ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE, SHOWING MOUNT PELEE IN THE DISTANCE
J. MARTIN MILLER
MEMBER OF THE GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES WHO WENT TO
MARTINIQUE AS THE GUEST OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT
AT THE REQUEST OF THE PRESIDENT
SCENE IN THE VEGETABLE MARKET, ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE
COPYRIGHT, BY J. M. MJORDAN, IM
PICTURESQUE HOUSE, ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE
/ 77 TV Ac / fc .
THE appalling catastrophe which visited the Islands of Mar-
tinique and St. Vincent, resulting in the destruction of many
towns and nearly fifty thousand lives, horrified every part of the
world. The heart of humanity shudders at every calamity which
results in the sudden death of thousands of people.
Without warning, the terrible volcanic eruption overwhelmed
the doomed cities. In the biief space of only a few minutes a
large part of the Island of Martinique was turned into an unparal-
leled scene of devastation. Few persons escaped the horrible
fate that swept a vast multitude to sudden death.
Mont Pel6e, a great volcano long ago believed to be extinct,
suddenly awoke from the sleep of ages. Out of the mouth of
the treacherous crater, around which nestled the summer villas
and the pretty homes of the wealthy French West Indian resi-
dents, suddenly belched forth smoke and flame. Then, like the
discharge from a Titanic gun, the volcanic substances leaped
thousands of feet into the air and from the awful cauldron's
Sm6uth poured down rivers of fire swallowing everything that lay
in their path to the sea. Torrents of red-hot ashes and lava burned
the country for miles around.
Mont Pelee, which had been quiet for half a century, gave
the first indication of its fatal activity on Thursday, May i, 1902,
a week before the great eruption. Strange noises were heard on
that day from the region of the mountain. At midnight of May
3, the volcano belched forth volumes of boiling mud. Disturb-
Sances were intermittent after that, doing little damage outside a
radius of two miles, until Ascension Day, Thursday, May 8. At
S7.50 o'clock on the morning of that day the people of St. Pierre
heard a terrific explosion from the volcano. A volume of molten
metal and lava was thrown off, enveloping the city and all the
shipping in the harbor in one mighty flame. Simultaneously
the tidal wave swept the roadstead.
With a single blast of the torrent of flame St. Pierre, cover-
ing an area of four miles by two, was on fire. By land and sea
all was one seething mass of flame. Nothing escaped. Animal
and vegetable life was snuffed out in a moment. Seventy-two
hours after the disaster thousands of charred bodies were lying
dead on the water front.
A relieving party from the French warship Suchet, on the
afternoon of Thursday, the day of the disaster, went ashore. Her
captain estimated the loss of life at 40,000, including Governor
Mouttet and wife, the General commanding the troops, and one
hundred soldiers, who were armed before the disaster to pacify the
panic-stricken people and prevent looting.
Huge trees were torn up by their roots and laid flat, scarce
one being left standing, and other indications showed that the wave
of fire must have passed over this section of the island at extreme
hurricane velocity. Every house in St. Pierre, not excepting those
that were most solidly built of stone, is absolutely in ruins. The
streets were piled twelve feet high in debris and hundreds of
bodies could be seen in every direction.
It is known that many persons who sought refuge in the
cathedral perished, but their bodies were scarcely visible, being
covered with debris. The sites of the club, the bank, the bourse,
the telegraph office and the principal shops-everywhere was the
same scene of utter desolation and death.
The Island of St. Vincent was also shaken to its centre by a
terrible convulsion of Mont Soufriere. Vast destruction in this
island was caused by the raging eruption, and here alone more
than two thousand persons lost their lives.
This work depicts the scenes following the deadly eruptions
of Mont Pel6e and Mont Soufriere, the frantic efforts of the
inhabitants to escape their doom, the present appearance of the
ruined cities and a full description and history of the Islands of
Martinique and St. Vincent. It also narrates the magnificent upris-
ing of people everywhere to afford relief to the survivors of the great
catastrophe, including President Roosevelt's message to Congress
recommending an appropriation of $500,ooo by our Government
INTRODUCTION . . . . ... . 17
APPALLING CALAMITY IN THE ISLANDS OF MARTINIQUE AND
ST. VINCENT.-TRAGIC DEATH OF MANY THOUSANDS OF
PEOPLE.- DESCRIPTION OF THE -ISLANDS.- FRIGHTFUL
SCENES OF DEVASTATION . . . .. 65
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISASTER. -TRAGEDY
COMPLETED IN THE BRIEF SPACE OF A FEW MINUTES.-
DESPATCHES FROM UNITED STATES OFFICIALS.-VOLCANIC
ISLANDS DESCRIBED.-URGENT APPEALS FOR HELP 82
MARTINIQUE CITY A HEAP OF SMOKING RUINS. -STREETS
FILLED WITH CHARRED BODIES.--LARGE PORTIONS OF
THE ISLAND ENGULFED WITH LAVA.-ST. VINCENT ALSO
DEVASTATED.-RELIEF FOR THE SUFFERERS ... .100
AWFUL SCENE IN ST. PIERRE-WHOLE MOUNTAIN APPEARED
TO BLOW UP. -SHIPS SWALLOWED BY AN ENORMOUS
WAVE.-HARROWING TALES BY EYE-WITNESSES OF THE
BURNED CITY ..... . ............. 121
PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT'S SPECIAL MESSAGE TO CONGRESS.-
LARGE APPROPRIATION BY OUR GOVERNMENT FOR IMME-
DIATE RELIEF OF THE SURVIVORS.-ADDITIONAL DETAILS
OF THE TERRIBLE CALAMITY. -SCENES BAFFLING DE-
SCRIPTION .. .. ... ... ...... .... 139
Two THOUSAND PERSONS KILLED IN ST. VINCENT.-GREAT
ALARM AS TO THE FATE OF THE ISLAND.-AWFUL SUDDEN-
NESS OF THE CALAMITY AT ST. PIERRE.-GRAPHIC STORIES
TOLD BY WITNESSES OF THE DEADLY EXPLOSION .. 157
NARRATIVES OF PERSONAL EXPERIENCES.-TOURIST PORTRAYS
MONT PELEE. STORMY HISTORY OF MARTINIQUE. -
GRAPHIC LETTER FROM*A CONSUL'S WIFE.-GREAT DIS-
ASTERS FROM VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS. SCENES IN THE
STRICKEN ISLANDS . . . ... 179
ST. VINCENT VOLCANO IN ACTIVE ERUPTION.-TERRIFIC CAN-
NONADE HEARD ONE HUNDRED MILES AWAY.-KINGS-
TOWN SHOWERED WITH HOT ASHES AND PEBBLES 203
FOR WEEKS MONT PELEE BELCHED CLOUDS OF SMOKE.-SPLEN-
DID AND APPALLING PHENOMENON.-INCESSANT ROAR OF
AWFUL THUNDER.--TERRORS PARALYZE THE HELPLESS
INHABITANTS . . . . .. 221
NEW HORRORS REVEALED DAILY.--MONT PELEE AGAIN IN
ACTIVE ERUPTION.-RIVERS AND LAKES DRIED UP.-HISS-
ING PITS OF LAVA.-PHYSICAL CHANGES MADE BY THE
OUTBREAKS . . .. . . 239
SHIP TOSSED BY GIANT WAVES WITHOUT A BREATH OF
WIND. STORY OF THE CAPTAIN OF A DANISH VESSEL.
LONG HOURS OF TERROR ENDURED BY THE CREW.-
WRECK OF THE SHIP RODDAM . . .... .264
MARTINIQUE UNDER A MANTLE OF DARKNESS.-LIFE ON THE
ISLAND ALMOST UNENDURABLE. EXTREME SUFFERINGS
OF THE REFUGEES. FAMINE AND DISEASE RAVAGING
ST. VINCENT ... ... ............. .. 289
CONTINUED PANIC AT MARTINIQUE. MONT PELEE AGAIN IN
ERUPTION.-THRILLING ESCAPE OF A PARTY OF AMERICAN
SAILORS. -HUNDREDS OF BODIES AFLOAT IN THE SEA 305
TERRIBLE PANIC FOLLOWS FRESH OUTBREAK OF MONT PELEE.
FRANTIC EFFORTS TO ESCAPE TO THE SHIPS AT FORT-DE-
FRANCE.-MANY RESCUED FROM UNDER THE SHADOW OF
THE DEATH-DEALING MOUNTAIN ............ 329
WOMEN AND CHILDREN HEMMED IN BY TIDE OF LAVA.-FACE
TO FACE WITH A TERRIBLE DOOM.-EXPEDITION TO MONT
PELEE.-CHILD'S PATHETIC TALE. . . 347
NORTH AMERICAN VOLCANOES.- FAMOUS MOUNT SHASTA.-
NORTHERN ARIZONA.-VOLCANIC GLASS.-CRATERS ON THE
PACIFIC COAST ..................... GC. ,
RIDGE OF PANAMA AND THE ANDES.-THE GREAT CANYON.--
CALIFORNIA AND UTAH.-YELLOWSTONE PARK.-MEXICO
AND SOUTH AMERICA ................. 383
AMAZING PHENOMENA CONNECTED WITH VOLCANOES AND
EARTHQUAKES.- FIERY EXPLOSIONS AND MOUNTAINS IN
CONVULSIONS.-CHANGES IN THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH. 4,'
GREAT VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS IN MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD.
STORY OF MT. ETNA. -CONVULSIONS IN SOUTH AMERICA
AND ELSEWHERE .................. .. 419
ERUPTION OF ETNA IN THE YEAR I865.-MUTUAL DEPENDENCE
OF ALL TERRESTRIAL PHENOMENA.-SEA COAST LINE OF
VOLCANOES.-THE PACIFIC "CIRCLE OF FIRE." ... 438
TORRENTS OF STEAM ESCAPING FROM CRATERS.-GASES PRO-
DUCED BY THE DECOMPOSITION OF SEA-WATER.-HYPOTH-
ESES AS TO THE ORIGIN OF ERUPTION.- GROWTH OF
VOLCANOES ..... .......... 457
VARIOUS KINDS OF LAVA.-BEAUTIFUL CAVE IN SCOTLAND.-
CREVICES IN VOLCANOES.-SNOW UNDER BURNING DUST 477
VOLCANIC PROJECTILES. -EXPLOSIONS OF ASHES. -SUBORDI-
NATE VOLCANOES. MOUNTAINS REDUCED TO DUST.-
FLASHES AND FLAMES PROCEEDING FROM VOLCANOES 493
VOLCANIC THERMAL SPRINGS. GEYSERS. -SPRINGS IN NEW
ZEALAND.-CRATERS OF CARBONIC ACID . ... .507
DEATH CAME TO EVERYONE IN ST. PIERRE WITH THE QUICK-
NESS OF A CANNON SHOT.-SULPHUROUS GAS PERMEATED
EVERY PLACE AND WAS EXPLODED AT ONCE-PRIESTS'
BODIES FOUND IN THE ATTITUDE OF PRAYER.---CALM,
NOT PANIC, WRITTEN ON THE LINES OF DEAD FACES.--
DARING FEAT OF PROFESSOR HEILPRIN IN ASCENDING
MOUNT PELEE AFTER THE ERUPTION ... 513
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LIGHT HOUSE AT ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE
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A PICTURESQUE STREET, ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE
GOVERNOR'S PALACE, ISLAND OF MAR UNIQUE
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THE NATIVE QUARTERS, ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE
N MAY 9th the civilized world was shocked by meagre
xelegraphic reports to the effect that the City of St.
Pierre of Martinique, a French possession in the
West Indies, had been destroyed by a sudden erup-
tion of the volcano Mont Pelee. Cable communica-
tions with all the neighboring islands had benii interrupted by
the terrible upheaval accompanying the eruption.
On the morning of May Io, the horrible news was con-
firmed with the additional reports that the shipping in the
harbor had been destroyed and that the loss of life was esti-
mated at 25,000 souls.
On May iith, the American public began to receive
detailed reports, showing that the entire top of the mountain
had been blown off and that probably 40,000 persons had per-
ished. Boiling mud, carrying molten stone and exhaling inflam-
mable gases, had fallen upon the City of St. Pierre like a great
blanket of death, and had destroyed the entire community within
the space of three minutes. There had been no time for panic.
One moment of agony and all was over.
On May Izth, the cable service had been very much improved
and the. additional news was received that Soufri6re, a volcano on
the neighboring island of St. Vincent a British possession, was
active; that neighboring islands were feeling the tremor, and
that the entire group of the Lesser Antilles were in a state of
President Roosevelt, with his splendid judgment and mag-
nificent enthusiasm laid before Congress immediately in a special
message the demands of the stricken community upon our neigh-
borly sympathy and by his direction government vessels were
loaded with supplies.
Thirty-six hours after the first report of the calamity the
Senate passed a bill appropriating $1oo,ooo as a nucleus of the
relief fund. An objection in the House caused a delay of from
Saturday to Monday; but Congress promptly rebuked the
objector by doubling the amount of appropriation and sending it
back to the Senate where the amount of $200,000 was promptly
confirmed and sent back to the President for his approval. The
amount was later increased to $500,ooo.
HOW EXPLOSIONS OCCUR.
Professor MILNE, of Chicago, one of the greatest authorities
in the world on volcanic phenomena, divides eruptions into two
Those that build up slowly.
Those that destroy most rapidly.
The latter," he says, are the most dangerous to human life
and the physical face of a country. Eruptions that build up
mountains are periodical wellings over of molten lava, compara-
tively harmless. But in this building up, which may cover a
period of centuries, natural volcanic vents are closed up, and gases
and blazing fires accumulate beneath that must eventually find
vent. Sooner or later they must burst forth, and then the ter-
rific disasters of the second class take place. It is the same cause
that makes a boiler burst."
Professor Amos P. Brown, of the University of Pennsylvania,
gives a very interesting description showing that Martinique was
formed into an island by eruptions of Mount Pel6e ages ago, and
that the same forces of nature which forced up the land above the
surface of the ocean finally destroyed the island. The distance
from the volcano to the sea is three miles and to the town it is
about five miles. Several hills and ravines are spread between the
town and mountains, which, had the explosion occurred in the cone,
would have partly saved the former.
HOW THE MOUNTAIN BLEW UP.
The vast fields of hot lava which were boiling in the base of
Pel6e for years were acted upon by an inlet of water. This, no
doubt, came through a crevice from the sea. The French Cable
Company reported nearly a fortnight before that the sea floor near
St. Pierre, Martinique, had dropped over 1ooo feet. A break in the
earth's crust resulted. Through this the sea rushed in. Coming
in contact with the lava bed and an immense amount of steam
"Soon it became heated to an intensity of five or six tons pressure
to the square inch. It is almost impossible to conceive its latent
force. The area which confined it could not hold the increasing
volume. It sought an outlet. The cap over the summit of the
crater proved too strong. It attacked the weakest side which was
adjacent to the town. This side of the mountain was unable to
withstand the strain and blew out. As long as it takes a projectile
to shoot through the air and drop to earth just so long it took the
fierce, red hot stream of molten rock and sheets of flame to fall
upon the town. The consequent igniting of St. Pierre must have
generated poisonous gases that resulted in the death of many vic-
tims. The inhalation of the hot air was instantly fatal. If the
path of destruction is anything like that of other great volcanic
disturbances, no vegetable or animal life can survive them
for a minute."
It is quite certain that the people in the vicinity were warned
in sufficient time to have escaped. More than a week before there
was a flow of lava from a crevice near the summit. This stream
was carried to the sea through a deep ravine that intervened
between Pel6e and St. Pierre. Had it not been for this outlet the
lava would in all probability have flowed down to the town.
Previous to this eruption there were violent tremblings of the
earth, and more or less earthquakes. Such manifestations usually
precede the tragic climax of a v-lcano in full action.
THE MODERN POMPEII.
St. Pierre, Martinique, the modern Pompeii, was the largest
town, and the commercial center of the French West Indies, being
well built and prosperous. Its population was about 25,000. The
city was divided into two parts, known as the upper and lower
towns. The lower town was compact, with narrow streets, and
unhealthy. The upper town was cleaner, healthier and hand-
somely laid out. There was in the upper town a fine botanical
garden and an old Catholic college, as well as a fine hospital.
The Consuls resident at St. Pierre were: For the United
States, T. T. Prentis; Great Britain, J. Japp; Denmark, M. E. S.
Meyer; Italy, P. Pliosonneau; Mexico, E. Dupre; Sweden and
Norway, Gustave Borde.
There were four banks in the city-the Banque de la Mar-
tinique, Banque Transatlantique, Colonial Bank of London and
Credit Foncier Colonial.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ISLAND.
The Island of Martinique has the same general character-
istics as its nearest neighbors, with some peculiarities of its own.
Its extreme length is about forty-five miles from northwest to
southeast, and the main part of it is in the shape of an oval, with
rough edges, its greatest width being fifteen miles. At the
lower end of this main part the old Fort Royal Bay-since the
French Revolution called Fort-de-France Bay--cuts in so deep as
to come within six miles of meeting the inlets of Le Robert and
Le Francais on the other side.
The whole area of the island, near 400 square miles, is moun-
tainous. Besides Mount Pel6e, there are further south and about
midway of the oval the three crests of Courbet, and all along the
great ridge are the black and ragged cones of old volcanoes.
SAVAGE VOLCANIC SCENERY.
The mountainous interior is torn and gashed with ancient
earthquake upheavals, and there are perpendicular cliffs, deep
clefts and gorges, black holes filled with water and swift torrents
dashing over precipices and falling into caverns-in a word, all
the fantastic savagery of volcanic scenery, but the whole covered
with the rich verdure of the tropics.
The total population of the island is reckoned at 175,000, of
whom io,ooo are whites, 15,000 of Asiatic origin, and 150,o00
blacks of all shades, from ebony to light octoroon.
Martinique had two interesting claims to distinction in that
the Empress Josephine was born there, as was Mme. De Main-
tenon, the latter passing her girlhood on the island as Francoise
d'Abigne. At Fort-de-France there is a marble statue of the
Martinique became an interesting point in this country during
the recent war with Spain. The first news of the arrival of the
Spanish fleet of Admiral Cervera came to St. Pierre. At 9.30
o'clock on the morning of May 11, 1898, the cruiser Harvard
arrived at St. Pierre, and at 6 o'clock the same evening a corre-
spondent at Fort-de-France communicated to the Harvard's com-
mander the fact that the Spanish torpedo boat destroyer Furor
had put into Fort-de-France. The destroyer turned out to be
the Terror instead of the Furor, but the important fact that
Cervera was on this side of the ocean was established.
From the beginning of history the habitations of men have
been leveled or buried by earthquake shocks and volcanic erup-
tions, and the numbers of human beings killed in this way
OVERWHELMED FORTY-TWO VILLAGES.
One of the most frightful explosions of modern times was
that of Asama of Japan, in 1883. It sent down 8000 feet a
torrent of mud and fire from five to ten miles broad that over-
whelmed forty-two villages. Historians have never been able to
determine how many lives were actually lost by this explosion.
The total ran into the thousands.
On July 15, 1888, Bandaisan, Japan, blew up, and sent
16,ooo,ooo cubic yards of rock and earth into the valley beneath.
The lava stream from its head traveled at the rate of 48 miles an
hour and was ioo feet deep. Its width ran from five to fifteen
miles. But only 401 persons lost their lives.
FLAMES SEEN FOR FORTY MILES.
On an island in the Strait of Sunda, between Java and
Sumatra, occurred the greatest explosion ever known of Kra-
katoa. On May 20, 1883, the eruption commenced, but the
great explosion did not come until August 26 of that year. The
flames from the crater could be seen forty miles distant. The
crashing explosion which followed these flames set in motion air
waves that traveled around the earth four times one way and
three times the other. Every self-recording barometer in the
world was disturbed seven times by that blow-up. These waves
traveled at the rate of 700 miles an hour. At Borneo, 1116
miles distant, the noise of this eruption was heard. It was
felt in Burmah, 1478 miles distant, and at Perth, West Australia,
1902 miles distant. The Krakatoa explosion was heard over a
sound zone covering one-thirteenth of the earth's surface. Sea
waves were created by the explosion, which
Destroyed two lighthouses in the Strait of Sunda.
Destroyed all the towns and villages on the shores of Java
and Sumatra bordering the strait.
Destroyed all vessels and shipping there.
Killed 36,380 people.
Raised a tidal wave at Merak 135 feet high.
Covered 500,000 square miles of ocean with lava dust several
- inches thick.
Submerged an island six miles square and 700 feet high in
depth of water of 150 fathoms.
Created two new islands.
THE MOST DISASTROUS EARTHQUAKES IN HISTORY.
The most disastrous earthquake of recent history was the
great Lisbon shock, on November I, 1755. In less than eight
minutes almost all the houses of Lisbon were overturned, 5o,000
of the inhabitants were killed, and whole streets were buried.
The cities of Coimbra, Oporto, Braga and St. Ubes were destroyed
Malaga, in Spain, was largely reduced to ruins. One-half of Fez,
in Morocco, was destroyed, and 12,000 Arabs killed. The island
of Madeira was laid waste, and the ruin extended to Mitylene in
the archipelago, where half the town was laid low.
Following is a list of the principal earthquakes of history:
345 B. C.-Twelve cities in the Campana buried and Duras,
in Greece, destroyed, with immense loss of life.
283 B. C.-Lysimicahie and its inhabitants buried.
79 A. D.-Pompeii and Herculaneum destroyed.
o16 A. D.-Four cities in Asia, two in Greece, two in Galatia
157 A. D.-One hundred and fifty cities in Asia, Pontus and
557 A. D.-Constantinople partly destroyed, thousands perish.
742 A. D.-One hundred cities in Asia, Syria and Palestine
overturned; immense loss of life.
936 A. D. Constantinople again destroyed. All Greece
o189 A. D.-England thoroughly shaken.
1137 A. D.-Cautania, Sicily, destroyed; 15,ooo lives lost.
1158 A. D.-In Syria, 20,000 lives lost.
1268 A. D.-In Cilicia, 60,ooo perished.
1318 A. D.-In England; greatest known there.
1456-December 5, 40,000 perished at Naples.
1531, February 26.-Lisbon, 1500 houses and 30,000 persons
killed; several neighboring towns swallowed up in the sea.
1580, April 6.-St. Paul's, London, partly destroyed.
1596.-Japan cities destroyed and thousands perished.
1626, July 30.-At Naples, thirty towns destroyed, 70,000
1667, April 6.-At Schamaki, 80,ooo died.
1692, June 7.-At Jamaica, 3000 killed.
1603, September.-In Sicily, 100,000 lives lost.
1703-Medod, Japan, 200,000 dead.
1706.-Abruzzi, Italy, 15,000 perished.
1716, May.-Algiers, more than 20,ooo lost.
1731, November 30.-One hundred thousand people buried at
1732.-Naples, 1940 lives lost.
1746, October 28.-Lima, Peru, and Callao destroyed; 18,ooo
1751, November 2I.-Santa Domingo overwhelmed ;immense
loss of life.
1754, September.-Cairo, loss of 40,000 lives.
745, June 7.-Kaschan, Persia, overturned; 40,000 people
1755, November i. -Great Lisbon shock; 50,ooo people
killed at Lisbon; 12,ooo Arabs in Morocco buried, 000 houses in
the Grecian archipelago overturned.
1759, October 3o.-Baalbec, Syria, destroyed; 20,000 persons
1773, June 7. -Santiago, Guatemala, and its inhabitants
1783, February 4.-Towns in Italy and Sicily destroyed;
1784, July 23.-Ezinghian, near Erzeroum, destroyed; 500ooo
1788, October 12.-St. Lucia, near Martinique; 90o killed.
1797, February 4.-Panama; 40,000 people buried suddenly.
800o-1842.-Great shocks, with awful loss of life, in Constan-
tinople, Holland, Naples, the Azores, the Mississippi Valley, Car-
acas, India, Genoa, Aleppo, Chile, Spain, China, Martinique and
1868, August 13.-Cities in Equador destroyed; 25,oookilled
and property loss $300,ooo,ooo.
1883, August 3.-Island of Ischia almost destroyed; 2000
1883, October 20.-Krakatoa eruption in Java and Sumatra;
1oo,ooo lives lost.
1884, April 22.-Earthquake general throughout England.
1886, August 31.-Charleston, S. C.; 41 lives lost, $5,000,-
ooo property destroyed.
THE FIRST SHOCK OF HORROR.
The first acceptable report of the calamity came by telegraph
from St. Thomas, and was printed throughout the United States
on the morning of May 9th. It announced that the city of St.
Pierre, the principal port of the French Island of Martinique, was
destroyed, with all its inhabitants, at 8 o'clock on the morning of
May 8th by a flow of lava from the volcano Mount Pel&e. The
number of lives lost was believed to exceed 25,000, and may be as
great as 40,000.
The whole top of the mountain was reported to have blown
off. For three minutes lava and ashes poured down upon the
doomed city. The panic-stricken population fled to the waterside,
but in vain. Eighteen ships in the harbor were destroyed by
molten lava, and the people who fled to the wharves were soon
caught in the awful flood and consumed.
STEAMERS THAT ESCAPED.
All the suburbs within a radius of four miles were destroyed.
Cable communication with the island, as well as with the islands
of St. Vincent, Barbadoes, Grenada, Trinidad and Demerara was
interrupted. Steamers that escaped from the vicinity during the
eruption reported the losses as follows:
City of St. Pierre and suburbs, with from 25,000 to 40,000
Steamer Roraima, belonging to the Quebec Steamship Com-
pany, with thirty-five sailors from New York city and three West
Indian passengers, F. Ince, Mrs. H. J. Ince and Mrs. H. J. Stokes.
Seventeen sailors of the British steamer Roddam, which, by
slipping her anchor, escaped from the harbor at the time the city
Steamer Grappler, cable repair ship of the West Indian and
Panama Telegraph Company, and all on board.
Governor M. L. Mouttet, of the Island of Martinique, and
his staff colonel and wife.
Thomas T. Preptiss, of Michigan, United States consul.
Amedee Testart, of Louisiana, United States Vice Consul.
J. Japp, British Consul.
M. E. S. Meyer, Danish Consul.
P. Pliosonneau, Italian Consul.
E. Dupre, Mexican Consul.
Gustave Borde, Swedish Consul.
Sixteen steamers, names and nationalities unknown.
SURVIVORS NUMBER THIRTY.
So far as known only thirty persons were believed to have
survived of all those who were at St. Pierre at the time. These
were taken by the French cruiser Suchet to Fort-de-France. The
commander of the cruiser reports that by one o'clock on Thurs-
day the entire town of St. Pierre was wrapped in flames. He
endeavored to save about thirty persons more or less burned from
vessels in the harbor. His officers went ashore in small boats
seeking for survivors, but were unable to penetrate the town.
They saw heaps of bodies upon the wharves, and it is believed
that not a single person in the town at the time escaped.
The only vessel to escape from the harbor was the British
steamer Roddam, which arrived at St. Lucia the following day.
She got out of the harbor by slipping her cables, but lost seven-
teen men. Her captain was very seriously injured, and was
placed in the hospital at St. Lucia. All of his officers and engi-
neers were dead or dying. Nearly every member of the crew is
dead. Supercargo Campbell and ten of the crew of the Roddam
jumped overboard at St. Pierre and were lost.
Of the eighteen vessels destroyed in the harbor three are
said to have been Americans.
The Quebec Steamship Company's steamer Roraima was
among those destroyed. Some of the survivors declare she
exploded. Others say that she was wrecked in a terrible upheaval
of land and sea. All of her crew, including thirty-five members
from New York, were lost. Eight of her passengers were among
the persons saved by the French cruiser Suchet.
The British schooner Ocean Traveler, of St. John, N. B.,
arrived at the Island of Dominica at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
She reported having been obliged to flee from the Island of St.
Vincent, British West Indies, during the afternoon of Wednes-
day, May 7, in consequence of a heavy fall of sand from a vol-
cano which was erupting there. She tried to reach the Island of
St. Lucia, British West Indies, but adverse currents prevented
her from so doing.
The schooner arrived opposite St. Pierre on Thursday morn-
ing, May 8. While about a mile off the volcano-Mount Pelee-
exploded, and fire from it swept the whole town of St. Pierre,
destroying the town and the shipping there, including the cable
repair ship Grappler, of the West India and Panama Telegraph
Company, of London, which was engaged in repairing the cable
near the Guerin factory.
The Ocean Traveler, while on her way to Dominica,
encountered a quantity of wreckage.
COULD.NOT APPROACH THE TOWN.
The British royal mail steamer Esk, which arrived at St.
Lucia, May 9, reports having passed St. Pierre the night previous.
The steamer was covered with ashes, though she was five miles
distant from the town, which was in impenetrable darkness. A boat
was sent in as near as possible to the shore, but not a living soul
was seen ashore, only flames.
On May 9, the commander of the French cruiser Suchet
telegraphed to Paris to the Minister of Marine, M. de Lanessan, from
Fort-de-France, Island of Martinique, under date of Thursday,
May 8, at o1 P. M., as follows:
Have just returned from St. Pierre, which has been com-
pletely destroyed by an immense mass of fire, which fell on the
town at about 8 in the morning. The entire population (about
25,000 souls) is supposed to have perished. I have brought back
the few survivors, about thirty. All the shipping in the harbor
has been destroyed by fire. The eruption continues.
The commander of the Suchet has been ordered to return to
St. Pierre, Martinique, with all the speed possible, and to forward
details of the disaster to the French Government. He cannot,
however, be heard from for twenty-four hours, as the Suchet has
gone to the island of Guadeloupe in order to obtain provisions.
"It was feared that M. L. Mouttet, the Governor of Martin-
ique, has perished. He telegraphed May 7 that he was pro-
ceeding to St. Pierre. Senator Knight is also supposed to have
been at St. Pierre."
M. Bouguenot, a sugar planter of the Island of Martinique,
received a cable dispatch this morning from Fort-de-France,
sent by the manager of the Francais factory, announcing that
he had 'tried to reach St. Pierre, but found the coast covered
with ashes and the town enveloped in dust, and could not land.'"
VESSELS HURRIED TO THE RESCUE.
The Colonial Minister, M. Decrais, received at 6 o'clock
the same evening two cable messages from the Secretary General
of the Government of Martinique, J. F. G. L'heurre, sent respect-
ively at 5 P. M. and 10.30 P. M., May 9. The earlier cable
reported that the wires were broken between Fort-de-France and
St. Pierre, but it was added, in view of reports that the eruption
of Mount Pel6e had wiped out the town of St. Pierre, all the
boats available at Fort-de-France were dispatched to the assist-
ance of the inhabitants of that place.
The second dispatch confirmed the reports of the destruction
of St. Pierre and its environs and shipping by a rain of fire, and
said it was supposed that the whole population had been annihi-
lated with the exception of a few injured persons rescued by the
Immediately after the receipt of the above dispatches the flag
over the Colonial Office was draped with crape and hoisted at
OUR GOVERNMENT ADVISED. CONSUL REPORTED LOST.
On the morning of May 9, the following cablegram was
received at the State Department: Pointe-A-Pitre, May 9,-
Secretary of State, Washington: At 7 o'clock A. M. on 8th inst.,
a storm of steam, mud and fire enveloped the city and community.
Not more than twenty persons escaped with their lives. Eighteen
vessels were burned and sunk with all on board, including four
American vessels and a steamer from Quebec named Roraima.
The United States Consul and family are reported among the
victims. A war vessel has come to Guadeloupe for provisions
and will leave here to-morrow.
The State Department has been receiving dispatches from
commercial houses in New York, asking that a warship be sent at
once to Martinique to afford relief.
The consul at Martinique is Thomas T. Prentis. He was
born in Michigan and was appointed from Massachusetts as
Consul at Seychelles Islands, in 1871, and later served as Consul
at Port Louis, Mauritius; Rouen, France, and Batavia. He was
appointed Consul in Martinique at 19oo. The Vice Consul at
Martinique is Amedee Testart, who was born and appointed from
Louisiana in 1898.
The latest available figures showed that the total population
of the island of Martinique is 185,ooo people, of whom 25,000
lived in St. Pierre, and, according to Mr. Ayme, had nearly all
A dispatch to the Reuter Telegram Company from Kingston,
Jamaica, to London, after giving the details of the Martinique
disaster already known, said:
Thousands were killed at St. Pierre, where a terrible panic
prevailed. The eruption began Saturday, May 3, when St. Pierre
was covered with ashes and appeared to be enveloped in fog. The
flow of lava continued until Wednesday, May 7.
"In the Island of St. Vincent the Soufriere (volcano) is
active and earthquakes are frequent.
In response to the request of Governor Llewellyn, of the
Windward Islands, the British second-class cruiser Indefatigable
was dispatched from the Island of Trinidad to the Island of St.
Vincent, by way of St. Lucia.
OUR GOVERNMENT PROMPT TO AID.
With an unselfishness and spontaneity that had impressed
the representatives of foreign governments in Washington, the
United States immediately took measures for the relief of the suf-
ferers from the disaster in Martinique. The cruiser Cincinnati was
ordered to proceed to the island without delay, to investigate and
report upon the situation and extend aid to the survivors. The
ocean tug Potomac was on her way from the naval station at San
Juan, a few hours after the news reached our new possession of
Porto Rico. The training ship Dixie was ordered to prepare for
sea and sent to Fort-de-France.
The action of the administration was indorsed and supple-
mentedby the Senate, which passed immediately a bill appropriating
$ioo,ooo for the relief of the distressed inhabitants of Martinique.
This bill would have gone through the Honse with the same
impressive promptness as in the Senate had it not been for the
objection of Representative Oscar W. Underwood, of Alabama.
Mr. Underwood expressed the opinion that Congress should await
the receipt of official details," and it was not possible for the
House to act until two days later, when the measure was to be
taken up and passed.
Sunday was an anxious day for the government. The Presi-
dent took great interest in the disaster, but the State Department
was unable to furnish him with any information. Consul Ayme, at
Guadeloupe, suggested that he be permitted to proceed to Martin-
ique, and Secretary Hay cabled this permission at once. Hesailed
on the French man-of-war Suchet, which was carrying supplies
to the destitute.
CRUISER SENT TO ISLAND.
The State Department having been notified late Sunday after-
noon that the situation in Santo Domingo was more orderly
Assistant Secretary of State Hill called upon Secretary of the
Navy Moody, and suggested that the cruiser Cincinnati be directed
to proceed to Martinique. Secretary Moody had earlier in the day
indicated to Captain Yeats Stirling, commandant of the naval sta-
tion at San Juan, that he might send the ocean tug Potomac to
Fort-de-France. The orders cabled by Secretary Moody to Com-
mander T. C. McLean, of the Cincinnati, read:
Proceed Martinique. Render such assistance as possible.
Use your discretion. Report by cable when practicable. Corre-
spondents of American newspapers can go if you are willing."
Secretary Moody estimated that the Cincinnati could cover
the six hundred miles separating Santo Domingo and Martinique
within forty-eight hours. This would necessitate the Cincinnati
steaming at a constant speed of between twelve and thirteen knots
The action of the Senate upon the bill for the relief of the
sufferers of Martinique earned for that body the warmest praise of
officials and diplomats. Senator Fairbanks, of Indiana, offered
the bill, which appropriated $1oo,ooo and authorized the President
to expend it in the purchase of such provisions, clothing, medi-
cines and other necessaries as he shall deem advisable, and tender
the same, in the name of the government of the United States, to
the government of France for the relief of citizens who have suf-
fered by the late earthquake in the islands of the French West
Indies." The bill authorized the Secretary of War to use the
necessary steamships belonging to the United States to carry its
purpose into effect.
Senator Fairbanks requested immediate consideration of the
APPEAL FOR THE ISLANDERS.
"Let the United States lead in the act of caring for the
stricken," said Mr. Fairbanks. She and her people never have
failed yet to be moved by the cry of distress which has come up
from other lands. Let us extend our sympathy for our unfortu-
nate fellow men and send with it from our abundant stores the
means necessary to succor those upon whom has fallen a sudden
and overwhelming calamity.
I believe that in tendering our sympathy and assistance we
shall but interpret the wishes and purposes of the humane, gen-
erous American people."
The Senate unanimously passed the bill, which was taken at
once to the House, where Mr. Underwood blocked its further
There is no occasion," Mr. Underwood said, for a legisla-
tive spasm. The reports of the situation in Martinique may be
exaggerated. Some official report should be received before action
Representative Payne, of New York, urged upon Mr. Under-
wood to withdraw his objection. He pointed out that it was neces-
sary to act at once. Mr. Underwood persisted, however, and the
bill, under the rules, had to go over without action until the fol-
FRANCE APPRECIATES OUR HUMANITY AND FRIENDSHIP.
On Saturday evening, May 9th, M. Cambon, French Ambas-
sador, gave out this statement:
"The Ambassador of France is very sensible to the very
generous initiation of the Senate, which, upon Senator Fairbanks'
motion, passed this afternoon the bill for the relief of the sufferers
of poor Martinique.
"The government of France has announced that supplies will
be dispatched to the distressed islanders, but the distance prevents
their reaching their destination in time for immediate distribution.
Consequently, the action taken by the Senate and the issuance by
the Navy Department of orders to the Cincinnati to proceed to
Martinique and give assistance to the needy survivors, can be of
France cannot but greatly appreciate the feeling of humanity
and friendship which prompted this generous offering to her suffer-
RELIEF SHIPS DART FROM ALL POINTS TO SUCCOR.
From half a dozen neighboring islands and from Fort-de-
France ships rushed to the relief of St. Pierre, prepared to succoi
the survivors of the stricken city if any were left to tell the tale.
Fort-de-France, the capital, is only twelve miles away by
water, and the ships which were hurried to the scene should have
reached there within an hour from their departure. At Fort-de-
France is the finest land-locked harbor in the Windward Islands,
with a huge dry dock, and there are always many big ships there.
Officials of the island lost no time in dispatching vessels to the
destroyed town, and within a few hours after the catastrophe relief
ships were lying off the doomed town.
From Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Dominica, St.
Thomas and Porto Rico relief expeditions were sent.
Speculation was now most anxious as to the fate of neighbor-
ing villages and islands. Harry J. Tifft, of Middleton & Com-
pany, West Indies traders, of New York, who spent several years
at St. Pierre, and whose wife is a native, said that the nearness of
St. Pierre to many other points in the Windward Islands ought
to insure speedy relief and early accounts of the disaster.
Said Mr. Tifft: "There are five villages with a total population
of over 12,000 within the circle of destruction. Some of these
are much nearer the volcano's crater than was St. Pierre. The
village of Morne Rouge, a place of about 3500 people, is on the
ridge of the mountain, just below the crater. It is the home of
the rich plantation owners and merchants of the district.
THE SURROUNDING VILLAGES.
"Lying along the coast, directly to the north of St. Pierre,
and right under the shadow of Mont Pel6e, are the villages of
Precheur, with over 4000 people; Ste. Philomene and Fonds
Canonuille. To the south, close at hand, is the village of Carbet.
Back inland, but only a short distance from Mont Pel6e is the
village of Fonds St. Denis.
"There is a population of over 40,000 within a circle drawn
at a radius of four miles around Mont Pel6e. Certainly all who
could must have fled before the explosion of the crater on Thurs-
"The whole island of Martinique is thickly populated and
the inland country is filled with people. These get their
provisions mainly from St. Pierre, and with the destruction of the
town there must be serious trouble, if not actual famine, among
St. Pierre was the chief commercial town, not only of the
island, but of the several islands close about. Fort-de-France is
not a commercial point of any note. It has a few mercantile
establishments, and the chief importance is the fact that the
Government is situated there.
MOUNTAIN WAS NOT FEARED.
"When I lived at St. Pierre no one ever thought of having
the least fear of Mont Pelee. During the eight years I was there
there was never the slightest smoking or any other indication
that it was active. This long inactivity made the people feel
secure, and perhaps when it began to smoke recently they con-
sidered it as no more serious than the harmless eruption in 1851,
and remained at their homes."
Still the friends of Consul Prentiss and his family led the
American public to hope for the safety of the officer. Rela-
tives lived at Melrose, Massachusetts. They had received a
letter from Mrs. Prentiss dated April 25, thirteen days before the
In this letter Mrs. Prentiss said:
"This morning the whole population of the city is on the
alert and every eye is directed toward Mt. Pel6e, an extinct
volcano. Everybody is afraid that the volcano has taken into its
heart to burst forth and destroy the whole island. Fifty years
ago Mt. Pel6e burst forth with terrific force and destroyed every-
thing for a radius of several miles.
For several days the mountain has been bursting forth,
and immense quantities of lava are flowing down the sides of the
mountain. All the inhabitants are going up to see it.
There is not a horse to be had on 1 he island; those belonging
to the natives are kept in readiness to leave at a moment's notice.
Last Wednesday, April 23, I was in my room with little Christine,
and we heard three distinct shocks. They were so great that we
supposed at first that there was someone at the door, and Christine
went and found no one there.
The first report was very loud, but a second and third were
so great that dishes were thrown from the shelves and the house
was completely rocked. We can see Mt. Pel&e from the rearwin-
dows of the house, and although it is fully four miles away we
can hear the roar and see the fire and lava issuing from it with
"The city is covered with ashes and clouds of smoke have
been over our heads for the past five days. The smell of sulphur
is so strong that horses on the streets stop and snort and some of
them are obliged to give up, drop in their harness and die from
"Many of the people are obliged to wear wet handkerchiefs
over their faces to protect them from the strong fumes of sulphur.
My husband assures me that there is no immediate danger, and
when there is the least particle of danger we will leave the place.
"There is an American schooner, the Anna E. J. Morse, in
the harbor, and will remain here for at least two weeks. If the
volcano becomes very bad we shall embark at once and go out
HEARTS BREAKING UNDER THE STRAIN.
Horror over the calamity had been the controlling feeling of
the nation. Now came the sense of sympathy for residents here,
whose hearts were breaking under the strain of waiting for defi-
nite news of loved ones in the stricken island.
The magnitude of the catastrophe was such as to appall
everybody. It came with the suddenness of a thunderclap from
.a clear sky. The reading public did not know that Mont Pelee
had been showing signs of action.
But when the first shock was over there was an immediate
thought of affording relief to the surviving victims of the great
calamity. To this end active measures were immediately taken.
Not only did our Government at Washington act promptly, but
committees were formed in every part of the country for the pur-
pose of collecting money and supplies.
VICTIMS OF FALSE SECURITY.
"Knowing the place as I do," said a resident of Martinique,
"I have little doubt that the disaster was just as terrible as
described, and my anxiety for the fate of my sister and
other relatives is great. There have been several eruptions of
Mont Pel6e, but never such a terrible catastrophe as that which
is being described in the papers. That is why I think the reports
have not been exaggerated. Undoubtedly when the ashes began
to fall people thought it would be unsafe to remain out of doors,
and when the fatal eruption came were caught in their houses,
victims of the false security engendered by previous comparatively
From Stockton, California, came the sad story that Mme.
Louise Louit, a teacher of French in that city, was prostrated over
the news of the terrible disaster, as her sister and family resided
in that city. On learning of the volcanic eruption she swooned,
and was in a serious condition for hours. Her sister, Mme. Gen-
tile; her husband, two sons, George and Raoul, and two daughters,
Alice and Anias, are believed to have been killed.
Raoul Gentile was rated as one of the most brilliant lawyers
on the island, and for the past two years he was a member of the
French Chamber of Deputies.
From Newark, New Jersey, came one of the most touching
stories. There was deep grief in the home of James McTear, of
Newark, chief engineer of the Roraima, lost at St. Pierre. His
bride of less than a year was completely prostrated, and in addi-
tion was in a delicate condition. With her were her mother and
sisters, who vainly tried to cheer her with what were feared were
false hopes. They anticipated that she would not survive her com-
ing ordeal. McTear, who had been in the country five years, was
a native of Glasgow, where his father, a man of means, still lives.
In Newark he met Nellie Walker, and about a year ago he mar-
ried her. They settled in a flat.
The poor wife sat surrounded by friends. Every time the
door bell rang she started. She was not permitted to answer the
summons, but anxiously asked "Is there any news? "
SCORCHED TO DEATH.
During the afternoon of the eighth the British steamer Rod-
dam, which had left St. Lucia at midnight on the seventh for
Martinique, crawled slowly into the Castries harbor, unrecog-
nizable, gray with ashes, her rigging dismantled and sails and
awnings hanging about, torn and charred.
Captain Whatter reported that having just cast anchor off
St. Pierre, at 8 A. M. in fine weather, succeeding an awful thunder
storm during the night, he was talking to the ship's agent, Joseph
Plissono, who was in a boat alongside, when he saw a tremendous
cloud of smoke and glowing cinders rushing with terrific rapidity
over the town and port, completely in an instant enveloping the
former in a sheet of flame and raining fire on board. The agent
had just time to climb on board when his boat disappeared.
Several of the crew of the Roddam were quickly scorched to
By superhuman efforts, having steam up, the cable was
slipped and the steamer backed away from the shore and, nine
hours later, managed to reach Castries. Ten of the R ,ddam's
men were lying dead, contorted and burned out of human sem-
blance, among the black cinders which covered the ship's deck to
a depth of six inches. Two more of the crew have since died.
The survivors of the Roddam's crew were loud in their
praises of the heroic conduct of their captain in steering his
vessel out of danger with his own hands, which were badly
burned by the rain of fire which kept falling on the ship for miles
after she got under way. Beyond burns all over his body, the
captain is safe, as is also the ship's agent, though he is badly
DOOMED CAPTAIN'S FAREWELL.
All the shipping in the port was utterly destroyed, the West
Indian and Panama Telegraph Company's repairing steamer
going first; then the Quebec Liner, Roraima, Captain Muggah,
of the latter, waving his hand in farewell to the Roddam as his
vessel sank with a terrific explosion.
The British Royal Mail Steamer Esk, which called off Mar-
tinique at io P. M. May 8th, reports standing off shore five
miles, sounding her whistle and sending up rockets. She received
no answer. The whole sea front was blazing for miles. The Esk
sent a boat ashore, but it could not land on account of the terrific
heat, which was accompanied by loud explosions. Not a living
soul appeared ashore after the boat had waited for two hours.
Fire and ashes fell all over the steamer.
The first mate of the Canadian steamer Roraima, which was
lost in the harbor at St. Pierre, thus describes the disaster:
"Between 6.30 and 7 o'clock in the morning on May 8th,
without warning, there came a sort of whirlwind of steam, boiling
mud and fire, which suddenly swept the city and the roadstead.
There were some eighteen vessels anchored in the harbor, includ-
ing the Roraima, the French sailing ship Tamaya, four larger
sailing ships and others. All the vessels immediately canted over
and began to burn. The Tamaya was a bark from Nantes, Cap-
tain Maurice, and was on her way to Point-a-Pitre. All the boats
except the Roraima sank instantly and at the same moment.
Every house ashore was utterly destroyed and apparently
buried under the ashes and burning lava. An officer who was
sent ashore penetrated but a short distance into the city. He
found only a few walls standing and streets literally paved with
corpses. The Governor of the island, who had arrived only a
few hours before the catastrophe, was killed."
LIKE SODOM AND GOMORRAH.
[EX-CONSUL TUCKER SAYS THAT THE MORALS OF THE PEOPLE PRO-
VOKED DIVINE WRATH.]
My first thought when I read of the destruction of St.
Pierre was that it was simply the history of Sodom and Gomorrah
repeated," said Colonel Julius G. Tucker, former United States
Consul in Martinique.
The morals of the inhabitants of St. Pierre were very bad,"
he explained. "Good women were the exception among the
natives. I cannot picture the vice and immorality of that place
vividly enough. It had to be seen to be understood."
Colonel Tucker served the United States Government there
from 1895 to 1899, having been appointed to the position by
"The people were simply like rats in a trap, and had no way
to turn. We never thought of an eruption proceeding from the
volcano. It seemed entirely extinct, and the fact that a little lake
lay at. the bottom of the crater led strength to this supposition.
The crater lays about twelve miles to the north and west of
St. Pierre," he seod. And could be climbed after hard work.
It was very steep with precipitous sides and rough rocks and
lava beds. The crater proper was about two hundred yards in
diameter and eighty feet deep. At the bottom was the lake, con-
taining clear, limpid water. The strange part about this lake
was its unfathomable depth. All kinds of soundings were tried,
but no one ever succeeded in finding the bottom.
ALL SUPPLIES FROM AMERICA.
While I was Consul, I secured a pleasant little place on top
of a mountain behind the city, where it was cooler. The city was
excessively hot, there being little breeze on the Caribbean Sea,
and the breeze from the Atlantic Ocean being cut off entirely by
the mountain to which I refer.
"There is only one industry on the island of Martinique-
that of sugar raising. Surprising to state, no sugar is exported.
It is all turned into rum and then shipped to France. Everything
necessary to the life of the inhabitants is gotten from the United
States, but nothing is exported to this country. Despite the fact
that the manufacture of rum was the principal industry, the inhab-
itants were never drunk. I never saw a drunken native on the
island during my entire stay. The only intoxicated persons I
ever saw were foreigners.
"There were very few Americans on the island, and not a
single German. All countries are there represented except Ger-
many, many having both Consuls and Vice Consuls.
The inhabitants of St. Pierre were very superstitious and
excitable. I remember that during my stay two earthquakes
occurred, but they lasted only several seconds. Everything
rattled and shook, and the people ran out into the streets and
began praying and crying. The women screamed and fainted,
and altogether excitement prevailed supreme. I cite this to give
an idea of what must have occurred when the disaster overtook
the people and destroyed their city and their lives."
On May Io, a message from St. Vincent, a neighboring
British island, said :
"The Soufriere has been in a state of eruption for nine con-
secutive mornings. On May 8th, the day broke with heavy
thunder and lightning, which soon changed into a contin-
uous, tremendous roar. Vast columns of smoke rose over the
mountain, becoming denser and denser, and the scoria-like hail,
changing later to fine dust, fell upon all the adjacent estates, de-
stroying a vast amount of property. At Chateau Belair the ashes
were two feet deep in the street. In Kingston they were fully an
inch deep, and many large stones fell in the parish of George-
"The earth shook violently and at 4 o'clock in the afternoon a
midnight darkness spread over the country. Thirty people are
known to have been killed and the damage to property in the
windward district was very heavy."
STORM ROARED ALL NIGHT.
The storm roared about Soufriere all night without cessation,
but on the following morning it became intermittent and fainter.
A report from Barbadoes says o- May 7 the sky was heavily
overcast, the heat was excessive and there was a distant sound of
thunder. Later, early in the afternoon, dense darkness set in
and a great quantity of vivid dust fell and continued falling until
a late hour. No damage is reported.
The following cablegram was received from Governor Sir
Frederick Mitchell Hodgson, of Barbadoes :
The Soufriere volcano on St. Vincent erupted violently yes-
terday. Loud reports, resembling artillery fire, were heard at
Barbadoes at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. At 5 o'clock there came
darkness and thunder, accompanied by a strong downpour of dust,
which continued until night. Barbadoes is covered several inches
deep with dust this morning. Have telegraphed Sir Robert
Llewelyn, Governor of the Windward Islands, offering him all
AN HISTORICAL HURRICANE.
Although Martinique is an earthly paradise in its outward
aspect, it has always been subjected to the wildest convulsions of
nature. The first white invaders were told by the native Caribs
of the fierce wind storms which swept the island at unexpected
times, and the French planters soon learned that a case-a-vent, or
hurricane house, was an indispensable adjunct of every planta-
tion. These were not unlike the "cyclone cellars of the Western
plains, though they were usually built into or under the side of a
hill, with walls of stone several feet in thickness. The door was
of thick plank, there were no windows, and the air within, if the
storm was of long duration, became most oppressive.
The great hurricane which destroyed the property of the
father of the future Empress of the French occurred on the i3th
of August, 1766, some seven weeks after Josephine's third birth-
day. Young as she was at the time, it made an indelible impres-
sion on her mind, and after she was Empress she used to thrill
her ladies-in-waiting by vivid descriptions of that day of terrors.
She had been snatched from her morning bath by her father, who
had only time to wrap her in a large bath towel, and the full fury
of the storm burst upon them as M. Tascher and his baby daugh-
ter passed through the door of the case-a-vent, where Madame
Tascher and the terrified household slaves had already sought
Scarcely had the massive door been closed and bolted than
the hurricane was upon them in all its fury. The tall palms
writhed, and bent beneath its blows; mango and calabush, orange
and guava trees were quickly stripped of their limbs or forcibly
uprooted; roof-tiles from the mansion, boards from the negro
quarters and branches torn from trees were hurled through the
air. The door of the case-a-vent groaned on its huge hinges, and
strained at the iron bars stretched across it. The air within the
cave became hot to suffocation; moans and cries arose from the
terrified negroes ; but little Josephine uttered not a word. Close
clasping her arms around her father's neck, and clinging also to
her mother's hand, she lay quiet and calm.
FAMOUS PALM AVENUE DESTROYED.
The hours passed slowly; but finally the door ceased to strain
at its fastenings, and M. Tascher commanded the huge negro who
had charge of it to open it a little way. Carefully and slowly the
bolts were drawn and daylight admitted. All was quiet without.
The darkness that had accompanied the storm, caused by the
dense clouds and sheets of rain, had been dispelled by the sun,
which was now shining brightly. The wind had died away to a
moan; exhausted nature lay prostrate, torn and bleeding. Hardly
a tree was left standing; huge ceibas, cedars and sapote trees had
been uprooted and cast to the ground. But the most mournful
spectacle was the palm avenue, for in place of the columnar
trunks, with their waving plumes, was a ragged row of shattered
stumps. The huts of the negroes, which had been grouped about
the sugar mill, were entirely destroyed, and soon a hundred
despairing beings were groping in their ruins. But the crowning
desolation of all was the total destruction of the Tascher mansion.
Only the great sugar house remained standing of all the
buildings pertaining to the estate. To this structure the now
homeless family directed their steps. Its walls were of stone
some two feet in thickness, its rafters heavy and covered with
earthen tiles, the doorways were broad, with granite lintels.
Above the ground floor, where the machinery was placed, were
two large chambers. The beams supporting the floor were sound
and strong, and the floor itself intact, and there the family took
up their abode. M. Tascher de La Pagerie never rebuilt the great
house, and thus fate, or fortune, willed that Josephine should know
no other place of residence while she lived in Trois-Ilets, unless
visiting at the house of a friend, or at school. But she was to live
to know still stranger places of abode; the grim Carmelite prison,
the stately palace of the Tuileries and cheerful Malmaison, in
whose gardens she cherished the plants of her native isle.
PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT'S EXAMPLE EMULATED
Following is the text of cable messages that passed between
Presidents Roosevelt and Loubert on the Martinique disaster:
Washington, May io, 1902.
" His excellency, M. Emile Loubert, President of the French
Republic, Paris :
"I pray your Excellency to accept the profound sympathy
of the American people in the appalling calamity which has come
upon the people of Martinique.
" President Roosevelt:
"I thank your Excellency for the expression of profound
sympathy you have sent me in the name of the American people
on the occasion of the awful catastrophe at Martinique. The
French people will certainly join me in thanks to the American
people. "EMILE LOUBERT."
Emperor William telegraphed to President Loubert, in
French, as follows:
Profoundly moved by the news of the terrible catastrophe
which has just overtaken St. Pierre, and which has cost the lives
of nearly as many persons as perished at Pompeii. I hasten to
offer France my most sincere sympathy
"May the Almighty comfort the hearts of those who weep
for their irreparable losses.
My Ambassador will remit to your Excellency the sum of
0,o000 marks ($2,500), in my behalf, as a contribution for the
relief of the afflicted."
President Loubert replied :
"Am greatly touched by the mark of sympathy, which, in
this terrible misfortune has fallen on France, your Majesty has
deigned to convey to me.
"I beg you to accept my warm thanks, and also the gratitude
of the victims whom you propose to succor."
The Czar telegraphed to President Loubert, expressing the
sincere sympathy of himself and the Czarina, who share with
France the sorrow caused by the terrible West Indian catastrophe.
ROOSEVELT RUSHES RELIEF.
On Monday the Commercial Cable Company announced that
communication with Martinique is open via Azores and Lisbon,
and made the following announcement showing the tortuous and
expensive course necessary to get word from the stricken people:
"In sending a cable message from Martinique to New York
it must pass from Fort-de-France to Paramaribo, 777 miles ; Para-
maribo to Cayenne, 257; Cayenne to Para, 562; Para to Per-
nambuco, 1,272; Pernambuco to St. Vincent, 1,862 ; St. Vincent
to Madeira, 1,268 ; Madeira to Lisbon, 626 ; Lisbon to Fayal, i, ioo;
Fayal to New York, via Causo, 2,552. Total, 10,276 miles.
Ordinarily the cable route to Martinique is 2,262 miles, and
the time required for delivery of a message from three to five
minutes. Now, the cable company says, it takes two hours to
deliver a message in Martinique or in New York, as the case may
be. The cable toll is $1.99 per word."
On Monday, May 12, important government work at Wash-
ington was practically suspended that the ships with supplies
might be despatched promptly. President Roosevelt's entLu-
siasm, to which was added the hearty co-operation of three mem-
bers of his Cabinet, set the machinery of the Government
humming on that day in providing measures for the relief of the
stricken survivors of the Martinique catastrophe. From early that
morning until after the close of the official business day, there
were more lively times at the White House and in certain bureaus
of the Departments of the Treasury, War and the Navy. When
the President and his busy subordinates finished their work they
had the satisfaction of knowing that nothing within the province
of the Administration had been left undone to further the work of
humanity in the devastated island.
ROOSEVELT GOES RIGHT AT IT.
The French Ambassador, who called on President Roosevelt
in the forenoon to deliver a message of thanks from the President
of France for the sympathy expressed by this Government and
to ask Mr. Roosevelt to assist in extending succor to the people of
Martinique, learned that plans had already been set afoot to lend
a strong hand in the work of relief. The direct result of the
Ambassador's visit was the transmission of a message to Congress
by President Roosevelt, asking that $500,000 be appropriated for
the purchase of relief supplies and expense of their transportation
and distribution. In his special message to Congress, he says:
One of the greatest calamities in history has fallen upon
our neighboring island of Martinique. The Consul of the United
States at Guadeloupe has telegraphed from Fort-de-France, under
date of May II, that the disaster is complete; that the city of St.
Pierre has ceased to exist, and that the American Consul and his
family have perished. He is informed that thirty thousand people
have lost their lives, and that fifty thousand are homeless and
hungry; that there is urgent need of all kinds of provisions, and
that the visit of vessels for the work of supply and rescue is
The Government of France, while expressing their thanks
for the marks of sympathy which have reached them from America,
inform us that Fort-de-France and the entire island of Martinique
are still threatened. They, therefore, request that, for the purpose
of rescuing the people who are in such deadly peril and threatened
with starvation, the Government of the United States may send,
as soon as possible, the means of transporting them from the
stricken island. The island of St. Vincent, and, perhaps, others
in that region are also seriously menaced by the calamity which
has taken so appalling a form in Martinique.
I have directed the departments of the Treasury, of War
and of the Navy to take such measures for the relief of these
stricken peoples as lie within the executive discretion, and I
earnestly commend this case of unexampled disaster to the gener-
ous consideration of the Congress. For this purpose I recommend
that an appropriation of $500,000 be made, to be immediately
"WHITE HOUSE, Washington, May 12, 1902."
CONGRESS ACTS PROMPTLY.
After the message was received in the House Mr. Hemenway
(Rep. Ind.) presented the Senate bill for the relief of sufferers by
the volcanic disaster in the French West Indies, with a substi-
tute unanimously recommended by the Committee on Appropria-
tions, increasing the appropriation from $ioo,ooo to $200,ooo.
Mr. Hemenway said this action was taken by the committee in
view of the message from the President recommending that $500,-
ooo be appropriated. Generous contributions were being made by
the people of the United States, and the committee believed that
$200,000 would be sufficient at least for the present. Should it
prove to be insufficient he had no doubt Congress would increase
the amount. But prompt action was necessary if the people to be
affected were to be relieved and rescued at all.
Mr. Underwood, of Alabama, again expressed his objection
to the proposed legislation. Members did not stand in the House
to legislate upon their sympathies, or upon their heartstrings.
The suffering people, victims of the recent disa .'-r, were subjects
of the great and powerful republic of France, a nation whose proud
boast it had always been that it was able to take care of its own
people. Congress had no right to be generous with the money of
the people whom it represented.
THE NATION'S SYMPATHY.
Mr. McRae, of Georgia, said he was glad to believe that the
people of the United States were willing that Congress should not
only express their sympathy with suffering, but that they were
willing that Congress should extend the proposed relief. He
hoped that the bill would be passed unanimously, but if that
could not be done, that it should be passed speedily. [Applause.]
Mr. Livingston, of Georgia, said that it had been the practice
of the United States ever since the Republic was established, to
extend aid to the suffering, even to the uttermost parts of the
earth, and he did not believe that the policy would now be re-
The bill was passed-196 to 9. The negative votes were cast
by Messrs. Clayton of Alabama, Burgess and Lanham of Texas,
Gains, Moon and Snodgrass of Tennessee, Tate of Georgia, Un-
derwood of Alabama, and Williams of Mississippi.
Soon after the bill was passed the Senate received a message
from the House announcing the passage by that body of a sub-
stitute for the Senate bill for the reliefof the citizens of the French
West Indies, increasing the appropriation from $1oo,ooo to $200,-
ooo. The substitute was laid before the Senate and was immedi-
ately passed. Mr. Cullom referred to the President's message
recommending an appropriation of $500,000 and said that the
Committee on Foreign Relations, to which the message was
referred, would report on it the next day.
PREPARATIONS TO SEND RELIEF.
A dozen other things were done during the day by the Presi-
dent and his assistants to show how thoroughly their sympathies
had been enlisted by the distress of the people of Martinique.
The following enumeration of what has been done by the Gov-
ernment shows how thorough is the scheme of relief.
The naval training ship Dixie ordered to sail immediately
from Brooklyn with relief supplies-$70,ooo worth of food, $5000
worth of medicine, $20,000 worth of clothing, blankets and shel-
ter tents, three army Surgeons and one army Commissary,
with $5000 to spend, to go on the Dixie; the naval collier
:Sterling ordered to load with stores at San Juan, Porto
Rico, and proceed to Martinique; the naval training ship Buffalo,
at Brooklyn, ordered to get ready to takelmore supplies ; two naval
water ships ordered to get ready for carrying fresh water to the
sufferers; vessels of the United States Revenue Cutter Service
and Coast Survey placed at the disposal of the War Department
for carrying supplies or to take away survivors; the UnitedStates
cruiser Cincinnati sails from San Domingo for Martinique to take
away survivors and render other assistance; United States naval
tug Potomac sails from San Juan, Porto Rico, for Martinique to
take away survivors and render other assistance; National Red
Cross asked to co-operate.
From this enumeration it will be seen that President Roose-
velt had a busy day. It was also a busy day for Secretary of the
Navy Moody, who got to his office when a good many of his
employees were just getting out of bed, and prepared to continue
the good work he had begun in ordering the Cincinnati to Mar-
tinique, authorizing the Commandant at San Juan to send the
Potomac there, and directing that the Dixie be made ready for
sea. Secretary of War Root had directed Commissary-General
Weston, Quartermaster-General Ludington and Surgeon-General
Sternberg to order the concentration of supplies at the Brooklyn
Navy Yard for shipment on the Dixie. Secretary of the Treasury
Shaw sent notice to the proper officers of his Department to get
revenue cutters and coast survey vessels in readiness for instant
PRESIDENT SUPERINTENDS THE WORK.
When President Roosevelt went to his office Monday morning
he had made up his mind personally to superintend the arrange-
ments for fu-rnishing assistance to the people of Martinique.
The first thing he did was to direct Secretary Cortelyou to inform
the Secretaries of the Treasury, War and Navy what he wanted
done. Mr. Cortelyou promptly sent this identical note to each of
the three Cabinet officers:
"The President directs me to express to you his wish that
your Department go to the furthest limits of executive discretion
in the work of relief and rescue in the afflicted islands of the
It will be noticed that the relief measures contemplated by
the President were not specifically restricted to Martinique, and it
is understood that if St. Vincent or any other stricken community
needed assistance it was to be furnished. In fact, the instructions
to Commander McLean of the Dixie, which were mailed by the
Navy Department that evening, permitted him to call at any of
the British islands where relief may be necessary.
The President learned early through Secretary Hay that
Thomas T. Prentis, of Melrose, Mass., the United States Consul
at St. Pierre, Mrs. Prentis and their two daughters had lost their
lives in the Martinique disaster. He learned also from the same
source that thirty thousand people had lost their lives and that
fifty thousand were homeless. This news came to Secretary Hay
from Louis H. Ayme, United States Consul at Guadeloupe, who
left there on the Ioth for Martinique under instructions to ascer-
tain the fate of the Prentis family and report conditions. Mr.
Ayme's message, the substance of which was given by the Presi-
dent in his special message to Congress was as follows:
"The disaster is complete-the city wiped out. Consul
Prentis and his family are dead. Governor says thirty thousand
have perished; fifty thousand are homeless and hungry. He
suggests that the Red Cross be asked to send codfish, flour, beans,
rice, salt meats and biscuits as quickly as possible. Visits of war
IMPERIALISTIC IN CHARITY.
Feeling confident that Congress would not neglect his appeal
for authority to render assistance to the suffering islanders, Presi-
dent Roosevelt decided not to wait until an appropriation bill had
been passed, but to order the immediate selection from the stores
of supplies to the amount of $1oo,ooo, that being the sum author-
ized by the measure which passed the Senate and was delayed in
the House on objection by Representative Underwood of Ala-
bama. By his personal direction Secretary Root, the Subsistence,
Quartermaster's and Medical Departments of the army were
ordered to get these supplies ready for shipment on the Dixie,
and by the time the relief resolution was passed by both houses
the actual work of concentrating medicine, food, clothing, &c., at
Brooklyn for shipment on the relief vessel was well under way.
The wisdom of Secretary Moody's decision to order the Dixie
to prepare for sea was shown later, when the President decided to
send relief supplies. Two days were gained by Mr. Moody's
foresight. In response to the demand for more relief vessels, Mr.
Moody sent instructions to the Commandant of the Brooklyn
Navy Yard to have the training ship Buffalo put in condition to
proceed to Martinique, and to the Commandant of the San Juan
Naval Station to load the big collier Sterling with Quarter-
master's stores and start for the devastated island when she had
TUG POTOMAC SAILED FOR MARTINIQUE.
The first news which the Navy Department had that the tug
Potomac had gone to Martinique came two days later from Cap-
tain Yates Stirling, the Commandant at the San Juan Naval
Station. His telegram said that she sailed the day before. On
the twelfth the Department got a telegram from Lieutenant Ben-
jamin McCormack, the Potomac's commander, dated Island of
Dominica, reporting his arrival there and that he was leaving
immediately for Martinique.
Rear Admiral Royal B. Bradford, Chief of the Bureau of
Equipment, who showed in the Spanish War that he was a
resourceful officer, demonstrated again that he was alive to the
requirements of an emergency, by suggesting to Secretary Moody
that fresh water for drinking purposes be sent to Martinique. He
not only made this suggestion, but offered to furnish means to
carry it out. His idea was among the first to be laid before the
President and the Cabinet by Secretary Moody, when the relief
plans were perfected. Admiral Bradford's suggestion was
embodied in this memorandum for Secretary Moody:
"It has occurred to the Bureau that the refugees from the
island of Martinique may suffer for the want of good water.
Naturally surface water will be strongly impregnated with sul-
phur, and therefore unsuitable for drinking purposes. There is
i good water barge at Key West, with a capacity of 175,ooo
gallons ready for immediate use. There is another one at Nor-
folk, with a capacity of 400,000 gallons, ready for immediate use.
They might be towed at once to whatever locality is selected for a
camp for the refugees. They can be refilled at Kingston, Jamaica,
or Cape Haytien, Hayti, where there is an abundance of good water."
Colonel William H. Michael, Chief Clerk of the State Depart-
ment, who is a member of the Executive Board of the National
Red Cross, reported that arrangements were being made for a
special meeting of the board to devise means for distributing
relief to the people of Martinique. Miss Clara Barton, President
of the National Red Cross had left Washington for Russia to
attend the Convention of the Red Cross Organization of the
World. Brigadier-General John M. Wilson, United States Army,
retired, is First Vice-President of the National Red Cross. Gen-
eral Wilson was in Washington.
ROBBING THE DEAD.
The following despatch reached the United States by way of
London, Wednesday, May i4th:-The incineration and bury-
ing of the dead at St. Pierre is still going on, but under great
difficulties. The only men engaged in it are French soldiers. A
small squad of them is at work. The entire atmosphere of the
place is so saturated with the stench that the burial parties are
made ill by it. The men can only work for a short time at a
In spite of the horrors of the place thieves are penetrating it,
robbing the dead and digging in the ruins for treasure.
Over Mont Pel6e there still hangs a great cloud of smoke.
The eruption continues with diminished force.
A despatch from London received the same day said that
Mont Pelee was still in eruption. Further disasters are feared.
Another despatch from Fort-de-France says that persons
returning from St. Pierre report that the looting of the dead in
that place had begun.
It is stated that the authorities are paying little attention to
the cremation or burial of the bodies of the victims.
The tug Potomac, which was despatched from Porto Rico by
the United States Navy Department, cruised along the coast. She
encountered a dense cloud of black smoke and was obliged to go
five miles out of her course to avoid it.
POTOMAC CATCHES LOOTERS.
While on her way to Fort-de-France the Potomac picked up a
small open boat in which were five negroes and a white man.
They all had their pockets stuffed with gold and jewels, which
they had stolen at St. Pierre. Lieutenant McCormack, the com-
mander of the Potomac, placed the men under arrest and subse-
quently turned them over to the commander of the French cruiser
The only persons employed in burying the dead at St. Pierre
are a small detachment of French soldiers.
A despatch to the Daily Mail from Fort-de-France, dated
May 12, and cabled by way of Pinheiro and Pernambuco, describes
the correspondent's eighty-mile journey from Guadeloupe to Mar-
tinique, where he arrived Sunday morning. Mont Pel6e was
shrouded in a dull violet-colored haze, which extended a mile
above the mountain. The haze had assumed the shape of a giant
mushroom, and its outer edges, where it caught the sun, showed
a beautiful amber tint. Three miles from the land the ocean was
strewn with wreckage. Many corpses were seen floating, on
which sea birds and sharks were preying.
The correspondent's boat reached the village of Precheur, a
few miles north of St. Pierre, and it was found that the place had
been partly destroyed by fire. The few remaining inhabitants on
the shore begged to be taken off. They were told that help was on
the way to them, and the boat proceeded.
When off St. Pierre it was seen that all that remained of
the city were long rows of ruined walls, plastered with volcanic
mud. A nauseating odor came off from the shore.
The boat hailed the mail steamer Solent, which was in the
roadstead, and the latter directed the correspondent how to land.
In many places tens and scores of victims were seen in a single
mass. Here and there fires were still burning.
A despatch to the "Express" from St. Thomas says that the
Danish cruiser Valkyrien, rescued 500 survivors on the northeast
coast of Martinique. The French cruiser Suchet rescued 2000,
and the cable ship Pouyer Quertier a large number. All were
conveyed to Fort-de-France.
Only one life is known to have been saved in St. Pierre, that
of a prisoner in jail. The French bank transferred all its funds
and books to the cruiser Suchet before the catastrophe.
SOME NOT KILLED OUTRIGHT.
A despatch from Fort-de-France states a servant named
Laurent, who was employed by a family in St. Pierre, was among
the survivors who were taken to the hospital at Fort-de-France.
The physicians did everything in their power to save the life of the
woman, but she was horribly burned and their efforts were in vain.
Despite her injuries she was conscious and told what little she
knew of the disaster. She said that she was going about her
duties as usual last Thursday morning when suddenly she heard
a terrific explosion. She was so badly frightened that she fainted,
and while in this condition she was terribly burned. She remained
unconscious for a long time, but ultimately recovered her
She then saw two members of the family in which she was
employed who were still alive, but frightfully burned. They died
before assistance could reach them.
The woman stated that she had no further knowledge of the
catastrophe, and shortly after telling her story she died.
The cable steamer Pouyer Quertier has distributed large
quantities of provisions among the sufferers.
ACCESS TO THE TOWN NOW EASIER.
An undated despatch from Fort-de-France says that access to
St. Pierre had been easier since the catastrophe. No signs of fire
were then visible.
At the mouillage everything appeared scattered asby atornado.
The iron gates of the Custom House are standing. The iron beds
that were used in the hospital are twisted by the great heat, but
do not bear any other signs of fire. The bed clothes and other textiles
have completely disappeared.
Two thousand corpses were found on the streets, most of the
bodies lying face downward. The centre of the town and the fort
are buried under several yards of cinders.
In the neighborhood of the creek several houses were found
intact, but their inmates were dead, their bodies looking as though
they had been struck by lightning.
M. Decrais, Minister for the Colonies, received the following
despatch from Fort-de-France, Martinique, signed by M. L'Huerre,
Secretary-General of the Government of Martinique:
The perimeter ravaged includes Carbet, Precheur and Ma-
couba. Basse Pointe is also damaged. Precheur has been
annihilated and it is believed the same fate has befallen Grande
Riviere and Macouba.
Senator Knight landed at Precheur and buried four hundred
bodies. He brought' the survivors to Fort-de-France yesterday.
The work of the commander of the Suchet is above praise. The
three children of Governor Mouttet will sail on the mail steamer
on June i, for France. They will be accompanied by M. Muller,
Governor Mouttet's chief in the Cabinet."
GHASTLY FEASTS FOR SHARKS.
M. Decrais has received the following despatch, dated Fort-
de-France, Martinique, May 12:
There are only twelve survivors at the military hospital
here, whereas there are 30,000 corpses strewn at St. Pierre beneath
the ruins or afloat on the waves, where the sharks are devouring
Twenty of the dying, who were half calcined, were brought
here. Of this number sixteen have already died.
On Sunday the island was hid beneath a thick veil of mist
of a leaden color. The sea was strewn with wreckage of ships,
dwellings and trees and corpses. Above the latter sea fowl hover
around. Occasionally there is a breeze, alternately burning
The ruins of St. Pierre continue to burn. The air is filled
with odor of burning flesh. No house is intact. Everywhere
there are masses of wood, hot cinders and volcanic stones. The
streets have disappeared. The corpses lie nearly all face
"On one spot the bodies of twenty-two men, women and
children lie huddled together near a wall, with their arms and
legs protruding. A small rivulet flows where once was the Place
Bertin. This is all that remains of the Goyave River. Large
trees twisted by fire lie with their roots upward beneath a mass of
rubbish, from which emerges the arm of a white woman.
It appears that the volcanic torrent contained poisonous
gases. All the victims who have been found apparently covered
their mouths in order to avoid death by suffocation.
All those who were saved come from neighboring villages.
Not a single soul was saved from St. Pierre itself."
ST. VINCENT STRICKEN.
The following distressing despatches poured into the United
States on Wednesday, the i4th :-
CASTRIES, St. Lucia, May I3th.-"Advices have just reached
here from St. Vincent placing the loss of life in that island by
the eruption of La Soufriere at 1600."
ST. THOMAS, D. W. I., May I3th.-"The latest advices tha*
have reached here from the island of St. Vincent only add to the
horrors of the situation there. It was thought when the news of
the disaster first became known that, though the material loss
would be heavy, the death list would not be very large; but it is
now known that up to the present time the fatalities number 700,
and grave fears are entertained that the list is not yet complete.
La Soufriere continues to emit fire and cinders, and it is
thought that the eruption will not .ease until Mont Pel6e, in
Martinique, becomes quiescent."
LONDON, May I3th.-" There is coi :iderable anxiety here
as to the condition of affairs on the British island of St. Vincent.
The latest news which was received about thirty-six hours ago,
was to the effect that La Soufriere was still in er:-ption. Since
then no definite news has been received in official quarters. The
latest information was that the northern part of the island was
cut off from the southern end by enormous streams of lava and
that boats' crews were unable to land."
ST. THOMAS, D. W. I., May i3th.--"The Danish cruiser
Valkyrien has rescued five hundred refugees from points along
the coast in the north and northeastern parts of the island of
"The French gunboat Suchet, whose officers and crew have
been working heroically since the disaster overtook St. Pierre,
has rescued 2000 persons. Everybody aboard the little warship
is nearly exhausted, but the vessel hardly arrives at Fort-de-
France with survivors before all hands are eager to again set out
on their work of mercy.
"The French cable steamer Pouyer Quertier has also assisted
in the work of rescue and has taken all the survivors that she
picked up to Fort-de-France. where the other vessels have also
landed all those they rescued.
"All the house accommodation at Fort-de-France was taken up
days ago. Large numbers of the survivors are occupying tents
furnished by the Government,but the crowds of refugees are so
large that many are compelled to shift for themselves as best
STENCH FROM ROTTING CORPSES.
The stench from the bodies in the ruins of the town is
intolerable. The scene of desolation in St. Pierre and for miles
around is beyond the power of words to describe.
The report that the French Bank at St. Pierre transferred its
funds and books to the Suchet before the catastrophe, was based
upon the fact that the vaults of the bank were found to be intact
and the securities and cash were removed by the Suchet to Fort-
People who went to see Mr. Roosevelt at the White House
found him too busy to attend to anything except the
consummation of the relief measures, which he initiated soon
after the catastrophe, and if the Hon. Henry Watterson had been
there with others who profess to believe with him that Mr. Roose-
velt pursues "bronco busting" methods in carrying on his
administration, they might have found some confirmation of their
The President did not "bust" any wild horses, but he tore
into little bits a large amount of official red tape, and broke down
a few figurative fences that under other administrations might
have retarded the progress of his intention to get relief to the
scene of the West Indian catastrophe with the least possible
delay. In doing these things his training as Assistant Secretary
of the Navy served him in good stead.
APPEALS FROM RED TAPE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
The most important thing the President did was to issue an
appeal to the people of the United States to send private contribu-
tions to committees named by him for the assistance of the
surviving inhabitants of Martinique and St. Vincent, and in
addition to the pleasure of signing the act appropriating $200,000
for relief measures, the expenditure of nearly every cent of which
had been provided for before the act had even passed the House,,
he had the satisfaction of knowing that the Senate had adopted
an additional measure to increase the relief fund to the half
million dollars asked for by the President in his special message.
The appeal was issued at the end of a Cabinet meeting lasting
three hours. It is as follows :
The President appointed a committee of eminent Americans
to receive funds for the relief of the sufferers from the recent
catastrophes in Martinique and St. Vincent. The men appointed
from each city were asked to collect and receive the funds from
their localities and neighborhoods as expeditiously as possible and
forward them to Cornelius N. Bliss, Treasurer of the New York
committee, which committee acted as the central distributing point
for the country."
The President directed all the postmasters throughout the
country, and requested the presidents of all the national banks, to
act as agents for the collection of contributions, to forward the
same at once to Mr. Bliss at New York. The postmasters were
also directed to report to the Postmaster-General, within ten days,
any funds collected on this account.
QUICK CHARITY NEEDED.
The President appealed to the public "to contribute gen-
erously for the relief of those upon whom this appalling calamity
had fallen, and asked that the contributions be sent in as speedily
as possible." The men designated on the several committees are
requested to act at once. Following were the committees :
New York-The Hon. Cornelius N. Bliss, treasurer; Morris
K. Jessup, John Claflin, Jacob H. Schiff, William R. Corwine.
Boston-Augustus Hemenway, Dr. Henry S. Pritchett, Henry
SPhiladelphia-Charles Emory Smith, Provost Charles C.
Harrison, Joseph G. Darlington, Clement A. Griscom, John H.
Baltimore-James A. Gary.
Washington-Charles C. Glover.
Pittsburg-A. J. Logan, H. C. Frick.
Buffalo-John G. Milburn, Carlton Sprague.
Cleveland-Myron T. Herrick, Samuel Mather.
Cincinnati-Jacob G. Schmidlapp, Briggs S. Cunningham.
Chicago-J. J. Mitchell, Marvin Hughitt, Marshall Field,
Milwaukee-F. G. Bigelow, Charles F. Pfister, Fred Pabst.
Minneapolis-Thomas Lowry and J. J. Shevlin.
St. Paul-Kenneth Clark and Theodore Schurmeir.
Detroit-Don M. Dickinson.
St. Louis-Charles Parsons, Adolphus Bush and Robert S.
Atlanta-Robert I. Lowry.
Kansas City-\W. B. Clark and Charles Campbell.
Omaha-John C. Wharton and Victor B. Caldwell.
Denver-D. H. Moffatt.
San Francisco-Mayor Schmitz, George A. Newhall, A. Shar-
doro, Robert J. Tobin, Henry T. Scott, A. A. Watkins.
New Orleans-The Hon. Paul Capdevielle, Mr. I. L. Lyons,
Mr. S. T. Walmsley.
THE CABINET AT WORK.
A good part of this extra-long Cabinet session was taken up
in considering relief measures. It was realized by Mr. Roosevelt
and his advisers, after a brief review of the situation, the $200,000
appropriated by Congress was entirely too small to carry out the
comprehensive plans of the Government. The cost of provisions,
medicine and other supplies already ordered sent to St. Pierre is
nearly equal to the full appropriation, and as the latest news from
St. Vincent indicated that much distress prevails there, an addi-
tional expenditure for relief will be required.
President Roosevelt and his Cabinet were determined not to
undertake any half-way measures, and they were anxious to give to
the stricken people of the British island the same degree of succor
that had been deemed necessary for its French neighbor. On
account of the advantageous geographical situation of this country
to Martinique and St. Vincent the United States Government was
in better position than England or France to send assistance to
the West Indian colonies of those nations, and the President was
going ahead on the idea that diplomatic formalities, such as offering
aid before undertaking to give it, should be dispensed with.
PROMINENT MEMBERS OF THE MARTINIQUE RELIEF COMMITTEE
J. H. CONVERSE, PHILA. J. G. DARLINGTON, PHILA. C. A. GRISCOM, PHILA.
C. N. BLISS, NEW YORK J. G. MILBURN, BUFFALO C. E. SMITH, PHILA.
H. C. FRICK, PITTEBURO D. M. DICKINSON, DETROIT J. A. GARY, BALTIMORE
M. J. HERRICK, CLEVELAND
SCENE SHOWING DOCKS AT ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE
*y "'LJl -i-^
ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE, FROM THE HILL
- r .
HOUSES OF THE POOR CLASSES IN ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE
AVENUE OF PALMS NEAR ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE
PINE APPLE GROVE NEAR ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE
TROPICAL SCENE NEAR ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE
MARKET-ST. PIERRE, MARTINIQUE-SHOWING TROPICAL FRUITS
APALLING CALAMITY IN THE ISLANDS OF MARTINIQUE AND ST.
VINCENT.-TRAGIC DEATH OF MANY THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ISLANDS.-FRIGHTFUL SCENES OF DE-
TENS of thousands of men, women and children swept to sud-
den death. Beautiful cities buried in a few minutes under an
appalling downpour of hot cinders, ashes and streams of lava.
Scenes of suffering and devastation that beggar description. Our
whole country and the rest of the civilized world horrified by the
appalling news of the greatest calamity in many centuries. Such
is the tragic story of Martinique and other portions of the fair
There have been many disasters by flood and fire in recent
times, but none to equal this. The Johnstown calamity was on a
tar less scale. The dreadful Galveston flood did not result in an
eighth part of the loss of life that has visited St. Pierre and
other cities whose doom has been sealed by this dire calamity. In
a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, as it were, a multitude of
human beings were plunged into the jaws of death. Fine resi-
dences shared the fate of the humbler dwellings of the poor. Build-
ings devoted to business, churches, markets, ships in the harbor,
all were consumed by the ruthless rain of fire.
The news of the overwhelming disaster came as a shock to
people everywhere. Bulletin boards in all our cities were sur-
rounded by eager crowds to obtain the latest reports. Many who
had friends in the stricken island were kept in suspense respect-
ing their fate. With bated breath was the terrible calamity
talked about, and in every part of our country committees of
relief were immediately formed. The magnitude of the disaster
grew from day to day. Every fresh report added to the intelli,
gence already received, and it was made clear that many thou-
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
sands of the inhabitants in the West Indies had been swept out
In order that the reader may have an intelligent understand-
ing of the calamity depicted in this volume, it is needful to fur-
nish here an account of the Islands of Martinique and St. Vin-
cent. They are of great interest, both as regards their physical
features, their products and their inhabitants.
Martinique, one of the West India islands, belonging to the
chain of the Lesser Antilles, and constituting a French colony,
lies 33 miles south of Dominica and 22 north of Saint Lucia.
The greatest length is 45 miles, the mean width 19; and the sur-
face comprises nearly 400 square miles. A cluster of volcanic
mountains near the north end, a similar group in the south
and a line of lower heights between them, form the backbone of
the island, which culminates in the northwest in Mont Pel6e
(4430 feet), and has altogether a much more irregular and strongly
marked relief than it presents to the eye-the deep ravines and
precipitous escarpments with which it abounds being reduced in
appearance to gentle undulations by the drapery of the forests.
DEEP AND DESTRUCTIVE TORRENTS.
Of the numerous streams which traverse the few miles of
country between the watershed and the sea, about seventy or
eighty are of considerable size, and in the rainy season become
deep and often destructive torrents. The east coast of the
island, exposed to the full sweep of the Atlantic, is a succession
of inlets, headlands, islands and rocks ; the south coast is much
more regular, but bold and steep; and the west alone presents, in
the bay of Fort de France, a stretch of mangrove swamp.
Of the total area, about 83,990 acres are under cultivation,
83,843 occupied by forests and savanna and 68,837 by fallow. On
an average, 47,440 acres are devoted to the sugar crop, 1290 to
coffee, 640 to cotton and 1660 to cocoa. The mean annual tem-
perature is 81 in the coast region, the monthly mean for June
being 830, and that of January 77. Of the annual rainfall of
87 inches, August has the heaviest share (II.3 inches), though
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE
the rainy season extends from June to October; March, the
lowest, has 3.7.
Martinique enjoys a remarkable immunity from hurricanes;
half a century may pass without serious disaster from such a visita-
tion. The great mass of the population consists of Creole negroes
and half-castes of various grades, ranging from the "Saccatra,"
who has hardly retained any trace of Caucasian blood, to the
so-called "Sangmele," with his mere suspicion of negro com-
Fort de France, the capital, stands on a bay on the west
coast. Since the earthquake of 1839 nearly all the houses are of
wood, and have only one story; the streets are laid out with great
regularity. An abundant supply of water was introduced in
1856. St. Pierre, the commercial centre of the island, lies farther
north on the same coast. It consists of a lower and upper town,
the one close and unhealthy, and the other for the most part well
paved and pleasant.
INHABITANTS OF MARTINIQUE.
Martinique, also called Madina or Matinino, was discovered
by Columbus, I5th June, 1502. It was at that time inhabited by
Caribs, who had expelled or incorporated an older stock. In 1635
a Norman captain, D'Enambuc, from St. Christopher's, took pos-
session of the island, and in 1637 his nephew, Duparquet, became
captain-general of the colony. In 1654 welcome was given to
three Jews expelled from Brazil, and by 1658' there were at least
five thousand people, exclusive of the Caribs, who were soon after
Purchased by the French Government from Duparquet's
children, Martinique was assigned to the West India Company,
but in 1674 it became part of the royal domain. The French
landholders at first devoted themselves to the cultivation of cotton
and tobacco, but in 1650 sugar plantations were commenced, and
in 1726 the coffee plant was introduced by Desclieux, who, when
water ran short during his voyage to the island, shared his scanty
allowance with his seedlings.
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
Slave labor having been introduced, there were 72,000 blacks
in the island by 1736. Martinique has several times been occu-
pied by the English. Captured by Rodney, in 1762, it was next
year restored to the French, but after the conquest by Sir John
Jervis and Sir Charles Grey, in 1794, it was retained for eight
years, and, seized again in 1809, it was not surrendered till 1814.
The interesting narrative of a traveler in the West Indies
contains the following:
"We are ashore in St. Pierre, the quaintest, queerest and the
prettiest withal, among West Indian cities : all stone-built and
stone-flagged, with very narrow streets, wooden or zinc awnings,
and peaked roofs of red tile, pierced by gable dormers. Most of
the buildings are painted in a clear yellow tone, which contrasts
delightfully with the burning blue ribbon of tropical sky above;
and no street is absolutely level, nearly all of them climb hills,
descend into hollows, curve, twist, describe sudden angles. There
is everywhere a loud murmur of running water-pouring .through
the deep gutters contrived between the paved thoroughfare and
the absurd little sidewalks, varying in width from one to three
QUAINT STYLES OF ARCHITECTURE.
The architecture is quite old: it is seventeenth century, prob-
ably ; and it reminds one a great deal of that characterizing the
antiquated French quarter of New Orleans. All the tints, the
forms, the vistas, would seem to have been especially selected or
designed for aquarelle studies-just to please the whim of some
extravagant artist. The windows are frameless openings without
glass ; some have iro:1 bars ; all have heavy wooden shutters with
movable slats, through which light and air can enter as through
Venetian blinds. These are usually painted green or bright
So steep are the streets descending to the harbor-by flights
of old mossy stone steps-that looking down them to the azure
water you have the sensation of gazing from a cliff. From certain
openings in the main street-the Rue Victor Hugo-you can get
something like a bird's-eye view of the harbor with its shipping.
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
The roofs of the street below are under your feet, and other streets
are rising behind you to meet the mountain roads. They climb
at a very steep angle, occasionally breaking into stairs of lava rock,
all grass-tufted and moss-lined.
The town has an aspect of great solidity; it is a creation of
crag-looks almost as if it had been hewn out of one mountain
fragment, instead of having been constructed stone by stone.
Although commonly consisting of two stories and an attic only,
the dwellings have walls three feet in thickness; on one street,
facing the sea, they are even heavier, and slope outward like
ramparts, so that the perpendicular recesses of windows and doors
have the appearance of being opened between buttresses. It may
have been partly as a precaution against earthquakes, and partly
for the sake of coolness, that the early colonial architects built thus;
giving the city a physiognomy so well worthy of its name-the
name of the Saint of the Rock.
STREETS WASHED BY MOUNTAIN WATER.
And everywhere rushes mountain water-cool and crystal
clear, washing the streets; from time to time you come to some
public fountain flinging a silvery column to the sun, or showering
bright spray over a group of black bronze tritons or bronze swans.
The tritons on the Place Bertin you will not readily forget; their
curving torsos might have been modelled from the forms of those
ebon men who toil their tirelessly all day in the great heat, roll-
ing hogsheads of sugar or casks of rum.
And often you will note, in the course of a walk, little drink-
ing-fountains contrived at the angle of a building, or in the thick
walls bordering the bulwarks or enclosing public squares; glittering
threads of water spurting through lion-lips of stone. Some mountain
torrent, skilfully directed and divided, is thus perpetually refresh-
ing the city-supplying its fountains and cooling its courts. This
is called the Gouyave water: it is not the same stream which
sweeps and purifies the streets.
Picturesqueness and color; these are the particular and the
unrivalled charms of St. Pierre. As you pursue the Grande Rue,
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
or Rue Victor Hugo-which traverses the town through all its
length, undulating over hill slopes and into hollows and over a
bridge-you become more and more enchanted by the contrast of
the yellow-glowing walls to right and left with the jagged strip of
gentian-blue sky overhead. Charming also it is to watch the cross
streets climbing up to the fiery green of the mountains behind the
town. On the lower side of the main thoroughfare other streets
open in wonderful bursts of blue-warm blue of horizon and sea.
The steps by which these ways descend towards the bay are
black with age, and slightly mossed close to the wall on either
side; they have an alarming steepness-one might easily stum-
ble from the upper into the lower street. Looking towards the
water from these openings from the Grande Rue, you will notice
that the sea line cuts across the blue space just at the level of the
upper story of the house on the lower street corner. Sometimes,
a hundred feet below, you see a ship resting in the azure aperture
-seemingly suspended there in sky-color, floating in blue light.
A REMARKABLE PEOPLE.
And everywhere and always, through sunshine or shadow,
comes to you the scent of the city-the characteristic odor of St.
Pierre; a compound odor suggesting the intermingling of sugar
and garlic in those strange tropical dishes which creoles love."
A population fantastic, astonishing-a population of the
Arabian Nights. It is many-colored ; but the general dominant
tint is yellow, like that of the town itself-a general effect of rich
brownish yellow. You are among a people of half-breeds-the
finest mixed race of the West Indies.
Straight as palms, and supple and tall, these colored women
and men impress one powerfully by their dignified carriage and
easy elegance of movement. They walk without swinging of
the shoulders; the perfectly set torso seems to remain rigid; yet
the step is a long, full stride, and the whole weight is springily
poised on the very tip of the bare foot. All, or nearly all, are
without shoes: the treading of many naked feet on the heated
pavement makes a continuous whispering sound.
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
Perhaps the most novel impression of all is that produced by
the singularity and brilliancy of certain of the women's costumes.
These were developed,at least a hundred years ago, by some curious
sumptuary law regulating dress of slaves and colored people
of free condition-a law which allowed considerable liberty as to
material and tint, prescribing chiefly form.
But some of these fashions suggest the Orient; they offer
beautiful audacities of color contrast; and the full-dress coiffure,
above all, is so strikingly Eastern that one might be tempted to
believe it was first introduced into the colony by some Mohammedan
slave. It is merely an immense Madras handkerchief, which is
folded about the head with admirable art, like a turban-one
bright end pushed through at the top in front, being left sticking
up like a plume.
PECULIARITIES OF DRESS.
Then this turban, always full of bright canary-color, is fast-
ened with golden brooches-one in front and one at either side.
As for the remainder of the dress, it is simple enough; an
emboidered, low-cut chemise with sleeves; a skirt, very long
behind, but caught up and fastened in front below the breasts so as
to bring the hem everywhere to a level with the end of the long
chemise ; and finally as a silken kerchief, thrown over the shoulders.
These skirts and kerchiefs, however, are exquisite in pattern and
color; bright crimson, bright yellow, bright blue, bright green-
lilac, violet, rose-sometimes mingled in plaidings or checkerings
or stripings; black with orange, sky-blue with purple.
And whatever be the colors of the costume, which vary aston-
ishingly, the coiffure must be yellow-brilliant, flashing yellow;
the turban is certain to have yellow stripes or yellow squares. To
this display add the effect of costly and curious jewelry; immense
ear-rings, each pendant being formed of five gold cylinders joined
together (cylinders sometimes two inches long, and an inch at
least in circumference); a necklace of double, triple, quad-
ruple, or quintuple rows of large hollow gold beads (sometimes
smooth, but generally graven).
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
Now, this glowing jewelry is not a mere imitation of pure
metal ; the ear-rings are worth forty dollars a pair; the necklace
of a Martinique quadroon may cost five hundred or even one thou-
sand francs. It may be the gift of her lover; but such articles are
usually purchased either on time by small payments, or bead by
bead singly until the requisite number is made up.
But few are thus richly attired; the greater number of the
women carrying burdens on their heads-peddling vegetables,
,cakes, fruit, ready-cooked food, from door to door-are very simply
dressed in a single plain robe of vivid colors reaching from neck
to feet, and made with a train, but generally girded well up so as
to fit close to the figure and leave the lower limbs partly bare
and perfectly free.
CAPABLE OF GREAT ENDURANCE.
These women can walk all day long up and down hill in the
hot sun, without shoes, carrying loads of from one hundred to
one hundred and fifty pounds on their heads; and if their little
stock sometimes fails to come up to the accustomed weight stones
are added to make it heavy enough. Doubtless the habit of carry-
ing everything in this way from childhood has much to do with
the remarkable vigor and erectness of the population.
I have seen a grand piano carried on the heads of four men.
With the women the load is very seldom steadied with the hand
after having been once placed in position. The head remains
almost motionless, but the black, quick, piercing eyes flash into
every window and doorway to watch for a customer's signal. And
the creole street-cries, uttered in a sonorous, far-reaching high key,
interblend and produce random harmonies very pleasant to hear.
Every inch of this magic island is draped in forests, except
where man has made temporary clearings-forests which cannot
be described, photographed, or painted. The following description
by Dr. E. Ruiz gives only a faint idea of the island's wonders:
Only the sea can afford us any term of comparison for the
attempt to describe a grand forest; but even then one must
imagine the sea on a day of storm, suddenly immobilized in the
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS Or' PEOPLE.
expression of its mightiest fury. For the summits of these vast
woods repeat all the inequalities of land they cover; and these
inequalities are mountains from forty-two to forty-eight hundred
feet in height, and valleys of corresponding profundity. All this
is hidden, blended together, smoothed over by verdure, in soft and
enormous undulations, in immense billowings of foliage. Only,
instead of a blue line at the horizon, you have a green line;
instead of flashings of blue, you have flashings of green, and in
all the tints, in all the combinations of which green is capable-
deep green, light green, yellow green, black green.
When your eyes grow weary-if it indeed be possible for
them to weary-of contemplating the exterior of these tremendous
woods, try to penetrate a little into their anterior. What an inex-
tricable chaos it is! The sands of a sea are not more closely
pressed together than the trees are here-some straight, some
curved, some upright, some toppling, fallen, or leaning against
one another, or heaped high upon each other.
Climbing lianas, which cross from one tree to the other, like
ropes passing from mast to mast, help to fill up all the gaps: and
parasites-not timid parasites like ivy or like moss, but parasites
which are trees self-grafted upon trees-dominate the primitive
trunks, overwhelm them, usurp the place of their foliage, and fall
back to the ground, forming fictitious weeping-willows. You do
not find here, as in the great forests of the North, the eternal
monotony of birch and fir: this is the kingdom of infinite variety;
species the most diverse elbow each other, interlace, strangle and
devour each other; all ranks and orders are confounded, as in a
human mob. The oak forces the palm to lengthen itself pro-
digiously in order to get a few thin beams of sunlight; for it is as
difficult here for the poor trees to obtain one glance from this
king of the world as the subjects of a monarchy to obtain one
look from their monarch. As for the soil, it is needless to think
of looking at it; it lies as far below us, probably, as the bottom of
the sea; it disappeared, ever so long ago, under the heaping of
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
debris, under a sort of manure that has been accumulating there
since the creation; you sink into it as into slime; you walk upon
putrefied trunks, in a dust that has no name!
Here, indeed, it is that one can get some comprehension of
what vegetable antiquity signifies: a lurid light, greenish, as wan
at noon as the light of the moon at midnight, confuses forms and
lends them a vague and fantastic aspect; a dense humidity exhales
from all parts ; an odor of death prevails ; and a calm which is not
silence (for the ear fancies it can hear the great movement of com-
position and of decomposition perpetually going on) tends to
inspire you with that old mysterious horror which the ancients
felt in the primitive forests of Germany and of Gaul:
Arboribus suus horror inest."
VARIOUS KINDS OF WOOD.
Among the trees are the silk-cotton, species of mahogany
and the caleta, or ironwood, a very strong wood. The flora is
numerous, and closely related to that of the equatorial zone of
South America. The fauna abounds in minor reptiles and insects.
There are various kinds of fish and of crab. The manicon and a
certain lizard are eaten. The only animal of note is the vicious
serpent known as the fer-de-lance, which lurks in the woods, the
cane-fields, and the gardens, and whose fatal bite is the only thing
upon the island to be dreaded. This snake is from four and a
half to seven feet long, has four fangs, at the root of which is
secreted the virus, and rudimentary fangs to take the place of the
old ones. The mongoos was introduced to exterminate the fer-de-
lance, but it has not been successful.
The climate shows three seasons-cool in spring, hot and dry
in summer, and hot and wet in autumn and part of winter. There
is much humidity. The tropical heat is mitigated by the sea-
breezes and fresh winds from the mountains.
The island has no deep harbors, although there are three
indentations which afford good shelter. The principal of these is
the Bay of Fort-de-France, the capital of the island, and the head-
quarters of the French admiralty in the West Indies. On the
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
south side are the Grande Anse du Diamante and the Bay du
Marin; on the west there are several other small coves. The
eastern side is a dangerous shore, where the Atlantic breakers
roar and foam in a grand and indescribable surf, which prohibits
approach to land.
Martinique is now a favored colony of France, constituting a
department of the republic, with a governor and excellent admin-
istration, sending a senator and two deputies to the National
Assembly at Paris.
The food-stuffs of the United States are absolutely necessary
to the life of the colony, but the United States takes almost
nothing from Martinique in return. Sugar, coffee, cocoa, tobacco,
cotton, and rum are the principal products, and all the planta-
tions producing these are in a flourishing state in comparison to
those of the adjacent British islands. There are upward of five
hundred ordinary sugar works.
MONEY EMPLOYED FOR EDUCATION.
One-fourth the revenue of the island ($I,342.0oo) is devoted
to education. There is a law school at Fort-de-France. There
are three secondary schools, with five hundred pupils; a normal
school; thirty-eight primary schools, with ten thousand pupils;
and thirteen clerical and private schools. There are also two gov-
ernment hospitals, military and civil, and the charge for a native
in the last is twenty-five cents a day. At the two prisons the
discipline is very mild. France also encourages agriculture by
giving a bounty of ten cents for every coffee and cocoa-tree.
This is to prevent the exclusive cultivation of the sugar-cane.
There is also a colonial bank, the object of which is to assist
the planters; experts determine the value of the crops, and the
bank advances one-third their value. If the obligation is not met
by the crops, the bank carries over its claim on the valuation ol
the next year's crop.
An excellent system of highways has reduced the difficulty
of traveLng across the rugged island. Transportation is also
carried on by small coasting-vessels, although on the eastern side
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
of the island this is especially difficult, as the cargoes have to be
carried through the surf on the backs of men, or pushed by swim-
ming negroes in small boats through the water.
France has always nurtured this colony with a tender, loving
hand, giving it the best of administrations, helping it freely when
in distress, and protecting its industries whenever possible.
The large towns are St. Pierre and Fort-de-France, on the
leeward side, and Grande Anse, on the windward shore. St. Pierre
on the west side, is the principal city. It is built on cliffs over-
looking the bay of the same name, which is nothing more than a
very slight curve in the shore-line, vessels having to anchor in the
open roadstead. It is a picturesque and beautiful place, with neat
public buildings and an interesting creole population. The town
has a handsome cathedral and other public buildings.
SUBSTANTIAL APPEARANCE OF THE TOWN.
The town has an aspect of great solidity, looking as if it had
been hewn out of one mountain fragment instead of constructed
stone by stone. Although commonly consisting of only two
stories nnd an attic, the dwellings have walls three feet in thick-
ness. There are also many fountains throughout the city,
carrying drinking water, which comes from another source than
that of the water in the gutters. The main street is known as
Rue Victor Hugo.
St. Pierre has many images and some fine statues. One of the
latter, standing on a height and easily visible from the sea, is a
gigantic "Christ," which overlooks the bay; a great white
"Virgin" surmounts the Morne d'Orange, to the south of the city
while "Our Mother of the Watch" overlooks the anchorage.
There is a great white cathedral with a superb chime of bells.
Behind the city is a beautiful cemetery.
The market of St. Pierre is most picturesque. It is in the
middle of a square surrounding a fountain, and filled with country-
women dressed in gorgeous Oriental colors, selling their little
products-oranges, bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa-while the fisher-
men lift their boats bodily out of the water and convert them into
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE. 77
stalls, where can be seen a most wonderful fish display, rivaling
in colors the tints of the rainbow, and having a hundred queer
French names, which it is useless to repeat here, such as the Bon
Di6 manie moin ("The good God handle me"), etc.
A fine road leads from St. Pierre to the village of Mon Rouge,
situated two thousand feet above the sea. In the village is a
shrine to the Virgin, which is visited by the inhabitants. Along
this road are many shrines and little chapels with crucifixes and
statues, with lamps burning before them. This road leads by
the beautiful botanical garden, and passes many fine and solid
MILITARY CENTRE AND ARSENAL.
The capital, Fort-de-France, formerly Fort Royal, is situated
on a beautiful but shallow bay near the south end of the west side
of the island. The town, though secondary in commercial
importance to St. Pierre, is the military center and arsenal of the
French Antilles, the rendezvous of the navy, the terminus of the
French transatlantic steamships and West Indian cable system.
It was half ruined by an earthquake in 1839, and nearly con-
sumed by a fire in 1890. After the last event the inhabitants
offered a bounty of fifty per cent. of the value of the old
buildings to help rebuild, and eight hundred thousand dollars
were thus spent. Among the several interesting statues adorning
its public gardens the most noted is that of the Empress
Josephine, erected by the people of the island in honor of her
nativity. She was born in Martinique.
Throughout the island there are many little villages, such as
Le Montine, Petit Bourg, Le Francois. Grande Anse is situated
across the high mountain ranges, and is reached by a picturesque
road from St. Pierre, which rises into the higher passes, and is
shaded by tree-ferns, accompanied by graceful bamboo and arbor-
escent grass. It is in a region of black stones, out of which the
houses are built.
Black volcanic boulders dot the hillsides, and even the sands
of the beach are black, and full of valuable magnetic iron. The
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
village is a small place, principally noted for the wonderful
expertness of its men in swimming the breakers, and for the
beauty of its female porteuses"-young girls who carry burdens
upon their heads. At Diamond Rock there is the tomb of the
commander of one of the English ships, and the remains of the
cistern which furnished the English with water while the rock was
fortified by them in 1844.
Not less interesting than the natural features are the inhab-
itants of this island, distinguished by beauty, thrift, and a remark-
able and peculiar individuality. Most of them were either blacks
or members of that remarkable mixed race which distinguishes
the island. The mixed populations show every variety of color
and type-mulattoes, copre, chabin, and mates-but they are gener-
ally healthy and thriving. Traces of Caribbean blood are seen in
their color, physiognomy, and physical characteristics.
ISLAND OF ST. VINCENT.
St. Vincent is a single island with no outlying rocks or islets.
It is seventeen miles long and ten miles broad, with an area of one
hundred and thirty-one square miles, and a population of nearly
fifty thousand people. A ridge of mountains passes along the
middle through its whole length, the highest of which, the Sou-
fri&re, is at the north extremity. Its scenery is slightly different
from that of other Caribbees. There are more extensive open views
-slopes and valleys-while vast areas of more recent cinder and
lava indicate that later volcanic action has taken place.
The island culminates in the vast crater of Morne Garon,
which was the scene of a tremendous eruption in 1812, when the
earthquakes which for two years had terrified the West Indian
region and the South American coast culminated in an explosion
which was a most devastating and far reaching cataclysm, being
rivaled within recent years only by the explosion of Krakatau, in
the Straits of Sunda. In Caracas ten thousand people were buried
in a single moment, and ruin was wrought along the entire line of
the Andes by earthquakes accompanying the event.
The Soufriere of St. Vincent vomited vast clouds of dust,
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
which darkened the sun for an entire day and spread over one hun-
dred miles of sea and land. This eruption changed the configura-
tion of the island and destroyed its eastern end. The present
crater, formed at that time, is a half-mile in diameter and five
hundred feet deep, and is now a beautiful lake walled in by ragged
cliffs to a height of eight hundred feet. Since 1812 the volcanic
forces have been quiescent, until the late eruption, and nature had
made the island more beautiful than ever.
Kingstown, the capital, with about eight thousand inhabitants
is on the southwest side, the town stretching alongalovely bay, with
mountains gradually rising behind in the form of an amphitheatre
Its red-roofed houses and a few fine stone structures show pictur-
esquely through the palm groves. Behind these are the governor's
house and botanical buildings, overlooking the town. Three streets,
broad and lined with good houses, front the water. On these are
stone buildings occupied as a police station and government
stores. There are many other intersecting highways, some of
which lead back to the foot-hills, from which good roads ascend the
DECAY OF THE SUGAR INDUSTRY.
In St. Vincent we meet the same story of the decay of the
sugar industry ; here it is on the verge of extinction No im-
provements have been introduced in the manufacture, and the
canes have in recent years suffered severely from disease. No
industry has taken its place. Arrowroot is next in importance to the
sugar, but its price has also declined, adding to the depression. It
is grown in fields which are planted like Indian corn when sown
When matured it is dug up and taken to a mill, where the roots
are broken off, ground, washed, and strained, and the mass allowed
to settle for a few days. The product is then placed on wire frames
with different-sized meshes to dry. It gradually shifts down
through these, and is then barreled for shipment. In recent years
it has brought about five dollars a barrel, or eight cents per pound;
formerly it brought from forty to sixty cents.
Wages are very low and constantly being reduced, and there
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE.
is a lamentable want of employment even at the price of less than
twenty-five cents a day for able-bodied men, who are constantly
emigrating, leaving the women and children to shift for themselves.
There are few Caribs remaining in St. Vincent, the remnant of a
large number that lived here until 1796, when Great Britain
deported five thousand of them to the coast of Honduras.
Between St. Vincent and Granada, instead of open water, we
find several hundred little rocky islands, all disposed in the trend of
the larger Caribbees, but offering an endless variety in shape
and configuration. Kingsley has summarized their essential
features as follows :
On leaving St. Vincent, the track lies past the Grenadines.
For sixty miles, long low islands of quaint forms and euphonious
names-Becquia, Mustique, Canonau, Carriacou, Ile de Rhone-
rise a few hundred feet out of the unfathomable sea, bare of wood,
edged with cliffs and streaks of red and gray rock, resembling,
says Dr. Davy, the Cyclades of the Grecian Archipelago; their
number is counted at three hundred. The largest of them all is
not eight thousand acres in extent, the smallest about six hun-
STOCK FOR EXPORTATION.
A quiet, prosperous race of little yeomen, besides a few plant-
ers, dwell there ; the latter feeding and exporting much stock, the
former much provisions, and both troubling themselves less than
of yore with sugar and cotton. They build coasting vessels, and
trade with them to the larger islands; and they might be, it is
said, if they chose, much richer than they are-if that be any
good to them.
The steamer does not stop at any of these little sea-hermitages,
so that we could only watch their shores; and they were worth
watching. They had been, plainly, sea-gnawn for countless ages,
and may, at some remote time, have been all joined in one long
ragged chine of hills, the highest about one thousand feet. They
seem to be, for the most part, made up of marls and limestones,
with trap-dikes and other igneous matters here and there.
And one could not help entertaining the fancy that they were
TRAGIC DEATH OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE. 81
a specimen of what the other islands were once, or at least would
have been now, had not each of them had its volcanic vents to
pile up hard lavas thousands of feet aloft, above the marine strata,
and so consolidate each ragged chine of submerged mountain into
one solid conical island, like St. Vincent at their northern end,
and at their southern end that beautiful Grenada to which we
were fast approaching, and which we reached, on our outward
voyage, at nightfall, running in toward a narrow gap of moon-lit
cliffs, beyond which we could discern the lights of a town.
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISASTER.-TRAGEDY COM-
PLETED IN THE BRIEF SPACE OF A FEW MINUTES.-DESPATCHES
FROM UNITED STATES OFFICIALS.-VOLCANIC ISLANDS DE-
SCRIBED.-URGENT APPEALS FOR HELP.
N such appalling disaster, distinguished by the suddenness of
the blow, the number of the victims, the completeness of the
desolation, has ever come to the civilized world with such overwhelm-
ing and harrowing force. The destruction of Pompii is equaled
by this greatest volcanic eruption of modern times. Nearly fifty
thousand souls sent instantly to eternity. All accounts agree that
only a few minutes were required to overwhelm St. Pierre with
fiery cinders and ashes, consuming the entire population not only
of this city, but of a large section of the surrounding country.
The first reports of the disaster were almost too incredible to be
The following graphic accounts were among the first
The French cruiser Suchet arrived at Point-a-Pitre, Island of
Guadeloupe, French West Indies, from Port-de-France, on the
morning of May 9th, bringing several refugees. She confirmed
the report that the town of St. Pierre, Martinique, was entirely
destroyed at 8 o'clock on Thursday morning of May 8th by a vol-
The commander of the Suchet reported that at i o'clock on
May 8th, the entire town of St. Pierre was wrapped in flames.
He endeavored to save about thirty persons, burned from the ves-
sels in the harbor. His officers went ashore in small boats seek-
ing for survivors, but were unable to penetrate the town. They
saw heaps of bodies upon the wharves, and it is believed that not
a single person in St. Pierre at the moment of the catastrophe
The Governor of the colony was but recently in St. Pierre
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISASTER.
The extent of the catastrophe cannot be imagined. The captain
of the Britsh steamer Roddam was very seriously injured. All
of his officers and engineers are dead. Nearly every member of
the crew is dead. The supercargo and ten of the crew of the
Roddam jumped overboard at St. Peirre and were lost.
The British Royal Mail steamer Esk, which arrived at St.
Lucia on the morning of May 9th, reported having passed St.
Pierre the night before. The steamer was covered with ashes,
though she was five miles distant from the town, which was in
impenetrable darkness. A boat was sent in as near as possible
to the shore, but not a living soul was seen ashore. Only flames
were seen. The Quebec Steamship Company's steamer Roraima
was seen to explode and disappear.
HAD TO FLEE FROM ST. VINCENT.
The British schooner Ocean Traveler, of St. John, N. B.,
arrived at the Island of Dominica, British West Indies, at 3
o'clock in the afternoon. She reported having been obliged to
flee from the island of St. Vincent, British West Indies, during
the afternoon of Wednesday, May 7th, in consequence of a heavy
fall of sand from a volcano which was erupting there. She tried
to reach the island of St. Lucia, British West Indies, but adverse
currents prevented her from so doing. The schooner arrived
opposite St. Pierre, Martinique, Thursday morning, May 8th.
While several miles off, the volcano of Mont Pelee exploded, and
fire from it swept the whole town of St. Pierre, destroying the
town and the shipping there, including the cable repair ship
Grappler, of the West India and Panama Telegraph Company, of
London, which was engaged in repairing the cable near the Guerin
factories. The Ocean Traveler while on her way to Dominica
encountered a quantity of wreckage,
The cable officials at San Juan, Porto Rico, received advices
from the Island of Dominica that a schooner which arrived there
from the Island of Martinique reported that more than forty thou-
sand people were supposed to have perished during the volcanic
disturbance in Martinique. The cable repair steamer Grappler
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISASTER.
belonging to the West India and Panama Telegraph Company, of
London, was lost with all hands during the eruption of Mont
Pel6e. The Grappler was one of the first ships to disappear.
The following despatch was sent out from Washington on
Friday evening, May 9th:
"Washington is appalled to-night by the catastrophe that
has stricken Martinique. According to official advices but thirty
persons out of twenty-five thousand survive from nature's destruc-
tion of the city of St. Pierre. The administration is still in igno-
rance of the effect of the earthquake upon other sections of the
island, which had a population of 165,ooo.
Further seismic disturbances are apprehended, and fears
are entertained that some of the American possessions, including
St. Thomas and St. Johns, which are practically the property of
the United States, may be affected.
DESPATCH FROM OUR CONSUL.
"Secretary Hay received this afternoon this dispatch from
Consul Louis H. Avme, stationed at Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadaloupe:
" 'Secretary of State, Washington:
'At 7 o'clock A. M. on the 8th instant, a storm of steam,
mud and fire enveloped the city and roadstead at St. Pierre,
destroying every house in the city and community. Not more
than thirty persons escaped with their lives. Eighteen vessels
were burned and sunk with all on board, including four American
vessels, and a steamer from Quebec, named Roiaima. The United
States Consul and family are reported among the victims. A war
vessel has come to Guadeloupe for provisions, and will leave at 5
to morrow. "' (Signed) AYME, Consul.'
This dispatch reached the State Department yesterday from
''Secretary of State, Washington :
"'Communication with Martinique by telegraph interrupted.
Unable to communicate with the island. According to informa-
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISASTER.
tion I received a great many people are killed there by an earth.
quake. Frequent earthquakes in Guadeloupe.
"'(Signed) AYME, Consul.'
"Appeals were received by the State Department from per-
sons living in New York, who have relatives and interests in
Martinique that war ships be immediately dispatched to the island
io render assistance. Secretary Moody and Rear Admiral Taylor
considered this morning the advisability of ordering a vessel to
St. Pierre, but it was decided not to take action until the full ex-
tent of the disaster was known.
"The ocean-going tug Potomac, stationed at San Juan, was
ordered to sail for St. Pierre. She is under the command of Lieu-
tenant B. B. McCormick. The only other vessel the United States
has in or near the Caribbean Sea are the Cincinnati, which is at
Santo Domingo; the Yankton, at Cienfuegos, and the Eagle and
Vixen, at Havana."
DESTROYED BY STORM OF FIRE.
A despatch from Paris stated that the commander of the
French cruiser Suchet telegraphed to the Minister of Marine, M.
de Lanessan, from Fort-de-France, Island of Martinique, under
date of Thursday, May 8, at Jo P. M., as follows:
Have just returned from St. Pierre, which has been com-
pletely destroyed by an immense mass of fire, which fell on the
town at about eight in the morning. The entire population, about
twenty-five thousand, is supposed to have perished. I have
brought back the few survivors, about thirty. All the shipping
in the harbor has been destroyed by fire. The eruption continues."
The commander of the Suchet, at Fort-de-France, was ordered
to return to St. Pierre, Martinique, with all the speed possible,
and to forward details of the disaster to the French Government
The Suchet had gone to the island of Guadeloupe in order to
obtain provisions. It was feared that M. L. Mouttet, the Gover-
nor of Martinique, had perished. He telegraphed May 7 that he
was proceeding to St. Pierre. Senator Knight is also supposed
to have been at St. Pierre.
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISASTER.
The Colonial Minister, M. Decrais, received at 6 o'clock in
the evening two cable messages from the Secretary General of
Martinique, J. E. G. 1'Huerre, sent respectively at 5 and half-
past io o'clock. The earlier cable reported that the wires were
broken down between Fort-de-France and St. Pierre, but it was
added that in view of reports that the eruption of Mont Pel6e had
wiped out the town of St. Pierre all the boats available at Fort-
de-France had been despatched to the assistance of the inhabitants
of that place. The second despatch confirmed the reports of the
destruction of St. Pierre and its environs and shipping by a rain
of fire, and said it was supposed that the whole population had
been annihilated, with the exception of a few injured persons
rescued by the cruiser Suchet.
INCIDENTS OF THE CALAMITY.
Immediately after the receipt of the above despatches the
flag over the Colonial Office was draped with crape and hoisted at
half-mast, M. Bouguenot, a sugar planter of the island of Mar-
tinique, received a cable despatch from Fort-de-France, sent by
the manager of the Francais Factory, announcing that he had
"tried to reach St. Pierre, but found the coast covered with ashes
and the town enveloped in dust, and could not land." Senator
Knight, who is referred to in the despatch from Paris as having
probably been at St. Pierre at the time of the disaster, is the
President of the General Council, or local legislative body of the
island of Martinique.
On May 9th United States Consul Ayme cabled the State
Department from Guadeloupe that great consternation prevailed
in that locality in consequence of earthquakes and volcanic
activity. Loud noises were heard continuously, which were
ascribed to volcanic action. Telegraphic communication with Mar-
tinique was broken in every direction. He was informed that many
thousands of people had been killed in and about Martinique.
Thomas T. Prentis was the Consul and Amedee Testart the
Vice Consul at St. Pierre. Mr. Prentis was born in Michigan,
and appointed into the consular service from Massachusetts, Mr.
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISASTER.
Testart was born in and appointed Vice Consul from Louisiana.
Mr. Prentis was about sixty years old. He entered the consular
service in 1871, when he was appointed Consul at the Seychelles
Islands. He was appointed Consul at Mauritus on March 29,
1880, and retired in 1894. He was appointed Consul at Rouen,
France, on January ii, 19oo; in May of the same year he was.
transferred to Batavia, and six months later was sent to Mar-
tinique. Mr. Testart entered the service in 1898.
Colonel Louis H. Ayme, United States Consul at Guadeloupe,
was, so far as known, the one American in a position to be most
fully informed regarding the catastrophe in Martinique. He was
not only not far from the stricken island, but is familiar with it
through several trips he has made there during his consulateship
IN AN AGONY OF SUSPENSE.
Colonel Ayme has spent much of his time during the last
twenty years in Central America and the West Indies. A few
years after his graduation in 1874, from Columbia University, he
was appointed Consul at Merida, Yucatan, a post he held until
1884. He then made the collection of antiquities in the States of
Southern Mexico which bears his name in the Smithsonian Insti-
New Yorkers who have friends or relatives in St. Pierre
passed yesterday in an agony of suspense. One of these was
Ferdinand Chatenay, an employee of the Seaboard National Bank.
Mr. Chatenay was born in St. Pierre and lived there for sixteen
years, before he came to New York. His father, Aristide Chate-
nay, is the superintendent of a large sugar estate on the island
of Guadeloupe, but his mother and two sisters continued to live
in their old home in St. Pierre, where young Mr. Chatenay visited
them from time to time. From one such visit he had only
recently returned. What their fate has been the son and brother
could only imagine.
Wholly unfitted for his duties he sat eagerly scanning the
cable despatches in the newspapers, trying to find a ray of hope
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISASTER.
from the doomed city. In the absence of details he found little
If the ruin was caused chiefly by a tidal wave," said Mr.
Chatenay, "my family and many others may have escaped.
They lived at almost the extreme upper end of the residential
section, which is known as 'the new town.' It lies about two
hundred metres or more than six hundred feet above the level of
the old town, which lies along the shore of the roadstead and runs
back thence to the foot of the cliffs. On the high slopes of the
new town cluster many of the most attractive villas of the well-
to-do residents of St. Pierre.
"If the greatest danger had been that of inundation persons
living several hundred feet above the sea would have had a fair
chance to escape, but I see that some of the despatches describe
the calamity as the descent of a great mass of fire and burning
lava. The fact that steamships lying anchored in the roadstead
were smothered and seared under the fiery shower leaves me
little ground to hope that those on the higher slopes could have
saved their lives. Indeed, as they were just that much nearer the
volcano's crater, their peril was proportionately greater."
PUBLIC BUILDINGS IN ST. PIERRE.
In the old city, which extends along the curve of the shore
and runs back to the highlands, were concentrated nearly all the
commercial establishments-the banks, public buildings and struc-
tures of greatest importance. From the shore line back to the
heart of this section is hardly more than 300 yards. In this
quarter are located the Custom House, the British and American
Consulates, the Chamber of Commerce, the Episcopal residence
of the Bishop of Martinique, the military barracks, big enough to
accommodate two thousand soldiers, but not now garrisoned since
the military and naval base of the island is at Fort-de-France.
Here too were the Treasury Department, the Military Hospital,
the Banque de la Martinique, the Banque Transatlantique, the Col-
onial Bank of London and the Credit Foncier Colonial. This was
a busy centre, a prosperous little city of 25,000 inhabitants.
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISASTER
St. Pierre was the wealthiest city of the Windward Islands in
proportion to its population. Among its prosperous industries
were about fifty rum distilleries, each with an output of from five
hundred to five thousand quarts daily. Another big concern was
the Tonne le Rie Mecanique, a great cooperage factory, represent-
ing an investment of not less than $500,000. Sugar cane was grown
extensively throughout the island and there were about thirty
central factories the largest of which ground an annual output of
about one million tons of cane. Nearly all the big distilleries
were owned by H. Bert6, a wealthy Frenchman. He lives in Ponce,
but most of his business interests centred in Martinique.
RICH WITH COCOA GROVES.
In the northern part of the island all the valleys sloping down
from the mountains were rich with cocoa groves, the humid moi--
ture of the lower lands being admirably adapted to the cocoa
industry, which had come to be one of the most important on
the island. It requires three years to grow a crop of cocoa, but
once the grove is started in a good damp soil it becomes a very
profitable investment. These cocoa trees are all destroyed, as the
valleys were the natural course of the fiery flood in finding its way
down toward the shore. Eight miles back from St. Pierre, on the
very slope of Mont Pel6e, and not more than one thousand five hun-
dred yards from the crater of the volcano, which destroyed the
city, lies the fashionable summer resort colony of Morne Rouge.
Here were the favorite villas of the rich men of Martinique,
and very beautiful many of them were. The charming little suburb
had a summer population of about four or five thousand. Its alti-
tude made it delightfully cool, and in the warmest months it was
always popular. In 1891 it was ravaged by the great cyclone that
devastated the island, but it had been restored and rebuilt more
attractively than ever. Many of the handsome summer homes
are not generally occupied before June, but others are tenanted
early in May.
Mr. Chisholm, the purser of the Quebec line steamship Fon-
tabelle, saw the smoke of what must have been the preliminary
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISASTER.
eruption when the ship lay at anchor at Dominica, April 25, and
called the attention of the passengers to it, but it was supposed
to be probably from a forest fire on the mountains.
R. T. Dorn, of the French West Indian trading department
of the American Trading Company, gave a roster of important
commercial concernsin Martinique, in addition to those named by
Mr. Chatenay. They were all so situated that there is little hope
that any of them escaped ruin. They are :-Pilsarmer & Co.,
agents for the Quebec Steamship Company; De Garagorri & J.
Savon, cooperage firm; Bard Fessila, St. Lever, Lalun & Co.;
Riaisemenyl & Co., Gaston, Clarris & Co.; T. Knight & Fils,
Aine & Co., Lassarres Freres, De Maissias & Freres.
ACCOUNT OF VOLCANIC EXPLOSIONS.
Professor Robert T. Hill, of the United States Geological
Survey, and Geologist of the Agassiz West Indian Expedition,
furnishes the following account of the West India Islands and
the volcanic explosions which frequently occur:
Across the throat of the Caribbean extends a chain of
islands (the Caribbees), which are really smouldering furnaces,
with fires banked up, ever ready to break forth at some unexpected
and inopportune moment. This group, commencing with Saba,
on the north, near our own Puerto Rica, and ending with Grenada,
on the south, near Trinidad, consists of ancient ash heaps, piled
up in times past by volcanic action. These old ash heaps have
weathered into fertile soil, which, bathed by an undue share of
moisture, has become covered with ripe growths of damp and
mouldering vegetation. This same soil also produces all the
richest vegetable products of the tropics.
These volcanic islands have been slowly piling up since
the beginning of the Tertiary Period, and their bases extend
beneath the waters for a depth as great as their summits project
above it, making their total height nearly ten thousand feet above
the submerged bases.
The northern islands of the necklace, like Saa and St.
Eustatius, are simple crater cones, but the centre of the chain con-
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISa.STER.
sists of four larger islands-Guadeloupe, Dominica, San Lucia
and St. Vincent-each of which is a complicated mass of old
volcanic vents, whose peaks attain their greatest height in Mount
Dioblotim, in Dominica, 4,747 feet above the sea.
These volcanoes do not conform to the type which most
people have in mind, for from them there flow no fiery streams of
lava, nor do they always give days of warning before their
outbreaks. On the other hand, their eruptions consist of hot
water, cinders and mud. Their explosions come with terrific sud-
denness and when least expected. In volcanoes which eject lava,
the ascending column of molten liquid vibrates the earth for days
or months before it reaches the surface, and the people of the
vicinity can always foretell the eruptions. This is not so with
the cinder type, for they explode suddenly and do their damage
without much warning.
ERUPTIONS AT LONG INTERVALS.
While the explosions by which the mud and cinder were
ejected have been sudden, they have taken place only at long
intervals of time, each one adding its pile to the surface rlbris
and obliterating the previous landscape.
It had been so long since any explosions occurred that most
geographers, as well as the inhabitants of the island, had con-
sidered that the forces which produced them were spent, and
classified them as extinct volcanoes. It is true that the Soufriere
of Gaudeloupe, has sent up from its summit from time immem-
orial faint puffs of steam, and that upon Dominica and other of
the islands there were a few hot springs, but for nearly a hundred
years there had not been the least sign of explosion. There is
also an old crater or soufriere on the Island of St. Lucia which
contains some boiling springs.
Within human history there has been but one serious erup-
tion in the Caribbee Islands, but this, like the present catastrophe,
was one of the most destructive the world had ever seen. In 1812,
the mountain of Morne Garon, on the island of St. Vincent which
is south of Martinique, exploded. The explosion was a most
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISASTER.
fatal and far reaching cataclysm, being equalled in recent years
only by that of Krakatoa, in the Straits of Sunda. In Caracas,
ten thousand persons were buried in a single moment, and after
this event ruin was wrought all along the line of the Andes by
Morne Garon vomited vast clouds of dust, which darkened
the sun for an entire day and spread over a hundred miles of sea
and land. The volumes of mud changed the configuration of the
island, as well as its eastern end. The present crater, formed at
that time, is half a mile in diameter and five hundred feet deep
and is now a beautiful lake, walled in by rocky cliffs to a height
of eight hundred feet. Its slopes are covered with peaceful vege-
tation and fields of cane.
The island of Martinique is composed almost entirely of old
volcanic material, and is dominated by three conspicuous peaks,
which have probably been volcanic in the past. Mount Pel6e is
the highest of these, and dominates the northern end of the island.
Near the center of the island is Carbet, 3,960 feet in height, and
near the southwestern end, Vauclin, 1,657 feet.
QUIET AND ATTRACTIVE TOWN.
In a peaceful bight behind the sheltering slopes of Pelee
lay St. Pierre. The city, with its 25,000 inhabitants, isolated
from the rest of the island and the world, except by the call of an
occasional passing steamer, led a tranquil and quiet existence.
So narrow was the sloping beach upon which it was situated that
there was hardly room for its population, crowded in houses of
antique pattern, built in old French colonial days. The streets
were paved with cobble stone, and through each gutter flowed a
quiet stream of mountain water. The inhabitants were almost
entirely Martiniques, that queer race composed of a mixture of
African, French and Carib blood, noted for its beauty and its
Hurricanes, plague, misgovernment and the French-English
wars played frequent havoc with these people, but the calamity
resulting from the explosion of Mont Pel6e is one of which they
GRAPHIC ACCOUNTS OF THE GREAT DISASTER.
never dreamed. They had looked upon its verdure clad slopes
only as the home of the sprites and goblins which abound in their
peculiar folk lore, and of the dreaded Fer-de-Lance, the most fatal
serpent in existence, which inhabits only this island and San
What happened at Mont Pel6e was probably this: A gigantic
explosion of steam and gas, accompanied by a shower of led hot
cinders, which, falling upon the homes and shipping, burned and
partially buried them. Volcanism is still one of the most inex-
plicable and profound problems, which defies the power of geolo-
gists to explain, and one of its most singular peculiarities is the
fact that it sometimes breaks forth simultaneously in widely
distant portions of the earth.
A sympathetic relation of this kind has long been known
between Hecla and Vesuvius, and it is very probable that the
Carib volcanoes have some such sympathetic relation with the
volcanoes of Central America and Southern Mexico. At the time
of the explosion of St. Vincent other explosions preceded or
followed it in northern South America and Central America.
MANY VOLCANIC DISTURBANCES.
The present outburst of Mont Pel6e, in Martinique, is appar-
ently the culmination of a number of recent volcanic disturbances
which have been unusually severe. Colima, in Mexico, was in
eruption but a few months ago, while Chelpancingo, the capital of
the State of Guerrero, was nearly destroyed by earthquakes
which followed. Only recently the cities of Gautemala were
shaken down by tremendous earthquakes. When news can be
received from the inaccessible interior of Central America, it will
probably be learned that some of the numerous volcanic summits
of that region have exploded. Although widely distant, there
seems to be a geological relation between the Caribbean and the
Central American volcanic chains.
The whole region of the American Mediterranean, instead of
being a body of water, as it appears on the maps, is looked upon
by geologists as a great east and west mountain system, whose