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the hills, about 800 yards above the sea, there was so strange a condensation, or rather precipitation of the vapours, that it was a great impediment to my celestial observations; for in the clear sky the dew would fal so fast as to cover, each half quarter of an hour, my glasses with little drops, so that I was necessitated to wipe them so often, and my papers on which I wrote my observations would immediately be so wet with the dew, that it would not bear ink.
A Letter from Hans SLOANE, M. D., with Accounts of the
Earthquakes in Peru, Oct. 20. 1687; and at Jamaica, Feb. 19. 1687–8; and June 7. 1692. — [1693–4.]
No. I. A Letter from Father Alvarez de Toledo, a Franciscan Friar, dated Oct. 29. 1687. – Oct. 20. at 4 o'clock in the morning came on a dreadful earthquake and noise, by which some houses fell, and some persons were killed under their ruins. At five o'clock the same morning was another shake, with the like noise. At six o'clock the aforesaid morning, when we thought we had been all in safety, came another shake, with great fury and rushing noise ; the sea with great bellowings rushed beyond its bounds, the bells rang of themselves, and every building thrown down. Callao, Canete, Pisco, Chancay, and Los Chorillos, are all ruined. More than 5000 dead bodies are found, and more are found daily, so that their number is not known.
No. II. By Dr. Sloane. — The inhabitants of Jamaica expect an earthquake every year. Some are of opinion, that they follow the great rains.
One of them happened on Sunday the 19th of Feb. 1687–8, about eight in the morning. I found in a chamber, one story high, the cabinets and several other moveables on the floor to reel, as if people had raised the foundations of the house. Being in a high brick house, I made what haste I could to get out; but before I had passed through two rooms, and got to the stair-case, it was over. It came by shocks; there were three of them, with a little pause between. It lasted about a minute of time in all; and there was a small noise accompanied it. This was generally felt all over the island at the same time, or near it : some houses therein being cracked and very near ruined, others being uncovered of their tiles ; very few escaped some injury. The ships in the harbour at Port-Royal felt it.
No. III. On the terrible Earthquake at Port-Royal, in Jamaica, June 7. 1692. — The terrible earthquake which happened the 7th instant, between 11 and 12 o'clock at noon,
shook down and drowned nine tenths of the town of PortRoyal in two minutes' time, and all near the wharf-side in less than one minute; very few escaped there. I lost all my people and goods, my wife and two men, Mrs. B. and her daughter. One white maid escaped, who gave me an account, that her mistress was in her closet, two pair of stairs high, and she was sent into the garret, where was Mrs. B. and her daughter, when she felt the earthquake, and bid her take up her child and run down; but turning about, met the water at the top of the garret stairs; for the house sunk down right, and is now near 30 feet under water. My son and I went that morning to Liguania: the earthquake took us in the mid-way between that and Port-Royal, where we were near being overwhelmed by a swift rolling sea, six feet above the surface, without any wind; but being forced back to Liguania, I found all the houses even with the ground. The earth continues to shake five or six times in 24 hours, and often trembling. Great part of the mountains fell down, and fall daily
No. IV. From Jamaica, dated Sept. 23. 1692. We have had a dreadful mortality since the great earthquake (for we have little ones daily); almost half the people that escaped at Port-Royal are since dead of a malignant fever, from the change of air, want of dry houses, warm lodging, proper medicines, and other conveniences.
No. V. Another Account of the Earthquake of June 7. 1692. — Great part of Port-Royal is sunk; so that where the wharfs were is now some fathoms of water: all the street where the church stood is overflowed, that the water stands as high as the upper rooms of those which are standing. The earth when it opened and swallowed up people, some rose in other streets, some in the middle of the harbour, and were saved; though, at the same time, I believe there were lost about 2000 whites and blacks. At the north about 1000 acres of land sunk, and 13 people with it; all our houses thrown down all over the island, that we were forced to live in huts. The two great mountains at the entering into Sixteen-Mile-Walk fell and met, and stopped the river, so that it was dry from that place to the Ferry for a whole day; and vast quantities of fish taken up, which was greatly to the relief of the distressed. At Yellows a great mountain split, and fell into the level land, and covered several settlements, and destroyed 19 white people. One of the persons, whose name was Hopkins, had his plantation removed half a mile
from the place where it formerly stood. Of all wells, from a fathom to six or seven, the water flew out at the top, by the great motion of the earth. Since then, it has continued shaking sometimes two or three times in a day. Our people settled a town at Liguania side, and there are about 500 graves already, and people every day are dying still.
No. VI. From the same Place, and on the same Earthquake. - On Tuesday, the 7th of June, 1692, between 11 and 12 at noon, at Port-Royal, we felt the house shake, and saw the bricks begin to rise in the floor. Immediately we ran out, and saw the houses swallowed up, or thrown on heaps. The sand in the street rose like the waves of the sea, lifting up all persons that stood upon it, and immediately dropping down into pits; and at the same instant a flood of water rushed in, throwing down all who were in its way; some were seen catching hold of beams and rafters of houses, others were found in the sand that appeared when the water was drained away, with their legs and arms out. As soon as the shock was over, I endeavoured to go towards my house, on the ruins of the houses that were floating on the water, but could not : at length I got a canoe, and rowed up the great sea-side towards
my house, where I saw several men and women floating upon the wreck out at sea; and taking in as many as I could, I rowed on till I came where I thought my house had stood, but could not hear of either my wife or family. Next morning I went from one ship to another, till at length I met with my wife and two of my negroes. She told me, when she felt the house shake, she ran out, and called all within to do the same : she was no sooner out, but the sand lifted up: and her negro women grasping about her, they both dropped into the earth together; and at the same instant the water coming in, rolled them over and over, till at length they caught hold of a beam, where they hung, till a boat came from a Spanish vessel, and took them up.
Several ships were overset and lost in the harbour, and some thrown on the land. A hideous rumbling was heard in the mountains ; so that it frightened many negroes that had been run away some months from their masters, and made them return, and promise never to run away again. The water that issued from the Saltpans Hills forced its passage out from the hill in 20 or 30 several places; some with such violence, that had so many sluices been drawn up at once, they could not have run with greater force, and most of them six or seven yards high from the foot of the hill; and the water was brackish. It continued running that afternoon, all.
night, and till next morning about sun-rise, at which time the Saltpans were quite overflowed.
The mountains between Spanish Town and Sixteen-MileWalk, as the way lies along the river, about the mid-way they are almost perpendicular; those two mountains, in the violent shake of the earthquake, joined together, which stopped the passage of the river, and forced it to seek another, which was a great way in and out among the woods and savannas ; and it was nine days before the town had any relief from it: insomuch that before it came, the people were in thoughts of removing into the country, concluding it had been sunk, as Port-Royal was. The mountains along the river are so thrown on heaps, that all people are forced to go by Guanaboa to Sixteen-Mile-Walk.
The mountains at Galloes fared no better than those of Sixteen-Mile-Walk, a great part of one of them falling down, drove all the trees before it, and at the foot of the mountain there was a plantation that was wholly overthrown and buried in it.
No. VII. Some more Particulars of the same. As to the mountains in Leguanee, they fell in several places, and in some very steep; but the steepest mountain that we heard fall, was that at Gallowes, which occasioned much damage. The water in the streets of Port-Royal did not spout up, as you have heard; but in the violent shake the sand cracking and opening, in several places where people stood, they şunk into it; and the water boiled out of the sand, that covered many, and saved others.
No. VIII. Some other Particulars of the same.1692 began in Jamaica with very dry and hot weather, which continued till May, when there was very blowing weather, and much rain to the end of the month, from which time, till the time of the earthquake, it was very hot, calm, and dry; and on Tuesday the 7th of June, about 40 minutes past eleven in the forenoon, it being then a very hot and fine day, scarcely a cloud to be seen in the sky, or a breath of air to be felt, happened that great shake, so fatal to this place, and to the whole island, which, for its violence and strange effects, may perhaps be compared with the greatest that ever yet happened in the world, and may as well deserve the memory of
It began with a small trembling, so as to make people think there was an earthquake, which thoughts were immediately confirmed by a second shake something stronger, accompanied all the while with a hollow rumbling noise, almost like that of thunder, which made them begin to run out of their houses. But, alas ! this was but short warning for them to provide for their safety; for immediately succeeded the third shock, which in less than a minute's time shook the very foundation of Port-Royal, so that at least two parts in three of the houses, and the ground whereon they stood, and most part of those who inhabited them, all sunk at once quite under water: and on the place which was left, and is now standing, shook down and shattered the houses in so violent a manner, that at our landing it looked like a heap of rubbish, scarcely one house in ten left standing, and those so cracked and shattered, that but few of them were fit, or thought safe to live in. All those trees which were next the water, towards the harbour-side where there were excellent wharfs, close to which ships of 700 tons might lie and deliver their lading, where were the best store-houses and conveniences for merchants, where were brave stately buildings, where the chief men of the place lived, and which were in all respects the principal parts of Port-Royal, now lie in four, six, or eight fathoms water. That part which is now standing is part of the end of that neck of land which runs into the sea, and makes this harbour, and is now a perfect island; the whole neck of land from the port of Port-Royal now standing, to the pallisadoes, or other end of Port-Royal towards the land, which is above a quarter of a mile, being quite discontinued and lost in the earthquake; and is now also, with all the houses, quite under water. This part of Port-Royal which is now standing is said to stand upon a rock: but, alas ! the strange rents and tearings of the mountains here sufficiently evince, that rocks and sand are equally unable to withstand the force of a violent earthquake. The ground heaved and swelled like a rolling swelling sea; by which means several houses now standing were shuffled and moved some yards from their places.
One whole street is said to be twice as broad now as before the earthquake ; and in many places the ground would crackle, and open and shut quick and fast: of which small openings have been seen 200 or 300 at one time, in some whereof many people were swallowed up'; some the earth caught by the middle, and squeezed to death; the heads of others only appeared above ground; some were swallowed quite down, and cast up again by great quantities of water; others went down, and were never more seen.
These were the smallest openings. Others, that were larger, swallowed up great houses ; and out of some gapings would issue whole