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three, viz., inclination, when the earth vibrates alternately from right to left, by which mountains have been sometimes brought to meet and clash against each other; pulsation, when it beats up and down, like an artery; and trembling, when it shakes and totters every way, like a flame.

The Philosophical Transactions furnish us with abundance of histories of earthquakes, particularly one at Oxford in 1665, by Dr. Wallis and Mr. Boyle. Another at the same place in 1683, by Mr. Pigot. Another in Sicily, in 1602-3, by Mr. Hartop, Father Alessandro Burgos, and Vin. Bonajutus, which last is one of the most terrible ones in all history.

It shook the whole island; and not only that, but Naples and Malta shared in the shock. It was of the second kind mentioned by Aristotle and Pliny, viz., a perpendicular pulsation or succussion. It was impossible, says the noble Bonajutus, for anybody in this country to keep on their legs on the dancing earth; nay, those that lay on the ground were tossed from side to side as on a rolling bil low; high walls leaped from their foundations several paces.

The mischief it did is amazing; almost all the buildings in the countries were thrown down. Fifty-four cities and towns, besides an incredible number of villages, were either destroyed or greatly damaged. We shall only instance the fate of Catania, one of the most famous, ancient, and flourishing cities in the kingdom, the residence of several monarchs, and a university. "This once famous, now unhappy Catania," to use words of Father Burgos, "had the greatest share in the tragedy. Father Antonio Serovita, being on his way thither, and at the distance of a few miles, observed a black cloud, like night, hovering over the city, and there arose from the mouth of Mongibello great spires of flame, which spread all around. The sea, all of

a sudden, began to roar and rise in billows, and there was a blow, as if all the artillery in the world had been at once discharged. The birds flew about astonished, the cattle in the fields ran crying, &c. His and his companion's horse stopped short, trembling; so that they were forced to alight. They were no sooner off but they were lifted from the ground above two palms. When, casting his eyes towards Catania, he with amazement saw nothing but a thick cloud of dust in the air. This was the scene of their calamity; for of the magnificent Catania there is not the least footstep to be seen. Bonajutus assures us, that of 18,914 inhabitants, 18,000 perished therein. The same author, from a computation of the inhabitants before and after the earthquake, in the several cities and towns, finds that near 60,000 perished out of 254,900.

Jamaica is remarkable for earthquakes. The inhabitants, Dr. Sloane informs us, expect one every year. The author gives the history of one in 1687; another horrible one, in 1692, is described by several anonymous authors. In two minutes' time it shook down and drowned nine tenths of the town of Port Royal. The houses sunk outright, thirty or forty fathoms deep. The earth, opening, swallowed up people, and they rose in other streets; some in the middle of the harbour, and yet were saved; though there were two thousand people lost, and one thousand acres of land sunk. All the houses were thrown down throughout the island. One Hopkins had his plantation removed half a mile from its place. Of all wells, from one fathom to six or seven, the water flew out at the top with a vehement motion. While the houses on the one side of the street were swallowed up, on the other they were thrown in heaps; and the sand in the street rose like waves in the sea, lifting up everybody that stood on it, and immediately dropping down into pits; and at the same instant, a flood of

waters breaking in, rolled them over and over; some catching hold of beams and rafters, &c. Ships and sloops in the harbour were overset and lost; the Swan frigate particularly, by the motion of the sea and sinking of the wharf, was driven over the tops of many houses.

It was attended with a hollow rumbling noise like that of thunder. In less than a minute three quarters of the houses, and the ground they stood on, with the inhabitants, were all sunk quite under water, and the little part left behind was no better than a heap of rubbish. The shake was so violent that it threw people down on their knees or their faces, as they were running about for shelter. The ground heaved and swelled like a rolling sea, and several houses, still standing, were shuffled and moved some yards out of their places. A whole street is said to be twice as broad now as before; and in many places the earth would crack, and open, and shut, quick and fast, of which openings two or three hundred might be seen at a time; in some whereof the people were swallowed up, others the closing earth caught by the middle and pressed to death, in others the heads only appeared. The larger openings swallowed up houses; and out of some would issue whole rivers of waters, spouted up a great height into the air, and threatening a deluge to that part the earthquake spared. The whole was attended with stenches and offensive smells, the noise of falling mountains at a distance, &c., and the sky in a minute's time was turned dull and reddish, like a glowing oven. Yet, as great a sufferer as Port Royal was, more houses were left standing therein than on the whole island besides. Scarce a planting-house or sugar-work was left standing in all Jamaica. A great part of them were swallowed up, houses, people, trees, and all at one gape; in lieu of which afterward appeared great pools of water, which, when dried up, left nothing but sand, with

out any mark that ever tree or plant had been thereon.

Above twelve miles from the sea the earth gaped and spouted out, with a prodigious force, vast quantities of water into the air, yet the greatest violences were among the mountains and rocks; and it is a general opinion, that the nearer the mountains, the greater the shake, and that the cause thereof lay there. Most of the rivers were stopped up for twenty-four hours by the falling of the mountains, till, swelling up, they found themselves new tracts and channels, tearing up in their passage trees, &c. After the great shake, those people who escaped got on board ships in the harbour, where many continued above two months; the shakes all that time being so violent, and coming so thick, sometimes two or three in an hour, accompanied with frightful noises, like a ruffling wind, or a hollow, rumbling thunder, with brimstone blasts, that they durst not come ashore. The consequence of the earthquake was a general sickness, from the noisome vapours belched forth, which swept away above three thousand persons.

After the detail of these horrible convulsions, the reader will have but little curiosity left for the less considerable phenomena of the earthquake at Lima in 1687, described by Father Alvarez de Toledo, wherein above five thousand persons were destroyed; this being of the vibratory kind, so that the bells in the church rung of themselves; or that at Batavia in 1699, by Witsen; that in the north of England in 1703, by Mr. Thoresby; or, lastly, those in New-England in 1663 and 1670, by Dr. Mather.

To David Rittenhouse.

New and curious Theory of Light and Heat-Read in the American Philosophical Society, November 20, 1788.

Universal space, as far as we know of it, seems to be filled with a subtile fluid, whose motion or vibration is called light.

This fluid may possibly be the same with that which, being attracted by, and entering into other more solid matter, dilutes the substance by separating the constituent particles, and so rendering some solids fluid, and maintaining the fluidity of others; of which fluid, when our bodies are totally deprived, they are said to be frozen; when they have a proper quantity, they are in health, and fit to perform all their functions; it is then called natural heat; when too much, it is called fever; and when forced into the body in too great a quantity from without, it gives pain, by separating and destroying the flesh, and is then called burning, and the fluid so entering and acting is called fire.

While organized bodies, animal or vegetable, are augmenting in growth, or are supplying their continual waste, is not this done by attracting and consolidating this fluid called fire, so as to form of it a part of their substance? And is it not a separation of the parts of such substance, which, dissolving its solid state, sets that subtile fluid at liberty, when it again makes its appearance as fire?

For the power of man relative to matter seems limited to the separating or mixing the various kinds of it, or changing its form and appearance by different compositions of it; but does not extend to the making or creating new matter, or annihilating the old. Thus, if fire be an original element or kind of matter, its quantity is fixed and permanent in the universe. We cannot destroy any part of it, or make addition to it; we can only separate it from that which confines it, and so set it at liberty; as

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