Mont Pelee and the tragedy of Martinique

Material Information

Mont Pelee and the tragedy of Martinique a study of the great catastrophes of 1902, with observations and experiences in the field
Alternate title:
Mont Pelée and the tragedy of Martinique a study of the great catastrophes of 1902, with observations and experiences in the field
Heilprin, Angelo, 1853-1907
Place of Publication:
Physical Description:
xiii, 335 p. : illus. plates. map. ; 25 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Eruption, 1902 -- Pelée, Mont ( lcsh )
Eruption, 1902 -- Pelée, Mount (Martinique) ( lcsh )


Statement of Responsibility:
by Angelo Heilprin.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Holding Location:
University of Central Florida
Rights Management:
All rights to images are held by the respective holding institution. This image is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. For permission to reproduce images and/or for copyright information contact Special Collections & University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries, Orlando, FL 32816 phone (407) 823-2576, email:
Resource Identifier:
023600799 ( aleph )
02178874 ( oclc )
02030398 ( lccn )
F2081 .H46 ( lcc )
972.98 ( ddc )


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William L. Bryant

West Indies'.

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The entire crater working

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A .- II l," l' THE GREAT CATA- I i PI'HES OF I''2", WITH


PI' ENIIIDEN F it) F ,'IIIE R toPIIII ()('Is I 'I OF PH I l A| DIIA i llA
\Vi*c-Prcsid nI of the Amenricaii .l|.]i Club; Fellow of the Royal (; nogralphical S-ociety 1,f
I.ondoln; late Professor of (iG logy ait the Academy of Natural Scictice s
of I 1,,1I ,1 11.1 I, tc


J. 1i LIPPI '\ C TT (CO' T\ PA

v 1. 1 l irr~i~~l ('I

PuI ishel .IAi trv, 1':i,




I'll..-Ill l-\T OF THE IM11'l:1 I.\ .


IN presenting to his readers the following pages dealing
with one of the most noteworthy, even if lamentable, inci-
dents in the world's history, the author feels that he must
do so with the apology that the work is only partly done.
The magnitude of the phenomena that are associated with
the Pelde eruptions, and the obscurity in which many of
the facts pertaining thereto still remain, will necessitate
further research before the episode can be made fully
known in all its relations, and probably some of the con-
clusions here set forth will have to be modified in the light
of future investigations. But the history as it stands may
be considered mleasuranbly complete, and it has the advan-
tage, at least, of being based largely upon per1sonIal observa-
The author's two visits to Martinique were made after
an interval of three months, in the latter part of May and
again in August, and during these times he enjoyed unu-
sual opportunities for the prosecutioll of his work. The
pleasing courtesies of the people of Martinique helped
largely to whatever of success was obtained, and contributed
a degree of comfort in labor the absence of which would
have been sorely trying. During the later visit it was the
author's privilege to be a close witness of the second great
death-dealing eruption of Mont Pelee, and he had thereby


the marked advantage of being able to make his investiga-
tions in a newly-culled field.
The author feels himself under obligation to many, on
and off the island, who in one way or another proffered
atssistancie, and to these collectively he extends his thanks;
but the history of personal travel would not be complete
without a special acknowledgment being I nve to his friends
of Viv6, Assier ,and Trinite, who neglected no effort to
insure comfort to himself and to his associates. These are
MM. Fernand and Joseph Clerc, LIgirrigni de Meillac,
Teliam de Chancel, and, not least, Mlle. Marlie de Jalham,
the affable hostess of the Clerc establishment. A special
expression of thanks is also due to M. Louis des Grottes,
of the iHabitution Leyritz, United States Consul Louis H.
Ayme, whose many kindne.sss brought a ready introduction
of the author to, the island, and M. Ivanes.
The illustrations that atcolmpainy the work are largely
from photographs taken by the author himself, and many
of them rplresen(t, in a way that has probably not been
possible before, the consecutive stages in the paroxysmal
eruption of a very active volcano. Other photographs were
obtained through the kind permission of Messrs. Under-
wood & Underwood, of New York, whose representative
in Martinique was for a while associated with the author in
his studies of Mont Pelee.
December, 1902.

I. IMPRESSIONS OF M ARTII'INI'l .......................... 1
II. SAINT PIERRE AND ITS RUINS ......................... .1(
III. TIE CATACLYSM OF MAY 8........................... .:1
IV. DAYS OF FEAR AND 'IT'I1.I Gl. IN ...................... .ll)
V. THE LAST DAY OF SAINT PIERRE ...................... 73
VI. VICAR-(GENERAL PAREL'S (CHRONICLE................... 85
VII. AFTER THE CONFLAGRATION ........ ................... I
VII1. VESUVIUS ANT)D PI'i ':II-A PARALLEL. .................. .121
IX. ACRoss rIIE ISLAND TO .\.-IE, .......................140
X. To TIlE STORM-CLUD) OF PELEE'S RATERR. ..............151
XI. THE GEOGRAPHY OF MONT PELEE ...................... 11;
XII. P RE MARY, CURE OF M~H NE ROUGE.................. 189
XIII. CLOUDS OF PASSAGE........ ... ........ .......... 197
XIV. A SECOND VISIT TO M3.lA INJUWSE...................... 2o4
XV. BATTLING WITH PELE ........... ..................... 216
IMultNE ROUGE AND AJOUPA-BOUILLON................ 227
XIX. THE PHENOMENA OF THE ERUPTION .................... 271
A PPENDIX ............ ........ .................. 319
INDEXT S .............. ................ ...... ........ 3:2;
INDEX...... .............................................. 333


PELI9E IN ERR'PTIN-- .\Il;,-'T 24, 11122. .. ... . (F r,, . ii ..)
DISTANCE ............... ... ............... ......... 4
2. STREET-SWEEPERS-FORT-DE-FRANCE .......................... 8
3. SAINT PIERRE AND MONT PELEE........................... 16
4. AL(N(i TIlE ROXELANE-SAINT PIERRE .................... 20
i5. Tri REI-TILED ROOFS OF SAINT PIERRE. ................. 30
6. RUE VICTOR-IIU-o, MAY 14, 190 ..2 ....... ........ ........ 38
7. (CATHEDRAL OF SAINT PIERRE. ............. .............. 4(6
8. CATHEDRAL IN RU'INS-SAINT PIERRE..................... 58
10. SAINT PIERRE IN RUINS.................................. 80
11. Mun-FLow OF MAY 5................................... 88
12. THE SILENT CITY ................... .................... 110
13. BODIES IN BASEMENT OF IHOUSE ........................... 124
14. A MARTINIQUE PASTAI.\I.-A-. SII:It ......................... .. 40
15. EN\ NIN,; GLOW ON PELIE'S PENNANT.................... 150
16. GREAT ASHI-CLOUI) Ti l NI; nDAY INTO NIIIT ........... 100
17. ON TIIE VOLCANO'S DEVASTATED SLOPE ..................... 168
18. THiE [MAJESTY OF PELEE'S INFERNO ........................ 180
19. THE MI'lIN DE TjW CRoIx ............. ....... ........... 188
20. A DEL'GE OF BOULDIERS................................ 204
21. MAla:NE ROUGE AND) PELEE .......... ... ... ........... 218
22. BEFORE A SIIRINE- ORNE ROUGE ........................ 230:11
23. THE DARKENING CLOUD OF JUNE ( ....................... 241
24. THE ENVElrING ASH-C(LOUI OF JUNE 6 .................. 256

25. PELEE IN A PAIVIX'YSM, JUNE 5......................... 26;
2I;. TO\ wERIN(! AND )MUSIIROOM-SHAPED CLOUI 'D.. .............. 274
27. A ('I' r.\NI -GATIIEIER- As.SIEII ............. .............. 282
28. PELEE .SMiiKING FROM THE NEW Fil.\iM; EN'I.\ 1, CONE. ... 288
!'. TIIE HEAVENS Ari.ow, MAY 26 ......................... 2!14
30. THE T.s-,ltIIN BLASTS FROM THE CRATER ................... 304
31. PROIGRESSIVE Di-.:v El.I 'M..E OF AN ERI'I'TIs ............. 312
32. PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT OF AN HI PTl'.l,,N .............. 312
33. A Iri .ioi(' [.ri CLIMAX OF EII 'T.l I .............. ....... 318
FR,,iM TIE CRATER.. .................... ............... 318
35. A SUDDEN BLOW FROM TIIE CRATER....................... 326

FORT-II--FlI.NC'I. AND TIE PITONS D)U CARPET ............... 3
IN THE SAVANE OF FORT-ll-1i:l;- .NCE ................. .... 7
M.AI lNi 'I WOMA- ............ ........................ 12
T E FO T SOLITUDE ................. ........................ 15
THIE TIIEAT. IE-SAINT PIERRE ........................... 18
RUE VICTOR ITT'(U-S.INT PIERRE ......................... 23
TIlE CATHEDRAL OF SAINT Plm.:III.-AU.I IT 2 3, 1'n ......... 28
PiI.EiE IN TIHE .MAY ]E'Il'I'TION .................... ............ 40
CABLE CHART OF THE POUYER-QL'rETIl:I~" .................. 55
OPPOSITE TIE RIVIERE SECHIE ............. ............... 68
BAssIt-PoIN-1':-MAY 30, 1902 ........................... 79
TlluOWN .STATU E OF OUR LADY OF THE WATC" .............. 98
SAINT PIERRE BURNING .................. ... ............ 108
RUE LUCIE-SAINT PIERRE ...... ............. .......... 131
BURIAL-VAULT-SAINT PIERRE ............................ 133


BODIES ON THE TEII.\hI'E ROAD ..............
STREET S('l I: --LAM ENTIN .................
A BURST FIHOM THE CRATER .................
DE L. C ROI( X ..........................
ON THE ROAD TO MOI:NI: cHorl;E ...........
THE BOMIII-S :.\ II;E, : O r P .......
THE ROR IIM BURNING ..................
THE ISLAN. D OF M irTINDl UE ................


Si .I.. )
, ,

........... 171
. . . . . ... 179
.......... . 191
............. 221

............. 270
............. 328





MY first view of the unhappy island whose misfortunes
have so deeply roused the sympathies of the world was in
the early morning of the 25th of May, two and a half
weeks after one of the greatest tragedies recorded in history
had been enacted on its shores. The Fontabelle was then
steering her course close in shore, but it was not until we
had passed the nimbus of the great ash-cloud that Pel6e
was throwing out to sea that we began to distinguish the
features of recognizable land. The island in front of us
was not a tropical paradise, but a withered piece of the
earth that seemed to be just emerging from chaos. Every-
thing was gray and brown, sunk behind a cloud which only
the mind could p)cietnit- ; there was nothing that appealed
restfully to the eye.
The landscape was barren as though it had bere graven
with desert tools, scarred and made ragged by floods of
water and boiling mud, anld hardly a vestige remainedl of
the verdant forest that but a short time before had been



the glory of the land. Great folds of cloud and ash hung
over the crown of the volcano, and from its lower flanks
issued a veritable tempest of curling vapor and mud.
Lying close to its southern foot, a:iii bathed in the flame
of a tropical sunshine, was all that remained of the once
attractive city of Saint Pierre-miles of wreckage that
reached up from the silent desert of stone and sand, show-
ing no color but the burning grays that hI;d been flung to
them or that had formed part of mother earth.
We entered the harbor of Fort-de-France shortly after
eight o'clock, and took our place beside the white flank of
the Suchet, whose work in the catastrophe of the 8th had
made it famous among its craft. Two other men-of-war,
their sheets drooping from the foreyards like linen in a
Neapolitan pass ggio, were also 4wel telri ng under the genially
tropical sun, with schools of gars and dog-fi.lies swirling
abut their hulls. The city did not at this time impress
me as being particularly concerned in the havoc that lay
so close to its doors. It being the S;lbbatl day, the busi-
ness streets wore the usual dress of pleasurable inactivity,
and only in the ir,'an(e, or open square, and in and about
the hotels, was there anything to remind one of a serious
life. Unifori 'll nllImllicrs of the army and navy, city and
state officials, black and white, newspaper editors, scientists,
and others were gathered around in groups, discussing the
two important topics of the day-the elections that had
recently been held and the possibility of Pelee's activity
invading the city. The volcano itself is not visible from
the lower part of Fort-de-France, but its great white cloud,


whose towering at all times attracted the attention of some
eyes, helped to keep it in evidence, and supplied a never-
failing ferment for conversation and argtument.
I took loidgings in a promising location at the illner end
of the green which surrounds the statue of the Empressj

FPhto. lAillprie

Josephine, and where my room opened up on tiled roofs
and circling corridor and the distant flowing curls of the
volcano. The hotel was disoirglalized ;and the servicee gone,
but for this Pel6: was properly held reslwponsi1ble, for its
recent eruptions, especially that of May 20, ihad created
a degree of consternation among those who did not permiiit.
themselves to believe that -security was assured by distance


which could be realized only by those who had lived
through the recent occurrences of the unfortunate island.
It required but a warning to set the population in panic,
and many thought it a wise precaution to place themselves
where warnings were not a necessary prelude to a peaceful
Fort-de-France, which is now, after the destruction of
Saint Pierre, the most important centre of population in
the island of Martinique, occupies part of the northern
face of one of the best harbors of the Lesser Antilles, and
is backed by the heights of Carbet on the north. It lies
close to the water's edge, with only two to five feet level
between it and the surface of the sea, and thus invites to
itself a form of catastrophe which has more than once
visited other parts of the island. On the night of the
great eruption of August 30, the sea rose close to the
outer border of the savane, directly abreast of the main
hotel. The lower parts are built on made ground, nnd it
is, therefore, with just fear that the people look to a pos-
sible ras de 111ir''.
The city has little to show for itself as a municipium
of nearly eighteen tlhiusanii inhabitants, the seat of govern-
1nent, alnd the depot of naval and military stores. Until
the cotllfhgr;itiinl of 1890, which destroyed its major por-
tion, it w;is built chiefly of wood, but since that time stone
;11n rubble form the principal imateri;als of construction.
The only conventionally interesting sites or loca:titins are
the city green or savane, hardly cared for but orn:iiilneited
with a number of stately aind regenenrtcd royal p1,;ms ; the

___ ___ _~_ ~

Photo. W. Henry


Approaching Fort-de-France

---I-ec ~ ------~-- ~ --- .C .......... Ml~- ;:~


allies of rubber, tamarin and giant sabliers (Hura crepi-
tans) ; the cathedral, and the slledded market, where may
be observed at close range the faces of all nationalities
known to Martinique, and a Babel of voices heard at
nearly all hours of the day.
Beynod this there is little to attract, although many
interesting phases and pictures of life can be picked up by
those seeking new impressions, especially aluiig the ,banks of
the picitures.iuie, even if not wholly pure, Riviere MiIadamie.
Apart from the Hotel-de-Ville, there is no cominaniling
edifice of any kind, whether ,ffiei;dl or private, and the
shops that aspire to a degree of worldliness are few in
number. With s.:tree-ly an exception, the streets of the
city are narrow and have the restricted sidewalks that
,belong to most tropical citie-; of this class. Each has its
own sur'fac-water, serving ;as a store to those Itneling it
and as an expurgator of a:ci.muulatedtl and ;aeeiiumulating
The houses, are chiefly of rubble and plaster or ,tuccii,
with pitched roof a l the greater number are of two or
three stories. There are few among them that can lay
claim to arehlit.ctuiiral effect, and they bIck wholly tlhe
attractive feaituresm that belong to Spanishl and Mexican
houses. On the surrounding heights, where many of the
wealthier people reside and enjoy fresh air, there are
residenc.s of finer pretence, a;m siere of these are charm-
ingly inviting in their garden approaches. The focus of
social life of the city is the savane, with its bordering allcis,
and the great expl, ,se of unadorned grass. There, late in

the afternoon of almost every day, may be seen what there
is of the fashion and wealth of the city, the little gather-
ings of French men and women, their promenades, saluta-
tions and dress, recalling in miniature the life of Europe.
Necessarily, these gatherings are only of nutshell dimen-
sions, and however they may partake of the atmosphere of
true France, they give one only the feeling of being exiled,
for the life that surrounds is foreign in every way.
Four-fifths, or more, of those whom one sees are yellow
or black in color-mixed creoles, mulattoes, negroes, and
coolies-the true Martiniquians, if one chooses to call them
such. Except about the hotels and as representatives of
the government, army and navy, white men are in evi-
dence merely as points of reference. Nearly all the
municipal offices, from the lowest to the highest, are filled
by representatives of the colored or black race, and the
same holds measurably true of the offices held under the
rule of the government. One of the two regular jour-
nals of the city, La Colonie, is edited and published by a
man of color; the librarian of the Biliotll;'i'ue Schoelcher
is likewise colored. The condition existing at Saint Pierre
at the time of its destruction was different. It was the
city, par c.r ellnwe, and it hbousedt the wealth and aristocracy
of the island.
Hearn, in one of his brilliant color pictures of the
people, characterizes them as being a population of the
"Arabian Knights," many colored, but with yellow as
the dominating tint. He invests them with a glory that is
not at all times theirs, but on the whole they are kindly in

- ------ ---- --


spirit, the women, mo,:rc particularly, graceful aiml dignified
in bearing, and bht sexes sllfi.i(intly alive to the recogni-
tion ,of their worth. The men do not difT-r riadically from
other ne.gro, alnild i- lattii types that are (listri-bnted tlirough-


out tlie south, except tht tliey are softer in character and
more gentle ill their wa;ys, ;an illnhritance, doubtless, of
French associations. It is different with the women, who
appear immiueiately -as a race apart. Of unusual height,

_I P



supple and straight as their royal palms, these proud
products of Martiniquian soil at once arrest attention; and
while one could readily challenge the contention that they
are the "fairest of the fair," it may be admitted that some
of their types are imperiously attractive, and that a voice
more beautiful than theirs or one better qualified to charm,
cannot be found as a quality belonging to any other
In striking contrast to the degree of munttractiveness of
its capital city, is the island of Martinique itself. Situated
in a quarter of the globe where nature knows no limit to
her work, and where the tares and stubble of erratic
growth have not yet developed sufficiently to deface, it comes
to the eye, save where desolating death has latterly laid its
Ianid, a picture of charming loveliness-peaceful but ex-
uberant. Its gently swelling outline does not remind one
of the crugs and cliffs of Capri, of Ischia and of other
Mediterralneai islands; nor do its heights recall the nearer
mountains of Cuba, Jamaica or Porto Rico. The lai(lscal)e
is that of the Lesser Antilles, diversified in its own way,
and breathing its own atnmospllere. Dominica, near to it,
has perhaps most of its fine nature, and St. Kitts sur-
passes in quiet repose; but the unfortunate French isla nd,
now writhing in the coils of the dragon that wrought its
earlier fiaric, has a charm of its own, which its neighbors
have failed to cultivate, or which, with them, has, perhaps,
already ceased to exist.
It may not be difficult to find islands that are more
beautiful, more winsome, than Martinique, but it is less

~. ~---~...---~---- i ----~


Underwood & Underwood, Stereos. Photo., New York, Copyright, 190l

The Savane


easy to find one that is quite its equal. It has the softest
of summer zephyrs blowing across its fields and hillsides;
swift and tumbling waters break through forest and plain;
and mountain heights rise to where they can gather the
island's mists to their crowns. There are pretty thatched
c, taiges, ne:tling in the shade of the e ',ianit, mango and
bread-fruit, and decked out with bright hibiscus and Bou-
gainvillea; ;and fields of tobacco and patches of coffee and
cacao, added to bright cane, tell of a degree of prosperity
that most of the other islands do not have.
Seen from the sea, the island rises up into a series of
bold or even rugged prominences, with laitging slopes of
beautiful woodland, and fields of sugar-cane running into
their midst. The lesser heights swell up like huge camel-
hlumps from the con futsdc landscape, giving a charming
background to the village sites that lie about them. During
the middle hours of day obscuring chlds generally hang
over the iniiiiiitins, but in the early morning the summit
cap of Pel6e, the loftiest eminence of the land, can generally
be seen do)iiiiiiting the lanilscape.
Until within the last few years the forest-primeval
clothed the mountain slopes from base to sutim it, but to-day
little remains of the true grands bois. A woodland of ex-
quisite luxuriance, and showing the distinctive features of
a tropical vegetation, may still be seen and felt along the
deep waterways of the interior; but the hand of man lhas
been steadily wiping out the glories of wild nature, to put
in their place the more humble picture of cultivation.
Fields of brilliant cane lie in the south, in the east and in


the north, and from their product the island returns most
of what wealth it has to its inhabitants; and still humbler
plantations of cassava, bread-fruit and banana surround the
domestic cottage.
Martinique is the second in size of the group of beauti-
ful islands known as the Caribbees, and lies four hundred
and ten miles due north of the main mouth of the Orinoco
River. Its softly rugged heights, and somewhat loftier
elevations, the mornes, rise from an almost immediate depth
of water of four to six thousand feet, and have for their
nearest neighbors Dominica on the north, and St. Lucia on
the south, each separated off by a billowy sea of twenty to
twenty-five miles. Nearly the whole of the island, except
where in local patches the coral-animal has built up its
reefs, is of volcanic origin-the soil, the hills, the stream-
boulders all bearing testimony to the action of volcanic
forces which were in operation thousands of years ago.
We possess no positive information of any eruption having
disturbed its surface prior to 1792, when, in the month of
January, a feeble activity, comparable to that of August,
1851, gave indication of the life that still rested within.
The present active point of the island is Mont Pel6e, a
mountain of only Vesuvian proportions, whose broad foot
defines nearly the whole north shore.
Rising to four thousand two hundred feet, or somewhat
higher, its summit dominates the whole island, save where
the line of sight is cut by the bold and hardly less signifi-
cant peaks or Pitons of Carbet-ancient volcanic knobs
three thousand nine hundred and sixty feet in elevation-

_ _~~ ~_ _~~~~_C~ ~ _


that lie north of Fort-de-France. History records no ac-
tivity on the part of these mountains, nor from the still
conical Vauclin in the south.
Though so important among its neighbors, Martinique
is hardly more than a garden-spot, for it covers less than
four hundred square miles, and the greater part of it could
be packed into the area that is covered by the first city of
the United States. Lying well within the tropics, it has
all that a resourceful nature provides, and man has done
much-not too much, some will say-to improve what
nature has left undone. He has cut beautiful roadways
through meadowland and forest, around cultivated fields
and gardens and on the seashore cliffs high above the
surging waters. He has removed most of the forest, and
put in its place the cultivated field. Wherever we turn the
eye, it falls upon a peaceful living, and there is little to re-
mind one that man may be in want, and that the necessaries
of life are not justly distributed. But withal, the island is
not wholly a paradise, for it has had its earthquakes, its
cyclones, and its inundations; and now must be added to its
unfortunate assets the most destructive volcanic outburst
that has ravaged any one region. The earthquake of 1839,
which wrecked one-half of the capital city, Fort-de-France,
and cost the lives of no less than four hundred people, is
still a part of modern history; but the terrible cyclone of
August 18, 1891, which blotted forty hamlets from the map
of the island, lies much nearer to our own day. It is, in-
deed, remarkable, seeing how. numerous in the past have
been earthquake disturbances of one kind or another, that


the late volcanic cataclysm should have been so nearly free
of seismic movement of any kind.
In this island world of three hundred and eighty square
miles there lived before the eventful 8th of May one
hundred and ninety thousand people, or five hundred to


every square mile-aboit the same number to the square
mile as is found in England and Wales, and two and a
half times that in France. The number now living has
been lessened by about a sixri. Though not quite so de-
spairingly wrecked as some of its sister islands, Martinique


shares in their decadent misfortunes. Capital is lacking for
new enterprises, and energy wherewith to obtain capital.
The production of sugar and rum, with its small mar-
gin for profit in some parts, and the absolute loss en-
tailed in the cultivation of the cane elsewhere, remains the
chief industry of the island, and were it not for the ex-
treme fertility of the soil, and the fact that a small and in-
dependent living can still be made from patches of earth
that have not yet been bonded to sugar-estates, the land
would soon go impoverished in the way of the other beautiful
islands of the Lesser Antilles. As it is, despite its many
misfortunes and vicissitudes, Martinique remains a com-
parative garden-spot, and the eye falls with delight upon
the pieces of cultivation-of banana, bread-fruit, cocoanut,
cassava, and Carib cabbage-that lie about on the hill-
sides, in the hollows, and along the roadside, and give a
living to thousands who have no work beyond their garden
palings, and hardly more within them.
M. Bourgarel, in the Economiste Europeen, notes that
of the area of the island now under cultivation-forty-
seven thousand hectares out of a total of ninety-eight thou-
sand-approximately twenty thousand are given over to
the cultivation of the cainr, which is little more than it was
in 1867 (eighteen thousand five hundred and sixty-five).
From that year until 1886, when the sugar crisis materially
checked the prosperity of the island, the development of
the cane-growing industry was steady for nearly every year,
the hectareage finally :reacinig twenty-eight thousand four
hundred and fifty. At this time, tllrefbrie, compared with


what it was at its maximum, sixteen years ago, the industry
has fallen short by almost exactly thirty per cent.; and
now, with the devastation that has taken place in the
northern section of the island, where are situated many of
the most thriving plantations and some of the largest
usines of the colony, and the added uncertainties of work
that necessarily follow such a storm, the product will be
reduced very much further. It may be that this condition
will in the end work to the advantage of the island, for
it is certain that it is capable of rising to other industries
that, in the present condition of the sugar problem, must
yield more largely in profit, and open the way to a material
progress which confinement to a single enterprise cannot
Martinique, though well supplied with excellent interior
roads, which place its different locations in easy union with
one another, is entirely lacking in the means of rapid com-
munication. Excepting the small private roads, that op-
erate individually in the different plantations, there is not a
line of running railroad, whether steam or electric, on the
entire island. Inland transportation and carriage are had
by means of an antiquated coach-service and by individual
porterage, both men and women being willing servants to
this form of labor. The heavy, lumbering ox-cart, with its
double-yoked team, is still a part of the scenery of the
Martinique roadway, and may remain such, so far as
present indications point, for some time still in the future.
The modernizing of the island, while it has brought with it
a certain number of improvements"-the electric light,


telephone and telegraph-leaves many things still un-
touched, and fortunately among these, the desecration of
the landscape. This will continue charming, and with it
the soft atmosphere that gives it color.

Photo. IIeilprin



LAFCADIO HEARN, in his work on the West Indies,
gives the following description of the city he knew so well:
"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 gut-
ters contrived between the paved thoroughfare and the
absurd little sidewalks, varying in width from one to three
feet. The architecture is that of the seventeenth century,
and reminds one of the antiquated quarter of New Orleans.
All the tints, the forms, the vistas, would seem to have been
especially elected or designed for aquarelle studies. The
windows are frameless openings without glass; some have
iron bars; all have heavy wooden shutters with movable
slats, through which light and air can enter."
Saint Pierre, which at the time of its destruction was
the most important commercial town of the island of
MIartinique, was also the earliest French settlement on the

Copyright, W. H. Rau


.-.. in Bi mm f... . .- ."... .. i..r . . ...


island, lhauvilng been founded by Esnambuc as far back as
1635. It lay on an open roadstea4l, without harbor advan-
tages of any kind, and directly appressed to the southern
foot of Mont Pelee. Its position relative to the destroy-
ing volcano was very similar to that which hIIrcilnhiiiumi
and Pompeii bore to the ancient Vesuvius. The early
establishment of the settlemiiictt, its beautiful position, and
the fact that it w;s the natural outlet to one of the rich-
est cane and cacao districts of the islhndi, doubIltless led
to its suplrent;'iey over every other location, and iiiade the
absence of a harbor a matter of secondary impo hrtince. It
was the home of the banker, merchants land shippers.
Manly of the L~nrget phmltcrs had seasonable homes here,
and had built beautiful villas along the height of Morne
d'Orange, the Reduits, and Trois Ponts. Out of a total
population for the city proper,' as reported in the census of
1894, of nineteen thousand seven lhundrted alnd twenty-two,
probably not less than from five thousand to six thousand
were whites. Indeed, some who profess to have known the
city well, assert that the white 1ppulatiton could not have
numbered less than eight tlhousand,-or more than is
contained in the capitals of most of the Lesser Antilles
collectively. Saint Pierre is described as having been a
city of gay and open life, and with a moral tomn perhaps
considerably lower than that of most tropical cities. How-
ever this may be, it is certain that the city was the
attracting focus of the island, and to it gravitated all
classes of the island community, especially those who had
been favored by fortune's wheel. It is sometimes referred


to as the most beautiful city of the West Indies, but apart
from its charming location and the manner of its construe-
tion, in rising tiers lined to the surrounding heights, there
would seem to be little to justify this extreme idealization.


Although boasting of a number of stately, even imposing,
edifices, such as the cathedral, town-hall, military hospital,
club and theatre, and several attractive promenades and
squares, the city, as Hearn describes it, was in the main
old-fashioned, with narrow streets, stone and stucco houses


of two and three stories, and steeply pitching roofs of red-
tiling. It was closely pressed together so as to keep out the
tropical heat, and had the benefit of a;blIndaInt shade-trees
both in the public ways and the numerous house gaLrdcns.
The streets were lit by electricity, as they are to-day in
Fort-de-France. On the heights outside of the main city,
especially along the valley of the romantic Roxelane, the
better-to-do had erected charming villas, and embellished
their sites with gardens of luxuriant vegetation. The
wrecks of some of these still remain, sufficiently to show
their attractive features. Saint Pierre was the educational
centre of the island, and its Lycee was diplomated with the
rank of similar institutions in France. One of the most
notable institutions of the city was thle botanical garden,
near tlhe foot of Mont Parnasse, which at one time had the
enviablle reputation of being the most beautiful of all the
lesser botanical gardens of the tropics. Many of the
plants of tropical cultivation in tlie famous Jardin des
Plants of Paris had been obtained from this garden. ()f
late years, however, the Saint Pierre garden had been but
indifferently cared for, thle arboretunls had run to wild
jungle, exquisitely beautiful in the wealth and exuberance
of tropical vegetation, while tile science of cultivation was
being but little attended to. The lovely waterfall remained
as the chief attraction to the people.
Along its ocean frontage, Saint Pierre liad a length of
about two miles, extending from the Ans.e north of Carbet
to beyond the Roxelane River. Its parts were respectively
designated the Moui//aygc (towards the south), named from



the place of debarklition and laIndiig; the Centre; the Fort,
north of the Roxelane; and the Troi-s Ponts, situated along
the latter river and cast. of the Centre. The Mouillage
was dominated by the abrupt height, constructed of ancient
lava or basalt, known as the Morne d'Orange, along whose
sea-face the road from Carbet descends.
The picturesque rock-bcEddeld Rn.xelane, whose source is
in the southwestern slopes of the Pcl&((. buttress, tr: vers.ed
the city in its northern quarter, and was crossed by a num-
ber of bridges, two of which, both of them apparently firm,
still span the lower course. Above it, on ranging walls, as
it were, were locAted some of the most attractive villas of
the wealthier classes. Beyond the Riviere-des-PIres on
the north followed the suburb of Fonds-Corc. The foci
of the active and social life of the city were the [Mouillage
or landing, with its hundreds of casks of sugar and rum;
the .c,'an or city green; the Place Bertin; and the Rues
Victor Hugo and Bouill6. A single line of cars helped
the city to rapid transit.
When I visited Saint Pierre towards the close of May
and in early June the weather was very hot. The sun
beat down with intense energy, and we wondered how the
city could have maintained its favor with the Martiniquiiliis.
Situated on the leeward side of the mountains, the site
lacks wholly in the advantage that is offered by the trade-
winds to the locations on the east coast. There were also
few public gardens and breathing places, which must li\ ve
contributed much to the discomfort of the summer inhabi-
tants. It was this that made Morne Rouge, only four miles

~II r


: e 1lf M




distant, the resort of Saint Pierre. Charmingly located at
an elevation of fourteen hundred feet above the city, on a
S ridge uniting Mont Pel&e with the contreforts of the Pitons
de Carbet, and looking down over both the Atlantic amnd
Caribbean waters, it received the softening winds from the
east, and gave to its inhiliitants in a tropical clime the
blessings of a temperate region. Morne Rouge is -,iid to
have housed at times not less than from two thousand to
three thousand people coming from Saint Pierre.
On the evening of August 30, when Mont Pelee again
swept out its fiery tongue, and laid to waste one of the
most charming spots in the whole island of Martinique,
Morne Rouge met the fate that overtook Saint Pierre. The
city was wiped out, and the greater part of its population
annihilated. Besides the church, whose noble spire still
rises mockingly over the blighted landscape, only a few
houses remain; gardens and woodland were swept out of
existence. In the place of all this is a desert-perhaps
more soft than that of Saint Pierre, but reading the same
The traveller who to-day visits the site of Saint Pierre
sees hardly more than a mass of tumbled ruins. Where
before were the Rue Victor Hugo, with its rows of two-
and three-storied, pitched-roofed shops and residences, and
the Rue Bouill6, are heaps of concrete and boulthrs, piled
three and five feet, and more. The Place Bertin is known
by what remains of its fountain, and by the nro)strate trees
that have stretched themselves in parallel lines to the south.
Tier after tier of rubbled bulwark rises up to the siIrround-



ing heights, but above, as well as below, there are only
ruined walls, with heaps of decay lying between them.
Not a roof remains to indicate that any habitation ever had
a cover; not a chimney to recall the cheer and welcome of
the fireside. The eye follows long lines of half-standing
walls, more like the arches of ancient aqueducts than parts
of buildings, the greater number to-day running parallel
with the ocean front. There is little that rises above two
stories, and hardly anything to half that level. Flats of
ash rise up here and there to what may have been roof
corners, elsewhere the covering is so light that the old
paving-blocks come to the surface. At intervals bits of
polished mosaic paving appear through the ash, showing
where attractive house gardens had been located; stone
garden-posts and flower-stands lie about, and with them
fragments of decorative railing. The old club bathing
establishment is still there with water in its basement, but
its broad flights of steps, with the great flower-vases stand-
ing on either side, lead only to heaps of broken stone and
mortar. We see the great palm that stood in the court of
the Saint Pierre Club, but only as a charred stump rising
from its garden of desolate debris. These and other land-
marks help to frame a picture of the city which seems
destined never again to rise from its ashes.
When I visited Saint Pierre on the 25th of May, five
days after the second great eruption, the color of life had
been entirely driven from it. Everything was gray or of
the color.of baked and mudded earth, little different from
the stern landscape which adjoins on the north and north-


east. There were no pinks, or yellows, or blues that give
the life to habitations in the tropics. Save for the small
ants that were already beginning to crawl about and recon-
struct for themselves new homes, the ruins gave out no


evidence of the living, whether of man, of beast, or bird.
An impressive silence, disturbed only by the human scaven-
gers who were prowling about for observation and study,
prevailed everywhere; and not even the angry volcano to
the northeast, with its hurling clouds of mud and ash,



interfered with the general quiet of the scene. Compared
with Pompeii, Saint Pierre upplelared ten times more ancietlt.
The green and fertile slopes of Camlpaiiai, with their nest-
ling cot tlge.s and cultivated fields, are here wanting; they
existed once, and not imany days before, but they had
1pssed for the time. These make modern even an ancient
field. In Pomipeii the eye has had restored to it the special
activities of man; he reads the life of the household, hears
the clamor of the market-place, follows the debate in the
Forum, and gambles on the wheels of the chariots as they
whirl around the circus field. In Saint Pierre, for those
who have not known it before, there is nothing of this.
Though its walls are modern, though everything that per-
tains to their construction and everything that has been
found within is modern, the city itself looks as though it
had been deserted at a time when man was still prepared
to be a wanderer, long before the beautiful sculptures of
Pompeii had been carved, long before the paintings had
been put on walls to charm and adorn.
For two miles or more the ruins continue; you know
the streets by their standing walls, you recognize some of
the houses by what the walls still carry. Here is the cor-
ner of the cathedral, there the municipal building, and
farther to one side the wall of the military hospital. Only
a few iday before it still bore the clock, with the hands
marking eight2 minutes of eight, which told the precise
time at which the catastrophe took place.
We followed clumps of charred tree-trunks along what
was the ocean promenade, and from them passed to the


square or Place IBnrtin, where, in the shade of its lofty
trees and around its attractive fniiiiiin, the 1popii)1la; met
for recreation and business. What is there to-day ? Great
tree-trunks stretclled in line, their branches buried in dust
and turned almost to coal, their roots pointing to the moun-
tain that brought such devastation.
We found twisted bars of iron, great masses of roof
sheathing wrapped like cloth about the posts upon which
they had been flung, and iron girders looped and festooned
as if they had been made of rope. We climbed over and
under ruins, over roofs and into cellars, and everywhere
was the same lifeless quiet. Great heaps of rubbish lay
on all sides of us, and on every side they bore evidence of
the terrible force that laid them low. We seemed to be
wandering through a city that had been blown from the
mouth of a cannon, and not one that had been destroyed
by any force of nature.
Yet stranger things were found here. We stumbled
upon little cups of china that were still perfect in all their
form, upon corked vessels in which water remained pure
and unchanged, and upon little packets of starch in which
the starch granules remained as when they were first put
in. It seemed remarkable that the great storm that had so
ruthlessly stamped out the life of man should have pro-
tected and left unharmed these little things that belonged
to his household. Here, in the chemist's shop, were some
of his things, untouched. Even from the spigot of the
street fountain cold water was still running, as it ran of
old. Here lay bundles of clay pipes, with the clay un-


burned, in nearly the s;mie places where they had been
offered for sale across the counter. High up in the town
I found the sounding-board of a piano, with many of its
strings still tightly wound about their pegs.
All this seemed more like a dream than a reality. As
bits of beautiful mosaic paving came out of the ashes, we
asked ourselves, Are these never to be trod again ? Are
there to be no more flowers and plants in the gardens about
which bits of fence-railing remain ? Are the glad faces no
more to be seen of those who sat on the porches and veran-
das, where only broken columns now stand?
We wmnderedc sadly along. One of our party told us
that a group of bodies lay near. Yes, in the bath-room of
a private house lay six, burned in flesh until they were
hardly recognizable as bodies. A woman was stretched
on her back at the bottom of the bath-tub, with her left
arm thrown out as if to grasp something in her bitter
anguish. Near by was an infant, hardly too large to be
carried in the arms, and beside it the body of another
woman, crouched as if in agony and despair. To this
room probably all had retired, expecting a moment of
relief from the tornado of death that swept over them.
We came across another group, eight in number. They
told the same history as the first.
The thousands of bodies that lie here have been partly
burned, and nearly all are buried-buried by the con-
tinuing fall of ashes from the volcano. It is a strange
fate that the mountain whose eruption cost the lives of so
many should also give to them their natural burial. It


continues in its work of activity as if nothing had hap-
pened, mocking the beautiful world that surrounds it.
Miles high into the air it is still puffing its steam ;mId
ashes, aind from its interior still issues that deep thunder that
more than once before gave warning which was not heeded.
What to many must appear most singular in connec-
tion with the terrible catastrophe of May 8, is that the
stroke of death followed a course that left little behind to
tell its own history. The student of geology wanders
among the ruins of a former prosperous city, and seeks in
vain for those signs of volcanic and seismic activity which
are and have always been associated with the destruction-
de;iling powers of volcanoes. He searches in vain for the
rifts that may have tumbled the miles of buildings-in
vain for the lava-flows with which history has associated
Etna and Vesuvius. A force of men could almost dig out
this modern Pompeii in a day or two, so feeble in most
parts is the ash that has impounded the streets, so gently
soft the material that the great volcano has vomited out.
Yet on every side is the most hopeless wreck that can be
conceived of-a picture of absolute ruin and desolation that
has perlanps never before been witnessed. "Whence and
how ?" we ask ourselves, and the question still remains in
a measure unanswered, and may forever remain with only a
partial solution.
Tlie aspect of the ruined city as I found it at the time
of my first visit differed considerably from that imme-
diately following the 8th of May, and had manifestly been
largely shaped by the eruption of May 20. After its


first destruction, although the extinguishment of life was
complete, rows of houses were left standing almost intact,
notably in the central quarters of the city. Photographs
taken several days after the catastrophe plainly show this
feature, as well as other features of equal significance, and

Photo. Heilprin
permit us to make an interesting comparison and study
of the results determined by the two eruptions. Many
roofs were still in position, the massive building of the
mayoralty carried its overhanging cornice, and the H6pi-
tal Militaire its walled (now historic) clock. Many signs
remained on the buildings, and there were other evidences
of an only recently passed activity. At the later day, all


this had changed. The second blast, that in intensity was
nearly, if not fully, the elulm of the first, laid to groundil
what still remained high, and gave to the city tlm;t dis-
tinctive oriented aspect which it now presents. The greater
number of the massive walls run parallel with the sea, or
in line to the volcano; and there are few that have been
preserved in their full height that take a direction at right
angles to this. It would thus seem that the destroying
force of the eruption of May 20 expended its main
energy along a north and south line, shattering everything
that was more directly opposed to its course. This was not
so markedly the case on [May 8, when much of the force
was directed radially. It is easy, however, to exaggerate
the importance of the testimony carried by this alignment
of walls; a bird's-eye view of the ruins, like that btained
from Morne d'Orange, shows a far greater number of the
transverse walls standing and more regularity in the streets
than appear to the eye of the stranger wandering among
the debris. The city, in fact, is clearly outlined in its
north-to-south and east-to-west streets.
The force of the destroying power was stupendous, and
wrought a ruin the like of which is paralleled only in tli
path of a violent tornado. .The most massive machinery
was bent, torn and shattered; house-fronts, three and four
feet thick, crumbled and were blown out as if constructed
only of cards. The great cathedral bell lay buried beneath
the framework of iron which had supported it, tossed from
the church to whose chimes it had so long added its sweet


Our examination of the ruins showed plainly, what
indeed had already been noted before, that the destruction
was almost entirely superficial. The destroying agent swept
the surface, but left almost untouched that which was be-
neath or buried within it. There were no displacements
due to earthquake tremors, as, in fact, there were no earth-
quakes that could properly be called such. It was this
remarkable superficial current which left intact the contents
of safes and burial vaults, of material that had been placed
in subways, and permitted water that had been contained
in large stoppered vessels to remain unchanged. For days
after the eruption, cool water continued to flow from the
faucets of the basement wall of the H6tel-de-Ville and
from other fountain-heads and hydrants of the city; and I
am assured by Signor Parravicino, Italian Consul at Barba-
dos, who early searched the ruins for a lost daughter,
that this condition already existed on the 10th of May.
Still eight days later, water was found issuing from a house-
pipe, cool and potable.
Except on the broad principle of a fortuitous happening,
it is difficult to account for the anomalous conduct of this de-
stroying blast,-its deadly stroke at one place and its avoid-
ance of action at another. Tree-trunks, though burnt and
bereft of all their appendages, were left standing in what must
necessarily have been the centre of the storm; bunches of
clay pipes, exhibiting no traces of either burning or scorch-
ing, were left at many points where manifestly they had
been put on sale; and packets of starch and cereals were
passed so as to leave their contents undisturbed. Some



cases have been reported where objects had been fused in
their coverings, when the coverings themselves h;ad re-
mained untouched. A correspon,,leiit who visited Saint
Pierre about ten d:lys after its destruction speaks of finding
a bird, dead, but unchanged in its plumage, lying at the
bottom of a wooden cage, which still'llung seaward from
the balcony of a shattered house; and there seems to be
enough evidence to sustain the statement that alongside the
body of a charred man was found a box of matclles, the
contents of which had escaped ignition. The wonder, in-
deed, is that with such or vagaries in action,
the destruction of human life should have been so abs olute.
Manifestly a number of causes, rather than a single one,
contributed to the general destruction.
It would be difficult to indicate any (quarter of Saint
Pierre which suffered less than any other, unless, possibly,
it be a part of the city of the Fort. Here, although buried
beneath a roofing of ash, there is still a semblance of con-
tinuity maintained, and from a distance the aspect, is that
of deserted walls built against a hillside. Although nearer
to the volcano than any other part of the city, it may still
be reasonably assumed that the tornadic draught hl;id not
in this section developed to the extent that it did in the
south. On the other hand, the quantity of ash and mud
covering the ruins north of the Roxelane is far in excess of
what it is in the other quarters and in some places rises
well up to and over what would be the roofs of the houses.
This is also true of the near section of the city lying con-
tiguous to the Rlxelane on its south side. We were sur-


pri.seil to fill, on the 25th, that the iron truss bridge across
this strcam was standing, and I found it still firmly intact.
at a later visit, on August 24, when, according to report,
it should have been long in ruins.
The destruction of Saint. Pierre is such that the greater
number of the building-sites are unrecognizable evenc to
those who were most familiar with the city-or could be
located only after a careful and cnllparative study. Of all
the buildings destroyed the cathedral allist alone presents
an architectural front, the stone coursing being retained on
the front elevation, with the statuary niches, and parts of
their cofntlain.ed statues. The walls of the building were
the most massively constructed of all in Saint Pierre, and
permit us to ilnderstand the degree to which they have
been preserved. On the other hand, the wreck of the
building generally only emphasizes the strength of the
blast which swept it to its doom. A number of the more
prominentit structures have been identified by their step-
app)roaclis, which in most cases ;have remained intact.
This, with the cellar-ways, is all that remains of the
Theatre in the northern part of the city. It is almost idle
to speculate upon the number of ways in which the masonry
of Saint Pierre was shattered and thrown to the ground.
That the greater part of the destruction was the result, of
a direct impact from the visiting shocks-annihilation in
the path of a tornldic current-cannot be (lqestiof)ned; and
it is merely a point to what degree this annihilation had
been hastened or furthered by the action directly upon
mortar of intense heat, and of possible electric strokes.


This is a tconsideratimo, however, that seeii.- to have no
applroa(l at this time.
The ash tli;i in its entirety covers Saint Pierre i i incon-
siderable, and the quantity in no way justifies the extrav'a-
gant, accounts that have been pulblishled regarding it. Ex-
cept where helped by lmudil-fow, or where it has cl ejii u-
Iited, in windrl-drifts, or in wall-fntius, it rarely exceeds three
or four feet; and over the greater part, of the city its
measure, even after later falls, is hardly more than a fiot
or two; in many places it is much less. It is 1trme that
rains have considerably lessened the quantity since the first
fall, but Iperlw. ,h not to an extent more than has been com-
pensated for by sublsequenit discharges. Les Cdir,;,'., a
Saint Pierre journal, reported that already on Mlay 2,
fifteen inches (forty centimetres) of ash covered the savane
of the city, but this is probably an accidental overstate-
ment of the quantity.
From such evidence as it was possible to obtain, I
should assume that the greater number of the bIdies found
at Saint Pierre were destitute of clothing, which h :d
either been burnt off or swept off in the passage of the
tornadic blast. In a number of places, I, ete.d nearer to
the margin of the field of ,destructiio)l, as on the heights of
Trois Ponts, or those beyond towards Morne Rouge, and
again southwardl towards Carbet, many clothed bodies
were recovered; and on some of these the cl(otlhing lhad
hardly, if at all, l.been disturbed. Even in the same wagon-
side the clothed and the unclothed were found associated.
The searching power and penetration of the ldeath-dealing


agent are thus brought inpressively home to us, and the
conditions' give a clue as to what must have been its nature.
There is a fair agreciiiie--nt in the report that aserts that
in a large number of cases the bodies were found with the
head turned to the ground, and many had tlh.e lilnd placed
over the mouth and the nostrils. The latter c' edition is
certainly expressive of a desire to \avoid a gaseous or heated
inhalation. The thrown condition of the body can reas:in-
ably be explained on the supposition that the people gen-
erally turned their backs, whether in flight or otherwise, to
the dragon of death that. was pursuing them, and were
then prostrated forward by the sweep of the tornado.
Bodies were found in unusual numbers at the intersections
of streets, and particularly so in the Place de Mouillaige,
where the people had gathered to seek spiritual shelter in
the shadow of the cathedral cross. Nearly all of the
bodies had at the time of our visit 1,bee removed through
burning, calcininiig, or otherwise, or been buried beniealth
new deposits of volcanic ash.


THE ci':tclysm Of May 8, 1902, by which a lmountlain,
hitherto obscure, was suddenly brought into fame, stands
unparalleled in the history of volcanoes for its appalling
nature and the conditions which surround its existence.
Nor, indeed, is there anything that is properly comllparu-
ble with it. Papandayang, in Java, in its great eruption
of 1772, is ass.tumed to have wrecked forty villages or more;
and Asamayama, in Japan, eleven years later, was perialps
equally destructive.3 But the data. associated with the his-
tories of these mountains are to an extent of questionable
authority, and leave much room for inquiry; and in
neither case, while the evisceration of the earth was stu-
pendous, was there a material destruction of the type that
is reflected in the wrecking of Saint Pierre. The violent
eruption, in 1888, of Bandai-San, in Japan, wlerclby a
quarter of the summit of the volcano was swept avallache-
like over a populous district, was thought to have beeni
responsible for the loss of several thousa-nd lives; but the
official surveys show the number of killed to have been
less than five hundred.
It is certain that the victiills of the eruption, in August,
1883, of the minor volcano of Kraka.taio numbered up-
ward of thirty-six thousand. In this extraordinary cata-
clysm, whose far-reaching plhenomeni a were noted and


studied at more distantly removed poi ints of the earth's
surface tlihan the phenomena of any other eruption, the
explosive force was most prodigious, and the result of a
kind which even the scientific mind was slow to recognize.
An island -iiiiihilited, the report of the explosion trans-
mitted thousands of miles over the earth's surface, and
clouds of ash kept suspended for a year or more in the
upper zone of the atmosphere-these were some of the
features which impressed upon the geologist and physicist
for the first time the full immensity of the power that was
resident in the volcanic recesses of the globe. It has been
estimated that eighteen million cubic metres of earth ma-
terial were disengaged from the earth in the course of this
eruption. Much the greater part of the destruction of
human life was consequent to the washing of the adjacent
island-shores by rapidly-following tidal" waves, whose
translation to distant parts of the globe was phenomenal.
The rise of this flood-water was in some parts over a
hundred feet.4
The volcanic event that probably to most minds will
first suggest a comparison with the catastrophe of Mont
Pele is the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum by
Vesuvius, and certainly no other appeals so forcibly
through its tragic aspectss and the relations which attach to
a civilized life. The physiographic construction of the
land and the position of the destroyed cities, moreover,
permit of a certain geographic parallel being established
between the two episodes. Pompeii was located one mile
farther from Vesuvius than Saint Pierre \\wa from Mont


Pelde, and both ve.,lanoe, so far as can now be told, were
of alniost exactly the saime height. The luminous, but
neIcessr;Iily brief, description of the events surrounndling the
eruption of Vesllvins that is given to us by the younger
Pliny, which is the only reliable infr;latiton that we
po.-e.,s of this hitonri event, leavet the tuIldent. of geology,
even with the tsctilnumny that is ,dtainable from the ruined
walls and their contents, still in doubt, as to some of the
main featulres of the catastrophe. These, indeed, are so
obscure and are brought out with so ma ny aspects in the
light of the events of Saint Pierre, that it lias been thought
well to give them special considvratii, in a chapter devoted
to a conparli.-o:i of the phlenomentaii in the two cases.
The (destruction of Saint Pierre came to the city not
unlitralded. For days before, the volcano ladl been vio-
lently active, and the form of activity that it asunmed was
of a kind that should have immlndiately suggested disa.-ter.
Other voldcan:ies, like Vesuvius and1 Etna, have similar
paroxysms, and are not particularly far-edl ; but tlieir his-
tories are long known, and their modern periods of inac-
tivity are brief compared with even the last please of
inactivity on the part of Pelde. It was in early May and
late April a .closed mountain, which suddenly broke from
its anchorage. Vast columns of steam and ash had been and
were being blown out, boiling mud was flowing from its
sides, and l terrific rnumlings came from its interior. Lurid
lights liung over the crown at night-time, anl, lightning
flashed in dazzling sheets through its cloud-world. What
further warnings could any volcano give? A lblindl but

-- ~-~


impressive belief that nature would not harm, joined to
appeals against, common sense made by a few who thought
they knew best, held the population to its doom. Not
even the discovery of a newly-formed crater-cone, mmde
tti days before the eruption, seems to have in any way
counselled a fairer judgment of coming events.
Statements conflict as to the earliest time when Pelee
gave signs of a renewal of activity, but there is no question
that evidences of unrest, whether in light emissions of vapor
or in rui lding detonations, had been apparent to a few
sevIral months in advance of the catastrophe. The earliest
autlientic record that I have been able to find of an actual
observation is contained in the note-book of M. Louis des
Grottes, an accurate student of nature, who made the
ascent of the volcano to the Lac d(s Palmistes on March
23, and noted his observations with care and precision.
Looking down from the summit of the mountain, the
Morne de La Croix, a fairly clear view was obtained of the
basin of the Etaug Sec, and it was plainly seen that it was
sending out vapors at several points. A strong and incom-
moding odor of sulphur was remarked by the observers
even at their elevated position.
Following the habit of those ascending the volcano to
inscribe impressions on the walls of the little chapel of
"Our Lady of the Lake" (N4tre Dame de l'Elng,), which
stood beside the mountain tarn, the record was placed :
SAiijourd' hui, 23 /lar.,, le crat're de l' EtIInjy S e .st en
eruption" (this day, March 23, the crater of the Etang Sec
(dry tarn) is in eruption). M. des Grottes' ii,tc-bonk


_ ... ..... ......,...... ............;;,.n. ............ .............. .. . ..* i~d


account of his excursioIn, a translation of which appears, by
permission, in another chapter, is particularly instructive,
since it gives the only clear statement, so far as I know, of
the surface conditions of the mountain at a very near period
preceding the eruption.
The wholly accordant observations made by MM.
Lalung and tRtger Arnoux, members of the Astronoiiic;il
Society of France, residents in Saint Pierre, and coiminnini-
cated by them to Camille Flammarion,5 make it practically
certain that the first true opening of the volcano was ion
April 25. The crater, whose position in the basin of the
Etang See is clearly established by M. Arnoux, then sud-
denly broke into eruption, throwing out showers of rock-
material to heights of one thousand to thirteen hundred
feet above the mountain.
During the latter days of April, when, as appears from
the letter of Mrs. Prentiss, wife of the American Consul,
the fumes of sulphur were so strong that horses were falling
in the streets, and the day of the catastrophe there were the
usual alternations of manifestations which attend volcanic
outbreaks, with a rapid convergence to a climax. The
cataclysm had presented all its antecedent phases, and the
final stroke, when it came, although accompllishling its work
with unheard-of swiftness, was not that of a bolt from a
clear sky. At two minutes aft.r eight o'clock, of the tim,
of Fort-de-Fra;ce, the morning of the fatal May 8 saw a
destructive cloud issue from the fermenting volcano, swcep
with almost d;izzling velocity to its lower slopes, and fall
upon S.;int Pierre. The fiery messenger of death had done


its work, and a sheet of risigii flame tio1 that the work was

Jllge Pub. Co., New York Copyright

There are few along the living who were
from first to last of the full pllenomena that construct this
extraordinary cataclysmi, or who were perinitted to follow
the sequence of events with an intelligence that was not dis-


t.rlbed by incidelets likely to Anlct, the reason. The fright-
ful and wholly unprecedented nature of the lhapenings
have helped to obscure the facts, and to inject into thlem an
interpretation which is not permiittel by a more rigid analy-
sis of the testimony that is presented. On the main points
of the tragedy, the testimony given by the officers of the
French c;ible-slhip Pouyer-(Quertier, which was at the time
of the disaster eight miles abreast of Saint Pierre, grajp-
pling for one of the lost cables, appears to be the lmost
trustworthy; and it is confined in its principal details by
the testimony of other observers, notably the late Cur' of
Morne Ringi, Pare Mary, Monsieur Fernanid Clerc and
MM. Arnoux and C6lestin, members of the Astronomical
Society of Fraince, whose po-ints of observation were widely
separated from one another, and removed from threatening
danger at the time. The nature of this testimony is so
accordant, that it may be readily accepted as the f)llindatin
upon which a scientific conclusion must be based.
At aulimost precisely two minutes after eight, of the time
of Fort-de-France, a working message was sent off from
the Pouyer- Qutli'r to the Martinique capital, but it brought
out no reply. This was the same minute of time in which
the final word was received at Fort-de-France from Saint
Pierre. It is manifest, therefore, that the difference of
local time between the two cities was ten minutes, the
H6pital Militaire regulating the time for Saint Pierre.
From the imomenet that the great blackk cloud issued from
the volcano it was followed by the officers of the Pouyrr-
Qucrtficr, who noted that its forepart became luminously


brilliant as it approached the sea. In an instant after
everything was ablaze, and flames shot out from seemingly
all points of the city as if from a single brazier. Light
detonationis, following one another in rapid sutcessii, and
coming from the direction of Saint Pierre, were a part of
the phenomena of the ignition, and it is safe to assume that
they marked passages in the exploding cloud.6 Only one
flash of lightning was noted, and that was thought by some
to traverse the cloud in a vertical direction from below up-
ward. No flame of any kind was observed previous to the
ignition of the city, nor was any fire-sheet seen to traverse
the air in advance of the descendling cloud. The further
incidents of the cataclysm were unobservable, in asnlmuch as
the land was immediately veiled in an impenetrable cloud
of ash and smoke, and the Poluyer- Qucricer, itself thr.eitened
by showers of ashes and fiery cinders, was obliged to seek
safety in flight.
A mournful spectator of the tragedy that was being
enacted below was M. Roger Arnoux, a member of the
Astronomical Society of France, who from his commanding
position on the Mont Parnasse, removed awhile from danger,
calmly surveyed the most important field of the volcano's
activity. He, too, had noted the death-carrying black
cloud sweep like a serpent's tongue after its prey, and he
also observed its rolling motion. No trace of flame was
visible at any part of its course.
M. Roux's account of his observations, triiismitted to
Camille Flammarion, is published in the Bulletin de la
,Soci't Astrolnow iiqm de'e (August, 1902), and pre-


sents in very graphic form, the terrible denolemient. which
he was forced to observe, and in which was involved the
loss of a father, mother, brother and sister. The account
is clearly that of one trained in observation, and it alone
presents in specific detail the course of the phlinoiiiena from
an early hour to its close.
Having left Saint Pierre," writes M. Roux, at about
five o'clock in the evening (May 7), I was witness to the
following spectacle. Enormous rocks, being clearly dis-
tinguishable, were being projected from the crater to a
considerable elevation, so high, indeed, as to occupy about
a quarter of a minute in their flight, and describing an arc
that passed considerably beyond the Morne Lacroix, the
culminating point of the massif. About eight o'clock of
the same evening we recognized for the first time, playing
about the crater, fixed fires that burned with a brilliant
white flame. Shortly afterwards, several detonations, simi-
lar to those that had been heard at Saint Pierre, were noted
coming from the south, which confirmed me in my opinion
that there already existed a number of submarine craters
from which gases were being projected, to explode when
coming in contact with the air.
"Having retired for the night (May 7-8) at about nine
o'clock, I awoke shortly afterwards in the midst of a suffo-
cating heat and completely bathed in perspiration; knowing
my nerves to be agitated, I concluded that it was only
uneasiness that troubled me, and again retired. I awm ke
about eleven-thirty-five, having felt a trembling of the
earth, but no other person in my house being about, I



thoulght. that my nerves Ihad possibly deceiv'ed me, and
again went to sleep, waking at half-,past seven. My first
observation was of the crater, which I fnillll sufficiently
caln the vapors being chaIsed swiftly blunder pre.--.ure of an
east wind. At aboul t eight o'clock, when still watclilng the
crater, I noted a small clnud pass out, followed two seconds.
afterwards by a considerable cloud, whose. flight, to the
Pointe du Carbet onecpird less than /1i re .scroba,, being at
the same time already in our zenith-thus showing that it
developed almost as rapidly in height as in length. The
vapors were in all regards identical with those which were
being ejected nearly all the time from the crater. They
were of a violet-gray color, and seemingly very dense, for,
although endowed with an almost inconceivably powerful
ascceesive force, they retained to the zenith their rounded
sum m1 its. Innumerable electric scintillations played through
the chaos of vapors, at the same time that the ears were
delfenled by a frightful fracas.
"I had at this time the impression that Sainit Pierre
had been destroyed, and I wept over the loss of those whom
I had left the night before. As the monster seemed to near
us, my people, panic-stricken, ran to a neighboring hill that
dominated the house, begging me to do the same. At this
moment a terrible aspirating wind arose, tearing the leaves
from the trees and breaking the small branches, at the
same time oftfring strong resistance to us in our flight.
Hardly had we arrived at the summit of the hillock when(
the sun was suddenly veiled, and in its place came an
almost complete blackness. Then only did we receive a


fall of stones, the largest of which were about two centi-
metres of average diameter. At this time we observedd over
Saint Pierre, and in the iuiartr which I could determine
to be the Mouillage, a column of fire, estimated to be four
hundred metres in height, which seemed to be animated
with a movement of rotation as well as with one of transla-
tion. This phenomenon lasted for two or three minutes,
and was followed by a shower of stones and of mud-rain,
which pressed the lower herbage to the soil and even some
of the smaller shrubs. This torrential rain lasted for about
a half an hour. . Relatively to a rain of fire, of which
much has been spoken, I observed nothing of such nature,
although we followed the phenomena in their entirety."
The intensity of this early eruption of Mont. Pelee will
always be judged by the extent of the destruction that it
wrought-the wrecking to tumbled ruins of an entire city
of twenty-five thousand inhabitants, or more; the annihila-
tion of some adjoining suburbs; and the destruction of
eighteen vessels that were in the roadstead at that time.
One of these was the English cable-ship Grapp,'r, and an-
other, the passenger and freight-telamer Roraima, which
had passed to its anchorage less than two hours before.
The loss of life can only be stated approximately, and the
figure given may fall two or three thousand wide of the
truth. The official census of January, 1894, gives for the
city of Saint Pierre a population of nineteen thousand seven
hundred and twenty-two; and for the commune twenty-five
thousand three hundred and eighty-two. The later parish
registers place the population somewlat over twenty-seven


thousand. With one or two exceptions all those who had re-
mained in Saint Pierre perished, but it is known, and placed
beyond lluestioin by the publishled stltemients ii.,nlltinLed in the
Saint Pierre journals, that hundreds had left the city prior
to the catastrophe, seeking safer quarters elsewhere.7 This
depletion of the city's population seems to have been more
than made good by numbers of refugees who had fled to
Saint Pierre for protection, and by an influx of people from
Fort-de-France and elsewhere, who had come to attend
special cathedral service on the day of the Ascension.
Assuming, then, the full population of Saint Pierre, one is
perhaps justified in accepting the belief of Vicar-General
Parel, expressed in a letter to the Bishop of the diocese,
that the full number of the dead could not well have been
less than thirty thousand. In this estimate, which some
profess to believe on seemingly not very good grounds to be
much too small, would be included the killed in the suburbs
and outskirts of Saint Pierre, and those on board the dif-
ferent craft that lay about in the roadstead. The annihilation
of so large a number of lives in a very few minutes-in not
more than three to five minutes for much the larger body
-renders impressively appalling the nature of this cata-
clysm, and suggests problems in geological dynamics that
have yet to be solved.
The area of actual destruction that was involved in the
immediate catastrophe was not very large, most of it being
contained in the sector that would be bounded by the lines
drawn from the crater of the volcano to the abuse immedi-
ately north of Carbet and Sainte-Philomene, the whole



being compllrised in an area of about eight square miles.
Within this zone the destric.tinii of life and habitation
was practically absolute. Immediately outside of it the
measure of life-dest4rmtlioi remained much the satin, but
the mechanical force of the tornadic blast had bccn largely
spent, and it permitted habitations of nearly all kinds to
stand without disorganization. As a rule, the line of de-
marcation between the outer zone of the singed vegetation,
where there was little or no destruction beyond the tempo-
rary effacement of the vegetation, and the non-:ff'ected
region is sharply defined, and one that can be easily fol-
lowed, sweeping over highland and lowland alike, even from
a distance.
Where the course of the tornadic blast was thrown
across narrow but high-walled valleys, a haven of refuge"
was sometimes found in the lee of the nearer or hanging
wall, the plane of destruction passing overhead and reach-
ing the opposite side without descending. This condition
is seen in one or more of the anses (bays) north of Carbet;
and in the later eruption of August 30 the same condition
was repeated, the destructive blast passing over Fonds
St. Denis and singeing the highland forest beyond. The
longest line of destruction on May 8 was from the crater
to the north point of Carbet, almost exactly seven and one-
half miles; the storm-blast there passed into the sea, and
naturally we can only conjecture as to what would have
happened had the land projected farther to the westward.
The condition of the ruins in the southern part of Saint
Pierre gives no indication that the force of the blast had



nearly spent itself at that point, or that it had even ma-
terially weakened.
A comparisons of the energy that was expended in the
Pehl: cataclysm with that of other eruptions of note is
hardly permitted by reason of the diversity of the condi-
tions which this comparison to.uciches. The statement has,
indeed, been mnude that, apart from its destructive and
death-dealing quality, the eruption of May 8 was not of
great power or magnitude. This is judged by the fact
that the discharge of ashes was not, or did not seem to be,
notably large, that there was no lava-flow-indicating an
absence of elevator power in the lifting or expanding force
-and that there were no earthquake disturbances of any
moment. The comparison is, however, an entirely gross
one, since it is made between conditions that are in no way
accordant with one another. The explosive force that so
thoroughly wrecked a compact city two miles in length, or
nurtured a tornadic current, with a sweeping velocity of
one to two miles a minute, to accomplish this work, must
have been prodigious; and while we do not as yet fully
understand the nature of this destroying cyclone of wither-
ing heat and gas, and the precise manner in which it was
accomplished, it is easy to believe that had the explosive
force been directed in its work to the inner walls of a
closed volcano instead of to its outer surface, the catas-
trophic details of the eruption would have been very dif-
ferent from what they have in fact proved to be. It is
also true that the greatest cataclysmic eruptions have been
unattended with lava-flows, or they had them only of


minor degree. Kraka tao, Biidai-San, and CI scguina are
instances of this kind, and dispose of the notion that the
power of a volcano is measured by the (clevatory force that
it lpo.'s.-es to raise lava.
It has been impossible so far to estimate, even for the
purposes of an argurliifntative comparison, the q(iaitity of

Photo. Heilprin

ash that was thrown out by Pcoli, in its great eruption.
The island of Martiniiiie o(cciupyinig a position in the direct
course of the trade (and lnlti-tira;l) winds, with no large
iland-limss lying even reilnitcly (except very distantly) on
either side, it may be inferred that most of the ash has been
lost on the surface of the open sea, carried out directly to a

__ __


distance of perhaps several hundred miles. The bark
Berc.11wood, travelling from Salaverry to New York, hlas
noted in her log-book (under date of May 8) passing
through a cloud of volcanic uses in latitude 130 22';
longitude 490 50' W.; about six hundred and sixty miles
eastward of M:rtinique. This would seem at this time to
be the farthest distance from the island at which these
volcanic products were noted in any quantity; but the
determination is not entirely free from doubt, since tlihse
same ashes may in part be a residuary product from tlhe
earlier eruption of the Soufriere in St. Vincent. The
greater portion of the Soufriere ashes of May 6 and 7,
Imeasured by the quantity that fell over Barbados, appears
to have travelled with the anti-trade winds--or, at least,
against the trade-wind-and this was also the case with the
dense ash-cloud of Pelee which we observed on May 25.
It is unfortunate that little or no notice was taken in the
early days of the Martinique eruption of the after-glows,"
which certainly must have existed, in order to obtain some
measure at least of the quantity of the finer ash that was
thrown into the higher regions of the atmosphere. The
projectile force of the May eruption is represented to have
been very great, carrying the ash-cloud several miles into
the air; and, if so, the high distribution of the finer ash
must have been considerable. I am informed that at the
island of Saint Croix, two hundred and fifty miles distant
in a direct line, brilliant glows appeared almost immediately.
On my second return voyage from Martinique I observed
brilliant glows on September 9 in about latitude 260 30'


north; on September 10, in latitude 300, and on September
11, in latitude 330 45', longitude 710 west. The last
position is about fourteen hundred miles north-northwest of
Mont Pelce. The evening following was cloudy and no
observation could be taken. There is no questions that these
glows, which came up to their full intensity ;ind magnificent
brilliancy about thirty to forty minutes after siiiinst, were
the culmination of the Antillean eruptions, and probably
of those that had taken only a few days before, but
whether of Pelee (August 30) alone, or of Pel(e and the
Soufriere (September 3-4) combined, cannot positively be
told. The latter condition seems more likely, as the great
ash-cloud of the Soutfriore on this occasion took a northerly
direction, and swept completely over Martinique. On the
afternoon immediately preceding the evetninlg eruption of
August 30, I estimated, roughly perhaps, the elevation of
the Pel:e ash-cloud to have been between six and seven
miles, which is still considerably less than that of Krakatao
in 1883; but it is seemingly fully equal to the height of
any other volcanic cloud that has eern carefully observed.
It was then flowing almost directly northward, or somewhat
east of northward, and towards the region where the after-
glows were subsequently observed. This certainly helps to
link the after-glows with this eruption. And yet it would
be impossible to affirm in the ,absence of earlier observations
that the glows may not have been in part an accompaniment
of the first eruption, left over, and slow in coming. The
Krakatao after-glows were very tardy in their appearance
in some places.8


Statements vary, and will continue to vary, regarding
some of the phlenomena, that were developed coincidently with
the shooting out from the volcano of its destructive blast.
Pelke was almost immediately veiled in an impenetrable
mantle of ash, and the entire region was in obscuration,
which probably sufficiently explains the discrepancies that
appear in the statements of different observers. One of the
most interesting of the observations made is that relating to
the formation of a counter wind-one coming from the
direction opposite to that of the destroying tornado-a
plhonomenon which had already been noted by the observers
of the Tarawera eruption, in New Zealand, in 1886. M.
CIlestin, in his account. of the Maritinique disaster piuliished
in the Bulletin of the SoCi';f Atroioinl ye de Fraence
(August), dsccribes this sudde(nly-appearing wind from the
south as a vent iinqIfuca.r, un ,iwritfa/le boirra.tsqe, before
which the trees were bowed to the ground; and M. Roux,
evidently referring to the sanme wind, says that it tore the
leaves from the branches of the trees, and even broke the
smaller branches. On the morning of June 6, at the time
of the eruption of the great ash-cloud from Pclfe, which
was travelling with intense velocity southward, I noted the
regular clouds of the atmosphere, in a much lower stratum,
flying swiftly towards the volcano. They sceemled to be
pulled towards its active point. What the precise significance
of these counter currents may be, I do not profess to know,
but they may be bound up with a condition of atmospheric
rarefaction or vacuum frmied in the immediate compass of
the volcano.


Regarding the destroying blast itself, of which a fuller
consideration, is given elsewhere, it can only be s;idl in this
place that it was tornailic in the violence of its sweep, of an
intensely high degree of temperate liure, explosive in action,
and necess.-rily gaseous in construction. To what degree it
may lihve been ch'alrgl, with the earthy products of erup-
tion brought to a condition of incandescence cannot now
be determined, and probably never will be deteriinied
with certainty, but it seems positive, from the statements of
Captain Freemn, of the Roddam, and Chief-Officer Scott,
of the less fortunate Ror-;,in, that a rain of burning ashes
was an iiimeldiate acconmipaniment of the explosion, and
was perhaps directly responsible for the burning of most of
the shipping in the roadstead. We are told that the Rod-
dam "was covered from stem to stern with tons of piw(ltdered
lava, which retained its heat for h iiurs after it had fallen.
In many cases it was practically incandescent, and to move
about the deck in this burning mass was not only difficult,
but absolutely perilous." In Captain Freeman's recital it
is said that a wall of fire swept over the town and bay,
striking the Roddam b 1roadside, and with such force as to
nearly capsize her. A probably more correct interpretation
of this phenomenon would be that the swiftly-descending
volcanic cloud was surcharged with incandescent particles
(and burning flames of gas?) and thus gave the appearance
of a solid wall of fire.
Professor Hill, in his report to the National Geographic
Society,9 has already well stated that the cataclysm brought
no important change in the topography or contour of the


island, even in the quarter in which the volcano is im-
planted. The bays, valleys, gorges and ridges remain prac-
tically the same, and the new features, minor to the hlnd-
scape at large, are those which have been added through
the eruptive processes of the volcano-the crateral cone, the
deposits of ash, cinders, etc. ThEre has been no appre-
ciable rise in the general islanld-isurface, andl no subsideIllnc
either. The volcano, except for the loss of a portion of its
culminating Morne, stands as it did with its full height.
Some of the ravines and gorges of Pelde have unquestion-
ably been deepened and widened, but no important new
forms of this structure have been noted. It may be that
along some parts of the western coast of the island there
have been "drops" in the ocean basin-one such has been
noted at the mouth of the Pr&cheur River-but if subsi-
dences of this class at all, they are wholly of localized
extent and without special significance. The great abyss
that had been reported formed westward of Martinique on
the line of the Puerto-Plata cable has been shown by the
soundings of the French cable-steamer Pouyer--Qu''rf'lic to
be non-existent. The severed ends of the cable were found
in depths closely corresponding with those that had been
previously established by the cable-steamer Seine, in 1896,
for the approximate positions from which the strands were
recovered. Admiral Gourdon, Commandant of the Naval
Force of the Atlantic, has favored me with a tracing of the
operations of the Pouyer-Qtiurtier, made by Captain Thi-
rion, which is here reproduced, and also with a brief letter
addressed to him by the latter officer, in which the oppor-




4 I4

it ~

V i





i .


----- -1i|



--" ---


tunity is taken to deny the reported finding of a marked
oscillation in the ocean bottom. It states: Contrary to
the false reports that have been circulated touching the enor-
mous differences of depth that were thought to have been
found along the line of the cable, the plan which I trans-
mit to you indicates that the depths have but little varied."
The same letter, however, contains the interesting state-
ment that evidences of a sub-oceanic disturbance or boiling
(Mtbonleui mts) are not wanting, especially indicated in a
zone of one thouiisand to one tliousand and fourteen fathoms,
and it is thought that to it may be due the constant and
successive breakages of the cable.*
The remarkable condition in which one of the cable-
ends, coiled and knotted about a trunk or thick branch of a
tree, was brought up from a depth of six hundred fathoms,
and the fact that a buoy anchored in three hundred fathoms
was lost, seemingly sucked under, almost immediately after
it had been placed, go far to sustain this supposition. A
disturbance or ebullition along the sea-bottom is, indeed,
something that one could readily expect as a concomitant
of the Pelde eruption, and it ought not to surprise us if a
condition of active eruptions were at any time discovered to

"Neanmoins, dans le jqual;ril:atrLe qui figure sur le caique, et
qui represented la zone sillonn6e par notre grapin pendant plusiours
jours, nous sommes fort ports A croire quo des 6boulements se sont
products, Cboulencntir qui ont d'abord brisee notre cable, puis l'ont
enseveli, et nous mettent auijourd'hui dans I'impossibilit6 de lo crocher,
dans une zone encore mal definie."


exist in the greater shore depth about the island. Oceanic
distu rbances of greater or less magnitude have been noted
to have taken place about seven miles westward of the island
of St. Lucia; and sea-captains claim to have renm;rkcd a
material change in the course of the cllrrelnts sweeping


along the west and north coasts of Martinique. Unfortu-
n;itely, the observations which record these as-siumed dis-
turlbancc.s still lack full confirmation. On the other hand,
the sinking of a portion or of several portions of the sea-
bottom adljacclt. to the northern parts of the island of St.
Vincent, incident to the eruption of the Soiufrirre, seems to


be a well-established fact; but even here the full extent of
the subsidence or subsidences remains unknown.
What particular relation the eruption of Pel(e bears to a
condition of general catastrophism in the Caribbean region
is discussed in a later chapter; here it can only be said
that it followed as a culmination to events which hlad been
marked by such imnportant passages as the destruction, by
earthquake, of Chilpancingo, in southern MAexxico, in Janu-
ary of the same year; the destruction, also by earthquake,
of Quezaltenango, in Guatemala, on April 18; the minor
volcanic eruptions in Nicaragua and Costa Rica:; and the
immediately preceding eruption (May 6 and 7) of the Sou-
friere of St. Vincent. Some seismologists and vulcanolo-
gists have attempted to draw a parallel or correlation be-
tween the events of the western Mediterranean basin and
the somewhat similar ones-to which Vesuvius, the sub-
volcanic ebullitions along the coast of Spain, and tile nu-
merous earthquakes in the Balkan Peninsula have given
expression-occurring in the east or true Mediterranean,
but it is plain to see that the broad range and indiscrimi-
nate distribution of manifestations of like kind that can be
brought into such a time" correlation-as, for example, the
strong earthquakes in Finland of April 10-11; the strong
earthquake at Lake Baikal, April 12; the eruptions of Re-
doubt and Illiamna, Alaska, in April-May; and the earth-
quake of Shemaka, Caucasus, April 17-destroy any vnlue
that such a comparison might have, unless, indeed, it is
made for the purpose of demmonstrating that earthquake ;nd
volcanic phenomena the world over are on the ascendant,

After May oa


and that we have reached a particular moment in the
earth's history when the outer crust is being specially ;igi-
tated. There are no known facts in geology that can be
addluced in opposition to a demonstration of this kind, any
more than there are facts that might be saidi to directly sup-
port it. For the region about Pelee itself, however, it is
evident that a condition ias developed which is new to its
modern history, and one that opens a serious consideration
of facts in the geology and geography of a large section of
the earth's surface which have hitherto almost escaped at-



AT precisely two minutes after eight of the fatal May 8,
as marked by the time of the capital of Martinique, the
single word allez" was sent over the wire from Saint Pierre
to Fort-de-France. It came as a request to finish a message
travelling in the opposite direction. This was the last com-
munication that was received by the outside world from the
ill-fated city previous to its destruction.
When that final word left Saint Pierre, it would appear
that there was no particularly disquieting circumstance to
presage impending disaster. The good-natured operator was
at his post, attending in the usual way to the business of his
office. Yet, for days before, enough had taken place to
make the less strong fear and tremble, and to cause many
anxious hours to those who could not be comforted by scien-
tific explanation or newspaper analysis. In any country
but Martinique the symptoms of uneasiness to which Mont
Pelee gave expression would have impressively counselled
flight; but in this island of tropical dreams and sunshine
the warnings went for practically naught. A feeling of
strange security had impressed itself upon the people, for,
as appears from an announcement contained in Les Colonies,
the more important daily journal of Saint Pierre, a large
excursion had been planned as late as the 1st of May for
the summit of the mountain, to take place on the fourth of


that month. What pathos is carriedd in the words: If the
weather be fine, the excursionists will pass a day that will
long be kept in pleasant remembrance !" Only once before
in the lifetime of the oldest inhabitant of the island had the
volcano exhibited an uneasy temper, but it was recalled that
the eruption of 1851 had been without destructive character,
and with hardly enough life to it to cause discomfort even
to those approaching within close range of its fires. It was
thought reasonable, except by one or two, to whom volcanic
manifestations were more than passing shows, that this
eruption would be merely the echo of the one of the past,
and that no disastrous consequences need be feared. So
late as May 7, Les Colonies, which, for political reasons,
appears to have been particularly interested in holding the
inhabitants to their city, continued to scoff at those who
meditated flight. Earlier numbers of the same journal
describe the condition of panic which prevailed throughout
the many darkening days and nights of the city: men,
women and children moving and wailing, only to return in
most cases to their homes, to be lured again to a feeling of
fancied security. A wiser few had left for good, seeking
refuge in the quiet atmosphere of Morne Rouge, whose com-
manding heights, packed closely to the foot of Mont Pel6e
itself, surveyed the beautiful roadstead and the intercepting
declivity that descends to the water's edge.
Only in the light of the later occurrences can one picture
the dreary forecast of what wais then impending, the unusual
appearance of the city as it had already existed for many
days, and the higher resolve which prompted the inhabitants

to abide by the counsel of a few who undertook the work of
reassurance for the many. A city choked with sulphur, its
streets blocked with falling and fallen ash, and with a
burning and thundering volcano standing at its threshold
-this is the picture of Saint Pierre during the latter days
of April and early May, the city whose gayety had been
compared to that of Paris, and its life to that of Rome. In
the latter days of April, as is made known through a letter
written by the wife of the American Consul, Mrs. Prentiss,
the conditions then existing must have been all but unbear-
able, for as she writes: "The smell of sulphur is so strong
that horses on the street stop and snort, and some of them
drop in their harness and die from suffocation. Many of
the people are obliged to wear wet handkerchiefs to protect
them from the strong fumes of sulphur." The odor of
sulphurous gases had already been perceived three months
before, but seemingly not until April 23, when there was a
slight fall of cinders, did the volcano give external evidence
of an active existence. On that day a number of distinct
shocks were felt, causing the houses to rock and dishes to
fall from their shelves.
The student of a later day can plainly see that from
this time on to the fatal eighth, the succession of events
was rapidly hurrying to a climax. The activity of the
volcano was no longer localized, nor was it confined to one
form of demonstration. On April 25 smoke was noted
issuing from the summit vent; the crater had opened, and
a storm of rock and ashes was hurled into the air from the
ancient pot known as the Soufricre of the Etang Sec. A


second eruption on the day following caused considerable
disquietude, and by this time the covering of ash was a part
of the landscape. This earliest incident of any importance
that is connected with Mont Pelee's reawakening presents
itself in an interesting form through the observations made
after a brief interval of Messrs. Boulin, Waddy, D6cord,
Bouteuil, Ange and Berte, which are recorded in the issue
of Les Colonies under date of May 7. Ascending the
mountain (April 27) by way of the Petite Savane and
Morne Paillasse on a little-travelled and much overgrown
path, these investigators found to their surprise that the
normally dry bed of the Etang Sec or SoufriBre, which
had remained all but peaceful during the eruption of 1851,
and whose most advanced claim to activity lay in the emis-
sion of sulphurous vapors, was now in a condition of fer-
ment. A sheet of water, estimated to measure roughly two
hundred metres (six hundred and fifty feet) in diameter,
occupied the centre of a hollow or basin curettee), which in
itself had a basal diameter of three hundred metres.
Along one side of this picturesque lakelet, which more
than once before had come into being to mock its own
name of Etang Sec, rose a diminutive mountlet, hardly
more than thirty feet high, whose summit threw out long
trains of steaming vapor. The travellers observed a bril-
liantly shimmering surface appear at times beneath the
crowning vapor, while an almost continuous fall of water
was cascaded into the surrounding and lower-lying lake.
This small volcanic cone, whose crateral diameter was
assumed to be approximately fifty feet (fifteen metres), had


not been noted before, nor is there any reference to it con-
tained in the much earlier descriptions of the volcano. It
thus becomes particularly interesting as helping to localize
the rift whence issued the destroying force of the fatal May
day, and one of the points of main weakness in the volcano.
When it was first observed the noise of boiling matter came
loudly from within.
The days of assumed security continued to come and go,
bringing anxiety to many minds, and a still sterner resolve
to others to resist to the end. Light falls of ashes which
to some must have called up visions of distant Pompeii and
its destroyer Vesuvius, began to fasten a wintry look upon
the streets, while distant rumblings followed ominously
close upon one another. Through the obscured daylight
the eye could still follow the course of the unchanged land-
scape, but the ear noted the fall of rushing waters. The
idyllic Roxelane, so dear to the youth who knew no other
water but its own, had risen to a wild torrent, and on the
other side of the plain of the northern city roared the
Riviere des Peres. There appeared to be nothing to give
to these streams their temper, for no marked eruption is
noted at this time, but the waters came impelled with a
wild fury, and spread wreckage along their course.
The quiet of May 1 was followed by a day that largely
changed the aspect of the country. In the columns of
Les Colonies may still be seen the announcement of the
excursion planned for the summit of Mont Pelee, but a
white coat of ashes had covered the streets already in the
early hours of morning. It was like real winter this time.


The beautiful Jardin des Plantes, which had furnished
such rare treasures from the tropics to its parent in Paris,
lay buried with its palms, its ravenalas, rubber-trees, and
mangos, its giant cactuses and red hibiscus, beneath a cap
of gray and white-the same as the noble avenue of tropical
shade-trees on the Place Bertin. The heights above the
city were white-gray, and Grande Savane had several
inches of ash lying over it. The country roads were
blocked and obliterated, and horses would neither work nor
travel. Birds fell in their noiseless flight, smothered by
the ash that surrounded them, or asphyxiated by poisonous
vapors or gases that were being poured into the atmosphere.
The following days, the 3d and 4th of May, could
hardly have been those of assurance to the inhabitants, for
the volcano continued to tremble and to roar, and to throw
its heated ashes over at least a part of the city.
The rain of ashes never ceases," remarks Les Colonies
(May 3). "At about half-past nine the sun shone forth
timidly. The passing of carriages is no longer heard in
the streets. The wheels are muffled. The ancient trucks
creak languidly on their worn tires. Puffs of wind sweep
the ashes from the roofs and awnings, and blow them into
rooms of which the windows have imprudently been left
open. Shops which had their doors half-closed are now
barred up entirely. The following business houses are
closed to customers: the maisons Saint-Yves, Deplanche,
Doliret, Reynoird, Boissiere, Celestin, Constance Esope,
Boulange, Guichard, Dupuis et Cie., Vinac, Andrieux,
Villemaint, Lejeune, Delsuc, Lalanne, Medouze, Lathifor-


dire, Crocquet, Bazar du Mobilier, Bazar Sans Rival, etc."
The same issue of this journal announces the postponement
of the excursion to Mount Pelee in the following words:
"L'excursion qui avait te e pour drnaIun tua tin
n'aura pas lieu, le cratere tlanlt absolument inacce sibli.
Les personnel qui devaient y prendre part seront aisi'es
ulterieurement dujour oh cette excursion pourra etre reprise."
One can hardly picture at this time a scene of more
hopelessly impending ruin; for what the volcano had thus
far spared, or seemed disposed to spare, the torrential waters
of the descending streams threatened to take to themselves.
The sea is described as having been "covered in patches
with dead birds. Many lie asphyxiated on the roads. The
cattle suffer greatly-asphyxiated by the dust of ashes. The
children of the planters wander aimlessly about the court-
yards with their little donkeys, like little human wrecks.
A group goes along hesitatingly down the Rue Victor
Hugo. They are no longer black, but white, and look as
if hoar-frost had fallen over them. . Desolation, aridity,
and eternal silence prevail in the countryside. Little birds
lie asphyxiated under the bushes, and in the meadows the
animals are restless,-bleating, neighing and bellowing
The Riviere Blanche, which flows off the southwest-
ward slope of Mont Pelee and discharges two miles north
of Saint Pierre, was one of the eaux bouillants or turbulent
waters, sweeping relentlessly to the sea. In part of its
valley was enacted, on May 5, the first chapter in the
tragedy of Mont Pelee. Near the mouth of this stream, in


a tongue of flat-land that unites its bed with that of the
Rivibre Sche, was located one of the largest and most
profitable sugar establishments of the island. The Usine
Gu6rin had stood as a type for what it represented through
long years of toil and conquest, and its tall chimney looked
proudly over the fields of cane that circled about it, the
grands bois of the mountain slope, and the blue waters of
the near-by sea. Few of the great chains of wheels were
longer running, for the Riviere Blanche had given warning,
and the warning was for once heeded. Had the language
of the river been entirely understood, thirty or more human
lives would have been saved from the destruction that so
swiftly overtook the establishment. Hardly had the mid-
day hour passed on that eventful 5th, when the gates of the
volcano were drawn, and a flood of boiling mud was sent
hurling down the mountain side to be flung from it into the
sea. In three minutes it had covered its three miles to the
ocean, and within that time had left nothing visible of the
Usine Guerin but its chimney-a post projecting from a
desert of black boiling and seething mud. In this way
Pelee began its work of death.
It was needless to ask whence came the mud; it could
plainly be traced to the position of the Soufribre or Etang
Sec.'1 A care-worn observer was at this time following the
occurrence from the estate of Perrinelle. For days he had
been observing the volcano, turning a watchful eye to every
new phase of action that was presented. He felt within
himself how insecure was the ground that was trod in the
shadow of a burning volcano, and pointed out to his stu-


dents at the Lyc e the menacing force that was always
present. Professor Landes, alone, of the Commission that
was subsequently appointed by the Governor of Martinique
to inquire into the condition of danger, seems to have fully
realized the geological relations then existing, and it was a
fatal moment when, contrary to his better judgment, he


united in the counsel which advised a peaceful abidance
with the events that might follow. From his position at Per-
rinelle, Professor Lnlndes observed the torrential character
of the Riviere Blanche, which was hurling along blocks of
rock, estimated in some instances to weigh as much as fifty
tons (!); and at the same time he noted a white seething

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mass discharge with express-train velocity from the position
of the Etang Sec, and sweep down the mountain in the
plain between the Rivi'res Blanche and Siche. This was
the avalanche of boiling mud and water that fell upon the
Usine Guerin and annihilated it with its untbrtunate in-
mates. There can hardly be a question that the explana-
tion of the occurrence as given by Professor Landes is the
correct one: the Etang Sec, filled with the product that was
discharged into it by the newly-formed vent, broke through
one of its sustaining walls, and emptied itself of its boiling
contents. This condition makes intelligible tle enormous
quantity of mud that was precipitated at, one time, the
thickness of which in some parts of its flow was probably
not less than one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet.
The coast-line between Sainte Philomene and Fonds-Core
was materially extended by its discharge, and is to-day un-
recognizable in its contours to those who knew the region
To the greater fear that was brought to the inhabitants
by the volcano was now added that of a tidal" wave.
For a short time, indeed, it looked as if the city were to be
swept by the sea, for the waters, following a long recession,
rose high upon the beach, and penetrated even to the Place
Bertin. When the great mud-flow of the Rivicre Blanche,
shortly before half-after-twelve, local time, plunged into the
sea, the latter withdrew three hundred feet or more, per-
haps driven to this distance by the impounding force. A
yacht, the Prctclur, was overturned at her anchorage five
hundred feet from the shore. The transgression of the

- -- ---i


ocean was fortunately a quiet one, and it left the prome-
nade, the landing-place, and the central Place without in-
flicting serious damage. "A flood of lIumannity," remarks
Les Colohn es, "poured up from the low point of the Mouil-
lage. It was a flight for safety, without knowing where to
turn. Shop-girls were fleeing with bundles, one with a
corset, another with a pair of boots that did not match;
and all in burlesque attire which would have evoked
laughter had the panic not broken out at so tragic a
moment. The entire city is afoot. The shops and private
houses are closing. Every one is preparing to seek refuge
on the heights." At this time the roaring of the volcano
continued almost without intermission, relieved at intervals
by concussional shocks that told that something was doing.
Saint Pierre had been left in night darkness. For
many days the disturbed condition of the atmosphere had
interfered with its electric illulminaition, and it was largely
by the aid of brilliant flashes of lightning, which came
with almost blinding effect, that the terror-stricken inhabi-
tants were enabled to grope their way through the thicken-
ing streets-to inquire, to search, and to find not. LMany
had by this time fled to the hills, and others had left the
city and isl~lan for stabler shores, where there were but
faint echoes of the terrible dctin nations that broke finii the
mountain. On the day following the destruction of the
Usine Guerin, Pelee was shrouded in heavy cloud, and its
ashes and cinders fell over a wide country, extending from
Macouba, on the north coast, to Saint Pierre ;and beyond.
The vegetation of forest-land, savallnna and plantation was


burned, and the cane and cocoa-nut were bowed to mother-
earth under the load of ash and mud that had fallen. The
country had already before this come to wear a strangely
withered aspect, for much of that which was growing had
been stripped of its leaves and branches and otherwise de-
nuded. Some of the surface waters had disappeared,
whether sucked up by the volcano or not cannot be told,
and pieces of land been deserted by cattle and other animals
whose manner betrayed an anxiety of mind akin to that
which agitated man. During these many days the atmos-
phere had remained singularly impassive, the barometer at
Saint Pierre indicating at the noon hour a pressure of seven
hundred and sixty-one or seven hundred and sixty-two
millimetres, the fluctuation at this hour during many days
confining itself to hardly more than one millimetre.
An intelligent analysis of the situation prevents one
from understanding how with the conditions prevailing at
this time at Saint Pierre, with a roaring and erupting vol-
cano rising from its very foot, a placid attitude could have
been maintained that still counselled remaining, and scoffed
at the notion of a departure. Where on the island, the
inhabitants are asked editorially, could a more secure place
be found in the event of visitation by an earthquake ? The
earthquake, for which the poor people had trembled from
day to day, came not. In its place came that which was
wholly unexpected, and which, in fact, could not have been
foreseen. A commission appointed to investigate the con-
dition of the volcano reported that there was nothing in its
activity that warranted departure from the city. The posi-


tion of the craters and of the valleys opening on the sea
was such, they said, that the safety of Saint Pierre was
absolutely assured (" la position relatiire dvs c'ra/lneT ct des
vall'es ddbouchant vers /l mner perinet d'tifiirmer qulre s':-
curit; de rSaint Pierre res'e entiree".
This report was virtually, and perhaps willingly, en-
dorsed by the unfortunate Governor, who, lured to its creed,
embarked on that tour of personal examination to which lie
and his wife both fell victims. A flr keener foresight, was
that of the captain of the Italian ship Orsolina, wlio on
that 7th of May, contrary to the protests of those whom lie
was serving, and the threats of tlhe customs officers, decided
peremptorily to sail out with hi half cargo, and turn Iis
stern to Pelhe. He knew what Vesuvius was, lie said, but
he felt tliat Pel(e was much that Vesuvius vwas not.



WEDNESDAY, May 7, opened one of the saddest and
most terrorizing of the many days that led up to the final
Since four o'clock in the morning Pelee had been hoarse
with its roaring, and vivid lightning flashed through its
shattered clouds. Thunder rolled over its head, and lurid
lights played across its smkilng column. Some say that at
this time it showed two fiery crater-mouths, which shone out
like fire-filled blast furnaces. The volcano seemed prepared
for a supreme effort. When daylight broke in through
the clouds and cast its softening rays over the roadstead,
another picture of horror rose to the eyes. The shimmer-
ing waters of the open sea were loaded with wreckage of all
kinds-islands of debris from field and forest and floating
fields of pumice and jetsam. As far as the eye could reach, it
saw but a field of desolation. This was the early awaken-
ing of the day before the end, and one can hardly picture a
more disheartening opening of a new day. For days the
strenuous editor of the provincial paper, Les Colonies, had
been admonishing his readers to pay little heed to the vol-
cano, to regard its work more in the light of a nature-study
than of something to be feared. One reads with a feeling
of gentle pity an article on volcanoes that is publisheil in
the last issue of this journal. It is printed on the first


page, and in the first column, and tells of the general phe-
nomena of vulcanism. With a blind faith in the righteous-
ness of things, the same issue (May 7) publishes an inter-
view with Professor Landes, of the Lycee, in which that
unfortunate scientist is made to appear as saying that there
was not more to be feared at Saint Pierre from Mont Pelde
than there is at Naples from Vesuvius. One can hardly
credit this belief to a man of the scientific standing of
Professor Landes, and it is easily possible that the conclu-
sion that is inferentially drawn from the interview was con-
structed by the editor of the journal, and on perhaps justi-
fiable pr-.inises.
The following is the full text of the interview as it ap-
pears in the journal:

M. Landes, the (listirngllishcd professor of the Lyc6e, has been
pleased to grant us an interview yesterday, apropos of the volcanic
eruption of the Montagne Pelee and the phenomena which preceded
the catastrophe of the Usine Guerin.
The following is the result of our conversation.
On the morning of the 5th (May), M. Landes observed torrents
of smoke escaping from the summit portion of the mountain, from
the locality known as the Terre Fi,,n, i. He observed that the Rivicre
Blanche was swelling, and that it was running with five
times the volume of water that the high floods normally furnish. It
was hurling along blocks of rock some of which must have weighed
fifty tons.
M. L:ani.ld. was sta;tionidl at the habitation of Perrinelle and
searched at twelv.-fifty for the Etang Sec; he noted a whitish mass
desc.nd1 the slope of the mountain with the swiftlis-. of an express
train, and enter below the valley of the river, where it marked its

~ I


course with a thick cloud of white smoke. It was this mass of mud,
and not lava, which submerged the Usine.
Later on, at the foot of the Morne L6nard, it appl art.-l to M.
Landes that there was a new branch and that it possibly t1hr.w out lava.
M. Landes holds that the phenomenon of Monday is unique in
the history of volcanoes. It is true, he tells us, that the mud lavas
develop with very great rapidity, but this catastrophe was de.terminell
rather by an avalanche than by a flow of mud lava. The valley has
received the contents of the Etang Sec, whose dyke having broken,
permitted of the fall of the muddy waters from an altitude of seven
hundred metres. If, as a surprising fact, there is no trembling of the
surface under the influence of this enormous fall, it is simply because
the sea has acted as a buffer.
It follows from the observations of M. Landes that yesterday
morning (May 6) the central mouth of the volcano, situated over the
higher (summit) fissures vomited out more actively (though intermit-
tently) than ever pulvurulent yellow and black matter. It would be
advisable to leave the neighboring valleys and to locate rather on the
elevations in order to escape submergence by the mud lava, as was
the fate of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Vesuvius, adds M. Landes,
has made but few victims. Pompeii was vacated in time, and there
have been but few bodies found in the cngutlf,.,l cities.
Conclusion: The Montagne Pelee presents no more daniigr to
the inhabitants of Saint Pierre than does Vesuvius to those of Naples.

An editorial note, which is less confident in its tone
than other notes that had previously been published, sup-
plements the interview with the following: "Nevertheless,
this morning, the mountain being uncovered, the Morne
Lacroix shows in its lower part, on the side of the h]tang
Plein, a gash one hundred metres in length and forty
metres in bhight, making possible the fall of this promi-
nence, and with it the production of an earth tremor."


The other events that are chronicled in this last issue
of the Saint Pierre paper throw a vivid light upon the con-
ditions prevailing in the surroundings, and still further
darken the mystery of the quiet resolve to abide by the
events that were rapidly hurrying to a climax. There
were floods and torrents of boulders, villages inundated
and annihilated, and the ocean rising and falling in un-
known swells. The brighter days of springtime were made
black with the falling ash, thunder and lightning held sway
over the mountain heights, and the air was no longer fit for
man to breathe. Yet even in this late day, with the city
in panic, and with the visions of destruction made real
through the happenings of many days, the editor of Les
Colonies asks its readers: Why this fright, and why pre-
paring for flight ? He asks this question at the end of a
brief editorial paragraph which succinctly portrays the
condition of panic then existing, and which is as follows:

The exodus from Saint Pierre is steadily increasing. From
morning to evening and through the whole night one sees only hurry-
ing people, carrying packages, trunks, and children, and direc.tilng
their course to Fondi-Saint-Denis, Morne-d'Orange, Carbet, and else-
where. The steamers of the Cornpagnki Girard are no longer
empty. To give an idea of this mad flight, we give the folli,\ing
figur-s. The number of passengers which on the line of Fort-de-
Fran was ordinarily eighty a day, has risen since three 1anv to
three hundred.
We confess that we cannot understand this panic. Where could
one be better than at Saint Pierre? Do those who invade Fort-de-
France believe that they will be better off there than here should the


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