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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/622

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In illustration of this theory, we have the testimony of Captain Sir C. Fleming Stenhouse, who named the island, that after "Graham's Island" appeared in the Mediterranean in 1831, similar red sunsets to those the world has just been admiring were seen at Malta. A more striking record of a similar phenomenon is given in White's "Natural History of Selborne," Bonn's edition, page 300, where we read: "The summer of the year 1783 was an amazing and portentous one, and full of horrible phenomena; for besides the alarming meteors and tremendous thunder-storms that affrighted and distressed the different counties of this kingdom, the peculiar haze, or smoky fog, that prevailed for many weeks in this island, and in every part of Europe, and even beyond its limits, was a most extraordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the memory of man. By my journal I find that I had noticed this strange occurrence from June 23d to July 20th, inclusive, during which period the wind varied to every quarter, without making any alteration in the air. The sun, at noon, looked as black as a clouded moon, and shed a rust-colored ferruginous light on the ground and floors of rooms, but was particularly lurid and blood-colored at rising and setting. . . . The country people began to look with a superstitious awe at the red, lowering aspect of the sun; and, indeed, there was reason for the most enlightened person to be apprehensive, for all the while Calabria, and part of the Isle of Sicily, were torn and convulsed with earthquakes; and, about that juncture, a volcano sprang out of the sea on the coast of Norway." Cowper mentions the same phenomena in his "Task"; and Mrs. Somerville, in her "Physical Geography," traces their origin to the eruption of the volcano Skaptar, in Iceland, "which broke out May 8th, and continued to August, sending forth clouds of mingled dust and vapor, which spread over the whole of Northern Europe." It is stated in the "Annals of Philosophy," vol. ii, that the sun appeared of a blue color in England, in April, 1821; and it appears from other sources that a violent volcanic eruption had taken place in the Island of Bourbon in February of that year, and a destructive outbreak in Gunung Api in June of the previous year.

A curious counterpart to White's relation is given by Professor James Main Dixon of what he witnessed in Japan at the time of the eruption of Krakatoa. "During the two or three days at the end of August," he says, "we enjoyed fine, dry weather, but the sun was copper-colored and had no brightness. It was capital weather for traveling, but rather inexplicable. When we got to Nikko, the people came to us to inquire if some catastrophe were impending, for the appearance of the sun foreboded evil. We laughed at their fears, and assured them all was right. However, it seems that if the appearance of the sun foreboded no evil, it was a wonderful sign of the greatest earthquake and volcanic catastrophe on record. The fearful explosion of Krakatoa, in the Straits of Sunda, took place on August 26th; and