ESSAY ONE (1756) {1.429-61}*


	{431} Nature has not spread everywhere, in vain, a treasure of 
rarities for contemplation and admiration. Man, who is intrusted with the 
economy [Haushaltung] of the earth, [not only] possesses a capacity, [but] 
ìalsoü takes pleasure in learning to know it, and through his insights 
praises2 the Creator. Even the terrible instruments of the visitation of the 
human species, the shakings of countries, the raging of the ocean that is 
[violently] agitated to its [very] bottom, the fire-spewing mountains,3 
summon men to ìtheü contemplation ìof [nature]ü, and are not less implanted in 
nature by God as a just consequence of constant laws than other usual 
causes of incommodity,4 which are held ìto beü more natural only because 
we are better acquainted with them.
	The contemplation of such dreadful events is edifying [lehrreich]. It 
humbles man by showing him that he has no right, or at least that he has 
lost it, to expect convenient consequences only from the laws of nature, 
which God has ordered, and he ìalsoü perhaps learns in this manner to 
perspect [einsehen]: that this arena [Tummelplatz] of his desires ought not 
equitably to contain the aim of all his views.
* [Throughout these four essays, all notes appearing at the foot of the page 
are Kant's, aside from this one. The translators' and editors' notes are 
numbered and appear on pp.53-68. See the Note appended to the Table of 
Contents for further information.]

Of the Nature of the Earth in its Interior.

	We know pretty completely the surface of the earth, when the 
ampliation5 is concerned. But we have under our feet a world still, with 
which we at present are but ìveryü little acquainted. The mountainì-divides 
which openü unfathomable clefts6 to our plummet, {432} the caverns which 
we meet with in the bowels [Innern] of the mountains, the deepest shafts of 
the mines that we enlarge throughout7 centuries, are ìbyü far insufficient to 
procure us distinct knowledge of the internal structure of the great lump8 we 
	The greatest depth to which men have descended ìfrom the highest 
plane of the terra firma9ü does not ìyetü amount to 500 fathoms, i.e. ìnot 
yetü the six thousandth part of the distance to the centre of the earth, and yet 
these vaults still find themselves10 in the mountains, and even all terra firma 
is a mountain, in which, in order to arrive but at an equal depth with the 
bottom of the sea, one must go down at least thrice as deep.
	But what nature hides from our eye and from our immediate essays 
[Versuchen], she herself discovers by her effects. The earthquakes have 
revealed to us that the surface of the earth is full of vaults [Wšlbungen] and 
cavities, and that under our feet hidden mines with various labyrinths run 
everywhere. The progress [Verfolg] of the history of earthquakes will put 
this beyond a doubt. These cavities we have to ascribe to the very same 
cause which prepared the beds for the seas; for it is certain, when one [is in-
formed] of the remains ìwhichü the ocean ìleft behind by itsü former stay 
over the whole terra firma, of the immense [unerme§lichen] heaps of mus-
sels that are found even in the bowels of the mountains, of the petrified sea 
animals which are brought up from the deepest shafts, I say, when one is 
ìbutü in some measure informed [unterrichtet] of all these, one may easily 
perspect that firstlyì, a long time ago,11ü the sea covered all the land, that its 
stay continued long and is older than the deluge,12 and that ìfinally,ü the 
water could not possibly ìhaveü drawn back13 otherwise than by its bottom 
here and there sinking into deep vaults, and preparing the same deep basin, 
into which it has run, and between whose brims it is ìat presentü still con-
fined [beschrŠnkt erhalten wird], while the elevated parts of this sunk-in 
crust [Rinde] have become terra firma, which is everywhere undermined by 
cavities and whose tract is occupied by the steep ridges [Gipfeln], which 
under the name of mountains run through the highest heights of the terra 
firma14 according to all those directions in which it extends itself to any 
considerable length.
	{433} All these cavities contain a glowing fire, or at least that com-
bustible matter [Zeug] which requires but a small stimulation in order to 
rage with violence around it15 and to shake or even to split the earth 
[Boden] above it.
	When we consider the territory of this subterraneous fire in the 
whole area16 in which it extends, we must allow that there are few 
countries upon the earth which have not sometimes felt its effect. The island 
of Iceland in the remotest [part of the] north is subjected, and indeed not 
seldom, to its most violent shocks. In England and even Sweden there have 
been a few gentle [leichte] concussions. They are however to be found in 
the southern countries, I mean,17 in those that lie nearer the equator, more 
frequent and stronger. Italy, the islands of all the seas which lie near the 
equinoctial line [Mittellinie], chiefly those in the Indian Ocean, are 
ìfrequentlyü disturbed by this agitation of their floor.18 Among the latter 
there is scarcely a single one that has not a mountain which either ìat 
presentü spews fire19 sometimes still, or at least did formerly [spew fire], 
and they are just as frequently20 subjected to concussion. It is an 
agreeable21 precaution, if we [may] believe HŸbners' account of it,22 that 
the Dutch take in order not to expose the valuable spices of nutmegs and 
cloves, which they allow to be cultivated on ìbothü the islands of Banda and 
Amboina only, to the danger of being extirpated from the earth if 
ìsomething like the fate ofü a total destruction by an earthquake should hap-
pen to these islands, by always maintaining23 a nursery of both plants upon 
another island at a great distance ìfrom themü. Peru and Chili, that lie near 
the line, are more ìfrequentlyü tormented by this evil than any other country 
in the world. In the former ìcountryü a day seldom passes without a few 
small shocks of an earthquake being felt. One does not imagine that this 
may be considered24 as a consequence of the far greater heat of the sun, 
which acts upon the earth of these countries. In a cave [Keller] that is hardly 
40 feet deep, there is almost no25 difference to be distinguished between 
summer and winter. So little is the solar heat able to penetrate the earth to 
great depths, in order to allure26 the inflammable matter and to put [it] into 
commotion. The earthquakes rather accommodate themselves to the nature 
of the subterranean vaults and these to those laws, according to which must 
have taken place at the beginning the sinkings of the uppermost crust of the 
earth, ìandü which, the nearer {434} to the line, have made the deeper and 
more various bendings inwards [Einbeugungen], whereby these mines that 
contain the tinder for the earthquakes are grown more extensive and thereby 
fitter for its incension [EntzŸndung].
	This preparation [by what we have said] of the subterraneous 
passages is of no small importance to the insight of that which will 
afterwards occurì[:]ü of the wide extending of earthquakes in great 
countries, of the tracks they pursue, of the places where they rage the most, 
and of those where they first begin.27
	I [shall] now capture28 the history of the latest earthquake29 itself. I 
understand by it no history of the misfortunes which men have thereby suf-
fered, no list of cities destroyed and inhabitants buried under their ruins. 
Everything horrible which the imagination can represent to itself must be 
collected in order in some measure to exemplify30 to one's self the con-
sternation [das Entsetzen] in which men must be when the earth under their 
feet moves [and is torn with convulsions], when everything around them 
falls [to the ground], when the water put in violent motion31 ìmakesü the 
misfortune complete by overflowing, when the fear of death, the despair on 
account of the total loss of all property, [and] finally the sight of others' 
misery, discourage32 the most steadfast mind [Muth]. Such a narrative 
would be moving, it would, as it has an effect on the heart, perhaps like-
wise ìenableü one to have self-improvement.33 But I leave this history to 
more able hands. I [shall] here describe the work of nature only, the re-
markable natural circumstances which accompanied the dreadful event, and 
their causes.

Of the Forerunners of the ìLatestü Earthquake.

	I look upon the prelude of the subterranean inflammation, that after-
wards grew so amazing, to be the atmospheric phenomenon34 which was 
perceived at Locarno in Switzerland on the 14th October last year35 at 8 
o'clock in the morning. A warm vapour, as if coming out of an oven, dif-
fused itself and in two hours turned into a red fog, which towards evening 
occasioned a rain red as blood, that, when it was caught, deposited 1/9 of a 
reddish gluey sediment. The snow six feet deep was likewise tinged red. 
This purple rain was perceived ì[at] 40 hours, that is,36ü [to extend] about 
20 German miles in quadratum, yes,37 even to Schwaben. On this atmo-
spheric phenomenon followed {435} unnatural downpours,38 that in three 
days gave 23 inches of water,39 which is more than falls throughout the 
whole year in a country of a moderately damp nature. This rain continued 
over40 14 days, though not always with the same violence. The rivers in 
Lombardy that have their source in the mountains of Switzerland, as also 
the Rhone, swelled ìwith waterü and overflowed their banks. From this time 
prevailed in the air frightful hurricanes, which raged everywhere furiously. 
In the middle of November such a purple rain ìstillü fell in Ulm, ìandü the 
disorder in the atmosphere, the whirlwinds in Italy, [and] the extremely wet 
weather continued. 
	If we would form a conception of the causes of this phenomenon 
and of its consequences, ìthenü we must attend to41 the nature of the 
ground upon which it happened. All the mountains of Switzerland contain 
extensive clefts ìbeneath themü, which without doubt are connected with the 
deepest subterraneous passages. Scheuchzer numbers nearly 20 gulfs, 
which at certain times emit wind.42 If we ìnowü suppose that the mineral 
substances hidden in ìthe interior ofü these cavities are mixed and thereby 
occasion, with those fluidities with which they effervesce [aufbrausen], an 
internal fermentation which may prepare the materials nourishing the fire for 
that inflammation that within a few days is to break out entirely; if we, e.g. 
represent to ourselves that acid which is contained [steckt] in the spirit of 
nitre, and which nature herself necessarily prepares, how it, put in motion 
either by the afflux [Zuflu§] of water or by other causes, attacked the earth 
containing iron [die Eisenerde] upon which it fell, ìthenü these substances 
must have been heated by their being mixed, and have ejected red warm 
vapours from the clefts of the mountains, wherewith by the violence of the 
ebullition [Aufwallung] the particles of the red earth containing iron were at 
the same time mingled and carried away, which occasioned the gluey rain, 
[red as] blood, of which we have made mention. The nature of such 
vapours tends [geht dahin] to diminish the expansive power of the air, and 
ìevenü thereby to make the water vapours43 suspended in it run together, as 
also, by the attraction of all the humid clouds floating in the ambient [rund 
umher] atmosphere, by means of the natural declivity [Abhanges] towards 
the region where the height of the columns of air is lessened, to occasion 
that violent and constant downpour44 ìwhich has been perceivedü in the 
aforementioned countries.
	In this manner the subterranean fermentation {436} previously an-
nounced, by ejected vapours, the misfortune which it prepared in secret.* 
{436} *Eight days before the concussion the ground [Erde] near C‡diz was 
covered by a multitude of worms that had crept out of the earth. Only the 
adduced [angefŸhrte] cause drove them out. Of several other earthquakes, 
violent lightning in the air and the fear that ìoneü notices ìinü animals52 have 
been the precursors.
The achievement of destiny followed ìafterü it with slow steps. A fermenta-
tion does not immediately break out into inflammation. The fermenting and 
heating substances, in order to produce incension, must meet with a com-
bustible oil, sulphur, bitumen,45 or something of the same [sort]. ìAs long 
asü the heating extends itself here and there in the subterraneous passages, 
and the moment when the dissolved combustible substances are heated in 
the mixture with the others ìupü to the point46 to catch fire, the vaults of the 
earth are shaken, and the decree [Schlu§] of the fates is fulfilled.

The Earthquake and the Agitation of the Water
of the 1st November 1755.

	The moment at which this shock happened seems to be the most 
accurately determined at 50 minutes [past] 9 o'clock a.m. at Lisbon, this 
time agreeing exactly with that at which it was perceived in Madrid, 
ìnamely,ü from 17 to 18 minutes [after] 10 o'clock, when the difference of 
latitude of both cities is turned into the difference of time. At the same time 
the waters, both those that have a visible connection47 with the ocean and 
those that may be of a hidden ìkindü,48 were shaken to an astonishing area. 
From Abo in Finland to the archipelago of the West Indies few or no coasts 
were free from it. At almost ìjustü the same time it controlled49 a tract of 
1500 [German] miles. Were one assured that the time at which it was felt at 
GlŸckstadt on the Elbe might according to the public accounts be fixed ìvery 
preciselyü at 30 minutes [past] 11 o'clock, it would thence be concluded that 
the agitation of the water took 15 minutes to come from Lisbon to the coasts 
of Holstein. At this very time it was likewise felt on all the coasts of the 
Mediterranean Sea, and its whole extent50 is not yet known.
	The waters ìon the terra firmaü that appear to be deprived of every 
connection with the sea, the well-springs,51 the lakes, {437} were at the 
same time put into an extraordinary commotion [Regung] in many countries 
far distant from one another. Most of the lakes in Switzerland, the lake near 
Templin in the March, some lakes in Norway and Sweden, were put into an 
undulation [eine wallende Bewegung] ìthat wasü far more boisterous ìand 
irregularü than in a storm, and the air was at the same time calm. The lake of 
Neuschatel, if we may rely upon the accounts ìthereofü, ran into hidden 
clefts, and ìthatü of Meiningen ìalso did thisü, but soon came back 
ìagainü.53 At this very moment the mineral water of Tšplitz in Bohemia 
ìsuddenlyü stopped [blieb ... aus], and returned [kam ... wieder] red as 
blood. The force with which the water was driven widened its old passage, 
and it thereby acquired a greater afflux. The inhabitants of this place had 
good ì[reason]ü to sing te Deum laudamus,54 while those of Lisbon struck 
up55 quite other tones. Such is [the nature of] the incidents that befall the 
human species. The joys of the one and the misfortunes of the other have 
frequently a common cause. In the kingdom of Fez in Africa, a subterrane-
ous power split a mountain and poured ìa blood-redü stream56 out of its 
gulf. Near Angoulme in France a subterraneal noise was heard, a deep 
vault opened itself on the plain and contained ìin itü unfathomable water. At 
GŽmenos in Provence, a spring grew suddenly slimy and ran afterwards [of 
a] reddish colour. The surrounding countries gave notice of similar 
alterations in their springs. All these took place at the same minute that the 
earthquake laid waste the coasts of Portugal. Here and there during ìevenü 
this short term of time [Zeitpunkte] a few concussions of the earth were 
perceived in far distant countries. But they almost all happened close to the 
ìseaücoast. At Cork in Ireland, as also at GlŸckstadt and at several other 
places that lie near the sea, small quakings happened. Milan is perhaps at the 
greatest distance from the seaìshoreü of any place that was shaken ìon just 
the sameü day. ì[On] justü this morning at 8 o'clock ì[Mount]ü Vesuvio 
raged ìnear Naplesü and was quiet towards the time when the concussions 
happened at Portugal.

Contemplation of the Cause of this Agitation 
of the Water.

	History affords no example of a commotion [RŸttelung] of all the 
ì[bodies of]ü water and of a great part of the earth so extensive and at the 
same time in the course of a few minutes. Hence circumspection57 {438} is 
necessary, in order to gather the cause of it from a single case. The fol-
lowing causes, especially, which may have produced the quoted58 event of 
nature, may be conceived: ìeither firstly,ü by a concussion of the bottom of 
the sea everywhere immediately under those places where the sea was 
shaken, and ìthenü a reason must be given why the veins of fire which pro-
duced these concussions run ìmerelyü under the bottom of the seas, without 
extending themselves under the countries that are more nearly conjoined 
with these seas and frequently break off their connection.59 One would find 
himself perplexed by the question, Whence the concussion of the bottom, as 
it extended itself from GlŸckstadt on the North Sea to LŸbeck in the east and 
to the coasts of Mecklenburg, was not felt in Holstein, which lies in the 
middle between these seas, and ìwhereü only ìperhapsü a slight shaking was 
ìthought to beü felt near the coast,60 but none in the interior [parts] of the 
country. But one is the most distinctly convinced by the undulation of the 
water far distant from the sea, as of the lake of Templin, of those in 
Switzerland and others. It may be easily imagined that, in order to put ìa 
[body of]ü water into such a powerful ebullition61 by the shaking of the 
bottom, the concussion must certainly not be small. But why did not all the 
circumjacent [umliegende] countries, under which the vein of fire must of 
necessity have run, feel this powerful shock? It is easily seen that all the 
criteria of truth are contrary to this opinion. A concussion which is im-
pressed around on the solid mass of the earth itself by a violent jolt62 hap-
pening at a place, ìjustü as the ground shakes at some63 distance when a 
powdermill blows up, in the application to this case ìlikewiseü loses all 
probability, as well from the cause ìalreadyü mentioned64 as on account of 
the dreadful area65 which, when it is compared with the area of the whole 
earth, makes up a part of it so considerable that its66 concussion must 
necessarily draw after it a shaking of the whole globe. But we may ìnowü 
learn from Buffon that an eruption of subterraneous fire, which a mountain 
ìthat wereü 1700 miles long and 40 broad might throw a mile high, could 
not displace the earth a ìthumb's breadth from its positionü.67
	We have then to seek the extending of this agitation of the water in a 
{439} medium that is fitter for communicating a concussion to great dis-
tances, namely, ìinü the water of the sea itself, which is in connection with 
that which is put into a violent and sudden commotion by an immediate 
shaking of the bottom of the sea.
	In the Kšnigsberg Weekly News68 I ìhaveü endeavoured to estimate 
the force wherewith the sea is pushed on in the whole area by the jolt 
proceeding from the concussion of its bottom, ìbyü supposing the shaken 
place of the bottom of the sea ì[to be]ü but as a square whose side is equal to 
the distance between Cape St. Vincent and Cape Finisterre, i.e. the length of 
the west coasts of Portugal and Spain, and considering the force of the 
rising ground ì[to be]ü like that of a mine of powder, which in blowing 
up69 is able to throw the bodies that are ìsituatedü upon it 15 feet high, and, 
according to the rules by which the motion in a fluid substance70 is 
continuous, ìIü found it greater on the coasts of Holstein than the most 
rapidly advancing current.71 Let us here contemplate from ìyetü another 
point of view the force which it used from72 these causes. By ì[using]ü the 
plumb-line Count Marsigli found the greatest depth of the Mediterranean 
ìSeaü [to be] over 8000 feet,73 and it is certain that the ocean at a proper 
distance from the land is yet deeper; but we shall here suppose 6000 feet 
only, i.e. 1000 fathoms deep. We know that the weight with which ìsuchü a 
ìhighü column of seawater presses upon the bottom of the sea must exceed 
almost 200 times the pressure of the atmosphere, and that it still far exceeds 
the force of the fire behind a ball which is projected 100 fathoms away74 
from the cavity of a cannon in the time of a ì[heart]übeat.75 This prodigious 
weight could not hold back76 the force with which the subterraneous fire 
quickly ascended ìupwardsü, consequently this vix motrix77 was greater. 
By what pressure then was the water compressed,78 in order to shoot out79 
suddenly towards the sides? and is it ìquiteü astonishing, if within a few 
minutes it is felt both in Finland and ìat the same timeü in the West Indies? It 
cannot at all be80 made out, how great the base of the immediate concussion 
may ìin factü have been; it is perhaps incomparably81 greater than we have 
assumed it; but among the seas where the agitation of the water was felt 
without any earthquake, on the coasts of Holland, England, [and] Norway 
and on the east sea, {440} it was certainly not to be met with in the bottom 
of the sea. For then the terra firma [too] would have certainly been shaken 
in its interior [parts], but which was by no means observed.
	Though I ascribe the violent concussion of all the connected82 parts 
of the ocean to the single shock which its bottom suffered in a certain dis-
trict,83 I do not mean for this reason84 to deny the actual diffusion of the 
subterraneous fire under the terra firma of almost all Europe. In all probabil-
ity they happened at the same time, and both had ìaü part in the phenomena 
that came to pass, only that ìeachü one in particular is not [to be] considered 
as the sole cause of [them] all ìtogetherü. The commotion of the water in the 
North Sea, which occasioned [empfinden lie§] a sudden shock, was not the 
effect of an earthquake raging under the bottom. Such concussions must be 
very violent in order to produce the like effect, and must have therefore been 
very sensibly felt under the terra firma. But I do not deny for this reason85 
that even all terra firma is put into a gentle vacillancy by a weak power of 
vapours inflamed under its bottom or ì[by]ü other causeìsü. This is seen 
with [regard to] Milan, which was threatened on this same day with the 
greatest danger of a total overthrow. We shall then lay down [setzen] that 
the earth was by a gentle vacillation put into an easy motion, which was so 
great that at 100 Rhineland rods86 it shook the earth [das Erdreich] 
ìalternativelyü backwards and forwards by87 an inch: and this motion 
would be so insensible that a building of 4 rods high could not thereby be 
put out of the perpendicular position ìbyü [more than] half a grain, i.e. ìbyü 
a half of the back of a knife, which even on the highest towers would be 
scarcely perceptible. On the other hand,88 the lakes must have rendered this 
insensible motion very perceptible. For if a lake is ìe.g.ü but 2 German 
miles long, ìthenü its water would ìcertainlyü be very strongly shaken by 
this small waver89 of its bottom; for the water then has in 14000 inches 
about an inch of fall, and a runì-offü which is nearly only about the half 
smaller than the runì-offü of a very rapid river, as the levelling of the water 
of the Seine near Paris may teach us, which, after a few vibrations ìhap-
pened now and thenü90 may have well occasioned an extraordinary shaking 
of the water. But we may with good reason assume the motion of the earth 
{441} as great again, as we have done, without its consequently91 being 
felt on the terra firma, and then the motion of the ìinlandü lakes is the more 
[obvious and] comprehensible.92
	One will ìthereforeü no longer be surprised93 if all the ìinlandü lakes 
in Switzerland, in Sweden, in Norway and in Germany, without feeling a 
shake of the bottom, are seen ì[to be]ü94 so troubled and boiling up. But it 
is found somewhat extraordinary that certain lakes near this disorder en-
tirely95 dried up, as the lake of Neuschatel, that of Como and ìthatü of 
Meiningen, though some of them have already96 filled ìupü again. This 
event, however, is not without example. There are some lakes ìupon the 
earthü which at certain times run out quite regularly97 by hidden canals, and 
return at a stated period [zur gesetzten Zeit]. The lake of Cirnitzer in the 
Duchy of Carniola is a remarkable instance of this. It has in its bottom a few 
holes, through which, however, it does not run off sooner than around St. 
James' ì[Day]ü,98 when it ìthenü suddenly drains away with all the fishes 
and, after having left its bottom for 3 months as dry as a good meadow or 
[und] a field, towards November suddenly appears again.99 This event of 
nature is very conceivably explained by the comparison with the diabetes of 
the hydraulics.100 But in the cases before us it may be easily imagined that, 
as many lakes receive an afflux from the springs ìsituatedü under their bot-
tom, those [springs] which have their head in the neighbouring heights, 
after the effect of the subterraneous heat and evaporation has consumed the 
air in the cavities, which are their reservoirs, must thereby have been drawn 
into these [cavities] and even have furnished a powerful suction to carry in 
with [them] the lake which, after a re-established equilibrium of the air, 
sought its natural issue again. For that a lake, as was endeavoured [wollen] 
to be explained by the public accounts of the ì[lake]ü of Meiningen, is main-
tained by a subterraneous connection with the sea, because it has no external 
afflux by brooks,101 is exposed to a ìveryü palpable absurdity, as well on 
account of the laws of equilibrium opposing it, as ìlikewiseü on account of 
the saltiness of the seawater.
	The earthquakes have this [das schon] as something common to 
themselves, that they put the sources of water102 into disorder. I could here 
produce [anfŸhren], from the history of other earthquakes, a whole register 
of springs that stopped and broke out at another place, of spring-water 
gushing very high out of the earth and such {442} like, but I [will] stick 
to103 my subject. It has been reported to us104 that in several parts of 
France [some] springs have stopped and others discharged an immense 
quantity of water. The Tšplitz well ran out,105 made the poor inhabitants 
[Tšplitzern] anxious,106 [and] returned first muddy, then red as blood, 
[and] at last natural and stronger than before.107 The coloration of the water 
in so many countries, even in the Kingdom of Fez and in France, is in my 
opinion108 to be ascribed to the mixture of vapours fallen into fermentation 
with sulphur and particles of iron, pressed through the layers109 of earth 
where the springs have their passage. When this [mixture]110 penetrateìsü 
into the interior parts of the cisterns which contain the source of the well-
spring, ì[the mixture]ü either driveìs [the well-spring]ü out111 with greater 
force or, ìbyü pressing the water into other passages, ìitü alterìsü their efflux 
	These are the chief curiosities of the history of the 1st November and 
of the agitation of the water, which is the rarest of its details.112 It is ex-
tremely credible to me that the concussions of the earth which happened 
close to the seashore, or of ìa [body of]ü water that has connection with [the 
sea], ì[e.g.]ü at Cork in Ireland, ìinü GlŸckstadt, and here and there in 
Spain, are for the most part to be attributed ìjustü to the pressure of the 
compressed seawater, whose force must be incredibly great when the vio-
lence with which it dashes is multiplied by the plane which it strikes, and I 
am of ìtheü opinion that the misfortune of Lisbon, as well as that of most of 
the [other] cities on the west coast of Europe, is to be ascribed to the situa-
tion which it had with regard to the moved part of the ocean, as its whole 
force, strengthened ìstillü more113 in the mouth of the Tejo114 by the nar-
rowness of a bay, must extraordinarily shake the bottom. Let it be judged 
whether the concussions which were not sensible in the interior of the 
country could have been distinctly felt only in the cities which lie near the 
seashore,115 if the pressure of the water had not had a share in them.
	The last phenomenon of this great event is ìstillü remarkable, as a 
considerable time, ìnamely,ü from 1 [hour] to 11/2 hours after the 
earthquake, a dreadful accumulation of the water in the ocean and a swelling 
ìupü of the Tejo, which ìalternatelyü rose 6 feet higher than the highest flood 
and soon after fell almost as much lower than the lowest ebb, were seen. 
This motion of the sea, which took place a considerable time after {443} the 
earthquake and after the amazing pressure of the water, ìalsoü completed the 
destruction of the city of Setœbal by rising above its remains,116 and totally 
ruined what the concussion had spared. When one has previously formed a 
just conception of the violence of the seawater pushed forward by the 
moved bottom of the sea, he may easily represent to himself that it must, 
after its pressure has extended itself through all the immense regions 
around, return with power. The time of its return depends on the great area 
in which it acted around it, and its ebullition, chiefly near the shores, must 
according to that have ìalsoü been just as terrible.*

The Earthquake of the 18th November.

	From the 17th to the 18th of this month, the public accounts gave 
notice of a considerable earthquake on the coasts as well of Portugal as of 
Spain and in Africa. On the 17th at 12 o'clock [Mittags] it was felt at 
Gibraltar ìnear the straits of the Mediterranean Seaü, and towards the 
evening at Whitehaven in Yorkshire ìin Englandü. [On] the 17th [and] ìon 
theü 18th it was ìalreadyü in the [then] English colonies of America. On the 
ìsameü 18th it was ìalsoü violently felt in the neighbourhood of 
Aquapendente and della Grotta in Italy.**
{443} *In the harbour of Husum ìthisü ebullition of the water was ìalsoü 
perceived between 12 and 1, therefore ìaboutü an hour later than the first 
shock of the water in the North Sea.

{443} **As also at Glowson in the county of Hertford, where with a 
violent noise it opened an abyss, in which is contained very deep water.

The Earthquake of the 9th December.

	According to the testimony of the public accounts, Lisbon suffered 
no shocks117 since the 1st November so violent as those of the 9th Decem-
ber. This [earthquake] was felt on the southern coasts of Spain, on those of 
France, through the mountains of Switzerland, Schwaben, and Tyrol as far 
as Bavaria. It ranged from southwest to northeast about 300 German miles, 
and, keeping in the direction of that chain of mountains which runs along 
the greatest height of the terra firma {444} of Europe according to its 
length, did not extend itself much sidewards. The most careful geographers, 
Waren,118 Buffon, [and] Lulof,119 observe that, ìjustü as all land which 
extends more in length than in breadth is crossed in the direction of its 
length by a principal mountain [Hauptgebirge], ìso [also]ü the chief tract of 
the mountains of Europe from a head stock [Hauptstamme], ìnamelyü the 
Alps, extends towards the west through the southern provinces of France, 
through the middle of Spain to the utmost shore of Europe towards the west 
[gegen Abend], though it shoots out on the way considerable collateral 
branches, and in like manner to the east, through the Tyrolese and other less 
considerable mountains, unites [zusammen stš§t] at last with the Carpathian 
	The earthquake ran through [these in] this direction ìonü the same 
day. If the time of the concussion of every place were accurately noted, 
ìthenü the velocity might in some measure be estimated and the situation of 
the first inflammation in all probability determined, but the accounts agree 
so little, that with regard to them nothing can be relied upon.
	I have already mentioned ìelsewhereü that the earthquakes, when 
they extend themselves, commonly keep the tract of the highest mountainsì, 
and indeed,ü through their whole extent, even if these ì[mountains]ü degrade 
ìthemselvesü the more,120 the more they approach the seashore. The direc-
tion of long rivers denotes very well the direction of the mountains, when 
between them rows of the same ì[i.e. of rivers]ü run near each other,121 as 
ìthey run onü into the lowest part of a long valley. This law of the extension 
of earthquakes is not an affair of speculation or of judgment, but is ìsome-
thing that isü known by the observation of many earthquakes. The testi-
monies of Ray,122 Buffon, Gentil, etc. must therefore be adhered to. But 
this law has of itself so much ìinnerü probability, that it ìalsoü must easily 
acquire assent from ìitselfü. When one reflects that the openings whereby 
the subterraneous fire seeks vent [Ausgang] are nowhere else than in the 
summits of the mountains, that gulfs casting out flames are never perceived 
in the plains, that in the countries where earthquakes are powerful and 
frequent, most of the mountains have wide mouths that serve to eject the 
fire, and that, as to our European mountains, roomy cavities, which are no 
doubt connected, are nowhere ìelseü discovered but in them; [and] when the 
conception of the generation of all these subterranean vaults {445}, above 
spoken of, is applied to these, ìthenü no difficulty will be found in the repre-
sentation, how the inflammation, chiefly under the chain of mountains 
which run through the length of Europe, can meet with open and free pas-
sages, in order to extend itself quicker therein than towards other regions. 
	Even the continuation of the earthquake of the 18th November from 
Europe to America under the bottom of a wide sea is to be sought in the 
connection of the chain of mountains, which [chain], though in the continu-
ation it grows so low as to be covered by the sea, ìnevertheless alsoü re-
mains the same mountain, for we know that as many mountains are to be 
met with in the bottom of the ocean as upon the land; and in this manner the 
Azores ìIslandsü, that lie half way between Portugal and North America, 
must be placed in this connection.

The Earthquake of the 26th December.

	After the incension [Erhitzung] of the mineral substances had 
penetrated the main trunk [Hauptstamm] of the highest mountains of 
Europe, ìnamelyü the Alps, it ìalsoü opened for itself the narrower 
passage123 under the row124 of mountains which runs rectangularly from 
south to north, and extends itself in the direction of the Rhine, which, like 
all rivers in general, occupies a long valley between two rows of hills, from 
Switzerland to the North Sea. It shook on the west side of the river the 
provinces of Alsace, Lorraine, the electorate of Cologne, Brabant, and 
Picardy, and on the east side Cleves, a part of Westphalia, and probably 
ìevenü a few countries lying on this side of the Rhine, of which the accounts 
have not mentioned in detail.125 It evidently kept a tract parallel to the 
direction of this great river and extended itself not far from it towards the 
	It may be asked how it can accord with the above that126 it ì[the 
earthquake]ü penetrated ìas far asü into the Netherlands, which are without 
any remarkable mountains.127 But it is enough that a country is in an 
immediate connection with certain rows of mountains and is considered as a 
continuation of them, in order to carry on the subterraneous inflammation 
under this ìotherwiseü low ground, for it is certain that then the chain of 
cavities ìlikewiseü extends ìitselfü under it, in the same manner as it 
continues ìevenü under the bottom of the sea, as aforesaid. {446}

Of the Intervals that pass between some
Earthquakes following one another.

	When the succession128 of the concussions that have happened after 
one another is contemplated with attention, ìthenü, if one dares to be willing 
to conjecture,129 a period might be discovered [herausbringen] in which the 
inflammation broke out anew after an intervening cessation. We find after 
the 1st November a very violent concussion in Portugal on the 9th as also 
on the 18th as it extended towards England, Italy, Africa, and even ìas far 
asü to America on the 27th ì[we find]ü a strong earthquake on the southern 
coasts of Spain, chiefly in Malaga. From this time it continued 13 days, till 
it on the 9th December ran through [traf] the whole tract from Portugal ìas 
far asü to Bavaria from southwest towards northeast, and since this ì[time]ü, 
at the expiration of 18 days, namely, the 26th to the 27th December, it 
shook the breadth of Europe from south to north,* so that, when that time 
which it took to penetrate into the bowels [Innerste] of the mountains of our 
terra firma, and on the 9th December to move the Alps and the whole length 
of their chain, is assumed, in general a pretty exact period of 9 or twice 9 
days has passed between the repeated inflammations. I do not produce this 
with a view [zu dem Ende] of concluding anything from it, because the 
accounts are far too little authentic for that [purpose], but in similar cases in 
order to give occasion to more accurate observation and reflection.
	I shall here adduce but something in general of the concussions 
reciprocally remitting and recommencing. Mr. Bouguer, one of the deputies 
of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris to Peru, had the inconvenience 
of living130 in this country near a fire-spewing mountain, whose thunder-
ing noise allowed him no rest. The observation which he made on this 
[occasion] might give him some satisfaction ìfor [enduring] that 
[experience]ü,131 as 
{446} *On the 21st it was very violent in Lisbon, on the 23rd in the 
mountains of Roussillon, and ì[it]ü continued there till the 27th. From this it 
may be [ist] seen that it began again from the southwest and ìindeedü 
required a much longer time to extend. And when the place of incension, 
which is clear from the whole course of the earthquake, is placed in the 
ocean of Portugal towards the west, ìthenü its beginning is tolerably con-
nected with the period in hand.
he remarked that the mountain was always quiet at equal intervals,132 and 
its ragings followed one another in an orderly manner with {447} ex-
changed points of rest. The remark Mariotte made on a limekiln which was 
kindled and sometimes ejected the air out of an open window, sometimes 
drew it back again, whereby it in some measure imitated the respiration of 
animals,133 has a great similarity with this, both dependìingü upon the 
following causes. When the subterraneous fire inflames [in EntzŸndung 
gerŠth], it forces [stš§t] all the air out of the cavities around it. Where this 
air, which is filled with the igneous parts, ìnowü finds an opening, e.g. in 
the mouth of a fire-spewing mountain, ìthereü it ìthenü rushes [fŠhrt] out, 
and the mountain casts out flames [Feuer]. But as soon as the air is driven 
ìawayü from the area of the hearth134 of inflammation, the inflammation 
remits, for without the access of air all fire extinguishesì; afterwards the air 
which was driven away [comes] back again to its place and reignites 
[weckt] the extinguished fire, since the cause which had expelled it 
ceases[.]ü [I]n like manner the eruptions of a fire-spewing mountain vary 
regularly at certain intervals ìafter each otherü. It is the same [Eben die 
Bewandtni§ hat es] with the subterraneous inflammations, even where the 
expanded air can find no issue through the clefts of the mountains. For 
when the inflammation begins at a place in the cavities of the earth, it forces 
the air ìwith violenceü in a great area into all the passages of the subter-
ranean vaults that are connected therewith. At this moment the fire chokes 
for want of air. And ìjustü as soon as this expansive power of the air remits, 
that [air], which was diffused through all the cavities, returns with great 
force and blows up [facht ... an] the smothered fire into a new earthquake. 
It is remarkable that Vesuvio, which, when the fermentations in the bowels 
of the earth began well, was put in motion and set on fire by the issue of the 
air forced through his throat,135 suddenly remitted a short time ìthereü-
after,136 when the earthquake happened at Lisbon; for all the air ìstandingü 
in any connection with these vaults, and even that which is ìsituatedü above 
the summit of Vesuvio, rushed [drang] through all the channels to the ìfire-
ühearth of ìtheü inflammation, where the diminution of the expansive power 
of the air allowed it access. What an astonishing object! To represent to 
one's self a chimney which, by air holes137 ìthat areü 200 [German] miles 
distance ìfrom itü, furnishes ìitselfü with a draught!138
	It is ìalsoü the very same cause, which must produce in the vaults of 
the earth subterranean gales,139 whose force, {448} if the situation and 
connection of the cavities were suitable to their extension, would far exceed 
everything we perceive upon the surface of the earth. The noise that in the 
progress of an earthquake is heard [verspŸrt] under the feet is probably to 
be attributed to no other cause than ìjustü this.
	From this we may presume with probability that not just all 
earthquakes are occasioned by the inflammation's happening directly under 
the ground which is shaken; but that the fury of ìthisü subterraneous storm 
may put in motion140 the vault that is above them, of which will be the less 
doubted when one reflects: that a much denser air than that ìwhich is foundü 
upon the surface of the earth may by far more sudden causes than these be 
put in motion and, strengthened between passages that impede its 
extending, exercise an unheard-of power. It may likewise be presumed that 
the slight waver of the ground in the greater part of Europe during the 
violent inflammation which happened in the earth on the 1st November is 
perhaps to be derived from nothing but this violently agitated subterraneous 
air, which like a violent gale gently shook the ground that opposed its 

Of the Hearth of the subterraneous Inflamma-
tion, and the Places which are subjected to the
most [frequent] and most dangerous Earthquakes.

	By the comparison of the time we learn [ersehen] that the place of in-
cension of the earthquake of the 1st November was in the bottom of the sea. 
The Tejo that ìalreadyü swelled before the shake, the sulphur which the 
mariner with the plumb-line141 brought up from the shaken bottom, and the 
violence of the concussion which [the sailors] felt, confirm it. The history 
of former earthquakes makes ìit likewise clearlyü known142 that the most 
frightful concussions have always happened in the bottom of the sea, and 
next to this at the places ìwhich lieü near the seashore or not far ìremovedü 
from it. As a proof of the former I produce [fŸhre] the raging fury, with 
which the subterraneous inflammation has frequently raised up new islands 
from the bottom of the sea and, e.g. in the year 1720, near the island St. 
Michael, one of the Azores, from a depth of sixty fathoms threw up, by an 
ejection of matter from the bottom of the sea, an island, which is 1 mile long 
and elevated some fathoms above the [surface of] the sea. The island {449} 
near Santorino in the Mediterranean ìSeaü, which in our century in the 
presence of several persons rose [in die Hšhe kam] from the bottom of the 
sea, and many other examples, which I pass over in order to avoid [wegen] 
prolixity, are unexceptionable143 proofs of this.
	How often do ìnotü seamen suffer[, so to say,] a seaquake; and in 
some regions,144 chiefly in the vicinity of certain islands, the sea is 
plentifully filled with pumice and other sorts of ejections of a fire broken out 
through the bottom of the ocean. The observation of the numerous 
concussions of the bottom of the sea is naturally [natŸrlicher Weise] 
connected with the question: Why of all places of the terra firma none are 
subjected to more violent and more frequent earthquakes than those that lie 
not far from145 the seashore. This latter proposition has an indubitable 
correctness:146 let us run over the history of earthquakes, and we shall find 
innumerable misfortunes happen through earthquakes to cities or countries 
which are near the seashore, but very few and those of little consequence 
that are perceived in the middle of the terra firma. Ancient history ìalreadyü 
informs us of dreadful devastations, which this evil [Unheil] has 
perpetrated147 upon the seacoasts of Asia Minor or Africa. But neither 
among them nor among the more modern [neuern] do we find considerable 
concussions in the heart of great countries. Italy, which is a peninsula, most 
of the islands of all the seas, that part of Peru which lies near the ìseaüshore, 
suffer the greatest attacks of this evil [Ÿbels]. And in our days all the 
western and southern coasts of Portugal and Spain have been shaken far 
more than the interior [parts] of the terra firma.148 Of both questions I give 
the following solution.
	Of all the continuous cavities ìwhich are nowü under the uppermost 
crust of the earth, without doubt those which run under the bottom of the 
sea must be the narrowest, because there the continued bottom of the terra 
firma has sunken ìdownü to the greatest depth and must rest much lower 
upon its undermost basis than the places that lie towards the middle of the 
continent [Landes]. But it was known that in narrow cavities a kindled ex-
pansive matter must act more furiously [heftiger] around it than where it can 
extend itself. Besides, it is natural to believe that, as is not to be doubted of 
the subterraneous incension, the effervescing mineral and inflammable 
substances very often fall into fusion [werden ... in Flu§ gerathen sein], as 
the streams of brimstone and lava which are frequently poured from the fire-
spew{450}ing mountains may show, ìandü therefore, on account of the 
natural declivity of the bottom of the subterranean vaults, they [must] have 
always run towards the lowest cavities of the bottom of the sea, [and also] 
on account of the abundant [hŠufigen] store of inflammable matter, more 
frequent and more powerful concussions must have here happened.
	Mr. Bouguer conjectures correctly149 that the penetrating of the 
seawater by the opening of a few chinks in the bottom [of the sea] must put 
the mineral substances, naturally inclined to inflammation, into the most 
violent ebullition.150 For we know that nothing can put ì[fire-]üheated 
minerals into a more amazing fury than the afflux of water, which ìthe rage 
itselfü constantly augments,151 till its force extending itself on all sides 
prevents the further access of [the water] by ejecting all [sorts of] earthy 
substances and stopping up its opening.
	In my opinion, the extraordinary violence, with which a ì[stretch 
of]ü ground lying near the ìseaüshore is shaken, stems152 in part very 
naturally from the weight wherewith the seawater loads its neighbouring 
bottom. For everybody easily perspects [sieht] that the force with which the 
subterraneous fire endeavours to raise up this vault, upon which such an 
astonishing load153 rests, ìmustü be very restrained154 and, as it finds ìfor 
itselfü here no space for its extending, must turn its whole force towards the 
bottom of the dry land that is ìboundü next ìtoü it.

Of the Direction, according to which the Ground
is shaken by an Earthquake.

	The direction according to which the earthquake extends into re-
mote155 countries is different from that according to which the ground on 
which it exercises its power is shaken. When the uppermost covering of the 
hidden vault, wherein the inflamed matter expands itself, has an horizontal 
direction, it must be reciprocally elevated and depressed in a perpendicular 
posture, because there is nothing that can turn the motion more to one side 
than to another. But if [Ist aber] the layer of earth which constitutes the vault 
inclines to one side, ìthenü the shaking power of the subterranean fire forces 
it ìtooü upìwardsü in an oblique direction towards the horizon, and the di-
rection according to {451} which the vacillation of the ground must con-
stantly take place might be decreased,156 if that according to which the 
stratum of the earth slopes, under which is ìsituatedü the gulf of fire, were 
always certainly known. The declivity of the uppermost surface of the 
shaken ground is no sure criterion of the oblique position, which the vault 
has in its whole thickness; for the layers of earth that lie above may form 
various bendings and hillocks, to which the undermost foundation by no 
means accommodates itself. Buffon is of ìtheü opinion: that all the different 
strata which are found upon the earth have for a base a universal fundamen-
tal rock [Grundfels], which covers ìfrom aboveü all the close deep cavities, 
and some parts of which upon the summits of high mountains are com-
monly bare, where rain and gales have totally washed away the loose sub-
stance. This opinion acquires great probability by what earthquakes make 
known.157 For a power raging in such a manner as earthquakes exer-
cise158 would by the frequently renewed assaults have long ago destroyed 
ìand rubbed awayü any other than a rocky vault.
	Near the ìseaüshore the declivity of this vault is without doubt 
inclined towards the sea, and therefore ìitü slopes159 in that direction 
according to which the sea lies to the place. Near the bank of a great river it 
must be sloped in the direction ìwhere the flowing offü of the stream ìgoesü 
for when ìoneü contemplates the tracts, very long and frequently surpass-
ing160 some hundred miles, through which the rivers run161 on the terra 
firma without forming on the way standing pools or lakes: this uniform 
declivity cannot well be explained by anything but ìbyü that very [Ÿberaus] 
firm foundation which, as it uniformly inclines to the bottom of the sea 
without manifold162 bendings inward, affords the river an oblique plain for 
running off. Hence it is to be presumed: that the vacillation of the ground, 
[upon which stands] a shaken city that lies near a great river, happens in the 
direction of this river, as in the Tejo from west and east [Abend und Mor-
gen];* but of that which lies near the ìseaüshore ì[the vacillation happens]ü 
in the direction according to which this inclines to the sea. I have elsewhere 
mentioned163 what the situation of the ground may contribute ìto itü, {452} 
when an earthquake happens, totally destroying a city whose principal 
streets run in the same direction as the ground slopes. This ìremarkü is not a 
sally [Einfall] of mere conjecture; it is a matter of experience. Gentil, who 
had occasion to collect excellent knowledge of a great many 
earthquakes,164 gives notice of this as an observation which is confirmed 
by many examples: that when the direction according to which the ground is 
shaken runs parallel with the direction according to which the city is built, it 
is quite overthrown, whereas when that ì[former direction]ü intersects this 
ì[latter direction]ü rectangularly, less damage happens. 
{451} *ìJustü as a river has a gradual descent [abhŠngende Schiefe] 
towards the sea, so have the countries on the sides a declivity to its bed. If 
the latter is valid ìevenü of the stratum of the whole earth, and this in the 
greatest depths has ìjustü such a slope, ìso alsoü the direction of the 
concussion of the earth is determined by these.
	The history of the Royal Academy of Paris gives an account: that 
when Smyrna, which lies near the eastern shore of the Mediterranean ìSeaü, 
was shaken in ìthe yearü 1688, all the walls which had the direction from 
east to west were thrown down, but those that were built from north to 
south ìremainedü standing.165
	The shaken ground makesì, that is,ü a few vacillations, and moves 
ìbyü the greatest ì[degree]ü166 everything that is erected upon it according 
to the length in the direction of the vacillation. All bodies which have a great 
mobility, e.g. girandoles167 in churches, during earthquakes [usually] 
point out [pflegen ... anzuzeigen] the direction according to which the 
shocks happen, and are far surer criteria for a city to determine ìfrom themü 
the position at168 which it must be built, than the somewhat more dubious 
characteristics169 already mentioned.

Of the Connection of Earthquakes with the Seasons.

	The French academist Mr. Bouguer, [whom we have] ìalreadyü fre-
quently quoted, mentions in his voyage to Peru that, though earthquakes 
happen often enough in that country at all seasons, ìneverthelessü the most 
dreadful and the most frequent are felt in the autumnal months ìtowards the 
end of the yearü.170 This observation is abundantly confirmed not only in 
America, as, besides the destruction of the city Lima 10 years ago and the 
sinking of another [city] equally populous in the preceding century, many 
instances of it have been noticed, but ìalsoü in our part of the world, besides 
the last earthquake [(of 1755)] we find many examples in history of 
concussions and ejections of fire-spewing mountains, which have taken 
place more frequently in ìtheü autumnìal monthsü than in any other season. 
Does not a common cause {453} occasion this agreement[?] And ìonü 
which [cause] can one cast a more ìsuitableü conjecture171 than ìonü the 
rains which continue in Peru in the long valley between the Cordillera 
ìmountainsü from September ìupü to April, and which are likewise the most 
frequent with us during autumn?172 We know that, in order to occasion a 
subterraneous conflagration [Brand], nothing is necessary except173 to put 
in fermentation the mineral substances in the cavities of the earth. But this is 
done by water, when it has penetrated into the clefts of the mountains and 
run into the deep passages. The rains first stimulated the fermentation, 
which in the middle of October forced out of the bowels [Inwendigen] of 
the earth so many strange174 vapours. But these drew from the atmosphere 
still more humid influxes, and the water, which penetrated through the 
chinks of the rocks into the most profound [tiefsten] vaults, finished the 
inflammation that was begun.

Of the Influence of Earthquakes on the Atmosphere.

	We have above seen an example of the effects which the convulsions 
of the earth have on our air.175 It is to be believed that more phenomena of 
nature depend upon the eruptions of subterraneous heated vapours than one 
ìquiteü commonly imagines. It would scarcely be possible that such an ir-
regularity and so little harmony would be met with in the weather condi-
tions176 if extraneous causes did not sometimes ìstep intoü our atmosphere 
ìandü put ìitsü proper alterations into disorder. Can ìindeedü a probable 
ground be conceived, why, though the course of the sun and of the moon is 
always fixed [gebunden] by the ìself-üsame laws, ì[and]ü though177 water 
and earth, ìifü taken in the gross, always remain the same [Ÿberein], ìyetü 
the course of the weather conditions, even ìin a procession [lasting]ü178 
many years, almost always turns out179 different? Since the unfortunate 
concussion and a little before it we have had, through[out]180 all our part of 
the world, so variable a weather condition that one can be excused if one 
casts a conjecture on181 the earthquakes on that account. It is true, there has 
formerly been182 ìquiteü warm weather in winter, without any preced-
ing183 earthquake; but is one ìthenü sure that a fermentation in the bowels 
of the earth has not very often forced vapours through the clefts of the 
rocks, the slits of the layers of earth, and even through their loose sub-
stance, which may have ìthenü drawn after them considerable alterations in 
the atmosphere {454}? Musschenbršk, ìafterü having observed that only ìin 
this century and indeed,ü since 1716, a very clear aurora borealis [Nord-
lichter] has been seen in Europe and ìas far asü in its southern countries, 
holds the probable cause of these alterations in the atmosphere ìto beü that 
the fire-spewing mountains and the earthquakes, which some years before 
ìhadü raged violently, threw out inflammable and volatile fumes which, by 
the natural deflux [Abflu§] of the highest air, accumulated towards the 
north, and produced the fiery phenomena of the air which have since been 
so frequently seen, and that in all probability ì[such phenomena]ü must 
consume ì[these fumes]ü by degrees, till new exhalations replace the defi-
ciency ìagainü.184
	According to these principles let us investigate whether it be not con-
formable to nature that an altered weather condition, like what we have had, 
may be a consequence of that catastrophe. The clear weather condition of 
winter, and the cold that accompanies it, are not merely ìaü consequence of 
the great distance of the sun from our vertex at this season; for we fre-
quently feel that, notwithstanding [that ìdistanceü], the air may be very 
temperate; but the draught of air from the north, which at times is ìalsoü 
deflected185 into an east wind, brings us a chilled186 air from the frigid 
zone [Eiszone] that covers our waters with ice and lets us feel a part of the 
winter of the North Pole. This draught of air from the north to the south is 
so natural in the autumnal and winter187 months, unless foreign causes 
interrupt it, that in the ocean at a sufficient distance from all terra firma, this 
north- or northeast wind is uninterruptedly met with the whole time 
throughout ì[these months]ü. It ìalsoü stems188 quite naturally from the ef-
fect of the sun, which then rarefies the air above the southern hemisphere, 
and thereby occasions the draught from the northern: so that this must be 
considered as a constant law, which by the nature of the countries may 
ìwellü in some measure be altered, but not annulled. ìNowü if189 subterra-
neous fermentations eject heated vapours somewhere in the countries that lie 
towards ìourü south: ìthenü these ì[vapours]ü in the beginning ìwill therebyü 
diminish the height of the atmosphere in the region where they rise, ì[so] 
that theyü weaken190 its expansive power, and occasion downpours,191 
hurricanes, etc. But afterwards [in der Folge] this part of the atmosphere, as 
it is loaded with so many fumes, moves the neighbouring [part] by its 
weight and occasions a draught of air from south to north. However, as the 
effort ìofü the atmosphere in our {455} climate ì[to move the air]ü192       at 
this season from north to south is natural, both these motions opposing       
one another ìwillü stop ìthemselvesü, and ìthere willü followì, first,ü on 
account      of the fumes ì[being]ü forced together, a gloomy, humid air, yet 
a high state of the barometer* ìwill follow from it as wellü,193 because the 
air compressed by the conflict of two winds must occasion a high ì[baro-
metric]ü column; and one thereby understands [finden lernen] the apparent 
irregularity of the barometer, when, notwithstanding the high position194 
of the [mercury], there is rainy weather, for then this humidity of the air is 
ìjustü an effect of two currents of air opposing one another, which collect 
the fumes and yet can render the air considerably denser and heavier.
{455} *As has been, during this humid winter weather condition, almost 
constantly noticed.
	I cannot pass over in silence: that on the frightful day of All Saints 
the magnets in Augsburgh threw off their load, and the magnetic needles 
were thrown into disorder. Boyle ìalreadyü related that the like once hap-
pened in Naples after an earthquake. We know too little of the hidden nature 
of the magnet ìto be ableü to specify195 a reason [Grund] for this 

Of the Use of Earthquakes.

	One startles to see a rod of correction of men so frightful 
commended on the score of utility. I am certain that, in order to be delivered 
but of the fear and danger which are combined with it, [men] would 
willingly give it up. Of such a nature are we men. After we have laid an 
unjust claim to all the agrŽmens196 of life, we are not disposed [wollen] to 
purchase any advantages with charges.197 We desire that the earth might be 
so made:198 that one could wish to live upon it forever. Beyond ìthisü199 
we imagine that, if Providence had asked us ì[to cast] our vote on the 
matterü,200 ìweü would have better governed201 everything for our advan-
tage. ìThusü we wish, e.g. to have the rain in our power, in order that we 
might divide it throughout the [whole] year according to our convenience, 
and always enjoy agreeable days between the cloudy ones. But we forget 
the springs, which we ìneverthelessü cannot do without, and which could 
not at all be maintained202 in such a manner. ìLikewise,ü we are ignorant of 
the {456} benefit that ìevenü the causes which frighten us in the earthquakes 
may procure for us, and yet would willingly banish knowledge of them.203 
	As men who were born ìin orderü to die, [why] can we not bear that 
a few should die in an earthquake, and as ì[men]ü204 who are strangers 
here [below] and possess no property, [why] are we inconsolable when 
goods are lost, which ìwouldü have shortly been abandoned by the univer-
sal way of nature ìof itselfü[?]
	It may be easily divined [rathen]: that when men build upon a 
ground which is filled with inflammable substances, sooner or later the 
whole magnificence of their building may fall to pieces205 by concussions; 
but must they ìthenü on that account be impatient over206 the ways of 
Providence? Were it not better to judge thus: It was necessary that 
earthquakes [should] sometimes happen upon the earth, but it was not 
necessary that we ì[should]ü build207 upon it gorgeous habitations? The 
inhabitants of Peru dwell in houses which are walled up only in lower alti-
tudes,208 ìandü the rest consist of reeds. Man must learn to accommodate 
himself to nature, but he would have [nature] to accommodate herself to 
	Whatever damage the cause of earthquakes [may] have ìeverü occa-
sioned [erweckt] men on the one side, it can easily make it up with 
profit209 on the other ìsideü. We know that the warm baths, which in ìtheü 
process of time may perhaps have been serviceable to a considerable part of 
mankind for promoting210 health, owe their mineral property and heat211 
to the very same causes from which happen in the bowels of the earth the 
inflammations that shake [in Bewegung setzen] it.
	It has ìalreadyü been long presumed: that the ores in the mountains 
are a slow effect of the subterraneous heat which, by forming and boiling 
the metals in the heart [Mitte] of the rock by penetrating vapours, brings 
them to maturity212 by gradual effects.
	Our atmosphere, besides the coarse and inert [todten] substances 
which it contains ìin itself, alsoü requires a certain active [wirksames] 
principle, volatile salts and parts that may enter into the composition of 
plants, in order to move and extricate them ì[from the former]ü.213 Is it not 
to be believed that the formations of nature, which constantly use a great 
part of them ì[i.e. of the salts]ü, and the alterations that all matter ultimately 
suffers by ìdisüsolution and composition, would in time totally consume the 
most active particles, unless from time to time a new afflux took place? At 
least {457} the earth grows always weaker [unkrŠftiger] when it nourishes 
vigorous [krŠftige] plants, but rest and rain restore it.214 But whence at last 
would come the corroborative [krŠftige] matter, which is without an allied 
restoration,215 if ìaü spring ìinü another ìplaceü did not supply its afflux? 
And this is probably the store of the most active and most volatile 
substances which the subterranean vaults contain, a part of which they dif-
fuse from time to time upon the surface of the earth. I have still to observe: 
that Hales by the fumigation of sulphur purified [befreiet] the prisons, and 
in general all places whose air was infected by animal exhalationsì, with 
very good resultsü.216 The fire-spewing mountains throw out into the at-
mosphere an immense quantity of sulphureous vapours, ì[so]ü who knows 
ì[whether]ü the animal exhalations with which [the atmosphere] is loaded 
would ìnotü in [progress of] time become noxious, if those [mountains] did 
not furnish a powerful [krŠftiges] remedy against it.
	Finally,217 the warmth in the bowels of the earth seems to me to af-
ford a stronger proof of the efficacy and of the great use of the inflamma-
tions that happen in profound [tiefen] vaults. By daily experiences it is made 
out: that in great, yes, in the greatest depths, at which men have ìjustü 
arrived in the internal parts [dem Innern] of the mountains, there is a con-
tinual218 warmth, which cannot possibly be attributed to the effect of the 
sun. Boyle cites a considerable number of testimonies, from which it is 
evident that in all deep shaftsì, first of all,ü the upper part is much colder 
than the external air, ìwhen it is in theü summerìtime,ü219 but the deeper 
one goes down, the warmer one finds ìthe regionü,220 so that in the great-
est depths the workmen     are forced221 during their work to pull off [their] 
clothes. Everybody easily comprehendsì[, secondly,]ü that, as the heat of 
the sun penetrates but to a very small depth in the earth, it cannot have 
ìmore [than]ü the smallest effect in the lowest ìof allü vaults; and that the 
warmth ìsituatedü there depends on a cause which prevails only in the 
greatest depths, ì[and]ü is besides to be perceived from the diminished 
warmth, the higher one ascends [von unten hinauf kommt], even in ìtheü 
summerìtimeü. Boyle, after having carefully compared and examined222 the 
experiences that were made [available]ü, concludes very rationally: that in 
the undermost cavities, at which we cannot arrive, ìthereü must be constant 
inflammations to be met with, and an inextinguishable fire that com-
municates its223 warmth to the upper crust is thereby kept up.
	If this ì[fire] conducts itselfü thus, as one cannot ìabstain fromü 
granting, ìwillü we not have to expect224 {458} the most advantageous 
effects from this subterranean fire, which always furnishes the earth with a 
mild warmth225 at the time when the sun withdraws his [influence] from 
us, [and] which is ìin the positionü to promote226 the vegetation [Trieb] of 
plants and the economy of the kingdom of nature? And with the appearance 
of so much usefulness, can the disadvantage which arises to the human 
species from a few eruptions of this [fire] eclipse227 the gratitude we owe 
Providence for all his institutions?228
	The grounds I have adduced for encouraging ì[such gratitude]ü are 
indeed not of the nature of those which afford the greatest conviction and 
certainty. But even conjectures deserve to be assumed, when theìirü object 
is to move men to the desire of being grateful to the Supreme [hšchste] 
Being who, even when he chastises, is worthy of reverence229 and love.


	I ìhaveü mentioned above that earthquakes force out sulphurous 
evaporations through the vault of the earth. The last accounts of the shafts in 
the mountains of Saxony confirm this by a new example. At present they 
are found so full of sulphurous vapours that the workmen must leave them. 
The event at Tuam in Ireland, where a luminous atmospheric phenomenon 
appeared upon the sea in the form of pendants and flags, which altered their 
colours by degrees and at last diffused a clear light, on which followed a 
violent shock of an earthquake, is a new confirmation of this. The alteration 
of the colours from the darkest blue to red and ultimately to a clear white ap-
pearance is to be ascribed to the broken-out, at first very rarefied, evapo-
ration that is gradually augmented by a more frequent230 afflux of more 
fumes which, as is known in natural philosophy [Naturwissenschaft], must 
pass through the degrees of light from the blue colour to the red, and finally 
to a white appearance. All these preceded the shock. It is ìalsoü proof: that 
the hearth of inflammation was in the bottom of the sea, as the earthquake 
was chiefly felt near the ìseaücoast.231
	If one chose to extend farther the observations on the places of the 
earth where the most frequent and the heaviest shakes have ever been felt 
{459}, ìthenü it might still be added: that the western coasts have always 
suffered many more attacks ìof [earthquakes]ü than the eastern. In Italy, ìin 
Portugal,ü in South America, yes, lately ìevenü in Ireland, experience has 
confirmed this agreement. Peru, which lies along [an] the ìwesternü 
seashore of the new world, has almost daily concussions, whereas Brazil, 
that has the ocean towards the east,232 feels nothing of them. If one had a 
mind [will] to conjecture a few causes of this strange analogy, ìthenü a Gau-
tier,233 a painter, might well be forgiven when he looked for the cause of 
all earthquakes in the rays of the sun, the source [Quelle] of his colours and 
of his art, and imagined that these, by striking234 stronger on the western 
coast, ìalsoü turn ìevenü our great globe round from west to east, and 
thereby ìjustü these coasts would be235 troubled with so many shakes. But 
in a sound natural philosophy such a thought [Einfall] scarcely merits a 
refutation. The ground of this law seems to me to be in conjunction with 
another, of which ìat the timeü no sufficient explanation has ìyetü been 
given: namely, that the western and southern coasts of almost all countries 
are more steeply sloped than the eastern and northern, which is confirmed 
as well by ìlooking atü236 the map as by ìtheü accounts ìofü Dampier,237 
who found them almost universally [so] in all his voyages. When the 
bendings of the terra firma are derived from the sinkings-in, deeper and 
more [numerous] cavities must be to be met with in the countries 
[Gegenden] of the greatest slope, than238 where the crust of the earth has 
but a gentle declivity. But, as we have seen above, this has a natural con-
nection with the concussions of the earth.
Concluding Contemplation.

	The sight of so many miseries,239 as the last catastrophe has made 
among our fellow-citizens, ought to excite philanthropy and make us feel a 
part of the misfortune which has happened to them with such severity.240 
ìButü it is a gross mistake241 when such fates are always considered as 
destined judgments ìwhichü the desolated cities ìmeet withü on account of 
their crimes [Ÿbelthaten], and when we contemplate as the aim of God's 
vengeance these unfortunate persons,242 upon whom his justice pours 
ìoutü all its punishments of wrath [Zornschalen]. This mode of judgment is 
ìaü blameable audacity, which presumes to perspect [einzusehen] the 
designs of the Divine decrees and to interpret according to its insights 
	{460} Man is infatuated243 so much with himself that he considers 
only himself as the sole object of the institutions of God,244 ìjustü as if 
these had no other aim than him alone, in ìorder toü regulate ìaccordinglyü 
the245 measures in the government of the world. We know that the whole 
complex [Inbegriff] of nature is a worthy object of the Divine Wisdom and 
of its institutions. We are a part of them, and ì[yet we]ü want to be246 the 
whole. The rules of the perfection of nature in the gross ì[supposedly]ü 
must be taken into no contemplation, and everything must be set up merely 
in a proper relation247 to us. What is conducive248 to convenience and to 
pleasure in the world exists, as [man] figures to himself, merely on our ac-
count, and nature makes [beginne] no alterations which [may] be any cause 
of inconvenience to men, except249 to chastise, to menace, or to wreak 
vengeance on them.
	We see, however, that innumerable villains die in peace, that earth-
quakes, without distinction of ancient or modern inhabitants, have ever 
shaken certain countries, that the Christian Peru as well as the pagan is 
moved ì[by earthquakes]ü,250 and that many cities which can pretend to no 
preference in point of being irreprehensible remain free from this 
devastation ìfrom the beginningü.251
	Thus is man in the dark when he attempts to guess at the aims God 
ìhas before [his] eyesü252 in the government of the world. But we are in no 
uncertainty when ìit comes toü253 the application, how we ought to use 
these ways of Providence conformably to his endìsü. Man was not born to 
build everlasting cottages upon this stage of vanity. Because his whole life 
has a far nobler aim, how beautifully ìattuned to it [are]ü all the devasta-
tions, which the inconstancy of the world shows even in those things that 
appear to us ìto beü the greatest and the most important, ìin orderü to remind 
us:254 that the goods of the earth can furnish no satisfaction to our 
inclination255 for happiness!
	Far be it from me to insinuate ìherewithü that man is left to an im-
mutable fate of the laws of nature without regard to his peculiar advantages. 
ìJustü the same Supreme Wisdom, from whom the course of nature derives 
that accuracy which requires no amendment, has subordinated the inferior 
ends to the superior, and in the very designs in which he has ìoftenü made 
the most weighty exceptions to the universal rules of nature, in order to at-
tain the infinitely superior ends which are far elevated above all the means of 
nature, the {461} leadership256 of the human species in the government of 
the world ìlikewiseü prescribes laws even to the course of the things of 
nature. When a city or a country perceives the mischief wherewith ìthe 
divineü Providence alarms them or their neighbours: Is it ìthen stillü doubtful 
what part they have to act in order to prevent the ruin that threatens them, 
and are the signs ìstillü ambiguous, which render comprehensible the de-
signs to whose accomplishment all the ways of Providence concordantly257 
either invite or instigate man?
	A prince who, prompted by a noble heart, is moved by these 
calamities of the human race to avert the miseries of war from those whom 
great [schwere] misfortunes threaten as well258 on all sides, is a beneficent 
instrument in the kind hand of God,259 and a gift which he bestows on the 
nations of the earth, whose value they never can estimate according to its