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above, and then found their usual path nearly cut off, as the subsidence near the brow of the cliff had received a fresh accession of several feet since midnight, and they had to scramble up with difficulty.
“The cottages occupied by these labourers were almost entirely destroyed—the one a single cottage, the other containing two dwellings under the same roof; the former and westernmost cottage, from the new slope taken in the subsidence by the ground on which it was built, was completely overthrown; the most eastern has its walls still standing, and appears on looking at it at a little distance from without scarcely injured, save where a crack has been opened in one side of the walls; but on approaching it close, and going into the interior, it is seen that the foundations have sunk about one foot, that the lime floors have been squeezed upwards, rifted in every direction, and the door-posts and windowframes have slightly yielded to the pressure, in the latter instance cracking many of the panes of glass.
“ These cottages stood within a hundred yards of each other, in that portion of the undercliff situated to the east of the cape-like projection of the upper range, which was to be the scene of the next and grandest convulsion. This, however, did not begin to show itself till the following midnight. During the whole of the 25th new fissures continued to open in the portion of the undercliff adjoining the cottages, and several subsidences, often of many feet, took place from time to time. A party, who on the same afternoon (Christmasday) were rambling in the portion of the undercliff to the west of this (beneath the projecting cape of the upper ranges), were alarmed by the opening of fissures across their path and considerable disturbance of the ground all around.
"Some parties of the coast guard were on duty in the neighbourhood through great part of the following nightthe most eventful period of the disturbance-and as the moon was up, there was sufficient light to assist their observations. One of these parties observed about midnight the very commencement of these fissures, which, in their subsequent progress, led to the formation of the great chasm, more than 300 feet broad, 150 feet deep, and three quarters of a mile long. James Robertson and a companion were at that hour crossing the fields which then stretched along this tract; they stumbled across a slight ridge of gravel, which at first they thought only the work of mischievous boys, but proceeding a few steps further one of them jammed his leg into a narrow fissure: when he was extricated they looked around in alarm, and observed more extensive fissures opened and opening in the same direction; they experienced no tremulous motion, and only heard noises which they described as like the rending of cloth. As their station was on Whitland's cliff, they soon cautiously picked their way out of this disturbed track before the subsidence of which they thus witnessed the beginning had made any material progress in the depression of the surface; but by day-break the next morning this depression is said to have been considerably advanced.
“ Two others of the coast-guard, Spenser and Johns, were on the same night stationed on Culverhole beach beneath, and there witnessed the remarkable phenomena of the elevation of the submarine reef. They stated that a little after midnight they observed the sea to be in an extraordinary state of agitation; the beach on which they stood rose and fell; amidst the breakers near the shore something dark appeared to be rising from the bottom of the sea amidst the deafening
noise of crashing rocks. Throughout the whole of the following day (the 26th) the subsided masses of the great chasm above continued gradually sinking, and the rocks of the elevated reef gradually rising; but by the evening of that day everything had settled to very nearly its present position. No very great changes have taken place since; only the occasional precipitation of disjointed masses. the wearing away of the more broken of the detached pinnacles —and along the line of the raised reef the undermining effect of the waves has been productive of more decided and sensible alteration."
There are one or two situations, says an excellent local authority, overlooking the more western or great landslip, which seem to be admired as peculiarly striking—the view of the great chasm, looking eastward, and the view from Dowlands, looking westward, upon the undercliff and new beach. The best prospect, perhaps, for seeing the extraordinary nature of the whole district, combined with scenery, is from Pinhay and Whitlands, and looking inland you see the precipitous yet wooded summit of the main land, and the castellated crags of the ivy-clad rocks, on the terraces immediately below, and the deep dingle which separates you from it. By turning a little to the north-east Pinhay presents its chalky pinnacles and descending terraces; whilst to the west the double range and high perpendicular cliffs of Rowsedown offer themselves. By turning towards the sea is embraced the whole range of the great bay of Dorset and Devon, extending from Portland on the east to Star Point on the west, bounded on either side by scenery of the finest coast character.
There are several ways of getting to Sidmouth, either direct by the speedy route afforded by the Great Western Railway, where, from the Tiverton station, a new road has been recently formed, or by the South Western Railway to Dorchester, and thence by coach, which affords a more economical transit, and gives an opportunity, at the same time, of catching casual glimpses of the New Forest, and some charming scenery between Bridport and Lyme Regis. The latter place will enable a visitor to enjoy some exquisite specimens of the marine scenery of our south-western coasts.
Letters from London are delivered at Sidmouth every morning at 8h. a.m.; and the box closes at 5h. p.m.