THE MARTINIQUE CATASTROPHE.

THE MARTINIQUE CATASTROPHE.

Never since A. D. 79, when the Italian cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii were overwhelmed by the lava flood and heaps of ashes from Mount Vesuvius, has such a catastrophe occurred equaling in horror those which have visited the French and British West Indian islands of Martinique and St. Vincent. The former has been the principal sufferer, and of the city of St. Pierre, which was built right in the path of the sheets of flame and showers of ashes which issued from Mount Pelée, except for heaps of debris, piles of dead bodies, and, by the irony of fate, the safes of the banks, with the cash intact, literally nothing is left. Of the inhabitants at least 30.000. possibly 40.000. perished miserably in a very few seconds, while the survivors have been re(luced to starvation and ruin At St. Vincent the condition5,aw ful as they arc, are not so terrible. In this ease, La Soufrire, a volcano, with a crater Some three miles in diameter, belched forth lava and ashes, burying the island and its plantations many inches deep, and causing the loss of possibly over 2,000 lives. This makes the first eruption in the Morne Garou since that of 1812. which was very disastrous. This had two predecessors, one in 1785 and another in 1712, just as between the eruption of Mount Pelée in Martinique and its predecessor in 1851, there was a deceptive interval of fty years. Taken in connection with the recent earthquakes in Central America and Mexico. this fearful volcanic and seismic disturbance shows that the whole chain of volcanoes above and below land and watpr has suddenlv become active, after sleening in some case5 for years, and renders it not imnossible that al along the Pacific volcquic belt, from Tierra dcl Fuegc on the south to the Aleutian islands on the extreme northwest, and then down from Kamschatka on the Asiatic shores, taking in Japan, the Philippines (whence comes news of earthquakes), the New Guinea groups to Yew Zealand, and not improbably the spur along the Mediterranean. taking in Ves_____-wins, Etna, Stromholi, and others of n1in~r imnor tanee. may he involved sooner or later. How many vokaunes. supposed, like those of Martinique and St. Vincent, or that of Krakatoa at Samoa. to he ex tinct, only to burst out at some unexpected moment and carry off their thousands. may soon suddenly he called into action again, owing to the action of sonic underground and hidden in~uences. remains to be seen, and those who live over or tinder such extinct calderos may well feel nervous. Catastrophes of this sort, though rare, are nothing new. Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain in the neighborhood of the Dei’d Sea in Palestine were undoubtedly not the first to be overwhelmed by the lava flood: though probably they rank first, on ac count of the destruction of human life, which for these early days was undoubtedly very large, Be tween these prehistoric times and A. D. 79 there is a great gap, but the existence of volcanoes and their deadly action and that of earthquakes are, neverthe less, often alluded to in ancient history. Whether through ignorance or lack of objective, showing, Vesuvius was not looked upon for many centuries as a volcano, but proved its right to be considered such when, in A. D. , sixteen years after a warning in the shape of a severe earthquake in its immediate neighborhood, it overwhelmed Herculaneum and Ponrneii. and destroyed probably 20.00 persons, inchiding the elder Pliny. In 472 there was another out break, when the ashes were carried by the wind as far as Constantinople. Other destructive eruptions were in 1715. 1822, and 1872. Its near neigh bor. Mount Etna. in Sicily. is noticed as having been very troublesome as far back as B. C. 476. In ir6g it destroyed a large portion of atania and Tc.00o persons. Since then, like Stromboli in the Lipan islands, it has contented itself with serving as a pillar of smoke by day and of fire by night. In the extreme north of Europe. Mount Hecla. in Teeand, has been conspicuous in the eruption line only in 1783 and 1845-the ashes thrown un from its crater on the last occasion falling on the Orkney islands off the nothern coast of Scotland. as in 1835 those from Consequina were showered upon Jamaica. 700 miles distant. The terribly destructive and fatal erut)tion of Krakatoa. in the Samoan groun of isl ands. has not vet been forgotten. nor have the earth nuakes in the Philippines which, like that which nroved so destructive at Charleston in 1888. kept up a ontjnuous performance for over a fortnight, and that in the same island, which in 1863 caused th~ loss of io,ooo persons. Cape Haytien, in Santo Do mingo, was two-thirds destroyed in May, 1842, anc 4.500 lives lost; and in the following year Point Pitre, in Guadaloupe. was utterly wiped out. As tc the numbers of oersons to perish thus, the record is since 1400 A. D.: Naples, 40,000 in 1456; Lisbofl 30,000 in 1531; Schamaki. 80.000 in 1667: Jeddo Japan. 200,000 in 1703: Sicily, 100,000 in I6g~3; Li~ hon, 50,000 in 1755; Malfl, Italy, 14.000 in 1851.

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