IN the afternoon of the 1st day of June, 1638, 18 years after the landing of the pilgrims, there occurred the first earthquake in New England, of which we have an authentic record.
It is 234 years since that event, and, according to a catalogue prepared by W. T. Brigham, published in the Memoirs of the Boston Society of Natural History, it appears that, down to October 20, 1870, 231 earthquakes are recorded as having taken place in New England. From this able paper we learn that, in 1663, portions of Canada, New England, and New York, were convulsed by earthquake-shocks.
In 1727, at Newbury, and near the mouth of the Merrimac River, an earthquake took place during the evening when the atmosphere was perfectly calm and clear. The sound preceded the shock. The earth opened, and a sulphurous blast threw up mounds of calcined dust. Several days previous to the earthquake, water in the wells became fetid, and of a pale brimstone color. In 1755, on the 18th day of November, a hollow, roaring noise was heard in various parts of New England. In a minute the earth seemed to undulate as if a wave were passing. This was followed by a vibratory and jerking motion, familiar in earthquake countries. The first shock of this earthquake occurred 17 days after the terrible one at Lisbon, the vibrations of which had not yet ceased.
The great earthquake at New Madrid, in Missouri, took place in 1811-'12. The shocks here were vertical, proving, as we shall see hereafter, that the centre of energy was directly underneath. At other times, the shocks, which continued many months, were undulatory. The ground rose in huge waves, which burst, and volumes of water, sand, and pit-coal, were thrown high as the tops of the trees. The for-