the ship's cooper, and 
a Kitts native jumped overboard to save him. Taylor managed to 
push the captain on to a hatch that had floated off from us and then 
they swam back to the ship for more assistance, but nothing could be 


done for the captain. Taylor wasn't sure he was alive. The last 
we saw of him or his dead body it was drifting shoreward on 
that hatch. 

" Well, after staying in the fo'c's'l about twenty minutes, I 
went out on deck. There were just four of us left aboard who 
could do anything. The four were Thompson, Dan Taylor, 
Quashee, and myself. It was still raining fire and hot rocks and you 
could hardly see a ship's length for dust and ashes, but we could 
stand that. There were burning men and some women and 
two or three children lying around the deck. Not just burned, but 
burning, then, when we got to them. More than half the ship's 
company had been killed in that fir^t rush of flame. Some had 
rolled overboard when the tidal wave came and we never saw so 
much as their bodies. The cook was burned to death in his galley. 
He had been paring potatoes for dinner and what was left of his 
right hand held the shank of his potato knife. The wooden handle 
was in ashes. All that happened to a man in less than a minute. 
The donkey engineman was killed on deck sitting in front of his 
boiler. We found parts of some bodies — a hand, or an arm or a 
leg. Below decks there were some twenty alive. 

" The ship was on fire, of course, what was left of it. The 
stumps of both masts were blazing. Aft she was like a furnace, but 
forward the flames had not got below deck, so we four carried those 
who were still alive on deck into the fo'c's'l. All of them were 
burned and most of them were half strangled, 

" One boy, a passenger and just a little shaver [the four-year- 
old son of the late Clement Stokes, above spoken of] was picked 
up naked. His hair and all his clothing had been burned off, but 
he was alive. We rolled him in a blanket and put him in a sailor's 
bunk. A few minutes later we looked at him and he was dead. 


V My own son's gone, too. It had been his trick at lookout 
ahead during the dog watch that morning, when we were making 
for St. Pierre, so I supposed at first when the fire struck us that he 
was asleep in his bunk and safe. But he wasn't. Nobody could 
tell me where he was. I don't know whether he was burned to 
death or rolled overboard and drowned. He was a likely boy. He 
had been several voyages with me and would have been a master 
some day. He used to say he'd make me mate. 

. "After getting all hands that had any life left in them below 
and 'tended to the best we could, the four of us that were left half 
way ship-shape started in to fight the fire. We had case oil stowed 
forward. Thanks to that tidal wave that cleared our decks there 
wasn't much left to burn, so we got the fire down so's we could live 
on board with it for several hours more and then the four turned 
to to knock a raft together out of what timber and truck we could 
find below. Our boats had gone overboard with the masts and 


"We made that raft for something over thirty that were alive. 
We put provisions on for two days and rigged up a make-shift mast 
and sail, for we intended to go to sea. We were only three boats' 
length from the shore, but the shore was hell itself. We intended 
to put straight out and trust to luck that the Korona, that was about 
due at St. Pierre, would pick us up. But we did not have to risk 
the raft, for about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when we were almost 
ready to put the raft overboard, the Suchet came along and took 
us all off. We thought for a minute just after we were wrecked 
that we were to get help from a ship that passed us. We burned 
blue lights, but she kept on. We learned afterward that she was 
the Roddam." 


Soundings made off Martinique after the explosion showed 
that earthquake effects of much importance had taken place under 
the sea bottom, which had been lifted in some places and had sunk 
in others. While deep crevices had been formed on the land, a 
still greater effect had seemingly been produced beneath the water. 
During the explosion the sea withdrew several hundred feet from 
its shore line, and then came back steaming with fury ; this indi- 
cating a lift and fall of the ocean bed off the isle. Soundings 
made subsequently near the island found in one place a depth of 
4,000 feet where before it had been only 600 feet deep. The 
French Cable Company, which was at work trying to repair the 
cables broken by the eruption, found the bottom of the Caribbean 
Sea so changed as to render the old charts useless. 

New charts will need to be made for future navigation. The 
changes in sea levels were not confined to the immediate centre of 
volcanic activity, but extended as far north as Porto Rico, and it 
was believed that the seismic wave would be found to have altered 
the ocean bed round Jamaica. Vessels plying between St. Thomas, 
Martinique, St. Lucia and other islands found it necessary to heave 
the lead while many miles at sea. 

It is estimated that the sea had encroached from ten feet to 
two miles along the coast of St. Vincent near Georgetown, and that 
a section on the north of the island had dropped into the sea. Sound- 
ings showed seven fathoms where before the eruption there were 
thirty-six fathoms of water. Vessels that endeavored to approach 
St. Vincent toward the north reported that it was impossible to get 
nearer than eight miles to the scene of the catastrophe, and that 
at that distance the ocean was seriously perturbed as from a sub- 
marine volcano, boiling and hissing continually. 


In this connection the remarkable experience reported by the 
officers of the Danish steamship Nordby, on the day preceding the 
eruption, is of much interest, as seeming to show great convulsions 
of the sea bottom at a point several hundred miles from Mar- 
tinique. The following is the story told by Captain Eric Lillien 
skjold : 


"On May 5th," the captain said, "we touched at St. Michael's 
for water. We had had an easy voyage from Girgenti, in Sicily, and 
we wanted to finish an easy run here. We left St. Michael's on the 
same day. Nothing worth while talking about occurred until two 
days afterward — Wednesday, May 7th. 

"We were plodding along slowly that day. About noon I 
took the bridge to make an observation. It seemed to be hotter 
than ordinary. I shed my coat and vest and got into what little 
shade there was. As I worked it grew hotter and hotter. I didn't 
know what to make of it. Along about 2 o'clock in the afternoon 
it was so hot that all hands grot to talking- about it. We reckoned 
that something queer was coming off, but none of us could explain 
what it was. You could almost see the pitch softening in the 

" Then, as quick as you could toss a biscuit over its rail, the 
Nordby dropped — regularly dropped — three or four feet down into 
the sea. No sooner did it do this than big waves, that looked like 
they were coming from all directions at once, began to smash 
against our sides. This was queerer yet, because the water a min- 
ute before was as smooth as I ever saw it. I had all hands piped 
on deck, and we battened down everything loose to make ready for 
a storm. And we got it all right — the strangest storm you ever 
heard tell of. 


" There was something wrong with the sun that afternoon. It 
grew red and then dark red and then, about a quarter after 2, it 
went out of sight altogether. The day got so dark that you 
couldn't see half a ship's length ahead of you. We got our lamps 
going, and put on our oilskins, ready for a hurricane. All of a 
sudden there came a sheet of lightning that showed up the whole 
tumbling sea for miles and miles. We sort of ducked, expecting 
an awful crash of thunder, but it didn't come. There was no sound 
except the big waves pounding against our sides. There wasn't a 
breath of wind. 

'Well, sir, at that minute there began the most exciting time 
I've ever been through, and I've been on every sea on the map for 
twenty-five years. Every second there'd be waves 15 or 20 feet 
high, belting us head-on, stern-on and broadside, all at once. We 
could see them coming, for without any stop at all flash after flash 
of lightning was blazing all about us. 

"Something else we could see, too. Sharks! There were 
hundreds of them on all sides, jumping up and down in the water. 
Some of them jumped clear out of it. And sea birds ! A flock of 
them, squawking and crying, made for our rigging and perched 
there. They seemed like they were scared to death. But the 
queerest part of it all was the water itself. It was hot— not so hot 
that our feet could not stand it when it washed over the deck, but 
hot enough to make us think that it had been heated by some kind 
of a fire. 

" Well that sort of thing went on hour after hour. The waves, 
the lightning, the hot water and the sharks, and all the rest of the 
odd things happening, frightened the crew out of their wits. Some 
of them prayed out loud— I guess the first time they ever did in 
their lives. Some Frenchmen aboard kept running around and 


yelling, 'Cest le dernier jour ! " (This is the last day.) We were 
all worried. Even the officers began to think that the world was 
coming to an end. Mighty strange things happen on the sea, but 
this topped them all. 

"I kept to the bridge all night. When the first hour of morn- 
ing came the storm was still going on. We were all pretty much 
tired out by that time, but there was no such thing as trying to 
sleep. The waves still were batting us around and we didn't know 
whether we were one mile or a thousand miles from shore. At 2 
o'clock in the morning all the queer goings on stopped just the way 
they began — all of a sudden. We lay to until daylight ; then we 
took our reckonings and started off again. We were about 700 
miles off Cape Henlopen. 

" No, sir ; you couldn't get me through a thing like that again 
for $10,000. None of us was hurt, and the old Nordby herself 
pulled through all right, but I'd sooner stay ashore than see waves 
without wind and lightning without thunder." 


Careful inspection showed that the fiery stream which so com- 
pletely destroyed St. Pierre must have been composed of poisonous 
gases, which instantly suffocated every one who inhaled them, and 
of other gases burning furiously, for nearly all the victims had their 
hands covering their mouths, or were in some other attitude show- 
ing that they had perished from suffocation. 

It is believed that Mont Pelee threw off a great gasp of some 
exceedingly heavy and noxious gas, something akin to firedamp, 
which settled upon the city and rendered the inhabitants insensible. 
This was followed by the sheet of flame that swept down the side 
of the mountain. This theory is sustained by the experience of the 


survivors who were taken from the ships in the harbor, as they say 
that their first experience was one of faintness. 

The dumb animals were wiser than man, and early took warn- 
ing of the storm of fire which Mont Pelee was storing up to hurl 
upon the island. Even before the mountain began to rumble, late 
in April, live stock became uneasy, and at times were almost uncon- 
trollable. Cattle lowed in the night. Dogs howled and sought the 
company of their masters, and when driven forth they gave every 
evidence of fear. 

Wild animals disappeared from the vicinity of Mont Pelee. 
Even the snakes, which at ordinary times are found in great num- 
bers near -the volcano, crawled away. Birds ceased singing and 
left the trees that shaded the sides of Pelee. A great fear seemed 
to be upon the island, and though it was shared by the human 
inhabitants, they alone neglected to protect themselves. 

Of the villages in the vicinity of St. Pierre only one escaped, 
the others suffering the fate of the city. The fortunate one was 
Le Carbet, on the south, which escaped uninjured, the flood of lava 
stopping when within two hundred feet of the town. Morne Rouge, 
a beautiful summer resort, frequented by the people of the island 
during the hot season as a place of recreation, also escaped. In 
the height of the season several thousand people gathered there, 
though at the time of the explosion there were but a few hundred. 
Though located on an elevation between the city and the crater, it 
was by great good fortune saved. 

The Governor of Martinique, Mr. Mouttet, whose precautions 
to prevent the people fleeing from the city aided to make the 
work of death complete, was himself among the victims of the 
burning mountain. With him in this fate was Colonel Dain, com- 
mander of the troops who formed a cordon round the doomed city. 


An Island in Ruins and the Work of Research. 

QUICKLY as possible after the terrible disaster of May 8th, 
which left the formerly thriving and active - city of St. 
Pierre a heap of smoking and blazing ruins, peopled only 
by the dead, the work of rescue and research began. The French 
cable-repair ship Pouyer Quertier, Captain Thuron, lost no time in 
starting on a mission of rescue, in which it had to pass through 
clouds of burning cinders, at the risk of catching fire, in order to 
reach the terror-stricken people ashore. But the captain succeeded 
in bringing to Fort de France 456 people, mainly former residents 
of the village of Le Precheur 

This was on Saturday, the 9th. Later this steamer, as the 
result of other daring trips, succeeded in bringing many more per- 
sons to Fort de France. On Sunday she rescued 923 persons and 
piloted the French cruiser Suchet and the Danish cruiser Valkyrien, 
which took on board 1,500 persons. She distributed to the sufferers 
large quantities of biscuits, milk, wine and cheese. 


The French cruiser Suc/iet was the first to approach the ruined 
port. This was on the evening of Thursday, the day of the disas- 
ter. During the earlier part of that day the heat was so intense 
and the volcano so active, that it was impossible to venture near 
the town. As evening came on the Suck$t, after a heroic battle 



with the heat, suffocation and sulphur fumes, made a dash toward 
the shore, nearing the land close enough to enable her to take off 
thirty survivors from the burning ships, most of them being horri- 
bly burned and mutilated. Nine of them died while on their way 
to the hospital. St. Pierre at that time was an absolute, smoking 
waste, concealing 30,000 corpses, whose rapid decomposition would 
necessitate a quick completion of their cremation, which was only 
partially accomplished by the lava. 

On the 10th, the Suchet succeeding in getting a landing party 
ashore, the work of research began. The captain reported the 
town to be a mere heap of ruins, under which the great multitude 
of the victims of the catastrophe were buried. On Sunday several 
steamers, including the government vessel Rubis, started from Fort 
de France for St. Pierre, ten miles distant. The steamers had on 
board a government delegate, a number of gendarmes, a detach- 
ment of regular infantry and several priests. The vessel also car- 
ried a quantity of firewood, petroleum and quicklime, for use in the 
cremation of the bodies of the victims of the terrible volcanic out- 
break of Thursday. 


As the ships came near, the sea seemed covered with the 
wreckage of the vessels sunk in the harbor, while on shore only a 
few trees, all bent seaward by the force of the volcanic shower, 
were left standing. When nearing St. Pierre the Rubis met a num- 
ber of tugs towing lighters filled with refugees. The heat from the 
smoking lava-covered ruins at St. Pierre was suffocating, and the 
stench from the corpse-strewn streets was awful. Only a few walls 
were erect. The hospital clock was found intact, with its hands 
stopped at 7.50. On all sides were found portions of corpses, which 


were gathered up by the soldiers and gendarmes and burned on one 
of the public squares. Not a drop of water was procurable ashore. 
The darkness caused by the clouds of volcanic dust shrouded the 
town, and continuous subterranean rumblings added to the horror 
of the scene. 

The fort and central quarters of the town were razed to the 
ground, and were replaced by beds of hot cinders. The iron-grill- 
work gate of the government offices was alone standing. There 
was no trace of the streets. Huge heaps of smoking ashes were to 
be seen on all sides. At the landing place some burned and ruined 
walls indicated the spot where the custom-house formerly stood, 
and ruins of larger shops could be seen. In that neighborhood 
hundreds of dead bodies were found lying in all kinds of attitudes, 
showing that the victims had met death as if by a lightning stroke. 
Every vestige of clothing was absent from the charred bodies, and 
in many cases the abdomens had been burst open by the intense 
heat. Curiously enough, the features of the dead were generally 
calm and reposeful, although in some cases terrible fright and agony 
were depicted. Grim piles of bodies were stacked everywhere, 
showing that death had stricken them while the crowds were vainly 
seeking escape from the fiery deluge. On one spot a group of 
children were found locked in each others' arms. 


Almost the first thing done was to make preparations for the 
cremation of the dead. Fatigue parties of soldiers built enormous 
pyres of wood and branches of trees, upon which they heaped the 
dead bodies by scores and burned them as rapidly as possible. 

To facilitate the combustion and to destroy as far as possible 
the awful odor of burning flesh which came from them, the 


impromptu crematories were heavily soaked with coal tar and petro- 
leum. So repulsive was the work, owing to the almost insupport- 
able stench from the already fast decomposing bodies, that the sol- 
diers had to be forced to act. Great fires were kept going day and 
night, the glow of the funeral pyres being so great that it could be 
seen from the island of St. Lucia. 

As the fires which consumed the city gradually burnt them- 
selves out, it became possible to dig down into the ruins, thus 
revealing new horrors which had hitherto been buried beneath the 
volcanic ash and the fallen walls. Ashes and cinders, in places six 
feet deep, hid the lines of the streets, and covered thousands of de- 
caying corpses. 

The path of the volcanic torrent which swept over St. Pierre 
was marked out in a strange manner. The vicinity of the shore, 
where vessels anchored, had been swept by a whirlwind of volcanic 
gas, which ripped, tore and shattered everything in its passage, 
but left few traces of cinders behind. The tremendous force of the 
volcanic avalanche was shown by the fact that walls which had 
stood half a century were leveled like pasteboard. The place was 
as a city swept by a cyclone of fire. The deluge must have rushed 
upon the town with resistless force. On the other hand, the fort, 
centre and adjoining ports of St. Pierre were buried under a thick 
bed of cinders, which had consumed everything beneath it. The 
vaults of the bank of Martinique, at the head of what had been the 
Rue de L'Hospital, were found intact. They contained $500,000 in 
specie and other securities, which was sent to Fort de France for 
safe keeping. An effort was made also to reach the vaults of the 
government treasury, in the hope that a large amount of money 
and other valuables, deposited by the principal merchants of the 
city, might be saved, but this treasure lay under a heap of volcanic 
debris six to eight yards deep, and had to be left for later research. 


Only three persons were taken alive from the ruined city, and 
of these two quickly died. One of these was the negress Fillotte, 
of whose rescue and subsequent death we have spoken. A second 
was a woman named Laurent, who was employed as a servant at 
St. Pierre in the household of M. Gabriel, and who was among 
those taken to the hospital in Fort de France. In describing her 
experiences she said that on the day of the terrible disaster she 
heard a loud report, and thereupon fainted. When she regained 
her senses a few hours later she was horribly burned. Glancing 
around, she saw two members of the Gabriel family still alive, but 
they died before assistance could reach them. 

She lived for some time after being taken to the hospital, and 
was conscious while under the care of the physicians, but died with- 
out being able to impart any additional information. 

In truth, only a single human being escaped from the city 
after the explosion in condition to survive, and he did so only after 
passing through a living death. This man, Joseph Surtout by 
name, was a negro murderer, who was locked in a cell so far under 
ground that the gases, as well as the flames, failed to reach him. 
There he remained for four days before his cries were heard. 

During these terrible days he was without food and water, 
almost without air. He saw nothing, his cell being without a 
window, but he knew from the noise and heat that something ex- 
traordinary had happened. He shouted for aid, and as the days 
passed he commended his soul to God, expecting death. 

On the fourth day, though he had lost track of time, he heard 
voices and shouted and prayed until he had attracted the people. The 
cell door was broken open and his tomb gave up its dead. As 
soon as the cell door was open he dashed away like one crazed by 
his sufferings. Though sadly shaken, he was physically strong, 


It seems a singular fact, a remarkable dispensation of Pro- 
vidence shall we say, that the only survivor from the overwhelmed 
city was one condemned to death by human law for his crimes, yet 
saved alone of the many thousands who made it their home to tell 
the story of its awful fate. Where man had proposed, God had 
disposed. Certainly, after his four days of terrible suffering it 
would seem that he should be relieved from further penalty from 
his his crime. 


Various strange and incomprehensible incidents were observed 
at St. Pierre. The charred remains of a woman, with a silk hand- 
kerchief unburned and in perfect condition held to her lips, were 
found there. The crisp bodies of girls were also found, the shoes 
they wore being unhurt. Side by side with bodies burned to a 
crisp were bodies but slightly burned. Some articles of clothing on 
the dead were scarcely scorched. Purses were found almost intact. 

Many of the bodies were so burned as to make identification 
impossible, but in other cases the opposite was the case, some 
being identified by the searching parties, which were all under 
military control and their work conducted under orders, while mili- 
tary rule was established in the town to prevent vandals from work- 
ing and to protect such property as had not been destroyed. 
Pillagers, indeed, were quickly at work, though orders had been 
given to shoot down any person who was seen robbing a body. 
Some of these belonged to the inland district, but others had come 
from Fort de France in boats in search of bootv from the dead. 


The steamer sent by the Associated Press from Guadeloupe 
reached St. Pierre at an early hour on Sunday morning. The fol- 
lowing is the story told by those on board : — 


The island of Martinique, with its lofty hills, was hidden 
behind a huge veil of violet or leaden-colored haze. Enormous 
quantities of the wreckage of large and small ships and houses 
strewed the surface of the sea. Huge trees, and too often bodies, 
with flocks of sea gulls soaring above and hideous sharks fighting 
about them, were floating here and there. From behind the vol- 
canic veil came blasts of hot wind, mingled with others icy cold. 
At Le Precheur, five miles north of St. Pierre, men and women 
in canoes, frantic to get away, begged for a passage on the steamer. 
The whole north end of the island was covered with a silver-grey 
coating of ashes resembling dirty snow. Furious blasts of fire, ashes 
and mud swept over the steamer, but, finally, St. Pierre was reached. 

The city of St. Pierre stretched nearly two miles along the 
water front and half a mile back to a cliff at the base of the vol- 
cano. The houses of the richer French families were built of 
stone. The still smoking volcano towered above the ash-covered 
hills. The ruins were burning in many places, and frightful odors 
of burned flesh filled the air. 

With great difficulty a landing was effected. Not one house 
was left intact. Viscid heaps of mud, of brighter ashes, or piles of 
volcanic stones were seen on every side. The streets could hardly 
be traced. Here and there amid the ruins were heaps of corpses. 
Almost all the faces were downward. In one corner twenty-two 
bodies of men, women and children were mingled in one awful 
mass, arms and legs protruding as the hapless beings had fallen 
in the last struggles of death's agony. 

Through the middle of the old Place Bertin ran a tiny stream, 
the remains of the River Gayave. Great trees, with roots upward and 
scorched by fiie, were strewn in every direction. Huge blocks and 
still hot stones were scattered about. From under one large stone 


the arm of a white woman protruded. Most notable was the utter 
silence and the overpowering stench from the thousands of dead. 
Careful inspection indicated that the fiery stream which so 
completely destroyed St. Pierre must have been composed of 
poisonous gases, which instantly suffocated every one who inhaled 
them, and of other gases burning furiously, for nearly all the 
victims had their hands covering their mouths or were in some 
other attitude showing that they had sought relief from suffocation. 
All the bodies were carbonized or roasted. 


Fortunately, although Mont Pelee continued in a state of 
eruption for many days, the winds became southerly and the smoke 
and the greater part of the heavier matter thrown out was borne 
away to the northward. This somewhat relieved the working par- 
ties in St. Pierre, and made a more careful examination of the 
ruins possible. A trip was made through the ruined city and 
through the adjacent villages with the searching party organized by 
Signor Paravicino, the Italian Consul at Barbados, whose daugh- 
ter was visiting there, and who perished in the disaster. There 
was some doubt at first concerning the identity of the remains, but 
this was set at rest by relatives and friends identifying the clothing. 
This was another example of the curious effects of the fire that 
swept over the town, bodies being burned beyond all recognition, 
but the clothing of flimsy material being little damaged. 

The body of Signor Paravicino's daughter was found near the 
village of Carbet, a suburb of St. Pierre. The scenes around the 
residence where the girl had been visitino- were worse than in St. 
Pierre itself. In the latter place the victims were mostly covered 
with ashes and other debris. Near Carbet were found 500 bodies 


that were terribly distorted and in an advanced state of decompo- 
sition. These bodies were counted around the house in which 
Signorina Paravicino was found, and on the adjacent land. Neddy 
all the dead were lying- on their faces on the ground. Those found 
in the ruins of dwellings were badly charred. 


The body of a woman was found in a nearby stream, to which 
she had apparently fled in the hope of saving herself from the fiery 
flood, but even the waters were hot, and no doubt she perished 
with great suffering and agony. A large heap of bodies was found in 
one spot. They were apparently those of servants, who had huddled 
together in great terror of the destruction which overtook them. 
A large and stately residence close by, but shielded partly by 
a hill on the St. Pierre side, escaped almost untouched. The win- 
dows and inside blinds of this solitary house were gone, but inside 
the furniture, papers, books, clothing and flooring were mostly 

The only living thing seen in this district was an ox, thin as a 
skeleton. While the body of Signorina Paravicino was being pre- 
pared for removal this animal stalked slowly through the wreckage 
to the beach, where it drank sea water and then went back up the 
hillside. By the roadside, the remains of a man and horse were 
passed, and others were visible lying about. 

Further on was seen the body of a man at the foot of a statue 
of the Virgin, he apparently having been killed while praying. A 
large statue of the Virgin on the hill above St. Pierre was hurled 
yards distant from its base. This, together with the fact that huge 
trees were torn up by their roots and laid flat, scarcely one being left 
standing, and other indications, show that the wave of fire must 


have passed over this section of the island at hurricane velocity. 
Every house in St. Pierre, not excepting those that were most 
solidly built of stone, was absolutely in ruins. The streets were 
piled twelve feet high with debris and hundreds of dead bodies could 
be seen in every direction. 

The wrecked cathedral was visited, or rather the site where the 
cathedral had stood. A portion of the tower was standing. The 
large bell lay in the centre of the ruins. The greater part of the 
altar had been destroyed, but the golden chalices were still there, 
damaged, however, by falling debris. In one large chalice were 
seen the ashes of what had been the Host. A small chalice was full 
of wafers, not one of which was even scorched. 


It is known that many persons who sought refuge in the cathe- 
dral perished, but their bodies were scarcely visible, being covered 
with the debris. When other places were visited, including the 
sites of the club, the bank, the bourse, the telegraph office, and the 
principal shops, everywhere was the same scene of desolation and 
death, such as eye of man had never seen, unless it were when 
Pompeii and its ruins were uncovered centuries after the eruption. 
At what was formerly the police station, there was a large pile 
of bodies lying face downward as if the victims had fallen while in 
the act of running to escape the fate impending over them. 

Of the residents of St. Pierre, there seems to have been only one 
family that fled from the doomed city on the morning of its destruc- 
tion before the explosion. This was that of Ferdinand Clerc, a 
wealthy inhabitant of the island, and Mayor of Trinite, who with 
his wife and four children succeeded in escaping. 


On the morning of May 8, M. Clerc noticed with alarm that the 
rumblings from Mont Pelee were more pronounced than they had 
been up to that time. The barometer in his house also fluttered 
violently, and he at once ordered his servants to harness mules to 
his carriage and prepare for flight. He advised all his friends to 
hasten away also, but his advice was disregarded, and he left behind 
him at his house twenty-eight persons who had gathered there at his 
call, and whom he advised to get away as quickly as they could. 


As Clerc and his family were leaving St. Pierre he saw Mr. 
Prentis, the American Consul, standing with Mrs. Prentis in front 
of his house. He called out to Prentis and warned him to flee the 
city at once, but the Consul only laughed and waved his hand, as 
he answered: " Oh, there is no danger ; don't be afraid." 

When Clerc reached Morne Rouge, distant from St. Pierre 
about six miles, he looked back, and to his horror saw a huge mass 
of slate-colored stones and ashes burst from Mont Pelee and tumble 
down on St. Pierre. This was immediately followed by a great 
wall of flame, which seemed to rise and topple over on the doomed 
town. The whole thing lasted not more than two minutes. So 
sharply defined was the wall of flame that a bull caught on the 
edge of its track was roasted to a crisp on one side and not a hair 
of the animal was singed on the other. 

A gardener at the village of Morne Rouge saw, at the moment 
of the disaster, seven luminous points on Mont Pelee. He says he 
had the impression of being violently drawn toward the volcano by 
a powerful current of air. Then the mountain opened, according 
to the description of the gardener, and flung tornadoes of fire at 
St. Pierre. 


At the time of the explosion of the mountain — for the eruption 
can be likened to nothing else — a man named Lasserne, with a 
companion, was entering St. Pierre in a small carriage drawn by a 
pair of mules. The mules were instantly killed and Lasserne and 
his friend were severely burned, but the coachman, who was driving 
the carriage, and who was between the mules and the two men, was 
not burned or injured in the least. 


As the work of exploration of the ruined city proceeded, the 
bands of pillagers already spoken of became bolder and more 
numerous. A fierce fight took place between the troops and the 
looters, and little mercy was shown the heartless wretches when 
caught. Two of them, who fled when discovered at their work by 
the troops, were shot, and a considerable number, who were arrested 
and taken to Fort de France, were sentenced to five years' impris- 
onment. There were several women among them, who received 
lighter sentences. 

While coming to Fort de France, the U. S. vessel Potomac 
picked up a boat containing five colored and one white man whose 
pockets were filled with coin and jewelry, the latter evidently strip- 
ped from the fingers of the dead. These men were arrested and 
turned over to the commander of the French cruiser Suchet for 
punishment. An English officer, who took some of the sacred 
vessels from the cathedral, was suspected of an attempt at robbery, 
though it proved that his purpose was to preserve them. 

In spite of the almost complete destruction, valuables were 
everywhere exposed, rich temptations for thieving invaders 
Goods in the storehouses had been burned and destroyed, but 
much that was of value remained to be preyed upon by thieves. In 


the search of the ruins many safes of business houses were found 
open, some of them probably forced open by thieves. 

After pillaging had been put down in St. Pierre by the vigi- 
lance of the guards, it made its appearance in the rural districts, 
where many houses had been abandoned by the inmates. A number 
of these were robbed and burned. The country was not policed, 
and all persons were obliged to go armed as a protection against 
the bands of negro robbers who terrorized the district. Sugar-cane 
fields were burned and people openly assaulted, the outlaws adding 
new terrors to those which the islanders had so recently experienced. 
Soldiers were sent with orders to take some measures to put a 
stop to these villainous proceedings. 


While the citizens of St. Pierre were whelmed under indis- 
criminating death, the inhabitants of the country districts farther 
removed from the fire-spouting mountain, yet on whose homes and 
fields thick dust and cinders were pouring down in devastating 
layers, fled in terror from their dwellings, making their way towards 
the seaport of Fort de France as the nearest place of safety. 

Hundreds from the seashore districts were lost in a maddened 
flight from the island, which they attempted in small boats. From 
the survivors it was learned that in the insane panic that followed 
the eruption the people seized upon even the frailest boats to get 
away. In this way many were lost who might otherwise have been 
saved. Numbers were taken off by the vessels that sought the 
scene of disaster, but these were insufficient to rescue the multitude 
of fugitives. 

The fear that the end of the world had come had seized upon 
nearly all, and the only thought of many of them was to get off 


the stricken island, which seemed to them to be enveloped in fire from 
one end to the other. In the villages near St. Pierre visited by the 
relief parties, the refugees pleaded to be taken to Fort de France. 
They were half-clad, wild-eyed and hungry. The experiences of 
the past four days had preyed terribly upon them. Some of them 
were hysterical. 

Thousands of refugees gathered in a few days at Fort de 
France, clamoring for food, of which the supply was far too limited 
for the demand. The Potomac brought a ton of supplies from San 
Juan, partly made up of codfish and flour, but days passed before 
the danger of famine was relieved by the coming of food vessels 
from more distant ports. Many deaths occurred, and the physicians 
who reached the island found abundant work to do. 

Every praise was given United States Consul Ayme, who 
worked indefatigably to succor the survivors. He bandaged the 
limbs of the wounded and worked without sleep and without food 
until thoroughly exhausted by his labors of charity and bene- 


Meanwhile in St. Pierre work in the ruins was dangerous and 
was prosecuted with the greatest difficulty. Crumbling walls were 
a serious menace to working parties, many urging that what re- 
mained of the city should be levelled with dynamite. Even when 
bodies were found their identification was difficult or impossible. 
Inhabitants of districts near St. Pierre were forced to quit their 
homes on account of the odors from the dead and gaseous emana- 
tions from the volcanic craters, and the whole situation was 
attended with every feature of repulsion and peril. 

The death-dealing crater, though it had quieted somewhat 
after the great eruption, still sent up ashes and flames which kept 


the people in a state of alarm. After the lapse of a week its fright- 
ful energy showed signs of renewal and the terror of the people 
increased. A press correspondent on May 16 sent the following 
report : — 

" I passed the island of Martinique this morning in the Royal 
Mail steamship Ware. A new volcano had evidently broken out 
to the north of Mont Pelee. We followed the usual course from 
Dominica to St. Lucia and could see the mountain sending up 
dense black smoke. 

" As we approached nearer to the leeward of the volcano the 
land became hidden by the smoke, but a red glow shone through 
the smoke down to the water's edge. I could plainly see a shower 
of sand and ashes falling, and the smell of sulphur was very strong. 
It became so offensive that it made our helmsman and the captain 
ill and forced them to run the steamer five miles out to sea to avoid 
the sulphurous fumes. When we were well out of the sulphur- 
laden atmosphere we turned and ran in toward St. Pierre. 

' Mont Pelee had evidently been throwing out large quantities 
of lava since I saw the volcano last. I got a good view of St. 
Pierre and the countryside. I could see where new ravines had 
been formed, fissures opened, and old ones filled up. The whole 
face of the country was changing. The scene of desolation was indes- 
cribable. A nearer view of St. Pierre shows its ruins in ghastly 


On the succeeding days the violence of the eruption increased, 
and the people of Morne Rouge, who had hitherto escaped injury, 
fled for their lives, eight hundred of them starting to walk through 
the mountains to Fort de France, fifteen miles away. Others of 
them sought St. Pierre, where they begged frantically to be taken 



off by the ships in the harbor. The panic even reached Fort de 
France, on which city thick showers of dust fell all afternoon and 
night, while many thousands of people rushed in a panic through 
the streets, seeking to escape what seemed impending ruin. 

Ashes were spouted in great clouds from the crater all day on 
the 1 8th. The explosion began on the early morning, when a 
black column rose above Mont Pelee, accompanied by internal 
rumblings and a tremor of the earth that sent the sea back from 
the land in powerful waves. 

This column was first caught by a current of air that carried it 
northward. Then an upper air current swept it back in the op- 
posite direction. Thus it made an immense and well-formed " T," 
the base of which rested in a cup of flame on the crest of the volcano, 
from which it sprang. Then the wind veered, and a mantle of 
darkness was swept westward across the island, enveloping Fort de 
France, upon which volcanic dust fell to a depth of more than an 
inch and a half, 

So heavy was the dust that filled the air that respiration be- 
came a labor, and a fear of suffocation came upon the inhabitants. 
Great alarm continued for more than four hours, and it was not 
until the cloud of ashes blew out to sea that confidence was re- 


All night the summit of Mont Pelee had the appearance of a 
gigantic blast furnace, at which great forces were working. Flames 
shot skyward in sheets that at times lighted up the entire island. 
For a few minutes the fires would drop back into the mouth of the 
crater, only to reissue with redoubled force. 

On the 19th, the American cruiser Cincinnati, the naval tug 
Potomac, and the British cruiser Indefatigable, left Fort de France 


for St. Pierre, in an endeavor to recover the remains of Thomas 
T. Prentis, the American Consul, and James Japp, the British Con- 
sul, whose bodies had been found at their respective consulates, 
after a long and baffling search. The purpose was to take them 
to Fort de France for a military funeral. 

On their arrival near the ruined city they found the volcano in 
so frightful a state of activity as to render their enterprise a very 
perilous one. A party was landed from the Potomac, but before 
the cruiser could anchor, there came several tremendous explosions. 
Immense quantities of lava poured from the crater, and clouds of 
dust darkened the sky. The Indefatigable at once put to sea. 

With steam up the Potomac stood ready to run as soon as the 
rescue party could get out from shore and on board. To the gen- 
eral din it added its note of alarm. The party of rescuers ran 
along the beach and were taken off by a boat from the tug. They 
were barely in time. As the steamship got well under way, another 
flood of fire poured down from Pelee, and a broad stream of lava 
ran into the sea, while out of the sky rained a storm of rocks and 


In spite of the threatening aspect of the volcano, it was deter- 
mined later in the day to make another attempt to recover the 
bodies of Mr. Prentis and Mr. Japp. The searching party was 
divided into two squads. One, led by Ensign Miller, went to the 
site of the American Consulate, and soon had the body of Mr. 
Prentis encased in a metallic and hermetically sealed coffin. Six stal- 
wart fellows shouldered the body and started with it for the landing. 

In the meantime, another party, led by Lieutenant McCor- 
mick, of the Potomac, had proceeded to the British Consulate, 
about half a mile to the northward of the American Consulate. 


Fortunately, this was within view of the crater of Mont Pelee. 
Lieutenant McCormick saw a column of smoke and fire belch 
from the volcano, down the side of which a stream of molten lava 
flowed. Directing his men to make all haste back to the Potomac. 
the Lieutenant turned aside to give warning to the party which 
was carrying away the body of the American Consul. " For God's 
sake, boys, get to the boat quick if you would save your lives ! " he 
gasped. " The volcano has exploded, and destruction is upon us." 
At that instant there was adeafening crash of thunder. It almost 
seemed as though scores of thunderbolts had been forced into one. 
As it died away the loud siren of the Indefatigable, which was in 
the roadstead, screamed a warning. The British cruiser almost 
immediately put out to sea at top speed. Without cessation the 
whistle of the Potomac was blowing. There was another rumble, 
and the sky was filled with lightning. Then Mont Pelee cast upward 
a vast column, a mile or more high. By a fortunate turn of the wind 
the lives of all in the party were saved. The ashes, gas, smoke, 
and stones, instead of pouring immediately upon them, were car- 
ried out over the sea. 


Working among the ruins were a few Frenchmen, who had 
remained ashore after their fellows had fled in fright. These men 
became panic-stricken and some of them were in hysterics. They 
fell upon their knees, and prayed to be saved from the destruction 
which they feared was about to fall upon them. Under the circum- 
stances, the presence of mind and bravery of the American sailors 
was worthy of the greatest praise. They refused to put down their 

As rapidly as possible the sailors made their way over the 
debris to the shore. Once one of them stumbled. His fellows 


waited until he could recover himself, when all went on together, 
still bearing the coffined body of the Consul. Half a mile was 
covered in this manner. Each minute the sky darkened. The heat 
was beyond comprehension. In the air was volcanic dust that made 
respiration hard labor. 

Finally the distance was covered, and at the end it was discov- 
ered that, after all, the body would have to be temporarily aban- 
doned. Heavy seas were sweeping shoreward. It was with great 
difficulty that the party was taken on board by the Potomac, but it 
was accomplished safely and just in time. 


Straight out to sea for five miles ran the Potomac, while all 
eyes watched the eruption, the grandest and most awe-inspiring 
sight ever witnessed by man. There was an inner column of fire 
that reached perpendicularly into the air. About it was a funnel- 
shaped mass of ashes and gas, that could be penetrated by the eye 
only when the flames burned brightest. 

Several new craters seemed to have been formed, and from 
them lava was flowing down to the ocean. As the molten mass 
reached the water great clouds of steam were raised, and the sinister 
hissing could be heard amid the roar of the eruption. 

When the Potomac had been put beyond the apparent danger- 
zone an observation was taken. Then the ship was turned up the 
coast and was run in under the column of death. As close 
as she could be sent without courting destruction, the Potomac 
went back towards the stream of lava. All about her the sea was 
boiling, and the steam that came up over the sides was so dense as 
to make it all but impossible to see through it. Again, a turn was 
made seaward, but as it was seen that the wind had shifted the 


danger from St. Pierre, she ran back to the landing. A party of 
sailors went ashore and brought off the body. The Potomac 
returned with it to Fort de France, where all were then in a panic. 
Owing to the hasty retreat that was made from the British 
Consulate, which lay a mile back from the shore, the body of Mr. 
Japp, which had been encoffined, was not recovered. 


Never before was there such a burial as was given to the body 
of Thomas T. Prentis, the American Consul at St. Pierre. The 
body, recovered from the ruins (as we have seen) at the risk of the 
lives of the men who were sent ashore from the Potomac, was taken 
to the cemetery back of Fort de France. There were brief services 
at the grave, led by Captain McClean, of the Cincinnati. About the 
grave stood officers, marines and sailors from the Cincinnati and 
the Potomac. The gloom was made more intense by the knowledge 
held by each one present that his own life was in imminent danger. 

An ominous salute was fired by the volcano that had brought 
destruction upon the Consul. While the service was being read 
there was a succession of deep, sullen detonations that might have 
come from great guns belonging to a mighty fleet. As the grave 
was being filled a cloud of ashes came over the city, and a dark- 
ness as of night followed. The volcano had taken part in the 
services over the body of its victim. 

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Showing a Few Dwellings, and the Hilly Nature of the Town, 
Copyright, J. Murray Jordan. 


St. Vincent Island and Mont Soufriere in 1812. 

MONG all the islands of the Caribbees St. Vincent is unique 
in natural wonders and beauties. Situated about ninety-five 
miles west of Barbados, it has a length of eighteen and a 
width of eleven miles, the whole mass being largely composed of a 
single peak which rises from the ocean's bed. From north to south 
volcanic hills traverse its length, their ridges intersected by fertile 
and beautiful valleys. 

A ridge of mountains crosses the island, dividing it into eastern 
and western parts. Kingstown, the capital, a town of 8,000 inhabi- 
tants, is on the southward side and extends along the shores of 
a beautiful bay, with mountains gradually rising behind it in the 
form of a vast amphitheatre. Three streets, broad and lined with 
good houses, run parallel to the water-front. There are many 
other intersecting highways, some of which lead back to the foot- 
hills, from which good roads ascend the mountains. 

The majority of the houses have red tile roofing and a goodly 
number of them are of stone, one story high, with thick walls after 
the Spanish style— the same types of houses that were in St. Pierre 
and which are not unlike the old Roman houses which in all stages 
of ruin and semi-preservation are found in Pompeii to this day. 

Behind the general group of the houses of the town loom the 
Governor's residence and the buildings of the botanical gardens 
v/hich overlook the town. 



Kingstown is the trading centre and the town of importance in 
the island. It contains the churches and chapels of five Protestant 
denominations and a number of excellent schools. Away from 
Kingstown, and the smaller settlement of Georgetown, the popula- 
tion is almost wholly rural, occupying scattered villages which con- 
sist of negro huts clustering around a few substantial buildings or 
of cabins grouped about old plantation buildings somewhat after 
the ante-bellum fashion in our own Southern States. 

One of the tragedies of the West Indies was the sinking of 
old Port Royal, the resort of buccaneers, in 1692. The harbor of 
Kingstown is commonly supposed to cover the site of the old settle- 
ment. There is a tradition that a buoy for many years was attached 
to the spire of a sunken church in order to warn mariners. Three 
thousand persons perished in the disaster. 


The northern portion of the island, that desolated by the 
recent volcanic eruption, was inhabited by people living in the 
manner just described, the great majority of them being negroes. 
The total population of the island is about 45,000, of whom 30,000 
are Africans and about 3,000 Europeans, the remainder being 
nearly all Asiatics. There are, or rather were, a number of Caribs, 
the descendants of the original warlike Indian population of these 
islands. Many of these live in St. Vincent, though there are others 
in Dominico. As their residence was in the northern section of 
the island, the volcano seems to have completed the work for the 
Caribs of this island which the Spaniard long ago began. These 
Caribs were really half-breds, having amalgamated with the negroes. 
Many of the blacks own land of their own, raising arrow root, which, 
since the decay of the sugar industry, is the chief export. 


In an island only eighteen miles long by eleven broad there is 
not room for any distinctly marked mountain range. The whole of 
St. Vincent, in fact, is a fantastic tumble of hills, culminating in the 
volcanic ridge which runs lengthwise of the oval-shaped island. 
The culminating peak of the great volcanic mass, for St. Vincent 
is nothing more, is Mont Garou, of which La Soufriere is a 
sort of lofty excrescence in the northwest, 4,048 feet high, and 
flanking the main peak at some distance away. 

It may be said that all the volcanic mountains in this part of 
the West Indies have what the people call a "soufriere" — a 
"sulphur pit," or " sulphur crater " — the name coming, as in the 
case of past disturbances of Mont Pelee, from the strong stench of 
sulphuretted hydrogen which issues from them when the volcano 
becomes agitated. 

In 18 1 2 it was La Soufriere adjacent to Mont Garou 
which broke loose on the island of St. Vincent, and it is the same 
Soufriere which again has devastated the island and has bombarded 
Kingstown with rocks, lava and ashes. 

The old crater of Mont Garou has long been extinct, and, 
like the old crater of Mont Pelee, near St. Pierre, it had far down 
in its depths, surrounded by sheer cliffs from 500 to 800 feet high, 
a lake. Glimpses of the lake of Mont Garou are difficult to get, 
owing to the thick verdure growing about the dangerous edges of 
the precipices, but those who have seen it describe it as a beautiful 
sheet of deep blue water. 


Previous to the eruption of 181 2 the appearance of the 
Soufriere was most interesting. The crater was half a mile in 
diameter and five hundred feet in depth. In its centre was a 


conical hill, fringed with shrubs and vines ; at whose base were two 
small lakes, one sulphurous, the other pure and tasteless. This 
lovely and beautiful spot was rendered more interesting by the 
singularly melodious notes of a bird, an inhabitant of these upper 
solitudes, and altogether unknown to the other parts of the island 
— hence called, or supposed to be, "invisible," as it had never been 
seen. (It is of interest to state that Frederick A. Ober, in a visit 
to the island some twenty years ago, succeeded in obtaining speci- 
mens of this previously unknown bird.) From the fissures of the 
cone a thin white smoke exuded, occasionally tinged with a light 
blue flame. Evergreens, flowers and aromatic shrubs clothed the 
steep sides of the crater, which made, as the first indication of the 
eruption on April 27, 18 12, a tremulous noise in the air. A severe 
concussion of the earth followed, and then a column of thick black 
smoke burst from the crater. 


The eruption which followed these premonitory symptoms was 
one of the most terrific which had occurred in the West Indies up 
to that time. It was the culminating event which seemed to relieve 
a pressure within the earth's crust which extended from the Missis- 
sippi Valley to Caracas, Venezuela, producing terrible effects in 
the latter place. Here, thirty-five days before the volcanic explo- 
sion, the ground was rent and shaken by a frightful earthquake 
which hurled the city in ruins to the ground and killed ten thousand 
of its inhabitants in a moment of time. 

La Soufriere made the first historic display of its hidden powers 
in 1 718, when lava poured from its crater. A far more violent 
demonstration of its destructive forces was that above mentioned. On 
his occasion the eruption lasted for three days, ruining a number of 


the estates in the vicinity and destroying many lives. Myriads of 
tons of ashes, cinders, pumice and scorise, hurled from the crater, 
fell in every section of the island. Volumes of sand darkened 
the air, and woods, ridges and cane fields were covered with light 
gray ashes, which speedily destroyed all vegetation. The sun for 
three days seemed to be in a total eclipse, the sea was discolored 
and the ground bore a wintry appearance from the white crust of 
fallen ashes. 

Carib natives who lived at Morne Rond fled from their houses 
to Kingstown. As the third day drew to a close flames sprang pyra- 
midically from the crater, accompanied by loud thunder and electric 
flashes, which rent the column of smoke hanging over the volcano. 
Eruptive matter pouring from the northwest side plunged over 
the cliff, carrying down rocks and woods in its course. The island 
was shaken by an earthquake and bombarded with showers of cinders 
and stones, which set houses on fire and killed many of the natives. 


For nearly two years before this explosion earthquakes had 
been common, and sea and land had been agitated from the valley 
of the Mississippi to the coasts of Venezuela and the mountains of 
New Grenada, and from the Azores to the West Indies. On 
March 26, 18 12, these culminated in the terrible tragedy, spoken of 
above, of which Humboldt gives us a vivid account. 

On that day the people of the Venezuelan city of Caracas 
were assembled in the churches, beneath a still and blazing sky, 
when the earth suddenly heaved and shook, like a great monster 
waking from slumber, and in a single minute 10,000 people were 
buried beneath the walls of churches and houses, which tumbled in 
hideous ruin upon their heads. The same earthquake made itself 


felt along the whole line of the Northern Cordilleras, working terri- 
ble destruction, and shook the earth as far as Santa Fe de Bogota 
and Honda, 180 leagues from Caracas. This was a preliminary 
symptom of the internal disorder of the earth. 

While the wretched inhabitants of Caracas who had e~caped 
the earthquake were dying of fever and starvation, and seeking 
among villages and farms places of safety from the renewed earth- 
quake shocks, the almost forgotten volcano of St. Vincent was 
muttering in suppressed wrath. For twelve months it had given 
warning, by frequent shocks of the earth, that it was making ready 
to play its part in the great subterranean battle. On the 27th of 
April its deep-hidden powers broke their bonds, and the conflict 
between rock and fire began. 


The first intimation of the outbreak was rather amusing than 
alarming. A negro boy was herding cattle on the mountain side. 
A stone fell near him. Another followed. He fancied that some 
other boys were pelting him from the cliff above, and began throw- 
ing stones upward at his fancied concealed tormentors. But the 
stones fell thicker, among them some too large to be thrown by 
any human hand. Only then did the little fellow awake to the fact 
that it was not a boy like himself, but the mighty mountain, that 
was flinging these stones at him. He looked up and saw that the 
black column which was rising from the crater's mouth was no 
longer harmless vapor, but dust, ashes and stones. Leaving the 
cattle to their fate, he fled for his life, while the mighty cannon of 
the Titans roared behind him as he ran. For three days and nights 
this continued ; then, on the 30th, a stream of lava poured over the 
crater's rim and rushed downward, reaching the sea in four hours, 
and the great eruption was at an end. 


On the same day, says Humboldt, at a distance of more than 
200 leagues, "the inhabitants not only of Caracas, but of Calabozo, 
situated in the midst of the Lianos, over a space of 4,000 square 
leagues, were terrified by a subterranean noise which resembled 
frequent discharges of the heaviest cannon. It was accompanied 
by no shock, and, what is very remarkable, was as loud on the coast 
as at eighty leagues' distance inland, and at Caracas, as well as at 
Calabozo, preparations were made to put the place in defence 
against an enemy who seemed to be advancing with heavy 

It was no enemy that man could deal with. Fortunately, it 
confined its assault to deep noises, and desisted from earthquake 
shocks. Similar noises were heard in Martinique and Guadeloupe, 
and here also without shocks. The internal thunder was the signal 
of what was taking place on St. Vincent. With this last warning 
sound the trouble, which had lasted so long, was at an end. The 
earthquakes which for two years had shaken a sheet of the earth's 
surface larger than half Europe, were stilled by the eruption of St. 
Vincent's volcanic peak. 


Northeast of the original crater of the Soufriere a new one was 
formed which was a half mile in diameter and five hundred feet 
deep. The old crater was in time transformed into a beautiful 
blue lake, as above stated, walled in by ragged cliffs to a height of 
eight hundred feet. 

It was looked upon as a remarkable circumstance that although 
the air was perfectly calm during the eruption, Barbados, which is 
ninety-five miles to the windward, was covered inches deep with 
ashes. The inhabitants there and on other neighboring islands were 


terrified by the darkness, which continued for four hours and a 
half. Troops were called under arms, the supposition from the con- 
tinued noise being that hostile fleets were in an engagement. 

The movement of the ashes to windward, as just stated, was 
viewed as a remarkable phenomenon, and is cited by Elise Reclus, 
in " The Ocean," to show the force of different aerial currents ; 
"On the first day of May, 1 8 1 2, when the northeast trade-wind was in 
all its force, enormous quantities of ashes obscured the atmosphere 
above the Island of Barbados, and covered the ground with a thick 
layer. One would have supposed that they came from the volca- 
noes of the Azores, which were to the northeast ; nevertheless they 
were cast up by the crater in St. Vincent, one hundred miles to the 
west. It is therefore certain that the debris had been hurled, by 
the force of the eruption, above the moving sheet of the trade- 
winds into an aerial river proceeding in a contrary direction. " For 
this it must have been hurled miles high into the air, till caught by 
the current of the anti-trade winds. 


From Charles Kingsley's "At Last" we extract, from the ac- 
count of the visit of the author to St. Vincent, some interesting 
matter concerning the 181 2 eruption and its effect on the moun- 
tain ; also its influence upon distant Barbados, as just stated. 

" The strangest fact about this eruption was, that the mountain 
did not make use of its old crater. The original vent must have 
become so jammed and consolidated, in the few years between 1 785 
and 1 812, that it could not be reopened, even by a steam force the 
vastness of which may be guessed at from the vastness of the area 
which it had shaken for two years. So, when the eruption was 
over, it was found that the old crater-lake, incredible as it may 


seem, remained undisturbed, so far as has been ascertained; but close 
to it, and separated only by a knife-edge of rock some 700 feet in 
height, and so narrow that, as I was assured by one who had seen 
it, it is dangerous to crawl along it, a second crater, nearly as large 
as the first, had been blasted out, the bottom of which, in like 
manner, was afterward filled with water. 

" I regretted much that I could not visit it. Three points I 
longed to ascertain carefully — the relative heights of the water in 
the two craters ; the height and nature of the spot where the lava 
stream issued ; and, lastly, if possible, the actual cause's of the 
locally famous Rabacca, or ' Dry River,' one of the largest streams 
in the island, which was swallowed up during the eruption, at a 
short distance from its source, leaving its bed an arid gully to this 
day. But it could not be, and I owe what little I know of the sum- 
mit of the soufriere principally to a most intelligent and gentleman- 
like young Wesleyan minister, whose name has escaped me. He 
described vividly, as we stood together on the deck, looking up at 
the volcano, the awful beauty of the twin lakes, and of the clouds 
which, for months together, whirl in and out of the cups in fantas- 
tic shapes before the eddies of the trade wind. 


" The day after the explosion, 'Black Sunday,' gave a proof of, 
though no measure of, the enormous force which had been ex- 
erted. Eighty miles to windward lies Barbados. All Saturday a 
heavy cannonading had been heard to the eastward. The English 
and French fleets were surely engaged. The soldiers were called 
out ; the batteries manned ; but the cannonade died away, and all 
went to bed in wonder. On the 1st of May the clocks struck six, 
but the sun did not, as usual in the tropics, answer to the call. 



The darkness was still intense, and grew more intense as the morn- 
ing wore on. A slow and silent rain of impalpable dust was falling 
over the whole island. The negroes rushed shrieking into the 
streets. Surely the last day was come. The white folk caught 
(and little blame to them) the panic, and some began to pray who 
had not prayed for years. The pious and the educated (and there 
were plenty of both in Barbados) were not proof against the infec- 
tion. Old letters describe the scene in the churches that morning 
as hideous — prayers, sobs, and cries, in Stygian darkness, from 
trembling- crowds. And still the darkness continued and the dust 


" I have a letter written by one long since dead, who had at 
least powers of description of no common order, telling how, when 
he tried to go out of his house upon the east coast, he could not 
find the trees on his own lawn save by feeling for their stems. He 
stood amazed not only in utter darkness, but in utter silence ; for 
the trade-wind had fallen dead, the everlasting roar of the surf was 
gone, and the only noise was the crashing of branches, snapped by 
the weight of the clammy dust. He went in again, and waited. 
About one o'clock the veil began to lift ; a lurid sunlight stared in 
from the horizon, but all was black overhead. Gradually the dust 
drifted away; the. island saw the sun once more, and saw itself 
inches deep in black, and in this case fertilizing, dust. The trade- 
wind blew suddenly once more out of the clear east, and the surf 
roared again along the shore. 

" Meanwhile a heavy earthquake-wave had struck part at least 
of the shores of Barbados. The gentleman on the east coast, go- 
ing out, found traces of the sea. and boats and logs washed up some 


ten to twenty feet above high-tide mark ; a convulsion which 
seemed to have gone unmarked during the general dismay. 

"One man at least, an old friend of John Hunter, Sir Joseph 
Banks and others their compeers, was above the dismay, and the 
superstitious panic which accompanied it. Finding it still dark 
when he rose to dress, he opened (so the story used to run) his 
window ; found it stick, and felt upon the sill a coat of soft powder. 
'The volcano in St. Vincent has broken out at last,' said the wise 
man, 'and this is the dust of it.' So he quieted his household and 
his negroes, lighted his candles, and went to his scientific books, in 
that delight, mingled with an awe not the less deep, because it is 
rational and self-possessed, with which he, like the other men of 
science, looked at the wonders of this wondrous world." 


The Desolation of St. Vincent. 

WHILE the great catastrophe which occurred on the Island 
of Martinique will be known from the name and horrors 
of St. Pierre or Mt. Pelee, yet the Island of St. Vincent 
also passed through a veritable baptism of fire, and the results were 
only less terrible than those that followed the eruption of Mont 
Pelee, destroying the town of St. Pierre and its environs with their 
30,000 inhabitants. 

Mont Soufriere broke into activity simultaneously with Mont 
Pelee and many of the people were destroyed. A line drawn from Cha- 
teau Belaire to Georgetown would divide the Island of St. Vincent 
into halves. Few human beings remained alive north of it. Many 
bodies were recovered, and it is known that many hundreds lay 
buried under the ashes that fell over the whole island. 

It is estimated that nearly 2000 were sacrificed by the eruption. 
This includes most of the Carib Indians, which means the 
practical extinction of the race that was found on the island by 
Columbus four centuries ago. An old Indian prophecy that the 
Caribs would be sacrificed to the fire god, which they worshipped, 
has thus been fulfilled. Of the Caribs a small number remain on 
the Islands of St. Lucia and Dominica. 

From St. Lucia the eruption of Mont Soufriere was visible 

during the night of May 7. The following night the steamship 

Wear, of the Royal Mail service, attempting to force her way to 








Kingstown, ran into a floating bank of ashes. For three hours 
the ship was practically helpless in a cloud of smoke and sulphurous 
gas denser than that which floated down from Mont Pelee. 

When Kingstown was finally reached at daybreak, it was found 
panic stricken. The streets were covered two inches deep with 
ashes and stones that had fallen during the night. Kingstown is 

fifteen miles from the crater 
which ejected the stones, yet 
the rain of missiles was almost 
incessant for three days. From 
Chateau Belaire word came 
that the distress there was 
great. A call had been sent 
for a clergyman, and one was 
taken up by the Wear. Down 
the sides of Mont Soufriere 
were flowing hundreds of 
streams of lava, which, uniting 
and separating, formed a net- 
work from which there was no 
possible escape for any living 
thing caught within its grasp. 


By the explosion of 181 2 


Great -Ufa 

a river that had existed ever since the discovery of the island was 
dried up. Down its channel for days after the eruption there 
flowed a swift stream of molten lava, which glistened like liquid 
silver, and which flowed into the sea within 100 yards of George- 
town. As the water and the lava met, a great cloud of steam 
arose, and the hissing could be heard for miles. 


From a distance dozens of craters could be seen, now opening 
and again closing, near the crest of Mont Soufriere. The force of 
the eruption seemed to be lessened, but the danger continued still 
great. Many searching parties were immediately sent out. Seven 
estates were found to be ruined beyond hope of repair. Two 
chapels were buried under a stream of lava. Many houses were 
covered under masses of ashes and lava, and there was hardly a 
spot in the island that was not under from two inches to ten feet 
of ashes. 

The British steamer Cennet on Sunday ran through five miles 
of smoke that was so dense that the crew were almost suffocated. 
For more than an hour the ship had to be left to its own guidance. 
Mont Soufriere, though not so active as it was immediately 
after the first eruption, was still so threatening as to terrify the 
inhabitants. Smoke and flames continued to belch from the crater, 
over which there was an incessant play of lightning, forking out from 
the column, that reached so far up into the sky that the eye could 
not perceive its crest. 

It was more than two weeks previous to May 10, that Mont 
Soufriere first gave warning that it was about to give a display of 
fire-works as majestic as had been seen by man during the last 
thousand years. Mont Soufriere can be seen fully fifty miles at 
sea on a clear day. For ninety years the old volcano had been 
somnolent. On rare occasions it had grumbled internally, but it 
had been regarded as harmless by the Indians, who told of the 
eruptions which ceased long ago, and which they had carried 
in their traditions. After the eruption of 1812 the old crater 
closed, and water, filling it, formed a beautiful blue lake. 

For many days preceeding the eruption Soufriere labored 
inwardly in a manner such as was new to the present generation. 


Then, on May 5, the crater lake became greatly disturbed. It began 
to boil and bubble like a great cauldron. Steam arose from it in 
immense clouds. The rumbling beneath the mountain redoubled 
in force, and at 2 oxlock that afternoon Soufriere trembled as though 


it was in the throes of a terrible agony. Then came a series of 
severe earthquakes that shook the entire island. 


That night sulphuric flames played about the summit of the 
volcano, giving it a weird and terrible appearance. Steam contin- 
ued to rise in clouds, and the thunders of the skies were joined 
with those that came from the bowels of the Soufriere. All dur- 
ing Wednesday the splendid phenomenon continued, giving those 
who lived in the near vicinity of the volcano ample time to make 
their escape. All seem to have been hypnotized, and of the num- 
bers who were there only a few hundred went away. 

It was noon on Wednesday, May 7, 1902, that Mont Sou- 
friere suddenly opened, sending six separate streams of lava pour- 
ing and boiling down its sides. Death was everywhere, and in 
its most terrible forms. Lightning came from the sky, killing many 
who had escaped the molten streams that poured into the valleys. 

For this great tragedy the settings were wonderful. Soufriere 
literally rocked in its agony. From its summit a majestic column 
of smoke, inky black, reached skyward. The craters were vomit- 
ing incandescent matter that gave forth prismatic lights as it rolled 
away toward the sea. Great waves of fire seemed to hedge about the 
mountain top. Such thunder as has seldom been heard by man 
cracked and rolled through the heavens. From the earth came tre- 
mendous detonations. These joined with the thunder, all merging 
in an incessant roar that added to the. panic of fleeing inhabitants. 


This lasted through the night, and the day and night follow- 
ing. On Thursday morning a huge column, so black that it had 
the appearance of ebony, arose to an estimated height of eight 
miles from the top of the volcano. 

Ashes and rock, as well as lava, were carried skyward in this 
column to deluge the island and the ocean for miles around. Grad- 
ually the column mushroomed at the top and spread out into dense 
clouds, that descended to bring night at noontime. The atmos- 
phere was so laden with sulphurous gas that life was made almost 
impossible. Hundreds of those nearest to Soufriere were suffocated 
by this gas before they were touched by the burning lava. 


Many expected that the entire island would be destroyed, and 
the night of Thursday was given up to prayers. All that night the 
darkness was beyond description, save when everything was made 
light as broad day by the lightning which forked out from the 
volcano. The earth quaked incessantly, the mountains shook, stones, 
lava and great quantities of ashes never ceased to fall. So terrible 
were the thunders that it seemed to the terrified that the universe 
was being rent to pieces and that the last day had come. 

Friday brought a slight respite. Soufriere became less agi- 
tated. The lava streams did not decrease, but the showers of rocks 
stopped for a time. Then those of stout heart ventured out to take 
stock of the wonderful ruin that had been wrought. 

All areas of cultivation were found to be destroyed, buried 
under banks of volcanic matter. Wallibou and Richmond planta- 
tions and villages on the leeward coast were wrecked. Wallibou 
was partly under water, which had been swept in from the sea by a 


tidal wave. Five other plantations were gone and every vestige 
of human life had vanished. 

The Carib Indians had made that portion of the island lying 
at the base of Soufriere their country. That entire district was a 
smoking, incinerated ruin. Ashes were everywhere, being in no 
place less than two feet deep, and in some places lava had rolled 
over the deep banks of ashes. Every Indian seemed to have disap- 
peared, there being no survivors known until some time afterward. 
All vegetation was destroyed.. Not a sprig of green was to be seen 
on the island. Live stock had died. Houses had vanished from 
their sites. Rivers were dry and their beds ran lava. 


Everywhere north of Chateau Belaire were dead bodies, some 
half buried, others showing that they had been stricken down by 
the lightning. A few seemed to have been dipped in lava, which 
took form from them. Decomposition seemed to be almost im- 
mediate. The dead were buried or burned as rapidly as possible, 
but the conditions were such that pestilence could hardly be averted. 

Kingstown was safe, but Georgetown suffered terribly. In the 
hospitals there hundreds of sufferers were being cared for, with lit- 
tle chance that any of them would recover. There followed a peril of 
famine. Had not supplies been quickly received, hundreds would 
have starved. When the violent eruption had ceased, the air was 
filled with volcanic dust and ashes, creating an intense thirst and 
such suffering as can hardly be imagined by those not on the island. 

The steamer Wear, sent by government officials from St. Lucia 
on the evening of the 8th, to visit the island, reported that terrible 
flames were visible during the entire journey. At midnight it was 
seen that a volcano was in eruption, about four miles away, 


The Wear ran into heavy showers of gray ashes, and the peo- 
ple on board were almost suffocated. The atmosphere was so 
dense that nothing could be seen. The steamer put about and 
steamed to the south for two hours before she was clear of the 
showers of ashes. At three o'clock in the morning she put back 
toward the island and encountered more ashes and was again com- 
pelled to put off. She arrived at Kingstown at about five o'clock 
on the morning of the 9th. 

It was then seen that the volcano was in constant eruption, 
and there was a tremendous roar. Forked lightning played 
incessantly over the disturbed section, the flashes averaging 
from sixty to one hundred a minute. Kingstown, which is 
twelve miles from the volcano, had been covered with three inches 
of ashes and showers of stones on Thursday, and the glow from 
the eruption was visible forty miles away. 

The terrific force of the eruption may be illustrated by one 
incident. Ashes in great quantity fell on the deck of the British 
steamship Coy a, Captain Eton, when she was 250 miles distant from 
the island. 


When the Wear was opposite Belaire there was a grand view 
of the west side of the crater. Rivers of lava were coming down 
the mountain sides in every direction and flowing into the sea. 
The huge crater was covered with smoke, and there was an inces- 
sant eruption. Great quantities of ashes were blown into the air 
and were falling toward the sea. A new lane was observed running 
out toward the sea for half a mile. It was of a brownish color, and 
was probably lava which had been cooled by the sea water. It was 
impossible to get close to the town. 


The sea was littered with trees and other wreckage. An attempt 
was made to proceed to St. Lucia through the falling ashes, but it 
was found impossible. It meant suffocation to try it. A run out- 
ward was made, but the vessel entered the belt miles out at sea, 
with the same result. On the horizon there was nothing to be seen 
but falling ashes and other material, which was piled up like an 
enormous wall. Inside the belt all was dark. 

Putting back, the Wear steamed around the island to the wind- 
ward. Opposite Georgetown she encountered a gale of wind car- 
rying smoke and debris. To the north the entire territory of the 
disturbed district was clearly visible. Besides the large crater, 
numerous small craters were in eruption, and many streams of lava 
v/ere flowing seaward, one of them half a mile wide. 

On the 13th it was reported from Castries, St. Lucia, that the 
volcano was still in destructive eruption. A terrific cannonade 
seemed to be going on a hundred miles away. The reports were 
followed by columns of smoke, rising miles in the air. Immense 
balls of colored fire also issued from the crater. Lightning played 
fiercely in the upper sky, and the whole northern part of the island 
was one mass of spreading flame. It was impossible to reach the 
burning district by land or sea, and there were no means of estima- 
ting the destruction wrought to life and property. Kingstown was 
safe, though showers of ashes and pebbles continually fell on the 
town. The volcano itself was invisible. 


No person at that time was able to approach within eight miles 
of the new crater of the Soufriere volcano, but, judging from what 
could be seen from a considerable distance, the old lake at the 
summit of the mountain had disappeared. The numerous fissures 


in the mountain side continued to throw out vapor, and the subter- 
ranean murmurings and tremblings indicated continued unrest. 
During the afternoon of Monday a dense volume of steam and 
smoke rose from the volcano and the whole island was covered 
by a peculiar mist, while the inhalation of noxious vapors made 
breathing very difficult and added to the distress of the people. 

Physical changes resulted from the eruptions, including several 
fissures on La Soufriere and an inlet of the sea where the estate of 
Walibou had been. Richmond, an estate adjacent to Walibou, 
which was formerly flat, and upon which there were several labor- 
ers' cottages, had been completely burned, and out of the estate 
there had arisen a large ridge of ground. A ravine a hundred 

o o o 

feet deep, the source of the Rabacca or Dry River, was filled level 
with lava. This river bed had been dry since the eruption of 1812, 
and will perhaps be dry forever. 

The estimate of deaths had gradually grown from a few hun- 
dred to 1600 by the 12th, this being the estimate sent to Secretary 
Hay by our special correspondent on the island of Barbados, 
General A. S. MacAllister, United States Consul at that island. 
The following is the text of his cable message : — "Sixteen hundred 
deaths at St. Vincent ; four thousand destitute. Immediate wants 
supplied. Aid needed for six months. This authentic." 

As the days went by still more dead bodies were discovered. 
Of these 400 remained unburied. But that was the least of the 
trouble. Thus far no effort had been made to do more than care 
for the living and bury the dead. All about were dead cattle, pol- 
luting the atmosphere, which already was heavily laden with 
disease. In one of the ravines near Morne Garou the bodies of 
eigty-seven Carib Indians were found heaped together. Not far 
away were the carcasses of hundreds of cattle. 


It was later ordered that these menaces to life should be removed, 
quicklime being used to destroy the bodies. Fires were kindled 
over the district which was laid waste by Soufriere, and in these 
were thrust the carcasses of the dead cattle. 

a correspondent's statement 

On May 15 a press correspondent returned from a visit, on 
horseback, to the devastated district of the island, through which 
he made a journey of fifty miles, and penetrated to within five miles 
of the crater. The following was the result of his observations : — 

" The entire northern part of the island is covered with ashes 
to an average depth of eighteen inches, varying from a thin layer 
at Kingstown to two feet or more at Georgetown. The crops 
are ruined, nothing- green can be seen, the streets of Georgetown 
are cumbered with snowdrift-like heaps of ashes, and ashes rest so 
heavily on the roofs that in several cases they have caused them to 
fall in. There will soon be 5,000 destitute persons in need of assis- 
tance from the government, which is already doing everything 
possible to relieve the sufferers. There are a hundred injured 
people in the hospital at Georgetown, gangs of men are searching 
for the dead or rapidly burying them in trenches, and all that can 
be done under the circumstances is being accomplished. 

" The arrival here of the first detachment of the Ambulance 
Corps, which brought sufferers from Georgetown, caused a sensa- 
tion. This batch consisted of a hundred persons, whose charred 
bodies exhaled fetid odors, and whose loathsome faces made even 
the hospital attendants shudder. All these burned persons were 
suffering fearfully from thirst and uttering, when strong enough to 
do so, agbnizing cries for water. It is doubtful whether any of the 
whole party will recover. 


" While the outbreak of the volcano on the island of Martin- 
ique killed more people outright, more territory has been ruined in 
St. Vincent, hence there is greater destitution here. The injured 
persons were horribly burned by the hot grit, which was driven 
along with tremendous velocity. Twenty-six persons who sought 
refuge in a room ten feet by twelve were all killed. One person 
was brained by a huge stone nine miles from the crater. 


" Rough coffins are being made to receive the bodies of the 
victims. The hospital here is filled with dying people. Fifty in- 
jured persons are lying on the floor of that building, as there are 
no beds for their accommodation, though cots are being rapidly 
constructed of boards. This and similar work has been going on 
since immediately after the disaster, but two days elapsed before 
there were any burials, as the negroes refused to dig the necessary 
trenches, though they were offered three times their usual wages 
by the local authorities. The nurses employed are incompetent, 
but they are willing to learn, and are working hard. The negroes 
are indifferent to all that has taken place. They expect to receive 
government rations. There have been instances where they have 
refused to bury their own relatives. 

"Since midnight on Tuesday the subterranean detonations 
here have ceased, and the Soufriere on Wednesday relapsed, ap- 
parently, into perfect repose, no smoke rising from the crater, and 
the fissures emitting no vapor. The stunted vegetation that for- 
merly adorned the slopes of the mountain has disappeared, having 
given place to gray-colored lava, which greets the eye on every 
side. The atmosphere is dry. Rain would be welcome, as there 
is a great deal of dust in the air, which is disagreeable and irritating 


to the throats and eyes, and is causing the merchants to put all 
their drygoods under cover. The white inhabitants are anxious to 
know whether the repose of the volcano is permanent, or whether 
it is the lull which usually precedes greater activity. Some people, 
anticipating that there is danger of further volcanic eruptions, are 
leaving the outlying towns for this city. The negroes who have 
remained on the estates are half-starved, and the few Carib survivors 
are leaving their caves and pillaging abandoned dwelling houses 
and shops. A number of arrests have been made in this con- 


" The report that the volcanic lake which occupied the top of 
the mountain has disappeared appears to be confirmed. A sea of 
lava, emitting sulphurous fumes, now apparently occupies the place, 
and several new craters have been formed. The last time the volcano 
showed activity, on Tuesday -last, the craters, old and new, and 
numerous fissures in the mountain sides discharged hot vapor, deep 
subterranean murmurings were heard, the ground trembled at 
times, from the centre of the volcano huge volumes of steam rose 
like gigantic pine trees toward the sky, and a dense black smoke, 
mingling with the steam, issued from a new and active crater, form- 
ing an immense pall over the northern hills, lowering into the val- 
leys and then rising and spreading until it enveloped the whole 
island in a peculiar gray mist. Simultaneous action upon the part 
of the volcanoes of Martinique and St. Vincent seems to denote a 
volcanic connection between these islands, and appears to verify 
the assumption of the volcanic origin of the mountain chains run- 
ning parallel with the Soufriere in the Windward districts. 

" The sulphurous vapors, which still exhale all over the island, 
are increasing the sickness and mortality among the surviving 


inhabitants, and are causing suffering among the new arrivals. The 
hospital staffs are giving way to overwork, and are with difficulty 
bearing up, but the news of the dispatch of an ambulance corps 
from the garrison at Barbados and the statements made that fur- 
ther medical assistance will arrive here shortly are having a benefi- 
cial effect upon all concerned. 

" The stench in the afflicted districts is terrible beyond descrip- 
tion. Nearly all the huts left standing are filled with dead bodies. 
In some cases disinfectants and the usual means of disposing of the 
dead are useless, and cremation has been resorted to. When it is 
possible the bodies are dragged with ropes to the trenches and are 
there hastily covered up, quicklime being used when available. 
Many of the dead bodies were so covered with dust that they were 
not discovered until walked upon by visitors, or by the relieving 
officers or their assistants. The scenes witnessed were unprece- 
dented in the history of this colony. 

" Much importance is attached locally to the loss which the 
colony has sustained in the injury to the peasant proprietary, a 
scheme for whose development was lately started by the imperial 
government, with a view to assist the inhabitants and in order to 
encourage the people to attain prosperity." 


A later statement from Kingstown gave additional informa- 
tion, as follows : 

" Were it possible to obtain transportation this island would 
be depopulated in a day. Such is the fear of further outbreak of 
La Soufriere. The volcano has ceased to be active, but there is 
general dread that it will break forth in mightier eruption. 

" La Soufriere seems to have changed its shape. Its conical top 
has disappeared, and from a distance the mountain looks as though a 


thumb had been pressed upon it, crushing down its apex. Where 
a pretty blue lake of great depth existed a fortnight ago there is 
now a bubbling cauldron of molten lava. Above this clouds of 
smoke and steam constantly rise. Over the island spreads a pecu- 
liar mist, injurious to the eyes and containing noxious properties 
that cause much distress. 

"Some of the huts built by the Carib Indians still stand, and in 
every one there are bodies. Scattered about in the open there are 
hundreds of bodies, blistering in the terrible heat. The result is 
that a noxious exhalation spreads over the island of St. Vincent that 
is nauseating and which threatens a pestilence. This, in addition 
to the scarcity of food and water, makes the situation serious." 

On the night of May 18 the .alarm of the people of St. Vin- 
cent was renewed. The volcano, which had been temporarily still, 
resumed its activity. Throughout Sunday the adjoining districts 
trembled, and some of the shocks were felt at Kingstown. Smoke 
issued from the craters and fissures of the mountain, and the atmos- 
phere throughout the island of St. Vincent was exceedingly hot. 
While the worshippers were returning from church at 8.30 p. m., an 
alarming luminous cloud suddenly ascended many miles high in the 
north of the island, and drifted sluggishly to the northeast Inces- 
sant lightning fell on the mountain, and one severe flash seemed to 
strike about three miles from Kingstown. The thunderous rumb- 
lings in the craters lasted for two hours and then diminished until 
they became mere murmurings. During the remainder of the night 
the volcano was quiet, though ashes fell from 10 o'clock until mid- 
night. The inhabitants were frenzied with fear at the time of the 
outbreak, dreading a repetition of the catastrophe which had caused 
such terrible loss of life on the island. They ran from the streets 
into the open country, crying and praying for preservation from an- 
other calamity. No one on the Island of St. Vincent slept that night. 


Reports received from the districts in the vicinity of the vol- 
cano said that the rumblings of the craters were appalling, and that 
streams of lava flowed down the mountain side. The villagers who 
had fled to Chateau Belaire and Georgetown for safety poured 
into Kingstown, this being' the furthest town from Soufriere. The 
royal mail steamer Wear brought refugees there from Chateau 
Belaire. Kingstown became congested, and the demands on the 
Government increased rapidly as more and more people were 
obliged to leave their homes and business. 


The continuous agitation of the volcano and the absence of rain 
caused the vicinity of the afflicted villages to look like portions of 
the Desert of Sahara. A thick, smoky cloud overspread the island, 
all business was suspended, the streets were empty and everyone 
was terror stricken. The feeling of suspense grew painful. People 
passed their time gazing at the northern sky, where the thunder 
clouds gathered and the mournful roaring of the volcano was heard. 
Ashes and pumice fell slowly in the out districts, and a new reign 
of terror existed in the island. But during the next day the vol- 
canic disturbances moderated, and some degree of calm returned to 
the afflicted islanders. 

A cable message of date of May 22 said: "I have just re- 
turned from visiting the leeward side of the island. La Soufriere 
is still very active. Lava is streaming into the sea. while clouds of 
sulphurous smoke, extending for miles, obscure the land and com- 
pelled us to steam seaward at full speed. We rescued 120 Caribs 
from Cura, twenty-three miles from here. We saw another crater, 
between La Soufriere and Chateau Belaire, emitting stones, and 
also smaller vents elsewhere. 


" The food of the peasantry is ruined and everywhere the is- 
land is blighted for fruit and vegetables. Cattle are being shipped 
to other islands for pasturage. The laborers in the sugar districts 
have killed their horses for food, and are now dying from diseases 
of the intestines caused by the lava dust." 

As varied personal accounts have been given from eye-wit- 
nesses of the eruption of Mont Pelee, it seems proper to present 
here similar descriptions from some of those who saw the outburst 
from La Soufriere and escaped the mountain's wrath. Here is a 
brief story of the experience of a Chateau Belaire fisherman : 


" I was fishing at some distance from the shore when my boat- 
man said to me, 'Look at the Soufriere, sir. It is smoking !' 

" From the top of the cone, reaching far up into the heavens, a 
dark column of smoke arose, while the mouth of the crater itself 
glowed like a gigantic forge belching a huge jet of yellow flame. 
The mass of smoke spread out into branches extending for miles, 
and clouds of sulphurous vapor, overflowing, as it were, the bowl of 
the crater, began to roll down the mountain slopes. 

" We reached shore and started to run for our lives. We 
were soon enveloped in impenetrable darkness, and I was unable 
to distinguish the white shirt of my boatman at a yard's distance. 
But as he knew every inch of the ground, I held on to a stick he 
had, and so we stumbled on until we reached a place of safety. 
The incessant roar of the volcano, the rumbling of the thunder, 
the flashes of the lightning, added to the terrific grandeur of the 
scene. At last we emerged from the pall of death, half suffocated, 
and with our temples throbbing as if they were going to burst." 


One of a batch of ten persons who were rescued, after living 
for several days without food or water, from a house in which five 
other persons had perished, gave in these words what he remem- 
bered of the occurrence : 

"We heard the mountain roaring the whole morning, but we 
thought it would pass off, and we did not like to abandon our 
homes, so we chanced it. About half-past one it began to rain 
pebbles and stones, some of which were alight ; but then, although 
we were afraid, we could not leave. The big explosion must have 
taken place at about half-past two o'clock. There was fire all 
around me and I could not breathe. My hands and feet got 
burned, but I managed to reach the house where the others were. 

"In two hours everything was over, although pebbles and dust 

fell for a long time after. My burns got so painful and stiff that I 

could not move. We remained until Sunday morning without food 

or water. Five persons died, and as none of us could throw the 

bodies out, or even move, we had to lie alongside the bodies until 

we were rescued." 

mrs. Leslie's narrative 

The condition of affairs in Georgetown during the outbreak of 
the Soufriere was vividlv described by the wife of the Rev. A. H. 
Leslie, a Wesleyan minister, who was in the place at the time. 

" From Sunday night, May 4," said Mrs. Leslie, "the heat had 
been oppressive. Never had I experienced such heat before. It 
was with the utmost difficulty one could breathe, and to sleep was 
impossible. We had no means of testing the temperature, but I 
am satisfied that a thermometer would have shown a record of 
great intensity. 

" On Tuesday I learned from Mrs. Darrell that the Chateau 
Belaire side of the mountain was showing signs of activity. On 


Wednesday morning, between nine and ten o'clock, the lightning 
and thunder began. Such lightning and such thunder ! Oh, it is 
terrible to remember, and thrice terrible was it to behold ! Blind- 
ing flashes that zigzagged with hissing fury and a lurid light 
ominous of destruction. 

" Mr. Leslie said he had never before heard thunder in May, 
and declared the occurrence was most unusual. He left the house 
with the object of making some observations, and on his return he 
said that the Soufriere was active. 

" In the meantime some fisher girls, who came down from the 
mountain, said they had observed the water in the mountain lake 
to be boiling rapidly and the grass in the vicinity to be torn up. 
Then, you will understand, I got anxious. The storm grew in fury. 
The thunder became louder and louder. Nature's forces were 
cannonading with a fierceness of detonation that would have awed 
the bravest of human hearts. 


" Amid the crashing thunder peals and the dreadful lightning 
there began to fall a shower of small pebbles, and later on there fell 
stones as big as your fist. Meanwhile dismal rumblings were 
heard, as though the mountain groaned under the weight of accu- 
mulated fury, and the earth swayed in deep sympathy. 

" At half-past two o'clock the explosion occurred and dark- 
ness fell upon the land. What words can depict the sound or tell 
of the sensation it caused those who heard it ? Language is inade- 
quate to the task. Vain would it be to ransack the vocabularies of 
dead or living languages in the hope of finding adequate terms. 
The sounds were weird and abysmal, and caused our hearts to 
quiver with fear. 


" The rain of big stones continued up to about eleven o'clock 
at night, when sand began to fall. From where we were, we could 
see the reflection of the fire in the sky, but could not see the blaze. 
So terrible were the earthquake shocks as to give the impression 
that the end of the world had come. The hours of the night — 
that night of horrors ! — crept slowly along with leaden feet, and 
morning was so long in coming that it seemed as though daylight 
had been extinguished for all time. But at last morning broke. 
Not a morning like the rosy-fingered mornings of tropical bright- 
ness and sunshiny beauty that we had been accustomed to, but a 
dull, dismal, dreary day came, not much distinguishable from the 
preceding night of Egyptian darkness. But it was day, and that 
fact afforded some measure of relief. We could see and hear others 
in the town. 

" Numbers of persons now began to flock into Georgetown 
from the adjoining country, and to bring accounts of the death of 
this person and that person, of the extinction of this family and 
that family. This continued all day. The tale of death and ca- 
lamity was one long, unbroken, sad, sad one. Among those who 
came into the town or were brought in were many who had been 
stricken by lightning and were paralyzed, or who had been scorched 
by the burning hot sand and were blistered and sore." 

The Rev. J. H. Darrell, rector of a little English church in 
Georgetown, describes his knowledge of the calamity in the follow- 
ing eloquent language : 

"Never in the history of this lovely island has it been visited 
with such awful distress as that which now prevails. The hurricane 
of 1898 entailed great loss and general distress, but this never-to- 
be-forgotten disaster has resulted in more than five times the loss 
of life, as well as greater loss of property. The loss in property, 


perhaps, has not been so widespread as it was in 1898, but I am 
certain that the total loss has been far greater in this calamity than 
it was then. 

" I have investigated the awful tragedy as clearly as I know 
how, and I have made up my mind that the most of those killed 
died from suffocation. In their houses, on the roads, in the fields 
where they were at work, they were overcome in a moment and 
expired almost in an instant. Bodies have been found sitting up- 
right in chairs, and others were rigid and as if about to continue 
the tasks in which they were engaged at the time the blast struck 


"A few slight, significant warnings were given before the 
present outburst," he went on to say. "Admonitory rumblings 
and occasional earthquakes occurred in -the vicinity several days 
before— indications that the mountain was preparing for the ma- 
jestic performance with which it has astonished and awed the 
inhabitants of this lovely island — but it was only on Monday, May 
5, that what we supposed was a dormant volcano gave any plain 
indications of disquietude. 

" It was on Tuesday, May 6, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, that 
the mountain began its series of volcanic efforts. A strong shock 
of earthquake, accompanied by a terrible noise, occurred, and the 
volcano began to emit steam. This was reported to the residents 
Df Georgetown by the police corporal in charge of Chateau Belaire. 
At 5 o'clock that same afternoon louder and more frequent explo- 
sions were heard, the detonations succeeding each other in rapidly 
diminishing intervals. At half-past 7 o'clock columns of steam 
issued from the old crater with terrific noise. These lasted until 
midnight, when another heavy explosion occurred. There was 


another sudden and violent escape of pent-up steam at 7 o'clock on 
Wednesday morning, May 7, which continued ascending until 10 
o'clock, when other material began to be ejected. 

" It would seem that this was the time when the enormous 
mass of water in the lake of the old crater was emitted in a gaseous 
condition. By noon it appeared that there were three craters vomit- 
ing lava — the two old craters, one of which had contained the lake, 
and a third crater that is supposed to have been opened in the 
present eruption. Six distinct streams of lava were visible running 
down the sides of the mountain. The resurrection of the two old 
fiery furnaces, with the addition of a fresh crater, was something 
awful to behold. The mountain labored to rid itself of the burn- 
ing mass of lava heaving and tossing below. 


"By half-past 12 it was evident that the mountain had begun, 
to disengage itself of its burden by the appearance as of fire flash- 
ing now and then around the edge of the craters. There was, 
however, no visible ascension of flame. These flame-like appear- 
ances were, I think, occasioned by the molten lava rising up to the 
neck of the volcano. Being quite luminous, the light emitted was 
reflected from the banks of steam above, giving them the appear- 
ance of flame. From the time the volcano became fully activ ; 
tremendous detonations followed one another so rapidly that they 
seemed to merge into a continuous roar, which lasted all through 
Wednesday night and up to half-past 6 o'clock of Friday morning, 
May 9. These detonations and thunders were heard as far as Bar- 
bados, Grenada, Trinidad and St. Lucia, and as far north as St. 

" In company with several gentlemen, on Wednesday at noon 
1 left in a small row-boat to go to Chateau Belaire, where we hoped 


to get a better view of the eruption. As we passed Layou, the 
first town on the leeward coast, the smell of sulphuretted hydrogen 
was very perceptible. Before we got half way on our journey a 
vast column of steam, smoke and ashes ascended to a prodigious 
elevation, falling apparently in the vicinity of Georgetown. The 
majestic body of curling vapor was sublime beyond imagination. 
We. were about eight miles from the crater, as the crow flies, and 
the top of the enormous column eight miles off reached higher 
than one-fourth of the segment of the circle. I judge that the 
awful pillar was fully eight miles in height. 

" We were rapidly proceeding to our point of observation, 
when an immense cloud, dark, dense and apparently thick with 
volcanic material, descended over our pathway, impeding our pro- 
gress and warning us to proceed no farther. This mighty bank of 
sulphurous vapor and smoke assumed at one time the shape of 2 
gigantic promontory, then appeared as a collection of twirling, re- 
volving cloud whorls, turning with rapid velocity ; now assuming 
the shape of gigantic cauliflowers, then efflorescing into beautiful 
flower shapes, some dark, some effulgent, some bronze, others 
pearly white and all brilliantly illuminated by electric flashes. 


" Darkness, however, soon fell upon us. The sulphurous air 
was laden with fine dust, that fell thickly upon and around us, dis- 
coloring the sea. A black rain began to fall, followed by another 
rain of favilla, lapilli and scoriae. The electric flashes were mar- 
velously rapid in their motions, and numerous beyond all compu- 
tation. These, with the thundering noise of the mountain, mingled 
with the dismal roar of the lava, the shocks of earthquakes, the 
falling stones, the enormous quantity of material ejected from the 


belching craters, producing a darkness as dense as a starless mid- 
night, together with the plutonic energy of the mountain, growing 
greater and greater every moment, combined to make up a scene 
of horror. 

"It was after 5 o'clock when we returned to Kingstown, awed 
and impressed by the weirdness of the scene we had witnessed, and 
covered with the still thickly falling gray dust. Of what this ma- 
terial is composed I am unable to give a certain opinion, but it 
appears to consist of comminuted rock, powdered by attrition of 
the material, as in successive outbursts it is hurled aloft and then 
tumbles back again to the burning crater, to be ejected finally as 
impalpable dust. So minute are the particles that they find their 
way through the finest chinks of a closed room. Large areas of 
cultivation have been buried under the fall of the dust. Its effect 
upon vegetation will probably be beneficial ultimately, but in the 
meantime great suffering, as well as inconvenience, is occasioned 
by it." 


An observer after the event tells of what he saw and learned 
in an excursion through the devastated island : 

"It was only on Friday afternoon that residents of Kingstown, 
the capital, began to gain some idea of the disaster which had be- 
fallen the country of the Caribs, as the northern portion of the 
Windward coast is called. Georgetown is the centre of that once 
fertile and beautiful district, now a desolate waste of ashes. Be- 
tween this town and the capital there is a fairly good road, running 
for the most part along the sea. 

'The country is undulating and very picturesque most of the 
way, and at one time was planted entirely in sugar cane. Wind- 
mills and factories in ruins remain as good evidences of the past 


prosperity of the island. To-day the cultivation of arrowroot has 
taken the place of that of sugar cane, and one passes field after 
field of broad-leafed marantas on the way to Georgetown. 

" The journey is usually performed on horseback, but a mail 
wagon, which takes passengers, plies regularly along the road. It 
is also possible to obtain at times some sort of a vehicle drawn by 
mules, and it was by one of these conveyances that I proceeded to 
Georgetown on the day after the eruption. 

" It is almost impossible to convey in writing any idea of the 
desolate appearance of the country beyond the fifteen-mile post ; 
that is fifteen miles from Kingstown and seven from George- 
town. The whole place looked as if millions of barrels of cement 
had been emptied over the land, covering every inch of ground 
with a coat of dismal gray. As we proceeded I noticed that the 
small stones scattered about were of larger size and that the bed of 
dust became thicker until we reached Georgetown, where the 
streets were covered to a depth of three feet. The roofs of the 
thatched huts, unable to bear the weight of volcanic dust cast upon 
them, had in many cases caved in, while the trees were burnt and 
bare of leaves, imparting a dreary appearance to the landscape." 


Prof. O. E. Hovey, of the American Museum of Natural His- 
tory, of New York, one of the first of the visiting scientists to St. 
Vincent, gives thus his view concerning the eruption : 

" The history of the eruption is practically that of the disturb- 
ance of 1812. Earthquakes occurred here about a year ago, and 
have occurred at intervals at various places in the West Indies and 
adjacent regions ever since. At least one resident of Kingstown, F. 
W. Griffiths, several months ago predicted that La Soufriere would 


soon break out. His prophecy was not heeded until last month, 
when the activity of the mountain became so alarming that the 
inhabitants on the west, or leeward, side of the mountain, abandoned 
their plantations and cabins, and took refuge in the more secure 
parts of the island. On account of the strength of the trade-winds, 
it was not supposed that the eastward side of the mountain would 
suffer very much. This proved a painful delusion, causing the loss 
of hundreds of lives. 

" A vast column of volcanic dust, cinders, blocks of lava and 
asphyxiating gases rose thousands of feet in the air, spreading in 
all directions. A large portion of this, having reached the upper 
currents, was carried eastward. This, all falling, was again divided, 
and the cinders and deadly gases were swept by the lower winds 
back upon the eastward side of the mountain. The wrecked 
houses show this, the windows on the side toward the crater being 
unaffected, while those on the farther side were wrecked by the 
back draught toward the mountain. There was no wind on the 
morning of the great outburst, a fact which facilitated the devasta- 
tion of the country. The hot asphyxiating gases rolled out of the 
crater, and many were scorched and suffocated. Hot mud, falling 
from the cloud above, stuck to the flesh of the unfortunate victims, 
causing bad wounds. Great blocks of stone were thrown out of 
the eastern side of the crater, which could be distinctly seen at a 
distance of four miles." 


The Sympathy and Aid of the United States. 

THE government and people of the United States, ever ready 
as they have always been, to respond to the appeal of the 
sufferino- and lend their aid to the unfortunate victims of dis- 
aster of any kind, lost no time in awaking to the need of instant 
relief to the surviving people of Martinique. No sooner was the 
overwhelming shock of the first tidings of the dread disaster 
thrown off, than the government actively began the work of benefi- 
cent assistance, and the generous-hearted in city and country alike 
offered their contributions in aid of those in peril of death from 
famine in the ruined West Indian island. The rain of fire from 
the burning mountain had destroyed the supplies of food, and 
starvation threatened those who had escaped the volcano's awful 
doom. The need of immediate action was very great, and not an 
hour was lost. 

President Roosevelt was among the first of rulers to express 
sympathy for France in the frightful fate which had come upon so 
many thousands of her subjects. On Saturday, the day after hear- 
ing of the disaster, he telegraphed as follows to the French Presi- 
dent : "Washington, May 10, 1902. 
"His Excellency, M. Emile Loubet, President of the French 

Republic, Paris. 

" I pray your Excellency to accept the profound sympathy of 
the American people in the appalling calamity which has come 
upon the people of Martinique. " Theodore Roosevelt." 



President Loubet returned the following reply : 

" Paris, May n, 1902, 
"President Roosevelt. 

" I thank your Excellency for the expression of profound sym- 
pathy you have sent me in the name of the American people on 
the occasion of the awful catastrophe in Martinique. The French 
people will certainly join me in thanks to the American people. 

" Emile Loubet." 

action of the european rulers 

The leading rulers of Europe took similar action. On May 
1 2th Emperor William of Germany, sent the following telegram in 
the French language to President Loubet : 

" Profoundly moved by the news of the terrible catastrophe 
which has just overtaken St. Pierre and which has cost the lives of 
nearly as many persons as perished at Pompeii, I hasten to offer 
France my most sincere sympathy. May the Almighty comfort 
the hearts of those who weep for their irreparable losses. My 
Ambassador will remit to your Excellency the sum of 10,000 marks 
in my behalf as a contribution for the relief of the afflicted." 

President Loubet replied : 

" Am greatly touched by the mark of sympathy which, in this 
terrible misfortune which has fallen on France, your Majesty has 
deigned to convey to me. I beg you to accept my warm thanks and 
also the gratitude of the victims whom you propose to succor." 

King Edward, of England, commanded the Colonial Secre- 
tary, Mr. Chamberlain, to telegraph to the Governor of the Wind- 
ward Islands, Sir Robert Llewelyn, his Majesty's deep regret at 
the calamity which had visited the. Island of St. Vincent and his 
sympathy with the sufferers and the bereaved. The Governor was 


also instructed to spend all the money necessary for their relief, and 
the King sent 25,000 francs as his contribution to the fund being 
raised for the relief of the sufferers from the Martinique disaster. 

The Czar of Russia telegraphed to President Loubet express- 
ing the sincere sympathy of himself and the Czarina, who share 
with France the sorrow caused by the terrible West Indian catas- 

On the 1 2th the Pope summoned the French Ambassador, M. 
Nisard, to the Vatican, and expressed to him his keen sorrow on 
hearing of the St. Pierre disaster. The Pontiff requested that he 
be kept informed regarding the details of the volcanic outbreak. 

The cable message of President Loubet was succeeded by the 
promptest measures, by Congress and the Executive alike, towards 
relief for the fugitives from St. Pierre. 

The cruiser Cincinnati was ordered to proceed to the island 
without delay, to investigate and report upon the situation and ex- 
tend aid to the survivors. The ocean tug Poto?nac, then at the 
naval station at San Juan, received similar orders. The training 
ship Dixie was ordered to prepare for sea and to await orders. 

The action of the administration was indorsed and supple- 
mented by the Senate, which passed a bill appropriating $100,000 
for the relief of the distressed inhabitants of Martinique. This 
bill would have gone through the House with the same impressive 
promptness as in the Senate, had it not been for the objection of a 
Representative, of Alabama, probably unheard of before. This 
gentleman expressed the opinion that Congress should await the 
receipt of "official details." 

The Senate bill authorized the President to expend the money 
in the "purchase of such provisions, clothing, medicines and other 
necessaries as he shall deem advisable, and tender the same, in the 


name of the government of the United States, to the government 
of France for the relief of citizens who have suffered by the late 
earthquake in the islands of the French West Indies." The bill 
authorized the Secretary of War to use the necessary steamships 
belonging to the United States to carry its purpose into effect. 


Senator Fairbanks, who presented the bill, requested the im- 
mediate consideration of the measure. 

" Let the United States lead in the act of caring for the 
stricken," said Mr. Fairbanks. " She and her people never have 
failed yet to be moved by the cry of distress which has come up 
from other lands. Let us extend our sympathy for our unfortunate 
fellow men and send with it from our abundant stores the means 
necessary to succor those upon whom has fallen a sudden and over- 
whelming calamity. I believe that in tendering our sympathy and 
assistance we shall but interpret the wishes and purposes of the 
humane, generous American people." 

When the bill was presented in the House Representative 
Underwood, of Alabama, did not view the matter from this 
generous aspect. 

"There is no occasion," Mr. Underwood said, "for a legisla- 
tive spasm. The reports of the situation in Martinique may be 
exaggerated. Some official report should be received before action 
is taken." 

Representative Payne, of New York, urged upon Mr. Under- 
wood to withdraw his objection. He pointed out that it was nec- 
essary to act at once. Mr. Underwood persisted, however, and the 
bill, under the rules, had to go over without action until Monaay. 


Early on Monday, the 12th, the French Ambassador called on 
President Roosevelt to convey to him President Loubet's reply to 
his message of sympathy, and to ask Mr. Roosevelt to assist in 
extending succor to the people of Martinique. The direct result 
of the Ambassador's visit was the transmission of a message to 
Congress by President Roosevelt, asking that $500,000 be appro- 
priated for the purchase of relief supplies and the expense of their 
transportation and distribution. The President's message was as 
follows : 


" To the Senate and House of Representatives : 

'' One of the greatest calamities in history has fallen upon our 
neighboring Island of Martinique. The Consul of the United 
States at Guadeloupe has telegraphed from Fort de France, under 
date of yesterday, that the disaster is complete ; that the city of 
St. Pierre has ceased to exist, and that the American Consul and 
his family have perished. He is informed that 30,000 people have 
lost their lives, and that 50,000 are homeless and hungry ; that 
there is urgent need of all kinds of provisions, and that the visit of 
vessels for the work of supply and rescue is imperatively required. 

" The Government of France, while expressing their thanks 
for the marks of sympathy which have reached them from America, 
inform us that Fort de France and the entire Island of Martinique 
are still threatened. They, therefore, request that, for the purpose 
of rescuing the people who are in such deadly peril and threatened 
with starvation, the Government of the United States may send, 
?.s soon as possible, the means of transporting them from the 
stricken island. The Island of St. Vincent, and, perhaps, others 
in that region are also seriously menaced by the calamity which 
has taken so appalling a form in Martinique. 


" I have directed the departments of the Treasury, of War 
and of the Navy to take such measures for the relief of these stric- 
ken people as lie within the executive discretion, and I earnestly 
commend this case of unexampled disaster to the generous con- 
sideration of the Congress. For this pupose I recommend that an 
appropriation of $500,000 be made, to be immediately availing. 

" Theodore Roosevelt, 

"White House, Washington, May 12, 1902." 


After the message was received in the House Mr. Hemenway 
presented the Senate bill for the relief of sufferers by the volcanic 
disaster in the French West Indies, with a substitute unanimously 
recommended by the Committee on Appropriations, increasing 
the appropriation from $100,000 to $200,000. 

Mr. Hemenway said this action was taken by the committee 
in view of the message from the President recommending that 
$500,000 be appropriated. Generous contributions were being 
made by the people of the United States, and the committee be- 
lieved that $200,000 would be sufficient, at least for the present. 
Should it prove to be insufficient he had no doubt Congress would 
increase the amount. But prompt action was necessary if the 
people to be affected were to be relieved and rescued at all. 

Mr. Underwood, who had checked legislation on this subject 
on Saturday, again expressed his objection to the proposed legis- 
lation. Members did not stand in the House to legislate upon 
their sympathies, or upon their heartstrings. The suffering 
people, victims of the recent disaster, were subjects of the great 
and powerful Republic of France, a nation whose proud boa^t 
had always been that it was able to take care of its own people. 


Congress had no right to be generous with the money of the 
people whom it represented. 

Mr. McRae said he was glad to believe that the people of the 
United States were willing that Congress should not only express 
their sympathy with suffering, but that they were willing that 
Congress should extend the proposed relief. He hoped that 
the bill would be passed unanimously, but if that could not be done, 
that it should be passed speedily. 

Mr. Livingston said that it had been the practice of the 
United States ever since the republic was established, to extend 
aid to the suffering, even to the uttermost parts of the earth, and 
he did not believe that that policy would now be reversed. 

The bill was passed — 196 to 9 The negative votes were cast 
by Messrs. Clayton of Alabama, Burgess and Lanham of Texas, 
Gaines, Moon and Snodgrass of Tennessee, Tate of Georgia, 
Underwood of Alabama, and Williams of Mississippi. 

Soon after the bill was passed the Senate received a message 
from the House announcing the passage by that body of a sub- 
stitute for the Senate bill for the relief of the citizens of the French 
West Indies, increasing the appropriation from $100,000 to 200,000. 
The substitute was laid before the Senate and was immediately 
passed. Mr. Cullom referred to the President's message recom- 
mending an appropriation of $500,000 and said that the Committee 
on Foreign Relations, to which the message was referred, would 
report on it the next day. It was decided at a subsequent session to 
await the action of the cities and the results of the appropriation 
made before increasing it. If found necessary there would be no 
hesitancy in voting the sum suggested by the President. 

Anticipating the passage of the bill, the War and Navy 
Departments completed their relief arrangements early in the day. 


Officers were designated to take charge of the distribution of sup- 
plies by the War Department, and the Secretary of the Navy 
issued the necessary orders to the Dixie, then in New York harbor, 
to take supplies on board and sail with all dispatch to the West 


Assistant General Corbin, Quartermaster General Ludington, 
Commissary General Weston and Surgeon General Sternberg 
were charged by Secretary Root with the arrangement of that part 
of the relief measures pertaining to the War Department. After a 
few minutes' consultation, official orders were drafted for the guid- 
ance of the three supply departments, giving the scheme of distri- 
bution as follows : 

Three medical officers, with $5,000 worth of medical stores, 
etc.; one subsistence officer, with $70,000 in stores, consisting of 
rice, dried fish, sugar, coffee, tea, canned soups, condensed cream, 
salt, pepper and vinegar ; one officer of the quartermaster's depart- 
ment, with $20,000 worth of clothing supplies for men, women and 
children. The orders directed that these officers and stores be 
sent on the Dixie, to be distributed at such points as might be desig- 
nated by the navy officer in command of the Dixie under instruc- 
tions given by the Secretary of the Navy. 

The medical officers were to render such medical aid as might 
be in their power in addition to the distribution of medical supplies. 
Rear Admiral Bradford also suggested the possible need of fresh 
water in Martinique, in view of the danger of the drinking water 
being rendered useless through impregnation with sulphur. The 
war water-barges at Key West and Norfolk were capable of convey- 
ing large quantities. Subsequent advices from the island, however, 
indicated that this was not necessary, as the island water was not 


spoiled. Consul Ayme, of Guadeloupe, had made his way to Fort 
de France on the French cruiser Suchet, and was prepared to keep 
the Government advised of the needs of the islanders and the een- 
eral state of affairs. The Dixie sailed on the 14th, deeply laden 
with relief stores. 


A memorandum, prepared by Commissary General Weston, 
shows that the commissary supplies sent to Martinique and St. 
Vincent cost $59,404, and weighed 900 tons, equal to 1,800,000 
pounds. Allowing one pound to the ration, this quantity would 
well furnish subsistence for thirty-six days for 50,000 people. 
Among the articles provided were rice, bread, flour, bacon, codfish, 
baking powder, currant jelly, coffee, tea, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper, 
ham, cans of milk, chicken soup and beef soup. 

The War Department was advised by Colonel Buchanan, 
commanding the military forces in Porto Rico, that the steamer 
Sterling had sailed from San Juan with subsistence stores of every 
kind and also clothing. The latter includes blankets, coats, trousers, 
underclothing, shoes, stockings and hats. These supplies were 
taken from the army stores at Porto Rico, and would be immedi- 
ately replaced. 

A meeting called by the American Chamber of Commerce in 
Paris on the 14th of May, raised over 12,000 francs of relief funds 
in a few minutes, and aside from the funds raised throughout 
France, contributions were made by the Pope, by ex-President 
Kruger, by officials of London, and by citizens of Berlin, the town 
council of that city recommending a civic donation of 40,000 marks. 
It need scarcely be said that the principal cities of the United 
States were similarly active in the good work of beneficence, each 
adding an ample quota to the much-needed supply. 


Later action by the benevolent in Europe included subscrip- 
tions of 25,000 lire ($5,000) by the King of Italy, and ,£5,000 
($25,000) subscribed in London to the Mansion House Relief 
Fund, of which sum the Bank of England subscribed £"1,000 and 
the Corporation of London ,£500. This was subsequently much 
increased. Large sums were contributed by the generous in 
France, amounting to nearly $300,000. The Government of the 
Netherlands ordered the Dutch warship Konigin Regentin to pro- 
ceed from the Island of Curacoa (Dutch West Indies) to the Island 
of Martinique, at full speed, to assist the sufferers from the Mont 
Pelee outbreak. Both Chambers of the States General (Parlia- 
ment) passed resolutions expressing sympathy with France. Queen 
Wilhelmina contributed 2,000 florins ($820) to the relief fund. 


In the English House of Commons the Government leader, A. 
J. Balfour said : " We have not taken account of the most sym- 
pathetic manner in which the United States Government have, to 
use their own language, ' expressed their desire to share in the work 
of aid and rescue.' As to the manner in which this generous offer 
can best be accepted, the Government of the Windward Isles has 
already been consulted." 

Mr. Balfour referred to the opening of the relief fund at the 
Mansion House by the Lord Mayor, and said that Canada, Jamaica 
and the other West Indian Islands, and the Island of Mauritius, in 
the Indian Ocean, had promised to help with money and goods. 

" I have no doubt," he added, "that the other colonies will be 
equally generous. In addition, the Governor of the Windward Is- 
lands has been authorized to spend whatever sums are necessary, 
and the Imperial Government is prepared to supplement the con- 
tributions to any amount necessary." 


The immediate and generous action of the United States won 
ample recognition in France, testified to by a long telegram re- 
ceived May 14 by M. Jules Cambon, the French Ambassador, and 
transmitted by him to Secretary of State John Hay in the follow- 
ing words : — 

" Embassy of the French Republic, Washington, May 14, 
1902. — Mr. Secretary of State : I have just received the following 
telegram from my Government: 'The President and the Govern- 
ment of the French Republic, deeply moved by the sympathy 
evinced by the President, the Congress and the nation of the 
United States toward the sufferers of the earthquake in Martin- 
ique, charge you to be their interpreter in expressing the gratitude 
cherished by the entire French nation for their generous assistance, 
the remembrance of which shall live forever.' 

" It is my great honor, Mr. Secretary of State, that I should be 
called to tender to you the thanks of France for all that the United 
States is doing on this sorrowful occasion, and I should be infinitely 
obliged to you if you would convey this expression to all the Gov- 
ernment and Congress who have given evidence of such noble 
sentiments of humanity. 

" Be pleased to accept, Mr. Secretary of State, the assurances 
of my high consideration. "Jules Cambon." 

The Paris Temps, in an editorial of date of May 13, said rela- 
tive to the appropriation by Congress : " This manifestation of 
American sympathy, on the eve of the Rochambeau fetes, tends to 
draw tighter the already close ties uniting the two Republics, and 
to constitute a guarantee of peace and of fraternity of the two 

On the 21st a telegram was received from Captain Gallagher, 
of the Dixie, which had reached Fort de France, to the effect that 


supplies were on hand sufficient for eight weeks, that all which 
urgency demanded had been done and nothing further could be sug- 
gested. Part of the cargo of the Dixie was unloaded, and the 
vessel proceeded with the remainder to St. Vincent, where the dis- 
tress was reported to be greater than in Martinique. 

Consul Ayme cabled the Department of State from Fort de 
France, Martinique, that he had visited Admiral Servan on the 
French flagship Tage, and that the Admiral requested him to 
officially inform the Government of the United States that there 
were now sufficient supplies in the colony to feed every one need- 
ing help for four months, and therefore suggested that nothing 
further be sent. This suggestion was accompanied by an expres- 
sion of thanks. A similar message had been sent to the French 


The fact seemed to be that the work of relief had surpassed 
the needs of the sufferers. Captain Crabbe, of the Potomac, cabled 
to that effect on the 20th, saying that the report of the distress was 
exaggerated, the great multitude of the inhabitants of the place 
having been killed. Advices to the same effect having come from 
Consul Ayme, as above stated, President Roosevelt suggested that 
the receipt of subscriptions from citizens should be suspended until 
further information had been received. 

Sir Robert Llewellyn, Governor of the British Windward Is- 
lands, cabled to London to the same effect as regarded St. Vincent, 
his message stating : " All immediate wants now supplied. I have 
ordered timber for the construction of houses through his Majesty's 
Ambassador at Washington and the Governor-General of Canada, 
at a cost of ,£5,000. Please instruct those officers to co-operate and 
arrange for the payment. 



A wonderful tree of the Windward Islands, ;howing how Nature provides against 'storms and hurricanes. 


This is said to be the most beautiful volcano in the world. It is 8,233 feet high, its shape is a perfect cone and 

its crest is always fiery. It has indulged in several destructive eruptions 


H a 





















tf o 

Copyright, 1902, by Wm. E. Scull 

The Last Refuge from Destruction, yet not a Refuge, 


<£ The question of the resettlement of the people is under con- 
sideration. One of the new townships is already settled. In my 
estimation ,£50,000 will enable us to support all the sufferers for 
six months and rehouse them in new localities. The sufferings of 
the wounded from burns are very terrible. Sixty deaths have 
occurred in the hospital." 

The suspension of relief was, of course, provisional. The 
renewed activity of the volcanoes rendered it possible that new 
disasters might occur, and fresh funds be needed. But the gen- 
erous readiness with which the United States had responded to 
the call for aid, and the equally generous assistance offered by 
the warm-hearted in other lands, rendered it certain that all suffer- 
ing other than that directly due to the volcano would be relieved, 
and that the people of the North would not rest from their work of 
benevolence while any suffering remained in the stricken islands of 
the South. 


A Vivid Picture of the Last Day of St. Pierre 

IN former chapters the destruction of St. Pierre has been 
described and, as it were, photographed, in the graphic words 
of several of the few survivors of that dread catastrophe ; 
those who saw it from the ships in the harbor and lived to tell the 
tale of their terrible experience. It is only through accounts like 
these, of those who actually went through the horrors of that 
dreadful day, that a satisfactory conception of the disaster can be 
obtained, and it is proposed in the present chapter to add the nar- 
rative of another observer, whose story effectively supplements 
those already given. We do this with the assurance that our 
readers will be gratified to read all the important accounts by eye- 
witnesses of the most extraordinary volcanic event of our age. 


Two French travellers of rank, Comte de Fitz-James and 
Baron Fontenilliat, who were on their return from a business trip 
to French Guiana, had the fortune to witness the eruption and the 
overwhelming of the city from a boat in the harbor, and the story 
of their experience, as given by the Comte, is one of thrilling inter- 
est. As it is the only narrative that gives a detailed account of the 
disaster in its most striking particulars, we append it in full. After 
some preliminary words, the Comte proceeds : 

" Gustave Dore, in his most ecstatic delirium, never conceived 
anything so dramatic and so awe-inspiring as was St. Pierre after it 



had been desolated by the whirlwind of fire that swept down upon 
it from Mont Pelee. It was more than a city of the dead. It was 
an inferno, magnified and realized. I looked upon it, and the 
vision was such that its impression will never be removed from my 

" From the depths of the earth came rumblings, an awful 
music which cannot be described. I called my companion's name, 
and my voice echoed back at me from a score of angles. All the 
air was filled with the acrid vapors that had belched from the 
mouth of the volcano. I had been beaten down by the force of 
the explosion until I was too weary to realize the miracle that had 
left Baron de Fontenilliat and myself among the few survivors, and 
the only ones who were permitted to force our way into St. Pierre 
as far as the still living flames would permit. Only now my mind 
seems to have returned to its normal condition, and I look back 
upon that Thursday morning and the hours that immediately fol- 
lowed as upon some fearful nightmare. 

" From a boat in the roadstead in front of St. Pierre, Baron 
Fontenilliat and I witnessed the cataclysm that came upon the 
city. We saw the shipping destroyed by a breath of fire. We 
saw the cable ship Grappler keel over under the whirlwind, and 
sink as though drawn down into the waters of the harbor by some 
force from below. The Roraima was overcome and burned at 
anchor. The Roddam, a trifle more fortunate, was able to escape 
like a stricken moth which crawls from a flame that has burned 
its wings and left it a cripple to suffer until death relieves. 

" Our own danger was great, and had it not been for the 
bravery and the courage of the Baron I would have perished as 
miserably as did the thousands of wretches ashore. I was stunned, 
unable to lift a hand to assist myself. Baron de Fontenilliat 


dragged me from the boat into the water, where he supported me 
until I was so far recovered as to be able to care for myself. 

'• If you will permit me to relate the circumstances that took 
us to Martinique and to St. Pierre in time to be witnesses of this 
great tragedy, I shall give as best I can the picture which will never 
leave my memory. 

"Baron de Fontenilliat and I had been in French Guiana on a 
business trip relating to some mining property in which we are 
interested. It became necessary for us to leave Cayenne before the 
regular mail steamer, and we hired a sailing vessel to transport us 
to Martinique. It happened that when we left Cayenne there was 
something of a scare prevailing because of an outbreak of yellow 
fever. For that reason we were not certain what would be our 
reception in Martinique, and instead of going at once to Fort de 
France or to St. Pierre, we decided to go to Carbet, a suburban 
village a little way outside of St. Pierre, there to remain until the 
quarantine regulations were complied with. Carbet is on the oppo- 
site side of the bay from Mont Pelee and there some of the wealth- 
iest," as well as some of the poorest, citizens made their homes. 

" We learned upon our arrival that an eruption of Mont Pelee 
had destroyed a part of the village of Precheur, on the other side 
of the harbor. That was the eruption of May 3, which ruined one 
of the best sugar factories in the island, killing scores of workmen. 
We made immediate arrangements to visit the scene of the disas- 
ter. Two negro boatmen were employed to take us across the bay, 
and it was the fact that we made an early start the next morning 
that saved our lives. 


"After breakfast, we were in the boat and had started across 
to Precheur by 6 o'clock in the morning of May 8 ; having arrived 


on the island, as I have neglected to say, the previous evening. We 
had no thought of what was to come. Not having been in St. 
Pierre, we had not an opportunity to share the panic which had 
been caused by the ugly temper betrayed by Mont Pelee. 

" It was such a morning as it is almost impossible to describe, v 
Low hanging clouds gave the scene a dismal appearance, and this 
was heightened by the fine volcanic dust which filled the atmo- 
sphere, making respiration difficult. This dust was next to impal- 
pable. It could not be seen as it floated in the air, but it settled so 
rapidly that my hand, resting upon the edge of the boat, was cov- 
ered completely in less than three minutes. 

" As we made our way across the water we more than half 
faced Mont Pelee, which was throwing off a heavy cloud of smoke, 
steam and ashes. No flames were to be seen. On shore the inhab- 
itants were making their way about the water front. The city was 
to our right. Small craft plied about the harbor, some trading 
with the ships that were at anchor, while in some fishermen were 
going out to the fishing grounds, just off Carbet. 

" Leaving shore, we first passed the Roddam, which was at 
quarantine, a fact to which the salvation of that ship was due. A 
little further out in the roadstead was the Roraima, its passengers 
on deck observing the laboring of the volcano. Still further off 
was the ill fated Grappler. Then there were several sailing ves- 
sels at anchor. 

" I should have said that the calm of the morning was almost 
abnormal. Not a ripple was to be seen upon the face of the sea. 
Not a breath of air was stirring, which made it more difficult for 
us to breathe. But in spite of our discomforts we were glad that 
we had, made the trip, as it was an opportunity not often given to 
man to see a volcano in active eruption. 


"The rumblings from the bowels of the mountain were majes- 
tic in tone. I cannot tell you just how they sounded, but perhaps 
you can imagine a mighty hand playing upon the strings of a harp 
greater than all the world. The notes produced were deep and full 
of threatenings. There was a jarring sensation, and every now and 
then there was a commotion of the waters that caused a swell with- 
out making the surface break. 

" Out from the shore put a small launch carrying the pennant 
of Governor Mouttet. The Governor at the last moment had real- 
ized that the situation was filled with a terrible danger. He was 
attempting to escape with his family and a few friends. I had com- 
mented to Baron de Fontenilliat upon the appearance of the Gov- 
ernor's craft. Neither of us gave to the incident its true signi- 
ficance. [The Governor, as after evidence proved, was too late in 
his attempt at flight.] 

" While we were talking there came an explosion that was 
beyond any that ever before happened. I can only liken it to a 
shot from a mammoth cannon. The breath of fire swept down 
upon the city and water front with all of the force that could have 
been given to it by such a cannon. Of this comparison I shall 
have more to say later. For the present it will do to add that the 
explosion was without warning and that the effect was instantaneous. 
Cinders were shot into our face with stinging effect. 

" The air was filled with flame. Involuntarily we raised our 
hands to protect our faces. I noted the same gesture when I saw 
the bodies of victims on shore ; arms had been raised and the 
hands were extended with palms outward, a gesture that in a pecu- 
liar manner indicated dread and horror. 

" When the frightful explosion came, our two boatmen were 
either thrown from the boat or with a quick impulse they sprang 


overboard. It was the one thing to do to save their lives ; but, 
unfortunately for them, they lost their presence of mind and, 
instead of staying by the side of the boat, they swam away in the 
direction of Precheur, which we were approaching when the 
disaster came. It was impossible for them to land at Precheur, so 
they were compelled to put back. They then struck out across the 
bay, evidently hoping to reach Carbet. We saw neither of them 
again, and I have no doubt they were drowned. 

" My brave companion had the same impulse that actuated the 
negroes. He sprang into the water, and when he saw that I did 
not move he reached up and catching me by the shoulder, dragged 
me from the boat. I was stunned at first, and, though it was not 
a physical injury, I could not move of my own volition until the 
cold water restored my senses. It was thus that we could see all 
that happened about us. 


" The Grappler rushed through the water as far as her 
anchor-cable would permit. Then she seemed to rise by the bow, 
and when she settled back she sank almost before the force of the 
explosion had spent itself. 

" The Roraima was all a mass of flames for several seconds. 
We could see the poor wretches aboard of her rushing about in a 
vain attempt to escape from the fire that enveloped them. Captain 
Muggah — or, at least, I suppose that it was he — made an attempt 
to give orders to the maddened crew. Then he staggered to the 
railing and fell overboard. 

" The Roddam was also overcome. Her gangway was over the 
side. Her upper works were wrecked, but by heroic effort those on 
board were able to let slip the anchor chain, and, after many 


attempts, the ship began to move. She literally crawled away. It 
was a splendid display of courage. At least three hours elapsed 
after the explosion before the Roddam cleared the harbor. 

" On shore all was aflame. The city burned with a terrible 
roar. We realized that the inhabitants had all died, as not one 
was to be seen making an attempt to escape. Not a cry was heard 
save from the ships that were in the harbor. 

" Our own condition was desperate in the extreme. The heat 
was intense. We were able to keep our faces above the surface of 
the water for a second at a time at the most. We would take a 
mouthful of air and then sink into the water to stay there until 
forced to come to the surface again. This lasted only about three 
minutes. After that we were able to float by the side of the boat, 
dipping only occasionally. 

" The water began to get so warm that I feared we had es- 
caped roasting only to be boiled to death. In reality the water 
did not o-et so warm as to be uncomfortable. That at the surface 
was many degrees warmer than that a foot below. 


" When we gave our attention to the panorama that was 
spread before us, the entire city of St. Pierre was mantled by a 
dense black cloud. Our eyes could not penetrate it, but it lifted a 
few seconds, revealing below it a second cloud, absolutely distinct 
from it. The second cloud was yellow, apparently made up of sul- 
phurous gases. It lifted as did the first, both rising like blankets, 
and in a similar manner they floated away. Then, as the yellow 
cloud lifted from the earth, we saw the flames devouring the city, 
from which all show of life had disappeared, dissipated by the 
magic worked by Mont Pelee. 


" When we could sustain the heat that filled the air we clamb- 
ered into the boat and rowed back to Carbet. The Roddam had 
just gone out from the harbor, the Roraima was a smoking wreck, 
the Grappler had disappeared entirely, and little was to be seen of 
the other craft. 

" At Carbet we found the village absolutely deserted. Two 
portions of it had been ruined. That which was down by the 
water's edge had been swept by the great wave which followed the 
explosion. I have neglected to refer to that wave before, but it 
was of terrific force, and it added to the confusion all along the 
shore. Part of Carbet had been struck by the wave of fire from 
the volcano, but the greater portion of the village was left uninjured. 

" When we got ashore we called aloud, and only the echo of 
our voices answered us. Our fear was great, but we did not know 
which way to turn, and had it been our one thought to escape 
we would not have known how to do so. It was about one 
o'clock in the afternoon when we reached shore. Our weariness 
was beyond description. Sleep was the one thing that I wanted, 
but I overcame the desire and, with Baron de Fontenilliat, set off 
to make our way to St. Pierre, hoping that we might still render 
some assistance to the injured. 


11 Not knowing the paths, we attempted to enter the city from 
the direction travelled by the blast of the volcano. That brought 
us to the flames and we were driven back. Then we went further 
into the country, and so happened to meet two soldiers who did 
work of as heroic a nature as was ever accomplished by man. 

" The soldiers had been in camp at Colson, far back from St. 
Pierre, but, on leave, had wandered in toward the city. They heard 


the explosion and rushed down from the hills to give aid where it 
was needed. When they went in through the streets it was at the 
risk of their lives. They were the only ones who ventured into St 
Pierre that afternoon. They came upon a sailor so injured that he 
could not move. Picking him up, they carried him back out of the 
danger zone. They left him on a couch of grass, and neither 
they nor we ever learned what was his fate. It is probable that he 

" Again entering the city, these two heroes found five women 
in a hut. They were much injured, but were not dead. The sol- 
diers gave them drink and put food within their reach, and then 
left them, promising to return with assistance as soon as possible. 
When they met us they told us about the women, and Baron de 
Fontenilliat and I made an attempt to find the hut, but were not 
successful in our search. 


" Now, to show the folly of those upon whom responsibility 
fell in that hour of terrible disaster, I may say that when those two 
soldiers reached their camp they were sent to the guard-house for 
having remained away after hours. They told of the five suffering 
women, and their officer insisted that the tale had been arranged 
by them for the purpose of escaping punishment. They were kept 
under guard all Thursday night and all of the next day and the 
following night. 

" During those thirty-six hours the two soldiers made no com- 
plaint of their own treatment, but they continued to beg that assist- 
ance be sent to the women whom they had left so badly injured. 
Finally their plea prevailed, and on Saturday they were permitted 
to lead a rescue party to St. Pierre. Then their story was fully 
verified. One of the women was still alive. She told how the 


soldiers had rescued her and her four friends, who had died late 
Friday night. She was taken to Fort de France, where she died 
a few days later. 

" Had the story told by Valant and Tribul, as these brave 
fellows were named, been acted upon when first given, five lives 
would have been saved. It is our greatest regret that we were 
unable to find the hut in which these women were hidden. But 
we did the best we could. After we learned what had happened 
we saw that the record of these two men was not blackened by the 
sentence which a petty officer had passed upon them. When they 
return to France they shall be my guests. 

" Our shoes were burned to a crisp, but we plodded about 
those hills as long as we were able to move. Then we returned to 
Carbet, and remained there that night. We were all alone, and it 
was not until the next morning that some of the inhabitants 
returned. We remained there, doing- what we could, until Satur- 
day, when we walked to Fort de France. There we remained 
until Monday, May 12, when we returned to St. Pierre with one 
of the official relief parties. 

" It was on Monday that we took pictures of the disaster, and 
also that we met Captain McLean, who had just brought the 
American cruiser Cincinnati X.o Martinique. He did great work, as 
did other Americans. 


" It is impossible to describe even in the most faint manner 
the horrors of St. Pierre. There were some things that can be 
made clear, but many more that cannot be explained by anything 
known to human reason. 

" It happened that one of the first bodies found by the party 
with which we entered St. Pierre on Monday was that of a pretty 


little girl about four years old. She sat in a life-like position by 
the side of a box containing her toys. But how shall we explain 
the fact that the house in which she was found was in absolute ruins, 
and, instead of being under the debris, the body was on top of it all ? 
It was as though the little girl and her box of toys had been lifted 
into the air, and, after the building had fallen into ruins, had been 
dropped back to earth. 

" So it was in the streets. The explosion happened just before 
eight o'clock. It was a feast day. Mass was called for eight o'clock, 
and many were on their way to the cathedral. All of these had 
been lifted into the air, and after the ruins had fallen the bodies 
dropped back. 

" When melinite explodes in the hands of a man it is always 
the case that his clothes are blown from his body. So it was at 
St. Pierre. All of the bodies were naked, save for the shoes. 
Moreover, the clothing had not been burned off, as has been so 
often reported. The only bodies touched by fire were those that 
remained where the houses burned after the explosion. 


" We saw the body of a beautiful young woman. Fire had not 
touched her, but her clothing had been torn from her body. She 
rested on her back, and under her was just a scrap of her under- 
wear, and it showed that it had been torn, and not burned. This 
is something I cannot understand, for the heat was intense. 

" We saw great stones that seemed to be marvels of strength, 
but when touched by the toe of a boot they crumbled into impalp- 
able dust. I picked up a bar of iron. It was about an inch and a 
half thick and three feet long. It had been manufactured square 
and then twisted so as to give it greater strength. The fire that 


came down from Mont Pelee had taken from the iron all of its 
strength and had left it so that when I twisted it it fell into fila- 
ments, like so much broom straw. 

" Back of the cathedral was the savannah. Great trees had 
been torn up by the roots, leaving holes twenty feet deep and 
thirty to forty feet across. Then these holes had been filled by the 
ashes that poured down from the volcano. Trees were cut off as 
though by a mighty knife in the hands of a giant reaper. Every- 
where were banks of cinders and ashes. 

" When the Baron and I first went into the ruined city we 
were too awe-struck to speak. Then I found tongue, and I called 
to him. His name echoed back to us from a score of standing- 
walls. All about us were bodies. On few faces was to be seen 
that peace which I have seen mentioned by others. I believe that 
almost all had time to realize what was upon them, but they did 
not have time to suffer. Their arms were outstretched, as I have 
before remarked. The hands were open and the fingers were 
spread. It was a common gesture, and I believe that it was the 
act of men and women who threw up their arms to ward off a blow 
which they knew was descending upon them. 

" There was another fact which has not been remarked upon 
as it deserves. I know that the explosion of Mont Pelee was not 
accompanied by anything like an earthquake, for the reason that 
when we entered St. Pierre we found the fountains all flowing, just 
as though nothing had happened. They continued to flow, and 
are flowing still, unless destroyed by the later explosions. 

" There was no flow of lava. It was all ashes, dust, gas and 
mud. Therein lies another fact which must be considered. It 
should be remembered when discussing this catastrophe that the 
crater that sent disaster upon St. Pierre was not at the crest of the 


volcano. The old crater was at the top, and it was filled with water, 
forming a pretty lake. The first eruption, which- sent destruction 
upon Precheur, was from a crater far down the side of the mountain. 
The destruction then was worked by mud. 


"Now the water in that lake disappeared a little before the 
eruption of May 3. There had been constant and heavy rains. 
Then a small peak of the mountain fell in and covered the crater 
from which the hot mud had been pouring. I am convinced that 
that fall of earth, stones and water closed up the vent, and when 
the pressure on the inside became sufficient it forced out the side 
of the mountain. 

" It is a fact that a new crater formed, and it pointed in the 
exact direction of St. Pierre. That crater is in the mountain side, 
and I referred to it when I said that the explosion was like that of 
a cannon. It was aimed at St. Pierre, and the result was that the 
hot gas, the stones and the boiling mud were forced down upon the 
city, just as the gas is forced from the mouth of a cannon. 

" It is true that there was one survivor of the disaster — a pris- 
oner who was confined in a dungeon far below the surface of the 
earth. He was released four days after the destruction of St. 
Pierre, and after he had suffered the tortures of the damned. It 
would seem that he might have been left at liberty, but he has been 
returned to a cell in the prison at Morne Rouge. I was told about 
the prisoner by a priest, who assured me that the disaster had fallen 
upon St. Pierre as a direct act of Providence, and as punishment 
because the inhabitants were wicked and did not attend church as 
they should have done. 


" I wish to refer to the action of the authorities who assured 
the inhabitants that nothing was to be feared from Mont Pelee. 
Had the opposite course been taken many would have escaped. 
But the assurance of safety was given, and as a result the daily 
paper published in St. Pierre the day previous to the destruction of 
the city contained a long editorial intended to lessen the panic. 
That editorial concluded with this expression : ' Where then, can 
one be more secure than in St. Pierre ?' 

" Looting was carried on in St. Pierre from the moment that 
men dared to venture back into the city. When we were there 
on Monday, May 12, we saw many skulkers, who were robbing the 
dead. The action of the authorities was not all that might have 
been desired. More of this will be said when we reach Paris. 

" Of supplies there are now enough to make famine impossible. 
All the world seemed to rise with an impulse of generosity. Pro- 
visions were taken to the island by every ship that arrived there. 
The refugees were fed better than they were before the disaster 


St. Pierre Before and After Its Fall. 

WE owe to a correspondent of the New York Herald the fol- 
lowing eloquent description of the state of affairs in 
St. Pierre during the week preceding its destruction : 

"It is not so very long ago since I visited this poor St. Pierre 
— this now city of the dead. It had, I am told, undergone but few 
changes until the coming of that frightful day which changed it so 

" To say that St. Pierre was the most picturesque of West 
Indian cities is to say too much ; to say merely that it was a pretty 
place is to say too little. Where now is all aching desolation, a 
chaos of ruined walls, blackened stumps of trees and sickening 
stench, there basked in summer sunshine a little city splashed 
throughout with vivid color — red-tiled roofs cutting sharp lines on 
walls of creamy white, of yellow and orange and bird's-eye blue, 
mingled with the green of tropic verdure. Built on a long undu- 
lation which sloped to the sea, where it clustered in a riot of color 
near the shore, its suburban spots could be picked out here and 
there along the flanking spurs and foothills which roll from Pelee's 
base, that great volcanic bulk whose crest is ever shrouded in a veil 
of clouds. 


" Over the doomed city the morning of May i broke in miracle- 
like splendor, skies bright and blue, and foliage washed to a fresher 
green by a hard rain which had swept over the island the preceding 


night. But it was the last fair day that St. Pierre was to know. 
Its light-hearted folk had hardly awoke to that jocund morn before 
long-slumbering Pelee gave signs of its self-awakening from its half 
century of sleep. 

"The marketplace, the first section of the city to show life 
when a West Indian town awakes, was filling with venders and pur- 
chasers when the first mutter of the sleeping giant was heard — a 
deep-toned, jarring growl, which instantly blanched the faces of all 
who heard, for those bred in the shadow of the volcano had long 
since learned to dread its wrath, and, growing up, these in turn had 
taught to other generations the malevolence of that giant bulk. 
Startled eyes were turned to the gloomy mountain and were reas- 
sured to see it still quiet so far as vision went, for its top was hid- 
den in a white mist, and there was no sign of boiling lava and no 
fall of hurtling rocks. 

" Those who by chance were in the city that morning, and 
who, by far luckier hazard, were out of it before its fall, tell of how 
short-lived the first fright was and how quickly the mercurial popu- 
lation regained its buoyant spirits. Some there were who looked 
grave when ashes white and fine as powdered magnesia began to 
sift from out the great cloud which hung over Pelee's crest, but it 
seems that none thought connecting these myriads of floating par- 
ticles with the deep, muffled rumble which had just been heard ; 
none to trace the one to the other — the effect to the cause. Their 
minds were not grooved to such analysis ; they were too simple, 
too West Indian for that. Sufficient that the rumble had grone. 
As for that sifting of fine ashes which got into the nose and eyes 
and made one sneeze and cough, quien sabe f 

"St. Pierre was gay that night of May 1. The municipal 
band gave music in the plaza, as was its wont on Thursday 


evenings. This band-night was the one occasion when youths and 
maids might mingle in public, and the young gallants and mademoi- 
selles, promenading around the square under the watchful eyes of 
fathers and mothers and duennas, talked lightly of Pelee and that 
whitening fall. Up near Morne Rouge, abode of St. Pierre's well- 
to-do, there was a lawn party that evening, which carried its gayety 
far into the night — zitzas tinkling in the tropic air, and mantilla- 
draped girls dancing in the moonlight to the click of castanets. 


" Friday, day of the evil omen, dawned over St. Pierre. It 
was made sombre by a thunderstorm, which brooded over the 
mountain, and from whose dark clouds came intermittent flashes 
of lightning. The nervous started at every thunderclap, and anx- 
iously asked one another if that was not Mont Pelee, while others 
sought to trace the blinding flashes to their source, to see if they 
were really the mere play of lightning, or were volcanic blazes from the 
timeworn crater, which many believed, and all hoped, was long ago 
extinct. Then a heavy mist settled over the city and its surround- 
ings, and under its depressing influence the day wore itself to a 

"Saturday, May 3! Just five little days to obliteration, to 
death, utter, wholesale, sudden and tragic ! And yet St. Pierre 
went forth that day to carnival doings, local celebration in honor of 
something or somebody. Facts are meager as to the life of that 
day and of the ones that followed, for it must be remembered that 
none survived the horror that was so soon to come. But there 
were some who had spent days in the city just previous to the 
tragedy — some who had left it only a scant half hour before the 


"Grieving for their own lost dead and with nerves unstrung 
by the narrowness of their own escape, it may be that their over- 
wrought minds are coining visions now, but these tell earnestly of 
a column of smoke which arose, black as a pall, from Pelee's white 
shroud, to rear its billows of crape into the form of a great upended 
coffin. However that may be, there is evidence that all festival 
gayety ceased when showers of pebbles began to rattle over the city, 
with now and then a fall of sand, whose grains were hot to the 
touch, despite their long flight through the air. 


"St. Pierre, it is now said, was in a more sober humor that 
evening than it had been within the memory of those who tell dis- 
jointedly the tale of the days that ushered in its doom. And when 
on the next morning — Sunday, that was — another growling note 
was heard from Pelee and a small river of hot, black mud, touched 
here and there with red, was seen to come snaking down from out 
the mists screening Pelee's summit to cascade over a hundred-foot 
precipice, and then to follow the line of least resistance until it 
swirled about the Guerin factory, setting that building ablaze and 
destroying many lives, then apprehension grew into fear and might 
soon have lapsed into a panic, which doubtless would have saved, 
through flight, the lives of the thousands that were so soon to be 

" It was at this crisis that the hand of the Government ap- 
peared. To Fort de France, seat of local authority, had come re- 
ports of the uneasy feelings of those dwelling in St. Pierre, Mar- 
tinique's commercial centre. It is thought that Governor Mouttet 
honestly, believed there was no cause for alarm, and that a panic 
in St. Pierre would work disaster in many ways, interrupting 


commerce and injuring the whole island as well as the threatened 
city. He, if none other, realized that an exodus from the place 
would be a tacit acknowledgment of the danger that lurked in the 
volcano, which all in Martinique would have the world believe was 
long ago extinct ; never to be restored to the list of those still active, 
nor yet classed with those that are dormant. 


" So it came about that the Governor saw fit to exercise moral 
restraint, it not being within his province or within that of any 
other man to use physical force in a matter of this kind. In St. 
Pierre there were some government employes, among them gray- 
beards who had spent years in volcanic regions and who knew some- 
thing of the preliminary warnings which come from these excitable 
hills. When the lava-like stream came pouring down from Pelee, 
these at once made hurried applications for leaves of absence. The 
Governor sought to make an example of the youngest, and in a 
communication to him denied the application for furlough ; saying 
moreover that if the applicant quitted his post at the time his posi- 
tion would be taken from him. This man — unfortunately names 
are hard to obtain just now from Martinique's hysterical popula- 
tion — promptly decided that his life was worth more than his place, 
and, packing up his belongings, went with his family to some point 
inland, just where no one seems to know. 

" It seems that the others were not so hardy, or were more so, 
according to one's way of looking at it. At all events, when the 
Governor's dictum was known, all the government employes de- 
cided to remain, and as fear loves company no less than misery 
does, these affected to make light of the danger so as better to in- 
duce the others to remain. 


" Out in the bay was anchored an Italian vessel, a craft which 
had come in a few days before and which was to have awaited there 
instructions from her Genoese owners. After the rain of pebbles 
and sand and the stream of mud, the captain went to his Consul 
and notified him of his intention of immediately putting to sea. 'I 
know nothing of Pelee,' the master said to the Consul, 'but I have 
lived in Naples and I know Vesuvius.' 

" 'That man,' reflected the Consul after the mariner had made 
a hurried exit from the consulate, ' apparently knows about vol- 
canoes.' And within the hour the Consul and his family were 
hastening to a place of safety. 

" Monday, May 5. — Less than eighty hours and the 30,000 
lives of St. Pierre are to be blotted out as quickly as one snuffs a 
candle. Fear is rife among the populace the morning of this day 
and an unwonted silence pervades the city — the hush that precedes 
great tragedies. Macaws and parrots squawk discordantly from 
cages, fountains tinkle merrily, seas and skies are blue, but pervad- 
ing all is an air of expectancy— of dread. Few have yet left the 
city, but it would take little now to turn every street into a strug- 
gling stream of humanity fleeing panic-stricken from the vicinity of 
that awful volcano. From tales I have heard one can easily con- 
ceive of what a trampling rush might have followed some tocsin 
alarm — such a mad rush for safety as theatre crowds are wont to 
make when the cry of ' Fire ' is heard. 


" But there was none in Martinique to give needed warning — 
not even Pelee. All that day and the next and the next the vol- 
cano smoked, and at intervals emitted clouds of ashes, — finely pul- 
verized pumice the chemists say the ashes are composed of, — but 


the wind sent the smoke and ashes away from the city, and while 
the rolling clouds were seen from far-off points and the ashes fell 
on the ships half a hundred miles away, none in St. Pierre seem 
to have known that the mountain was even then pouring forth 
smoke and ashes. 

" What the residents did know was that a commission of 
geologists had been appointed by the. Governor to survey Pelee 
and to report upon it — to say whether there was danger there or 
not. Then, too, the Governor himself was coming, and, moreover; 
his family were coming with him. Could there possibly be any 
danger where so eminent and so important personages as these 
were ? Also, a company of soldiers from Fort de France were 
coming, and while the St. Pierreans were talking of their arrival 
the company appeared. It seems singular that the presence of 
this small band of soldiery should have inspired a misplaced con- 
fidence, but so it was, though none seem to have asked what good 
the soldiers could have done, or what even the mightiest army 
could have effected against volcanic Pelee. 


"Wednesday night — eve of horror ! There are none left alive 
to tell what the city was like that night, but just around a little pro- 
montory at its southern edge nestles the village of Carbet, a pretty 
town of some six or seven hundred people, not one of whom 
was hurt, the town having been screened by a high ridge which lay 
between it and St. Pierre and runs sheer to the sea. 

" Its northern wall is precipitous, and built close up to it was 
the southern section of St. Pierre, a thickly populated district whose 
houses left barely enough room for streets, the buildings huddling 
close to the steep and wooded acclivity as if seeking to escape from 
that crowded quarter and to consort with village neighbors on the 


other side of the ridge. The intervening distance was short. By 
the broad, finely graded, bridged and tunnelled highway which con- 
nected city with village, one would judge that a five minutes' brisk 
walk would be amply sufficient to reach the one from the other. 

" But none sought safety by that road — -at least none escaped 
by it. The heartbreaking pity of it all is that safety was so near — 
at the end of one's finger almost. For just over the ridge the 
grass and palms are everywhere as green as any in the tropics 
to-day, while up to the very crest of its northern slope are the 
ineffaceable marks of ruin and disaster. It was as if some sea of 
flame had brimmed to the very crest of the ridge, to suck back 
again before overflowing on the other side. 


" So it is to the village folks of Carbet that one must turn now 
for the last act in this horrible tragedy. Night fell, the villagers 
say, with an unnatural, unearthly quiet. Not a breath of air to 
stir the palms fringing quiet shores ; not a ripple to break the mir- 
rorlike clearness of still waters. It was as if the hush of death 
lay everywhere. True earthquake weather, more than one of the 
villagers observed, as they noted the oppressive stillness of the air 
and the strange quiet of the racked earth. 

" Thomas T. Prentis, United States Consul at St. Pierre, was 
sitting on the veranda of his home in early hours of the following 
morning. A friend came driving by in a buggy. 

" ' You had better get out of this,' he called to the Consul. ' I 
am getting out, and getting out as fast as I can.' 

"' Oh, you are just merely a little scared,' Mr. Prentis replied. 
'There is no need of any one going away.' 

" ' It is better to be safe than sorry,' retorted the citizen, as he 
whipped up his team and hastened on. 


" It is from this man, who witnessed the disaster a short time 
later from a neighboring elevation, from the few who survived the 
wreckage in the offing and the few who looked on the cataclysm 
from distant points, that the only eyewitness version can be had. 

" The hour of the disaster is placed at about 8 o'clock. A clerk 
in Fort de France called up another by telephone in St. Pierre and 
was talking with him at five minutes to 8 by Fort de France time 
when he heard a sudden, awful shriek and then could hear no more. 

"The little that actually happened then can be briefly, very 
briefly, told. It is known that at one minute there lay a city smil- 
ing in the summer morning — that in another it was a mass of swirl- 
ing flames, with every soul of its thirty thousand writhing in the 
throes of death. One moment and church bells were ringing joy- 
ful chimes in the ears of St. Pierre's thirty thousand people — the 
next the flame-clogged bells were sobbing a requiem for thirty 
thousand dead. One waft of mornino- breeze flowed over cathe- 
dral spires and domes, over facades and arches and roofs and angles 
of a populous and light-hearted city — the next swept a lone mass 
of white-hot ruins. The sun glistened one moment on sparkling 
fountains, green parks and fronded ponds — its next ray shone on 
fusing metal, blistered, flame-wrecked squares and charred stumps 
of trees. One day, and the city was all light and color, all gayety 
and grace — the next and its ruins looked as though they had been 
crusted over with twenty centuries of solitude and silence. 

" St. Pierre to-day is a vast charnel house. Skirting for nearly 
a league the blue waters of the Caribbean, its smoking ruins are 
the funeral pyre of thirty thousand people, not one of whom lived 
long enough to tell adequately a story that will stand grim, awful, 
unforgotten as that of Herculaneum, when the world is older by a 
thousand years. 


"St. Pierre is as dead as Pompeii. If men be found with 
hearts stout enough to build again beneath the steaming maw of 
old Pelee, a new city can rise only on the ruins of the old. St. 
Pierre is not only dead, but buried. Most of her people lie 
fathoms deep in a tomb made in the twinkling of an eye by the 
collapse of their homes, and sealed forever under tons of boiling 
mud, avalanches of scoria and a hurricane of volcanic dust. 

, "Above the miles of piled debris rise here and there the relics 
of her ten thousand homes and commercial factories, raeeed walls, 
rent, seamed and seared by fire. Fit monuments they are to the 
myriads of dead beneath, who are victims of the most heart-rend- 
ing calamity of modern times ! 


"In other parts of the city not even a roof peak or chimney 
thrusts its top through the sea of scoria. In the section known as 
the new town, winding up the slope of the mountain from the 
crescent of the roadstead, many of the city's most pretentious 
homes have utterly vanished, as a Swiss chalet is swept from sight 
by the rush of an Alpine avalanche. At such points one is spared 
all the grewsome horrors of the scene elsewhere, for Pelee has 
covered them under a pall of ashen dust as soft, impalpable and 
smooth as drifted snow, with only a scurry blown from the surface 
now and then into the blinking eyes of the explorer, blinded by the 
dazzle of the sunlight on the billowy gray-white surface of this 
volcanic grave. 

" Old Pelee breathed upon the city, and under his dragon 
breath fair St. Pierre shrivelled, crumbled and burned, as the wing 
of the moth is scorched in the flame of the torch. He breathed 
again and, shrouded the dead city under a pall that mercifully hides 
in spots the ghastly relics of her former comeliness. 


' Over the entombed city the volcano from a dozen vents yet 
pours its steaming vapors in long, curling wreaths that mount 
thousands of feet aloft, like smoking incense from a gigantic censor 
above the bier of some mighty dead." 

From the story of a Herald party, who explored the ruins of 
St. Pierre some ten days after its destruction, we extract the inter- 
esting details next given. They picture clearly and graphically the 
state of affairs visible in the stricken city. 

" With little difficulty a landing was effected on the Marina 
directly in front of the ruin of the large rum warehouse of Lasser 
Freres. The wharves in front were littered with an inextricable 
tangle of rum casks, barrel hoops and staves, heavy iron anchor 
chains, piles of conch shells and other maritime debris. The 
heavy masonry walls of the building, falling outward, had tumbled 
great masses of stone and shattered machinery over the entire area, 
and the powdery coverlet of fluttering dust had swathed the whole 
in a cloak of neutral gray. Up to the second story above the 
ground the thick stone walls of the front still stood, though seamed 
and tottering. 


" Here in the main doorway, at the very threshold of the place 
where he had toiled, was seen the first mute relic of human tragedy 
— a negro, broad-shouldered and strong; he had been a stevedore or 
warehouse porter probably. The stone arch of the doorway had 
saved him from being crushed under the falling walls and the 
masonry had shielded the body partially from fire. The sleeves of 
his shirt had been rolled up to the elbows. Death had found him 
at his daily task and struck him down where he stood, or, per- 
chance, had caught him in one desperate effort at flight through the 
doorway toward the harbor so close beyond, whose waters were 


soon a seething caldron under the blast of fire that scourged both 
land and sea. 

"Along the water front the piled debris was not so formidable 
as seriously to impede a good climber, but the moment one sought 
to penetrate to Bouille Street, the next thoroughfare back from the 
shore, he encountered difficulties that called for the skill of an 
Alpine, mountaineer. Mingled masonry, crumbled mortar, mud 
and ashes formed a foul, noisome series of hillocks, beneath which 
the dead lay in thousands. At every step the explorer encountered 
relics suggestive of the simple home life of the people. The wheels 
and pendulum of a mantel clock were kicked from out the debris as 
the party shuffled through the flying dust. The end of an old spring 
bed projected amid the ruins of a private house, and close beside it 
the relic of a human skull and the fragments of a spinal column 
indicated all that was left of its possible occupant. 


" Pushing through Bouille Street to the northward, the tangle 
became more and more intricate. Here and there the stone walls 
of the taller buildings, cracked and crumbling, leaned menacingly 
outward toward the centre of the street. Seamed and rent with 
jagged cracks from base to top, they looked as though the slightest 
jar might bring them tumbling about the heads of those who ven- 
tured through. There had been commercial houses here, and in a 
dozen places iron boxes and small safes had been routed out of the 
ruins and their fronts torn open by means of crowbars and other 
heavy tools. In some cases this had been done by the legitimate 
heirs to the property. In too many instances there were evidences 
of the alert industry of the looters and ghouls who had come 
only to prey upon the city of the dead. In the deep gray powder 


that covered the surface of all things visible could be traced the 
footprints of the looters and of the rescuing parties who had tra- 
versed the ground before. Save for these the only evidences of 
life in the stricken town were the footprints of the sea-birds along 
the strand. 

" Here on the left is heard at last a sound. In the deathlike 
stillness it strikes upon the ear strangely. It is the ripple of gurg- 
ling water. Tracing it to its source, we find a water pipe, the nozzle 
of which projects through the shattered wall of a private dwelling. 
From it the water, in pure, crystal plenty, is pouring down and 
welding the masses of ashes and cement beneath like powder into a 
sticky paste. St. Pierre's streets, with their trickling rivulets of 
mountain water, had been the pride of her citizens. Through all 
the blast of fire at least this remnant of her water system had 

"One of the party approached the trickling water to lave 
from hands and face the choking accumulation of dust. As he did 
so he stepped back and paused. Directly below where the water 
fell lay huddled the grizzled remnants of a dead family. 

"From this point the party, with difficulties increasing at every 
step, pushed further up the slope toward the heart of the town and 
into Victor Hugo Street. Progress here was made rather by climb- 
ing than by walking. At every step bent and twisted iron girders, 
pieces of steel shafting, tons of tumbled masonry and piles of half 
burned corpses barred the way. One sought instinctively to turn 
his steps so as not to desecrate the dead, but try as he might, at 
every footstep his feet scuffed up the dust that uncovered the ashes 
of another corpse. 

" Through Victor Hugo Street we penetrated to what had been 
the Cathedral de Moullace. Had it been hammered for a fortnight 



under the guns of a fleet of battle ships its ruin could hardly have 
been more complete. Aloft in the remnant of the higher of its 
two towers a pair of bells yet hung tottering in the belfry. There 
for scores of years their mellow peal had summoned the pious Cath- 
olics of St. Pierre to early masses. But the peak of the tower, 
smitten by the resistless blast, had been detached bodily, together 
with the heavy iron framework supporting the largest bell of the 
chime, and the whole mass, twisted, bent and afterward welded in 
the fiery furnace, lay half buried forty feet away, in the court of 
what had been the parish house. Of that structure, which had 
adjoined the cathedral, and which, like it, had faced upon the Place 
de Moullace, not a fragment was left save its foundation walls.' 

"In what had been its centre could still be traced the circular 
basin from which had spurted a pretty fountain of water. It was 
filled now with ashes, mortar and dust, through which projected the 
fragments of human bones. 


" Directly in front of the cathedral and the parish house was 
the Place de Moullace. A little Eden it had been, green and fresh 
w ; th the verdure of the cocoanut and the royal palm, under the 
shade of which the residents of St. Pierre were wont to gather in 
daily gossip. Not so much as the stump of a tree remained to 
indicate the former beauties of this little bit of tropical paradise. 
Trees sturdy and tall as many of the beautiful elms of Central 
Park had been shorn off and shrivelled under the blast, and then 
their stems had been literally uprooted and sent hurling through 
space against the wrecked walls of the church. 

" Nowhere was stronger evidence presented than here that the 
cataclysm was explosive in character, Nowhere else in the silent 



city were the visible dead marshalled in such awful hosts as in the 
immediate vicinity of the cathedral and the Place de Moullace. 
One could not escape the thought that, gay and mercurial as was 
the daily life of St. Pierre, its citizens had flocked in greater num- 
bers than usual to the shadow of the cross during the four days 
of anxiety and final panic that preceded the climax. 

"When Pickett on the last day of Gettysburg hurled his legions 
in the final assault upon Hancock's Second Corps, it was said that 
over the ground traversed by that great charge from Seminary 
Ridge to the point held by Webb's Philadelphia brigade a man 
might have walked literally upon the bodies of the slain. Could 
he have done so, he must have picked his way. In the Place de 
Moullace of St. Pierre, and immediately surrounding the cathedral, 
one could hardly so pick his way as to escape walking upon the 
bodies of the dead. It was no exaggeration when Consul Ayme, of 
Guadeloupe, said that the streets of St. Pierre were paved with the 
corpses of her citizens. 

" Some crude effort had been made to destroy by fire the 
grewsome relics spared by the original cataclysm, but the work had 
been done all too ineffectively. Fagots of driftwood, piled around 
and above heaps of the slain, had been fired by negroes employed 
for that purpose, but the work of cremation was only partly accom- 
plished. From a sanitary point of view it is fortunate for Martin- 
ique that the vast majority of those who died when her chief city 
was annihilated are buried so deep as to need no better sepulchre. 

" Within the walls of the cathedral the ruin was complete. Even 
the altar was not spared, though one of the earliest rescuing parties 
upon the ground succeeded in saving the candelabra, the chalice 
and other holy vessels, and persons of a deeply devout bent of mind 
soon found in this an evidence of miraculous intervention- 


"Though many ghouls had already prowled through the cata- 
combs of the ruined city, St. Pierre presented a profitable field for 
the would-be looter. It would have been easy for any member of our 
party during the hours in which we tramped over the entombed 
town to have filled barrels with silver spoons, coins, earrings, finger 
rings, jewelry and knickknacks of all kinds, many of them of intrin- 
sic value, and others of interest solely as souvenirs. In the ruins 
of every house of the better residential quarters might have been 
picked up scores of such trinkets. In one place it was easy to 
recognize the steel framework of a bicycle. In another the iron 
portions of a sewing machine projected through a conglomerate 
mass of dust, ashes, kitchen utensils and human bones. 


"Strange contrasts were presented at every pace during this 
grewsome journey. There were sugar mills and distilleries in which 
heavy machinery was crushed and pulverized so as to be hardly 
recognizable. Ponderous flywheels and cylinder heads were flat- 
tened out and shivered by some Titanic force. And yet, in one 
instance at least, in a house not a hundred yards from where such 
manifestations of power were visible, so fragile a thing as a tropical 
bird had been spared mutilation. Outside the balcony of one of 
the houses facing toward the sea a roomy wooden cage was sus- 
pended from either end by two wires. Its support at one end had 
been detached, but it hung securely from the other. The cage had 
not even been scorched. At its bottom, dead, but unburned and 
brilliant yet in the bright colors of its tropical plumage, lay a heron, 
doubtless the pet of some St. Pierre belle. Next door to the house 
where the bird in his feathered panoply had escaped the death blast 
a building fitted with great, thick oaken doors had been riddled as 


though under the fire of a battery of rifled guns. The doors were 
blown from their hinges and great ragged openings yawned through 
their panels as though volleys of buckshot had been poured through 


Leavino- Fort de France at one o'clock Monday morning, May 
19, the Luckenbach — the Herald despatch boat — ran past St. Pierre 
and then under the brow of Pelee long before daylight. The volcano 
at that time was an awe-inspiring spectacle. Great clouds of fleecy 
vapor were rolling aloft, not only from the main crater, but from 
many other seams or vents that had been opened along its slopes. 
Some of these were well down toward the base. The moon was 
shinincr full and touching with silver the great columns of smoky 
vapor that rolled aloft in rings and spirals toward the zenith. Only 
from the mouth of the main crater was the fleecy mass reddened to 
an angry russet glow by the fiery furnace beneath. 

As the Luckenbach skirted the shore, giving the volcano a 
wide berth of not less than four miles, the distant muttering of its 
thunder could be heard, and as the steamer's passengers and crew 
listened awe-stricken, the topmost crater belched again. Long 
tongues of fire shot up through the smoke, now black and lurid 
with ashes and dust. The heavens glowed red above old Pelee's 
crest, as they do when some gigantic conflagration at night writes 
its signal aloft where all may read it within a radius of miles. As 
the boat forged seaward the last glimpse of the fiery mouth of the 
demon that had wrought such havoc was a spectacle never to be 


Experiences on Barbados and St. Vincent. 

U. S. Consul at Barbados 

ARBADOS is situated in latitude 13 4' north, longitude $g a 
2)f west. St. Vincent is about 96 miles west from Barba- 
dos ; population about 47,000; Martinique is about 120 
miles nearly north from Barbados; population 150,000 to 200,000. 


Mount Soufriere, the volcano on St. Vincent, has been quies- 
cent since April 30th, 18 12, when a terrific eruption took place. 
The first indications of eruption from the mountain were noticed 
on the 5th and 6th of May, 1902, and the knowledge that Mount 
Pelee, on Martinique, was in eruption increased the apprehension 
of the people. From about 9 a. m. on Wednesday, the 7th, heavy 
thunderings were heard from the Soufriere, with continuous flashes 
of lightning, but no rain. This continued until 1.30 p. m., when it 
changed into a continuous and tremendous roar, and vast columns 
of smoke" issued from the crater. These columns became denser, 
and at 2.40 p. m. scoria began to fall like hail, and then changed 



into a fine dust. Lava destroyed the plantations nearest the moun- 
tain ; large stones and gravel fell in great quantities during the day 
and succeeding night. The volcano roared all night, but during 
the next day, the 8th, the noise became intermittent, the scoria 
and dust still falling, but decreasing in quantity. These conditions 
continued intermittently until the 13th of May, when the volcano 
seemed to subside, though for many days later the mountain still 
smoked and showed signs of unrest. 


The conditions at Barbados during this period were remarkable 
in many respects ; everybody was discussing the possible conse- 
quences of the volcanic eruption at Martinique. About 2.30 p.m., 
May 8th, two loud reports were heard in quick succession, followed 
some minutes after by a third report. The sound was as if heavy 
guns were being fired near by. People began to gather near the 
harbor, expecting to see a man-of-war out at sea engaged in target 
practice with heavy guns. Such loud explosions, if not from artil- 
lery or explosions near by, were soon connected with the volcanic 
activity at St. Vincent, and this opinion was confirmed by the sud- 
den appearance to the westward of a heavy black cloud. At 4 
p. m. the cloud covered this island, at 4.30 fine sand and dust began 
to fall, striking like hail or wind-driven snow. At 5 p. m., more 
than an hour before sunset, it was as black as the darkest midnight. 
The dust fell all night, and covered the island to a depth variously 
estimated at from one to three-quarters of an inch. The dust 
was all-pervading; it was very fine, and reached the inside of watches 
and every minute crevice. Many suppose it has fertilizing quali- 
ties ; at any rate, we shall be plagued by it for a long time to come. 
The scene was one to rouse the imagination and terrify many who 


feared a tidal wave or earthquake ; as a fact, there was a phenome 
nal rise in the tide at Barbados during the afternoon of May 7th. 

The result of this terrible disaster at St. Vincent is fully equal 
to all published reports. The people were dazed. The more 
active were straining every nerve to afford relief to the sufferino-. 
The loss of life is variously estimated at from 900 to 1,600. It is 
extremely probable that not less than 1,600 have perished. The 
condition of the injuredVas heart-rending indeed. The Executive 
of Barbados at first declined aid, but the distress was greater than 
he thought, and liberal aid has been sent by Barbados, British 
Guiana, St. Lucia and other near-by colonies. The details received 
early from the scene of disaster were most horrifying. Carcasses 
of beasts and human bodies were lying by the hundreds in a state 
of decomposition, and in small shops, opened three days after the 
eruption, 87 unrecognizable decaying bodies were discovered. Very 
many injured and sick were collected and are being cared for. Medi- 
cal aid and medicines were early sent there. H. M. S. Indefatig- 
able left Barbados May 15th for St. Vincent with food, medicines 
and other helps. It will be a long, sad time before St. Vincent 
recovers from this last awful visitation. The island was devasted 
by the hurricane of September, 1898, and the struggles of the 
people were hard indeed ; and now, when hope began to glow 
in their hearts, a still more awful calamity has fallen upon them. 
Besides the loss of life, and the physical agonies of the injured, there 
is to be considered the destruction of stock, crops, fruit and other 
property. While temporary aid will reach these people, it is pitiful, 
indeed, to think of what they must endure for a long time to come. 
The following official communication was received from Mr, 
E. A. Richards, U. S. Consular Agent at St. Vincent : 


U. S. Consular Agency, 
St. Vincent, W. I., May i6th, 1902. 
S. A. Macallister, Esq., 

U. S. Consul, Barbados, W. I. 
Dear Sir: — In reply to your despatch of yesterday's date, I beg 
to state that, having called on the Governor with the view of ob- 
taining the information asked for by you, he stated as follows: 

"There have been 1,600 deaths, 160" wounded, 130 of whom 
are now in hospital (but it is feared many others will succumb), 9 
or 10 plantations have been destroyed and almost 2,000 cattle 
killed. Estimated damage, ^50,000 to ,£60,000. Food supplies 
will be wanted for six months to feed 4,000 or 5,000 persons left 
destitute, for whom houses will have to be erected. Immediate 
wants have been supplied, but help will be very acceptable." 

I have given you the exact words of the Governor, and, so far 
as I can learn, his description may be taken as correct as it is pos- 
sible at present to estimate. 

I am, sir, your obedient servant, 

(Signed) E. A. Richards, 

U. S. Consular Agent. 


Experiences in Martinique during and after the 
Destruction of St. Pierre. 

THE loss of life and the destruction at St. Vincent were ter- 
rible indeed, but what words can describe the awful facts 
and scenes at Martinique ? A few days before the fateful 8th 
of May, 1902, there was a beautiful city in Martinique, called St. 
Pierre; a city of churches, convents, colleges, banks, warehouses, 
residences; by the last census it contained 35,000 human beings. 
At least 5,000 more lived in the near-by little towns and villages. 
In a few moments, on the morning of the 8th of May, 1902, the 
city of St Pierre and most of its suburbs, with 30,000 human beings, 
had perished, as perished the cities and inhabitants of Pompeii and 
Herculaneum ! No one on shore close enough to describe the 
realities of the storm of fire could live to give his story. Hundreds 
of incidents will be related, hundreds of opinions and theories will 
be expressed, but the narrative of the utter destruction of St. 
Pierre during the time of its occurrence will probably never be 
accurately written. It is said that only one of the thousands on 
land within the zone of that terrible deluge of fire is alive to-day J 



St. Pierre is no more!!! The beautiful seaside city is now a black- 
ened ruin, the swollen and bursted corpses of her people lie strewn 
along the deserted, obstructed streets, and amid the ashes of the 
burnt buildings. 

But let the scene be described as witnessed by two of the 
gentlemen who composed a relief party sent from Barbados on the 
night of May ioth, arriving at Martinique on Sunday morning, 
May 1 1 th, three days after that fearful morning. One is by Mr. 
Arthur J. Clare, the United States Vice Consul at Barbados, and 
the other is a report of Dr. Manning, who had charge of the relief 

party referred to. 

the vice consul's report 

United States Consulate, 
Barbados, W. I., May 12th, 1902. 
S. A. Macallister, 

U. S. Consul, Barbados. 
Sir : — In accordance with your written instructions of the ioth 
instant, to proceed to Martinique and render any assistance in my 
power to Mr. Prentis, our Consul at St Pierre, his family, or any 
other Americans who might be sufferers from the disastrous vol- 
canic eruption at St. Pierre on the 8th instant, I reported on board 
the S. S. Solent at 5.45 p. m. as instructed. 

The Solent was to leave at 6 p. m., but on account of delay in tak- 
ing supplies on board, sent by the Government of Barbados, we did 
not sail until 8.05 p. m., arriving at Fort de France, Martinique, at 
7 o'clock the following morning. 

The Colonial Secretary of Barbados, who was in charge of the 
relief expedition from this island, and Dr. Manning, in charge of the 
medical staff, went on shore, at the invitation of the Port Officer at 
Fort de France, to confer with the Acting Governor of Martinique 


and to arrange about landing the supplies. It was decided that we 
should at once sail for St. Pierre and discharge the supplies at 
Port de France on our return to that port in the evening. 

We arrived at St. Pierre about noon, and a landing party was 
at once got together, consisting of Hon. T. J. Newton, Colonial 
Secretary, and his clerk, Mr. Allder ; Doctors Manning and Hut- 
son, of Barbados ; Dr. W. E. Aughinbaugh and T. J. Ryan, Ameri- 
cans, who were the first to volunteer for the relief expedition ; the 
ship's doctor; N. E. Parravicino, the Italian Consul at this place, 
who had joined us at Fort de France ; Mr. Bowring, representing 
the Quebec S. S. Co.; Mr. Shennery, assistant editor of the ' Bar- 
bados Advocate ;" several other gentlemen and myself. The captain 
of the Solent was in command of the landing party. 

From the ship we could plainly see that the city of St. Pierre 
was entirely destroyed, but it remained for us to land to realize the 
full horror of the situation. No life whatever was to be seen — no 
animals, birds, insects, nothing but dead bodies lying along the 
water front and in all the streets through which we passed. The 
clock at the Military Hospital had stopped at 7.50, the hour of the 
terrible volcanic eruption which destroyed a city and its 35,000 
inhabitants, no one within the city or suburbs escaping on that fate- 
ful morning. 

The city was still on fire in several places when we landed, and 
the scent of the burning bodies, and that from the other bodies 
which had been exposed to the sun for several days, was horrible. 
The building in which the American Consulate was located is 
entirely wrecked, only part of the walls remaining ; no papers, 
books, or anything whatever connected with the Consulate could 
be found, all having been destroyed by fire. Without doubt 
Consul Prentis, his wife and daughters have perished. Mr. 


Testart, the American Vice Consul, was boarding the S. S. Rod- 
dam at the time of the explosion, and was thrown into the sea by 
the concussion and drowned. 

On our way back to the water front, I met Consul Ayme, of 
Guadeloupe, who had come over from that place in a chartered 
steamer. Mr. Ayme returned to Fort de France in the Solent with 
our party, and decided to remain there and communicate with 
Washington regarding his visit to St. Pierre. 

As all the food stored in warehouses in St. Pierre was 
destroyed, a large supply will be needed at Fort de France for some 
time to come, to enable the Government to feed the refugees daily 
pouring into that place. The Solent discharged the supplies at 
Fort de France, which were sent by the Government of this island, 
and we left there about 6 p. m. on the 1 ith and arrived at Barbados 
the following morning at 9 o'clock. 


(Signed) ARTHUR J. CLARE, 
U. S. Vice Co?isul. 

(By Dr. C. J. Manning of Barbados.) 

On Saturday last telegrams were received stating that there 
had been terrible loss of life in Martinique, but beyond the bare 
fact that the loss of life to town and shipping had been great, 
there was nothing definite, nothing certain. The first and natural 
impulse was to render assistance to our sister colony, and at half- 
past one o'clock the Governor summoned his chief officers, and the 
result of their deliberation was that assistance should be sent and 
the sooner the better. It was also decided that the assistance 
should be twofold. First, a quantity of foodstuffs should be at 


once dispatched ; second, medical relief should also be sent, as it 
appeared most probable that there would be a vast number who 
had escaped from St. Pierre, badly burnt or injured during the des- 
truction of the town. 

Accordingly Dr. Manning was ordered to take charge of this 
department, and with the assistance which was freely given on all 
sides, the services of five medical men — including Dr. Manning — 
were secured, viz.: Surgeon-Majors Will and Bent from the garri- 
son, Dr. John Hutson and Dr. Aughinbaugh. Three Hospital 
nurses also volunteered their services. The Sanitary Board very 
liberally offered the loan of fifty cots with blankets and clothing. 
The garrison also sent a party of ambulance bearers with stretchers 
and two large tents. The General Hospital furnished instruments 
and surgical appliances, and drugs were procured in town so as to 
form a complete outfit for fifty beds. The Royal Mail generously 
placed the Solent at our disposal, and the whole outfit was got on 
board on Saturday evening, the ship steaming out of the harbor on 
her mission of mercy at 8 o'clock. 

the 4< solent" at st. pierre 

Fort de France was reached at 7 a. m., and Mr. Newton, the 
Colonial Secretary, who was in charge of the party, landed and pre- 
sented his papers to the Acting Governor, who readily gave per- 
mission to allow the Solent to go to St. Pierre, which was reached 
about noon. A boat's party was landed, and on nearing the shore 
the remains of nine vessels were seen besides the Roraima, which 
was still burning. She was laden with kerosene oil and had blown 
up, and it was observed on passing her that a wicker-work chair 
had been blown from the deck and had hooked on to one of the 
awning stanchions. The sides of the ship were red hot, for as the 



waves lapped her sides we could hear them hiss and see the smoke. 
The absolute ruin of the town next attracted our attention; the bare 
walls were standing, it is true, but heaps" of debris blocked the streets 
everywhere and made it exceedingly difficult to walk. On landing 
we found all the large fig trees near the beach uprooted, and some 
of them, with the roots uppermost, were without a single leaf left 
on them. The boughs were snapped rudely off and scattered all 
over the landing place. 

We observed that one house had fallen in and the ceiling laths 
were twisted all in one direction, just as one might twist a handful 
of straws. These seem to point to the fact that the sudden escape 
of so much heated air from the volcano at the time of the great 
explosion had caused a sort of whirlwind which tore up the trees 
by their roots. There was no sign whatever of there having been 
a great earthquake, as there were no cracks or fissures on the espla- 
nade, or anywhere else, and as a matter of fact nearly all the 
walls, or, at all events, the greater part of them, were left standing. 
Smoke and flame were to be seen in various parts of the town, and 
far above our heads the volcano could still be seen sending out 
dense masses of black smoke. The cathedral was yet smoulder- 
ing, and here and there we passed houses still aglow and smoking. 
And now began our excursion through the town. No words can 
depict that scene. 


I must not omit to mention that as soon as the ship dropped 
anchor we noticed the unmistakable smell of scorched flesh, and as 
we approached in the boat the smell increased perceptibly, and at 
times in our journey through the town became quite overpowering. 
Wherever we turned there were dead bodies to be seen, scorched, 
blackened, hideous and heart-rending to behold. The greater 


number of them were on their faces, some with their heads buried 
between their hands as if to avoid the stifling effects of the vapor 
which suffocated them all. Here lay a magnificent specimen of a 
man, evidently a sailor who had perhaps floated ashore on some 
piece of wreckage in the full assurance that he had escaped the 
dangers of the burning ship and was safe. He had pulled his 
jumper over his head to avoid the suffocating fumes, but all to no 
purpose. Not one living soul had escaped. The city was doomed, 
and no one survived to tell the awful tale of its destruction. Turn- 
ing from this poor fellow we pass on to find more and more dead 
bodies. Round this corner are sixteen in a heap, all evidently hav- 
ing been running their fastest to escape death, which overtook them 
in the twinkling of an eye. There they lie a seething, sickening 
mass of scorched and putrifying flesh. Look at the dainty little 
shoes still on the feet of this slender girl ! Beyond her there lie 
two, evidently mother and daughter ; the child is still grasping 
tightly the mother's hand, now locked fast in death. From another 
we take the small piece of bread, with the mark of the little one's 
teeth freshly impressed upon it, the very last morsel that she would 
ever taste. 

We pass on along the street, and opposite the bank there lie 
the remains of probably the horse and buggy of Mr. Barnes, the 
manager of that institution. The horse had his head tucked under 
him in his effort to escape the effect of the deadly fumes. Ugh ! 
what was that my foot sank into? — a dead body covered with 
debris. Let us move on. It matters not, wherever we turned, 
wherever we roamed, there was the same awful story of death and 
destruction. Look at that poor girl ! She must be about eighteen. 
There is a splinter of wood driven clean through her leg. Here 
lie the charred remains of a dog. Look at this poor woman ! 


How bravely she has fought for the little child she has clasped to 
her breast ! She lies right over it, but what avail ? Both are dead. 
But oh, the heat, the dust, and the terrible depression which 
overpowers one. Just think of it. On Wednesday last here was 
a busy town full of bustle and business, and now a ruin, with not a 
living creature left in it. From what we could gather it appears 
that the mountain, for days before the terrible explosion which 
destroyed the city, had been uneasy; rumbling noises were heard; 
smoke and flashes of light had been seen ; but there was no alarm. 
But, at all events, people were evidently beginning to be uneasy, 
and the Governor of Martinique took with him his wife, and a 
commission of 'savants" was held on the condition of affairs to 
see if there was any danger. They confidently told the people 
there was no cause for alarm, and, as a proof, the Governor and his 
lady moved about the streets of St. Pierre to reassure the inhabi- 
tants, who were evidently becoming alarmed ; but commissions of 
enquiry on volcanoes seem to be productive of no more good than 
commissions on anything else. 


There is a report afloat, but I trust that this might not be 
true, viz., that a cordon of soldiers was placed round the town to 
hinder persons from escaping and to prevent panic ; but in the 
meantime, about 8 a. m. — for the clock in the bank which we found, 
and that at the top of one of the streets, both stopped at ten 
minutes to 8 o'clock— a terrific explosion from the volcano 
occurred, covering the shipping and the town not with lava, as we see 
it at Vesuvius, but with stones and other material so awfully hot 
that whatever they touched took fire if at all inflammable. This 
molten material covered the town and the harbor so that all the 


shipping and every building in the town must have been ablaze at 
about the same time. Simultaneously there came the blast or 
whirlwind of hot air, which tore up the trees by their roots and no 
doubt damaged the buildings also. 

Barbados, too, has contributed to the number of the victims. 
For Mr. Parravicino lost his little daughter. She was to come up 
by the Roraima, and it is possible she was on board ship at the 
time of the disaster. [The story of the search for her body is 
given elsewhere.] The wife of Mr. H. J. Ince and child have 
also perished on that ship. Some members of Mr. Stokes' 
family were also on board. Mr. Gloumeau, the bandmaster of our 
Police Band, lost all his family, some thirty all told — mother, sisters 
and other relatives all goi.e in one of the most fearful convulsions 
of nature the world has ever seen. 

The chaplain of the S. S. Caribb^e, which arrived here yester- 
day afternoon, informed me that he observed, when passing Mar- 
tinique on Sunday night, that Pelee was still active ; flashes of light 
were to be seen and volumes of dense smoke were issuing forth. 
He also passed by much wreckage and many dead bodies during 
the afternoon. 

We offer those who are left to lament their loss our most 
heartfelt and sincere sympathy. 


The S. S. Roraima, of the Quebec S. S. Co., was at anchor at 
St. Pierre on the fateful morning of May 8th. The officers, crew 
and passengers numbered about sixty. All but ten perished. 
Eight of these are in the hospital at Fort de France, badly burned. 
The chief officer, Mr. Scott, and the assistant purser, Thompson, 
were rescued by the French cruiser Suchet. Here is their story of 
the catastrophe ; I use their own words : — 


[It is proper to state here that the stories of the experience of 
Messrs. Scott and Thompson have already been given. But as 
the accounts cited by Dr. Manning differ in language from those 
mentioned, and contain new and important facts from the observations 
of these eye-witnesses we quote what he says as an essential part of 
his highly interesting report.] 

Mr. Scott states that " the ship arrived at St. Pierre at 6 a.m. on 
the 8th. About 8 o'clock loud rumbling noises were heard from 
the mountain overlooking the town, eruption taking place imme- 
diately, raining fire and ashes ; lava running down the mountain 
side with terrific roar, and sweeping trees and everything in its 
course. I went at once to the forecastle-head to heave anchor. 
Soon after reaching there there came a terrible downpour of fire, 
like hot lead, falling over the ship and followed immediately by a 
terrific wave which struck the ship on the port side, keeling her to 
starboard, flooding ship, fore and aft, sweeping away both masts, 
funnel-backs and everything at once. I covered myself with a ven- 
tilator standing near by, from which I was pulled out by some of 
the stevedores, and dragged to the steerage apartment forward, 
remaining there some time, during which several dead bodies fell 
over and covered me. I was extricated by some men. Shortly 
after, a downfall of red hot stones and mud, accompanied by total 
darkness, covered the ship. So soon as the downfall subsided, I 
tried to assist those lying about the deck injured, some fearfully 
burnt. Captain Muggah came to me, scorched beyond recognition 
He had ordered the only boat left to be lowered ; but, being 
badly damaged, could not be lowered from the davits From that 
time, I saw nothing of the captain ; but was told by a man that the 
captain was seen by him to jump overboard. The man followed 
him in the water, and succeeded in getting the captain on a raft 


floating nearby, where he died shortly after. I gave all help pos- 
sible to passengers and others lying about the deck in dying condi- 
tion, most of whom complained of burning in the stomach. I picked 
up one little girl lying in the passageway dying, covered her over 
with a cloth, and took her to a bench nearby, where I believe she 
died. Sometime after, a man who had been in the water with a 
life buoy on, told me the captain was dead. About 3 p. m. a French 
man-of-war's boat came alongside and passed over the side about 
twenty persons, mostly injured, and myself and other survivors 
were taken to Fort de France. When I was on the forecastle-head 
I observed a steamer to the north, but further out to sea than the 
Roraima. I afterwards saw the Roddam steaming out to sea, with 
her stern part on fire. The Roraima caught fire and was burning 
when I left her in the afternoon, the town and all shipping 


Assistant Purser Thompson said he was on the deck of 
Roraima about 7 a. m., and saw the volcano emitting smoke and 
flame, rising from the crater. The chief steward called the pas- 
sengers on deck to witness the lava which began to sag down the 
mouth of the mountain, running in the direction of ' the Usine 
Guerrin. The smoke became more dense and slight darkness 
apparent. The gloom began to increase, and he then suggested 
to the steward to get under cover, as the situation was getting ter- 
rible. He then saw the flames darting upward from the mountain 
to a great height in the air, and, at the same time, heard awful sub- 
terranean sounds such as had never been heard by man before, and 
which he hoped never to hear again. They were louder than the 
sound of any cannon. The mountain appeared to be rent in pieces, 
and he saw a living ball of fire, large enough to cover the whole of 


St. Pierre, rolling down upon the city. He rushed into his cabin, 
locked it, and threw a blanket over his head, shutting the port-hole 
as well. The fire by this time had struck the water's edge, and great 
foam arose ; the water swelled to a great height and fell on the ship, 
keeling her over. He remained some time in his cabin, but came 
out, after the water had subsided, to look around. The sight which 
met his gaze was awful. People were lying all about the deck dead, 
and there were many others dying and suffering. The captain 
jumped overboard, his face in a terribly scalded condition. Cooper, 
his servant, jumped after him, and they drifted about the harbor. 
Finding he was getting too near the shore, and that the captain 
could not live, Cooper decided to leave him. He returned to the 
ship to get help, but when he reached the raft the second time the 
captain was dead. 


The British steamship Roddam had a wonderful escape. She 
had just entered the harbor and was about nine miles distant from 
the crater when the terrible eruption occurred. The storm of fire 
and cinders fell on her and with great difficulty she steamed away, 
but about twenty of her crew perished. The captain and the other 
survivors, though badly burned, managed to get the ship to the 
Island of St. Lucia, where they were sent to the hospital. At St. 
Lucia new officers and crew were obtained, who brought the ship 
to Barbados on the i 7th instant. She is now at anchor here, show- 
ing the results of her fiery ordeal. 

The prompt and generous aid afforded at a most opportune 
time by Barbados, British Guiana, Trinidad, St. Lucia and other 
neighboring islands to both St. Vincent and Martinique will always 
command the highest praise and commendation ; more especially 
so as the people of those places are for the most part very poor 

(Copyrighted by Judge Publishing Co., ioo_\) 




(Copyrighted by Judge Publishing Co., 1902.) 



r V 

i . • / 

Copyrighted 39-2, Judge Publishing Co. 


This Picture Shows the Ruins of the Hospital of St. Pierre and the Clock with the Hands Pointing to 7.50, which Indicated 

the Time at which the City was Overwhe'med. 




themselves, and, owing to the low price of sugar, their principal 
staple, there has been and still is very great depression and anxiety. 
Their aid has been extended in a most splendid manner, at great 
sacrifice to themselves, and in a quiet, sorrowful and unostentatious 

Cable communication between St. Vincent and Martinique was 
interrupted on May 7th. Messages had to be sent by vessels from 
St. Vincent to Dominica for transmission to other parts of the 
world. This made cable communications very slow and expen- 
sive. On May 20th the cable had not been repaired. Communi- 
cation from Dominica north was not disturbed. 


The Guatemalan Earthquakes and the Nicaragua 


THE volcanic eruption is an occurrence of dread uncertainty. 
Now it comes upon us " like a thief in the night," with 
hardly a moment's warning of its ruinous intent ; now it 
sends its premonitions in advance, giving notice of the approaching 
outbreak for months, sometimes for years. But the alarm signal 
of its coming is at times more fatal than the work of the volcano 
itself, for this is the earthquake, that most destructive to human 
life of all earth's agents of terror. We have seen that the explosion 
of 1 812 was heralded by earthquake shocks two years in advance, 
culminating in the frightful disaster at Caracas. That of 1902 sent 
similar destructive tidings of its -approach, coming from as far away 
as the states of Guatemala and Mexico. 


In truth an outbreak like that of the Martinique volcano could 
not but indicate some deep-seated and far-reaching condition of 
unrest in the earth's crust. The forces at work in this disaster lay 
many miles below the earth's surface, and were in consequence 
capable of making themselves felt throughout an area continental 
in extent. Whether the final explosion was due to pressure from 
above, to rock-splitting and Assuring, to the generation of steam or 
other cause, its conditions existed long before the final outbreak, 


the pent-up forces of the rocks causing the surface to tremble vio- 
lently more than a thousand miles away. 

The earthquake's action, traveling through the rock strata 
below, probably produces its most energetic surface effect at some 
point where the crust is weak and the resistance slight. In the 
present instance that point appears to have been in Southern Mex- 
ico and Western Guatemala, where severe disturbances of the 
earth preceded the eruption of Mont Pelee. The first warning 
came on the 16th of January, 1902, in a destructive earthquake in 
the south of Mexico, its centre of catastrophe being at Chilpancingo, 
the capital of the state of Guerrero. This city was violently shaken, 
hundreds of its people being killed and many more injured by falling 
walls. The greatest loss took place in the parish church, the walls 
of which were thrown down on a crowd of worshippers who had 
assembled there. But the shock was felt over a large area, and the 
vibration of strong buildings caused much alarm in the distant city 
of Mexico. 


Far more disastrous were the convulsions which visited Gaute- 
mala on April 18, and for nearly a week shook the cities, towns and 
villages on the western slope of the sierras of that republic. Shortly 
after 8 o'clock on the night of April 18, at Gautemala City, the 
capital of the republic, a blinding flash of lightning, followed by a 
thunder storm and torrents of rain, all in the space of a very few 
minutes, caused the people in the streets to rush to the houses for 
shelter. In an instant, however, an earthquake was upon them. 

The shock lasted from thirty to forty seconds and caused the 
wildest panic. Rushing frantically into the darkness and through 
the flooded streets, anywhere away from the straining rafters and 
cracking walls, ran the multitude, crying, praying, and a few trying 


to sing the " Salve Regina." The shocks following were less 
severe, and by 10 o'clock many of the inhabitants were wandering 
about, examining the walls of the Cathedral of Santa Teresa, La 
Recollection and other churches which were damaged. There was 
no loss of life, and the property damage was less than at first 
feared, though walls were cracked all over the city and many old 
houses were tumbled in ruins. In the days that followed the shocks 
continued with more or less violence. 

This earthquake was by no means confined to the city named, 
but extended through the whole northwestern region of that coun- 
try, one of the richest districts in Central America, and left ruin 
everywhere in its track The buildings and machinery of the rich 
coffee and sugar estates were ruined. As news came in from the 
hill country the tale of destruction spread rapidly and grew appal- 
ling. Among the towns that felt its force were Amatitlan, San Juan, 
San Marcos, Escuintla, Santa Lucia, Utatlan and several smaller 
places, all these being partly ruined, though few lives were lost. 


The centre of calamity was at Quezaltenango, a place of more 
than 40,000 inhabitants and the second city of the republic, which 
suffered by far the most. Here hundreds of residences and public 
buildings were either totally destroyed or seriously damaged. It 
is estimated that more than 90 per cent, of the buildings fell. The 
very narrow streets, often not over three or four yards wide, and 
the irregular manner in which the town was built, served to make 
deathtraps of the houses, so that not less than 2,000 people were 
killed and many persons were badly injured. Fire as well as flood 
added to the horror of the night of ruin, with the result that many 
people went insane and some committed suicide. 


At the time of the first shock a violent wind- and rain-storm 
was racing. The electric lighting plant of the city was disabled, 
and when the people, panic-stricken by the rumbling and shaking 
of the earthquake, rushed from their houses it was only to meet 
death. Stumbling and falling in the narrow, winding streets, in 
total darkness save when the lightning lit up the crumbling city 
with an unearthly glare, the people died by hundreds under the 
falling walls, v/hile other hundreds were caught like rats, only to 
die of suffocation or drowning. The quaking and rain kept up 
continually for three days. This made it almost impossible to do 
effective relief work, and as a consequence the stench from the 
thousands of bodies in the ruins became unbearable. To prevent 
the threatened ravages of pestilence the Government was com- 
pelled to employ large numbers of men to remove the bodies from 
the wreck and consign them to the grave. 

Natives from the interior flocked to the capital, completely 
terror-stricken. Farms were deserted, and there were fears of a 
famine in consequence. The Pacific coast suffered far greater 
damage than the Atlantic, and the disturbance of the surface ex- 
tended into Nicaragua, doing there also much damage to property. 
At the time of the earthquake a session of the National Com- 
mission for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition was being held, and 
the members, with a composure remarkably in contrast with the 
blind terror of the populace, continued their sitting for two hours, 
though the earthquake shocks made the large crystal chandelier of 
the palace swing like a pendulum over their heads. 

In addition to these preliminary phenomena, the eruption of 
Pelee was attended with other evidences of far-reaching disturb- 
ance. Earthquake tremors were wanting, the seismic instruments 
in various places showing no evidence of disturbance. But a 


magnetic influence spread wide, the delicate magnetic needles of the 
Coast and Geodetic Survey in Maryland and Kansas being dis- 
tinctly affected and their disturbance lasting for many hours. Other 
indications of the earth's convulsive affection were threats of an 
eruption in the volcano of Colima, Mexico, which had been in a 
state of unrest for ten years, and slighter evidences of internal 
activity in other places. 

The facts here detailed, and in particular those of the earth- 
quake disturbances in Mexico and Central America, are of great 
significance in connection with the measure now before Congress 
providing for the construction of an international ship-canal across 
Nicaragua, to connect the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans 
by a waterway traversing the neck of land which connects the twin 
American continents. 


Without going into detail concerning the history of this pro- 
ject, we may say that it has been for many years, even for centur- 
ies, entertained, the Spaniards having dreams of such a canal more 
than three centuries ago. During the eighteenth century many 
plans for its construction were proposed, and actual work began. 
Money enough was expended on the French canal at Panama to 
more than complete it, but for the wild waste of funds, and some 
work was done on a parellel canal across Nicaragua. At the end 
of the century these projects had been virtually abandoned — 
though some work was still doing on the Panama Canal — and the 
United States government was entertaining the purpose of exca- 
vating a canal as a national enterprise. 

A commission was sent to Central America and the Isthmus 
to investigate and report, and after a year or more of research gave 
its decision in favor of the Nicaraguan route as, all things considered, 


the most promising. Bills were introduced into both Houses of 
Congress for the construction of a canal in accordance with the 
recommendation of the Commissioners, and were passed in two 
successive sessions of the House, though no final action was taken 
in the Senate. In January, 1902, the affair took a different aspect, 
due to an offer of the French Canal Company to sell their partly 
completed canal at Panama for $40,000,000. This reduced the esti- 
mated cost of finishing the latter canal below that necessary for the 
Nicaragua route, and a decision was now rendered by the Commis- 
sioners in favor of the Panama project. Thus the matter rested 
in the spring of 1902. The final route of the canal was left clouded 
in doubt. 

Meanwhile voices had been heard assailing the Nicaraguan 
project from another point of view, that of the volcanic character 
of the region it would traverse and its possible ruin by earthquake 
shock when completed. Prominent among those holding this view 
was Professor Angelo Heilprin, a geologist of Philadelphia, who pub- 
lished a number of treatises calling attention to the strong proba- 
bility of such an occurrence. Panama, on the contrary, was con- 
sidered practically safe, its past history showing a long freedom 
from seismic disturbance. 

Earthquake shocks may, it is true, occur anywhere, and very 
destructive tremors have been experienced in regions absolutely 
non-volcanic. Yet the paroxysms of nature which change the fea- 
tures of a whole country, heave up mountains where there formed) 
were depressions, and make the ocean flow over what once was dry 
land, always take place in regions of crustal weakness. Such re- 
gions are marked by volcanoes, active or seemingly extinct. To 
locate a great work intended to last for all time across one of the 

"fire circles" of seismologists would be more a crime than a blunder. 



Of these "fire circles" tropical North America contains two — 
one being indicated by the semicircular chain of volcanic islands in 
the West Indies, the other running approximately parallel to the 
latter from Central Mexico through Guatemala, Honduras and 
Nicaragua into Costa Rica. On the latter circle there are dis- 
tributed over a linear distance of a little over 200 miles not less 
than twenty-five volcanoes. Some of these are inactive, but dor- 
mant volcanoes have a habit of suddenly bursting out with titanic 
violence, a fact of which we have had striking recent experience. 

There are three volcanoes in Lake Nicaragua itself, which 
body of water it is proposed to make the summit level of the pro- 
jected canal on this line. Indeed, the evidence of geology is that 
Lake Nicaragua was once an arm of the Pacific, and that the cen- 
tral plateau of Nicaragua was formerly much nearer to the Carib- 
bean coast than at present. The forces which effected so vast 
a change in the configuration of the land are still active. The 
eruption in 1835 of Coseguina, which lies but sixty miles from the 
proposed Nicaragua canal route, was of extraordinary violence. So 
tremendous was this explosion, and so great was the storm of dust 
and ashes, that absolute darkness prevailed for thirty-five miles 
in every direction, while the rain of dust and ashes actually fell 
over a radius some 270 miles in diameter. Nearly twenty-five 
miles from the volcano the ground was covered with ten feet of ashes 
and fine dust. Seven hundred miles away, in the harbor of Kings- 
ton, Jamaica, the ejected materials fell four days after the explosion. 
The eruption was accompanied by detonations the roar of which was 
heard a thousand miles away, and it has been computed that the 
matterthrown out by the volcano during every six minutes of its forty- 
four hours of activity would have equaled in cubic contents the 
quantity of earth to be excavated in the construction of the projected 


canal of Nicarauga. Coseguina could have filled up ten times 
in one hour a canal prism which the contractors, with all their 
boasted labor-saving devices and the employment of tens of thous- 
ands of hands,, would require eight years to excavate. 

Another active volcano, with its last eruption as recent as 
1883, dominates the island in Lake Nicaragua which every ship 
will skirt on the passage from Greytown to Brito. This is Mount 
Ometepe. On the same island is a second volcanic peak, that of 
Madera. In 1844, nine years after the explosion of Coseguina, 
occurred the great earthquake which destroyed the city of Rivas, 
near the Pacific shore, and wrought great damage even at Grey- 
town, a hundred and fifty miles away on the Atlantic side. The 
line surveyed for the Nicaragua canal between the lake and Brito 
runs only five miles from Rivas and has its Atlantic terminus at 


The danger of such convulsions at Panama is far less. We 
are told by M. Bunau-Varilla, a distinguished French engineer, that 
in Panama there is within a distance of one hundred and eighty 
miles from the canal no volcano, even extinct. The Isthmus there, 
since its formation in the early quarternary period, before man 
appeared on the earth, has not been modified. It lies in an "angle 
of stability," so called by seismographers. Except for rare and not 
very violent seismic vibrations, originating at distant centres, the 
Isthmus of Panama has never been affected by volcanic disturb- 
ances. One earthquake of some violence, indeed, has occurred 
there during the historic period, that of 162 1, when the greater 
part of Panama city was shaken down. Aside from this the most 
destructive earthquake known in the history of Panama was that 
©f September 7, 1882. It lasted only a minute, but in that time 


shook down the court-house and ruined the front of the old cathe< 
dral. Yet it may be affirmed that no paroxysmal convulsions have 
remodeled the geographical features of the Isthmus, as is the case 
with Nicaragua, and that its hills are nearly if not quite as stable as 
those of the Appalachian system. 

We have spoken of these facts, not alone from their former 
bearing upon the canal question, but especially from their press- 
ing importance in the light of recent events. In truth, little atten- 
tion had been or seemed likely to be paid to them by legislators 
until after the startling event of May 8, 1902. This put a different 
aspect on the case, and aroused the people and press of the United 
States to a peril threatening the canal, if constructed in Nicaragua, 
of which few had been aware. Such an explosion as that of Mont 
Pelee was certainly an awakening incident. The Mexican and 
Guatemalan earthquakes showed that the forces of eruption were 
not confined to the volcanic chain of the Antilles, but were active 
in a region closely adjoining the projected canal, and that there 
was no security that earthquake shock or volcanic explosion might 
not take place at any time on the line or in the immediate vicinity 
of the canal, letting its water escape through fissures or burying 
the nearly $200,000,000 of United States money expended in its 
construction under such tons of volcanic lava and ashes as have 
buried from sight the city of St. Pierre. Certainly, in view of these 
facts, Congress will feel it necessary to go slowly, and Panama 
Canal stock is likely to rise rapidly in public estimation as compared 
with that of its Nicaraguan rival. 

We have spoken of Professor Heilprin as one who has fre- 
quently pointed out the danger here considered. We cannot 
better close this chapter than by a quotation from his latest views 
on the subject, written since the Martinique disaster. He says : — 


" In various papers that I have recently published on the sub- 
ject of the Nicaraguan Canal, I have indicated my dissent from 
the opinions expressed by the official geologists associated with 
that enterprise, which have maintained that the volcanoes in the 
regions to be traversed by the canal are in a decaying or semi- 
somnolent or extinct condition, and that consequently little is to be 
feared for a construction of the magnitude or character represented 
by the Nicaraguan Canal. No facts that are in possession of the 
geologists can be properly construed to support this conclusion. 


" On the other hand, it may be said that all point conclusively 
in a direction which is directly the reverse of that which has been 
maintained. On the line of the proposed Nicaraguan Canal there 
are both active and semi-active volcanoes, even within the basin of 
Lake Nicaragua itself, and no knowledge which the geologist 
possesses can permit him in any way to indicate the possibilities of 
eruption which lie in these scenes of disturbance. At no great dis- 
tance from the route planned, that is to say, in the volcano of 
Coseguina, as late as 1835 occurred one of the most paroxysmal of 
destructive eruptions that have ever been recorded, the volcano 
itself being almost exactly of the dimensions of Mont Pelee in 
Martinique. It must therefore be considered as a menace to any 
structure that may be built by man. 

" A remarkable parallel can be drawn between the conditions 
prevailing in Nicaragua along the line of the proposed canal and 
those existing in New Zealand in the lake region of Rotoma- 
hana, in June, 1886, prior to the eruption of the great volcano 
Tarawera. At that time the volcano had been assumed to be ex- 
tinct for upward of one hundred years, when entirely without 


warning it broke out in full activity, rent *-he earth with a chasm forty 
miles long, drained the lake entirely of its waters, and destroyed the 
famous pink and white terraces. Precisely the same things may 
take place in the Xicaraguan region. The conditions are almost 
entirely identical, with this emphasis : That the Xicaraguan region, 
as a near neighbor of the Carribbean, probably occupies an area of 
still less stability than that of Xew Zealand. 

"So far as the Panama region is concerned, it has powerfully 
in its favor the fact that there are no volcanoes either on the route 
or near the route, and that even the seismic disturbances which are 
<^o common throughout South America, Central America and a 
large part of Mexico have been comparatively little felt in that 
region for a period of very nearly three hundred years — no destruc- 
tive eruption or earthquake having taken place there since 162 1." 

In view of these considerations one would reasonably conclude 
that the Panama route was far the safer of the two. This, how- 
ever, is not for the laity to decide, but must be left to the assembled 
wisdom of our Congressional representatives. 


The Active Volcanoes of the Earth. 

IT is not by any means an easy task to frame an estimate of the 
number of volcanoes in the world Volcanoes vary greath 
their dimensions, from vast mountain masses, rising to a he 
of nearly 25,000 feet above sea-level, to mere molehills. T: 
likewise exhibit every possible stage of development and decay: 
while some are in a state of chronic active eruption, others are 
reduced to the condition of solfataras. or vents emit cid vapoi 

and others again have fallen into a more or le iplete state of 

ruin through the action of deluding for 

numbei lCTIVE 

Even if we confine our attention to the larger volcanoes, which 
merit the name of mountains, and such of the son 

to believe to be in a still active condition, our difficult!* be 

diminished, but not by any means removed. \ olcanoes may sink 
into a dormant condition that at times endures for hundreds or 
even thousands of years, and then burst forth into a state of re- 
newed activity ; and it is quite impossible, in many cases, to distin- 
guish between the conditions of dormancy and extinction. 

We shall, however, probably be within the limits of truth in 
stating that the number of great habitual volcanic vents upon the 
globe which we have reason to believe are still in active condition, 
is somewhere between 300 and 350. Most of these are marked by 
more or less considerate^ mountains, composed of the materials 



ejected from them. But if we include mountains which exhibit the 
external conical form, crater-like hollows, and other features of 
volcanoes, yet concerning" the activity of which we have no record 
or tradition, the number will fall little, if anything, short of 1,000. 

The mountains composed of volcanic materials, but which have 
lost through denudation the external form of volcanoes, are still 
more numerous, and the smaller temporary openings which are 
usually subordinate to the habitual vents that have been active dur- 
ing the periods covered by history and tradition, must be numbered 
by thousands. There are still feebler manifestations of the volcanic 
forces — such as steam-jets, geysers, thermal and mineral waters, 
spouting saline and muddy springs, and mud volcanoes — that may 
be reckoned by millions. It is not improbable that these less pow- 
erful manifestations of the volcanic forces to a great extent make 
up in number what they want in individual energy ; and the relief 
which they afford to the imprisoned activities within the earth's 
crust may be almost equal to that which results from the occasional 
outbursts at the great habitual volcanic vents. 

In taking a general survey of the volcanic phenomena of the 
globe, no facts come out more strikingly than that of the very un- 
equal distribution, both of the great volcanoes, and of the minor 
exhibitions of subterranean energy. 

Thus, on the whole of the continent of Europe, there is but 
one habitual volcanic vent — that of Vesuvius — and this is situated 
upon the shores of the Mediterranean. In the islands of that sea, 
however, there are no less than six volcanoes : namely, Stromboli, 
and Vulcano, in the Lipari Islands; Etna, in Sicily; Graham's Isle, 
a submarine volcano, off the Sicilian coast ; and Santorin and Ni- 
syros, in the ./Egean Sea. 


The African continent is at present known to contain about 
ten active volcanoes — four on the west coast, and six on the east 
coast, while about ten other active volcanoes occur on islands close 
to the African coasts. On the continent of Asia, more than twenty 
active volcanoes are known or believed to exist, but no less than 
twelve of these are situated in the peninsula of Kamchatka No 
volcanoes are known to exist in the Australian continent. 

The American continent contains a greater number of vol- 
canoes than the continents of the Old World. There are twenty 
in North America, twenty-five in Central America, and thirty-seven 
in South America. Thus, taken altogether, there are about one 
hundred and seventeen volcanoes situated on the great continental 
lands of the globe, while nearly twice as many occur upon the 
islands scattered over the various oceans. 


Upon examining further into the distribution of the conti- 
nental volcanoes, another very interesting fact presents itself. The 
volcanoes are in almost every instance situated either close to the 
coasts of the continent, or at no great distance from them. There 
are, indeed, only two exceptions to this rule. In the great and 
almost wholly unexplored table-land lying between Siberia and 
Tibet four volcanoes are said to exist, and in the Chinese province 
of Manchuria several others. More reliable information is, how- 
ever, needed concerning these volcanoes. 

It is a remarkable circumstance that all the oceanic islands 
which are not coral-reefs are composed of volcanic rocks ; and 
many of these oceanic islands, as well as others lying near the 
shores of the continents, contain active volcanoes. 

Through the midst of the Atlantic Ocean runs a ridge, which, 
by the soundings of the various exploring vessels sent out in recent 


years, has been shown to divide the ocean longitudinally into two 
basins. Upon this great ridge, and the spurs proceeding frcm it, 
rise numerous mountainous masses, which constitute the well- 
known Atlantic islands and groups of islands. All of these are of 
volcanic origin, and among them are numerous active volcanoes. 
The Island of Jan Mayen contains an active volcano, and Iceland 
contains thirteen, and not improbably more ; the Azores have six 
active volcanoes, the Canaries three ; while about eigfht volcanoes 
lie off the west coast of Africa. In the West Indies there are six 
active volcanoes ; and three submarine volcanoes have been 
recorded within the limits of the Atlantic Ocean. Altogether, no 
less than forty active volcanoes are situated upon the great subma- 
rine ridges which traverse the Atlantic longitudinally. 

But along the same line the number of extinct volcanoes is far 
greater, and there are not wanting proofs that the volcanoes which 
are still active are approaching the condition of extinction. 


If the great medial chain of the Atlantic presents us with an 
example of a chain of volcanic mountains verging on extinction, 
we have in the line of islands separating the Pacific and Indian 
Oceans an example of a similar range of volcanic vents which are 
in a condition of the greatest activity. In the peninsula of Kam- 
chatka there are twelve active volcanoes, in the Aleutian Islands 
thirty-one, and in the peninsula of Alaska three. The chain of the 
Kuriles contains at least ten active volcanoes; the Japanese Islands 
and the islands to the south of Japan twenty-five. The great group 
of islands lying to the south-east of the Asiatic continent is at the 
present time the grandest focus of volcanic activity upon the globe. 
No less than fifty active volcanoes occur here, 


Farther south, the same chain is probably continued by the 
four active volcanoes of New Guinea, one or more submarine vol- 
canoes, and several vents in New Britain, the Solomon Isles, and 
the New Hebrides, the three active volcanoes of New Zealand, and 
possibly by Mount Erebus and Mount Terror in the Antarctic 
region. Altogether, no less than 1 50 active volcanoes exist in the 


Two volcanoes exist in the frozen seas of the Antarctic zone, Mount Erebus and Mount Terror, whose smoking 

summits indicate a strange conjunction of the forces of fire and frost. 

chain of islands which stretch from Behring's Straits down to the 
Antarctic circle ; and if we include the volcanoes on Indian and 
Pacific Islands which appear to be situated on lines branching from 
this particular band, we shall not be wrong in the assertion that 
this great system of volcanic mountains includes at least one half 
of the habitually active vents of the globe. In addition to the 
active vents, there are here several hundred very perfect volcanic 


cones, many of which appear to have recently become extinct, 
though some of them may be merely dormant, biding their time. 

A third series of volcanoes starts from the neighborhood 
of Behring's Straits, and stretches along the whole western coast 
of the American continent. This is much less continuous, but 
nevertheless very important, and contains, with its branches, nearly 
a hundred active volcanoes. On the north this great band is 
almost united with the one we have already described by the chain 
of the Aleutian and Alaska volcanoes. In British Columbia 
about the parallel of 6o° N. there exist a number of volcanic 
mountains, one of which, Mount St. Elias, is believed to be 18,000 
feet in height. Farther south, in the territory of the United 
States, a number of grand volcanic mountains exist, some of which 
are probably still active, for geysers and other manifestations of 
volcanic activity abound. From the southern extremity of the 
peninsula of California an almost continuous chain of volcanoes 
stretches through Mexico and Gautemala, and from this part of 
the volcanic band a branch is given off which passes through the 
West Indies, and contains the volcanoes which have so recently 
given evidence of their vital activity. 

In South America the line is continued by the active volca 
noes of Ecuador, Bolivia and Chili, but at many intermediate 
points in the chain of the Andes extinct volcanoes occur, which to 
a great extent fill up the gaps in the series. A small offshoot to 
the westward passes through the Galapagos Islands. The great 
band of volcanoes which stretches through the American continent 
is second only in importance, and in the activity of its vents, to 
the band which divides the Pacific from the Indian Ocean. 

The third volcanic band of the globe is that, already spoken 
of, which traverses the Atlantic Ocean from north to south. This 



series of volcanic mountains is much more broken and interrupted 
than the other two, and a greater proportion of its vents are ex- 
tinct. It attained its condition of maximum activity during the 
distant period of the Miocene, and now appears to be passing into 
a state of gradual extinction. 

Beginning in the north with the volcanic rocks of Greenland 
and Bear Island, we pass southwards, by way of Jan Mayen, Ice- 


One of the two most famous of the great Icelandic volcanoes. 

land and the Faroe Islands, to the Hebrides and the north of Ire- 
land. Thence, by way of the Azores, the Canaries and the Cape 
de Verde Islands, with some active vents, we pass to the ruined 
volcanoes of St. Paul, Fernando de Noronha, Ascension, St. He- 
lena, Trinidad and Tristan da Cunha. From this great Atlantic 
band two branches proceed to the eastward, one through Central 
Europe, where all the vents are now extinct, and the other through 


the Mediterranean to Asia Minor, the great majority of the volca- 
noes along the latter line being now extinct, though a few are still 
active. The volcanoes on the eastern coast of Africa may be 
regarded as situated on another branch from this Atlantic volcanic 
band. The number of active volcanoes on this Atlantic band and 
its branches, exclusive of those in the West Indies, does not exceed 


From what has been said, it will be seen that the volcanoes of 
the globe not only usually assume a linear arrangement, but nearly 
the whole of them can be shown to be thrown up along three well- 
marked bands and the branches proceeding from them. The first 
and most important of these bands is nearly 10,000 miles in length, 
and with its branches contains more than 150 active volcanoes ; the 
second is 8,000 miles in length, and includes about 100 active vol- 
canoes ; the third is much more broken and interrupted, extends to 
a length of nearly 1,000 miles, and contains about 50 active vents. 
The volcanoes of the eastern coast of Africa, with Mauritius, 
Bourbon, Rodriguez, and the vents along the line of the Red Sea, 
may be regarded as forming a fourth and subordinate band. 

Thus we see that the surface of the globe is covered by a net- 
work of volcanic bands, all of which traverse it in sinuous lines 
with a general north-and-south direction, giving off branches which 
often run for hundreds of miles, and sometimes appear to form a 
connection between the great bands. 

To this rule of the linear arrangement of the volcanic vents 
of the globe, and their accumulation along certain well-marked 
bands, there are two very striking exceptions, which we must now 
proceed to notice. 


22 T 

In the very centre of the continent formed by Europe and 
Asia, the largest unbroken land-mass of the globe, there rises from 
the great central plateau the remarkable volcanoes of the Thian 
Shan Range. The existence of these volcanoes, of which only 
obscure traditional accounts had reached Europe before the year v 
1858, appears to be completely established by the researches of 
recent Russian and Swedish travelers. Three volcanic vents appear 
to exist in this region, and other volcanic phenomena have been 
stated to occur in the great plateau of Central Asia, but the exist- 
ence of the latter appears to rest on very doubtful evidence. The 
only accounts which we have of the eruptions of these Thian Shan 
volcanoes are contained in Chinese histories and treatises on geog- 

The second exceptionally situated volcanic group is that of 
the Hawaiian Islands. While the Thian Shan volcanoes rise in 
the centre of the largest unbroken land-mass, and stand on the edge 
of the loftiest and greatest plateau in the world, the volcanoes of 
the Hawaiian Islands rise in the northern centre of the largest ocean 
and from almost the greatest depths in that ocean. All round the 
Hawaiian Islands- the sea has a depth of from 2,000 to 3,000 fath- 
oms, and the island-group culminates in several volcanic cones, 
which rise to the height of nearly 14,000 feet above the sea-level. 
The volcanoes of the Hawaiian Islands are unsurpassed in height 
and bulk by those of any other part of the globe. 

With the exception of the two isolated groups of the Thian 
Shan and the Hawaiian Islands, nearly all the active volcanoes of 
the globe are situated near the limits which separate the great land- 
and-water-masses of the globe — that is to say, they occur either on 
the parts of continents not far removed from their coast-lines, or 
on islands in the ocean not very far distant from the shores. The 



fact of the general proximity of volcanoes to the sea is one which 
has frequently been pointed out by geographers, and may now be 
regarded as being thoroughly established. 


Many of the grandest mountain-chains have bands of vol- 
canoes lying parallel to them. This is strikingly exhibited by the 
great mountain-masses which lie on the western side of the Ameri- 
can continent. The Rocky Mountains and the Andes consist of 
folded and crumpled masses of altered strata which, by the action 
of denuding forces, have been carved into series of ridges and sum- 
mits. At many points, however, along the sides of these great 
chains we find that fissures have been opened and lines of vol- 
canoes formed, from which enormous quantities of lava have 
flowed and covered great tracts of country. 

This is especially marked in the Snake River plain of Idaho, 
in the western United States. In this, and the adjoining regions 
of Oregon and Washington, an enormous tract of country has been 
overflowed by lava in a late geological period, the surface covered 
being estimated to have a larger area than France and Great Britain 
combined. The Snake River cuts through it in a series of pictur- 
esque gorges and rapids, enabling us to estimate its thickness, 
which is considered to average 4000 feet. Looked at from any 
point on its surface, one of these lava-plains appears as a vast level 
surface, like that of a lake bottom. This uniformity has been pro- 
duced either by the lava rolling over a plain or lake bottom, or by 
the complete effacement of an original, undulating contour of the 
ground under hundreds or thousands of feet of lava in successive 
sheets. The lava, rolling up to the base of the mountains, has 
followed the sinuosities of their margin, as the waters of a lake 


follow its promontories and bays. Similar conditions exist along 
the Sierra Nevada range of California, and to some extent placer 
mining has gone on under immense beds of lava, by a process of 
tunneling beneath the volcanic rock. 

In some localities the volcanoes are of such height and dimen- 
sions as to overlook and dwarf the mountain-ranges by the side of 
which they lie. Some of the volcanoes lying parallel to the great 
American axis appear to be quite extinct, while others are in full 
activity. In the Eastern continent we find still more striking exam- 
ples of parallelism between great mountain-chains and the lands 
along which volcanic activity is exhibited — volcanoes, active or 
extinct, following the line of the great east and west chains which 
extend through southern Europe and Asia. There are some other 
volcanic bands which exhibit a similar parallelism with mountain 
chains ; but, on the other hand, there are volcanoes between which 
and the nearest mountain-axis no such connection can be traced. 


There is one other fact concerning the mode of distribution of 
volcanoes upon the surface of the globe, to which we must allude. 
By a study of the evidences presented by coral-reefs, raised 
beaches, submerged forests, and other phenomena of a simdar kind, 
it can be shown that certain wide areas of the land and of the 
ocean-floor are at the present time in a state of subsidence, while 
other equally large areas are being upheaved. And the observa- 
tions of the geologist prove that similar upward and downward 
movements of portions of the earth's crust have been going on. 
through all geological times. 

Now, as Mr. Darwin has so well shown in his work on "Coral- 
Reefs," if we trace upon a map the areas of the earth's surface 


which are undergoing upheaval and subsidence respectively, we 
shall find that nearly all the active volcanoes of the globe are sit- 
uated upon rising areas, and that volcanic phenomena are con- 
spicuously absent from those parts of the earth's crust which can be 
proved at the present day to be undergoing depression. 

The remarkable linear arrangement of volcanic vents has a 
significance that is well worthy of fuller consideration. There are 
facts known which point to the cause of this state of affairs. It is 
not uncommon for small cones of scoriae to be seen following lines 
on the flanks or at the base of a great volcanic mountain. These 
are undoubtedly lines of fissure, caused by the subterranean forces. 
In fact, such fissures have been seen opening on the sides of Mount 
Etna, in whose bottom could be seen the glowingf lava. Alone 
these fissures, in a few days, scoriae cones appeared ; on one occa- 
sion no less than thirty-six in number. 

It is believed by geologists that the linear systems of volcanoes 
are ranged along similar lines of fissure in the earth's crust — enor- 
mous breaks, extending for thousands of miles, and the result of in- 
ternal energies acting through vast periods of time. Along these 
immense fissures in the earth's rock-crust there appear, in place of 
small scoriae cones, great volcanoes, built up through the ages by a 
series of powerful eruptions, and only ceasing to spout fire them- 
selves when the portion of the great crack upon which they lie is 
closed. The greatest of these fissures is that along the vast sin- 
uous band of volcanoes extending from near the Arctic circle at 
Behring's Straits to the Antarctic circle at South Victoria Land, 
not far from half round the earth. It doubtless marks the line of 
mighty forces which have been active for millions of years. 


Underground Waters and Their Relation to 


HE crust of the earth is only in a general sense a solid mass. 
In many localities it might be compared to a sponge, full of 
cavities and ramifying passages, and freely permeable to 
liquids. While in many places it is composed of dense rock or firm 
clay, through which water cannot make its way, in others it is rent 
and splintered, and large cavities here and there exist. Again, 
much of the material of the crust is porous, water passing some- 
what freely through it ; and in other localities water makes its way 
by a process of solution, dissolving and carrying off certain con- 
stituents of the rocks. As a result of this permeable condition 
much ol the water which falls upon the earth's surface makes its 
way into the interior, penetrating the pores and cavities of the 
crust, which seems to be fully saturated with water. 

What may be the actual quantity of water thus held in the 
earth's crust it is far beyond the present power of science to decide. 
It must be very great, since, in addition to the free liquid, water 
exists as a constituent of the hardest rocks. If restored to the 
surface it would doubtless be sufficient to raise considerably the 
ocean level, and perhaps to flood all the lower portions of the dry 
land. In that remote period when the heated condition of the 
crust prevented the inflow of water, and the whole of earth's liquid 

element "swelled the ocean, such a condition very probably existed. 
J 5 225 


For ages, as the crust cooled, the waters made their way into the 
interior, until they reached a considerable depth, and the depres- 
sion of the ocean level permitted a large section of the surface to 
emerge as dry land. One important result of this cooling of the 
surface and narrowing of the oceanic basins has been a decrease in 
evaporation and rainfall and a localization in the distribution of 
atmospheric waters, so that large regions of the surface have be- 
come deserts. This process of desiccation will doubtless continue 
in the future, but with great slowness, since the cooling of the 
earth's crust has become a very deliberate operation. 


The quantity and distribution of the liquid contents of the 
crust are very imperfectly known. We can become aware of their 
distribution only by the upflow of water through springs and the 
piercing of the surface with wells. It is of interest to find that 
water exists at some level in almost every locality where such a 
well has been sunk, and that it is abundant at some of the greatest 
depths that have been reached, frequently under sufficient pressure 
to rise to the surface. There are, of course, vast reaches of strata 
destitute of water in a free state, but these dense strata have failed 
to check the downflow of the liquid element. Pierce them, and 
water is found below ; pierce still lower strata, and water again out- 
flows, often in large volume. Like the rocks themselves, the liquid 
contents of the crust seem to exist in successive strata, growing 
warmer as they lie at greater depths, and usually bearing mineral 
matter in solution, the product of the rocks through which they 
have made their way. 


An interesting analogy may be shown to exist between the 
crust of the earth and the human body. The latter, solid exteri- 
orly, is everywhere permeated with streams of flowing liquid, 


which pours forth wherever the surface is pierced. In the same 
manner, if we pierce the earth, its life blood gushes out, now flow- 
ing quietly, as from a vein, now spirting freely, as from an artery. 
Wherever we break through the skin of the great body of the 
earth the same results appear. In some of the most unpromising 
localities an abundance of subterranean water seems to exist. Even 
under the arid surface of the Sahara, the most extended of the earth's 
deserts, there appears to be an abundant supply of water at a mod- 
erate depth, which oozes forth freely at almost every point where 
an artesian well is sunk. The arid region of Southern California 
is partly irrigated from a similar subterranean stratum, and like con- 
ditions exist in other desert regions of the earth's surface, natural 
springs oozing up where artificial ones have not been made. 

From this we may deduce that, so far as subterranean water is 
concerned, there is no marked difference between regions of 
abundant rainfall and those of great aridity. Dry as the soil may 
be in one locality, moist as it may be in another, the boring-rod of 
the well-driver reveals a strikingly homogeneous condition in the 
depths of the crust, and an oasis is formed in the desert wherever 
there is a passage upward for the underground waters. 


There is nothing surprising in this. Such a distribution of 
the subterranean waters is what we might naturally expect to find. 
Once penetrate to the sub-surface and we reach a region in which 
the diverse influences of aridity and precipitation fail to assert 
themselves. Though the surface distribution of water may be 
localized, the movement beneath the surface is likely to be general, 
the water following every channel and making its way by multi- 
tudinous avenues to regions far removed from its place of origin. 


While the surface water may flow through river channels to desert 
regions, the underground distribution is likely to be more general, 
since, while the surface represents but a single stratum, there are 
many underground strata, each affording special opportunities for 
distribution. While the arid regions of the surface are those of 
small rainfall, those of the interior are due to impermeable rock 
strata, and the two conditions are not likely to coincide. It is quite 
conceivable, indeed, that there may be a far more abundant supply 
of water beneath a desert than beneath a well-watered region, if 
the strata in the former case are more permeable than in the latter. 
The movements of subterranean waters have been going on for 
ages, and their existing distribution is dependent far more upon 
freedom of underground flow than upon variation in surface rain- 


If, now, we come to consider the conditions under which the 
interior water exists, it is impossible to accept a widespread popu- 
lar conclusion to the effect that flowing streams and rivers of water 
exist in the depths of the earth's crust. Streams of this character 
are found in great caverns, and this has doubtless led to the con- 
ception that the underground waters exist largely as rivulets or 
rivers, flowing through interior channels as the blood flows through 
the veins. 

The fact is, however, that apart from the streams found in the 
cavities in limestone strata, which must somewhere find a passage 
to the surface, such conditions do not and cannot exist. There are 
no such deep-lying streams, no great rivers flowing within the earth's 
crust ; the subterranean waters being either at rest, or moving 
sluggishly as they are drawn off. 


The interior of the crust was, in all probability, saturated with 
water in far remote times, and it is impossible for this water to 
move except to the extent that it finds a surface vent. It is prob- 
ably contained almost wholly in porous rocks, and but to a small 
extent in channels and cavities. For the same reason the inflow is 
limited, being dependent upon the outflow. A saturated sponge 
can take in no more water, even if plunged into a full vessel. And 
there can be no movement of water into its interior, except to the 
extent that water escapes from its surface. In like manner, if the 
earth's crust be once saturated, all its pores and cavities filled, no 
more water can enter, and there can be no movement of the water 
within except to the extent that the contained liquid has an oppor- 
tunity to escape. 


The most evident channels of escape are those of springs, 
yielding cold, warm or hot water as they come from varied depths. 
These are rarely sufficient in number or volume to create any active 
interior movement, and most generally have to do with superficial 
strata. They are not confined to the land surface, but frequently 
open under water, occasionally forming the sole supply of lakes. 
As one example of this may be instanced Lake Bombon, in the 
island of Luzon, which has no visible inflow, but has a consider- 
able river for its outflow. 

The well may be regarded as an artificial spring, which taps 
waier strata of varied depths, occasionally, no doubt, reaching very 
ancient accumulations, which have lain undisturbed for ages. If 
irrigation wells increase very largely in number, as they seem likely 
to do in the future, they may give rise to a somewhat active move- 
ment of the interior waters. The artesian outflow is, of course, 
limited in quantity, since the sources from which it draws need to 


be renewed from the surface, and the seepage downward is a 
deliberate process and not calculated to yield a rapid new supply. 
The quantity of water to be obtained from the earth's crust is, 
therefore, far from inexhaustible, and represents a supply that has 
been gathering for ages. It may be said further that this water 
cannot reach the surface except through the influence of pressure, 
this being usually, perhaps solely, a hydrostatic pressure operating 
from some supply of water at a higher level, and indicating that 
the interior waters are to a large extent in continuous contact. It 
may be, indeed, that the pressure of natural gas has its share in the 
upflow of water, as it probably has in that of petroleum. 


As regards the depth to which water can descend in the 
earth's crust, it is to a large extent an open question. Professor 
King, in his able study of this subject, considers that water may 
reach to a depth of more than 10,000 feet- -how much more he 
does not venture to suggest. If the crust were permeable to an 
indefinite distance downward, and water could descend unchecked, 
a vast volume would be necessary to produce saturation, but there 
can be no doubt that the rocks grow denser and less permeable as 
depth increases. The elevation of mountain ranges and the deposi- 
tion of thick strata of new rock material have undoubtedly greatly 
compressed the underlying rocks, decreased their porosity, and 
forced out much of their more ancient water contents, and it is 
possible that in this way a limiting layer may eventually be formed 
through which no water can penetrate. Yet at any time the rend- 
ing action of earthquakes seems capable of opening vast rents in 
the deeper rock layers, producing cavities sufficient to contain large 
bodies of water, and to permit the descent of this liquid element to 
much greater depths. 


There appears to be a limiting agency different from this, and 
one not subject to the action of chance or accident, or to the pos- 
sible existence of porous rocks at a much lower level than has been 
estimated. This is a stratum of heat, not of dense rock, and one 
that seems likely to constitute an effectual check to the descent of 
water, its action being to reverse the descending tendency of the 
liquid substance and convert it into an ascending tendency. In 
other words, the heat at a certain depth must be sufficient to con- 
vert the water into steam, which seeks to force itself upward with 
an energy greater than that with which the superincumbent water 
seeks to descend. The pressure of water at great depths, it is 
true, considerably raises the evaporating point, but there is a limit 
of temperature beyond which no amount of pressure can overcome 
the tendency to vaporize, and where this degree of heat is reached 
the possible descent of water comes to an end. 


There are facts which seem to indicate that this limiting layer 
of temperature varies in depth to a large extent in different regions 
of the earth. In the Yellowstone Valley, for instance, the 
phenomena might be held to prove that the inflowing water is 
converted into steam at a very moderate depth. The multitude of 
hot springs, the leaping geysers, the whole phenomena of the 
valley, appear to indicate a high degree of heat at no great distance 
beneath the surface, a temperature sufficient to vaporize the 
descending water and hurl it up again in boiling fountains. And 
the same might be held to be the case in the various other geyser 
regions of the earth. 

This is only one of the phenomena supposed to be due to the 
conflict between water and heat in the earth's crust. There is 


another and a far more important one, that of volcanic eruptions, 
which are by many held to be results of the conditions here con- 
sidered. In the geyser, the steam and water have open vents and 
are free to escape. In the volcano the vents are closed and the 
imprisoned giant of steam has to force its way to the surface. The 
boiling lava, which here replaces the hot water of the geysers, is 
saturated with the water to which its force of uplift is due, and this, 
as it reaches the surface, flashes agfain into steam and rends the 
lava into dust, or so-called ashes. The earthquake, which so often 
accompanies the eruption, is a result of the same cause, and testifies 
to the throes of the imprisoned giant in its mighty effort to break 
its bonds. The whole phenomenon is a striking example of the 
limitation of the descent of water through the influence of internal 
heat. This view, of course, is hypothetical, but as an instance in 
its favor we may refer to the remarkable eruption of Krakatoa in 
1883. The suddenness and extreme violence of this eruption sug- 
gest the probability that some new opened crevice or cavity 
admitted the ocean waters in great volume to the heated strata of 
the mountain depths, and that these waters were converted explo- 
sively into steam, which expanded with a force sufficient to blow 
the mountain into fragments and hurl its debris miles into the air. 


While it is possible that the existence of geysers and volcanoes 
indicates marked differences in the depth of the superheated rock 
layer, this is by no means necessarily the case. It may simply 
indicate that they occur in the localities in which the crust is 
specially permeable to water, and that such results are likely to 
occur wherever water is able to make its way downward to a suffi- 
cient depth. It may be suggested that unbroken strata of dense 


rock check the deep descent of water throughout the greater part 
of the earth's crust, and that it is able to reach the superheated 
strata only in the limited localities to which the phenomena in 
question are confined, and also that some of the effects named are 
likely to appear wherever and whenever the subterranean water 
does penetrate to this depth. 

These considerations lead to the interesting conclusion that 
the most vigorous activities of the earth's crust— the volcanic erup- 
tion, the earthquake and the geyser — are largely due to the action 
of subterranean water. The same may be said of other activities 
of the crust. The slipping of strata, to which some earthquakes 
are credited, may be indirectly caused by the solvent action of water, 
and the lateral pressure to which mountain elevation is due is held 
to be a result of surface denudation and the heaping up of new 
strata beneath the ocean waters. 


There is a second very important service rendered by water, 
that of the cooling of the earth's crust. In the primeval period 
the surface waters were constantly rising as vapor and conveying 
the superficial heat upwards, to be radiated from the atmosphere 
into space. In the succeeding period the subterranean water be- 
came engaged in similar service. Heated in the lower strata, it 
rose as the hot spring or the geyser, and in the form of explosive 
steam it hurled great masses of molten rock to the surface, there 
to yield its heat to the air.. The volume of heat thus conveyed in 
a century to the surface is very considerable, and in former times 
was probably much more so. It may much exceed that which 
reaches the surface by the slow process of conduction. 


Subterranean water would thus appear to have long been an 
agent of the utmost service to the earth, giving rise to the great 
activities of the crust and aiding essentially in cooling its interior. 
What will be the future record of this useful agent it is difficult to 
say. As the crust continues to cool, the waters may make their way 
to lower depths, unless checked by a general layer of impermeabk 
rock. The cooling of the rocks will also tend to make them more 
capable of water absorption, and it has been suggested that the 
ocean waters may all eventually be swallowed up in this way, and 
the earth become a dry and dead planet like the moon. 


This at least we can be sure of, that if such an event takes 
place it will be at some very remote period in the future. The 
seepage of water into the earth has long been decreasing with the 
decrease in the area of rainfall. If the oceans should grow nar- 
rower by the partial absorption of their water, the rainless area will 
grow still more extensive and the area of seepage become more 
contracted. Civilization is adding to this effect by the removal of 
the forests. The water once held in their mold and gradually pen- 
etrating the surface now hastens downward to the streams and adds 
much less than formerly to the subterranean supply. As desicca- 
tion increases nature will continue what man has begun, the forest 
area narrowing and the waters rushing with less resistance to the 
sea. These influences must greatly check the possible future dis- 
appearance of the ocean waters within the crust, and whatever the 
final result may be, many millions of years must pass before the 
earth can become, from this cause, unfitted for the habitation of man. 

Our present concern, however, is with the part played by waters 
in volcanic eruptions. As already said, this is very great, and in 


one form or other, water seems to be the chief agent in volcanic ac- 
tion. Converted suddenly and explosively into steam, when in any 
manner it makes its way downward to the region of molten rock, it 
forces a passage upward with terrible energy, before which even the 
solid mountains themselves give way. As already said, one strik- 
ing example of this, in the opinion of many scientists, was seen in 
the frightful explosion of Krakatoa. Not less terrible, and still more 
destructive in its effects was that of Mont Pelee in 1902, perhaps 
due to the same cause and of which a full account has been given 
in preceding chapters. 


The Famous Vesuvius and the Destruction of 


THE famous volcano of Southern Italy named Vesuvius, which 
is now so constantly in eruption, was described by the an- 
cients as a cone-shaped mountain with a flat top, on which 
was a deep circular valley filled with vines and grass, and sur- 
rounded by high precipices. A large population lived on the sides 
of the mountain, which was covered with beautiful woods, and there 
were fine flourishing cities at its foot. So little was the terrible na- 
ture of the valley on the top understood, that in a. d. 72, Spartacus, 
a rebellious Roman gladiator, encamped there with some thousands 
of fighting men, and the Roman soldiers were let down the preci- 
pices in order to surprise and capture them. 

There had been earthquakes around the mountain, and one of 
the cities had been nearly destroyed ; but no one was prepared for 
what occurred seven years after the defeat of Spartacus. Suddenly, 
in the year 79 a. d., a terrific rush of smoke, steam, and fire 
belched from the mountain's summit ; one side of the valley in 
which Spartacus had encamped was blown off, and its rocks, with 
vast quantities of ashes, burning stones, and sand, were ejected far 
into the sky. They then spread out like a vast pall, and fell far 
and wide. For eight days and nights this went on, and the enorm- 
ous quantity of steam sent up, together with the deluge of rain 
that fell, produced torrents on the mountain-side, which, carrying 


onward the fallen ashes, overwhelmed everything in their way. 
Sulphurous vapors filled the air and violent tremblings of the earth 
were constant. 

A city six miles off was speedily rendered uninhabitable, and 
was destroyed by the falling stones ; but two others— Herculaneum 
and Pompeii — which already had suffered from the down-pour of 
ashes, were gradually filled with a flood of water, sand, and ashes, 
which came down the side of the volcano, and covering them entirely. 


The difference in ease of excavation is due to the following 
circumstance. Herculaneum being several miles nearer the crater, 
was buried in a far more consistent substance, seemingly composed 
of volcanic ashes cemented by mud; Pompeii, on the contrary, was 
buried only in ashes and loose stones. The casts of statues found 
in Herculaneum show the plastic character of the material that fell 
there, which time has hardened to rock-like consistency. 

These statues represented Hercules and Cleopatra, and the 
theatre proved to be that of the long-lost city of Herculaneum. 
The site of Pompeii was not discovered until forty years after- 
ward, but work there proved far easier than at Herculaneum, and 
more progress was made in bringing it back to the light of day. 

The less solid covering of Pompeii has greatly facilitated the 
work of excavation, and a great part of the city has been laid bare. 
Many of its public buildings and private residences are now visible, 
and some whole streets have been cleared, while a multitude of 
interesting relics have been found. Among those are casts of many 
of the inhabitants, obtained by pouring liquid plaster into the ash 
moulds that remained of them. We see them to-day in the attitude 
and with the expression of agony and horror with which death met 
them more than eighteen centuries ago. 



In succeeding eruptions much lava was poured out; and in 
a. d. 472, ashes were cast over a great part of Europe, so that much 
fear was caused at Constantinople. The buried cities were more 
and more covered up, and it was not until about a. d. 1700 that, as 
above stated, the city of Herculaneum was discovered, the peasants 
of the vicinity being in the habit of extracting marble from its 
ruins. They had also, in the course of years, found many statues. 
In consequence, an excavation was ordered by Charles III, the 
earliest result being the discovery of the theatre, with the statues 
above named. The work of excavation, however, has not pro- 
gressed far in this city, on account of its extreme difficulty, though 
various excellent specimens of art-work have been discovered, in- 
cluding the finest examples of mural painting extant from antiq- 
uity. The library was also discovered, 1803 papyri being found. 
Though these had been charred to cinder, and were very difficult 
to unroll and decipher, over 300 of them have been read. 

pliny's celebrated description 

Pliny the Younger, to whom we are indebted for the only con- 
temporary account of the great eruption under consideration, was 
at the time of its occurrence resident with his mother at Misenum, 
where the Roman fleet lay, under the command of his uncle, the 
great author of the " Historia Naturalis". His account, contained 
in two letters to Tacitus (lib. vi. 16, 20), is not so much a narrative 
of the eruption, as a record of his uncle's singular death, yet it is 
of great interest as yielding the impressions of an observer. The 
translation which follows is adopted from the very free version of 
Melmoth, except in one or two places, where it differs much from 
the ordinary text. The letters are given entire, though some parts 
are rather specimens of style than good examples of description. 


"Your request that I should send an account of my uncle's 
death, in order to transmit a more exact relation of it to posterity, 
deserves my acknowledgments; for if this accident shall be cele- 
brated by your pen, the glory of it, I am assured, will be rendered 
forever illustrious. And, notwithstanding he perished by a misfor- 
tune which, as it involved at the same time a most beautiful country 
in ruins, and destroyed so many populous cities, seems to promise 


him an everlasting remembrance; notwithstanding he has himself 
composed many and lasting works ; yet I am persuaded the men- 
tion of him in your immortal works will greatly contribute to eter- 
nize his name. Happy I esteem those to be, whom Providence 
has distinguished with the abilities either of doing such actions as 
are worthy of being related, or of relating them in a manner wor- 
thy of being read; but doubly happy are they who are blessed with 


both these talents; in the number of which my uncle, as his own 
writings and your history will prove, may justly be ranked. It is 
with extreme willingness, therefore, that I execute your commands ; 
and should, indeed, have claimed the task if you had not enjoined it. 

" He was at that time with the fleet under his command at 
Misenum. On the 24th of August, about one in the afternoon, my 
mother desired him to observe a cloud which appeared of a very 
unusual size and shape. He had just returned from taking the 
benefit of the sun, and, after bathing himself in cold water, and tak- 
ing a slight repast, had retired to his study. He immediately 
arose, and went out upon an eminence, from whence he might more 
distinctly view this very uncommon appearance. It was not at 
that distance discernible from what mountain the cloud issued, but 
it was found afterward to ascend from Mount Vesuvius. I cannot 
give a more exact description of its figure than by comparing it to 
that of a pine tree, for it shot up to a great height in the form of a 
trunk, which extended itself at the top into a sort of branches; occa- 
sioned, I imagine, either by a sudden gust of air that impelled it, the 
force of which decreased as it advanced upwards, or the cloud itself 
being pressed back again by its own weight, and expanding in this 
manner: it appeared sometimes bright, and sometimes dark and 
spotted, as it was more or less impregnated with earth and cinders. 

"This extraordinary phenomenon excited my uncle's philoso- 
phical curiosity to take a nearer view of it. He ordered a light 
vessel to be got ready, and gave me the liberty, if I thought proper, 
to attend him. I rather chose to continue my studies, for, as it 
happened, he had given me an employment of that kind. As he 
was passing out of the house he received dispatches : the marines 
at Retina, terrified at the imminent peril (for the place lay beneath 
the mountain, and there was no retreat but by ships), entreated his 


aid in this extremity. He accordingly changed his first design, and 
what he began with a philosophical he pursued with an heroical 
turn of mind. 


" He ordered the galleys to put to sea, and went himself on 
board with an intention of assisting not only Retina but many 
other places, for the population is thick on that beautiful coast. 
When hastening to the place from whence others fled with the ut- 
most terror, he steered a direct course to the point of danger, 
and with so much calmness and presence of mind, as to be able to 
make and dictate his observations upon the motion and figure of 
that dreadful scene. He was now so nigh the mountain that the 
cinders, which grew thicker and hotter the nearer he approached, 
fell into the ships, together with pumice-stones, and black pieces of 
burning rock ; they were in danger of not only being left aground 
by the sudden retreat of the sea, but also from the vast fragments 
which rolled down from the mountain, and obstructed all the shore. 

" Here he stopped to consider whether he should return back 
again ; to which the pilot advised him. 'Fortune,' said he, 'favors 
the brave ; carry me to Pomponianus.' Pomponianus was then at 
Stabiae, separated by a gulf, which the sea, after several insensible 
windings, forms upon the shore. He (Pomponianus) had already 
sent his baggage on board ; for though he was not at that time in 
actual danger, yet being within view of it, and indeed extremely 
near, if it should in the least increase, he was determined to put to 
sea as soon as the wind should change. It was favorable, however, 
for carrying my uncle to Pomponianus, whom he found in the 
greatest consternation. He embraced him with tenderness, en- 
couraging and exhorting him to keep up his spirits ; and the more 
to dissipate his fears he ordered, with an air of unconcern, the 


baths to be got ready; when, after having bathed, he sat down to 
supper with great cheerfulness, or at least (what is equally heroic) 
with all the appearance of it. 

" In the meantime, the eruption from Mount Vesuvius flamed 
out in several places with much violence, which the darkness of the 
night contributed to render still more visible and dreadful. But 
my uncle, in order to soothe the apprehensions of his friend, 
assured him it was only the burning of the villages, which the 
country people had abandoned to the flames ; after this he retired to 
rest, and it was most certain he was so little discomposed as to fall 
into a deep sleep; for, being pretty fat, and breathing hard, those 
who attended without actually heard him snore. The court which 
led to his apartment being now almost filled with stones and ashes, 
if he had continued there any longer it would have been impossible 
for him to have made his way out ; it was thought proper, therefore, 
to awaken him. He got up and went to Pomponianus and the rest 
of his company, who were not unconcered enough to think of 
going to bed. They consulted together whether it would be most 
prudent to trust to the houses, which now shook from side to side 
with frequent and violent concussions ; or to fly to the open fields, 
where the calcined stone and cinders, though light indeed, yet fell 
in large showers and threatened destruction. In this distress they 
resolved for the fields as the less dangerous situation of the two — 
a resolution which, while the rest of the company were hurried into 
it by their fears, my uncle embraced upon cool and deliberate con- 


" They went out, then, having pillows tied upon their heads 
with napkins ; and this was their whole defence against the storm 
of stones that fell around them. It was now day everywhere else, 


but there a deeper darkness prevailed than in the most obscure 
night; which, however, was in some degree dissipated by torches 
and other lights of various kinds. They thought proper to o-o 
down further upon the shore, to observe if they might safely put 
out to sea ; but they found that the waves still ran extremely high 
and boisterous. There my uncle, having drunk a draught or two of 
cold water, threw himself down upon a cloth which was spread for 
him, when immediately the flames, and a strong smell of sulphur 
which was the forerunner of them, dispersed the rest of the com- 
pany, and obliged hirn to rise. He raised himself up with the 
assistance of two of his servants, and instantly fell down dead, suf- 
focated, as I conjecture, by some gross and noxious vapor, having 
always had weak lungs, and being frequently subject to a difficulty 
of breathing. 

" As soon as it was light again, which was not till the third day 
after this melancholy accident, his body was found entire, and with- 
out any marks of violence upon it, exactly in the same posture as that 
in which he fell, and looking more like a man asleep than dead. 
During all this time my mother and I were at Misenum. But this 
has no connection with your history, as your inquiry went no farther 
than concerning my uncle's death ; with that, therefore, I will put an 
end to my letter. Suffer me only to add, that I have faithfully related 
to you what I was either an eye-witness of myself, or received imme- 
diately after the accident happened, and before there was any time 
to vary the truth. You will choose out of this narrative such cir- 
cumstances as shall be most suitable to your purpose ; for there is a 
great difference between what is proper for a letter and a history; 
between writing to a friend and writing to the public. Farewell." 
In this account, which was drawn up some years after the event, 
from the recollections of a student eighteen years old, we recognize 


the continual earthquakes ; the agitated sea with its uplifted 
bed ; the flames and vapors of an ordinary eruption, probably 
attended by lava as well as ashes. But it seems likely that the 
author's memory, or rather the information communicated to him 
regarding the closing scene of Pliny's life, was defective. Flames 
and sulphurous vapors could hardly be actually present at Stabise, 
ten miles from the centre of the eruption. 

That lava flowed at all from Vesuvius on this occasion has 
been usually denied ; chiefly because at Pompeii and Herculaneum 
the causes of destruction were different — ashes overwhelmed the 
former, mud concreted over the latter. We observe, indeed, phe- 
nomena on the shore near Torre del Greco which seem to require 
the belief that currents of lava had been solidified there at some 
period before the construction of certain walls and floors, and other 
works of Roman date. In the Oxford Museum, among the speci- 
mens of lava to which the dates are assigned, is one referred to 
a. d. 79, but there is no mode of proving it to have belonged to 
the eruption of that date. 

pliny's second letter 

A second letter from Pliny to Tacitus {Epist. 20) was required 
to satisfy the curiosity of that historian ; especially as regards the 
events which happened under the eyes of his friend. Here it is 
according to Melmoth : 

" The letter which, in compliance with your request, I wrote 
to you concerning the death of my uncle, has raised, it seems, your 
curiosity to know what terrors and danger attended me while I 
continued at Misenum : for there, I think, the account in my former 
letter broke off. 

' Though my shocked soul recoils, my tongue shall tell.' 


" My uncle having left us, I pursued the studies which pre- 
vented my going with him till it was time to bathe. After which I 
went to supper, and from thence to bed, where my sleep was greatly 
broken and disturbed. There had been, for many days before, 
some shocks of an earthquake, which the less surprised us as they 
are extremely frequent in Campania ; but they were so particularly 
violent that night, that they not only shook everything about us, 
but seemed, indeed, to threaten total destruction. My mother flew 
to my chamber, where she found me rising in order to awaken her. 
We went out into a small court belonging to the house, which sepa- 
rated the sea from the buildings. As I was at that time but eigh- 
teen years of age, I know not whether I should call my behavior, 
in this dangerous juncture, courage or rashness ; but I took up 
Livy, and amused myself with turning over that author, and even 
making extracts from him, as if all about me had been in full 
security. While we were in this posture, a friend of my uncle's, who 
was just come from Spain to pay him a visit, joined us ; and observ- 
ing me sitting with my mother with a book in my hand, greatly 
condemned her calmness at the same time that he reproved me for 
my careless security. Nevertheless, I still went on with my author. 

" Though it was now morning, the light was exceedingly faint 
and languid ; the buildings all around us tottered ; and, though we 
stood upon open ground, yet as the place was narrow and confined, 
there was no remaining there without certain and great danger : 
we therefore resolved to quit the town. The people followed us 
in the utmost consternation, and, as to a mind distracted with terror 
every suggestion seems more prudent than its own, pressed in great 
crowds about us in our way out. 

" Being got to a convenient distance from the houses, we stood 
still, in the midst of a most dangerous and dreadful scene. The 


chariots which we had ordered to be drawn out were so agitated 
backwards and forwards, though upon the most level ground, that 
we could not keep them steady, even by supporting them with 
large stones. The sea seemed to roll back upon itself, and to be 
driven from its banks by the convulsive motion of the earth ; it is 
certain at least that the shore was considerably enlarged, and many 
sea animals were left upon it. On the other side a black and 
dreadful cloud, bursting with an igneous serpentine vapor, darted 
out a long train of fire, resembling flashes of lightning, but much 


" Upon this the Spanish friend whom I have mentioned, 
addressed himself to my mother and me with great warmth and 
earnestness ; ' If your brother and your uncle,' said he, ' is safe, he 
certainly wishes you to be so too ; but if he has perished, it was his 
desire, no doubt, that you might both survive him : why therefore 
do you delay your escape a moment ?' We could never think of 
our own safety, we said, while we were uncertain of his. Hereupon 
our friend left us, and withdrew with the utmost precipitation. 
Soon afterward, the cloud seemed to descend, and cover the whole 
ocean ; as it certainly did the island of Capreae, and the promontory 
of Misenum. My mother strongly conjured me to make my escape 
at any rate, which, as I was young, I might easily do ; as for her- 
self, she said, her age and corpulency rendered all attempts of that 
sort impossible. However, she would willingly meet death, if she 
could have the satisfaction of seeing that she was not the occasion 
of mine. But I absolutely refused to leave her, and taking her by 
the hand, I led her on ; she complied with great reluctance, and 
not without many reproaches to herself for retarding my flight. 

"The ashes now began to fall upon us, though in no great 


quantity. I turned my head and observed behind us a thick smoke, 
which came rolling after us like a torrent. I proposed, while we 
yet had any light, to turn out of the high road lest she should be 
pressed to death in the' dark by the crowd that followed us. We 
had scarce stepped out of the path when darkness overspread us, 
not like that of a cloudy night, or when there is no moon, but of a 
room when it is all shut up and all the lights are extinct. Nothing 
then was to be heard but the shrieks of women, the screams of 
children and the cries of men ; some calling for their children, 
others for their parents, others for their husbands, and only distin- 
guishing each other by their voices ; one lamenting his own fate, 
another that of his family ; some wishing to die from the very fear 
of dying; some lifting their hands to the gods ; but the greater pari 
imagining that the last and eternal night was come, which was to 
destroy the gods and the world together. Among them were some 
who augmented the real terrors by imaginary ones, and made the 
frighted multitude beli< ve that Misenum was actually in flames. 

" At length a glimmering light appeared, which we imagined 
to be rather the forerunner of an approaching burst of flames, as 
in truth it was, than the return of day. However, the fire fell at ? 
distance from us : then again we were immersed in thick darkness, 
and a heavy shower of ashes rained upon us, which we were obliged 
every now and then to shake off, otherwise we should have been 
crushed and buried in the heap. 

" I might boast that, during all this scene of horror, not a 
sigh or expression of fear escaped me, had not my support been 
founded in that miserable, though strong, consolation that all man- 
kind were involved in the same calamity, and that I imagined I was 
perishing with the world itself ! At last this dreadful darkness was 
dissipated by degrees, like a cloud of smoke ; the real day returned 


and soon the sun appeared, though very faintly, and as when an 
eclipse is coming on. Every object that presented itself to our 
eyes (which were extremely weakened) seemed changed, being cov- 
ered over with white ashes, as with a deep snow. We returned to 
Misenum, where we refreshed ourselves as well as we could, and 
passed an anxious night between hope and fear, for the earthquake 
still continued, while several greatly excited people ran up and down, 
heightening their own and their friends' calamities by terrible pre- 
dictions. However, my mother and I, notwithstanding the danger 
we had passed and that which still threatened us, had no thoughts 
of leaving the place till we should receive some account from my 

" And now you will read this narrative without any view of 
inserting it in your history, of which it is by no means worthy; 
and, indeed, you must impute it to your own request if 'it shall not 
even deserve the trouble of a letter. Farewell ! " 


The story told by Pliny is the only one upon which we can 
rely. Dion Cassius, the historian, who wrote more than a century 
later, does not hesitate to use his imagination, telling us that Pom- 
peii was buried under showers of ashes " while all the people were 
sitting in the theatre." This statement has been effectively made 
use of by Bulwer, in his '/ Last Days of Pompeii." In this he pic- 
tures for us a gladiatorial combat in the arena, with thousands of 
deeply interested spectators occupying the surrounding seats. The 
novelist works his story up to a thrilling climax in which the volcano 
plays a leading part. 

This is all very well as a vivid piece of fiction, but it does not 
accord with fact, since Dion Cassius was undoubtedly incorrect in 

(Copyrighted by Judge Publishing Co , 1902 ) 


(Copyrighted by Judge Publishing Co , 1902.) „„,., 


(Copyrighted by Judge Publishing Co , 1902.) 








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his statement. We now know from the evidence furnished by the 
excavations that none of the people were destroyed in the theatres, 
and, indeed, that there were very few who did not escape from both 
cities. It is very likely that many of them returned and dug down 
for the most valued treasures in their buried habitations. Dion 
Cassius may have obtained the material for his accounts from the 
traditions of the descendants of survivors, and if so he shows 
how terrible must have been the impression made upon their 
minds. He assures us that during the eruption a multitude of men 
of superhuman nature appeared, sometimes on the mountain and 
sometimes in the environs, that stones and smoke were thrown out, 
the sun was hidden, and then the giants seemed to rise again, while 
the sounds of trumpets were heard. 


Not far from Vesuvius lay the famous Lake Avernus, whose 
name was long a popular synonym for the infernal regions. The 
lake is harmless to-day, but its reputation indicates that it was not 
always so. There is every reason to believe that it hides the out- 
let of an extinct volcano, and that long after the volcano ceased to 
be active it emitted gases as fatal to animal life as those suffocat- 
ing vapors which annihilated all the cattle on the Island of Lance- 
rote, in the Canaries, in the year 1730. Its name signifies "bird- 
less," indicating that its ascending vapors were fatal to all birds 
that attempted to fly above its surface. 

In the superstition of the Middle Ages Vesuvius assumed the 
character which had before been given to Avernus, and was 
regarded as the mouth of hell. Cardinal Damiano, in a letter to 
Pope Nicholas II., written about the year 1060. tells the story of 
how a priest, who had left his mother ill at Beneventum, went on 



his homeward way to Naples past the crater of Vesuvius, and heard 
issuing therefrom the voice of his mother in great agony. He after- 
ward found that her death coincided exactly with the time at which 
he had heard her voice. 

A trip to the summit of Vesuvius is one of the principal attrac- 
tions for strangers who are visiting Naples. There is a fascina- 
tion about that awful slayer of cities which few can resist, and no 


less attractive is the city of Pompeii, now largely laid bare after 
being buried for eighteen centuries. We are indebted to Henry 
Haynie for the following interesting description : "Once seen, it will 
never be forgotten. It is full of suggestions. It kindles emotions 
that are worth the kindling- and brings on dreams that are worth 
the dreaming. Of the three places overwhelmed, Herculaneum, 
Pompeii and Stabiae, the last scarcely repays excavation in one 


sense, and the first in another ; but to watch the diggers at Pom- 
peii is fascinating, even when there is no reasonable expectation of 
a find. Herculaneum was buried with lava, or rather with tufa, and 
it is so very hard that the expense of uncovering of only a small 
part of that city has been very great. 


. " Pompeii was smothered in ashes, however, and most of it is 
uncovered now. But while there is much that is fascinating, and 
all of it is instructive, there is nothing grand or awe-inspiring in 
the ruins of Pompeii. No visitor stands breathless as in the great 
hall of Karnak or in the once dreadful Coliseum at Rome, or 
dreams with sensuous delight as before the Jasmine Court at Agra. 
" The weirdness of the scene possesses us as a haunted cham- 
ber might. We have before us the narrow lanes, paved with tufa, 
in which Roman wagon wheels have worn deep ruts. We cross 
streets on stepping-stones which sandaled feet ages ago polished. 
We see the wine shops with empty jars, counters stained with 
liquor, stone mills where the wheat was ground, and the very ovens 
in which bread was baked more than eighteen centuries ago. 'Wel- 
come' is offered us at one silent, broken doorway; at another we 
are warned to ' Beware of the dog ! ' The painted figures, — some 
of them so artistic and rich in colors that pictures of them are dis- 
believed, — the mosaic pavements, the empty fountains, the altars 
and household gods, the marble pillars and the small gardens are 
there just as the owners left them. Some of the walls are scribbled 
over by the small boys of Pompeii in strange characters which 
mock modern erudition. In places we read the advertisements of 
gladiatorial shows, never to come off, the names of candidates for 
legislative office who were never to sit. There is nothing like this 


"The value of Pompeii to those classic students who would 
understand, not the speech only, but the life and the every-day 
habits, of the ancient world, is too high for reckoning. Its inesti- 
mable evidence may be seen in the fact that any high-school boy 
can draw the plan of a Roman house, while ripest scholars hesitate 
on the very threshhold of a Greek dwelling. This is because no 
Hellenic Pompeii has yet been discovered, but thanks to the silent 
city close to the beautiful Bay of Naples, the Latin house is known 
from ostium to porticus, from the front door to the back garden 


" The streets of Pompeii must have had a charm unapproached 
by those of any city now in existence. The stores, indeed, were 
wretched little dens. Two or three of them commonly occupied 
the front of a house on either side of the entrance, the ostium ; 
but when the door lay open, as was usually the case, a passerby 
could look into the atrium, prettily decorated and hung with rich 
stuffs. The sunshine entered through an aperture in the roof, and 
shone on the waters of the impluvium, the mosaic floor, the altar of 
the household gods and the flowers around the fountain. 

" As the life of the Pompeiians was all outdoors, their pretty 
homes stood open always. There was indeed a curtain betwixt 
the atrium and the peristyle, but it was drawn only when the mas- 
ter gave a banquet. Thus a wayfarer in the street could see, be- 
yond the hall described and its busy servants, the white columns of 
the peristyle, with creepers trained about them, flowers all around, 
and jets of water playing through pipes which are still in place. In 
many cases the garden itself could be observed between the pillars 
of the further gallery, and rich paintings on the wall beyond that. 


" But how far removed those little palaces of Pompeii were 
from our notion of well-being is scarcely to be understood by one 
who has not seen them. It is a question strange in all points of 
view where the family slept in the houses, nearly all of which had 
no second story. In the most graceful villas the three to five sleep- 1 
ing chambers round the atrium and four round the peristyle were 
rather ornamental cupboards than aught else. One did not differ 
from another, and if these were devoted to the household the 
slaves, male and female, must have slept on the floor outside. The 
master, his family and his guest used these small, dark rooms, which 
were apparently without such common luxuries as we expect in the 
humblest home. All their furniture could hardly have been more 
than a bed and a footstool ; but it should be remembered that the 
public bath was a daily amusement. The kitchen of each villa cer- 
tainly was not furnished with such ingenuity, expense or thought 
as the stories of Roman gormandising would have led us to expect. 
In the house of the ^Edile — so called from the fact that ' Pansam 
/Ed.' is inscribed in red characters by the doorway — the cook seems 
to have been employed in frying eggs at the moment when increas- 
ing danger put him to flight. His range, four partitions of brick, 
was very small ; a knife, a strainer, a pan lay by the fire just as 
they fell from the slave's hand." 


This description strongly presents to us the principal value of 
the discovery of Pompeii. Interesting as are the numerous works 
of art found in its habitations, and important as is their bearing 
upon some branches of the art of the ancient world, this cannot 
compare in interest with the flood of light which is here thrown on 
ancient life in all its details, enabling us to picture to ourselves the 


manners and habits of life of a cultivated and flourishing popula- 
tion at the beginning of the Christian era, to an extent which no 
amount of study of ancient history could yield. 

Looking upon the work of the volcano as essentially destruc- 
tive, as we naturally do, we have here a valuable example of its 
power as a preservative agent ; and it is certainly singular that it is 
to a volcano we owe much of what we know concerning the cities, 
dwellings and domestic life of the people of the Roman Empire. 

It would be very fortunate for students of antiquity if similar 
disasters had happened to cities in other ancient civilized lands, 
however unfortunate it might have been to their inhabitants. But 
doubtless we are better off without knowledge gained from ruins 
thus produced. 


Eruptions of Vesuvius, Etna and Stromboli. 

OUNT VESUVIUS is of especial interest as being the only 
active volcano on the continent of Europe — all others of 
that region being on the islands of the Mediterranean — and 
for the famous ancient eruption described in the last chapter. 
Before this it had borne the reputation of being extinct, but since 
then it has frequently shown that its fires have not burned out, and 
has on several occasions given a vigorous display of its powers. 

During the fifteen hundred years succeeding the destructive 
event described eruptions were of occasional occurrence, though of 
no great magnitude. But throughout the long intervals when 
Vesuvius was at rest it was noted that Etna and Ischia were more 
or less disturbed. 


In 1538 a startling evidence was given that there was no de- 
cline of energy in the volcanic system of Southern Italy. This was 
the sudden birth of the mountain still known as Monte Nuovo, or 
New Mountain, which was thrown up in the Campania near Aver- 
nus, on the spot formerly occupied by the Lucrine Lake. 

For about two years prior to this event the district had been 
disturbed by earthquakes, which on September 27 and 28, 1538, 
became almost continuous. The low shore was slightly elevated, 
so that the sea retreated, leaving bare a strip about two hundred 
feet in width. The surface cracked, steam escaped, and at last, 



early on the morning of the 29th, a greater rent was made, from 
which were vomited furiously "smoke, fire, stones and mud com- 
posed of ashes, making at the time of its opening a noise like the 
loudest thunder." 

The ejected material in less than twelve hours built the hill 
which has lasted substantially in the same form to our day. It is 
a noteworthy fact that since the formation of Monte Nuovo there 
has been no volcanic disturbance in any part of the Neapolitan 
district except in Vesuvius, which for five centuries previous had 
remained largely at rest. 


The first recognised appearance of lava in the eruptions of 
Vesuvius was in the violent eruption of 1036. This was succeeded 
at intervals by five other outbreaks, none of them of great energy. 
After 1500 the crater became completely quiet, the whole mountain 
in time being grown over with luxuriant vegetation, while by the 
next century the interior of the crater became green with shrub- 
bery, indicating that no injurious gases were escaping. 

This was sleep, not death. In 1631 the awakening came in an 
eruption of terrible violence. Almost in a moment the green 
mantle of woodland and shrubbery was torn away and death and 
destruction left where peace and safety had seemed assured. 

Seven streams of lava poured from the crater and swept rap- 
idly down the mountain side, leaving ruin along their paths. Re- 
sina, Granasello and Torre del Greco, three villages that had grown 
up during the period of quiescence, were more or less overwhelmed 
by the molten lava. Great torrents of hot water also poured out, 
adding to the work of desolation.. It was estimated that eighteen 
thousand of the inhabitants were killed. 

Vesuvius, etna and stromboli i 57 

What made the horror all the greater was a frightful error of 
judgment, similar to that of the Governor of Martinique at St. 
Pierre. The Governor of Torre del Greco had refused to be 
warned in time, and prevented the people from making their escape 
until it was too late. Not until the lava had actually reached the 
walls was the order for departure given. Before the order could 
be acted upon the molten streams burst through the walls into 
the crowded streets and overwhelmed the vast majority of the in- 

In this violent paroxysm the whole top of the mountain is said 
to have been swept away, the new crater which took the place of 
the old one being greatly lowered. From that date Vesuvius has 
never been at rest for any long interval, and eruptions of some 
degree of violence have been rarely more than a few years apart. 
Of its various later manifestations of energy we select for description 
that of 1767, of which an interesting account by a careful observer 
is extant. 


From the ioth of December, 1766, to March, 1767, Vesuvius 
was quiet ; then it began to throw up stones from time to time. 
In April the throws were more frequent, and at night the red glare 
grew stronger on the cloudy columns which hung over the crater. 
These repeated throws of cinders, ashes and pumice-stones so much 
increased the small cone of eruption which had been left in the 
centre of the flat crateral space that its top became visible at a dis- 

On the 7th of August there issued a small stream of lava from 
a braach in the side of a small cone ; the lava gradually filled the 
space between the cone and the crateral edge ; on the 12th of Sep- 
tember it overflowed the crater, and ran down the mountain. 


Stones were ejected which took ten seconds in their fall, from which 
it may be computed that the height which the stones reached was 
i>6oo feet. Padre Torre, a great observer of Vesuvius, says they 
went up above a thousand feet. The lava ceased on the 18th of 
October, but at 8 a. m. on the 19th it rushed out at a different 
place, after volleys of stones had been thrown to an immense 
height, and the huge traditional pine-tree of smoke reappeared. 
On this occasion that vast phantom extended its menacing shadow 
over Capri, at a distance of twenty-eight miles from Vesuvius. 

The lava at first came out of a mouth about one hundred yards 
below the crater, on the side toward Monte Somma. While occu- 
pied in viewing this current, the observer heard a violent noise 
within the mountain ; saw it split open at the distance of a quarter 
of a mile, and saw from the new mouth a mountain of liquid fire shoot 
up many feet, and then, like a torrent, roll on toward him. The earth 
shook ;. stones fell thick around him; dense clouds of ashes dark- 
ened the air ; loud thunders came from the mountain top, and he 
took to precipitate flight. The Padre's account is too lively and 
instructive for his own words to be omitted. 

padre torre's narrative 

" I was making my observations upon the lava, which had 
already, from the spot where it first broke out, reached the valley, 
when, on a sudden, about noon, I heard a violent noise within the 
mountain, and at a spot about a quarter of a mile off the place 
where I stood the mountain split ; and with much noise, from this 
new mouth, a fountain of liquid fire shot up many feet high, and 
then like a torrent rolled on directly towards us. The earth shook 
at the same time that a volley of stones fell thick upon us ; in an 
instant clouds of black smoke and ashes caused almost a total 


darkness ; the explosions from the top of the mountain were much 
louder than any thunder I ever heard, and the smell of the sulphur 
was very offensive. My guide, alarmed, took to his heels ; and I 
must confess that I was not at my ease. I followed close, and we 
ran near three miles without stopping ; as the earth continued to 
shake under our feet, I was apprehensive of the opening of a fresh 
mouth which misrht have cut off our retreat. 

" I also feared that the violent explosions would detach some 
of the rocks off the mountain of Somma, under which we were 
obliged to pass ; besides, the pumice-stones, falling upon us like 
hail, were of such a size as to cause a disagreeable sensation in the 
part upon which they fell. After having taken breath, as the earth 
trembled greatly I thought it most prudent to leave the mountain 
and return to my villa, where I found my family in great alarm at 
the continual and violent explosions of the volcano, which shook 
our house to its very foundation, the doors and windows swinging 
upon their hinges. 

"About two of the clock in the afternoon (19th) another lava 
stream forced its way out of the same place from whence came the 
lava of last year, so that the conflagration was soon as great on this 
side of the mountain as on the other which I had just left. I 
observed on my way to Naples, which was in less than two hours 
after I had left the mountain, that the lava had actually covered 
three miles of the very road through which we had retreated. 
This river of lava in the Atrio del Cavallo was sixty or seventy 
feet deep, and in some places nearly two miles broad. Besides the 
explosions, which were frequent, there was a continued subter- 
ranean and violent rumbling noise, which lasted five hours in the 
night, — supposed to arise from contact of the lava with rain-water 
lodged in cavities within. The whole neighborhood was shaken 


violently ; Portici and Naples were in the extremity of alarm ; the 
churches were filled ; the streets were thronged with processions of 
saints, and various ceremonies were performed to quell the fury 
of the mountain. 

" In the night of the 20th, the occasion being critical, the pris- 
oners in the public jail attempted to escape, and the mob set fire 
to the gates of the residence of the Cardinal Archbishop because 
he refused to bring out the relics of St. Januarius. The 21st was 
a quieter day, but the whole violence of the eruption returned on 
the 22d, at 10 a. m., with the same thundering noise, but more vio- 
lent and alarming. Ashes fell in abundance in the streets of Naples, 
covering the housetops and balconies an inch deep. Ships at sea, 
twenty leagues from Naples, were covered with them. 

"In the midst of these horrors, the mob, growing tumultuous 
and impatient, obliged the Cardinal to bring out the head of St. 
Januarius, at the extremity of Naples, toward Vesuvius; and it is 
well attested here that the eruption ceased the moment the saint 
came in sieht of the mountain. It is true the noise ceased about 
that time after having lasted five hours, as it had done the preced- 
ing days. 

" On the 23d the lava still ran, but on the 24th it ceased ; but 
smoke continued. On the 25th there rose a vast column of black 
smoke, giving out much forked lightning with thunder, in a sky 
quite clear except for the smoke of the volcano. On the 26th 
smoke continued, but on the 27th the eruption came to an end." 

This eruption was also described by Sir William Hamilton, 
who continued to keep a close watch on the movements of the vol- 
cano for many years. The next outbreak of especial violence took 
place in 1779, when what seemed to the eye a column of fire 
ascended two miles high, while cinder fragments fell far and wide, 


destroying the hopes of harvest throughout a wide district. They 
fell in abundance thirty miles distant, and the dust of the explo- 
sion was carried a hundred miles away. 

In 1793 the crater became active again, and in 1794, after a 
period of short tranquillity or comparative inaction, the mountain 
again became agitated, and one of the most formidable eruptions 
known in the history of Vesuvius began. It was in some respects 
unlike many others, being somewhat peculiar as to the place of its 
outburst, the temperature of the lava, and the course of the current. 
Breislak, an Italian geologist, observed the characteristic phenomena 
with the eye of science, and his account supplies many interesting 


Breislak remarked certain changes in the character of the earth- 
motions during this six hours' eruption, which led him to some par- 
ticular conjecture of the cause. At the beginning the trembling 
was continual, and accompanied by a hollow noise, similar to that 
occasioned by a river falling into a subterranean cavern. The lava, 
at the time of its being disgorged, from the impetuous and uninter- 
rupted manner in which it was ejected, causing it to strike violently 
against the walls of the vent, occasioned a continual oscillation of 
the mountain. Toward the middle of the night this vibratory 
motion ceased, and was succeeded by distant shocks. The fluid 
mass, diminished in quantity, now pressed less violently against the 
walls of the aperture, and no longer issued in a continual and 
gushing stream, but only at intervals, when the interior fermenta- 
tion elevated the boiling matter above the mouth. About 4 a. m. 
the shocks began to be less numerous, and the intervals between 
them rendered their force and duration more perceptible. 


During this tremendous eruption at the base of the Vesuvian 
cone, and the fearful earthquakes which accompanied it, the summit 
was tranquil. The sky was serene, the stars were brilliant, and only 
over Vesuvius hung a thick, dark smoke-cloud, lighted up into an 
auroral arch by the glare of a stream of fire more than two miles 
long, and more than a quarter of a mile broad. The sea was calm, 
and reflected the red glare ; while from the source of the lava came 
continual jets of uprushing incandescent stones. Nearer to 
view, Torre del Greco in flames, and clouds of black smoke, with 
falling houses, presented a dark and tragical foreground, heightened 
by the subterranean thunder of the mountain, and the groans and 
lamentations of fifteen thousand ruined men, women and children. 

The heavy clouds of ashes which were thrown out on this 
occasion gathered in the early morning into a mighty shadow over 
Naples and the neighborhood ; the sun rose pale and obscure, and 
a long, dim twilight reigned afterward. 

Such were the phenomena on the western side of Vesuvius. 
They were matched by others on the eastern aspect, not visible at 
Naples, except by reflection of their light in the atmosphere. The 
lava on this side flowed eastward, along a route often traversed by 
lava, by the broken crest of the Cognolo and the valley of 
Sorienta. The extreme length to which this current reached was 
not less than an Italian mile. The cubic content was estimated to 
be half that already assigned to the western currents. Taken 
together they amounted to 20,744,445 cubic metres, or 2,804,440 
cubic fathoms ; the constitution of the lava being the same in each, 
both springing from one deep-seated reservoir of fluid rock. 

The eruption of lava ceased on the 16th, and then followed 
heavy discharges of ashes, violent shocks of earthquakes, thunder 
and lightning in the columns of vapors and ashes, and finally heavy 


rains, lasting till the 3d of July. The barometer during all the 
eruption was steady. 

Breislak made an approximate calculation of the quantity of 
ashes which fell on Vesuvius during this great eruption, and states 
the result as equal to what would cover a circular area 6 kilometres 
(about 2>}4, English miles) in radius, and 39 centimetres (about 15 
inches) in depth. 


Among the notable things which attended this eruption, it is 
recorded that in Torre del Greco metallic and other substances 
exposed to the current were variously affected. Silver was melted, 
glass became porcelain, iron swelled to four times its volume and 
lost its texture. Brass was decomposed, and its constituent copper 
crystallized in cubic and octahedral forms aggregated in beautiful 
branches. Zinc was sometimes turned to blende. Durino- the 
eruption, the lip of the crater toward Bosco Tre Case on the south- 
east, fell in, or was thrown off, and the height of that part was 
reduced 426 feet. 

On the 17th, the sea was found in a boiling state 100 yards off 
the new promontory made by the lava of Torre del Greco, and no 
boat could remain near it on account of the melting of the pitch in 
her bottom. For nearly a month after the eruption vast quantities 
of fine white ashes, mixed with volumes of steam, were thrown out 
from the crater ; the clouds thus generated were condensed into 
heavy rain, and large tracts of the Vesuvian slopes were deluged 
with volcanic mud. It filled ravines, such as Fosso Grande, and 
concreted and hardened there into pumiceous tufa — a very instruc- 
tive phenomenon. 

Immense injury was done to the rich territory of Somma, Otta- 
jano and Bosco by heavy rains, which swept along cinders, broke 


up the road and bridges, and overturned trees and houses for the 
space of fifteen days. 

There were few years during the nineteenth century in which 
Vesuvius did not show symptoms of its internal fires, and at inter- 
vals it manifested much activity, though not equaling the terrible 
eruptions of its past history. The severest eruptions in that cen- 
tury were those of 187 1 and 1876. In the first a sudden emission 
of lava killed twenty spectators at the mouth of the crater, and only 
spent its fury after San Sebastian and Massa had been well nigh 
annihilated. Fragments of rock were thrown up to the height of 
4,000 feet, and the explosions were so violent that the whole 
countryside fled panic stricken to Naples. The activity of the vol- 
cano, accompanied by distinct shocks of earthquake, lasted for a 

In 1876, for three weeks together, lava streamed down the side 
of Vesuvius, sweeping away the village of Cercolo and running 
nearly to the sea at Ponte Maddaloni. There were then formed 
ten small craters within the greater one. But these were united 
by a later eruption in 1888, and pressure from beneath formed a 
vast cone where they had been. 


It may seem strange that so dangerous a neighborhood should 
be inhabited. But so it is. Though Pompeii, Herculaneum and 
Stabiae lie buried beneath the mud and ashes belched out of the 
mouth of Vesuvius, the villages of Portici and Revina, Torre del 
Greco and Torre del Annunziata have taken their place, and a large 
population, cheerful and prosperous, flourishes around the dis- 
turbed mountain and over the district of which it is the somewhat 
untrustworthy safety-valve. 


It is thus that man, in his eagerness to cultivate all available 
parts of the earth, dares the most frightful perils and ventures into 
the most threatening situations, seeking to snatch the means of 
life from the very jaws of death. The danger is soon forgotten, 
the need of cultivation of the ground is ever pressing, and no 
threats of peril seem capable of restraining the activity of man for 
many years. Though the proposition of abandoning the Island of 
Martinique has been seriously considered, the chances are that, before 
many years have passed, a cheerful and busy population will be at 
work again on the flanks of Mont Pelee. 


On the eastern coast of the Island of Sicily, and not far from 
the sea, rises in solitary grandeur Mount Etna, the largest and 
highest of European volcanoes. Its height above the level of the 
sea is a little over 10,870 feet, considerably above the limit of per- 
petual snow. It accordingly presents the striking phenomenon of 
volcanic vapors ascending from a snow-clad summit. The base of 
the mountain is eighty-seven miles in circumference, and nearly 
circular; but there is a wide additional extent all around over- 
spread by its lava. The lower portions of the mountain arc 
exceedingly fertile, and richly adorned with corn-fields, vineyards, 
olive-groves and orchards. Above this region are extensive forests, 
chiefly of oak, chesnut, and pine, with here and there clumps of 
cork-trees and beech. In this forest region are grassy glades, which 
afford rich pasture to numerous flocks. Above the forest lies a 
volcanic desert, covered with black lava and slag. Out of this 
region, which is comparatively flat rises the principal cone, about 
1,100 feet in height, having on its summit the crater, whence sul- 
phurous vapors are continually evolved. 


The great height of Etna has exerted a remarkable influence 
on its general conformation : for the volcanic forces have rarely 
been of sufficient energy to throw the lava quite up to the crater 
at the summit. The consequence has been, that numerous subsi- 
diary craters and cones have been formed all around the flanks of 
the mountain, so that it has become rather a cluster of volcanoes 
than a single volcanic cone. 

The eruptions of this mountain have been numerous, records 
of them extending back to several centuries before the Christian 
era, while unrecorded ones doubtless took place much further back. 
After the beginning of the Christian era, and more especially after 
the breaking forth of Vesuvius in 79 a. d., Etna enjoyed longer 
intervals of repose. Its eruptions since that time have neverthe- 
less been numerous — more especially during the intervals when 
Vesuvius was inactive — there being a sort of alternation between 
the periods of great activity of the two mountains ; although 
there are not a few instances of their having been both in action 
at the same time. 


There is a great similarity in the character of the eruptions of 
Etna. Earthquakes presage the outburst, loud explosions follow, 
rifts and bocche delfuoco open in the sides of the mountain ; smoke, 
sand, ashes and scoriae are discharged, the action localizes itself in 
one or more craters, cinders are thrown up and accumulate around 
the crater and cone, ultimately lava rises and frequently breaks 
down one side of the cone where the resistance is least ; then the 
eruption is at an end. 

Smyth says: "The symptoms which precede an eruption are 
generally irregular clouds of smoke,ferilli or volcanic lightnings, 



hollow intonations and local earthquakes that often alarm the sur- 
rounding country as far as Messina, and have given the whole pro- 
vince the name of Val Demone, as being the abode of infernal 
spirits. These agitations increase until the vast cauldron becomes 
surcharged with the fused minerals, when, if the convulsion is not 
sufficiently powerful to force them from the great crater (which, 
from its great altitude and the weight of the candent matter, 


requires an uncommon effort), they explode through that part of 
the side which offers the least resistance with a grand and terrific 
effect, throwing- red-hot stones and flakes of fire to an incredible 
height, and spreading ignited cinders and ashes in every direction." 
After the eruption of ashes, lava frequently follows, sometimes 
rising to the top of the cone of cinders, at others disrupting it on 
the least resisting side. When the lava has reached the base of 


the cone it begins to flow down the mountain, and, being then in a 
very fluid state, it moves with great velocity. As it cools, the sides 
and surface begin to harden, its velocity decreases, and after 
several days it moves only a few yards an hour. The internal 
portions, however, part slowly with their heat, and months after 
the eruption clouds of steam arise from the black and exter- 
nally cold lava-beds after rain ; which, having penetrated through 
the cracks, has found its way to the heated mass within. 


The most memorable of the eruptions of Etna was that which 
elevated the double cone of Monte Rossi and destroyed a large 
part of the city of Catania. It happened in the year 1669, and 
was preceded by an earthquake, which overthrew the town of Nico- 
losi, situated ten miles inland from Catania, and about twenty miles 
from the top of Etna. The eruption began with the sudden open- 
ing of an enormous fissure, extending from a little way above 
Nicolosi to within about a mile of the top of the principal cone, 
its length being twelve miles, its average breadth six feet, its depth 

We have a more detailed account of this eruption than of any 
preceding one, as it was observed by men of science from various 
countries. The account from which we select is that of Alfonso 
Borelli, Professor of Mathematics in Catania. 

From the fissure above mentioned, he says, there came a 
bright light. Six mouths opened in a line with it and emitted vast 
columns of smoke, accompanied by loud bellowings which could be 
heard forty miles off. Towards the close of the day a crater 
opened about a mile below the others, which ejected red-hot stones 
to a considerable distance, and afterward sand and ashes which 


covered the country for a distance of sixty miles. The new crater 
soon vomited forth a torrent of lava which presented a front of two 
miles ; it encircled Monpilieri, and afterward flowed towards Bel- 
passo, a town of 8,000 inhabitants, which was speedily destroyed. 
Seven mouths of fire opened around the new crater, and in three 
days united with it, forming one large crater 800 feet in diameter. 
All this time the torrent of lava continued to descend, it destroying 
the town of Mascalucia on the 23d of March. On the same day 
the crater cast up great quantities of sand, ashes and scoriae, and 
formed above itself the great double-coned hill now called Monte 
Rossi, from the red color of the ashes of which it is mainly com- 


On the 25th very violent earthquakes occurred, and the cone 
above the great central crater was shaken down into the crater for 
the fifth time since the first century A. D. The original current of 
lava divided into three streams, one of which destroyed San Pietro, 
the second Camporotondo, and the third the lands about Masca- 
lucia and afterward the village of Misterbianco. Fourteen villages 
were altogether destroyed, and the lava flowed toward Catania. 
At Albanelli, two miles from the city, it undermined a hill covered 
with cornfields and carried it forward a considerable distance. A 
vineyard was also seen to be floating on its fiery surface. When 
the lava reached the walls of Catania, it accumulated without pro- 
gression until it rose to the top Oi the wall, 60 feet in height, and 
it then fell over in a fiery cascade and overwhelmed a part of the 
city. Another portion of the same stream threw down 120 feet of 
the wall and flowed into the city. 

On the 23d of April the lava reached the sea, which it entered 
as a stream 600 yards broad and 40 feet deep. The stream had 


moved at the rate of thirteen miles in twenty days, but as it cooled 
it moved less quickly, and during the last twenty-three days of its 
course, it advanced only two miles. On reaching the sea the water, of 
course, began to boil violently, and clouds of steam arose, carrying 
with them particles of scorise. Towards the end of April the 
stream on the west side of Catania, which had appeared to be con- 
solidated, again burst forth, and flowed into the garden of the 
Benedictine Monastery of San Niccola^and then branched off into 
the city. Attempts were made to build walls *-q arrest its progress. 
An attempt of another kind was made by a gentleman of 
Catania, named Pappalardo, who took fifty men with him, having 
previously provided them with skins for protection from the intense 
heat and with crowbars to effect an opening in the lava. They 
pierced the solid outer crust of solidified lava, and a rivulet of the 
molten interior immediately gushed out and flowed in the direction 
of Paterno, whereupon 500 men of that town, alarmed for its 
safety, took up arms and caused Pappalardo and his men to desist. 
The lava did not altogether stop for four months, and two years 
after it had ceased to flow it was found to be red hot beneath the 
surface. Even eight years after the eruption quantities of steam 
escaped from the lava after a shower of rain. 


The stones which were ejected from the crater during this 
eruption were often of considerable magnitude, and Borelli calcu- 
lated that the diameter of one which he saw was 50 feet ; it was 
thrown to a distance of a mile, and as it fell it penetrated the 
earth to a depth of 23 feet. The volume of lava emitted during 
the eruption amounted to many millions of cubic feet. Ferara 
considers that the length of the stream was at least fifteen miles, 


while its average width was between two and three miles, so that it 
covered at least forty square miles of surface. 

Among the towns overflowed by this great eruption was Mom- 
pilieri. Thirty-five years afterward, in 1704, an excavation was 
made on the site of the principal church of this place, and at the 
depth of thirty-five feet the workmen came upon the gate, which 
was adorned with three statues. From under an arch which had 
been formed by the lava, one of these statues, with a bell and some 
coins, were extracted in good preservation. This fact is remark- 
able ; for in a subsequent eruption, which happened in 1766, a hill 
about fifty feet in height, being surrounded on either side by two 
streams of lava, was in a quarter of an hour swept along by the 
current. The latter event may be explained by supposing that the 
hill in question was cavernous in its structure, and that the lava, 
penetrating into the cavities, forced asunder their walls, and so 
detached the superincumbent mass from its supports. 

It is not by its streams of fire alone that Etna ravages the val- 
leys and plains at its base. It sometimes also deluges them with 
great floods of water. On the 2d of March, 1755, two streams of 
lava, issuing from the highest crater, were at once precipitated on 
an enormous mass of very deep snow, which then clothed the sum- 
mit. These fiery currents ran through the snow to a distance of 
three miles, melting it as they flowed. The consequence was, that a 
tremendous torrent of water rushed down the sides of the mountain, 
carrying with it vast quantities of sand, volcanic cinders and blocks 
of lava, with which it overspread the flanks of the mountain and 
the plains beneath, which it devastated in its course. 

The volume of water was estimated at 16,000,000 cubic feet, 
it forming a channel two miles broad and in some places thirty-four 
feet deep, and flowing at the rate of two-thirds of a mile in a minute. 


All the winter's snow on the mountain could not have yielded such a 
flood, and Lyell considered that it melted older layers of ice which 
had been preserved under a covering' of volcanic dust. 

etna in i 819 

Another great eruption took place in 18 19, which presented 
some peculiarities. Near the point whence the highest stream of 
lava issued in 181 1, there were opened three large mouths, which, 
with loud explosions, threw up hot cinders and sand, illuminated 
by a strong glare from beneath. Shortly afterwards there was 
opened, a little lower down, another mouth, from which a similar 
eruption took place ; and still farther down there soon appeared 
a fifth, whence there flowed a torrent of lava which rapidly spread 
itself over the Val del Bove. During the first forty-eight hours it 
flowed nearly four miles, when it received a great accession. The 
three original mouths became united into one large crater, from 
which, as well as from the other two mouths below, there poured 
forth a vastly augmented torrent of lava, which rushed with great 
impetuosity down the same valley. 

During its progress over this gentle slope, it acquired the usual 
crust of hardened slag. It directed its course towards that point at 
which Val del Bove opens into the narrow ravine beneath it — there 
being between the two a deep and almost perpendicular precipice. 
Arrived at this point, the lava-torrent leaped over the precipice in 
a vast cascade, and with a thundering noise, arising chiefly from 
the crashing and breaking up of the solid crust, which was in a great 
measure pounded to atoms by the fall ; it throwing up such vast 
clouds of dust as to awaken an alarm that a fresh eruption had 
begun at this place, which is within the wooded region. 


A very violent eruption, which lasted more than nine months, 
commenced on the 21st of August, 1852. It was first witnessed by 
a party of English tourists, who were ascending the mountain from 
Nicolosi in order to see the sunrise from the summit. As they 
approached the Casa Inglesi the crater commenced to give forth 
ashes and flames of fire. In a narrow defile they were met by a 
violent hurricane, which overthrew both the mules and their riders, 
and urged them toward the precipices of the Val del Bove. They 
sheltered themselves beneath some masses of lava, when suddenly 
an earthquake shook the mountain, and their mules in terror fled 
away. As day approached they returned on foot to Nicolosi, for- 
tunately without having sustained injury. In the course of the 
night many bocche del fuoco (small lava vents) opened in that part 
of the Val del Bove called the Bazo di Trifoglietto, a great fissure 
opened at the base of the Giannicola Grande, and a crater was 
thrown up from which for seventeen days showers of sand and 
scoriae were ejected. 


During the next day a quantity of lava flowed down the Val 
del Bove, branching off so that one stream advanced to the foot 01 
Monte Finocchio, and the other to Monte Calanna. Afterwards it 
flowed towards Zaffarana, and devastated a large tract of wooded 
region. Four days later a second crater was formed near the first, 
from which lava was emitted, together with sand and scoriae, which 
caused cones to arise around the craters. The lava moved but 
slowly, and towards the end of August it came to a stand, only a 
quarter of a mile from Zaffarana. 

On the second of September, Gemellaro ascended Monte 
Finocchio in the Val del Bove in order to witness the outburst. 
He states that the hill was violently agitated, like a ship at sea. 



The surface of the Val del Bove appeared like a molten lake ; 
scoriae were thrown up from the craters to a great height, and loud 
explosions were heard at frequent intervals. The eruption con- 
tinued to increase in violence. On October 6 two new mouths 
opened in the Val del Bove, emitting lava which flowed towards 
the valley of Calanna, and fell over the Salto della Giumenta, a 
precipice nearly 200 feet deep. The noise which it produced was 
like that of a clash of metallic masses. The eruption continued 
with abated violence during the early months of 1853, and it did 
not finally cease till May 27. The entire mass of lava ejected is 
estimated to have been equal to an area six miles long by two miles 
broad, with an average depth of about twelve feet. 

This eruption was one of the grandest of all the known erup- 
tions of Etna. During its outflow more than 2,000,000,000 cubic 
feet of molten lava was spread out over a space of three square 
miles. There have been several eruptions since its date, but none 
of marked prominence, though the mountain is rarely quiescent for 
any lengthened period. 


South-eastward of Ischia, between Calabria and Sicily, the 
Lipari Islands arrest attention for the volcanic phenomena they 
present. On one of these is Mount Vulcano, or Volcano, from 
which all this class of mountains is named. At present the best 
known of the Lipari volcanoes is Stromboli, which consists of a 
single mountain, having a very obtuse conical form. It has on one 
side of it several small craters, of which only one is at present in 
a state of activity. 

The total height of the mountain is about 2000 feet, and the 
principal crater is situated at about two-thirds of the height 
Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It is 


mentioned as being in a state of activity by several writers before 
the Christian era, and the commencement of its operations extends 
into the past beyond the limits of tradition. Since history began 
its action has never wholly ceased, although it may have varied 
in intensity from time to time. 

It has been observed that the violence of its eruptive force 
has a certain dependence on the weather — being always most 
intense when the barometer is lowest. From the position of the 
crater, it is possible to ascend the mountain and look down upon 
it from above. Even when viewed in this manner, it -presents 
a very sti iking appearance. While there is an uninterrupted con- 
tinuance of small explosions, there is a frequent succession of more 
violent eruptions, at intervals varying in length from seven to fif- 
teen minutes. 


Several eminent observers have approached quite close to the 
crater, and examined it narrowly. One of these was M. Hoffman, 
who visited it in 1828. 

This eminent geologist, while having his legs held by his com- 
panions, stretched his head over the precipice, and, looking right 
down into the mouth of one of the vents of the crater immedi- 
ately under him, watched the play of liquid lava within it. Its 
surface resembled molten silver, and was constantly rising and fall- 
ing at regular intervals. A bubble of white vapor rose and 
escaped, with a decrepitating noise, at each ascent of the lava — 
tossing up red-hot fragments of scoria, which continued dancing up 
and down with a sort of rhythmic play upon the surface. At inter- 
vals of fifteen minutes or so, there was a pause in these movements. 
Then followed a loud report, while the ground trembled, and there 
rose to the surface of the lava an immense bubble of vapor. This, 


bursting with a crackling noise, threw out to the height of about 
1 200 feet large quantities of red-hot stones and scorise, which, des- 
cribing parabolic curves, fell in a fiery shower all around. After 
another brief repose, the more moderate action was resumed as 

Lipari, a neighboring volcano, was formerly more active than 
Stromboli, though for centuries past it has been in a state of com- 
plete quiescence. The Island of Volcano lies south of Lipari. Its 
crater was active before the Christian era, and still emits sulphurous 
and other vapors. At present its main office is to serve as a sul- 
phur mine. Thus the peak which gives title to all fire-breathing 
mountains has become a servant to man. So are the mighty fallen ! 


Skaptar Jokull and Hecla, the Great Icelandic 


THE far-northern island of Iceland, on the verge of the frozen 
Arctic realm, is one of the most volcanic countries in the 
world, whether we regard the number of volcanoes concen- 
trated in so small a space, or the extraordinary violence of their 
eruptions. Of volcanic mountains there are no less than twenty 
which have been active during historical times. Skaptar in the 
north, and Hecla in the south, being much the best known. In 
all, twenty-three eruptions are on record. 

Iceland's volcanoes rival Mount ^Etna in height and magnitude, 
their action has been more continuous and intense, and the range of 
volcanic products is far greater than in Sicily. The latter island, 
indeed, is not one-tenth of volcanic origin, while the whole of Ice- 
land is due to the work of subterranean forces. It is entirely made 
up of volcanic rocks, and has seemingly been built up during the 
ages from the depths of the seas. It is reported, indeed, that a 
new island, the work of volcanic forces, appeared opposite Mount 
Hecla in 1563 ; but this statement is open to doubt. 


The eruptions of the volcanoes in Iceland have been amongst 
the most terrible of those carefully recorded. The cold climate of 
the island and the height of the mountains produce vast quantities 
of snow and ice, which cover the volcanoes and fill up the cracks 



and valleys in their sides. When, therefore, an eruption commences, 
the intense heat of the boiling lava, and of the steam which rushes 
forth from the crater, makes the whole mountain hot, and vast 
masses of ice, great fields of snow, and deluges of water roll down 
the hill-sides into the plains. The lava pours from the top and 
from cracks in the side of the mountain, or is ejected hundreds of 
feet, to fall amongst the ice and snow ; and the great masses of 
red-hot stone cast forth, accompanied by cinders and fine ashes, 
splash into the roaring torrent, which tears up rocks in its course 
and devastates the surrounding country for miles. 


An eruption of Kotlugja, in i860, was accompanied by dread- 
ful floods. It began with a number of earthquakes, which shook 
the surrounding country. Then a dark columnar cloud of vapor 
was seen to rise by day from the mountain, and by night balls of 
fire (volcanic bombs) and red-hot cinders to the height of 24,000 
feet (nearly five miles), which were seen at a distance of 180 miles. 
Deluges of water rushed from the heights, bearing along whole 
fields of ice and rocky fragments of every size, some vomited from 
the volcano, but in great part torn from the flanks of the mountain 
itself and carried to the sea, there to add considerably to the coast- 
line after devastating the intervening country. The fountain of 
volcanic bombs consisted of masses of lava, containing gases which 
exploded and produced a loud sound, which was said to have been 
heard at a distance of 100 miles. The size of the bombs, and the 
height to which they must have reached, were very great. But the 
most remarkable of the historical eruptions in Iceland were those of 
Skaptar Jokull in 1783. and of Hecla in 1845. Of these an ex- 
tended description is worthy of being given. 


Of these two memorable eruptions, that of Skaptar-Jokull 
began on the 1 ith of June, 1783. It was preceded by a long series 
of earthquakes, which had become exceedingly violent immediately 
before the eruption. On the 8th, volcanic vapors were emitted 
from the summit of the mountain, and on the nth immense tor- 
rents of lava began to be poured forth from numerous mouths. 
These torrents united to form a large stream, which, flowing down 
into the river Skapta, not only dried it up, but completely filled the 
vast gorge through which the river had held its course. This 
gorge, 200 feet in breadth, and from 400 to 600 feet in depth, the 
lava filled so entirely as to overflow to a considerable extent the 
fields on either side. On issuing from this ravine, the lava flowed 
into a deep lake which lay in the course of the river. Here it was 
arrested for a while ; but it ultimately filled the bed of the lake 
altogether — either drying up its waters, or chasing them before it 
into the lower part of the river's course. Still forced onward by the 
accumulation of molten lava from behind, the stream resumed its 
advance, till it reached some ancient volcanic rocks which were full 
of caverns. Into these it entered, and where it could not eat its way 
by melting the old rock, it forced a passage by shivering the solid 
mass and throwing its broken fragments into the air to a height of 
1 50 feet. 


On the 1 8th of June there opened above the first mouth a 
second of large dimensions, whence poured another immense 
torrent of lava, which flowed with great rapidity over the solidified 
surface of the first stream, and ultimately combined with it to form 
a more formidable main current. When this fresh stream reached 
the fiery lake, which had filled the lower portion of the valley of 
the Skapta, a portion of it was forced up the channel of that river, 


towards the foot of the hill whence it takes its rise. After pursuing 
its course for several days, the main body of this stream reached 
the edge of a great waterfall called Stapafoss, which plunged into 
a deep abyss. Displacing the water, the lava here leaped over the 
precipice, and formed a great cataract of fire. After this, it filled 
the channel of the river, though extending itself in breadth far 
beyond it, and followed it until it reached the sea. 


The 3rd of August brought fresh accessions to the flood of 
lava still pouring from the mountain. There being no room in the 
channel, now filled by the former lurid stream, which had pursued a 
northwesterly course, the fresh lava was forced to take anew direc- 
tion towards the southeast, where it entered the bed of another 
river with a barbaric name. Here it pursued a course similar to 
that which flowed through the channel of the Skapta, filling up the 
deep gorges, and then spreading itself out into great fiery lakes 
over the plains. 

The eruptions of lava from the mountain continued, with 
some short intervals, for two years, and so enormous was the 
quantity poured forth during this period that, according to a care- 
ful estimate which has been made, the whole together would form 
a mass equal to that of Mont Blanc. Of the two streams, the 
greater was fifty, the less forty, miles in length. The Skapta 
branch attained on the plains a breadth varying from twelve to 
fifteen miles — that of the other was only about half as much. Each 
of the currents had an average depth of 100 feet, but in the deep 
gorges it was no less than 600 feet. Even as late as 1 794 vapors 
continued to rise from these great streams, and the water contained 
in the numerous fissures formed in their crust was hot. 


The devastation directly wrought by the lava currents them- 
selves was not the whole of the evils they brought upon unfortunate 
Iceland and its inhabitants. Partly owing to the sudden melting 
of the snows and glaciers of the mountain, partly owing to the 
stoppage of the river courses, immense floods of water deluged the 
country in the neighborhood, destroying many villages and a large 
amount of agricultural and other property. Twenty villages were 
overwhelmed by the lava currents, while the ashes thrown out 
during the eruption covered the whole island and the surface of 
the sea for miles around its shores. On several occasions the ashes 
were drifted by the winds over considerable parts of the European 
continent, obscuring the sun and giving the sky a gray and gloomy 
aspect. In certain respects they reproduced the phenomena of the 
explosion of Mount Krakatoa, which, singularly, occurred just a 
century later, in 1883. The strange red sunset phenomena of the 
latter were reproduced by this Icelandic event of the eighteenth 

Out of the 50,000 persons who then inhabited Iceland, 9,336 
perished, together with 11,460 head of cattle, 190,480 sheep and 
28,000 horses. This dreadful destruction of life was caused partly 
by the direct action of the lava currents, partly by the noxious 
vapors they emitted, partly by the floods of water, partly by 
the destruction of the herbage by the falling ashes, and lastly in 
consequence of the desertion of the coasts by the fish, which formed 
a large portion of the food of the people. 


After this frightful eruption, no serious volcanic disturbance 
took place in Iceland untill 1845, when Mount Hecla again became 
disastrously active. Mount Hecla has been the most frequent in its 


eruptions of any of the Icelandic volcanoes. Previous to 1845 
there had been twenty-two recorded eruptions of this mountain, 
since the discovery of Iceland in the ninth century; while from all 
the other volcanoes in the island there had been only twenty dur- 
ing the same period. Hecla has more than once remained in 
activity for six years at a time — a circumstance that has rendered 
it the best known of the volcanoes of this region. 


After enjoying a *ong rest of seventy-nine years, this volcano 
burst again into violent activity in the beginning of September, 
1845. The first inkling of this eruption was conveyed to the Brit- 
ish Islands by a fall of volcanic ashes in the Orkneys, which oc- 
curred on the night of September 2nd during a violent storm. 
This palpable hint was soon confirmed by direct intelligence from 
Copenhagen. On the 1st of September a severe earthquake, fol- 
lowed the same night by fearful subterranean noises, alarmed the 
inhabitants and give warning of what was to come. About noon 
the next day, with a dreadful crash, there opened in the sides of the 
volcano two new mouths, whence two great streams of glowing 
lava poured forth. They fortunately flowed down the north- 
ern and northwestern sides of the mountain, where the low grounds 
are mere barren heaths, affording a scanty pasture for a few sheep. 
These were driven before the fiery stream, but several of them 
were burnt before they could escape. The whole mountain was 
enveloped in clouds of volcanic ashes and vapors. The rivers near 
the lava currents became so hot as to kill the fish, and to be im- 
passable even on horseback. 

About a fortnight later there "was a fresh eruption, of greater 
violence, which lasted twenty-two hours, and was accompanied by 


detonations so loud as to be heard over the whole island. Two 
new craters were formed, one on the southern, the other on the 
eastern slope of the cone. The lava issuing from these craters 
flowed to a distance of more than twenty-two miles. At about two 
miles from its source the fiery stream was a mile wide, and from 
40 to 50 feet deep. It destroyed a large extent of fine pasture and 
many cattle. Nearly a month later, on the 15th of October, a fresh 
flood of lava burst from the southern crater, and soon heaped up a 
mass at the foot of the mountain from 40 to 60 feet in height, three 
great columns of vapor, dust and ashes rising at the same time 
from the three new craters of the volcano. The mountain contin- 
ued in a state of greater or less activity during most of the next 
year; and even as late as the month of October, 1846, after a brief 
pause, it began again with renewed vehemence. The volumes of 
dust, ashes and vapor, thrown up from the craters, and brightly il- 
luminated by the glowing lava beneath, assumed the appearance of 
flames, and ascended to an immense height. 


Among the stones tossed out of the craters was one large mass 
of pumice weighing nearly half a ton, which was carried to a dis- 
tance of between four and five miles. The rivers were flooded by 
the melting of ice and snow which had accumulated on the moun- 
tain. The greatest mischief wrought by these successive eruptions 
was the destruction of the pasturages, which were for the most part 
covered with volcanic ashes. Even where left exposed, the herbage 
acquired a poisonous taint which proved fatal to the cattle, 
inducing among them a peculiar murrain. Fortunately, owing to 
the nature of the district through which the lava passed, there was 
on this occasion no loss of human life. 


The Icelandic volcanoes are remarkable for the electric 
phenomena which they produce in the atmosphere. Violent 
thunder-storms, with showers of rain and hail, are frequent accom- 
paniments of volcanic eruptions everywhere ; but owing to the 
coldness and dryness of the air into which the vapors from the Ice- 
landic volcanoes ascend, their condensation is so sudden and violent 
that great quantities of electricity are developed. Thunder-storms 
accompanied by the most vivid lightnings are the result. Humboldt 
mentions in his " Cosmos " that, during an eruption of Kotlugja, 
one of the southern Icelandic volcanoes, the lightning from the 
cloud of volcanic vapor killed eleven horses and two men (Cosmos 
i. 223). Great displays of the aurora borealis usually accompany 
the volcanic eruptions of this island — doubtless resulting from the 
quantity of electricity imparted to the higher atmosphere by the 
condensation of the ascending vapors. On the 18th of August, 
1783, while the great eruption of Skaptar Jokull was in progress, 
an immense fire-ball passed over England and the European con- 
tinent as far as Rome. This ball which was estimated to have had 
a diameter exceeding half a mile, is supposed to have been of 
electrical origin, and due to the high state of electric tension in the 
atmosphere over Iceland at that time. 


Volcanoes of the Philippines and Other Pacific 


WE cannot do better than open this chapter with an account 
of the work of volcanoes in the mountain-girdled East 
Indian island of Java. This large and fertile tropical 
island has a large native population, and many European settlers 
are employed in cultivating spices, coffee and woods. The island 
is rather more than 600 miles long, and it is not 150 miles broad in 
any part ; and this narrow shape is produced by a chain of volca- 
noes which runs along it. There is scarcely any other region in 
the world where volcanoes are so numerous, even in the East, where 
the volcano is a very common product of nature. Some of the vol- 
canoes of Java are constantly in eruption, while others are inactive. 

One of their number, Galung Gung, was previous to 1822 cov- 
ered from top to bottom with a dense forest; around it were populous 
villages. The mountain was high ; there was a slight hollow on its 
top — a basin-like valley, carpeted with the softest sward ; brooks 
rippled down the hillside through the forests, and, joining their 
silvery streams, flowed on through beautiful valleys into the distant 
sea. In the month of July, 1822, there were signs of an approach- 
ing disturbance ; this tranquil peacefulness was at an end ; one of 
the rivers became muddy, and its waters grew hot. 

In October, without any warning, a most terrific eruption 
occurred. A loud explosion was heard ; the earth shook, and 



immense columns of hot water, boiling mud mixed with burning 
brimstone, ashes and stones, were hurled upwards from the moun- 
tain top like a waterspout, and with such wonderful force that 
large quantities fell at a distance of forty miles. Every valley 
near the mountain became filled with burning torrents ; the rivers, 
swollen with hot water and mud, overflowed their banks, and 
swept away the escaping villagers ; and the bodies of cattle, wild 
beasts, and birds were carried down the flooded stream. 


A space of twenty-four miles between the mountain and a 
river forty miles distant was covered to such a depth with blue mud, 
that people were buried in their houses, and not a trace of the 
numerous villages and plantations was visible. The boiling mud 
and cinders v/ere cast forth with such violence from the crater, that 
while many distant villages were utterly destroyed and buried, 
others much nearer the volcano were scarcely injured ; and all this 
was done in five short hours. 

Four days afterwards a second eruption occurred more violent 
than the first, and hot water and mud were cast forth with masses 
of slae like the rock called basalt some of which fell seven miles 
off. A violent earthquake shook the whole district, and the top of 
the mountain fell in, and so did one of its sides, leaving a gaping 
chasm. Hills appeared where there had been level land before, 
and the rivers changed their courses, drowning in one night 2,000 
people. At some distance from the mountain, a river runs through 
a large town, and the first intimation the inhabitants had of all this 
horrible destruction was the news that the bodies of men and the 
carcases of stags, rhinoceroses, tigers, and other animals, were rush- 
ing along to the sea. No less than 114 villages were destroyed, 
and above 4,000 persons were killed by this terrible catastrophe, 


Fifty years before this eruption, Mount Papandayang, one of 
the highest burning mountains of Java, was constantly throwing 
out steam and smoke, but as no harm was done, the natives con- 
tinued to live on its sides. Suddenly this enormous mountain fell 
in, and left a gap fifteen miles long and six broad. Forty vil- 
lages were destroyed, some being carried down and others over- 
whelmed by mud and burning lava. No less than 2,957 people 
perished, with vast numbers of cattle ; moreover, most of the coffee 
plantations in the neighboring districts were destroyed. 

Even more terrible was the eruption of Mount Salek, another 
of the volcanoes of Java. The burning of the mountain was seen 
100 miles away, while the thunders of its convulsions and the 
tremblings of the earth reached the same distance. Seven hills, at 
whose base ran a river — crowded with dead buffaloes, deer, apes, 
tigers, and crocodiles — slipped down and became a level plain. 
River-courses were changed, forests were burnt up, and the whole 
face of the country was completely altered. 

Later volcanic eruptions in Java include that of 1843, when 
Mount Guntur flung out sand and ashes estimated at the vast total 
of thirty million tons, and those of 1849 an ^ 1 ^7 2 wnen Mount 
Merapi, a very active volcano," covered a great extent of country 
with stones and ashes, and ruined the coffee plantations of the 
neighboring districts. 

We have said nothing concerning the most terrible explosion 
of all, that of the volcanic island of Krakatoa, off the Javan coast. 
This event was so phenomenal as to deserve a chapter of its own, 
for which we reserve it. 

The United States, as one result of its recent acquisition of is- 
land dominions, has added largely to its wealth in volcanic moun- 
tains. The famous Hawaiian craters, far the greatest in the worlds 


now belong to our national estate, and the Philippine Islands con- 
tain various others, of less importance, yet some of which have 
proved very destructive. A description of those of the Island of 
Luzon, which are the most active in the archipelago, is here sub- 
joined : 


Volcanoes have played an important part in the formation of 
the Philippine Islands and have left traces of their former activity 
in all directions. Most, of them, however, have long been dead and 
silent, only a few of the once numerous group being now active. 
Of these there are three of importance in the southern region of 
Luzon — Taal, Bulusan and Mayon or Albay. 

The last named of these is the largest and most active of the 
existing volcanoes. In form it is of marvellous grace and beauty, 
forming a perfect cone, about fifty miles in circuit at base and ris- 
ing to a height of 8,900 feet. It is one of the most prominent 
landmarks to navigators in the island. From its crater streams 
upward a constant smoke, accompanied at times by flame, while 
from its depths issue subterranean sounds, often heard at a distance 
of many leagues. The whole surrounding country is marked by 
evidences of old eruptions. . 

This mountain, in 1767, sent up a cone of flame of forty feet in 
diameter at base, for ten days, and for two months a wide stream of 
lava poured from its crater. A month later there gushed forth 
great floods of water, which filled the rivers to overflow, doing 
widespread damage to the neighboring plantations. But its great- 
est and most destructive eruption took place in 181 2, the year of the 
great eruption of the St. Vincent volcano. On this fatal occasion 
several towns were destroyed and no less than 12,000 people lost 
their lives. The debris flunjr forth from the crater were so abundant 


that deposits deep enough to bury the tallest trees were formed 
near the mountain. In 1867 another disastrous explosion took 
place, and still another in 1888. A disaster different in kind and 
cause occurred in 1876, when a terrible tropical storm burst upon 
the mountain. The floods of rain swept from its sides the loose 
volcanic material, and brought destruction to the neighboring coun- 
try, more than six thousand houses being ruined by the rushing 


Bulusan, a volcano on the southern extremity of the island, re- 
sembles Vesuvius in shape. For many years it remained dormant, 
but in 1852 smoke began to issue from its crater. In some respects 
the most interesting of these three volcanoes is that of Taal, which 
lies almost due south of Manila and about forty-five miles distant, on 
a small island in the middle of a large lake, known as Bombom or 
Bongbong. A remarkable feature of this volcanic mountain is that 
it is probably the lowest in the world, its height being only 850 feet 
above sea level. There are doubtful traditions that Lake Bombom, 
a hundred square miles in extent, was formed by a terrible eruption 
in 1700, by which a lofty mountain 8000 or 9000 feet high, was 
destroyed. The vast deposits of porous tufa in the surrounding 
country are certainly evidences of former great eruptions from 
Mount Taal. 

The crater of this volcano is an immense, cup-shaped depres- 
sion, a mile or more in diameter and about 800 feet deep. When 
recently visited by Professor Worcester, during his travels in these 
islands, he found it to contain three boiling lakelets of strangely- 
colored water, one being of a dirty brown hue, a second intensely 
yellow in tint, and the third of a brilliant emerald green. The 
mountain still steams and fumes, as if too actively at work below 
l 9 


to be at rest above. In past times it has shown the forces at 
play in its depths by breaking at times into frightful activity. Of 
the various explosions on record, the three most violent were those 
of 1716, 1749, and 1754. In the last-named year the earth for 
miles round quaked with the convulsive throes of the deeply dis- 
turbed mountain, and vast quantities of volcanic dust were hurled 
high into the air, sufficient to make it dark at midday for many 
leagues around. The roofs of distant Manila were covered with 
volcanic dust and ashes. Molten lava also poured from the crater 
and flowed into the lake, which boiled with the intense heat, while 
great showers of stones and ashes fell into its waters. 


Extinct volcanoes are numerous in Luzon, and there are 
smoking cones in the north, and also in the Babuyanes Islands still 
farther north. Volcanoes also exist in several of the other islands. 
On Negros is the active peak of Malaspina, and on Camiguin, an 
island about ninety miles to the southeast, a new volcano broke out 
in 1876. The large island of Mindanao has three volcanoes, of 
which Cottabato was in eruption in 1856 and is still active at inter- 
vals. Apo, the largest of the three, estimated to be 10,312 feet 
high, has three summits, within which lies the great crater, now 
extinct and filled with water. 

In evidence of former volcanic activity are the abundant 
deposits of sulphur on the island of Leyte, the hot springs in various 
localities, and the earthquakes which occasionally bring death and 
destruction. Of the many of these on record, the most destructive 
was in 1863, when 400 people were killed and 2,000 injured, while 
many buildings were wrecked. Another in 1880 wrought great 
destruction in Manila and elsewhere, though without loss of life. 


An earthquake in Mindanao in 1675 opened a passage to the sea, 
and a vast plain emerged. These convulsions of the earth affect 
the form and elevation of buildings, which are rarely more than two 
stories high and lightly built, while translucent sea-shells replace 
glass in their windows. 

While Java is the most prolific in volcanoes of the islands of 
the Malayan Archipelago, other islands of the group possess ac- 
tive cones, including Sumatra, Bali, Amboyna, Banda and others. In 
Sanguir, an island north of Celebes, is a volcanic mountain from 
which there was a destructive eruption in 1856. The country was 
devastated with lava, stones and volcanic ashes, ruining a wide dis- 
trict and killing nearly 3,000 of the inhabitants. Mount Madrian, in 
one of the Spice Islands, was rent in twain by a fierce eruption in 
1646, and since then has remained two distinct mountains. It 
became active again in 1862, after two centuries of repose, and 
caused great loss of life and property. Sorea, a small island of the 
same group, forming but a single volcanic mountain, had an erup- 
tion in 1693, the cone crumbling gradually till a vast crater was 
formed, filled with liquid lava and occupying nearly half the island. 
This lake of fire increased in size by the same process till in the 
end it took possession of the island and forced all the inhabitants 
to flee to more hospitable shores. 


But of the East Indian Islands, Sumbawa, lying east of Java, 
contains the most formidable volcano — one, indeed, scarcely with- 
out a rival in the world. This is named Tomboro. Of its various 
eruptions the most furious on record was that of 18 15. This, as 
we are told by Sir Stamford Raffles, far exceeded in force and dur- 
ation any of the known outbreaks of Etna or Vesuvius. The 


ground trembled and the echoes of its roar were heard through an 
area of 1,000 miles around the volcano, and to a distance of 300 
miles its effects were astounding. 

In Java, 300 miles away, ashes filled the air so thickly that the 
solar rays could not penetrate them, and fell to the depth of several 
inches. The detonations were so similar to the reports of artillery 
as to be mistaken for them. The Rajah of Sang'ir, who was an 
eye-witness of the eruption, thus described it to Sir Stamford : 

"About 7 p. m. on the 10th of April, three distinct columns of 
flame burst forth near the top of the Tomboro mountain (all of 
them apparently within the verge of the crater), and, after ascend- 
ing separately to a very great height, their tops united in the air in 
a troubled, confused manner. In a short time the whole mountain 
next Sang'ir appeared like a body of liquid fire, extending itself in 
every direction. The fire and columns of flame continued to rage 
with unabated fury, until the darkness caused by the quantity of 
falling - matter obscured them, at about 8 p. m. Stones at this time fell 
very thick at Sang'ir — some of them as large as two fists, but 
generally not larger than walnuts. Between 9 and 10 p. m. ashes 
began to fall, and soon after a violent whirlwind ensued, which 
blew down nearly every house in the village of Sang'ir— carrying the 
roofs and light parts away with it. In the port of Sang'ir, adjoin- 
ing Tomboro, its effects were much more violent — tearing up 
by the roots the largest trees, and carrying them into the air, 
together with men, horses, cattle, and whatever else came within 
its influence. This will account for the immense number of float- 
ing trees seen at sea. The sea rose nearly twelve feet higher than 
it had ever been known to do before, and completely spoiled the 
only spots of rice-land in Sang'ir — sweeping away houses and 
everything within its reach. The whirlwind lasted about an hour. 


No explosions were heard till the whirlwind had ceased, at about 
11 p.m. From midnight till the evening of the nth, they con- 
tinued without intermission. After that time their violence 
moderated, and they were heard only at intervals ; but the ex- 
plosions did not cease entirely until the 15th of July. Of all the 
villages of Tomboro, Tempo, containing about forty inhabitants, is 
the only one remaining. In Pekate no vestige of a house is 
left ; twenty-six of the people, who were at Sumbawa at the time, 
are the whole of the population who have escaped. From the 
most particular inquiries I have been able to make, there were cer- 
tainly no fewer than 12,000 individuals in Tomboro and Pekate at 
the time of the eruption, of whom only five or six survive. The 
trees and herbage of every description, along the whole of the 
north and west sides of the peninsula, have been completely 
destroyed, with the exception of those on a high point of land, near 
the spot where the village of Tomboro stood." 

Tomboro village was not only invaded by the sea on this 
occasion, but its site permanently subsided ; so that there is now 
eighteen feet of water where there was formerly dry land. 


The Japanese archipelago, as stated in an earlier chapter, is 
abundantly supplied with volcanoes, a number of them being active. 
Of these the best known to travelers is Asamayama, a mountain 
8,500 feet high, of which there are several recorded eruptions. The 
first of these was in 1650; after which the volcano remained feebly 
active till 1783, when it broke out in a very severe eruption. In 
1870 there was another of some severity, accompanied by violent 
shocks of earthquake felt at Yokohama. The crater is very deep, 
with irregular rocky walls of a sulphurous character. 


Far the most famous of all the Japanese mountains, however, 
is that named Fuji-san, but commonly termed in English Fujiyama 
or Fusiyama. It is in the vicinity of the capital, and is the most 
prominent object in the landscape for many miles around. The 
apex is shaped somewhat like an eight-petaled lotus flower, and 
offers to view from different directions from three to five peaks. 

Though now apparently extinct, it was formerly an active vol- 
cano, and is credited in history with several very disastrous erup- 
tions. The last of these was in 1 707, at which time the whole summit 
burst into flames. Rocks were split and shattered by the heat, and 
stones fell to the depth of several inches in Yeddo (now Tokyo), sixty 
miles away. At present there are in its crater, which has a depth 
of 700 or 800 feet, neither sulphurous exhalations nor steam. Accord- 
ing to Japanese tradition this great peak was upheaved in a single 
night from the bottom of the sea, more than twenty-one hundred 
years ago. 

Nothing can be more majestic than this volcano, extinct 
though it be, rising in an immense cone from the plain to the height 
of over twelve thousand feet, truncated at the top, and with its 
peak almost always snow-covered. Its ascent is not difficult to an 
expert climber, and has frequently been made. From its summit 
is unfolded a panorama beyond the power of words to describe, and 
probably the most remarkable on the globe. Mountains, valleys, 
lakes, forests and the villages of thirteen counties may be seen. 
As we gaze upon its beautifully shaped and lofty mass, visible even 
from Yokohama and a hundred miles at sea, one does not wonder 
that it should be regarded as a holy mountain, and that it should 
form a conspicuous object in every Japanese work of art. It is to 
the natives of Japan as Mont Blanc is to Europeans, the " monarch 
of mountains." 


In summer pilgrimages are made around the base of the summit 
elevation, and there are on the upward path a number of Buddhist 
temples and shrines, made of blocks of stone, for devotion, shelter 
and the storage of food for pilgrims. Hakone Lake is three thou- 
sand feet above the sea, and probably lies in the crater of an extinct 
volcano. Its waters are very deep ; it is several miles long and 
wide, and is surrounded by high hills which abound in fine scenery, 
solfataras and mineral springs. 


At this place the mountain seems to be smouldering, as sul- 
phur fumes and steam issue at many points, and the ground is 
covered with a friable white alkaline substance. In many a hollow 
the water bubbles with clouds of vapor and sulphuretted hydrogen ; 
here the soil is hot and evidently underlaid by active fires. It is 
not safe to go very near, as the crust is thin and crumbling. The 
water running down the hills has a refreshing sound and a tempt- 
ing clearness, but the thirsty tongue at once detects it to be a very 
strong solution of alum. The whole aspect of the place is infernal, 
and naturally suggests the name given its principal geyser, O-gigoko^ 
(Big Hell). 

Fujiyama is almost a perfect cone,with, as above said, a truncated 
top, in which is the crater. It is, however, less steep than Mayon. Its 
upper part is comparatively steep, even to thirty-five degrees, but 
below this portion the inclination gradually lessens, till its elegant 
outlines are lost in the plain from which it rises. The curves of 
the sides depend partly on the nature, size and shape of the ejected 
material, the fine uniform pieces remaining on comparatively steep 
slopes, while the larger and rounder ones roll farther down, resting 
on the inclination that afterward becomes curved from the subsidence 
of the central mass. 


The most recent and one of the most destructive of volcanic 
eruptions recorded in Japan was that of Bandaisan or Baldaisan. 
For ages this mountain had been peaceful, and there was scarcely 
an indication of its volcanic character or of the terrific forces which 
lay dormant deep within its heart. On its flanks lay some small 
deposits of scoriae, indications of far-past eruptions, and there were 
some hot springs at its base, while steam arose from a fissure. Yet 
there was nothing to warn the people of the vicinity that deadly 
peril lay under their feet. 

bandaisan's work of terror 

This sense of security was fatally dissipated on a day in July, 
1888, when the mountain suddenly broke into eruption and flung 
1,600 million cubic yards of its summit material so high into the 
air that many of the falling fragments, in their fall, struck the 
ground with such velocity as to be buried far out of sight. The 
steam and dust were driven to a height of 13,000 feet, where they 
spread into a canopy of much greater elevation, causing pitchy dark- 
ness beneath. There were from fifteen to twenty violent explosions, 
and a great landslide devastated about thirty square miles and 
buried many villages in the Nagase Valley. 

Mr. Norman, a traveler who visited the spot shortly after- 
ward, thus describes the scene of ruin. After a journey through 
the forests which clothed the slopes of the volcanic mountain and 
prevented any distant view, the travelers at last found themselves 
"standing upon the ragged edge of what was left of the mountain 
of Bandaisan, after two-thirds of it, including, of course, the summit, 
had been literally blown away and spread over the face of the 


" The original cone of the mountain," he continues, " had been 
truncated at an acute angle to its axis. From our very feet a pre- 
cipitous mud slope falls away for half a mile or more till it reaches 
the level. At our right, still below us, rises a mud wall a mile long, 
also sloping down to the level, and behind it is evidently the crater; 
but before us, for five miles in a straight line, and on each side 
nearly as far, is a sea of congealed mud, broken up into ripples and 
waves and great billows, and bearing upon its bosom a thousand 
huge boulders, weighing hundreds of tons apiece." 

On reaching the crater he found it to resemble a gigantic 
cauldron, fully a mile in width, and enclosed with precipitous walls 
of indurated mud. From several orifices volumes of steam rose 
into the air, and when the vapor cleared away for a moment glimpses 
of a mass of boiling mud were obtained. Before the eruption the 
mountain top had terminated in three peaks. Of these the highest 
had an elevation of about 5,800 feet. The peak destroyed was the 
middle one, which was rather smaller than the other two. 

"The explosion was caused by steam ; there was neither fire 
nor lava of any kind. It was, in fact, nothing more nor less than 
a gigantic boiler explosion. The whole top and one side of Sho- 
Bandai-san had been blown into the air in a lateral direction, and 
the earth of the mountain was converted by the escaping steam, at 
the moment of the explosion, into boiling mud, part of which was 
projected into the air to fall at a long distance, and then take the 
form of an overflowing river, which rushed with vast rapidity and 
covered the country to a depth of from 20 to 150 feet. Thirty 
square miles of country were thus devastated." 

In the devastated lowlands and buried villages below and 
on the slopes of the mountain many lives were lost. From the 
survivors Mr. Norman gathered some information, enabling" him 


to describe the main features of the catastrophe. We append a 
brief outline of his narrative : 


" At a few minutes past 8 o'clock in the morning a frightful 
noise was heard by the inhabitants of a village ten miles distant 
from the crater. Some of them instinctively took to flight, but 
before they could run much more than a hundred yards the light 
of day was suddenly changed into a darkness more intense than 
that of midnight ; a shower of blinding hot ashes and sand poured 
down upon them ; the ground was shaken with earthquakes, and 
explosion followed explosion, the last being the most violent of all. 
Many fugitives, as well as people in the houses, were overwhelmed 
by the deluge of mud, none of the fugitives, when overtaken by 
death, being more than two hundred yards from the village. From 
the statements made by those fortunate enough to escape with 
their lives, and from a personal examination of the ground, Mr. Nor- 
man inferred that the mud must have been flung fully six miles 
through the air and then have poured in a torrent along the ground 
for four miles further. All this was done in less than five minutes, so 
that "millions of tons of boiling mud were hurled over the country 
at the rate of two miles a minute." 

The velocity of the mud torrent may perhaps be overestimated, 
but in its awful suddenness this catastrophe was evidently one with 
few equals. The cone destroyed may have been largely composed 
of rather fine ashes and scoriae, which was almost instantaneously 
converted into mud by the condensing steam and the boiling water 
ejected. The quantity of water thus discharged must have been 


Of the remaining volcanic regions of the Pacific, the New Zea- 
land islands present some of the most striking examples of activity. 
All the central parts, indeed, of the northern island of the group 
are of a highly volcanic character. There is here a mountain 
named Tongariro, on whose snow-clad summit is a deep crater, 
from which volcanic vapors are seen to issue, and which exhib- 
its other indications of having been in a state of greater activity 
at a not very remote period of time. There is also, at no great 
distance from this mountain, a region containing numerous funnel- 
shaped chasms, emitting hot water, or steam, or sulphurous vapors, 
or boiling mud. The earthquakes in New Zealand had probably 
their origin in this volcanic focus. 


Tongariro has a height of about 6,500 feet, while Egmont, 
8,270 feet in height, is a perfect cone with a perpetual cap of snow. 
There are many other volcanic mountains, and also great numbers 
of mud volcanoes, hot springs and geysers. It is for the latter 
that the island is best known to geologists. Their waters are at or 
near the boiling point and contain silica in abundance. 

At a place called Rotomahana, in the vicinity of Mount Tara- 
wera, there was formerly a lake of about one hundred and twenty 
acres in area, which was in its way one of the most remarkable 
bodies of water upon the earth. Formerly, we say, for this lake no 
longer exists, it having been destroyed by the very forces to which it 
owed its fame. Its waters were maintained nearly at the boiling point 
by the continual accession of boiling water from numerous springs. 
The most abundant of those sources was situated at the height of 
about 100 feet above the level of the lake. It kept continually 
filled an oval basin about 250 feet in circumference— the margins of 


which were fringed all round with beautiful pure white stalactites, 
formed by deposits of silica, with which the hot water was strongly 
impregnated. At various stages below the principal spring were 
several others, that contributed to feed the lake at the bottom, in 
the centre of which was a small island. Minute bubbles contin- 
ually escaped from the surface of the water with a hissing sound, 
and the sand all round the lake was at a high temperature. If a 
stick was thrust into it, very hot vapors would ascend from the hole. 
Not far from this lake were several small basins filled with tepid 
water, which was very clear, and of a blue color. 

The conditions here were of a kind with those to which are 
due the great geysers of Iceland and the Yellowstone Park, but 
different in the fact that instead of being intermittent and throw- 
ing up jets at intervals, the springs allowed the water to flow from 
them in a continuous stream. 


The silicious incrustations left by the overflow from the large 
pool had made a series of terraces, two to six feet high, with the 
appearance of being hewn from white or pink marble ; each of the 
basins containing a similar azure water. These terraces covered 
an area of about three acres, and looked like a series of cataracts 
changed into stone, each edge being fringed with a festoon of deli- 
cate stalactites. The water contained about eighty-five per cent, of 
silica, with one or two per cent, of iron alumina, and a little 

There were no more beautiful products of nature upon the 
earth than those "pink and white terraces," as they were called. 
The hot springs of the Yellowstone have produced formations 
resembling them, but not their equal in fairy-like charm. One 



series of these terraced pools and cascades was of the purest white 
tint, the other of the most delicate pink, the waters topping over 
the edge of each pool and falling in a miniature cascade to the one 
next below, thus keeping the edges built up by a continual renewal 
of the silicious incrustation. But all their beauty could not save 
them from utter and irremediable destruction by the forces below 
the earth's surface. 

• On June 9, 1886, a great volcanic disturbance began in the 


Auckland Lake region with a tremendous earthquake, followed dur- 
ing the night by many others. At seven the next morning a lead- 
covered cloud of pumice sand, advancing from the south, burst and 
discharged showers of fine dust. The range of Mount Tarawera 
seemed to be in full volcanic activity, including some craters sup- 
posed to v be extinct, and embracing an area of one hundred and 
twenty miles by twenty. 


The showers of dust were so thick as to turn day into night 
for nearly two days. Some lives were lost, and several villages 
were destroyed, these being covered ten feet deep with ashes, dust 
and clayey mud. The volcanic phenomena were of the most vio- 
lent character, and the whole island appears to have been more or 
less convulsed. Mount Tarawera is said to be five hundred feet 
higher than before the eruption ; glowing masses were thrown up 
into the air. and tongues of fiery hue, gases or illuminated vapors, 
five hundred feet wide, towered up one thousand feet high. The 
mountain was 2,700 feet in height. 


This eruption presented a spectacle of rarely-equalled gran- 
deur. To travelers and strangers the greatest resultant loss will be 
the destruction of those world-famous curiosities, the white and 
pink terraces, in the vicinity of Lake Rotomahana and the region 
of the famous geysers. The natives have a superstition that the 
eruption of the extinct Tarawera was caused by the profanation of 
foreign footsteps. It was to them a sacred place, and its crater a 
repository for their dead. The first earthquake occurred in this 
region. One side of the mountain fell in, and then the eruption 
began. The basin of the lake was broken up and disappeared, but 
again reappeared as a boiling mud cauldron ; craters burst out in 
various places, and the beautiful terraces were no more. After 
the first day the violence gradually diminished, and in a week had 
ceased. Very possibly another lake will be formed, and in time 
other terraces ; but it is hardly within the range of probability that 
the beauty of the lost terraces will ever be paralleled. 

In this eruption, as usual, we find the earthquake preceding 
the volcanic outburst. New Zealand, like the Philippines, Java and 


the Japanese Islands, is situated over a great earth-fissure or line 
of weakness. Subsidence or dislocation from tensile strain of the 
crust took place, and the influx of water to new regions of heated 
strata may have developed the explosive force. The earthquake and 
the volcano worked together here, as they frequently do, unfortun- 
ately in this case destroying one of the most beautiful scenes on 
the surface of the globe. 


Much further south, on the frozen shore of Victoria Land in 
the Antarctic regions, Sir James Ross, in 1841, sailing in his dis- 
covery ships the Erebus and Terror, discovered two great volcanic 
mountains, which he named after those two vessels. Mount 
Erebus is continually covered, from top to bottom, with snow and 
glaciers. The mountain is about 12,000 feet high, and although 
the snow reaches to the very edge of the crater, there rise con- 
tinually from the summit immense volumes of volcanic fumes, illumi- 
nated by the glare of glowing lava beneath them. The vapors 
ascend to an estimated height of 2,200 feet above the top of the 


The Wonderful Hawaiian Craters and Kilauea's 

Lake of Fire. 

IN the central region of the North Pacific Ocean lies the archi- 
pelago formerly known as the Sandwich Islands, now collec- 
tively designated as Hawaii. The people of the United States 
should be specially interested in this island group, for it has become 
one of our possessions, an outlying Territory of our growing 
Republic, and in making it part of our national domain we have 
not alone extended our dominion far over the seas, but have added 
to the many marvels of nature within our land one of the chief 
wonders of the world, the stupendous Hawaiian volcanoes, before 
whose grandeur many of more ancient fame sink into insignificance. 


The Island of Hawaii, the principal island of the group, we 
may safely say contains the most enormous volcano of the earth. 
Indeed, the whole island, which is 400c square miles in extent, 
may be regarded as of volcanic origin. It contains four volcanic 
mountains — Kohola, Hualalia, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The 
two last named are the chief, the former being 13,800 feet, the latter 
13,600 feet, above the sea-level. Although their height is so vast, 
the ascent to their summits is so gradual that their circumference 
at the base is enormous. The bulk of each of them is reckoned to 
be equal to two and a half times that of Etna. Some of the streams 


of lava which have emanated from them are twenty-six miles in 
length by two miles in breadth. 

On the adjoining island of Maui is a still larger volcano, the 
mighty Haleakala, long since extinct, but memorable as possessing 
the most stupendous crater on the face of the earth. The moun- 
tain itself is over 10,000 feet high, and forms a great dome-like 
mass of 90 miles circumference at base. The crater on its summit 
has a length of 7^ and a width of 2^ miles, with a total area of 
about sixteen square miles. The only approach in dimensions to 
this enormous opening exists in the still living crater of Kilauea, 
on the flank of Mauna Loa. 


The peaks named are the most apparent remnants of a world- 
rending volcanic activity in the remote past, by whose force this 
whole Hawaiian island group was lifted up from the depths of the 
ocean, here descending some three and a half miles below the sur- 
face level. The coral reefs which abound around the islands are 
of comparatively recent formation, and rest upon a substratum of 
lava probably ages older, which forms the base of the archi- 
pelago. The islands are volcanic peaks and ridges that have been 
pushed up above the surrounding seas by the profound action of 
the interior forces of the earth. 

It must not be supposed that this action was a violent perpen- 
dicular thrust upward over a very limited locality, for the mountains 
continue to slope at about the same angle under the sea and for 
great distances on every side, so that the islands are really the 
crests of an extensive elevation, estimated to cover an area of about 
2000 miles in one direction by 150 or 200 miles in the other. The 
process was probably a gradual one of up-building, by means of 


which the sea receded as the land steadily rose. Some idea of the 
mighty forces that have been at work beneath the sea and above it 
can be gained by considering the enormous mass of material now 
above the sea-level. Thus, the bulk of the island of Hawaii, the 
largest of the group, has been estimated by the Hawaiian Surveyor 
General as containing 3,600 cubic miles of lava rock above sea-level. 
Taking the area of England at 50,000 square miles, this mass of 
volcanic matter would cover that entire country to a depth of 274 
feet. We must remember, however, that what is above sea-level is 
only a small fraction of the total amount, since it sweeps down 
below the waves hundreds of miles on every side. 


Of the lava openings on these islands, the extinct one of 
Haleakala, as stated, with its twenty-seven miles circumference, is 
far the most stupendous. It is easy of access, the mountain sides 
leading to it presenting a gentle slope ; while the walls of the crater, 
in places perpendicular, in others are so sloping that man and horse 
can descend them. The pit varies from 1500 to 2000 feet in depth, 
its bottom being very irregular from the old lava flows and the 
many cinder cones, these still looking as fresh as though their fires' 
had just gone out. Some of these cones are over 500 feet high. 
There is a tradition among the natives that the vast lava streams 
which in the past flowed from the crater to the sea continued to 
do so in the period of their remote ancestors. They still, indeed, 
appear as if recent, though there are to-day no signs of volcanic 
activity anywhere on this island 

In fact, the only volcano now active in the Hawaiian Islands 
is Mauna Loa, in the southern section of the Island of Hawaii. A 
striking feature of this is that it has two distinct and widely discon- 


nected craters, one on its summit, the other on its flank, at a much 
lower level. The latter is the vast crater of Kilauea, the largest 
active crater known on the face of the globe. 


We cannot offer a better description of the aspect of this 
lava abyss than to give Miss Bird's eloquent description of her 
adventurous descent into it : 

" The abyss, which really is at a height of four thousand feet 
on the flank of Mauna Loa, has the appearance of a pit on a roll- 
ing plain. But such a pit ! It is quite nine miles in circumfer- 
ence, and at its lowest area — which not lono- ag;o fell about three 
hundred feet, just as the ice on a pond falls when the water below 
is withdrawn — covers six square miles. The depth of the crater 
varies from eight hundred to one thousand feet, according- as the 
molten sea below is at flood or ebb. Signs of volcanic activity are 
present more or less throughout its whole depth and for some dis- 
tance along its margin, in the form of steam-cracks, jets of sul- 
phurous vapor, blowing cones, accumulating deposits of acicular 
crystals of sulphur, etc., and the pit itself is constantly rent and 
shaken by earthquakes. Great eruptions occur with circumstances 
of indescribable terror and dignity ; but Kilauea does not limit its 
activity to these outbursts, but has exhibited its marvellous phe- 
nomena through all known time in a lake or lakes on the southern 
part of the crater three miles from this side. 

"This lake — the H-ale-mau-mau, or "House of Everlasting 
Fire", of the Hawaiian mythology, the abode of the dreaded god- 
dess Pele — is approachable with safety, except during an eruption. 
The spectacle, however, varies almost daily ; and at times the level 
of the lava in the pit within a pit is so low, and the suffocating 


gases are evolved in such enormous quantities, that travellers are 
unable to see anything. 

" At the time of our visit there had been no news from it for 
a week ; and as nothing was to be seen but a very faint bluish vapor 
hanging round its margin, the prospect was not encouraging. After 
more than an hour of very difficult climbing, we reached the lowest 
level of the crater, pretty nearly a mile across, presenting from 
above the appearance of a sea at rest ; but on crossing it, we found 
it to be an expanse of waves and convolutions of ashy-colored lava, 
with huge cracks filled up with black iridescent rolls of lava only a 
few weeks old. Parts of it are very rough and ridgy, jammed 
together like field-ice, or compacted by rolls of lava, which may 
have swelled up from beneath ; but the largest part of the area 
presents the appearance of huge coiled hawsers, the ropy forma- 
tion of the lava rendering the illusion almost perfect. These are 
riven by deep cracks, which emit hot sulphurous vapors. 

" As we ascended, the flow became hotter under our feet, as 
well as more porous and glistening. It was so hot that a shower 
of rain hissed as it fell upon it. The crust became increasingly 
insecure, and necessitated our walking in single file with the guide 
in front, to test the security of the footing. I fell through several 
times, and always into holes full of sulphurous steam so malignantly 
acid that my strong dogskin gloves were burned through as I raised 
myself on my hands. 

"We had followed the lava-flow for thirty miles up to the 
crater's brink, and now we had toiled over recent lava for three 
hours, and, by all calculations, were close to the pit ; yet there was 
no smoke or sign of fire, and I felt sure that the volcano had died 
out for once for my special disappointment. 



." Suddenly, just above and in front of us, gory drops were 
tossed in the air, and springing forwards, we stood on the brink of 
Hale-mau-mau, which was about thirty-five feet below us. I think 
we all screamed. I know we all wept ; but we were speechless, for 
a new glory and terror had been added to the earth. It is the most 
unutterable of wonderful things. The words of common speech 
are quite useless. It is unimaginable, indescribable ; a sight to 


Fiery Lake of Molten Lava 

remember forever ; a sight which at once took possession of every 
faculty of sense and soul, removing one altogether out of the range 
of ordinary life. Here was the real 'bottomless pit', 'the fire which 
is not quenched', 'the place of Hell', 'the lake which burneth 
with fire and brimstone', ' the everlasting burnings', ' the fiery 
sea whose waves are never weary'. Perhaps those Scripture 
phrases were suggested by the sight of some volcano in eruption. 


There were groanings, rumblings, and detonations ; rushings, hiss- 
ings, splashings, and the crashing sound of breakers on the coast ; 
but it was the surging of fiery waves upon a fiery shore. But what 
can I write? Such words as jets, fountains, waves, spray, convey 
some idea of order and regularity, but here there are none. 

" The inner lake, while we stood there, formed a sort of crater 
within itself ; the whole lava sea rose about three feet ; a blowing 
cone about eight feet high was formed ; it was never the same two 
minutes together. And what we saw had no existence a month 
before, and probably will be changed in every essential feature a 
month from hence. The prominent object was fire in motion ; but 
the surface of the double lake was continually skimming over for a 
second or two with a cool crust of lustrous grey-white, like frost- 
silver, broken by jagged cracks of a bright rose-color. The move- 
ment was nearly always from the sides to the centre ; but the 
movement of the centre itself appeared independent, and always 
took a southerly direction. Before each outburst of agitation 
there was much hissing: and throbbing- with internal roarings as of 
imprisoned gases. Now it seemed furious, demoniacal, as if no 
power on earth could bind it, then playful and sportive ; then for a 
second languid, but only because it was accumulating fresh force. 
Sometimes the whole lake took the form of mighty waves, and, 
surging heavily against the partial barrier with a sound like the 
Pacific surf, lashed, tore, covered it, and threw itself over it in 
clots of living fire. It was all confusion, commotion, forces, terror, 
glory, majesty, mystery, and even beauty. And the color, ' eye 
hath not seen' it ! Molten metal hath not that crimson gleam, nor 
blood that living light." 

To this description we may add that of Mr. Ellis, a former 
missionary to these islands, and one of the number who have 


descended to the shores of Kilauea's abyss of fire. He says, after 
describing his difficult descent and progress over the lava-strewn pit : 


" Immediately before us yawned an immense gulf, in the form 
of a crescent, about two miles in length, from northeast to south- 
west ; nearly a mile in width, and apparently 800 feet deep. The 
bottom was covered with lava, and the southwestern and northern 
parts of it were one vast flood of burning matter in a state of ter- 
rific ebullition, rolling to and fro its 'fiery surges ' and flaming 
billows. Fifty-one conical islands, of varied form and size, con- 
taining as many craters, rose either round the edge or from the 
surface of the burning lake ; twenty-two constantly emitted columns 
of gray smoke or pyramids of brilliant flame, and several of these 
at the same time vomited from their ignited mouths streams of 
lava, which rolled in blazing torrents down their black indented 
sides into the boiling mass below. 

" The existence of these conical craters led us to conclude 
that theboi'insr cauldron of lava before us did not form the focus of 
the volcano ; that this mass of melted lava was comparatively shal- 
low, and that the basin in which it was contained was separated by 
a stratum of solid matter from the great volcanic abyss, which con- 
stantly poured out its melted contents through these numerous 
craters into this upper reservoir. The sides of the gulf before us, 
although composed of different strata of ancient lava, were per- 
pendicular for about 400 feet, and rose from a wide horizontal 
ledge of solid black lava of irregular breadth, but extending com- 
pletely round. Beneath this ledge the sides sloped gradually towards 
the burning lake, which was, as nearly as we could judge, 300 or 
400 feet lower. 


" It was evident that the large crater had been recently filled 
with liquid lava up to this black ledge, and had, by some subterra- 
neous canal, emptied itself into the sea or spread under the low land 
on the shore. The gray and in some places apparently calcined sides 
of the great crater before us, the fissures which intersected the 
surface of the plain on which we were standing, the long banks of 
sulphur on the opposite side of the abyss, the vigorous action of 
the numerous small craters on its borders, the dense columns of 
vapor and smoke that rose at the north and west end of the plain, 
together with the ridge of steep rocks by which it was surrounded, 
rising probably in some places 300 or 400 feet in perpendicular 
height, presented an immense volcanic panorama, the effect of 
which was greatly augmented by the constant roaring of the vast 
furnaces below." 


Of the two great craters of Mauna Loa, the summit one has 
frequently in modern times overflowed its crest and poured its 
molten streams in glowing rivers over the land. This has rarely 
been the case with the lower and incessantly active crater of Kilauea, 
whose lava, when in excess, appears to escape by subterranean 
channels to the sea. We append descriptions of some of the more 
recent examples of Mauna Loa's eruptive energy. The lava from 
this crater does not alone flow over the crater's lip, but at times 
makes its way through fissures far below, the immense pressure 
causing it to spout in great flashing fountains high into the air. In 
1852 the fiery fountains reached a height of 500 feet. In some 
later eruptions they have leaped 1,000 feet high. The lava is 
white hot as it ascends, but it assumes a blood-red tint in its fall, 
and strikes the ground with a frightful noise. 




Vesuvius in the Background 

Showing walls and pavement in the streets as found after excavations were made. 

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The quantities of lava ejected in some of the recent eruptions 
have been enormous. The river-like flow of 1855 was remarkable 
for its extent, being from two to eight miles wide, with a depth of 
from three to three hundred feet, and extending in a winding course 
for a distance of sixty miles. The Apostle of Hawaiian volcanoes, 
the Rev. Titus Coan, who ventured to the source of this flow while 
it was in supreme action, thus describes it : — ■ 

" We ascended our rugged pathway amidst steam and smoke and 
heat which almost blinded and scathed us. We came to open 
orifices down which we looked into the fiery river which rushed 
madly under our feet. These fiery vents were frequent, some of 
them measuring ten, twenty, fifty or one hundred feet in diameter. 
In one place we saw the river of lava uncovered for thirty rods and 
rushing down a declivity of from ten to twenty-five degrees. The 
scene was awful, the momentum incredible, the fusion perfect (white 
heat), and the velocity forty miles an hour. The banks on each 
side of the stream were red-hot, jagged and overhanging. As we 
viewed it rushing out from under its ebon counterpane, and in the 
twinkling of an eye diving again into its fiery den, it seemed to say, 
'Standoff! Scan me not! I am God's messenger. A work to 
do. Away !' " 

Later he wrote again : — -" The great summit fountain is still 
playing with fearful energy, and the devouring stream rushes 
madly down toward us. It is now about ten miles distant, and 
heading directly for our bay. In a few days we may be called to 
announce the painful fact that our beauteous Hilo is no more, — 
that our lovely, our inimitable landscape, our emerald bowers, our 
crescent strand and our silver bay are blotted out. A fiery sword 
hangs over us. A flood of burning ruin approaches us. Devour- 
ing fires are near us. With sure and solemn progress the glowing 


fusion advances through the dark forest and the dense jungle in 
our rear, cutting down ancient trees of enormous growth and 
sweeping away all vegetable life. For months the great summit 
furnace on Mauna Loa has been in awful blast. Floods of burn- 
ing destruction have swept wildly and widely over the top and 
down the sides of the mountain. The wrathful stream has over- 
come every obstacle, winding its fiery way from its high source to 
the bases of the everlasting hills, spreading in a molten sea over 
the plains, penetrating the ancient forests, driving the bellowing 
herds, the wild goats and the affrighted birds before its lurid 
glare, leaving nothing but ebon blackness and smoldering ruin in 
its track " 

His anticipation of the burial of Hilo under the mighty flow 
was happily not realized. It came to an abrupt halt while seven 
miles distant, the checked stream standing in a threatening and 
rugged ridge, with rigid, beetling front. 


In January, 1859, Mauna Loa was again at its fire-play, throw- 
ing up lava fountains from 800 to 1,000 feet in height. From this 
great fiery fountain the lava flowed down in numerous streams, 
spreading over a width of five or six miles. One stream, probably 
formed by the junction of several smaller, attained a height of from 
twenty to twenty-five feet, and a breadth of about an eighth of a 
mile. Great stones were thrown up along with the jet of lava, and 
the volume of seeming smoke, composed probably of fine volcanic 
dust, is said to have risen to the height of 10,000 feet. 

An eruption of still greater violence took place in 1865, charac- 
terized by similar phenomena, particularly the throwing up of jets 
of lava. This fiery fountain continued to play without intermission 


for twenty days and nights, varying only as respects the height to 
which the jet arose, which is said to have ranged between 100 and 
1,000 feet, the mean diameter of the jet being about 100 feet. 
This eruption was accompanied by explosions so loud as to have 
been heard at a distance of forty miles. 

A cone of about 300 feet in height, and about a mile in circum- 
ference, was accumulated round the orifice whence the jet ascended. 
It was composed of solid matters ejected with the lava, and it con- 
tinued to glow like a furnace, notwithstanding its exposure to the 
air. The current of lava on this occasion flowed to a distance of 
thirty-five miles, burning its way through the forests, and filling the 
air with smoke and flames from the ignited timber. The glare 
from the glowing lava and the burning trees together was dis- 
cernible by night at a distance of 200 miles from the island. 


A succeeding great lava flow was that which began on Novem- 
ber 6, 1880. Mr. David Hitchcock, who was camping on Mauna 
Kea at the time of this outbreak, saw a spectacle that few human 
eyes have ever beheld. "We stood," writes he, "on the very edge 
of that flowing river of rock. Oh, what a sight it was ! Not twenty 
feel: from us was this immense bed of rock slowly moving forward 
with irresistible force, bearing on its surface huge rocks and immense 
boulders of tons' weight as water would carry a toy-boat. The 
whole front edge was one bright red mass of solid rock incessantly 
breaking off from the towering mass and rolling down to the foot 
of it, to be again covered by another avalanche of white-hot rocks 
and sand. The whole mass at its front edge was from twelve to 
thirty feet in height. Along the entire line of its advance it was 
one crash of rolling, sliding, tumbling red-hot rock. We could hear 


no explosions while we were near the flow, only a tremendous roar- 
ing- like ten thousand blast furnaces all at work at once." 

This was the most extensive flow of recent years, and its pro* 
gress from the interior plain through the dense forests above Hilo 
and out on to the open levels close to the town was startling and 
menacing enough. Through the woods especially it was a turbu- 
lent, seething mass that hurled down mammoth trees, and licked 
up streams of water, and day and night kept up an un intermitting 
cannonade of explosions. The steam and imprisoned gases would 
burst the congealing surface with loud detonations that could be 
heard for many miles. It was not an infrequent thing for parties 
to camp out close to the flow over night. Ordinarily a lava-flow 
moves sluggishly and congeals rapidly, so that what seems like 
hardihood in the narrating is in reality calm judgment, for it is per- 
fectly safe to be in the close vicinity of a lava-stream, and even to 
walk on its surface as soon as one would be inclined to walk on 
cooling iron in a foundry. This notable flow finally ceased within 
half a mile of Hilo, where its black form is a perpetual reminder of 
a marvellous deliverance from destruction. 


Kilauea seems never, in historic times, to have filled and over- 
flowed its vast crater. To do so would need an almost inconceiv- 
able volume of liquid rock material. But it approached this cul- 
mination in 1840, when it became, through its whole extent, a raging 
sea of fire. The boiling lava rose in the mighty mountain-cup to a 
height of from 500 to 600 feet. Then it forced a passage through 
a subterranean cavity twenty-seven miles long, and reached the sea, 
forty miles distant, in two days. The stream where it fell into the sea 
was half a mile wide, and the flow kept up for three weeks, heating 


the ocean twenty miles from land. An eye-witness of this extraor- 
dinary flow thus describes it : 

" When the torrent of fire precipitated itself into the ocean, 
the scene assumed a character of tc rrific and indescribable grandeur. 
The magnificence of destruction was never more perceptibly dis- , 
played than when these antagonistic elements met in deadly strife. 
The mightiest of earth's magazines of fire poured forth its burning 
billows to meet the mightiest of oceans. For two score miles it 
came rolling, tumbling, swelling forward, an awful agent of death. 
Rocks melted like wax in its path ; forests crackled and blazed 
before its fervent heat ; the works of man were to it but as a scroll 
in the flames. Imao;ine Niagara's stream, above the brink of the 
Falls, with its dashing, whirling, madly-raging waters hurrying on 
to their plunge, instantaneously converted into fire ; a gory-hued 
river of fused minerals ; volumes of hissing steam arising ; some 
curling upward from ten thousand vents, which give utterance to 
as many deep-toned mutterings, and sullen, confined clamorings ; 
gases detonating and shrieking as they burst from their hot prison- 
house ; the heavens lurid with flame ; the atmosphere dark and 
oppressive ; the horizon murky with vapors and gleaming with the 
reflected contest ! 

" Such was the scene as the fiery cataract, leaping a precipice 
of fifty feet, poured its flood upon the ocean. The old line of 
coast, a mass of compact, indurated lava, whitened, cracked and 
fell. The waters recoiled, and sent forth a tempest of spray ■ they 
foamed and dashed around and over the melted rock, they boiled 
with the heat, and the roar of the conflicting agencies grew fiercer 
and louder. The reports of the exploding gases were distinctly 
heard twenty-five miles distant, and were likened to a whole broad- 
side of heavy artillery. Streaks of the intensest light glanced like 


lightning in all directions ; the outskirts of the burning lava as it 
fell, cooled by the shock, were shivered into millions of fragments, 
and scattered by the strong wind in sparkling showers far into the 
country. For three successive weeks the volcano disgorged an 
uninterrupted burning tide, with scarcely any diminution, into the 
ocean. On either side, for twenty miles, the sea became heated, 
with such rapidity that, on the second day of the junction of the 
lava with the ocean, fishes came ashore dead in great numbers, at a 
point fifteen miles distant. Six weeks later, at the base of the hills, 
the water continued scalding hot, and sent forth steam at every 
wash of the waves." 


In 1866 the great crater of Kilauea presented a new and un- 
looked-for spectacle in the sinking and vanishing of its great lava 
lake. In March of that year the fires in the ancient cauldron 
totally disappeared, and the surrounding lava rock sank to a depth 
of nearly 600 feet. Mr. Thrum, in a pamphlet on "The Sus- 
pended Activity of Kilauea," says of it : 

" Distant rumbling noises were heard, accompanied by a series 
of earthquakes, forty-three in number. With the fourth shock the 
brilliancy of New Lake disappeared, and towards 3 A. m. the fires 
in Halemaumau disappeared also, leaving the whole crater in dark- 

" With the dawn the shocks and noises ceased, and revealed the 
changes which Kilauea had undergone in the night. All the high 
cliffs surrounding Halemaumau and New Lake, which had become 
a prominent feature in the crater, had vanished entirely, and the 
molten lava of both lakes had disappeared by some subterranean 
passage from the bottom of Halemaumau There was no material 


change in the sunken portion of the crater except a continual fallino- 
in of rocks and debris from its banks as the contraction from its 
former intense heat loosened their compactness and sent them 
hurling some 200 or 300 feet below, giving forth at times a boom 
as of distant thunder, followed by clouds of cinders and ashes 
shooting up into the air 100 to 300 feet, proportionate, doubtless, 
to the size of the newly fallen mass." 

This remarkable recession of the liquid lava in Halemaumau 
was probably due to the opening of some deep subterranean pass- 
age through which the lake of lava made its way unseen to the 
ocean's depths. The Rev. Mr. Baker, probably the most adven- 
turesome explorer of Hawaiian volcanoes, actually descended into 
that crumbling pit to a point within what he judged to be fifty feet 
of the bottom. But Halemaumau had only taken an intermission, 
for in two short months signs of returning life became frequent 
and unmistakable, and, in June, culminated in the sudden outbreak 
of a lake that has since then steadily increased in activity. 


We cannot close this chapter without some reference to the 
Goddess Pele, to whom the Hawaiians long imputed the wonder- 
work of their volcanic mountains. When there is unusual com- 
motion in Kilauea myriads of thread-like filaments float in the air 
and fall upon the cliffs, making deposits much resembling matted 
hair. A single filament over fifteen inches long was picked up on 
a Hilo veranda, having sailed in the air a distance of fifty miles. 
This is the famous Pele's Hair, being the glass-like product of 
volcanic fires. It resembles Prince Rupert's Drops, and the tradi- 
tion is that whenever the volcano becomes active it is because Pele, 
the Goddess of the crater, emerges from her fiery furnace and shakes 
her vitreous locks in anger. 


This fabled being, according to Emerson, in a paper on " The 
Lesser Hawaiian Gods," "could at times assume the appearance of 
a handsome young woman, as when Kamapuaa, to his cost, was 
smitten with her charms when first he saw her with her sisters at 
Kilauea." Kamapauaa was a gigantic hog, who "could appear as 
a handsome young man, a hog, a fish or a tree." "At other times 
the innate character of the fury showed itself, and Pele appeared 
in her usual form as an ugly and hateful old hag, with tattered and 
fire-burnt garments, scarcely concealing the filth and nakedness of 
her person. Her bloodshot eyes and fiendish countenance para- 
lized the beholder, and her touch turned him to stone. She was a 
jealous and vindictive monster, delighting in cruelty, and at the 
slightest provocation overwhelming the unoffending victims of her 
rage in widespread ruin." 

The superstition regarding the Goddess Pele was thought to 
have received a death blow in 1825, when Kapiolani, an Hawaiian 
princess and a Christian convert, ascended, with numerous attend- 
ants, to the crater of Kilauea, where she publicly defied the power 
and wrath of the goddess. No response came to her defiance, she 
descended in safety, and faith in Pele's power was widely shaken. 

Yet as late as 1887 the old superstition revived and claimed 
an exalted victim, for in that year the Princess Like Like, the 
youngest sister of the king, starved herself to death to appease 
the anger of the Goddess Pele, supposed to be manifested in 
Mauna Loa's eruption of that year, and to be quieted only by the 
sacrifice of a victim of royal blood. Thus slowly do the old super- 
stitions die away. 


Volcanoes of South America and the West 
African Islands. 

SOUTH AMERICA is famous for the great number and vast 
size of its volcanoes, mainly found in the mighty range of the 
Andes. Among these the most remarkable are Cotopaxi, 
Tunguragua, Pichincha, Antisana, and Sangay. Of these Coto- 
paxi is not only the loftiest volcano in South America, but in the 
world, its elevation, according to Whymper, being 19,550 feet. It 
presents a cone of remarkable regularity, its summit, which is uni- 
formly covered with perpetual snow, looking almost as if turned in 
a lathe. Below the sharply-defined snow-line woodland extends to 
its base. Though eruptions are rare, a column of vapor continu- 
ally ascends from its lofty peak. 

If we can accept the traditions of the natives, this mountain 
could not always claim its proud pre-eminence in height, since they 
state that the mountain called Capac-Urcu was once still higher 
than Cotopaxi, or even than Chimborazo, with its 20,100 feet. 
They tell us that, not long before the discovery of America by the 
Spaniards, there took place a series of dreadful eruptions, which 
lasted eight years, during which the cone of Capac-Urcu was 
broken down, and that its fragments now lie scattered over the 
adjacent plains. Similar occurrences elsewhere render this tradi- 
tion by no means improbable. 

21 321 


Most picturesque among the volcanoes of the Andes is Pichin- 
cha, which is 15,800 feet high and consists of several cones, of which 
four are conspicuous — the most southerly, named Raus, being that 
which contains the active crater. It is on a plain formed on the 
flanks of this mountain that Quito is situated ; and to this danger- 
ous neighborhood that beautiful city doubtless owed its overthrow 
in 1849 by a destructive earthquake. Baron Humboldt ascended 
to the crater of Pichincha, and nearly lost his life in the adventure. 
Having approached the edge, in order to obtain a view of the lava 
boiling at the bottom of the abyss, he became enveloped in a dense 
fog, and nearly stepped upon the steep incline, which descends so 
rapidly that, had he once planted his foot on it, he would have slid 
into the glowing lake of fire beneath. 

Small volcanoes are usually the most active, and the great 
height of those in the Andes has probably much to do with the 
infrequency of their eruptions, though this rule does not always 
hold good. 


The eruptions from the South American volcanoes are quite 
as frequently of sulphurous mud as of lava. An eruption from 
Imbaburu in 1 691, of which we have previously spoken, was of this 
character, the mud bringing with it so great a quantity of small fish 
as to cause a fever from their pestilential effluvia. In June, 1698, 
a similar event took place at Carguairazo, whose cone fell in, and 
a great eruption of mud succeeded, in which also were dead fish. 

This peculiar fact was repeated in 1799 during an eruption of 
Tunguragua, which accompanied the terrible earthquake by which 
the city of Riobamba was destroyed. During the earthquake 
shocks the crater gave off less vapor than usual, but enormous 
fissures opened at its base, whence issued immense volumes of 


water and fetid mud, which overflowed the country around to a 
wide extent. In some of the neighboring valleys, 1,000 feet wide, 
the water rose to a height of 600 feet. In the hollows the mud 
accumulated in such masses as to check the flow of the rivers, which 
rose so as to form large lakes, these remaining for more than eighty 
days. The floods contained immense quantities of fish of a 
peculiar species, suggesting that the water may have come from 
subterranean lakes in the vicinity of the volcano. The mud was 
probably composed of sulphurous dust and ashes from the volcano. 
The materials emitted from these volcanoes, however, is by no 
means confined to mud, Antisana, for instance, being notable for 
the large streams of lava which it has poured forth. This moun- 
tain had frequent fits of activity between 1590 and 1718, since 
which time it has been quiet. At the height of about 13,600 feet 
above the sea-level is a plain, formerly the bed of a considerable 
lake, now reduced to very narrow limits, From the centre of this 
plain rises the snow-clad summit, containing a dome-like portion, 
connected by a group of jagged peaks with a truncated cone of 
eruption situated on the north side. The ejected lavas have formed 
numerous walls of basalt at the foot of the mountain, and there 
are also great beds of very spongy pumice. 


Sangay is an exception to the rule of small volcanoes being 
the most active. Although towering to the height of upward of 
18,000 feet, its activity has ever since 1728 been almost incessant. 
Its eruptions are accompanied by loud detonations, which are heard 
at great distances. In 1842 and 1845 ^ ts thunderings were heard 
at Payta, on the Peruvian coast. These explosions sometimes suc- 
ceed each other with amazing rapidity ; but so loose and incoherent 


are the materials composing the cone that no concussion is felt. 
The fumes from the crater are very dense — sometimes gray, some- 
times orange, in color. The solid substances thrown out along 
with these fumes are cinders and dross, occasionally accompanied 
by round stones of about two feet in diameter. These either fall 
back again into the crater, or alight on the edge of the cone, to 
which they impart an incandescent glow. On cooling, the ejected 
matters become quite black, so that they give the general surface 
of the cone a most dismal aspect. They are accumulated on the 
slope and all around the base of the cone in beds, some parts of 
which attain a thickness of between 300 and 400 feet. 


Another exception to the general infrequency of paroxysms 
of activity among the South American volcanoes, is presented by 
Rancagua, in Chili, which is in a state of perpetual restlessness 
similar to that of Stromboli. Chilian, another of the volcanoes of 
Chili, burst into action in November 1864, when there was formed 
a new crater, whence immense quantities of ashes and other loose 
matters were ejected, along with streams of lava. The whole sum- 
mit of the cone, which is usually snow-clad, became covered with 
volcanic ashes in a layer of considerable depth. This fact illus- 
trates the manner in which layers of ice and snow may alternate 
with layers of lava ; for such thick coatings of ashes will prevent 
the lava from melting the snow to any considerable extent, and 
will rather facilitate its conversion into ice. The snow being first 
reduced to a half-melted state, and then subjected to the pressure 
of the lava, regelation ensues, and very hard and compact ice is 
formed beneath. 



Coming' now to the greatest of South American volcanoes, the 
lofty Cotopaxi, situated about 35 miles from Quito, we find it 
credited with numerous eruptions, some of them very destructive. 
The earliest on record were those of 1532 and 1533. In the latter 
year the mountain, which has the reputation of flinging large 
stones to great distances, is said to have hurled one huge mass, of 
200 tons weight, to a distance of about ten miles. The eruption 


The Loftiest Volcano on the Earth 

of 1 744 continued for three years, immense streams of lava spread- 
ing over the adjacent plains. The thundering roar of this great 
outbreak was heard at Hondo, on the Rio Magdalena, about 500 
miles away. Other great eruptions were in 1768 and 1803. In the 
latter instance Humboldt, then 160 miles distant, heard the fierce 
explosions night and day like the continued discharges from a bat- 
tery. Eruptions of some importance were those of 1850, 1854, 
1856 and 1864. A later one, in 1877, is thus described: 


"First a great column of dust was ejected, followed next day by 
a second mass, which drifted high in the air above Quito, so that 
midday was dark as night. The next day the summit of the vol- 
cano was clear, but about ten o'clock some people who were look- 
ing at it 'saw molten lava pouring through the gapes and notches 
in the lip of the crater, bubbling and smoking, so they described it, 
like the froth of a pot that suddenly boils over.' After this what 
ensued upon the mountain no man could see, for in a few minutes 
the whole of it was enveloped in smoke and steam, and became 
invisible, ' but out of the darkness a moaning noise arose, which 
grew into a roar, and a deluge of water — due to the melting snow 
— with blocks of ice, mud and rock, rushed down, sweeping away 
everything that lay in its course, and leaving a desert in its rear.' 
The molten matter, as Mr. Whymper points out, which overflowed 
from the crater, and fell in streams or cascades upon the surround- 
ing slopes of snow and ice, must often have been sent flying into 
the air in shattered fragments and splashes by the sudden develop- 
ment of steam, and 'portions of the glaciers, uncemented from 
their attachments by the enormous augmentation of heat, slipped 
away bodily, and, partly rolling, partly borne by the growing floods, 
arrived at the bottom a mass of shattered blocks.' The villages 
to a distance of seventy miles around were buried under a deposit 
of mud and other materials." 


Humboldt, in 1802, and several later travelers attempted to 
ascend Cotapaxi's icy cone, but in vain, and it was not until 1872 
that Dr. Wilhelm Reiss succeeded in reaching the top. Others 
have since accomplished this feat, among them Mr. Whymper, 
who passed a night on the cone just below its summit and looked 


into the crater. He gives the following account of what he saw: 
"An amphitheater 2,300 feet in diameter from north to south, 
and 1,650 feet across from east to west, with a rugged and irregular 
crest, notched and cracked, surrounded by cliffs, by perpendicular and 
even overhanging precipices, mixed with steep slopes ; some bear- 
ing snow, and others apparently incrusted with sulphur. Cavern- 
ous recesses belched forth smoke ; the sides of cracks and chasms, 
no more than halfway down, shone with ruddy light ; and so it 
continued on all sides right down to the bottom, precipice alternat- 
ing with slope, and the fiery fissures becoming more numerous as 
the bottom was approached. 

"At the bottom, probably 1,200 feet below us, and towards the 
centre, there was a rudely circular spot, about one-tenth the diame- 
ter of the crater, the pipe of the volcano, its channel of communi- 
cation with the lower regions, filled with incandescent, if not 
molten, lava, glowing and burning ; with flames traveling to and 
fro over its surface, and scintillations scattering as from a wood 
fire ; lighted by tongues of flickering flame, which issued from the 
cracks in the surrounding slopes. At intervals of about half an 
hour the volcano regularly blew off steam. It arose in jets with 
great violence from the bottom of the crater, and boiled over the 
lip, continually enveloping us. The noise on these occasions 
resembled that which we hear when a large ocean steamer is blowing 
off steam." 


Another episode in Mr. Whymper's experience illustrates a 
milder phase of the mountain's activity. It occurred when he was 
making his second ascent of Chimborazo. The sky was bright, and 
the cone of Cotopaxi, sixty miles away, stood up clear in the dawn- 
ing light. The great volcano was unusually tranquil ; not a sign 


of smoke rose from its crater. "At 5.40 a. m. two puffs of steam 
were emitted, and then there was a pause. At 5.45 a column of 
inky blackness began to issue, and went straight into the air with 
such prodigious velocity that in less than a minute it had risen 
20,000 feet above the rim of the crater." At this height it appeared 
to be caught by a powerful current of air from the east, and was 
" rapidly borne toward the Pacific ; remaining intensely black, 
seeming to spread very slightly " ; then it was caught by another 
current from the north, and drifted toward Chimborazo, spreading 
out rapidly. When the party reached the summit, though the cloud 
was then hovering overhead, the snows were clean ; but about ten 
minutes afterward the dust began to fall, and, in the course of an 
hour, gave the white dome the aspect of a plowed field. In Mr. 
Whymper's words: "It filled our eyes and nostrils, rendered eating 
and drinking impossible, and at last reduced us to breathing 
through handkerchiefs. The dust had occupied some seven and a 
half hours on its aerial journey." 


Passing from the line of the Andes to that of the volcanic 
islands adjoining the west coast of Africa, we find ourselves in a 
region of some degree of volcanic activity, though not equalling 
that of the mountains just considered, this being, as has been pre- 
viously said, a region of declining volcanism. The most active 
vents are those of the Canary Islands, the Azores, though they 
have been much troubled with earthquakes, having at present but 
one active crater, that of El Pico, which constantly sends off 

The volcanoes of the Canary Islands are of greater interest , 
for among them is the famous Peak of Teneriffe, whose snow-clad 


summit is a conspicuous land-mark to the mariner. The total 
height of the mountain is 12,090 feet; but that of the cone is only 
about 550 feet. Nothing has been emitted from the crater on the 
summit since it was known to Europeans, but columns of vapor. 
There were, however, lateral eruptions in 1704 and 1706, resulting 
in the destruction of the best harbor in the island. This mountain 
contains a subsidiary elevation, named Chahorra, and there was an 
eruption from a crater formed upon it in 1798, which continued for 
more than three months. Streams of lava and quantities of ashes 
and stones were thrown out on this occasion ; and it is affirmed by 
Humboldt that some of the stones were projected to a height so 
great that they occupied from twelve to fifteen seconds in their 
descent — thus showing that some of them must have been tossed 
to a height of about 3,000 feet. This eminent traveler visited the 
principal crater on the summit of the Peak, and found it to be of an 
oval form and small dimensions — 300 feet in its longer and 200 
feet in its shorter diameter, with a depth of about 100 feet. 

The neighboring island of Palma contains a vast volcanic 
crater, called the Great Caldera, which is no less than 5,000 feet in 
depth. In the mountain forming the walls of this crater are numer- 
ous deep ravines called baraccos, which are regarded as fissures 
that have been rent by volcanic action. 


The volcanoes in the island of Lancerotaare those which have 
been most recently in action, a crater having opened in August, 
1824, near the port of R.escif in this island. The eruption was 
preceded by violent earthquakes, and the quantity of matter 
ejected was so great as to form a considerable hill in twenty-four 
hours. The phenomena appear to have resembled those attending 
the formation of Monte Nuovo near Naples. 


But Lancerota was, during the last century, the scene of a far 
grander series of eruptions, which lasted for no less than six years. 
They began on the ist of September, 1730, when there was 
thrown up a quantity of volcanic materials so immense as to form 
in one night a considerable hill. A few days later there was 
opened another crater, whence flowed a stream of lava which over- 
whelmed several villages. On the 7th of September there was 
thrust up with a thundering noise, from the bottom of a lava- 
stream, a huge solid rock, which, dividing the current, so changed 
its direction as to cause it to overflow, in its new course, the large 
and flourishing town of St. Catalina, besides several villages. 
Four days after this, the lava, receiving a great accession, advanced 
into the sea with a terrific roar. Vast quantities of fish were killed, 
and thrown up to the surface or stranded on the beach. After a 
short rest there were opened on the very site of St. Catalina, which 
had been overflowed by the lava, three new craters, whence were 
vomited large quantities of sand, stones, and ashes. 

On the 28th of October a remarkable occurrence took place — 
all the cattle in the island dropped down dead. They had been 
chocked by noxious vapors which rose from the ground, and, being 
condensed on ascending into the air, fell in showers. To add to 
the terror of the inhabitants inspired by the fiery streams, there 
rose a furious tempest, exceeding in violence any that had ever 
been experienced in the island before. On the 10th of January, 
1 73 1, there was thrown up a hill of considerable height ; which on 
the same day fell down again into the crater whence it rose, giving 
place to several currents of lava, which made their way to the sea. 
In the following months of January and March, there were raised 
several new cones, which poured forth lava ; and fresh additions 
were subsequently made to their number, till it amounted to about 


thirty. In the following June the western shores were covered 
with dying fish of different species — some of them quite new to the 
inhabitants. Smoke and flames were seen to rise from the sea, at 
a short distance from the coast. This condition of volcanic activity 
in the island did not cease till 1736, and the eruptions compelled 
a large portion of the inhabitants to emigrate to the neighboring 

To the southward of the Canaries lie the Cape de Verde 
Islands, which are also volcanic. In one of them is a volcano 
named Fuego, which, after a repose of fifty years, burst out afresh 
in 1847. There were opened no less than seven mouths, whence 
issued great streams of lava, that desolated the highly cultivated 
parts of the island, destroying many cattle and inflicting grievous 
loss on the inhabitants. 


Popocatapetl and Other Volcanoes of Mexico 
and Central America. 


EX I CO is very largely a vast table-land, rising through much 
of its extent to an elevation of from 7,000 to 8,000 feet 
above sea-level, and bounded east and west by wide 
strips of torrid lowlands adjoining the oceans. It is crossed 
at about 19 north latitude by a range of volcanic mountains, run- 
ning in almost a straight line east and west, upon which are several 
extinct volcanic cOnes, and five active or quiescent volcanoes. The 
highest of these is Popocatapetl, south of the city of Mexico and 
nearly midway between the Atlantic and Pacific. 

East of this mountain lies Orizabo, little below it in height, 
and San Martin or Tuxtla, 9,700 feet high, on the coast south of 
Vera Cruz. West of it is Jorullo, 4,000 feet, and Colima, 12,800, 
near the Pacific coast. The volcanic energy continues south- 
ward toward the Isthmus, but decreases north of this volcanic 
range. These mountains have shown little signs of activity in 
recent times. Popocatapetl emits smoke, but there is no record of 
an eruption since 1540. Orizabo has been quiet since 1566. Tuxtla 
had a violent eruption in 1793, but since then has remained quies- 
cent. Colima is the only one now active. For ten years past it 
has been emitting ashes and smoke. The most remarkable of 
these volcanoes is Jorullo, which closely resembled Monte Nuovo, 
described in Chapter XIII., in its mode of origin. 


Popocatepetl, the hill that smokes, in the Mexican language, 
the huge mountain clothed in eternal snows, and regarded by the 
idolators of old as a god, towers up nearly 18,000 feet above the 
level of the sea, and in the days of the conquest of Mexico was a 
volcano in a state of fierce activity. It was looked upon by the 
natives with a strange dread, and they told the white strangers 
with awe that no man could attempt to ascend its slopes and yet 
live ; but, from a feeling of vanity, or the love of adventure, the 
Spaniards laughed at these fears, and accordingly a party of ten of 
the followers of Cortes commenced the ascent, accompanied by a 
few Indians. But these latter, after ascending about 13,000 feet 
to where the last remains of stunted vegetation existed, became 
alarmed at the subterranean bellowings of the volcano, and returned, 
while the Spaniards still painfully toiled on through the rarefied 
atmosphere, their feet crushing over the scoriae and black-glazed 
volcanic sand, until they stood in the region of perpetual snow, 
amidst the glittering, treacherous glaciers and crevasses, with vast 
slippery-pathed precipices yawning round. 

Still they toiled on in this wild and wondrous region. A few 
hours before they were in a land of perpetual summer ; here all 
was snow. They suffered the usual distress awarded to those who 
dare to ascend to these solitudes of nature but it was not given 
to them to achieve the summit, for suddenly, at a higher eleva- 
tion, after listening to various ominous threatenings from the 
interior of the volcano, they encountered so fierce a storm of 
smoke, cinders, and sparks, that they were driven back half suffo- 
cated to the lower portions of the mountain. 

Some time after another attempt was made ; and upon this 
occasion with a definite object. The invaders had nearly exhausted 
their stock of gunpowder, and Cortes organized a party to ascend 


to the crater of the volcano, to seek and bring down sulphur for 
the manufacture of this necessary of warfare. This time the party 
numbered but five, led by one Francisco Montano ; and they expe- 
rienced no very great difficulty in winning their way upwards. 
The region of verdure gave place to the wild, lava-strewn slope, 
which was succeeded in its turn by the treacherous glaciers ; and 
at last the gallant little band stood at the very edge of the crater, 
a vast depression of over a league in circumference, and 1,000 feet 
in depth. 


Flame was issuing from the hideous abysses, and the stoutest 
man's heart must have quailed as he peered down into the dim, 
mysterious cavity to where the sloping sides were crusted with 
bright yellow sulphur, and listened to the mutterings which warned 
him of the pent-up wrath and power of the mighty volcano. They 
knew that at any moment flame and stifling sulphurous vapor 
might be belched forth, but now no cowardice was shown. They 
had come provided with ropes and baskets, and it only remained 
to see who should descend. Lots were therefore drawn, and it fell 
to Montano, who was accordingly lowered by his followers in a 
basket 400 feet into the treacherous region of eternal fires. 

The basket swayed and the rope quivered and vibrated, but 
the brave cavalier sturdily held to his task, disdaining to show fear 
before his humble companions. The lurid light from beneath 
flashed upon his tanned features, and a sulphurous steam rose 
slowly and condensed upon the sides ; but, whatever were his 
thoughts, the Spaniard collected as much sulphur as he could take 
up with him, breaking off the bright incrustations, and even dally- 
ing with his task as if in contempt of the danger, till he had leisurely 
filled his basket, when the signal was given and he was drawn up. 


The basket was emptied, and then he once more descended into 
the lurid crater, collected another store and was again drawn up ; 
but far from shrinking from his task, he descenced again several 
times, till a sufficiency had been obtained, with which the party 
descended to the plain. 


No further back than the middle of the eighteenth century the 
site of Jorullo was a level plain, including several highly-cultivated 
fields, which formed the farm of Don Pedro di Jorullo. The plain 
was watered by two small rivers, called Cuitimba and San Pedro, 
and was bounded by mountains composed of basalt — the only indi- 
cations of former volcanic action. These fields were well irrigated, 
and among the most fertile in the country, producing abundant 
crops of sugar-cane and indigo. 

In the month of June, 1759, tne cultivators of the farm began 
to be disturbed by strange subterranean noises of an alarming kind, 
accompanied by frequent shocks of earthquake, which continued 
for nearly a couple of months ; but they afterward entirely ceased, 
so that the inhabitants of the place were lulled into security. On 
the night between the 28th and 29th of September, however, the 
subterranean noises were renewed with greater loudness than 
before, and the ground shook severely. The Indian servants 
living on the place started from their beds in terror, and fled to 
the neighboring mountains. Thence gazing upon their master's 
farm they beheld it, along with a tract of ground measuring be- 
tween three and four square miles, in the midst of which it stood, 
rise up bodily, as if it had been inflated from beneath like a blad- 
der. At the edges this tract was uplifted only about 39 feet above 
the original surface, but so great was its convexity that toward the 
middle it attained a height of no less than 524 feet. 



The Indians who beheld this strange phenomenon declared 
that they saw flames issuing from several parts of this elevated 
tract, that the entire surface became agitated like a stormy sea, that 
great clouds of ashes, illuminated by volcanic fires glowing beneath 
them, rose at several points, and that white-hot stones were thrown 
to an immense height. Vast chasms were at the same time 
opened in the ground, and into these the two small rivers above 


mentioned plunged. Their waters, instead of extinguishing the 
subterranean conflagration, seemed only to add to its intensity. 
Quantities of mud, enveloping balls of basalt, were then thrown 
up, and the surface of the elevated ground became studded with 
small cones, from which volumes of dense vapor, chiefly steam, 
were emitted, some of the jets rising from 20 to 30 feet in height. 
These cones the Indians called ovens, and in many of them 
was long heard a subterranean noise resembling that of water 


briskly boiling. Out of a great chasm in the midst of those ovens 
there were thrown up six larger elevations, the highest being 1,640 
feet above the level of the plain, 4,315 above sea level, and now 
constituting the principal volcano of Jorullo. The smallest of the 
six was 300 feet in height ; the others of intermediate elevation 
The highest of these hills had on its summit a regular volcanic 
crater, whence there have been thrown up great quantities of dross 
and lava, containing fragments of older rocks. The ashes were 
transported to immense distances, some of them having fallen on 
the houses at Queretaro, more than forty-eight leagues from Jorullo. 
The volcano continued in this energetic state of activity for about 
four months ; in the following years its eruptions became less fre- 
quent, but it still continues to emit volumes of vapor from the 
principal crater, as well as from many of the ovens in the upheaved 


The two rivers, which disappeared on the first night of this 
great eruption, now pursue an underground course for about a mile 
and a quarter, and then reappear as hot springs, with a temperature 
of 1 26 F. 

This wonderful volcanic upheaval is all the more remarkable, 
from the inland situation of the plain on which it occurred, it 
beino- no less than 120 miles distant from the nearest ocean, while 
there is no other volcano nearer to it than 80 miles. The activity 
of the ovens has now ceased, and portions of the upheaved plain 
on which they are situated have again been brought under cultiva- 
tion, and the volcano is in a state of quiescence. 

The crater of Popocatepetl, which towers to a height of 
17,000 feet, is a vast circular basin, whose nearly vertical walls are 
in some parts of a pale rose tint, in others quite black. The 


bottom contains several small fuming cones, whence arise vapors of 
changeable color, being successively red, yellow and white. All 
round them are large deposits of sulphur, which are worked for 
mercantile purposes. 

Orizaba has a little less lofty snow-clad peak. This mountain 
was in brisk volcanic activity from 1545 to 1560, but has since then 
relapsed into a prolonged repose. It was climbed, in 1856, by 
Baron Muller, to whose mind the crater appeared like the entrance 
to a lower world of horrible darkness. He was struck with aston- 
ishment on contemplating the tremendous forces required to elevate 
and rend such enormous masses — to melt them, and then pile them 
up like towers, until by cooling they became consolidated into their 
present forms. The internal walls of the crater are in many places 
coated with sulphur, and at the bottom are several small volcanic 
craters. At the time of his visit the summit was wholly covered 
with snow, but the Indians affirmed that hot vapors occasionally 
ascend from fissures in the rocks. Since then others have reached 
its summit, among them Angelo Heilprin, the first to gaze into the 
crater of Mont Pelee after its eruption. 


On the 14th of November, 1867, there commenced an eruption 
from a mountain about eight leagues to the eastward of the city of 
Leon, in Nicaragua. This mountain does not appear to have been 
previously recognized as an active volcano, but it is situated in a 
very volcanic country. The outburst had probably some connec- 
tion with the earthquake at St. Thomas, which took place on the 
1 8th of November following. The mountain continued in a state of 
activity for about sixteen days. There was thrown out an immense 
quantity of black sand, which was carried as far as to the coast of 


the Pacific, fifty miles distant. Glowing stones were projected from 
the crater to an estimated height of three thousand feet. 

Central America is more prolific of volcanoes than Mexico, 
and the State of Guatemala rp particular. One authority credits 
this State with fifteen or sixteen and another with more than thirty 
volcanic cones. Of these at least five are decidedly active. Taju- 
malco, which was in eruption at the time of the great earthquake 
of 1863, yields great quantities of sulphur, as also does Quesalte- 
nango. The most famous is the Volcan de Agua (Water Vol- 
cano), so called from its overwhelming the old city of Guatemala 
with a torrent of water in 1541. 

Nicaragua is also rich in v ^canoes, being traversed its entire 
length by a remarkable chain of isolated volcanic cones, several of 
which are to some extent active. We have already told the story 
of the tremendous eruption of Coseguina in 1835, one of the most 
violent of modern times. The latest important eruption here was 
that of Ometepec, a volcanic iiiount on an island of the same name 
in Lake Nicaragua. This broke a long period of repose on June 
19, 1883, with a severe eruption, in which the lava, pouring from a 
new crater, in seven days overflowed the whole island and drove 
off its population. Incessant rumblings and earthquake shocks 
accompanied the eruption, and mud, ashes, stones and lava covered 
the mountain slopes, which had been cultivated for many centuries. 
These were the most recent strong displays of volcanic energy in 
Central America, though former great outflows of lava are indi- 
cated by great fields of barren rock, which extend for miles. 


The Terrible Eruption of Krakatoa. 

THE most destructive volcanic explosion of recent times, one 
perhaps unequalled in violence in all times, was that of the 
small mountain island of Krakatoa, in the East Indian Archi- 
pelago, in 1883. This made its effects felt round the entire globe, 
and excited such wide attention that we feel called upon to give it 
a chapter of its own. 

The island of Krakatoa lies in the Straits of Sunda, between 
Java and Sumatra. In size it is insignificant, and had been silent 
so long that its volcanic character was almost lost sight of. Of its 
early history we know nothing. At some remote time in the past 
it may have appeared as a large cone, of some twenty-five miles in 
circumference at base and not less than 10,000 feet high. Then, 
still in unknown times, its cone was blown away by internal forces, 
leaving only a shattered and irregular crater ring. This crater was 
two or three miles in diameter, while the highest part of its walls 
rose only a few hundred feet above the sea. Later volcanic work 
built ud a number of small cones within the crater, and still later a 
new cone, called Rakata, rose on the edge of the old one to a height 
of 2,623 feet. 

The first known event in the history of the island volcano was 

an eruption in the year 1680. After that it lay in repose, forming 

a group of islands, one much larger than the others. Some of the 

smaller islands indicated the rim of the old crater, much of which 



was buried under the sea. Its state of quiescence continued for 
two centuries, a tropical vegetation richly mantled the island, and 
to all appearance it had sunk permanently to rest. 

Indications of a coming change appeared in 1880, in the 
form of earthquakes, which shook all the region around. These 
continued at intervals for more that two years. Then, on May 20, 
1883, there were heard at Batavia, a hundred miles away, "booming 
sounds like the firing of artillery." Next day the captain of a vessel 
passing through the Straits saw that Krakatoa was in eruption, 
sending up clouds of smoke and showers of dust and pumice. The 
smoke was estimated to reach a height of seven miles, while the 
volcanic dust drifted to localities 300 miles away. 


The mountain continued to play for about fourteen weeks 
with varying activity, several parties meanwhile visiting it and 
making observations. Such an eruption, in ordinary cases, would 
have ultimately died away, with no marked change other than per- 
haps the ejection of a stream of lava. But such was not now the 
case. The sequel was at once unexpected and terrible. As the 
island was uninhabited, no one actually saw what took place, those 
nearest to the scene of the eruption having enough to do to save 
their own lives, while the dense clouds of vapor and dust baffled 

The phase of greatest violence set in on Sunday, August 26th. 
Soon after midday sailors on passing ships saw that the island had 
vanished behind a dense cloud of black vapor, the height of which 
was estimated at not less than seventeen miles. At intervals fright- 
ful detonations resounded, and after a time a rain of pumice began 
to fall at places ten miles distant. For miles round fierce flashes 


of lightning rent the vapor, and at a distance of fully forty miles 
ghostly corposants gleamed on the rigging of a vessel. 

These phenomena grew more and more alarming until August 
27th, when four explosions of fearful intensity shook earth and sea 
and air, the third being "far the most violent and productive of the 
most widespread results." It was, in fact, perhaps the most tre- 
mendous volcanic outburst, in its intensity, known in human his- 
tory. It seemed to overcome the obstruction to the energy of the 
internal forces, for the eruption now declined, and in a day or two 
practically died away, though one or two comparatively insignificant 
outbursts took place later. 


The eruption spread ruin and death over many surrounding 
leagues. At Krakotoa itself, when men once more reached its 
shores, everything was found to be changed. About two-thirds of 
the main island were blown completely away. The marginal cone 
was cut nearly in half vertically, the new cliff falling precipitously 
toward the centre of the crater. Where land had been before now 
sea existed, in some places more than one hundred feet deep. But 
the part of the island that remained had been somewhat increased 
in size by ejected materials. 

Of the other islands and islets some had disappeared ; some 
were partially destroyed ; some were enlarged by fallen debris, 
while many changes had taken place in the depth of the neighboring 
sea-bed. Two new islands, Steers and Calmeyer, were formed. The 
ejected pumice, so cavernous in structure ac tr > float upon the water, 
at places formed great floating islands which covered the sea for 
m'les, and sometimes rose from four to seven feet above it, proving 
9 serious obstacle to navigation. On vessels near by dust fell to 


the depth of eighteen inches. The enormous clouds of volcanic 
dust which had been flung high into the air darkened the sky 
for a great area around. At Batavia, about a hundred miles from 
the volcano, it produced an effect not unlike that of a London fog. 
This began about seven in the morning of August 27th. Soon 
after ten the light had become lurid and yellow, and lamps were 
required in the houses ; then came a downfall of rain, mingled with 
dust, and by about half-past eleven the town was in complete dark- 
ness. It soon after began to lighten, and the rain to diminish, and 
about three o'clock it had ceased. 

At Buitenzorg, twenty miles further away, the conditions were 
similar, but lasted for a shorter time, In places much farther away 
the upper sky presented a strangely murky aspect, and the sun 
assumed a green color. Phenomena of this kind were traced over 
a broad area of the globe, even as far as the Hawaiian Islands, 
while over a yet wider area the sky after sunset was lit up by after- 
glows of extraordinary beauty. The height to which the dust was 
projected has been calculated from various data, with the result 
that 121,500 feet, or nearly 25 miles, is thought to be a probable 
maximum estimate, though it may be that occasional-fragments of 
larger size were shot up to a still greater height. 


Another effect, of a distressing character, followed the erup- 
tion. A succession of enormous waves, emanating from Krakatoa, 
traversed the sea, and swept the coast bordering the Straits of 
Sunda with such force as to destroy many villages on the low-lying 
shores in Java, Sumatra and other islands. Some buildings at a 
height of fifty feet above sea-level were washed away, and in some 
places the water rose higher, in one place reaching the height of 


115 feet. At Telok Betong, in Sumatra, a ship was carried inland 
a distance of nearly two miles, and left stranded at a height of thirty 
feet above the sea. 

The eruption of Krakatoa seems to have been due to some 
deep-lying causes of extraordinary violence, this appearing not only 
in the terrible explosion which tore the island to fragments and 
sent its remnants as floating dust many miles high into the air, but 
also from an internal convulsion that affected many of the vol- 
canoes of Java, which almost simultaneously broke into violent 
eruption. We extract from Dr. Robert Bonney's " Our Earth and 
its Story" a description of these closely-related events. 

" The disturbances originated on the island of Krakatoa, with 
eruptions of red hot stones and ashes, and by noon next day 
Semeru, the largest of the Javanese volcanoes, was reported to be 
belching forth flames at an alarming rate. The eruption soon 
spread to Gunung Guntur and other mountains, until more than a 
third of the forty-five craters of Java were either in activity or 
seriously threatening it. 

■ " Just before dusk a great cloud hung over Gunung Guntur, 
and the crater of the volcano began to emit enormous streams of 
white sulphurous mud and lava, which were rapidly succeeded by 
explosions, followed by tremendous showers of cinders and enor- 
mous fragments of rock, which were hurled high into the air and 
scattered in all directions, carrying death and destruction with them. 
The overhanging clouds were, moreover, so charged with elec- 
tricity that water-spouts added to the horror of the scene. The 
eruption continued all Saturday night, and next day a dense cloud, 
shot with lurid red, gathered over the Kedang range, intimating that 
an eruption had broken out there. 


" This proved to be the case, for soon after streams of lava 
poured down the mountain sides into the valleys, sweeping every- 
thing before them. About two o'clock on Monday morning — we 
are drawing on the account of an eye-witness — the great cloud sud- 
denly broke into small sections and vanished. When light came it 
was seen that an enormous tract of land, extending from Point 
Capucin on the south, and Negery Passoerang on the north and 
west, to the lowest point, covering about fifty square miles, had 
been temporarily submerged by the 'tidal wave.' Here were 
situated the vilages of Negery and Negery Babawang. Few of 
the inhabitants of these places escaped death. This section of the 
island was less densely populated than the other portions, and the 
loss of life was comparatively small, although it must have aggre- 
gated several thousands. The waters of Welcome Bay in the 
Sunda Straits, Pepper Bay on the east, and the Indian Ocean on 
the south, had rushed in and formed a sea of turbulent waves. 


" On Monday night the volcano of Papandayang was in an 
active state of paroxysmal eruption, accompanied by detonations 
which are said to have been heard for many miles away. In 
Sumatra three distinct columns of flame were seen to rise from a 
mountain to a vast height, and its whole surface was soon covered 
with fiery lava streams, which spread to great distances on all sides. 
Stones fell for miles around, and black fragmentary matter carried 
into the air caused total darkness. A whirlwind accompanied the 
eruption, by which house-roofs, trees, men, and horses were swept 
into the air. The quantity of matter ejected was such as to cover 
the ground and the roofs of the houses at Denamo to the depth of 
several inches. Suddenly the scene changed. At first it was 


reported that Papandayang had been split into seven distinct peaks. 
This proved untrue ; but in the open seams formed could be seen 
great balls of molten matter. From the fissures poured forth 
clouds of steam and black lava, which, flowing in steady streams, 
ran slowly down the mountain sides, forming beds 200 or 300 feet 
in extent. At the entrance to Batavia was a large group of houses 
extending along the shore, and occupied by Chinamen. This por- 
tion of the city was entirely destroyed, and not many of the 
Chinese who lived on the swampy plains managed to save their 
lives. They stuck to their homes till the waves came and washed 
them away, fearing torrents of flame and lava more than torrents 
of water. 

"Of the 3,500 Europeans and Americans in Batavia — which for 
several hours was in darkness, owing to the fall of ashes — 800 
perished at Anjer. The European and American quarter was first 
overwhelmed by rocks, mud and lava from the crater, and then the 
waters came up and swallowed the ruins, leaving nothing to mark 
the site, and causing- the loss of about 200 lives of the inhabitants 
and those who sought refuge there." 

The loss of life above mentioned was but a small fraction of 
the total loss. All along the coasts of the adjoining large islands 
towns and villages were swept away and their inhabitants drowned, 
till the total loss was, as nearly as could be estimated, 36,000 souls. 
Krakatoa thus surpassed Mont Pelee in its tale of destruction. 
These two, indeed, have been the most destructive to life of known 
volcanic explosions, since the volcano usually falls far short of the 
earthquake in its murderous results. 

The distant effects of this explosion were as remarkable as the 
near ones. The concussion of the air reached to an unprecedented 
distance and the clouds of floating dust encircled the earth, 


producing striking phenomena of which an account is given at the 
end of this chapter. 

The rapidity with which the effects of the Krakatoa eruption 
made themselves evident in all parts of the earth is perhaps the 
most remarkable outcome of this extraordinary event. The floating 
pumice reached the harbor of St. Paul on the 22nd of March, 1884, 
after having made a voyage of some two hundred and sixty days 
at a rate of six-tenths of a mile an hour. Immense quantities of 
pumice of a similar description, and believed to have been derived 
from the same source, reached Tamatave in Madagascar five months 
later, and no doubt much of it long continued to float round the 


Another result of the eruption was the series of atmospheric 
waves, caused by the disturbance in the atmosphere, which affected 
the barometer over the entire world. The velocity with which 
these waves traveled has been variously estimated at from 912.09 
feet to 1066.29 feet per second. This speed is, of course, very 
much inferior to that at which sound travels through the air. Yet, 
in three distinct cases, the noise of the Krakatao explosions was 
plainly heard at a distance of at least 2,200 miles, and in one in- 
stance — that recorded from Rodriguez — of nearly 3,000. The 
sound travelled to Ceylon, Burmah, Manila, New Guinea and West- 
ern Australia, places, however, within a radius of about 2,000 miles ; 
out Diego Garcia lies outside that area, and Rodriguez a thousand 
miles beyond it. Six days subsequent to the explosion, after the 
atmospheric waves had traveled four times round the globe, the 
barometer was still affected by them. 

Another result, similar in kind, was the extraordinary dissemi- 
nation of the great ocean wave, which in a like manner seems to have 


encircled the earth, since high waves, without evident cause, appear- 
ed not only in the Pacific, but at many places on the Atlantic coast 
within a few days after the event. They were observed alike in 
England and at New York. The writer happened to be at Atlantic 
City, o.i the New Jersey coast, at this time. It was a period of 
calm, the winds being at rest, but, unheralded, there came in an 
ocean wave of such height as to sweep away the ocean-front board- 
walk and do much other damage. He ascribed this strange wave 
at the time to the Krakatoa explosion, and is of the same opinion 

In addition to the account given of this extraordinary volcanic 
event, it seems desirable to give Sir Robert S. Ball's description 
of it in his recent work, "The Earth's Beginnings." While re- 
peating to some extent what we have already said, it is worthy, 
from its freshness of description and general readability, of a place 


"Until the year 1883 few had ever heard of Krakatoa. It 
was unknown to fame, as are hundreds of other gems of glorious 
vegetation set in tropical waters. It was not inhabited, but the 
natives from the surrounding shores of Sumatra and Java used 
occasionally to draw their canoes up on its beach, while they 
roamed through the jungle in search of the wild fruits that there 
abounded. It was known to the mariner who navigated the Straits 
of Sunda, for it was marked on his charts as one of the perils of 
the intricate navigation in those waters. It was no doubt recorded 
that the locality had been once, or more than once, the seat of an 
active volcano. In fact, the island seemed to owe its existence to 
some frightful eruption of by-gone days ; but for a couple of cen- 
turies there had been no fresh outbreak. It almost seemed as if 


Krakatoa might be regarded as a volcano that had become extinct. 
In this respect it would only be like many other similar objects all 
over the globe, or like the countless extinct volcanoes all over the 

"As the summer of 1883 advanced the vigor of Krakatoa, t 
which had sprung into notoriety at the beginning of the year, 
steadily increased and the noises became more and more vehement ; 
these were presently audible on shores ten miles distant, and then 
twenty miles distant ; and still those noises waxed louder and 
louder, until the great thunders of the volcano, now so rapidly 
developing, astonished the inhabitants that dwelt over an area at 
least as large as Great Britain. And there were other symptoms 
of the approaching catastrophe. With each successive convulsion 
a quantity of fine dust was projected aloft into the clouds. The 
wind could not carry this dust away as rapidly as it was hurled 
upward by Krakatoa, and accordingly the atmosphere became 
heavily charged with suspended particles. 

"A pall of darkness thus hung over the adjoining seas and 
islands. Such was the thickness and density of these atmospheric 
volumes of Krakatoa dust that, for a hundred miles around, the 
darkness of midnight prevailed at midday. Then the awful trag- 
edy of Krakatoa took place. Many thousands of the unfortunate 
inhabitants of the adjacent shores of Sumatra and Java were des- 
tined never to behold the sun again. They were presently swept 
away to destruction in an invasion of the shore by the tremendous 
waves with which the seas surrounding Krakatoa were agitated. 

"As the days of August passed by the spasms of Krakatoa 
waxed more and more vehement. ' By the middle of that month 
the panic, was widespread, for the supreme catastrophe was at hand. 
On the night of Sunday, August 26, 1883, the blackness of the 


dust-clouds, now much thicker than ever in the Straits of Sunda 
and adjacent parts of Sumatra and Java, was only occasionally 
illumined by lurid flashes from the volcano. 

"At the town of Batavia, a hundred miles distant, there was 
no quiet that night. The houses trembled with subterranean vio- 
lence, and the windows rattled as if heavy artillery were being dis- 
charged in the streets. And still these efforts seemed to be only 
rehearsing for the supreme display. By ten o'clock on the morn- 
ing of Monday, August 27, 1883, the rehearsals were over, and the 
performance began. An overture, consisting of two or three intro- 
ductory explosions, was succeeded by a frightful convulsion which 
tore away a large part of the island of Krakatoa and scattered it 
to the winds of heaven. In that final outburst all records of pre- 
vious explosions on this earth were completely broken. 


" This supreme effort it was which produced the mightest 
noise that, so far as we can ascertain, has ever been heard on this 
globe. It must have been indeed a loud noise which could travel 
from Krakatoa to Batavia and preserve its vehemence over so 
great a distance ; but we should form a very inadequate conception 
of the energy of the eruption of Krakatoa if we thought that its 
sounds were heard by those merely a hundred miles off. This 
would be little indeed compared with what is recorded on testimony 
which it is impossible to doubt. 

" Westward from Krakatoa stretches the wide expanse of the 
Indian Ocean. On the opposite side from the Straits of Sunda lies 
the island of Rodriguez, the distance from Krakatoa being almost 
three thousand miles. It has been proved by evidence which can- 
not be doubted that the thunders of the great volcano attracted the 


attention of an intelligent coast-guard on Rodriguez, who carefully 
noted the character of the sounds and the time of their occurrence. 
He had heard them just four hours after the actual explosion, for 
this is the time the sound occupied on its journey. 


" This mighty incident at Krakatoa has taught us other les- 
sons on the constitution of our atmosphere. We previously knew 
little, or I might say almost nothing, as to the conditions prevail- 
ing above the height of ten miles overhead. It was Krakatoa which 
first gave us a little information which was greatly wanted. How 
could we learn what winds were blowing at a height four times as 
great as the loftiest mountain on the earth, and twice as great as 
the loftiest altitude to which a balloon has ever soared ? No doubt 
a straw will show which way the wind blows, but there are no straws 
up there. There was nothing to render the winds perceptible until 
Krakatoa came to our aid. Krakatoa drove into those winds pro- 
digious quantities of dust. Hundreds of cubic miles of air were 
thus deprived of that invisibility which they had hitherto main- 

" With eyes full of astonishment men watched those vast vol- 
umes of Krakatoa dust on a tremendous journey. Of course, every 
one knows the so-called trade-winds on our earth's surface, which 
blow steadily in fixed directions, and which are of such service to 
the mariner. But there is yet another constant wind. It was first 
disclosed by Krakatoa. Before the occurrence of that eruption, no 
one had the slightest suspicion that far up aloft, twenty miles over 
our heads, a mighty tempest is incessantly hurrying, with a speed 
much greater than that of the awful hurricane which once laid so 
large a part of Calcutta on the ground and slew so many of its 


inhabitants. Fortunately for humanity, this new trade-wind does 
not come within less than twenty miles of the earth's surface. We 
are thus preserved from the fearful destruction that its unintermit- 
tent blasts would produce, blasts against which no tree could stand, 
and which would, in ten minutes, do as much damage to a city as 
would the most violent earthquake. When this great wind had 
become charged with the dust of Krakatoa, then, for the first, and, 
I may add, for the only time, it stood revealed to human vision. 
Then it was seen that this wind circled round the earth in the 
vicinity of the equator, and completed its circuit in about thirteen 


"The dust manufactured by the supreme convulsion was 
whirled round the earth in the mighty atmospheric current into 
which the volcano discharged it. As the dust-cloud was swept 
along by this incomparable hurricane it showed its presence in the 
most glorious manner by decking the sun and the moon in hues of 
unaccustomed splendor and beauty. . The blue color in the sky 
under ordinary circumstances is due to particles in the air, and 
when the ordinary motes of the sunbeam were reinforced by the 
introduction of the myriads of motes produced by Krakatoa even 
the sun itself sometimes showed a blue tint. Thus the progress of 
the great dust-cloud was traced out by the extraordinary sky effects 
it produced, and from the progress of the dust-cloud we inferred 
the movements of the invisible air current which carried it along. 
Nor need it be thought that the quantity of material projected 
from Krakatoa should have been inadequate to produce effects of 
this world-wide description. Imagine that the material which was 
blown to the winds of heaven by the supreme convulsion of Kra- 
katoa could be all recovered and swept into one vast heap. Imagine 


that the heap were to have its bulk measured by a vessel consisting 
of a cube one mile long, one mile broad and one mile deep ; it has 
been estimated that even this prodigious vessel would have to be 
filled to the brim at least ten times before all the products of Kra- 
katoa had been measured." 

It is not specially to the quantity of material ejected from 
Krakatoa that it owes its reputation. Great as it was, it has been 
much surpassed. Professor Judd says that the great eruptions of 
Papapandayang, in Java, in 1772, of Skaptur Jokull, in Iceland, in 
1783, and of Tamboro, in Sumbawa, in 181 5, were marked by the 
extrusion of much larger quantities of material. The special 
feature of the Krakatoa eruption was its extreme violence, which 
flung volcanic dust to a height probably never before attained, and 
produced sea and air waves of an intensity unparalleled in the 
records of volcanic action. Judd thinks this was due to the situa- 
tion of the crater, and the possible inflow through fissures of a great 
volume of sea water to the interior lava, the result being the sudden 
production of an enormous volume of steam. 


The red sunsets spoken of above were so extraordinary in 
character that a fuller description of them seems advisable. A 
remarkable fact concerning them is the great rapidity with which 
they were disseminated to distant regions of the earth. They ap- 
peared around the entire equatorial zone in a few days after the 
eruption, this doubtless being due to the great rapidity with which 
the volcanic dust was carried by the upper air current. They were 
seen at Rodriguez, 3,000 miles away, on August 28, and within a 
week in every part of the torrid zone. From this zone they spread 
north and south with less rapidity. Their first appearance in Aus- 
tralia was on September 15th, and at the Cape of Good Hope on 


the 20th. On the latter day they were observed in California and 
the Southern United States. They were first seen in England on 
November 9th. Elsewhere in Europe and the United States they 
appeared from November 20th to 30th. 

The effect lasted in some instances as long as an hour and 
three-quarters after sunset. In India the sun and skies assumed a 
greenish hue, and there was much curiosity regarding the cause of 
the ' green sun." Another remarkable phenomenon of this period 
was the great prevalence of rain during the succeeding winter. 
This probably was due to the same cause ; that is, to the fact of 
the air being so filled with dust; the prevailing theory in regard to 
rain being that the existence of dust in the air is necessary to its 
fall. The vapor of the air concentrates into drops around such 
minute particles, the result being that where dust is absent rain 
cannot fall. 

As regards the sunsets spoken of, there are three similar instances 
on record. The first of these was in the year 526, when a dry fog 
covered the Roman Empire with a red haze. Nothing further is 
known concerning it. The other instances were in the years 1783 
and 1 83 1. The former of these has been traced to the great 
eruption of Skaptur Jokull in that year. It lasted for several 
months as a pale blue haze, and occasioned so much obscurity that 
the sun was only visible when, twelve degrees above the horizon, 
and then it had a blood-red appearance. Violent thunderstorms 
were associated with it, thus assimilating it with that of 1S83. 
Alike in 1783 and 1831 there was a pearly, phosphorescent gleam 
in the atmosphere, by which small print could be read at midnight. 
We know nothing regarding the meteorological conditions of 1831. 
The red sunsets of 1883 were remarkable for their long per- 
sistence. They were observed in the autumn of 1884 with almost 


their original brilliancy, and they were still visible in 1885, being 
seen at intervals, as if the dust was then distributed in patches, 
and driven about by the winds. In fact, similar sunsets were occa- 
sionally visible for several years afterwards. These may well have 
been due to the same cause, when we consider with what extreme 
slowness very fine dust makes its way through the air, and how 
much it may be affected by the winds. 


One writer describe? the appearance of these sunsets in the 
following terms : " Immediately after sunset a patch of white light 
appeared ten or fifteen degrees above the horizon, and shone for 
ten minutes with a pearly lustre. Beneath it a layer of bright red 
rested on the horizon, melting upward into orange, and this passed 
into yellow light, which spread around the lucid spot. Next the 
white light grew of a rosy tint, and soon became an intense rose 
hue. A vivid golden oriole yellow strip divided it from the red 
fringe below and the rose red above." This description, although 
exaggerated, represents the general conditions of the phenomenon. 

On October 20th, 1884, the author observed the sunset effect 
as follows: 'Immediately after the sun had set, a broad cone of 
silvery lustre rested upon a horizon of smoky pink. After fifteen 
minutes the white became rose color above and yellowish below, 
deepening to lemon color, and finally into reddish tint, while the 
rose faded out. The whole cone gradually sank and died away in 
the brownish red flush on the horizon, more than an hour after sun- 
set. The time of duration varied, since, on the succeeding evening, 
it lasted only a half-hour. These sunset effects, if we can justly 
attribute them all to the Krakatoa eruption, were extraordinary 


not alone for their intensity and beauty but for their extended dura- 
tion, the influence of this remarkable volcanic outbreak being vis- 
ible for several years after the event. 

Though no doubt is entertained concerning the cause of the 
red sunset effects of 1783 and 1883, that of 1831 is not so readily 
explained, there having been no known volcanic explosion of 
great intensity in that year. But in view of the fact that vol- 
canoes exist in un visited parts of the earth, some of which may 
have been at work unknown to scientific man, this difficulty is not 
insuperable. Possibly Mounts Erebus or Terror, the burning 
mountains of the Antarctic zone, may, unseen by man, have pre- 
pared for civilized lands this grand spectacular effect of Nature's 


Submarine Volcanoes and their Work of Island 


IN November, 1867, a volcano suddenly began to show signs of 
activity beneath the deep sea of the Pacific Ocean. There 

are some islands nearly two thousand miles to the east of 
Australia called the Navigator's Group, in which there had been 
no history of an eruption, nor had such an event been handed 
down by tradition. Most of the islands in the Pacific Ocean are 
old volcanoes, or are made up of rocks cast forth from extinct 
burning mountains. They rise up like peaks through the great 
depths of the ocean, and the top, which just appears above the 
sea-level, is generally encircled by a growth of coral. Hence 
they are termed coral islands. These islands every now and then 
rise higher than the sea-level, owing to some deep upheaving force, 
and then the coral is lifted up above the water, and becomes a solid 
rock. But occasionally the reverse of this takes place, and the 
islands begin to sink into the sea, owing to a force which causes 
the base of the submarine mountain to become depressed. Some- 
times they disappear. All this shows that some great disturbing 
forces are in action at the bottom of the sea, and just within the 
earth's crust, and that they are of a volcanic nature. 

For some time before the eruption in question, earthquakes 
shook the surrounding islands of the Navigator's Group, and 
caused great alarm, and when the trembling of the earth was very 



great, the sea began to be agitated near one of the islands, and 
vast circles of disturbed water were formed. Soon the water began 
to be forced upwards, and dead fish were seen floating about. 
After a while, steam rushed forth, and jets of mud and volcanic 
sand. Moreover, when the steam began to rush up out of the 
water, the violence of the general agitation of the land and of the 
surface of the sea increased. 


When the eruption was at its height vast columns of mud and 
masses of stone rushed into the air to a height of 2,000 feet, and 
the fearful crash of masses of rock huried upwards and coming in 
collision with others which were falling attested the great volume 
of ejected matter which accumulated in the bed of the ocean, 
although no trace of a volcano could be seen above the surface of 
the sea. Similar submarine volca^'c action has been observed in 
the Atlantic Ocean, and crews of ships have reported that they 
have seen in different places sulphurous smoke, flame, jets of water, 
and steam, rising up from the sea, or they have observed the waters 
greatly discolored and in a state of violent agitation, as if boiling 
in large circles. 

New shoals have also been encountered, or a reef of rocks just 
emerging above the surface, where previously there was always 
supposed to have been deep water, On some few occasions, the 
gradual building up of an island by submarine volcanoes has been 
observed, as that of Sabrina in 1S1 j. off St. Michael's, in the 
Azores. The throwing up of ashes in this case, and the formation 
of a conical hill 300 feet high, with a crater out of which spouted 
lava and steam, took place very r^nidly. But the waves had the 
best of it, and finally washed Sabrina into the depths of the ocean. 


Previous eruptions in the same part of the sea were recorded as 
having happened in 1691 and 1720. 

In 1 83 1, a submarine volcanic eruption occurred in the Medi- 
terranean Sea, between Sicily and that part of the African coast 
where Carthage formerly stood. A few years before, Captain 
Smyth had sounded the spot in a survey of the sea ordered by 
Government, and he found the sea-bottom to be under 500 feet of 
water. On June 28, about a fortnight before the eruption was 
visible, Sir Pulteney Malcom, in passing over the spot in his ship, 
felt the shock of an earthquake as if he had struck on a sandbank, 
and the same shocks were felt on the west coast of Sicily, in a 
direction from south-west to north-east. 


About July 10, the captain of a Sicilian vessel reported that as 
he passed near the place he saw a column of water like a water- 
spout, sixty feet high, and 800 yards in circumference, rising from 
the sea, and soon after a dense rush of steam in its place, which 
ascended to the height of 1,800 feet. The same captain, on his 
return eighteen days after, found a small island twelve feet high, 
with a crater in its centre, throwing forth volcanic matter and 
immense columns of vapor, the sea around being covered with 
floating cinders and dead fish. The eruption continued with great 
violence to the end of the same month. By the end of the month 
the island grew to ninety feet in height, and measured three- 
quarters of a mile round. By August 4th it became 200 feet high 
and three miles in circumference ; after which it began to diminish 
in si e by the action of the waves. Towards the end of October 
the i land was levelled nearly to the surface of the sea. 



Naval officers and foreign ministers alike took an absorbing 
interest in this new island. The strong national thirst for terri- 
tory manifested itself and eager mariners waited only till the new 
land should be cool enough to set foot on to strive who should be 
first to plant there his country's flag. Names in abundance were 
given it by successive observers, — Nerita, Sciacca, Fernandina, 
Julia, Hotham, Corrao, and Graham. The last holds good in Eng- 

Uplift of a Submarine Volcano 

lish speech, and as Graham's Island it is known in books to-day, 
though the sea took back what it had given, leaving but a shoal of 
cinders and sand. 

The Bay of Santorin, in the island of that name, which lies 
immediately to the north of Crete, has long been noted for its sub- 
marine volcanoes. According to one account, indeed, the whole 
island was at a remote period raised from the bottom of the sea ; 


but this is questionable. It is, with more reason, supposed that the 
bay is the site of an ancient crater, which was situated on the sum- 
mit of a volcanic cone that subsequently fell in. Certain it is that 
islands have from time to time been thrown up by volcanic forces 
from the bottom of the sea within this bay, and that some of them 
have remained, while others have sunk again. 


Of the existing islands, some were thrown up shortly before 
the beginning of the Christian era ; in particular, one called the 
Great Cammeni, which, however, received a considerable accession 
to its size by a fresh eruption in a. d. 726. The islet nearest San- 
torin was raised in 1573, and was named the Little Cammeni ; and 
in 1 707 there was added, between the other two, a third, which is 
now called the Black Island. This made its appearance above 
water on the 23rd of May, 1707, and was first mistaken for a wreck ; 
but some sailors, who landed on it, found it to be a mass of rock; 
consisting of a very white soft stone, to which were adhering quan- 
tities of fresh oysters. While they were collecting these, a violent 
shaking of the ground scared them away. 

During several weeks the island gradually increased in volume ; 
but in July, at a, distance of about sixty paces from the new islet, 
there was thrown up a chain of black calcined rocks, followed by 
volumes of thick black smoke, having a sulphurous smell. A few 
days thereafter the water all around the spot became hot, and many 
dead fishes were thrown up. Then, with loud subterraneous noises, 
flames arose, and fresh quantities of stones and other substances 
were ejected, until the chain of black rocks became united to the 
first islet that had appeared. This eruption continued for a long 
time, there being thrown out quantities of ashes and pumice, which 


covered the island of Santorin and the surface of the sea — some 
being drifted to the coasts of Asia Minor and the Dardanelles. 
The activity of this miniature volcano was prolonged, with greater 
or less energy, for about ten years. 

In 1866 similar phenomena took place in the Bay of Santorin, 
beginning with underground sounds and slight shocks of earth- 
quake, which were followed by the appearance of flames on the 
surface of the sea. Soon after there arose, out of a dense smoke, 
a small islet, which gradually increased until in a week's time it was 
60 feet high, 200 long and 90 wide. The people of Santorin named 
it "George," in honor of the King of Greece. In another week it 
joined and became continuous with the Little Cammeni. The deto- 
nations increased in loudness, and large quantities of incandescent 
stones were thrown up from the crater. 

About the same time, at the distance of nearly 150 feet from 
the coast, to the westward of a point called Cape Phlego, there 
rose from the sea another island, to which was given the name of 
Aphroessa. It sank and reappeared several times before it estab- 
lished itself above water. The detonations and ejection of incan- 
descent lava and stones continued at intervals during three weeks. 
From the crater of the islet George, which attained a height of 150 
feet, some stones several cubic yards in bulk were projected to a 
great distance. One of them falling on board of a merchant vessel, 
killed the captain and set fire to the ship. 

By the 10th of March the eruptions had partially subsided, but 
were then renewed, and a third island, which was named Reka, 
rose alongside of Aphroessa. They were at first separated by a 
channel sixty feet deep ; but in three days this was filled up, and 
the two islets became united. 


Reference may properly be made here to Monte Nuovo and 
Jorullo, not that they appertain to the present subject, but that they 
form examples of the action of similar forces, in the one instance 
exerted on a lake bottom, in the other on dry land, each yielding 
permanent volcanic elevations in every respect analogous to those 
which rise as islands from the bottom of the sea. 


Off the coast of Iceland islands have appeared during several of 
the volcanic eruptions which that remote dependency of Denmark 
has manifested, and at various periods in Iceland's history the sea 
has been covered with pumice and other debris, which tell their own 
tale of what has been going on, without being in sufficient quantity 
to reach the surface in the form of an island mass. -The sea off 
Reykjanes — -Smoky Cape, as the name means — has been a frequent 
scene of these submarine eruptions. In 1240, during what the Ice- 
landic historians describe as the eighth outburst, a number of islets 
were formed, though most of them subsequently disappeared, only 
to have their places occupied by others born at a later date. In 
1422 high rocks of considerable circumference appeared. In 1783, 
about a month before the eruption of Skaptar Jokull, a volcanic 
island named Nyoe, from which fire and smoke issued, was built up. 
But in time it vanished under the waves, all that remains of it to-day 
being a reef from five to thirty-five fathoms below the sea-level. 
In 1830, after several long-continued eruptions of the usual char- 
acter, another isle arose ; while at the same time the. skerries known 
as the Geirfuglaska disappeared, and with them vanished the great 
auks, or gare-f owls- —birds now extinct — which up to that time had 
bred, on them. At all events, though. the auks could not well have 
been drowned, no traces of them were seen after the date mentioned. 


In July, 1884, an island again appeared about ten miles off Reykja- 
nes ; but it is already beginning to diminish in size, and may soon 


Elsewhere in the region of the northern seas there are other 
instances of the influence of the submarine forces in raising up and 
lowering land. The coast of Alaska is a region of intense volcanic 
action. In 1795, during a period of volcanic activity in the craters 
of Makushina, on Unalaska, and in others on Umnak Island, a vol- 
ume of smoke was seen to rise out of the sea about 42 miles to the 
north of Unalaska, and the next year it was followed by a heap of 
cindery material, from which arose flame and volcanic matter, the 
glow being visible over a radius of ten miles. In four years the 
island grew into a large cone, 3000 feet above the sea-level, and two 
or three miles in circumference. Two years later it was still so hot 
that when some hunters landed on it they found the soil too warm 
for walking. It was named Ionna Bogoslova (St. John the Theo- 
logian), by the Russians, Agashagok by the Aleuts, and is now 
known to the whites of that region as Bogosloff. Mr. Dall believes 
that it occupies the site of some rocks that existed there as long as 
tradition extends. 

There were additions to the cone up to the year 1823, when 
it became so quiescent as to be the favorite haunt of seals and 
sea-fowls, and, when the weather was favorable, was visited by 
native egg-hunters from Unalaska. During the summer of 1883 
Bogosloff was again seen in eruption, as it was thought. However, 
on closely examining the neighborhood, it was found that the old 
island was undisturbed, but that there had been a fresh eruption, 
which had resulted in the extension of Bogosloff by the appearance 
of a cone and crater (Hague Volcano), 357 feet high, connected 


with the parent island by a low sand-spit, and situated in a spot 
where, the year before, the lead showed 800 fathoms of water. At 
the same time Augustin and two other previously quiet islands on 
the peninsula of Alaska began simultaneously to emit smoke, dust 
and ashes, while a reef running westward and formerly submerged 
became elevated to the sea surface. Other islands, of origin exactly 
similar to Bogosloff and those mentioned, are to be found in this 
region, notably Koniugi and Kasatochi, in the western Aleutians, 
and Pinnacle Island, near St. Matthew Island. Indeed, the volcano 
of Kliutchevsk, which rises to a height of over 15,000 feet, is really 
a volcanic island. 

A permanent addition was made to the Aleutian group of 
Islands by the action of a submarine volcano in 1806. This new 
island has the form of a volcanic peak, with several subsidiary 
cones. It is four geographical miles in circumference. In 18 14 
another arose out of the sea in the same archipelago, the cone of 
which attained a height of 3,000 feet ; but at the end of a year it 
lost a portion of this elevation. 

In 1856, in the sea in the same neighborhood, Captain Newell, 
of the whaling bark Alice Fraser, witnessed a submarine eruption, 
which was also seen by the crews of several other vessels. There 
was no island formed on this occasion, but large jets of water were 
thrown up, and the sea was greatly agitated all around. Then fol- 
lowed volcanic smoke, and quantities of stones, ashes, and pumice ; 
the two latter being scattered over the surface of the sea to a great 
distance. Loud thundering reports accompanied this eruption, and 
all the ships in the neighborhood felt concussions like those pro- 
duced by an earthquake. These phenomena seem to have ended 
in the formation of some great submarine chasm, into which the 
waters rushed with extreme violence and a terrific roar. 


Occurrences similar to this last have been several times 
observed in a tract of open sea in the Atlantic, about half a degree 
south of the equator, and between 20 and 22 of west longitude. 
Although quantities of volcanic dross have been from time to time 
thrown up to the surface in this region, no island has yet made its 
appearance above water. 

The events here described repeat on a far smaller scale similar 
ones which have occurred in remote ages in many parts of the 
ocean and left great island masses as the permanent effects of their 
work. We may instance the Hawaiian group, which is wholly of 
volcanic origin, with the exception of its minor coral additions, and 
represents a stupendous activity of underground agencies beneath 
the domain of Father Neptune. 

In part, as we have said elsewhere in this work, all oceanic 
islands, remote from those in the shoal bordering waters of the 
continents, have been of volcanic or coral formation, or more often 
a combination of the two. No sooner does an island mass appear 
s.bove or near the surface of tropical waters than the minute coral 
animals -effective only by their myriads — begin their labors, build- 
ing fringes of coral rock around the cindery heaps lifted from the 
ocean floor. The atolls of the Pacific — circular or oval rings of 
coral with lagunes of sea-water within — have long been thought to 
be built on the rims of submarine volcanoes, rising to within a few 
hundred feet of the surface, much as coral reefs around actual 
islands. If the volcanic mass should subsequently subside, as it is 
likely to do, the minute ocean builders will continue their work — 
unless the subsidence be too rapid for their powers of production — 
and in this way ring-like islands of coral may in time rise from 
great depths of sea, their basis being the volcanic island which has 
sunk from near the surface far toward old ocean's primal floor. 


Mud Volcanoes, Geysers, and Hot Springs. 

UR usual impression of a volcano is indicated in the title of 
"burning mountain," so often employed, a great fire- 
spouting cone of volcanic debris, from which steam, lava, 
rock-masses, cinder-like fragments, and dust, often of extreme fine- 
ness, are flung high into the air or flow in river-like torrents of 
molten rock. This, no doubt, applies in the majority of cases, but 
the volcanic forces do not confine themselves to these magnificent 
displays of energy, nor are their products limited to those above 
specified. We have seen that mud is a not uncommon product, 
due to the mingling of water with volcanic dust, while water alone 
is occasionally emitted, of which we have a marked instance in the 
Volcan de Agua, of Guatemala, already mentioned. As regards 
mud flows, we may specially instance the first outflow from Mont 
Pelee, that by which the Guerin sugar works were overwhelmed. 

The imprisoned forces of the earth have still other modes of 
manifestation. A very frequent one of these, and the most destruc- 
tive to human life of them all, is the earthquake. 

Minor manifestations of volcanic action may be seen in the 
geyser and the hot spring, the latter the most widely disseminated 
of all the resultant effects of the heated condition of the earth's 
interior. It is these displays of subterranean energy, differing from 
those usually termed volcanic, yet due to the same general causes, 
that we have next to consider. And it may be premised that their 



manifestations, while, except in the case of the earthquake, less 
violent, are no less interesting, especially as the minor displays are 
free fronvthat peril to human life which renders the major ones so 

While the largest volcanoes at times pour out rivers of liquid 
mud, there are volcanoes from which nothing is ever ejected but 
mud and water, the latter being generally salt. From this circum- 
stance they are sometimes called salses, but they are more generally 
termed mud-volcanoes. Some varieties of them throw out little 
else than gases of different sorts, and these are called air-volcanoes. 


One of the best known mud-volcanoes is at Macaluba, near 
Girgenti, in Sicily. It consists of several conical mounds, varying 
from time to time in their form and height, which ranges from eight 
to thirty feet. From orifices on the tops of these mounds there 
are thrown out sometimes jets of warmish water and mud mixed 
with bitumen, sometimes bubbles of gas, chiefly carbonic acid and 
carburetted hydrogen, occasionally pure nitrogen. The mud ejected 
has often a strong sulphurous smell. The jets in general ascend 
only to a moderate height ; but occasionally they are thrown up 
with great violence, attaining a height of about 200 feet. In 1777 
there was ejected an immense column, consisting of mud strongly 
impregnated with sulphur and mixed with naphtha and stones, ac- 
companied also by quantities of sulphurous vapors. This mud- 
volcano is known to have been in action for fifteen centuries. 

Very recently a small mud-volcano has been formed on the 
flanks of Mount Etna. It began with the throwing up of jets of 
boiling water, mixed with petroleum and mud, great quantities of 
gas bubbling up at the same time. In several of the valleys of 


Iceland there are similar phenomena, the boiling water and mud 
being thrown up in jets to the height of fifteen feet and upwards, 
the mud accumulating around the orifices whence the jets arise. 

A mud-volcano named Korabetoff, in the Crimea, presents 
phenomena more akin to those of the igneous volcanoes of South 
America. There was an eruption from this mountain on the 6th 
of August, 1853. It began by throwing up from the summit 
a column of fire and smoke, which ascended to a great height. 
This continued for five or six minutes, and was followed at short 
intervals by two_ similar eruptions. There was then ejected with a 
hissing noise a quantity of black fetid mud, which was so hot as to 
scorch the grass on the edges of the stream. The mud continued 
to pour out for three hours, covering a wide space at the mountain's 
base. The mud-volcanoes on the coast of Beloochistan are very 
numerous, and extend over an area of nearly a thousand square 
miles. Their action resembles that at Macaluba. 


There is a mud volcano in Java which is of interest as some- 
what resembling the geyser in its mode of operation and apparently 
due to similar agencies. It is thus described by Dr. Horsfield : — 

" On approaching it from a distance, it is first discovered by a 
large volume of smoke, rising and disappearing at intervals of a few 
seconds, resembling the vapors rising from a violent surf. A loud 
noise is heard, like that of distant thunder. Having advanced so 
near that the vision was no longer impeded by the smoke, a large 
hemispherical mass was observed, consisting of black earth mixed 
with water, about sixteen feet in diameter, rising to the height of 
twenty or thirty feet in a perfectly regular manner, and as if it were 
pushed up by a force beneath, which suddenly exploded with a loud 


noise, and scattered about a volume of black mud in every direc- 
tion. After an interval of two or three, or sometimes four or five 
seconds, the hemispherical body of mud rose and exploded again. 
In the manner stated this volcanic ebullition goes on without inter- 
ruption, throwing up a globular body of mud, and dispersing it with 
violence through the neighboring plain. The spot where the ebul- 
lition occurs is nearly circular, and perfectly level. It is covered 
only with the earthy particles, impregnated with salt water, which 
are thrown up from below. The circumference may be esti- 
mated at about half an English mile. In order to conduct the salt 
water to the circumference, small passages or gutters are made in the 
loose muddy earth, which lead to the borders, where it is collected 
in holes dug in the ground for the purpose of evaporation." 

The mud has a strong, pungent, sulphurous smell, resembling 
that of mineral oil, and is hotter than the surrounding atmosphere. 
During the rainy season the explosions increase in v'olence. 

There are submarine mud volcanoes as well as those of 
igneous kind. In 1814 one of this character broke out in the 
Sea of Azof, beginning with flame and black smoke, accompanied 
by earth and stones, which were flung to a great height. Ten of 
these explosions occurred, and, after a period of rest, others were 
heard during the night. The next morning there was visible above 
the water an island of mud some ten feet high. A very similar 
occurrence took place in 1827, near Baku, in the Caspian sea. 
This began with a flaming display and the ejection of great frag- 
ments of rock. An eruption of mud succeeded. A set of small vol- 
canoes discovered by Humboldt in Turbaco, in South America, 
confined their emissions almost wholly to gases, chiefly nitrogen. 

There is a close connection in character between mud volcanoes 
and those intermittent boiling springs named geysers. A good many 


of the mud volcanoes throw out jets of boiling water along with 
the mud; but in the case of the geysers, the boiling water is ejected 
alone, without any visible impregnation, though some mineral in 
solution, as silica, carbonate of lime, or sulphur, is usually present. 


The phenomenon of the geyser serves in a measure to support 
the theory that steam is an important agent in volcanic action. A 
geyser, in fact, may be designated as a water volcano, since it 
throws up water only. It comprises a cone or mound, usually only 
a few feet high. In the middle of this is a crater-like opening with 
a passage leading down into the earth. As in the case 
of the volcano, the geyser cone is built up by its own action. 
In the boiling water which is ejected there is dissolved a certain 
amount of silica. As the water falls and cools this mineral is 
deposited, gradually building up a cup-like elevation. The basin of 
the geyser is generally full of clear water, with a little steam rising 
from its surface ; but at intervals an eruption takes place, some- 
times at regular periods, but more often at irregular intervals. 

Among the largest and best known geysers in the world are 
those of Iceland, chief among them being the Great Geyser. Silica 
is the mineral with which the waters of this fountain are impreg- 
nated, and the substance which they deposit, as they slowly evapo- 
rate, is named siliceous sinter. Of this material is composed the 
mound, six or seven feet high, on which the spring is situated. On 
the top of the mound is a large oval basin, about three feet in depth, 
measuring in its larger diameter about fifty-six, and in its shorter about 
forty-six feet. The centre of this basin is occupied by a circular 
well about ten feet in diameter, and between seventy and eighty 
feet deep. 


Out of the central well springs a jet of boiling water, at inter- 
vals of six or seven hours. When the fountain is at rest, both the 
basin and the well appear quite empty, and no steam is seen. But 
on the approach of the moment for action, the water rises in the 
well, till it flows over into the basin. Then loud subterranean ex- 
plosions are heard, and the ground all round is violently shaken. 

Instantly, and with immense force, a steaming jet of boiling 
water, of the full width of the well, springs up and ascends to a 
great height in the air. The top of this large column of water is 
enveloped in vast clouds of steam, which diffuse themselves through 
the air, rendering it misty. These jets succeed each other with great 
rapidity to the number of sixteen or eighteen, the period of action 
of the fountain being about five minutes. The last of the jets 
generally ascends to the greatest height, usually to about ioo, but 
sometimes to 150 feet ; on one occasion it rose to the great height 
of 212 feet. Having ejected this great column of water, the action 
ceases, and the water that had filled the basin sinks down into the 
well. There it remains till the time for the next eruption, when the 
same phenomena are repeated. It has been found that, by throw- 
ing large stones into the well, the period of the eruption may be 
hastened, while the loudness of the explosions and the violence of 
the fountain effect are increased, the stones being at the same time 
ejected with great force. 


Geysers are found all over the island, presenting various pecu- 
liarities. In the case of one of the smaller ones, which is called 
Strokr, or the Churn, an eruption can be induced by artificial means. 
A barrow-load of sods is thrown into the crater of the geyser, with 
the effect of causing an eruption. The sensitiveness of Strokr is 


due to its peculiar form. An observer states that, "The bore is 
eight feet in diameter at the top, and forty-four feet deep. Below 
twenty-seven feet it contracts to nineteen inches, so that the turf 
thrown in completely chokes it. Steam collects below ; a foaming 
scum covers the surface of the water, and In a quarter of an hour 
it surges up the pipe. The fountain then begins playing, sending 
its bundles of jets rather higher than those of the Great Geyser, 
flinging up the clods of turf which have been its obstruction like a 
number of rockets. This magnificent display continues for a quar- 
ter of an hour or twenty minutes. The erupted water flows back 
into the pipe from the curved sides of the bowl. This occasions a 
succession of bursts, the last expiring effort, very generally, being 
the most magnificent. Strokr gives no warning thumps, like the 
Great Geyser, and there is not the same roaring of steam accom- 
panying the outbreak of the water." 

The same author thus describes an eruption of the Great 
Geyser, which occurred about two o'clock in the morning : "A vio- 
lent concussion of the ground brought me and my companions to 
our feet. We rushed out of the tent in every condition of disha- 
bille and were in time to see Geyser put forth his full strength. 
Five strokes underground were the signal, then an overflow, wet- 
ting every side of the mound. Presently a dome of water rose in 
the centre of the basin and fell again, immediately to be followed 
by a fresh bell, which sprang into the air fully forty feet high, 
accompanied by a roaring burst of steam. Instantly the fountain 
began to play with the utmost violence, a column rushing up to the 
height of ninety or one hundred feet against the gray night sky, 
with mighty volumes of white steam cloud rolling after it and 
swept off by the breeze to fall in torrents of hot rain. Jets and 
lines of water tore their way through the clouds, or leaped high 


above its domed mass. The earth trembled and throbbed during 
the explosion, then the column sank, started up again, dropped 
once more, and seemed to be sucked back into the earth. We ran 
to the basin, which was left dry, and looked down the bore at the 
water, which was bubbling at the depth of six feet." - 

In the case of Strokr, the cause of this eruption is not difficult 
to understand. The narrow part of the channel is choked up by 
the turf and the steam, and prevented from escaping. Finally it 
gains such force as to drive out the obstacle with a violent explo- 
sion, just as a bottle of fermenting liquor may blow out the cork 
and discharge some of its contents. 

Geysers are somewhat abundant phenomena, existing in many 
parts of the earth, while striking examples of them are found in 
the widely separated regions of Iceland, New Zealand, Japan and 
the western United States. In the volcanic region of New Zealand 
geysers and their associated hot springs are abundant. It was to 
their action that we owed the famous white and pink terraces and 
the warm lake of Rotomahana which were ruined by the destructive 
eruption of Mount Tarawera, already described. 


The United States is abundantly supplied with hot springs, 
but geysers, outside of the Yellowstone region, are found only in 
California and Nevada. Those of California exist chiefly in Napa 
Valley, north of San Francisco, in a canon or defile. Their waters 
are impregnated not with silica, but with sulphur, and they thus 
approach more nearly in their character to mud-volcanoes, whose 
ejections are, in like manner, much impregnated with that sub 
stance. They are also, like them, collected in groups, there being 
no less than one hundred openings within a space of flat ground a 



mile square. Owing to their number and proximity, their individual 
energy is nothing like so violent as that of the geysers of Iceland. 
Their jets seldom rise higher than 20 or 30 feet ; but so great a 
number playing within so 

confined a space produces 
an imposing effect. The 
jets of boiling water issue 
with a loud noise from lit- 
tle conical mounds, around 
which the ground is merely 
a crust of sulphur. When 
this crust is penetrated, 
the boiling water may be 
seen underneath. The 
rocks in the neighbor- 
hood of these fountains 
are all corroded by the 
action of the sulphurous 
vapors. Nevertheless, 
within a distance of not 
more than 50 feet from 
them, trees grow without 
injury to their health. 

Few of these foun- 
tains, however, are regular 
geysers, most of them 
discharging only steam. 
From the Steamboat Geyser this ascends to a height of from 50 
to 100 feet, with a roar like that of the escape from a steamboat 
boiler. Associated with the geysers are numerous hot springs. 



some clear, some turbid, and variously impregnated with iron, 
sulphur or alum. In Nevada the Steamboat Springs, as they are 
designated, exist in Washoe Valley, east of the Virginian range. 
They come nearer in character to the Yellowstone geysers, their 
waters depositing true geyserite, or silicious concretions. The 
Volcano Springs, in Lauder County, are also true geysers, though 
of small importance. The ground here is so thickly perforated by 
holes from which steam escapes that it looks like a cullender. 


The most remarkable geyser country in the world, alike for 
the size and the number of its spouting fountains, is the Yellow- 
stone region in the northwest part of the Territory of Wyoming, 
in the United States, which, by a special act of Congress, has been 
reserved as the Yellowstone National Park, exempt from settle- 
ment, purchase or pre-emption. Here nearly every form of geyser 
and unintermittent • hot spring occurs, with deposits of various 
kinds, silicious, calcareous, etc. Of the hot springs, Dr. Peale 
enumerates 2,195, and considers that within the limits of the park — 
which is about 54 miles by 62 miles, and includes 3,312 square 
miles — as many as 3,000 actually exist. The same geologist notes 
the existence of 71 geysers in the area mentioned, though some of 
the number are only inferred to be spouting springs from the form 
of their basins and the character of the surrounding deposits. Of 
this vast collection of still and eruptive springs, between which 
there seems every gradation, those which do not send water into the 
air are, owing to the magnificent cascades which they form, often 
quite as remarkable as those which take the shape of geysers. The 
more striking of the latter may, however, be briefly mentioned. 



























































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In the Gibbon Basin is a geyser of late origin. In 1878 this 
consisted of two steam holes, roaring on the side of a hill, that 
looked as if they had recently burst through the surface ; and the 
gully leading towards the ravine was at that date filled with sand, 
which appeared to have been poured out during an eruption. Dead 
trees stood on the line of this sand floor, and others, with their bark 
still remaining, and even with their foliage not lost, were uprooted 
hard by, everything indicating that the " steamboat vent," as it was 
called, was of recent formation. In 1875 ^ naa ^ no existence, but 
in 1879 t ^ le spouting spring — which first opened, it is believed, on 
the nth of August in the preceding year — had "settled down to 
business as a very powerful flowing geyser," with a double period ; 
one eruption occurring every half hour, and projecting water to the 
height of 30 feet ; the main eruption occurring every six or seven 
days, with long continued action, and a column of nearly 100 feet. 

The New Geyser in the same basin is also of quite recent 
origin. It consists of two fissures in the rock, in which the water 
boils vigorously. But there is no mound, and the rocks of the fis- 
sure are just beginning to get a coating of the silicious geyserite 
deposited from the water, so that it cannot long have been spout- 
ing. Again, in the Grotto Geyser — in the Upper Geyser Basin of 
Fire Hole River — the main or larger crater is hollowed into fantas- 
tic arches, beneath which are the grotto-like cavities from which it 
is named, which act as lateral orifices for the escape of water during 
an eruption. It plays several times in the course of the twenty-four 
hours, and sends a column of water sixty feet high, the eruption 
lasting an hour. As yet, however, the force of the water has not 
been sufficient, or of sufficiently long duration, to break through 
the arches covering the basin or crater. The Excelsior- -claimed 
to be the largest of its order, which sent water nearly 300 feet into 


the air at intervals of about five hours, and of such volume as to 
wash away bridges over small streams below — -was not, until com- 
paratively recent years, known as a specially powerful geyser. But 
if it had for a time waned in importance, its immense crater, 330 
feet in length and 200 feet at the widest part, shows that at a still 
earlier date it was a gigantic fountain. In this deep pit, when the 
breeze wafted aside the clouds of steam constantly arising from its 
surface, the water could be seen seething 15 or 20 feet below the 
surrounding level. Yet into the cauldron of boiling water a little 
stream of cold water, from the melting snow of the uplands, ran 
unceasingly. Since 1888 this great geyser has been inactive. 

The Castle Geyser is so named on account of the fancied 
resemblance which its mound of white and grey deposit presents to 
the ruins of a feudal keep, the crater itself being placed on a cone 
or turret, which has a somewhat imposing appearance compared 
with the other geysers in the neighborhood. It throws a column 
usually about fifty or sixty feet high, at intervals of two or three 
hours, but sometimes the discharge shoots up much higher. 

The Giant, in the Upper Geyser Basin, has a peculiar crater, 
which has been likened to the stump of a hollow sycamore tree of 
gigantic proportions, whose top has been wrenched off by a storm. 
This curious cup is broken down at one side, as though it had 
been torn away during an eruption of more than ordinary violence, 
and on this side the visitor is able to look into the crater, if he can 
contrive to avoid the jets which are constantly spouted from it. The 
periods of rest which it takes are varied, an eruption often not occur- 
ring for several days at a time ; yet when it breaks out it con- 
tinues playing for more than three hours, with a volume of water 
reaching a height of from 130 to 140 feet. In the interval little 
spouts are constantly in progess. Mr. Stanley saw one eruption 



which he calculated to have shot a column of water to the height 
of more than 200 feet. At first it seemed as though the geyser 
was only making a feint, the discharge which preceded the great 
one being merely repeated several times, followed by a cessation 
both of the rumbling noises and of the ejection of water. But 

. . 


soon, after a premonitory cloud of ?team, the geyser began to work 
in earnest, the column discharged rising higher and higher, until 
it reached the altitude mentioned. 

'At first it appeared to labor in raising the immense volume, 
which seemed loath to start on its heavenward tour ; but it was 
with perfect ease that the stupendous column was held to its place, 


the water breaking into jets and returning in glittering showers to 
the basin. The steam ascended in dense volumes for thousands of 
feet, when it was freighted on the wings of the winds and borne 
away in clouds. The fearful rumble and confusion attending it 
were as the sound of distant artillery, the rushing of many horses 
to battle, or the roar of a fearful tornado. It commenced to act at 
2 p. m., and continued for an hour and a half, the latter part of 
which it emitted little else than steam, rushing upward from its 
chambers below, of which, if controlled, there was enough to run 
an engine of wonderful power. The waving to and fro of such a 
gigantic fountain, when the column is at its height, 

' Tinselled o'er in robes of varying hues,' 
and glistening in the bright sunlight, which adorns it with the 
glowing colors of many a gorgeous rainbow, affords a spectacle so 
wonderful and grandly magnificent, so overwhelming to the mind, 
that the ablest attempt at description gives the reader who has 
never witnessed such a display but a feeble idea of its glory." 


The only other geysers in this remarkable geyserland which 
we can spare room to notice are those known as the Giantess, the 
Beehive, and the Grand. The Giantess sends a column of water 
to the height of 250 feet. An eruption is usually divided into 
three periods — two preliminary efforts and a final one, divided 
from each other by intervals of between one and two hours, while 
the intervals of discharge are very long. Sometimes it does not 
play for several weeks. The Beehive, which is 400 feet from the 
Giantess, gets its name from the peculiar beehive-like cone which 
it has formed. The eruption is also almost unique. It is heralded 
by a slight escape of steam, which is followed by a column of steam 


and water, shooting to. the height of over 200 feet. The column 
is somewhat fan-shaped, but it does not fall in rain, the spray 
being evaporated and carried off as steam — if, indeed, there is not 
more steam than water in the column. The duration of the dis- 
charge is between four and five minutes, and the interval between 1 
two eruptions from twenty-one to twenty-five hours. 

The Grand is one of the most important in the Upper Gey- 
ser basin. Yet, unlike the Grotto, the Giant, or the Old Faithful, 
— so called from its frequent and regular eruptions — it has no raised 
cone or crater, and a much less cavernous bowl than the Giantess 
and other geysers. The column discharged ascends to the height 
of from eighty to two hundred feet, and the eruptions last from 
fifteen minutes to three-quarters of an hour, with intervals on an 
average of from seven to twenty hours. This fountain is appar- 
ently very irregular in its action, though it is just possible that 
when the Yellowstone geysers have been more consecutively stud- 
ied, it will be found that these seeming irregularities depend on 
the varying supplies of water at different times of the year. 


The marvellous phenomena of the Yellowstone region are not 
confined to geyser action, hot springs of steady flow being, as above 
stated, exceedingly numerous. Of these the most striking are those 
known as the Mammoth Hot Springs, whose waters find their way 
through underground passages, finally flowing from an opening as 
the " Boiling River," which empties into the Gardiner River. 

These springs are marvels of beauty. Their terraced bowls, 
adorned with delicate fret-work, are among the finest specimens of 
Nature's handiwork in the world, and the colored waters themselves 
are startling in their brilliancy. Red, pink, black, canary, green, 


saffron, blue, chocolate, and all their intermediate gradations are 
found here in exquisite harmony. The springs rise in terraces of 
various heights and widths, having intermingled with their delicate 
shades chalk-like cliffs, soft and crumbly, these latter being the 
remains of springs from which the life and beauty have departed. 
The great spring is the largest in the country, the water flowing 
through three openings into a basin forty feet long by twenty-five 
feet wide. From this the hot mineral waters drip over into lower 
basins, of gracefully curved and scalloped outline, the minerals 
deposited on the lips of the basin forming stalagmites of variegated 
hue, yielding a brilliant and beautiful effect. The terraced basins 
bear a close resemblance to the former New Zealand pink and white 
terraces, and since the annihilation of the latter are the most 
charming examples in existence of this rare form of Nature's artistic 


Theories of Volcanic and Earthquake Action. 

THOUGH the first formation of a volcano (Italian, vulcano, 
from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire) has seldom been wit- 
nessed, it would seem that it is marked by earthquake move- 
ments followed by the opening of a rent or fissure ; but with no 
such tilting up of the rocks as was once supposed to take place. 
From this fissure large volumes of steam issue, accompanied by 
hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrochloric acid, and sulphur 
dioxide. The hydrogen, apparently derived from the dissociation 
of water at a high temperature, flashes explosively into union with 
atmospheric oxygen, and, having exerted its explosive force, the 
steam condenses into cloud, heavy masses of which overhang the 
volcano, pouring down copious rains. This naturally disturbs the 
electrical condition of the atmosphere, so that thunder and lightning 
are frequent accompaniments of an eruption. The hydrochloric 
acid probably points to the agency of sea-water. Besides the gases 
just mentioned, sulphuretted hydrogen, ammonia and common salt 
occur; but mainly as secondary products, formed by the union of 
the vapors issuing from the volcano, and commonly found also in 
the vapors rising from cooling lava streams or dormant volcanic 
districts. It is important to notice that the vapors issue from the 
volcano spasmodically, explosions succeeding each other with great 
rapidity and noise. 

All substances thrown out by the volcano, whether gaseous, 
liquid or solid, are conveniently united under the term ejectamenta 



(Latin, things thrown out), and all of them are in an intensely 
heated, if not an incandescent state. Most of the srases are incom- 
bustible, but the hydrogen and those containing sulphur burn with 
a true flame, perhaps rendered more visible by the presence of solid 
particles. Much of the so-called flame, however, in popular descrip- 
tions of eruptions is an error of observation due to the red-hot 
solid particles and the reflection of the glowing orifice on the over- 
hanging clouds. 


Solid bodies are thrown into the air with enormous force and 
to proportionally great heights, those not projected vertically fall- 
ing in consequence at considerable distances from the volcano. A 
block weighing 200 tons is said to have been thrown nine miles by 
Cotopaxi ; masses of rock weighing as much as twenty tons to 
have been ejected by Mount Ararat in 1840; and stones to have 
been hurled to a distance of thirty-six miles in other cases The 
solid matter thrown out by volcanoes consists of lapilli, scorice, 
dust and bombs. 

Though on the first formation of the volcano, masses of non- 
volcanic rock maybe torn from the chimney or pipe of the mountain, 
only slightly fused externally owing to the bad conducting power 
of most rocks, and hurled to a distance ; and though at the begin- 
ning of a subsequent eruption the solid plug of rock which has 
cooled at the bottom of the crater, or, in fact, any part of the 
volcano, may be similarly blown up, the bulk of the solid particles 
of which the volcano itself is composed is derived from the lake of 
lava or molten rock which seethes at the orifice. Solid pieces rent 
from this fused mass and cast up by the explosive force of the 
steam with which the lava is saturated are known as lapilli. Cooling 


rapidly so as to be glassy in texture externally, these often 
have time to become perfectly crystalline within. 

Gases and steam escaping from other similar masses may leave 
them hollow, when they are termed bombs, or may pit their sur- 
faces with irregular bubble-cavities, when they are called scorice or 
scoriaceous. Such masses whirling through the air in a plastic 
state often become more or less oblately spheroidal in form ; but, 
as often, the explosive force of their contained vapors shatters 
them into fragments, producing quantities of the finest volcanic 
dust or sand. This fine dust darkens the clouds overhanging the 
mountain, mixes with the condensed steam to fall as a black mud- 
rain, or lava di aqtia (Italian, water lava), or is carried up to enor- 
mous heights, and then slowly diffused by upper currents of the 
atmosphere. In the eruption of Vesuvius of a.d. 79, the air was 
dark as midnight for twelve or fifteen miles round ; the city of 
Pompeii was buried beneath a deposit of dry scorice, or ashes and 
dust, and Herculaneum beneath a layer of the mud-like lava di 
aqua, which on drying sets into a compact rock. Rocks formed 
from these fragmentary volcanic materials are known as tuff. 


It is entirely of these cindery fragments heaped up with mar- 
vellous rapidity round the orifice that the volcano itself is first 
formed. It may, as in the case of Jorullo in Mexico in 1759, form 
a cone several hundred feet high in less than a day. Such a cone 
may have a slope as steep as 30 or 40 , its incline in all cases 
depending simply on the angle of repose of its materials, the 
inclination, that is, at which they stop rolling. The great volcanoes 
of the Andes, which are formed mainly of ash, are very steep. 
Owing to a general similarity in their materials, volcanic cones in 


all parts of the world have very similar curvatures ; but older 
volcanic mountains, in which lava-streams have broken through the 
cone, secondary cones have arisen, or portions have been blown 
up, are more irregular in outline and more gradual in inclination. 

In size, volcanoes vary from mere mounds a few yards in 
diameter, such as the salses or mud volcanoes near the Caspian, to 
Etna, 10,800 feet high, with a base 30 miles in diameter ; Cotopaxi, 
in the Andes, 18,887 ^ eet high ; or Mauna Loa, in the Sandwich 
Isles, 13,700 feet high, with a base "jo miles in diameter, and two 
craters, one of which, Kilauea, the largest active crater on our 
earth, is seven miles in circuit. Larger extinct craters occur in 
Japan ; but all our terrestrial volcanic mountains are dwarfed by 
those observed on the surface of the moon, which, owing to its 
smaller size, has cooled more rapidly than our earth. It is, of 
course, the explosive force from below which keeps the crater 
clear, as a cup-shaped hollow, truncating the cone ; and all stones 
falling into it would be only thrown out again. It may at the close 
of an eruption cool down so completely that a lake can form 
within it, such as Lake Averno, near Naples ; or it may long 
remain a seething sea of lava, such as Kilauea ; or the lava may 
find one or more outlets from it, either by welling over its rim, 
which it will then generally break down, as in many of the small 
extinct volcanoes ("puys") of Auvergne, or more usually by burst- 
ing through the sides of the cone. 


It is not generally until the volcano has exhausted its first 
explosive force that lava begins to issue. Several streams may 
issue in different directions. Their dimensions are sometimes enor- 
mous. Lava varies very much in liquidity and in the rate at which 


it flows. This much depends, however, upon the slope it has to 
traverse. A lava stream at Vesuvius ran three miles in four 
minutes, but took three hours to flow the next three miles, while 
a stream from Mauna Loa ran eighteen miles in two hours Glow- 
ing at first as a white-hot liquid, the lava soon cools at the surface 
to red and then to black ; cinder-like scoriaceous masses form on 
its surface and in front of the slowly-advancing mass ; clouds of 
steam and other vapor rise from it, and little cones are thrown up 
from its surface ; but many years may elapse before the mass is 
cooled through. Thus, while the surface is glassy, the interior 
becomes crystalline. 

As to what are the causes of the great convulsions of nature 
known as the volcano and the earthquake we know very little. 
Various theories have been advanced, but nothing by any means 
sure has been discovered, and considerable difference of opinion 
exists. In truth we know so little concerning the conditions exist- 
ing in the earth's interior that any views concerning the forces at 
work there must necessarily be largely conjectural. 

Sir Robert S. Ball says, in this connection : " Let us take, for 
instance, that primary question in terrestrial physics, as to whether 
the interior of the earth is liquid or solid. If we were to judge 
merely from the temperatures reasonably believed to exist at a 
depth of some twenty miles, and if we might overlook the question 
of pressure, we should certainly say that the earth's interior must 
be in a fluid state. It seems at least certain that the temperatures 
to be found at depths of two score miles, and still more at greater 
depths, must be so high that the most refractory solids, whether 
metals or minerals, would at once yield if we could subject them to 
such temperatures in our laboratories. But none of our laboratory 
experiments can tell us whether, under the pressure of thousands 


of tons on the square inch, the application of any heat whatever 
would be adequate to transform solids into liquids. It may, indeed, 
be reasonably doubted whether the terms solid and liquid are 
applicable, in the sense in which we understand them, to the 
materials forming the interior of the earth. 

" A principle, already well known in the arts, is that many, if 
not all, solids may be made to flow like liquids if only adequate 
pressure be applied. The making of lead tubes is a well-known 
practical illustration of this principle, for these tubes are formed 
simply by forcing solid lead by the hydraulic press through a mould 
which imparts the desired shape. 

" If then a solid can be made to behave like a liquid, even 
with such pressures as are within our control, how are we to sup- 
pose that the solids would behave with such pressures as those to 
which they are subjected in the interior of the earth ? The fact is 
that the terms solid and liquid, at least as we understand them, 
appear to have no physical meaning with regard to bodies sub- 
jected to these stupendous pressures, and this must be carefully 
borne in mind when we are discussing the nature of the interior of 
the earth." 


Whatever be the state of affairs in the depths of the earth's 
crust, we may look upon the volcano as a sort of safety-valve, open- 
ing a passage for the pent-up forces to the surface, and thus reliev- 
ing the earth from the terrible effects of the earthquake, through 
which these imprisoned powers so often make themselves felt. 
Without the volcanic vent there might be no safety for man on the 
earth's unquiet face. 

Professor J. C. Russell, of Michigan University, presents the 
following views concerning the status and action of volcanoes : — 


" When reduced to its simplest terms, a volcano may be defined 
as a tube, or conduit, in the earth's crust, through which the molten 
rock is forced to the surface. The conduit penetrates the cool and 
rigid rocks forming the superficial portion of the earth, and reaches 
its highly heated interior. 

"The length of volcanic conduits can only be conjectured, but, 
judging from the approximately known rate of increase of heat 
with depth (on an average one degree Fahrenheit for each sixty 
feet), and the temperature at which volcanic rocks melt (from 2,300 
to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit, when not under pressure), they must 
seemingly have a depth of at least twenty miles. There are other 
factors to be considered, but in general terms it is safe to assume 
that the conduits of volcanoes are irregular openings, many miles 
in depth, which furnish passageways for molten rock (lava) from 
the highly-heated sub-crust portion of the earth to its surface. . . . 


" During eruptions of the quiet type, the lava comes to the 
surface in a highly liquid condition — that is, it is thoroughly fused, 
and flows with almost the freedom of water. It spreads widely, 
even on a nearly level plain, and may form a comparatively thin 
sheet several hundred square miles in area, as has been observed in 
Iceland and Hawaii. On the Snake River plains, in Southern Idaho, 
there are sheets of once molten rock which were poured out in the 
manner just stated, some four hundred square miles in area and not 
over seventy-five feet in average thickness. When an eruption of 
highly liquid lava occurs in a mountainous region, the molten rock 
may cascade down deep slopes and flow through narrow valleys for 
fifty miles or more before becoming chilled sufficiently to arrest its 
progress. Instances are abundant where quiet eruptions have 


occurred in the midst of a plain, and built up 'lava cones,' or low 
mounds, with immensely expanded bases. Illustrations are fur- 
nished in Southern Idaho, in which the cones formed are only three 
hundred or four hundred feet high, but have a breadth at the base 
of eight or ten miles. In the class of eruption illustrated by these 
examples, there is an absence of fragmental material, such as 
explosive volcanoes hurl into the air, and a person may stand within 
a few yards of a rushing stream of molten rock, or examine closely 
the opening from which it is being poured out, without danger or 
serious inconvenience. 

" The quiet volcanic eruptions are attended by the escape of 
steam or gases from the molten rock, but the lava being in a highly 
liquid state, the steam and gases dissolved in it escape quietly and 
without explosions. If, however, the molten rock is less com- 
pletely fluid, or in a viscous condition, the vapors and gases con- 
tained in it find difficulty in escaping, and may be retained until, 
becoming concentrated in large volume, they break their way to 
the surface, producing violent explosions. Volcanoes in which the 
lava extruded is viscous, and the escape of steam and gases is 
retarded until the pent-up energy bursts all bounds, are of the 
explosive type. One characteristic example is Vesuvius. 

" When steam escapes from the summit of a volcanic conduit — 
which, in plain terms, is a tall vessel filled with intensely hot and 
more or less viscous liquid — masses of the liquid rock are blown 
into the air, and on falling build up a rim or crater about the place 
of discharge. Commonly the lava in the summit portion of a con- 
duit becomes chilled and perhaps hardened, and when a steam 
explosion occurs this crust is shattered and the fragments hurled - 
into the air and contributed to the building of the walls of the 
inclosing crater. 


" The solid rock blown out by volcanoes consists usually of 
highly vesicular material which hardened on the surface of the 
column of lava within a conduit and was shattered by explosions 
beneath it. These fragments vary in size from dust particles up to 
masses several feet in diameter, and during violent eruptions are 
hurled miles high. The larger fragments commonly fall near their 
place of origin, and usually furnish the principal part of the material 
of which craters are built, but the gravel-like kernels, lapilli, may 
be carried laterally several miles if a wind is blowing, while the dust 
is frequently showered down on thousands of square miles of land 
and sea. The solid and usually angular fragments manufactured 
in this manner vary in temperature, and may still be red hot on 

" Volcanoes of the explosive type not uncommonly discharge 
streams of lava, which may flow many miles. In certain instances 
these outwellings of liquid rock occur after severe earthquakes and 
violent explosions, and may have all the characteristics of quiet 
eruptions. There is thus no fundamental difference between the 
two types into which it is convenient to divide volcanoes. 


" In extreme examples of explosive volcanoes, the summit por- 
tion of a crater, perhaps several miles in circumference and several 
thousand feet high, is blown away. Such an occurrence is recorded 
in the case of the volcano Coseguina, Nicaragua, in 1835. Or, an 
entire mountain may disappear, being reduced to lapilli and dust 
and blown into the air, as in the case of Krakatoa, in the Straits of 
Sunda, in 1883. 

u The essential feature of a volcano, as stated above, is a tube 
or conduit, leading from the highly heated sub-crust portion of the 


earth to the crater and through which molten rock is forced upward 
to the surface. The most marked variations in the process depend 
on the quantity of molten rock extruded, and on the freedom of 
escape of the steam and gases contained in the lava. 

" The cause of the rise of the molten rock in a volcano is still 
a matter for discussion. Certain geologists contend that steam is 
the sole motive power ; while others consider that the lava is force*, 
to the surface owing to pressure on the reservoir from which it 
comes. The view perhaps most favorably entertained at present, 
in reference to the general nature of volcanic eruptions, is that the 
rigid outer portion of the earth becomes fractured, owing principally 
to movements resulting from the shrinking of the cooling inner 
mass, and that the intensely hot material reached by the fissures, 
previously solid owing to pressure, becomes liquid when pressure 
is relieved, and is forced to the surface. As the molten material 
rises it invades the water-charged rocks near the surface and acquires 
steam, or the gases resulting from the decomposition of water, and 
a new force is added which produces the most conspicuous and at 
times the most terrible phenomena accompanying eruptions." 

The active agency of water is strongly maintained by many 
geologists, and certainly gains support from the vast clouds of steam 
given off by volcanoes in eruption and the steady and quiet 
emission of steam from many in a state of rest. The quantities of 
water in the liquid state, to which is due the frequent enormous 
outflows of mud, leads to the same conclusion. Many scientists, 
indeed, while admitting the agency of water, look upon this as the 
aqueous material originally pent up within the rocks. For instance 
Professor Shaler, dean of the Lawrence Scientific School, says : 

" Volcanic outbreaks are merely the explosion of steam under 
high pressure, steam which is bound in rocks buried underneath 


the surface of the earth and there subjected to such tremendous 
heat that when the conditions are right its pent-up energy breaks 
forth and it shatters its stone prison walls into dust. The process 
by which the water becomes buried in this manner is a long one. 
Some contend that it leaks down from the surface of the earth 
through fissures in the outer crust, but this theory is not generally 
accepted. The common belief is that water enters the rocks dur- 
ing the crystalization period, and that these rocks through the 
natural action of rivers and streams become deposited in the bottom 
of the ocean. Here they lie for many ages, becoming buried 
deeper and deeper under masses of like sediment, which are con- 
stantly being washed down upon them from above. This process 
is called the blanketing process. 

" Each additional layer of sediment, while not raising the level 
ol the sea bottom, buries the first layers just so much the deeper 
and adds to their temperature just as does the laying of extra 
blankets on a bed. When the first layer has reached a depth of a 
few thousand feet the rocks which contain the water of crystaliza- 
tion are subjected to a terrific heat. This heat generates steam, 
which is held in a state of frightful tension in its rocky prison. 
Wrinklings in the outer crust of the earth's surface occur, caused 
by the constant shrinking of the earth itself and by the contraction 
of the outer surface as it settles on the plastic centers underneath. 
Fissures are caused by these foldings, and as these fissures reach 
down into the earth the pressure is removed from the rocks and 
the compressed steam in them, being released, explodes with tre- 
mendous force." 

This view is, very probably, applicable to many cases, and the 
exceedingly fine dust which so often rises from volcanoes has, 
doubtless, for one of its causes the sudden and explosive conversion 


of water into steam in the interior of ejected lava, thus rending 
it into innumerable fragments. But that this is the sole mode 
of action of water in volcanic eruptions is very questionable. It 
certainly does not agree with the immense volumes at times thrown 
out, while explosions of such extreme intensity as that of Krakatoa 
very strongly lead to the conclusion that a great mass of water has 
made its way through newly opened fissures to the level of molten 
rock, and exploded into steam with a suddenness which gave it the 
rending force of dynamite or the other powerful chemical explosives. 
As the earthquake is so intimately associated with the volcano 
the causes of the latter are in great measure the causes of the 
former, and the forces at work frequently produce a more or less 
violent quaking of the earth's surface before they succeed in open- 
ing a channel of escape through the mountain's heart. One agency 
of great potency, and one whose work never ceases, has doubtless 
much to do with earthquake action. In the description of this we 
cannot do better than to quote from "The Earth's Beginning" of 
Sir Robert S. Ball. 


"As to the immediate cause of earthquakes there is no doubt 
considerable difference of opinion. But I think it will not be 
doubted that an earthquake is one of the consequences, though 
perhaps a remote one, of the gradual loss of internal heat from 
the earth. As this terrestrial heat is gradually declining, it follows 
from the law that we have already so often had occasion to use 
that the bulk of the earth must be shrinking. No doubt the dimi- 
nution in the earth's diameter due to the loss of heat must be 
exceedingly small, even in a. long period of time. The cause, how- 
ever, is continually in operation, and, accordingly, the crust of the 
earth has from time to time to be accommodated to the fact that 


the whole globe is lessening. The circumference of our earth at 
the equator must be gradually declining ; a certain length in that 
circumference is lost each year. We may admit that loss to be a 
quantity far too small to be measured by any observations as yet 
obtainable, but, nevertheless, it is productive of phenomena so im- 
portant that it cannot be overlooked. 

" It follows from these considerations that the rocks which 
form the earth's crust over the surface of the continents and the 


islands, or beneath the bed of the ocean, must have a lessening acre- 
age year by year. These rocks must therefore submit to compression, 
either continuously or from time to time, and the necessary yield- 
ing of the rocks will in general take place in those regions where 
the materials of the earth's crust happen to have comparatively 
small powers of resistance. The acts of compression will often. 


and perhaps generally, not proceed with uniformity, but rathei 
with small successive shifts, and even though the displacements of 
the rocks in these shifts be actually very small, yet the pressures to 
which the rocks are subjected are so vast that a very small shift 
may correspond to a very great terrestrial disturbance. 

"Suppose, for instance, that there is a slight shift in the rocks 
on each side of a crack, or fault, at a depth of ten miles. It must 
be remembered that the pressure ten miles down would be about 
thirty-five tons to the square inch. Even a slight displacement of 
one extensive surface over another, the sides being pressed together 
with a force of thirty-five tons on the square inch, would be an 
operation necessarily accompanied by violence greatly exceeding 
that which we might expect from so small a displacement if the 
forces concerned had been of more ordinary magnitude. On 
account of this great multiplication of the intensity of the phe- 
nomenon, merely a small rearrangement of the rocks in the crust 
of the earth, in pursuance of the necessary work of accommodat- 
ing its volume to the perpetual shrinkage, might produce an 
excessively violent shock, extending far and wide. The effect of 
such a shock would be propagated in the form of waves through 
the globe, just as a violent blow given at one end of a bar of iron 
by a hammer is propagated through the bar in the form of waves. 
When the effect of this internal adjustment reaches the earth's 
surface it will sometimes be great enough to be perceptible in the 
shaking it gives that surface. The shaking may be so violent that 
buildings may not be able to withstand it. Such is the phenome- 
non of an earthquake. 

" When the earth is shaken by one of those occasional adjust- 
ments of the crust which I have described, the wave that spreads 
like a pulsation from the centre of agitation extends all over our 


globe and is transmitted right through it. At the surface lying 
immediately over the centre of disturbance there will be a violent 
shock. In the surrounding country, and often over great distances, 
the earthquake may also be powerful enough to produce destruc- 
tive effects. The convulsion may also be manifested over a far 
larger area of country in a way which makes the shock to be felt, 
though the damage wrought may not be appreciable. But beyond 
a limited distance from the centre of the agitation the earthquake 
will produce no destructive effects upon buildings, and will not 
even cause vibrations that would be appreciable to ordinary obser- 


" In each locality in which earthquakes are chronic it would 
seem as if there must be a particularly weak spot in the earth 
some miles below the surface. A shrinkage of the earth, in the 
course of the incessant adjustment between the interior and the 
exterior, will take place by occasional little jumps at this particular 
centre. The fact that there is this weak spot at which small adjust- 
ments are possible may provide, as it were, a safety-valve for other 
places in the same part of the world. Instead of a general shrink- 
ing, the materials would be sufficiently elastic and flexible to allow 
the shrinking for a very large area to be done at this particular 
locality. In this way we may explain the fact that immense tracts 
on the earth are practically free from earthquakes of a serious char- 
acter, while in the less fortunate regions the earthquakes are more 
or less perennial. 

" Now, suppose an earthquake takes place in Japan, it origi- 
nates a series of vibrations through our globe. We must here dis- 
tinguish between the rocks — I might almost say the comparatively 
pliant rocks — which form the earth's crust, and those which form 


the intensely rigid core of the interior of our globe. The vibrations 
which carry the tidings of the earthquake spread through the rocks 
on the surface, from the centre of the disturbance, in gradually 
enlarging circles. We may liken the spread of these vibrations to 
the ripples in a pool of water which diverge from the spot where a 
raindrop has fallen. The vibrations transmitted by the rocks on 
the surface, or on the floor of the ocean, will carry the message all 
over the earth. As these rocks are flexible, at all events by com- 
parison with the earth's interior, the vibrations will be correspond- 
ingly large, and will travel with vigor over land and under sea. In 
due time they reach, say the Isle of Wight, where they set the 
pencil of the seismometer at work. But there are different ways 
round the earth from Japan to the Isle of Wight, the most direct 
route being across Asia and Europe ; the other route across the 
Pacific, America, and the Atlantic. The vibrations will travel by 
both routes, and the former is the shorter of the two. 


Some brief repetition may not here be amiss as to the pro- 
ducts of volcanic action, of which so much has been said in the 
preceding pages, especially as many of the terms are to some extent 
technical in character. The most abundant of these substances is 
steam or water-gas, which, as we have seen, issues in prodigious 
quantities during every eruption. But with the steam a great num- 
ber of other volatile materials frequently make their appearance. 
Though we have named a number of these at the beginning of 
this chapter, it will not be out of order to repeat them here. 
The chief among these are the acid gases known as hydrochloric 
acid, sulphurous acid, sulphuretted hydrogen, carbonic acid, and 
boracic acid ; and with these acid gases there issue hydrogen, nitrogen 


ammonia, the volatile metals arsenic, antimony, and mercury, 
and some other substances. These volatile substances react upon 
one another, and many new compounds are thus formed. By the 
action of sulphurous acid and sulphuretted hydrogen on each other, 
the sulphur so common in volcanic districts is separated and 
deposited. The hydrochloric acid acts very energetically on the 
rocks around the vents, uniting with the iron in them to form the 
yellow ferric-chloride, which often coats the rocks round the vent 
and is usually mistaken by casual observers for sulphur. 

Some of the substances emitted by volcanic vents, such as 
hydrogen and sulphuretted hydrogen, are inflammable, and when 
they issue at a high temperature these gases burst into flame the 
moment that they come into contact with the air. Hence, when 
volcanic fissures are watched at night, faint lambent flames are fre- 
quently seen playing over them, and sometimes these flames are 
brilliantly colored, through the presence of small quantities of cer- 
tain metallic oxides. Such volcanic flames, however, are scarcely 
ever strongly luminous, and the red, glowing light which is observed 
over volcanic mountains in eruption is due to quite another cause. 
What is usually taken for flame during a volcanic eruption is simply, 
as we have before stated, the glowing light of the surface of a mass 
of red-hot lava reflected from the cloud of vapor and dust in the 
air, much as the lights of a city are reflected from the water vapor 
of the atmosphere during a night of fog. 

Besides the volatile substances which issue from volcanic vents, 
mingling with the atmosphere or condensing upon their sides, there 
are many solid materials ejected, and these may accumulate around 
the orifices till they build up mountains of vast dimensions, like 
Etna, Teneriffe, and Chimborazo. Some of these solid materials 
are evidently fragments of the rock-masses, through which the 


volcanic fissure has been rent ; these fragments have been carried 
upwards by the force of the steam-blast and scattered over the 
sides of the volcano. But the principal portion of the solid mater- 
ials ejected from volcanic orifices consists of matter which has been 
extruded from sources far beneath the surface, in highly-heated and 
fluid or semi-fluid condition. 

It is to these materials that the name of "lavas" is properly 
applied. Lavas present a general resemblance to the slags and 
clinkers which are formed in our furnaces and brick-kilns, and con- 
sist, like them, of various stony substances which have been more 
or less perfectly fused. When we come to study the chemical com- 
position and the microscopical structure of lavas, however, we 
shall find that there are many respects in which they differ entirely 
from these artificial products, they consisting chiefly of felspar, or 
of this substance in association with au^ite or hornblende. In tex- 
ture they may be stony, glassy, resin-like, vesicular or cellular and 
light in weight, as in the case of pumice or scoria. 


The steam and other gases rising through liquid lava are apt to 
produce bubbles, yielding a surface froth or foam. This froth varies 
greatly in character according to the nature of the material from 
which it is formed. In the majority of cases the lavas consist of a 
mass of crystals floating in a liquid magma, and the distension of 
such a mass by the escape of steam from its midst gives rise to the 
formation of the rough cindery-looking material to which the name 
of "scoria" is applied. But when the lava contains no ready- 
formed crystals, but consists entirely of a glassy substance in a 
more or less perfect state of fusion, the liberation of steam gives 
rise to the formation of the beautiful material known as " pumice," 



Pumice consists of a mass of minute glass bubbles ; these bubbles 
do not usually, however, retain their globular form, but are elon- 
gated in one direction through the movelnent of the mass while it 
is still in a plastic state. The quantity of this substance ejected is 
often enormous. We have seen to what a vast extent it was 
thrown out from the crater of Krakatoa. During the year 1878, 
masses of floating pumice were reported as existing in the vicinity 
of the Solomon Isles, and covering the surface of the sea to such 
extent that it took ships three days to force their way through 
them. Sometimes this substance accumulates in such quanti- 
ties along coasts that it is difficult to determine the position 
of the shore within a mile or two, as we may land and walk about 
on the great floating raft of pumice. Recent deep-sea soundings, 
carried on in the Challenger and other vessels, have shown that 
the bottom of the deepest portion of the ocean, far away from the 
land, is covered with volcanic materials which have been carried 
through the air or have floated on the surface of the ocean. 

Fragments of scoria or pumice may be thrown hundreds or 
thousands of feet into the atmosphere, those that fall into the crater 
and are flung up again being gradually reduced in size by friction. 
Thus it is related by Mr. Poulett Scrope, who watched the Vesu- 
vian eruption of 1822, which lasted for nearly a month, that during 
the earlier stages of the outburst fragments of enormous size were 
thrown out of the crater, but by constant re-ejection these were gra- 
dually reduced in size, till at last only the most impalpable dust 
issued from the vent. This dust filled the atmosphere, producing 
in the city of Naples " a darkness that might be felt." So exces- 
sively finely divided was it, that it penetrated into all drawers, 
boxes, and the most closely fastened receptacles, filling them com- 
pletely. The fragmentary materials ejected from volcanoes are 


often given the name of cinders or ashes. These, however, are terms 
of convenience only, and do not properly describe the volcanic mate- 

Sometimes the passages of steam through a mass of molten glass 
produces large quantities of a material resembling spun glass. 
Small particles of this glass are carried into the air and leave 
behind them thin, glassy filaments like a tail. At the volcano of 
Kilauea in Hawaii, this substance, as previously stated, is abundantly 
produced, and is known as Tele's Hair' — Pele being the name of 
the goddess of the mountain, Birds' nests are sometimes found 
composed of this beautiful material. In recent years an artificial 
substance similar to this Pele's hair has been extensively manufac- 
tured by passing jets of steam through the molten slag of iron- 
furnaces ; it resembles cotton-wool, but is made up of fine threads 
of glass, and is employed for the packing of boilers and other 

The lava itself, as left in huge deposits upon the surface, 
assumes various forms, some crystalline, others glassy. The latter 
is usually found in the condition known as obsidian, ordinarily black 
in color, and containing few or no crystals. It is brittle, and splits 
into sharp-edged or pointed fragments, which were used by primi- 
tive peoples for arrow-heads, knives and other cutting implements. 
The ancient Mexicans used bits of it for shaving purposes, it having 
an edge of razor-like sharpness. They also used it as the cutting 
part of their weapons of war. 


The Great Lisbon and Calabrian Earthquakes. 

CLOSELY associated with the volcano has always been the 
earthquake, usually coming as the precursor of its erup- 
tions, often accompanying their paroxysms. It is due to 
the same causes, whatever these causes may be, the imprisoned 
forces within the earth acting over great distances during the 
earthquake, while they are concentrated within some limited space 
when the volcano begins its work. The earthquake is the most 
terrible to mankind of all the natural agencies of destruction. 
While the volcano usually has a greater permanent effect upon 
surface conditions, it is, as a rule, much less destructive to human 
life, the earthquake often shaking down cities and burying all their 
inhabitants in one common grave. Violent earthquakes are also 
of far more frequent occurrence than destructive volcanic erup- 
tions, many hundreds of them having taken place during the 
historic period. 

While the earthquake is only indirectly connected with the 
subject of our work, it seems desirable to make some mention of it 
here, at least so far as relates to those terrible convulsions whose 
destructiveness has given them special prominence in the history of 
great disasters. Ancient notable examples are those which threw 
down the famous Colossus of Rhodes and the Pharos of Alexan- 
dria. The city of Antioch was a terrible sufferer from this afflic- 
tion, it having been devastated some time before the Christian era, 


while in the year 859 more than 15,000 of its houses were destroyed. 
Of countries subject to earthquakes, Japan has been an especial 
sufferer, in some cases mountains or islands being elevated in asso- 
ciation with shocks; in others, great tracts of land being swallowed 
up by the sea, The number of deaths in some of these instances 
was enormous. 

Numerous thrilling examples of the destructive work of the 
earthquake might be given, were this our theme. As it has, how- 
ever, only a collateral connection with our main subject, we shall 
confine ourselves to a few striking examples of its destructive 
action. In the record of great earthquakes, one of the most 
famous is that which in 1755 visited the city of Lisbon, the capital 
of Portugal, and left that populous place in ruin and dire distress. It 
may be well to recall the details of this dire event to the memories 
of our readers. 


On the night of the 31st of October, 1755, the citizens of the 
fair city of Lisbon lay down to sleep, in merciful ignorance of what 
was awaiting them on the morrow. The morning- of the 1st of 
November dawned, and gave no sign of approaching calamity. 
The sun rose in its brightness, the warmth was genial, the breezes 
gentle, the sky serene. It was All Saints' Day — a high festival of 
the Church of Rome. The sacred edifices were thronged with 
eager crowds, and the ceremonies were in full progress, when the 
assembled throngs were suddenly startled from their devotions. 
From the ground beneath came fearful sounds that drowned the 
peal of the organ and the voices of the choirs. These under- 
ground thunders having rolled away, an awful silence ensued. The 
panic-stricken multitudes were paralyzed with terror. Immedi- 
ately after the ground began to heave with a long and gentle swell, 


producing giddiness and faintness among the people. The tall 
piles swayed to and fro, like willows in the wind. Shrieks of hor- 
ror rose from the terrified assembly. Again the earth heaved, 
and this time with a longer and higher wave. Down came the 
ponderous arches, the stately columns, the massive walls, the lofty 
spires, tumbling upon the heads of priests and people. The graven 
images, the deified wafers, and they who had knelt in adoration 


before them — the worshipped and the worshippers alike — were in 
a moment buried under one undistineuishable mass of horrible 
ruins. Only a few, who were near the doors, escaped to tell the 

It fared no better with those who had remained in their dwel- 
lings. The terrible earth-wave overthrew the larger number of the 
private houses in the city, burying their inhabitants under the 


crumbling walls. Those who were in the streets more generally 
escaped, though some there, too, were killed by falling walls. 

The sudden overthrow of so many buildings raised vast 
volumes of fine dust, which filled the atmosphere and obscured the 
sun, producing a dense gloom. The air was full of doleful sounds 
— the groans of agony from the wounded and the dying, screams 
of despair from the horrified survivors, wails of lamentation from 
the suddenly bereaved, dismal howlings of dogs, and terrified cries 
of other animals. 

In two or three minutes the clouds of dust fell to the ground, 
and disclosed the scene of desolation which a few seconds had 
wrought. The ruin, though general, was not universal. A con- 
siderable number of houses were left standing — fortunately tenant- 
less — for a third great earth-wave traversed the city, and most of 
the buildings which had withstood the previous shocks, already 
severely shaken, were entirely overthrown. 


The last disaster filled the surviving citizens with the impulse 
of flight. The more fortunate of them ran in the direction of the 
open country, and succeeded in saving their lives ; but a great multi- 
tude rushed down to the harbor, thinking to escape by sea. Here, 
however, they were met by a new and unexpected peril. The 
tide, after first retreating for a little, came rolling in with an immense 
wave, about fifty feet in height, carrying with it ships, barges and* 
boats, and dashing them in dire confusion upon the crowded shore. 
Overwhelmed by this huge wave, great numbers were, on its 
retreat, swept into the seething waters and drowned. A vast 
throng took refuge on a fine new marble quay, but recently com- 
pleted, which had cost much labor and expense. This the sea-wave 


had spared, sweeping harmless by. But, alas ! it was only for a 
moment. The vast structure itself, with the whole of its living bur- 
den, sank instantaneously into an awful chasm which opened under- 
neath. The mole and all who were on it, the boats and barges 
moored to its sides, all of them filled with people, were in a moment 
ingulfed. Not a single corpse, not a shred of raiment, not a plank 
nor a splinter floated to the surface, and a hundred fathoms of 
water covered the spot. To the first great sea-wave several others 
succeeded, and the bay continued for a long time in a state of 
tumultuous agitation. 

About two hours after the first overthrow of the buildings, a 
new element of destruction came into play. The fires in the 
ruined houses kindled the timbers, and a mighty conflagration, 
urged by a violent wind, soon raged among the ruins, consuming 
everything combustible, and completing the wreck of the city. 
This fire, which lasted four days, was not altogether a misfortune. 
It consumed the thousands of corpses which would otherwise have 
tainted the air, adding pestilence to the other misfortunes of the 
survivors. Yet they were threatened with an enemy not less 
appalling, for famine stared them in the face. Almost everything 
eatable within the precincts of the city had been consumed. A set 
of wretches, morever, who had escaped from the ruins of the 
prisons, prowled among the rubbish of the houses in search of 
plunder, so that whatever remained in the shape of provisions fell 
into their hands and was speedily devoured. They also broke into 
the houses that remained standing, and rifled them of their con- 
tents. It is said that many of those who had been only injured 
by the ruins, and might have escaped by being extricated, were 
ruthlessly murdered by those merciless villains. 


The total loss of life by this terrible catastrophe is estimated 
at 60,000 persons, of whom about 40,000 perished at once, and the 
remainder died afterwards of the injuries and privations they sus- 
tained. Twelve hundred were buried in the ruins of the eeneral 
hospital, eight hundred in those of the civil prison, and several 
thousands in those of the convents. The loss of property amounted 
to many millions sterling. 


Although the earth-wave traversed the whole city, the shock 
was felt more severely in some quarters than in others. All the 
older part of the town, called the Moorish quarter, was entirely 
overthrown ; and of the newer part, about seventy of the principal 
streets were ruined. Some buildings that withstood the shocks 
were destroyed by fire. The cathedral, eighteen parish churches, 
almost all the convents, the halls of the inquisition, the royal resi- 
dence, and several other fine palaces of the nobility and mansions 
of the wealthy, the custom-houses, the warehouses filled with mer- 
chandise, the public granaries filled with corn, and large timber yards, 
with their stores of lumber, were either overthrown or burned. 

The king and court were not in Lisbon at the time of this 
great disaster, but were living in the neighborhood at the castle of 
Belem, which escaped injury. The royal family, however, were so 
alarmed by the shocks, that they passed the following night in car- 
riages out of doors. None of the officers of state were with them 
at the time. On the following morning the king hastened to the 
ruined city, to see what could be done toward restoring order, aid- 
ing the wounded, and providing food for the hungry. 

The royal family and the members of the court exerted them- 
selves to the uttermost, the ladies devoting themselves to the prep- 
aration of lint and bandages, and to nursing the wounded, the sick. 


and the dying, of whom the numbers were overwhelming. Among 
the sufferers were men of quality and once opulent citizens, who 
had been reduced in a moment to absolute penury. The kitchens 
of the royal palace, which fortunately remained standing, were used 
for the purpose of preparing food for the starving multitudes. It 
is said that during the first two or three days a pound of bread was 
worth an ounce of gold. One of the first measures of the govern- 
ment was to buy up all the corn that could be obtained in the 
neighborhood of Lisbon, and to sell it again at a moderate price 
to those who could afford to buy, distributing it gratis to those who 
had nothing to pay. 

For about a month afterward earthquake shocks continued, 
some of them severe. It was several months before any of the 
citizens could summon courage to begin rebuilding the city. But 
by degrees their confidence returned. The earth had relapsed into 
repose, and they set about the task of rebuilding with so much 
energy, that in ten years Lisbon again became one of the most 
beautiful capitals of Europe. 


The most distinguishing peculiarities of this earthquake were 
the swallowing up of the mole, and the vast extent of the earth's 
surface over which the shocks were felt. Several of the highest 
mountains in Portugal were violently shaken, and rent at their sum- 
mits ; huge masses falling from them into the neighboring valleys. 
These great fractures gave rise to immense volumes of dust, which 
at a distance were mistaken for smoke by those who beheld them. 
Flames were also said to have been observed : but if there were 
any such, they were probably electrical flashes produced by the 
sudden rupture of the rocks. 


The portion of the earth's surface convulsed by this eatthquake 
is estimated by Humboldt to have been four times greater than the 
whole extent of Europe. The shocks were felt not only over the 
Spanish peninsula, but in Morocco and Algeria they were nearly as 
violent. At a place about twenty-four miles from the city of Mo- 
rocco, there is said to have occurred a catastrophe much resemb- 
ling what took place at the Lisbon mole. A great fissure opened in 
the earth, and an entire village, with all its inhabitants, upwards of 
8,000 in number, were precipitated into the gulf, which immediately 
closed over its prey. 


Of the numerous other examples of destructive earthquakes 
which might be chosen from Old World annals, it will not be amiss 
to append a brief account of those which took place in Calabria, 
Italy, in 1783. These, while less wide-spread in their influence, 
were much longer in duration than the Lisbon cataclysm, since they 
continued, at intervals, from the 5th of February until the end of 
the year. The shocks were felt all over Sicily and as far north as 
Naples, but the area of severe convulsion was comparatively lim- 
ited, not exceeding five hundred square miles. 

The centre of disturbance seems to have been under the town 
of Oppido in the farther Calabria, and it extended in every direc- 
tion from that spot to a distance of about twenty-two miles, with 
such violence as to overthrow every city, town and village lying 
within that circle. This ruin was accomplished by the first shock 
on the 5th of February. The second, of equal violence, on the 
28th of March, was less destructive, only because little or nothing 
had been left for it to overthrow. 

At Oppido the motion was in the nature of a vertical up- 
heaval of the ground, which was accompanied by the opening of 


numerous large chasms, into some of which many houses were in- 
gulfed, the chasms closing over them again almost immediately. 
The town itself was situated on the summit of a hill, flanked by 
five steep and difficult slopes ; it was so completely overthrown by 
the first shock that scarcely a fragment of wall was left standing. 
The hill itself was not thrown down, but a fort which commanded 
the approach to the place was hurled into the gorge below. It was 
on the flats immediately surrounding the site of the town and on 
the rising grounds beyond them that the great fissures and chasms 
were opened. On the slope of one of the hills opposite the town 
there appeared a vast chasm, in which a large quantity of soil 
covered with vines and olive-trees was engulfed. This chasm re- 
mained open after the shock, and was somewhat in the form of an 
amphitheatre, 500. feet long and 200 feet in depth. 


The most calamitous of the landslips occurred on the sea-coast 
of the Straits of Messina, near the celebrated rock of Scilla, where 
huge masses fell from the tall cliffs, overwhelming many villas and 
gardens. At Gian Greco a continuous line of precipitous rocks, 
nearly a mile in length, tumbled down. The aged Prince of Scilla, 
after the first great shock on the 5th of February, persuaded many of 
his vassals to quit the dangerous shore, and take refuge in the fish- 
ing boats — he himself showing the example. That same night, 
however, while many of the people were asleep in the boats, and 
others on a flat plain a little above the sea-level, another powerful 
shock threw down from the neighboring Mount Jaci a great mass, 
which fell with a dreadful crash, partly into the sea, and partly 
upon the plain beneath. Immediately the sea rose to a height of 
twenty feet above the level ground on which the people were 


stationed, and rolling over it, swept away the whole multitude. This 
immense wave then retired, but returned with still greater violence 
bringing with it the bodies of the men and animals it had previ- 
ously swept away, dashing to pieces the whole of the boats, drown- 
ing all that were in them, and wafting the fragments far inland. 
The prince with 1,430 of his people perished by this disaster. 

It was on the north-eastern shore of Sicily, however, that the 
greatest amount of damage was done. The first severe shock, on 
the 5th of February, overthrew nearly the whole of the beautiful 
city of Messina, with great loss of life. The shore for a considera- 
ble distance along the coast was rent, and the ground along the 
port, which was before quite level, became afterwards inclined 
towards the sea, the depth of the water having, at the same time, 
increased in several parts, through the displacement of portions of 
the bottom. The quay also subsided about fourteen inches below 
the level of the sea, and the houses near it were much rent. But 
it was in the city itself that the most terrible desolation was wrought 
— a complication of disasters having followed the shock, more espe- 
cially a fierce conflagration, whose intensity was augmented by the 
large stores of oil kept in the place. 


According to official reports made soon after the events, the 
destruction caused by the earthquakes of the 5th of February and 
28th of March throughout the two Calabrias was immense. About 
320 towns and villages were entirely reduced to ruins, and about fifty 
others seriously damaged. The loss of life was appalling — 40,000 
having perished by the earthquakes, and 20,000 more having sub- 
sequently died from privation and exposure, or from epidemic dis- 
eases bred by the stagnant pools and the decaying carcases of men 


and animals. The greater number were buried amid the ruins of 
the houses, while others perished in the fires that were kindled in 
most of the towns, particularly in Oppido, where the flames were 
fed by great magazines of oil. Not a few, especially among the 
peasantry dwelling in the country, were suddenly engulfed in 
fissures. Many who were only half buried in the ruins, and who 
might have been saved had there been help at hand, were left to 
die a lingering death from cold and hunger. Four Augustine 
monks at Terranuova perished thus miserably. Having taken 
refuge in a vaulted sacristy, they were entombed in it alive by the 
masses of rubbish, and lingered for four days, during which their 
cries for help could be heard, till death put an end to their sufferings. 
Of still more thrilling interest was the case of the Marchion- 
ess Spastara. Having fainted at the moment of the first great 
shock, she was lifted by her husband, who, bearing her in his arms, 
hurried with her to the harbor. Here, on recovering her senses, 
she observed that her infant boy had been left behind. Taking 
advantage of a moment when her husband was too much occupied 
to notice her, she darted off and, running back to the house, which 
was still standing, she snatched her babe from its cradle. Rushing 
with him in her arms towards the staircase, she found the stair had 
fallen — cutting off all further progress in that direction. She fled 
from room to room, pursued by the falling materials, and at length 
reached a balcony as her last refuge. Holding up her infant, she 
implored the few passers-by for help ; but they all, intent on secur- 
ing their own safety, turned a deaf ear to her cries. Meanwhile 
the mansion had caught fire, and before long the balcony, with the 
devoted lady still grasping her darling, was hurled into the devour- 
ing flames. 


The Charleston and Other Earthquakes of the 

United States. 

THE twin continents of America have rivalled the record of 
the Old World in their experience of earthquakes since 
their discovery in 1492. The first of these made note of was 
in Venezuela in 1530, but they have been numerous and often dis- 
astrous since. Among them was the great shock at Lima in 1746, 
by which 18,000 were killed, and those at Guatemala in 1773, with 
33,000, and at Riobamba in 1797, with 41,000 victims. It will, how- 
ever, doubtless prove of more interest to our readers if we pass 
over these ruinous disasters and confine ourselves to the less des- 
tructive earthquakes which have taken place within our own country. 
The United States, large a section of North America as it 
occupies, is fortunate in being in a great measure destitute of vol- 
canic phenomena, while destructive earthquakes have been very 
rare in its history. This, it is true, does not apply to the United 
States as it is, but as it was. It has annexed the volcano and the 
earthquake with its new accessions of territory. Alaska has its 
volcanoes, the Philippines are subject to both forms of convulsion, 
and in Hawaii we possess the most spectacular volcano of the earth, 
while the earthquake is its common attendant. But in the older 
United States the volcano contents itself with an occasional puff of 
smoke, and eruptive phenomena are confined to the minor form of 

the geyser. 



We are by no means so free from the earthquake. Slight move- 
ments of the earth's surface are much more common than many of 
us imagine, and in the history of our land there have been two or 
three earth shocks of considerable violence. The most destructive 
was that of Charleston in 1886, though the 181 2 convulsion in the 
Mississippi Valley might have proved a much greater calamity but 
for the fact that civilized man had not then largely invaded its cen- 
tre of action. 

As regards the number of earth movements in this country, we 
are told that in New England alone 231 were recorded in two 
hundred and fifty years, while doubtless many slighter ones were 
left unrecorded. Taking the whole United States, there were 364 
recorded in the twelve years from 1872 to 1883, and in 1885 fifty- 
nine were recorded, more than two-thirds of them being on the 
Pacific slope. Most of these, however, were very slight, some of 
them barely perceptible. 

Confining ourselves to the earthquakes important in their 
effects, we may first speak of the shocks which took place in New 
England in 1755, in the year and month of the great earthquake 
at Lisbon. On the 18th of November of that year, while the shocks 
at Lisbon still continued, New England was violently shaken, loud 
underground explosive noises accompanying the shocks. In the 
harbors along the Atlantic coast there was much agitation of the 
waters and many dead fish were thrown up on the shores. The 
shock, indeed, was felt far from the coast, by the crew of a ship 
more than two hundred miles out at sea from Cape Ann, Massa- 

This event, however, was of minor importance, being much 
inferior to that of 18 12, in which year California and the Mississippi 
Valley alike were affected by violent movements of the earth s 


crust. The California convulsions took place in the spring and 
summer of that year, extending from the beginning of May until 
September. Throughout May the southern portion of that region 
was violently agitated, the shocks being so frequent and severe 
that people abandoned their houses and slept on the open ground. 
The most destructive shocks came in September, when two Mission 
houses were destroyed and many of their inmates killed. At Santa 
Barbara a tidal wave invaded the coast and flowed some dis- 
tance into the interior. 

It may be said here that California has proved more subject to 
severe shocks than any other section of our country. In 1865 
sharp tremors shook the whole region about the -Bay of San Fran- 
cisco, many buildings being thrown -down. Hardly any of brick or 
stone escaped injury, though few lives were lost. In 1872 a dis- 
turbance was felt farther west, the whole range of the Sierra 
Nevada mountains being violently shaken and the earth tremblings 
extending into the State of Nevada. The centre of activity was 
along the crest of the range, and immense quantities of rock were 
thrown down from the mountain pinnacles. A tremendous fissure 
opened along the eastern base of the mountain range for forty 
miles, the land to the west of the opening rising and that to the 
east sinking several feet. One small settlement, that of Lone Pine, 
in Owen's Valley, on the east base of the mountains, was completely 
demolished, from twenty to thirty lives being lost. Luckily, the 
region affected had very few inhabitants, or the calamity might have 
been great. 

The earthquakes of 181 2 in the Mississippi Valley began in 
December, 181 1, and continued at intervals until 181 3. As a rule 
they were more distinguished by frequency than violence, though 
on several occasions they were severe and had marked effects. 


They extended through the valleys of the Mississippi, Arkansas 
and Ohio, and their long- continuance was remarkable in view of 
the territory affected being far from any volcanic region. 

The surface of the valley of the Mississippi was a good deal 
altered by these convulsions — several new lakes being formed, 
while others were drained. Several new islands were also raised 
in the river, and during one of the shocks the ground a little below 
New Madrid was for a short time lifted so high as to stop the 
current of the Mississippi, and cause it to flow backward. The 
ground on which this town is built, and the bank of the river for 
fifteen miles above it, subsided permanently about eight feet, and 
the cemetery of the town fell into the river. In the neighboring 
forest the trees were thrown into inclined positions in every direc- 
tion, and many of their trunks and branches were broken. It is 
affirmed that in some places the ground swelled into great waves, 
which burst at their summits and poured forth jets of water, along 
with sand and pieces of coal, which were tossed as high as the tops 
of trees. On the subsidence of these waves, there were left several 
hundreds of hollow depressions from ten to thirty yards in diame- 
ter, and about twenty feet in depth, which remained visible for 
many years afterward. Some of the shocks were vertical, and others 
horizontal, the latter being the most mischievous. These earth- 
quakes resulted in the general subsidence of a large tract of 
country, between seventy and eighty miles in length from north to 
south, and about thirty miles in breadth from east to west. Lakes 
now mark many of the localities affected by the earthquake move- 
ments. It is only to the fact that this country was then very thinly 
settled that a great loss of life was avoided. 

New Madrid, Missouri, was a central point of this eartnquake, 
the shocks there being repeated with great frequency for several 


months. The disturbance of the earth, however, was not confined 
to the United States, but affected nearly half of the western hemis- 
phere, ending" in the upheaval of Sabrina in the Azores, already 
described. The destruction of Caracas, Venezuela, with many 
thousands of its inhabitants, and the eruption of La Soufriere 
volcano of St. Vincent Island were incidents of this convulsion. 
Dr. J. W. Foster tells us that on the night of the disaster at Caracas 
the earthquake grew intense at New Madrid, fissures being opened 
six hundred feet long by twenty broad, from which water and sand 
were flung to the height of forty feet. 

The most destructive of earthquakes in the United States was 
that which visited Charleston, South Carolina, in 1886, the injury 
caused by it being largely due to the fact that it passed through a 
populous city. As it occurred after many of the people had re- 
tired, the confusion and terror due to it were greatly augmented, 
people fleeing in panic fear from the tumbling and cracking houses 
to seek refuge in the widest streets and open spaces. 

South Carolina had been affected by the wide-spread earth- 
quakes of 181 2. These in some cases altered the level of the land, 
as is related in Lyell's '' Principles of Geology." But the effect 
then was much less than in 1886. Several slight tremors occurred 
in the early summer of that year, but did not excite much atten- 
tion. More distinct shocks were felt on August 27th and 28th, but 
the climax was deferred till the evening of August 31st. The 
atmosphere that afternoon had been unusually sultry and quiet, the 
breeze from the ocean, which generally accompanies the rising 
tide, was almost entirely absent, and the setting sun caused a little 
glow in the sky. 

"As the hour of 9.50 was reached," we are told, " there was 
suddenly heard a rushing, roaring sound, compared by some to a 


train of cars at no great distance, by others to a clatter produced 
by two or more omnibuses moving at a rapid rate over a paved 


street, by others again, to an escape of steam from a boiler. It 
was followed immediately by a thumping and beating of the earth 
beneath the houses, which rocked and swayed to and fro. Furniture 


was violently moved and dashed to the floor ; pictures were 
swung from the walls, and in some cases turned with their backs to 
the front, and every movable thing was thrown into extraordinary 
convulsions. The greatest intensity of the shock is considered to 
have been during the first half, and it was probably then, during 
the period of its greatest sway, that so many chimneys were broken 
off at the junction of the roof. The duration of this severe shock 
is thought to have been from thirty-five to forty seconds. The 
impression produced on many was that it could be subdivided into 
three distinct movements, while others were of the opinion that it 
was one continuous movement, or succession of waves, with the 
greatest intensity, as already stated, during the first half of its 

Twenty-seven persons were killed outright, and more than that 
number died soon after of their hurts or from exposure ; many 
others were less seriously injured. Among the buildings, the havoc, 
though much less disastrous than has been recorded in some other 
earthquakes in either hemisphere, was very great. " There was 
not a building in the city which had escaped serious injury. 
The extent of the damage varied greatly, ranging from total demoli- 
tion down to the loss of chimney tops and the dislodgment of more 
or less plastering. The number of buildings which were com- 
pletely demolished and levelled to the ground was not great ; but 
there were several hundreds which lost a large portion of their 
walls. There were very- many also which remained standing, but 
so badly shattered that public safety required that they should be 
pulled down altogether. There was not, so far as at present is 
known, a brick or stone building which was not more or less 
cracked, and in most of them the cracks were a permanent dis- 
figurement and a source of danger and inconvenience." In some 


places the railway track was curiously distorted. " It was often dis- 
placed laterally, and sometimes alternately depressed and elevated. 
Occasionally several lateral flexures of double curvature and of 
great amount were exhibited. Many hundred yards of track had 
been shoved bodily to the south eastward." 

The ground was fissured at some places in the city to a depth 
of many feet, and numerous " craterlets " were formed, from which 
sand was ejected in considerable quantities. These are not un- 
common phenomena, and were due, no doubt, to the squirting of 
water out of saturated sandy layers not far below the surface ; these 
being squeezed between two less pervious beds in the passage of 
the earthquake wave. The ejected material in the Charleston 
earthquake was ordinary sand, such as might exist in many dis- 
tricts which had been quite undisturbed by any concussions of the 

Captain Dutton made a careful study of the observations 
collected by himself and others concerning this earthquake, and 
came to the conclusion that the Charleston wave traveled with un- 
usual speed, for its mean velocity was about 17,000 feet a second. 
The focus of the disturbance was also ascertained. Apparently it 
was a double one, the two centres being about thirteen miles apart, 
and the line joining them running nearly the same distance to the 
west of Charleston. The approximate depth of the principal focus 
is given as twelve miles, with a possible error of less than two 
miles ; that of the minor one as roughly eight miles. 

The Charleston earthquake was felt as a tremor of more or 
less force through a wide area, embracing 900,000 square miles, and 
affecting nearly the whole country east of the Mississippi. It is 
said that the yield of the Pennsylvania natural gas wells decreased, 
and that a geyser in the Yellowstone valley burst into action after 


four years of rest. The movement of the earth-wave was in gen- 
eral north and south, deflected to east and west, and the snake-like 
fashion in which rails on the railroad were bent indicated both a 
vertical and a lateral force. 

This earthquake has been attributed to various causes, but 
geological experts think that it was due to a slip in the crust along 
the Appalachian Mountain chain. There is a line of weakness 
along the eastern slope of this chain, characterized by fissures and 
faults, and it was thought that a strain had been gradually brought 
to bear upon this through the removal of earth from the land by 
rains and rivers and its deposition in thick strata on the sea- 
bottom. It is supposed that this variation in weight in time caused 
a yielding of the strata and a slip seaward of the great coastal 
plain. Professor Mendenhall, however, thinks it was due to a 
readjustment of the earth's crust to its gradually sinking nucleus. In 
fact, we know so little of the dynamics of the earth that all such 
theories are of very slight value, and we may rest under the assur- 
ance that no one knows to what internal disturbance the Charles- 
ton earthquake was due. 

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The Verdict of Science on Mont Pelee and 
La Soufriere. 

IT seems only proper, from the vital importance of the recent 
disaster in Martinique and the intense interest which it has 

aroused in all civilized lands, to give Mont Pelee and its 
remarkable phenomena the last word in our work. We have 
described fully the fatal events of May 8, giving numerous descrip- 
tions by eye-witnesses of the terrible disaster. The scientists of 
our country also had much to say concerning it, but in view of the 
fact that they were giving book knowledge only, we have not 
repeated their statements. Yet the news of the explosion were 
quickly followed by visits of geologists to the scene, to investigate 
the mountain and its doings with their trained senses and educated 
powers of observation. It is proposed to devote the present chap- 
ter to an account of their work. 

The second great explosion of Mont Pelee, that of May 20, 
has already been described in connection with the visit of the Poto- 
mac and the perilous work of recovery of the body of Consul Pren- 
tis. This explosion much surpassed in violence that which destroyed 
St. Pierre. For many hours the detonations were so heavy that it 
seemed as if the island would be shaken to its foundation. Down 
upon the ruins of St. Pierre fell great boulders, which battered 
what was left of the unfortunate city out of all semblance of its 
former self. Ashes fell in torrents, and the ruins made by the 



former explosion were covered until the site of the city resembled 
a great gray plain. 

For six hours Fort de France also was literally bombarded. 
Stones, many of them incandescent, rained upon the city from the 
clouds. Houses were destroyed and fires were started in many 
quarters. With the stones fell hot mud and ashes. The air was 
so filled with volcanic dust that it was barely possible to breathe. 
It seemed as if suffocation must be the fate of all who could not 
be taken on board the ships in the harbor, and terror reigned 
supreme. Clustered about the ships were small boats filled with 
natives, who begged to be taken up. Hundreds, finding it impos- 
sible to obtain boats to take them to the ships, swam out, risking 
their lives in the water to avoid the danger which filled them with 
more terrible dread. Great numbers of people had already left the 
island, and on that day of panic it might have been wholly deserted 
had this been possible. 

On the 2 ist the Potomac returned to the scene of disaster, on 
this occasion taking thither a number of the scientists who had 
reached Fort de France. In this party of experts -were Pro- 
fessor F. A. Jagger, of Harvard; Professor Israel C. Russell, of 
the University of Michigan; Professor Robert T. Hill, of the 
United States Geological Survey; Dr. E. O. Hovey, of the Ameri- 
can Museum of Natural History, and Captain C. E. Borchgrevink, 
the famous Antarctic explorer and geologist. All these were told 
that they would be allowed to land only on condition that they im- 
mediately obeyed the signal which would be given by the Potomac s 
whistle should the mountain show signs of danger. 

Leaving the landing place, the party plunged into the ruins, 
and, separating into groups, wandered in and through the streets 
of the dead. Never was there a scene of devastation more comnlete. 


That there had been a wind of the fury of a terrible cyclone 
was shown by the bent and twisted rods of iron and the huge black 
trunks of trees, several feet in diameter, which had been torn from 
the earth and hurled many feet from where they grew. That there 
had been heat of awful intensity was proved by the great stumps 
of the giant tree trunks which had been completely consumed. 
Gone was every vestige of the great thick curtain of foliage that 
covered the bluffs back of the city, not even a stick being left on 
the gray face of the cliffs. The splendid foliage that made the 
botanical garden the pride of the city had been swept away like 
leaves from the full-blown rose, leaving absolutely nothing but bare, 
parched earth and crumbling rock. The fountains were broken 
and scattered and the lakes were dried up. 

Against the north side of every wall were banked gray ashes as 
snow is banked against the houses during a northern snow storm. 
Not a single roof was left standing anywhere. Inside the dust- 
covered walls of the buildings were piled high the debris of the 
upper portions of the same walls. There was a monotony of wreck 
and ruin, varied in some streets only by the discovery of bodies, 
burned and unrecognizable, here and there in the houses and 

As the walls had been thrown down in an exact direction toward 
the southwest the debris rendered it difficult to distinguish the 
streets, and it was impossible, even for one who had known the city 
in life, to point out other than in the most general way the signifi- 
cant features of its skeleton. 

At the very southern end of the city, in the suburb called Anse, 
in which had lived many of the wealthy and which had once been 
a perfect bower of trees and ferns and flowers, there was simply a 
waste of dust, and low, crumbling walls. No living thing ; no 


sound ; a ghastly expanse of gray. There had been spared por- 
tions of many dwellings, in which could be found the bodies of 
numerous persons. But masters and servants alike had shared the 
common lot. 

The mansion of a retired planter named Leon Marie, in this 
suburb, was visited, the body of a man lying face downward being 
found at the gateway. In what had evidently been the servants' 
quarters there had been less destruction than in any other house in 
the entire city. The bodies found here nearly all lay on their faces. 
Near the threshold of one room lay the body of a 14-year-old 
child, clasping the hand of an old man. At the opposite side of 
the room was the body of a colored woman, evidently a servant. 
A bowl of gruel lay before her, and a pipe lying near had evidently 
dropped from her mouth. Near by were the bodies of two chil- 
dren, one a girl of five years and one of three. They were lying in 
natural attitudes and were little burned. It would seem as if the 
little party had just finished the morning meal. At the entrance to 
another room were found th,e bodies of three young women, but 
in this room the fire had been less merciful, and the bodies were 
utterly unrecognizable. 


Down the Rue Victor Hugo, at once the Broadway and the 
Fifth Avenue of the city, the awful force had swept with unob- 
structed fury. They found it but a seared and blighted gulley 
between higher banks of crumbling dust and ashes like a rift in a 
pile of furnace slag. Here and there in the debris were charred sec- 
tions of bones, showing at the surface of the ash-heap. The great 
square on which once stood the H-otel de Ville, the house of the 
city government, was but a gray waste on which the dust had 


drifted into hummocks covering pieces of crumbled stone or against 
the giant black trunks — half charcoal now — -of what had been 
giants of the tropical jungle guarding the city. 

Fountains, terraces, balustrades had been transformed into 
dust and ashes. Inside the low, fallen walls of the City Hall, 
where the laws of man had been executed, the enforcement of the 
inscrutable laws of nature had left but dust. In some of the cross 
streets in this central section of the city the all-consuming breath 
of the fiery mouth to the northward, leveling a thousand walls 
within a brief interval of time, had not done its work quite so 
thoroughly, and in some of the houses about this great central 
square a little useless rubbish could be distinguished from the all- 
pervading ashes. 

On one fire-swept square was witnessed the first grateful sight 
visible in that depressing walk. Where less than twenty-four hours 
before the very breath of hell itself had hissed over the gray sur- 
face of the ground and swept the ashes clear, peeped timidly forth 
from the earth a tender shoot of green. It looked like grass, but 
whatever its name it was the first sign of life in this seared inferno. 
It was the first courier of that tropical sea of verdure that was des- 
tined at last to sweep irresistibly over the barren waste and to heal 
a scar on nature's face even as long and deep as this. 

And, stranger still, on one of the bleak terraces ants had 
already made their appearance from the depth below, and were 
busy making explorations on their own account — the advance guard 
of that mighty insect life destined again to swarm over this fallen 
city when once the siege was raised. 

The work of exploration ended suddenly when the Potomac 
in the harbor blew her warning whistle — blew it again and again ! 
Looking toward the base of the mountain, the explorers could see the 


hideous elevation almost covered with leaping jets of steam. Creep- 
ing down upon the northern end of the ruins and showing around 
the edge of the bluff was a great cloud of white vapor. Almost as 
far as the eye could reach northward alone the shore line the white 
lacework of steam was floating higher and higher. The air seemed 
to grow suddenly more stifling and depressing. The sun became 
hidden somewhere, and there was a flash of lightning. 

Over terrace and wall and stone heap white-clad explorers 
sought the shore by leaps and bounds, and, gaining the boats, 
pulled for the Potomac. The vessel had slipped her moorings and, 
was slowly steaming forward. She got her boats aboard, and 
moving slowly northward, there was visible a magnificent view of 
the terrifying and fascinating panorama. 

Around its top the dark mountain, 4,450 feet above them, 
was curtained in a coat of black, out of !".he apex of which rolled a 
mass of white like an enormous cotton bowl. On the south side, 
just below the cloud curtain, there yawned an awful chasm which 
appeared to be a second crater, though it was not active. Leading 
down from the active crater hidden above and directly facing the 
sea was a tremendous cleft hundreds of feet deep, down which 
could be traced a great volume of steam. On the black, precipi- 
tous sides of the mountain, which looked like an enormous heap of 
cinders, there were at intervals depressions hundreds of feet in width 
and length, as if some Titanic hind had reached out and clawed 
great masses from the mountain side. Boiling mud was flowing 
everywhere over an area probably twenty-five square miles in extent. 

Suddenly the curtain of cloud above was lifted and Pelee 
showed her teeth. The crater was almost circular slightly below 
the top of the peak and on the westward side. The pit appeared 
to be about a half a mile in diameter, and on the side toward the 


sea the rim was broken in the cleft spoken of above. They could 
look through this cleft and see one side of the crater's interior. 
There was a mass of jet-black substance like bitumen, from which 
were hissing geysers of white and black vapor. It was as if the 
tarry packing about the axle of the world had been exposed, smok- 
ing hot. 

Professor Hovey, one of the scientific party in the Potomac, 
gave the following estimate of what he saw. After stating that 
the column of steam and dust on May 20 rose to a height of seven 
miles, he continues : " Vast columns of dust and stones up to three 
ounces in weight were rained on the city of Fort de France, and 
additional havoc was wrought in the ruins of St. Pierre. A thick 
stream of mud buried another third of the city, stopping only at 
the seashore. An examination of the stones which fell at Fort de 
France showed them to be a variety of lava called hornblende and 
andesite. They were bits of the old lava forming that part of the 
cone. There was no pumice shown to me, but the dust and lapilli 
all seemed to be composed of comminuted old rock. 

" In general the north and south walls of the buildings at St. 
Pierre were better preserved than the east and west walls, the latter 
usually being razed to the ground. The trees, stanchions, monu- 
ments and formerly erect objects were bent over or had been 
knocked down toward the south. These facts show that the city 
was destroyed by a tornado-like blast from the mountain. It is 
evident that the onrush of suffocating gas which wrecked the 
buildings asphyxiated the people, fire then completing the ruin. 

" This comes nearer to being a sheet of flame than anything 
heretofore reported from any volcano. Mud was formed in two ways, 
by the mixture in the atmosphere of dust and condensed steam, 
and by cloudbursts on the upper dust-covered slopes of the cone,, 


washing down vast quantities of fine, light dust. No flow of lava 
had apparently attended the eruption, the purely explosive action 
apparently bringing no molten material to the surface. 


" Except as measured by the loss of life and destruction of 
property, the eruption cannot yet rank with the great explosions of 
history. Mont Pelee, however, may not be done yet The great 
emission of suffocating gas and the typical cloudburst, with the 
resulting streams of mud, are among the new features which Pelee 
has added to the scientific knowledge of volcanoes." 

This visit of scientists to St. Pierre may be fitly supplemented 
by an account of the efforts of others to reach the source of the dis- 
aster, by ascending the perilous flanks of Mont Pelee. The first man 
to venture on the fire-breathing mountain was M. Clerc, a planter of 
Martinique, and the last, as already stated, to escape from St. Pierre 
before the eruption. He, with a sugar-works' engineer, ascended to 
a height of 1,251 metres. Here, he says : 

" We felt a number of electric commotions and our shoes were 
damaged by the heat. The pond which was situated near Morne 
la Croix is completely dried up. The iron cross which stood at the 
foot of the mountain has been melted. Only the base of the 
masonry, on which the cross stood, and the lower part of the foot 
of the cross can be seen. 

" The rims of the crater have very much changed in appear- 
ance, and the heat where we stood was intense and the whole aspect 
of the mountain was terrifying. Stones fell around us and we 
picked up large pieces of sulphur, which, however, we were unable 
to retain. The whole spot was charged with electricity, which 
became so violent that we were obliged to retreat. 


" Our descent from the mountain was more difficult than our 
ascent. A blinding rain of ashes fell upon us, and the engineer 
was nearly killed by a large stone which fell near him. We suc- 
ceeded in reaching Basse Pointe, on our return, after having been fo'ur 
hours on the mountain under the most dangerous circumstances.' 

Among the first of the scientists to attempt the perilous ascent 
was Professor Robert T. Hill, government geologist of the United 
States, and head of the expedition sent by the National Geographi- 
cal Society. His account of his experience is the following : 

" My attempt to examine the crater of Mont Pelee has been 
futile. I succeeded, however, in getting close to Morne Rouge. 
At 7 o'clock Monday night, I witnessed, from a point neir the ruins 
of St. Pierre, a frightful explosion from Mont Pelee and noted 
the accompanying phenomena. While these eruptions continue 
no sane man should attempt to ascend to the crater of the volcano. 


" Following the salvos of detonations from the mountain, 
gigantic mushroom-shaped columns of smoke and cinders ascended 
into the clear starlit sky and then spread, in a vast black sheet, to 
the south and directly over my head. Through this sheet, which 
extended a distance of ten miles from the crater, vivid and awful 
lightning-like bolts flashed with alarming frequency. They fol- 
lowed distinct paths of ignition, but were different from lightning 
in that the bolts were horizontal and not perpendicular. 

•' This is indisputable evidence of the explosive oxidation of 
the hydrogen and other gases after they left the crater. It is a most 
important observation and explains in part the awful catastrophe. 
The phenomenon is entirely new in volcanic history. 

" I took many photographs, but do not hesitate to acknowledge 
that I was terrified. But I was not the only person so frightened. 


Two newspaper correspondents who were close to Morne Rouge 
some hours before me became scared, ran three miles down the 
mountain, and hastened to Fort de France. 

" Nearly all the phenomena of these volcanic outbreaks are 
new to science, and many of them have not yet been explained. 
The volcano is still intensely active and I cannot make any predic- 
tions as to what it will do." 

In addition to this vivid description of his -actual study of the 
volcanic phenomena, Prof. Hill's account of his dangerous journey 
is equally interesting. 

He left Fort de France at i o'clock Monday afternoon. He 
was accompanied by a Mr. Cavanaugh, an army officer "from Trini- 
dad, and a boy named Joe, who was to act as interpreter. The 
party set out on horseback, and took the direct north road for 
Morne Rouee. Between the hamlets of Deux Choux and Fonds 
St. Denis the party entered the outer edge of the zone of ashes. 
Except for occasional patches all the country to this point was green 
and smiling. 

Upon reaching the Raibaud plantation, one mile southwest of 
St. Pierre, the explorers met the clear line of demarcation of the 
zone of flame and destruction, although not of annihilation. Mon- 
day night was spent in a deserted house at Fonds St. Denis, from 
which Prof. Hill witnessed and studied the volcanic eruption of 
that night. At this point the horses of the party became ex- 

Early the next morning Prof. Hill pushed on to Mont Par- 
nasse, where several people were killed in the eruption of May 8. 
He encountered no human beings, but he met a number of 
abandoned cattle, which tried to follow him. From Mount Par- 
nasse the explorer proceeded to Morne Rouge, where he succeeded 


in getting a number of important photographs. He found that a 
close approach to Mont Pelee was impossible, and, as his actual 
position was dangerous, he started back in a southerly direction. 

At Champs Flore, Prof. Hill's horse gave out completely, and 
he secured the services of native guides, who led him by wild moun- 
tain paths back to Fonds St. Denis and Deux Choux. 

Tuesday night was spent at the latter place. From this point 
Prof. Hill sent a messenger into Fort de France with a request that 
a carriage be sent for him. Wednesday morning the professor left 
Deux Choux and walked to within sixteen miles of Fort de France, 
where he borrowed an old horse from a negro and continued his 
journey mounted. The carriage met him six miles from Fort de 
France and brought him back to town, where he arrived at 1 1 o'clock 
the next morning. 

George J. Kavanaugh, a newspaper correspondent who tried 
to reach the source of peril, set out on his expedition on May 26. 
Leaving Fort de France, he reached the north end of the island, 
where he sought in vain to find a guide. His not finding one, he 
tells us, saved his life. 

44 I slept that night at Fonds St. Denis, and when the terrific 
explosion occurred about eight o'clock I was thankful enough that 
I was not on the mountain side. I saw the eruption, and without 
attempting to describe it I will say that it was the most wonderful 
display that was ever placed before human eyes. 

" Mont Pelee stormed and thundered and sent great sheets of 
fire high into the heavens. Sulphur fumes filled the air and made 
respiration difficult. Below us the sea was lashed into a terrible 
fury. Great waves rolled in upon the island, although there had 
been almost a dead calm of the atmosphere during the day. 


" This display did not long continue. Mont Pelee became less 
active before morning. Deep within its bowels there was a struggle* 
but the only evidences we at Fonds St. Denis had were the low 
rumbles, that seldom ceased. 

" After breakfast I went on to Morne Rouge. It had been a 
night of terror in that village. Expecting to share the fate that 
had befallen St. Pierre, the inhabitants had remained in the church 
praying for protection. From Morne Rouge I continued my effort 
to reach the crater of Mont Pelee. I explored the base of the vol- 
cano and went at least half-way to the summit. 

"In the valleys were many dead. I entered houses and found 
entire families destroyed. Most of them had died from suffocation. 
Men, women and children had fallen while fleeing from the danger 
which threatened them. Southeast of Pelee the valleys were almost 
entirely filled with ashes. 

" The eastern slope of the volcano was absolutely barren. It 
was not difficult to ascend, and I went up until my way was barred 
by a deep fissure. I followed this fissure, which soon branched 
and deepened. It led around the southern side of the mountain 
and opened, as I could see, into the crater, from which at that time 
nothing was coming except two columns of smoke, one jet black, 
the other yellow. Later in the day the sides of the crater caved in, 
and immediately great clouds of ashes were ejected. 

"As the volcano did not show signs of activity other than those 
1 have described I was in little danger during the day, but as I 
remained too late it was with difficulty that I made my way back 
to Morne Rouge. On Wednesday I explored the valley south of 

Explorers of greater daring, or at least of superior success, 
were to follow. First of these was George Kennan, a famous 


Siberian explorer of years ago. He started from Fort de France 
with a land party, reaching the extreme northern end of the island 
in time to witness the eruption of Monday, May 26. On the morn- 
ing of the 28th an outburst of very black smoke shot upward from 
the crater and much fear was entertained for the safety of Kennan 
and his party. But about 10 o'clock that morning M. Clerc, who 
had been with him, reached Fort de France and announced that 
the party were safe in a plantation at the north end of the island. 


Mr. Clerc had a very interesting story to tell. He said : " We 
got around the mountain and reached the new crater, not far from 
Ajoupa Bouillon. We discovered that it had broken out at the 
very head of the river Falaise and about 200 yards from the high 
road. Our party rode directly to the edge of the crater, as it was 
then quiescent. We saw that a great slice of the mountain had 
fallen, leaving exposed a perpendicular cliff. In this cliff were five 
huge tunnels, which were not smoking. The crater is a great, slop- 
ing oval depression, from which smoke issues, as it does from the 
great crater, with the exception that here and there were few ashes 
in the smoke. The river Falaise is boiling hot and so muddy that 
one quart of water weighed four pounds. Volcanic stones of the 
nature of pumice float in the water. 

Mr. Kennan witnessed the explosion of Monday night and 
was much interested in the phenomena. The explosion was accom- 
panied at intervals by bright light which lasted for half an hour at 
a time. This light was steady and illuminated the entire mountain 
top. Prof. Hill says he did not see the light. I left Mr. Kennan 
and his party in good health and in safety. They seemed to be in 
no hurry to come back to Fort de France," 


On May 24 the steamer Fontabelle reached Fort de France, her 
passengers including several scientists, one of them being Pro- 
fessor Angelo Heilprin, President of the Geographical Society of 
Philadelphia and a representative in this journey of the National 
Geographical Society of America. We speak of him here in par- 
ticular, in recognition of his daring and success in being the first 
to reach the edge of the crater of Mont Pelee. He left Fort de 
France on Thursday, May 29, at the head of a party organized by 
himself and Consul Ayme. Friday was spent in studying the 
newly formed craters on the north flank of the mountain. Satur- 
day morning Professor Heilprin determined to attempt the ascent 
to the top of the crater, and, with this purpose in view, he set out 
at 5 o'clock in company with Mr. Leadbetter and three negro guides. 

The party proceeded on mules to an altitude of 700 metres, the 
ancient line of vegetation. From this point Heilprin continued on 
foot, leaving the mule that had carried him up the steep hog-back 
to the tree line. Upon reaching the lip of the old crater at Lake 
Palmiste, a fierce thunderstorm prevented further progress, and 
after remaining for some time in that perilous position, he was 
obliged to descend, after an attempt of extreme danger. 

His journey down the side of the mountain was fully as peril- 
ous as the ascent. Mont Pelee seemed to resent the intrusion of 
a puny human being into her most awful precincts, and belched out 
huge volumes of steam, ashes and boiling hot mud. The daring 
adventurer was nearly suffocated by the choking vapors he had 
breathed, and was thickly coated with volcanic mud. 

The Professor made the important discovery that the crater at 
the head of the river Fallaise has synchronous eruptions with the 
crater at the summit of the summit of the volcano, and that it 
ejects precisely the same matter at such times. The river Fallaise 


crater and the crater at the summit showed during- Professor Heil- 
prin's visit a new phenomenon. Mud was thrown up in high 
columns. Heretofore the mud had bubbled or boiled out and 
flowed downward in huge streams In the course of one eruption 
of the river Fallaise crater an enormous mass of intensely hot mud 
was ejected. This flow reached the rum distillery on the Vive 
plantation and extinguished all the fires there. 

On the following day, Sunday, May 25, Professor Heilprin 
again ascended the mountain, this time in company with George 
Kennan and one of his associates, Mr. Varian. No accident oc- 
curred in the dangerous enterprise, though the explorers were 
exposed to great hardships and many dangers. Mr. Kennan's 
account of the daring venture is as follows. It begins with a well- 
deserved eulogy of his comrade : 

" I must preface all I have to say by paying the highest possi- 
ble tribute to Professor Heilprin. He is modest and brave, a 
superb mountaineer, and the nerviest and pluckiest man I ever 
knew. Professor Heilprin's first ascent of Mont Pelee last Satur- 
day with Mr. Leadbetter was a most awful experience, yet he 
started a second time undaunted. 

"Five of us started for the crater of the volcano last Sunday, 
and three of us reached our objective. We crossed Lake Palmiste, 
which is now dry and full of boulders and huge, ragged rocks of 
trachyte, rhyolite and andesite. We then climbed on up and 
reached the edge of the crater. We found it to be a huge chasm, 
or crevasse, with perpendicular walls. 

"We could not see down into the crater more than one hun- 
dred and fifty feet ; it was like looking into a white-hot furnace. 
The chasm opens out toward St. Pierre, but the enormous columns 
of steam cut off the view in that direction. There were hundreds 


of fumaroles all about us. What was thought to be a cone of 
cinders in the crater was learned in reality to be a huge pile of 
gigantic rocks piled up one on the other. There were crusts of 
sulphur everywhere, but we saw no ashes or cinders in or near the 
crater. The whole vast bed of the old crater and of Lake Pal- 
miste was emitting steam through thousands of orifices. 

"The ascent to Lake Palmiste is up a long and sharp incline 
covered with ashes. These had been soaked by the rain, and as 
we proceeded there were terrifying gorges full of hot, volcanic 
debris on each side of us. Every footstep dislodged ashes, and 
our footing was most insecure. There were also clouds of sulphur- 
ous smoke, through which the sunlight swept at intervals. 

"The ascent was the most terrifying experience of my life, yet 
Professor Heilprin, the previous day, had sat enveloped in darkness 
on the lip of what was once Lake Palmiste, and had descended the 
horrible area in a thunder storm of volcanic clouds and almost 
complete darkness. Mr. Leadbetter was with him." 

Mr. Kennan's party had previously gone through a dangerous 
experience. On the night of the 26th they witnessed a frightful 
eruption of the volcano, and another occurred on the morning of 
the 28th, so violent that Vive, the plantation at which they were, 
was declared to be untenable, and was abandoned for a location 
named Acier. He says : 

" The 29th we spent at Morne Rouge questioning eye-wit- 
nesses of the catastrophe of May 8. The 30th we tried to ascend 
to the crater from this side, along the Cale Bass divide. From the 
crest of the divide we had a wonderful view into the awful Fallaise 
Valley, which was a tremendous, seething gorge of terrible volcanic 
activity. We were driven back by a severe thunderstorm, and very 
nearly lost each other in the dense volcanic clouds, We planted a 


record stake at the highest point we reached, on which we inscribed 
our names. 

' While at Morne Rouge we saw and interrogated Raoul Sar- 
tout, the man who was rescued from the dungeon in St. Pierre, and 
who is the only real survivor of the city. 

" On the 31st we returned to Acier, and at half past 6 o'clock 
in the evening Prof. Heilprin and Mr. Leadbetter came down from 
their splendid attempt to reach the rim of the crater. Prof. Heil- 
prin said that he and Mr. Leadbetter had been enveloped in volcanic 
clouds and a thunderstorm and that they, therefore, did not reach 
the actual edge of the crater itself. I fully realized Prof. Heilprin's 
danger the next day when we made the ascent. He is a fearless 
scientist, and Mr. Leadbetter also deserves the highest praise. 

" On Sunday, the first of June, the five members of our party, 
Prof. Heilprin, Mr. Leadbetter, Mr. Jaccaci, Mr. Varian and myself, 
started to make the ascent. Mr. Jaccaci came down with mountain 
fever on the arete and Mr. Leadbetter became exhausted. They 
did not reach the crater. June 2 we rested and went to La Trinite, 
and to-day, the 3rd, we are here [at Fort de France] safe and 


Though we have given the story of Prof. Heilprin's exploit as 
told by others, it is not amiss to let him speak for himself. He 
tells us : 

" I left Fort de France with Mr. Leadbetter the morning of 
May 29 and reached Acier at 7 o'clock in the evening of the 30th. 
We visited Vive and Basse Pointe. The latter place has been 
entirely destroyed by the overflow of the local streams. Mud 
flowing- into the beds of the rivers there caused this overflow. 
Many important businesses are seriously menaced by the floods. 



"May 31 we made our first ascent of the volcano. We left 
Acier at half-past five and Vive at half-past 7 o'clock in the morn- 
ing. The party consisted of Mr. Leadbetter and myself and three 
colored boys. We were on mule-back. At an altitude of 700 
meters we began the ascent of the arete. We passed along its 
east side and slightly to the north of the mountain. 

"We arrived at the lip of the old crater, the former site of 
Lake Palmiste, at 11 o'clock. Here it began raining. Rain clouds 
and the clouds from the volcano enveloped us and we could not 
see ten feet. A terrific thunderstorm had begun, and we sat on 
the crater for some time, speculating whether the detonations we 
heard were of thunder or from the volcano. As we afterward 
found the river Fallaise to be boiling, the detonations were prob- 
ably volcanic. 


" We could not tell how near we were to the crater as, either 
from local attraction or the electric conditions, our compass refused 
to work. Its variation was about 20 degrees to the eastward, but 
later we found that it acted normally at the lip of the new crater. 
The colored boys with us were horribly scared. 

" We finally groped our way down that awful arete through 
gloomy clouds of rain and amid great electric discharges. At every 
step we dislodged the rain-soaked ashes, and were in danger of 
being precipitated down the hideous gorges on either side. 

" The extreme top of the volcano is covered with cinders, 
scoriae, boulders, and angular rocks, which had been ejected from 
the crater. Further down the mountain is covered with ashes and 
mud, and these are thick on the arete. On our way down we saw 
the river Fallaise rushing along with great velocity and full of 
steam and of mud. We reached Acier well but soaked, caked with 
mud and very much disappointed. 


"At Acier we met George Kennan and his party and deter- 
mined to attempt a second ascent the next day, June 1. The 
ascent made this day with Mr. Kennan was more trying and diffi- 
cult than the one I had previously made \, ith Mr. Leadbetter. 
The day was intensely hot and it was raining. When we reached 
the old crater, I was again enveloped in vapor. 

' The temperature of the basin of Lake Palmiste, taken three 
inches below the surface, was 124 degrees Fahrenheit. Between 
lifts in the clouds of vapor we could see the new crater, of which 
Mr. Varian made an excellent sketch. Suddenly the vapor cleared 
away and we made a dash forward. 

" We reached the edge of the new crater, and from where we 
stood we could have dropped stones into the white mass within. 
The new crater is a crevasse running north and south, and expand- 
ing into a bowl. This crevasse nearly rifted the mountain ; it runs 
transversely to the old crater, and might be called a hugh gash. 
From it volcanic material has been freely erupted. 

" As we stood on the edge of the crater a sublime spectacle 
began. I now have some conception of what is going on inside 
the earth, and have been a spectator of Nature's secret interior 
work. We were assailed with noise. Far below there was a 
hissing of steam like that of a thousand locomotives, as well as 
violent detonations. 

" The principal output of the crater, while we were there, was 
steam. The phenomena were limited and were not essentially 
different from those of other volcanoes in action. Positive assur- 
ance was gained that no molten matter has flowed over the lip 
of the new crater. Several observations taken with the aneroid 
barometer showed that the height of Mont Pelee was not changed. 


"I agree with Prof. Robert T. Hill, the geologist of the 
United States Goverment, that Mont Pelee has erupted no lava, 
and that there has been no cataclysm nor any serious topographical 
alterations. No cinder cone was visible in the crater; what was 
taken for a cone is a pile of ejected rocks. Perhaps the bottom of 
the new crater may contain a cinder cone, but we could see down 
only about 1 50 or 200 feet. 

11 1 believe, however, that the crater is very much deeper than 
this. I do not know the exact materials of which the pile of rocks 
in the centre of the crater is composed, but it seems to be matter 
which has been ejected from the crevasse. This pile of rocks has 
no vent. I think Mont Pelee has freed itself from the interior press- 
ure, and that the volcano is not liable to further violent eruption. 
It is not safe, however, to make predictions about volcanoes. 


"The eruption of Mont Pelee of May 8 was unique in that it 
resulted in the greatest destruction of life and property ever 
known by direct agency of a volcano. The phenomenon of the 
explosion of flaming gases is probably new, but a careful study of 
observations is necessary before an opinion can be reached. 

"The electrical phenomena are also new. They probably did 
not play the chief role in the destruction of St. Pierre, but were 
developed by and aided the other forces. I have specimens which 
show the effect of the bolts of lightning. The latter were small 
and intense, and penetrated within the houses of the city. For 
rapidity of action and for lives destroyed, Mont Pelee holds the 
record among volcanoes. 

"When we got back to Acier we found Mr. Jaccaci and Mr, 
Leadbetter, who had stopped on the arete and had descended 


before us. Early in the morning of June 2 Mr. Kennan and his 
party left for Fort de France. Mr. Leadbetter and I went to 
Morne Rouge to study topographical details, and from there we 
returned to Acier and Fort de France." 

We have given considerable space to the story of Prof. , 
Heilprin's daring venture, alike from its daring character and the 
great interest attaching to its results. The eulogistic accounts given 
by his fellow adventurers might have sufficed, but his own story 
is so simple, modest and direct that it seemed only just to him to 
give it place. This is especially called for in view of the high esti- 
mate put upon his gallant achievement by Americans in general, 
and the position that is accorded him as one of the chief heroes of 
the Mont Pelee eruption. It may be said further that he is of 
opinion that the volcano has done its worst, and will gradually sink 
back into repose, with occasional outbursts, diminishing in inten- 
sity. This opinion is indicated by him in his cablegrams to the 
Philadelphia Press, the substance of which we here reproduce : 

44 I have just returned from a six days' exploration of Mont 
Pelee. A careful reconnoissance of the summit of the volcano 
made during the two ascents of Saturday, May 31, and Sunday, 
June 1, reveals that the main crater is still in a boisterous condi- 
tion. Yet, though this is the situation, my examination of the 
actual state of things on the spot convinces me that there is no 
impending repetition of the earlier disaster, the outbreak that over- 
whelmed St. Pierre on May 8. In consequence I am pacifying the 
inhabitants and encouraging them to return to work, which many 
are already doing. 

44 The volcano itself is practically intact, but little changed, and 
vast mud-flows are the chief contribution of its craters. The great 
cataclysm, the absolute destruction of St. Pierre, was a catastrophe 


without precedent, unparalleled in volcanic outbreaks, and the sud- 
denness and completeness of the death-dealing agency suggest that 
it was probably an inconceivably violent blast of inflammable gases, 
with atmospheric dissociation. The correspondence between the 
eruptions from Mont Pelee on this island (Martinique) and the 
eruption of La Soufriere on St. Vincent establishes beyond ques- 
tion the sympathetic relation of the Antillean volcanic circuit, of 
which these two islands are a part, the volcanic crescent beginning 
at Saba and ending at Grenada. 


" My study of what has happened here throws added light on. 
the Isthmian Canal question. The catastrophism is without paral- 
lel. Its relation with conditions at St. Vincent establishes a long 
volcanic circuit, whose existence should dispose of Nicaragua as a 
canal route. The reasons which lead to this conclusion as to the 
canal route are these : The conditions here and at St. Vincent 
establish conclusively an increase, and not a decrease, of volcanic 
phenomena in the Caribbean Gulf region. 

" An absolutely new form of destructivity has been exhibited 
here. The destruction has been not by lava, ash or earthquake 
but by explosive gases or steam, shattering everything as if blown 
from a cannon. For seven miles massive masonry villages have 
been overwhelmed in all directions by terrific mud and rock. The 
loss is incredible. I have visited St. Vincent, ninety miles away, 
and find the phenomena there identical with a broader area of 
destruction. There can be no question as to the interrelation of 
both eruptions, that at St. Vincent preceding by one day that at 
Martinique. The facts all prove the broad reach of volcanic force, 
and that reliance for the protection of a canal running through a 


volcanic country like Nicaragua on the localization of volcanic 
force, its assumed dormancy, or the resistability of the canal to its 
force is absurd. 

" Instead of going to Precheur to study the phenomena on 
the west flank of Pelee, I went over to St. Vincent to examine into 
the character of the eruption from the Great Soufriere, whose first 
outburst on May 7 was rather lost sight of in the greater disaster 
in Martinique on May 8. I find the phenomena attending the erup- 
tions of the Soufriere identical with those that have been noted in 
Pelee's outbreaks. On my return I found Pelee again boisterous. 
Vast mudflows were pouring seaward down the eroded slopes, and 
the mountain was surrounded by a tremendous cloud of steam and 
ash. The volcanic disturbances causing a three-foot rise of the 
sea, renewed the panic and people were again in a state of great 
fear, but I am still of the opinion that there is no impending danger 
of a repetition of the earlier catastrophe." 

A few words in relation to the St. Vincent volcano of La 
Soufriere, the rival in destruction of Mont Pelee, and we have 
done. This mountain seemed more inclined to sink quickly to rest 
than its Martinque counterpart. Steam continued to rise from its 
crater, with seeming fire flakes nightly, but with no strong evidence 
of a return of its perilous activity. In addition to Professor Heil- 
pin, a party of scientists from Martinque visited St. Vincent and 
ascended the practically quiescent volcano. The party consisted 
of Professor Jagger, the geologist of Harvard ; Dr. Hovey, assist- 
ant curator of the musuem of natural history in New York, and 
Mr. Curtis. They were accompanied by a local planter, McGregor 

The explorers succeeded in reaching the summit of the Sou- 
friere from the western side. The ascent was exceedingly difficult, 


owing to the mud that covered the mountain side, but the ground 
was cool. After a tiresome scramble up the slippery hill, the rim 
of the old crater was reached at about midday. There was no trace 
whatever of vegetation, but there had been no change in the topo- 
graphical outlines of the mountain on that side, and the old crater 
retained its tragic beauty. The great mass of water that formerly 
lay serenely about 500 feet below the rim of the crater had disap- 
peared, and the crater appeared to be a dreadful chasm over 2,000 
feet deep. With the aid of a glass, water was made out at the 
bottom of this abyss. 

The party did not venture across the summit of the Soufriere 
to inspect the new crater, which was then emitting a little vapor r 
for the ground in that direction looked dangerous. Apparently 
the ridge o r the mountain, called the "saddle," was intact, although 
the old crater seemed of larger circumference than before the 
recent eruption. At the base of the Soufriere a subsidence of 100 
feet had occurred for an area of a square mile. The bank of 
volcanic dust that prevented the sea from encroaching farther in- 
land at Wallibou was being gradually washed away. The lava beds 
on the eastern side of the Soufriere continued to emit steam, des- 
pite the protracted and heavy rainfall that had occurred ; all the in- 
dications favored the opinion that the mountain had returned to its 
old state of repose. 



* There are 512 pages in this volume. The sixty- fcrar full-page half-tone illustrations 
should De added to the last folio number (448) indicated, giving a total of 512 pages. 


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