« ElőzőTovább »
EARTHQUAKES IN CEPHALONIA IN 1862-3.
Classical and Biblical Earthquakes—Former Shocks in the Ionian Islands— Destruction of Fort St. George—My first Earthquake worthy of the Name —Four Days of Shocks in one Week—The worst Shock known for Years— Damage done—Saltatory Motion most dangerous—Discouraging Friends— General's House shaken at Corfu-Barometer no Guide—Extracts from my Journal—An unfulfilled Prophecy—The second Shock, in Severity, of the Year—Comparison of the two greatest Earthquakes—The late Bishop of Gibraltar—Send my Family home—My new Habitation safer—A violent but partial Hurricane—British Soldiers fly for their Lives—Why Greeks have always built strongly—Water, Fire, Wind, cause Earthquakes.
OF all terrible human sensations, I know of none equal to those aroused by serious earthquakes. The fear which I once endured on board a condemned ten-gun brig for some eighty hours, from the continual expectation (shared by the captain, crew, and passengers) of immediate foundering, was less appalling than at least two of the earthquakes which I experienced in Cephalonia.
The ancients regarded these visitations as signs of the Divine displeasure. The New Testament represents them as heralding, or accompanying its most important events. Thus, at the crucifixion of Our Lord, the earth was shaken by an earthquake;* and at the resurrection there was “a great earthquake.”t
Lastly, “a great earthquake” leads the way, after the opening of the eighth seal, amongst the horrors foretold as the signs of the judgment-day.
Homer, Thucydides, Xenephon, and the classic authors generally, regarded the ocean as the great cause of earthquakes. In their writings, Earthshaker is the usual epithet applied to Neptune.
I was in London on the 6th October, 1863, but knew nothing of the earthquake till I read of it in the Times. Those Englishmen who felt the shock can probably, for the first time, appreciate Pope's translation of Homer's magnificent description of a great earthquake.
“Beneath, stern Neptune shakes the solid ground,
The Ionian Islands have probably been always subjected to earthquakes. But wholly unrecorded
FORMER SHOCKS IN THE IONIAN ISLANDS. 151
in ancient times, they have even in modern history been very rarely noted. About twenty years ago, Dr. Davy wrote a chapter on them in his voluminous scientific work on the Seven Islands. He records three serious earthquakes, two at Zante and one at Santa Maura, all attended with loss of life, but still more with destruction of property. The dates of those which occurred at Zante are 1791, 1820, and 1840. The greatest shock experienced in Santa Maura happened in 1825. It occasioned the greatest loss of life recorded in the Islands for nearly a century. Fifty-eight persons were killed on the spot, and ninety-two were wounded, many of whom died afterwards from the effects of the injuries which they had received. The earthquake of 1791 at Zante, by which thirty persons were killed, lasted half a minute. That of November, 1840, in the time of Sir Howard Douglas, did damage estimated at 300,000l. No less than ninety-five shocks were counted during the day. But this visitation, doubtless on account of its diffusion into so many shocks, was not attended with much loss of life. At least, Dr. Davy records none. The inhabitants had, probably, ample time to leave their gradually falling houses. It appears that the great mass of them slept afterwards for two or three nights in the open air. Zante and Santa Maura have long been subjected to frequent earthquakes, whilst Cephalonia has stood the third amongst the Seven Islands as regards the severity of shocks. But in 1862 an alarming change took place, Cephalonia being far more shaken in that year than any of the other Islands. It began to be feared that the horrors of 1765 were about to be renewed. In that year Fort St. George, the ancient capital of the island, about six miles from Argostoli, had been destroyed by a shock, with the loss, it was said, of 700 lives. 1833 had also been rather a bad year, especially in Lixuri, where houses actually fell, and a few lives were lost. Previously to my arrival in Cephalonia, I had only once experienced one earthquake, and that was hardly deserving of the name. In the spring of 1861, I was sitting with my wife in our drawingroom at Corfu, with my back touching the wall. Suddenly, I felt the latter move very slightly. I exclaimed, “That is an earthquake!” My wife, however, sitting in the middle of the room, never felt anything, and believed that I had been mistaken. However, we happened to call that morning at Lady Wolff's, who lived in Condi-terrace, in the higher part of the town, and we found that there had been an earthquake, which had shaken a large chandelier. On the 8th of March, 1862, I experienced the first shock worthy the name, in our loftily-situated apartments in the great house on the Mole at Argostoli. A series of violent storms of wind and rain