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physical occurrences; just as some persons have of late explained literally the predicted drying up of the Euphrates, because its waters have been found inconveniently shallow for steam-boats; and have thence inferred that the events sequent to that predicted symbolical occurrence are about to come to pass. The judgments of God are not thus to be measured, though there is too much proneness in narrow and superstitious minds thus to measure them. Much was said and written a few years ago, to shew the prophetic bearings of the battle of Navarino. Mr. Owen's socialism has been lately discovered to be “Anti-christ”; and even the land-slip near Axmouth is not without a prophetic interpreter. Do men who thus obtrude their rash and absurd conjectures, consider how serious a matter it is to comment on the oracles of God, and how solemnly they must account for their vain speculations ?
But, apart from the prophetical speculations, the physical phenomena are sufficiently interesting to occupy a corner in our pages.]
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
I am not about to renew a geological controversy in your Journal for the present year; for all geologists I apprehend will be unanimous both in regard to the fact which I shall state, and the inference which I shall draw. I have just read a pamphlet, printed in London, which styles itself “A brief Account of the Earthquake, the solemn event which occurred near Axmouth, Devonshire, on the 25th of December 1839.” The author, in his introductory remarks, after enumerating the scourge of civil war, with which we have been visited in by gone years, and even partially threatened in our own days, together with the pestilence, whether cholera or influenza, which has devastated our own privileged shores, proceeds to the description of what he calls the “earthquake.” To this last event he emphatically applies the following and other passages of Scripture : Is. xxix. 6; Job. ix. 5, 6; Hab. iii. 6; Amos ix. 5; 1 Sam. xii. 16—19; Ps. xviii. 13, and Ps. civ. 32; Mat. 24. The prophecy of Nahum i. 5, 6, is adduced as specially referable to this country; but by what authority, I would ask, when it is expressly called “the burthen of Nineveh," though its spiritual language may be at the same time appropriated to any other nation of a similar character ? He regards God, not only at other times, but in this instance, as working above all natural causes ; and he specifies likewise a flood which happened in July 1839 at Preston, which carried away buildings and much property, and caused the loss of many lives by the water entering a coal mine. He erroneously believes the supposed earth. quake to be an unprecedented event, in kind and degree, as happen. ing in Great Britain ; and he considers it to be the precursor of the millennium ; but this predicted period of the church and world, whether very near or far off, is no more connected with it, than with any other similar disruption, or any more or less remote eruption. He refers to the exposition of the Revelation, by Dr. Thomas Goodwin, dated in the year 1639, in which that learned and truly Christian divine, who lived during the Rebellion, is of opinion that England is marked out by the inspired penman in allusion to the earthquake of Chapter ii. 13. Some expositors assert that this passage was fulfilled at the era of the reformation from Popery, when the witnesses were Christ. OBSERV. No. 31.
slain ; but there is another mention of a great earthquake in Rev. vi. 13, which, at whatever period it began, appears to be co-extensive with the present and future times. By such an event I understand the revolution of a political government, such as took place in France, and which has been followed by like changes in other countries. Thankful as we ought to be for our civil freedom, compared with oligarchical despotism, and for the increase of true religion among us; yet we have an organized system of socialism, which has so interwoven itself with our constitutional rights, under a limited monarchy, and with a reformed representative assembly, that to whatever hands power may be delegated, whether Tories or Whigs, no ministry can maintain its ground, except on the principle of expediency, and even by an almost necessary compliance, not only with the legitimate wants and will of an excessive population ; but with the very caprices and clamours of the multitude. I object, however, to the application of any particular passage in the Apocalypse, which in its primary sense is figurative, to any such literal and specific catastrophe as that which happened recently in the west of England. With as much and more propriety the writer might have cited those internal convulsions of the earth, by which cities have been overthrown in past centuries, and to which South America has been subjected, since its discovery by Columbus, or any part of the Asiatic continent.
It is true, that slight shocks of an earthquake were felt at Perth on the 19th January last; and I believe in other parts of Scotland, as well as in England, there have been some occasional sensations of the same kind; but hitherto Great Britain has been mercifully spared from any such divine judgments of this nature as are comparable to those of some foreign latitudes. I think also that we may wisely and soberly distinguish between what is the ordinary course of nature -as for example, wind, rain, hail, and snow—without disregarding the Author of all second causes, and that supernatural exertion of his power which we term a miracle. Nature itself (I do not mean, by that word, a heathen deity, but the ordinary laws of creation as impressed by the Creator) indeed appears sometimes to us so inscrutable in her operations, that we use the expression “marvellous" in such a signification as specially leads us to ascribe all wisdom and might to Him who immeasurably surpasses all human comprehension. In our public addresses to the Throne of Grace under temporal calamities, we recognize the divine intervention in our deliverance from them. In the instance under consideration, however, there was no earthquake at all ; but what is called geologically a land-slip. Some prophetic intimation of this occurrence is alleged to have been given by an aged individual, a resident in the neighbourhood, who died before it actually took place; but his prognostication resolves itself only into the fortuitous and usual exclamation of any other person under the circumstances of transient alarm, which was previously excited by a violent storm. If any one will consult Bowene's Antiquities of the Common People, he will learn that such prophets, without preternatural aid, are not unfrequently to be found among shepherds and rustics on the hill and in the dale, as well as the scientific students of atmospheric phenomena in the collegiate quadrangle, who can foretel the occurrence of an eclipse or the re-appearance of a comet. The facts of this transaction, which I have ascertained from an account published by George Roberts, of Lyme Regis, author of the history of that Borough, and of an Etymological and explanatory Dictionary of Geology-are as follows.
The locality of the great land-slip in question, is about one mile and a half east of Seaton, three miles and a half west of Lyme, one mile from Axmouth, seven miles from Axminster, and near Culverhole. The property is part of the farm of Dowlands, on Little Bindon estate, which has thus been removed fro its original site. A fortnight before Christmas, there had been observed, by the labouring men, some motion of the earth. On the 23rd December 1839, William Critchard perceived that the plaster of his cottage was somewhat shaken, and the door hung upon its hinges; but as it had not been built more than two years, he attributed these effects to this cause, and therefore dismissed his apprehensions. On the morning before Christmas-day, he went to his work at the farm, which was on the top of a hill, and continued there with his wife that evening, to burn, according to ancient superstitious usage, what is called the Ashen faggot at Christmas-eve, and did not return home till one. o'clock on Christmas morning. The path had then sunk a foot. The mother was uneasy for the sake of her children, but notwithstanding they both retired to bed. The house still cracked, and the rent increased at about four o'clock; and at five the man arose, and going into his garden, found that there were considerable fissures in it. With a stick he opened the door, and awoke his neighbours, one of whom had much difficulty in taking down a clock. The crack of the land continued ; and between six and seven o'clock, having secured his goods and chattels, he went to acquaint his master with the occurrence. The sink of the land had then reached seven feet, and farmer Chappell sent a waggon to carry away the furniture, but the road was obliged to be repaired for this purpose. The land slipped during the whole of Christmas-day: and on the 26th December appeared in its present state. On the night of the 25th, one of the Preventive Coast Guard, named Spencer, under the command of Captain Mercer, R.N., was on duty near the cliff. His foot was first caught in a fissure. He then remarked, that the soil itself was moving; the ocean seemed to be agitated during the darkness of the night; the rocks were falling; an offensive smell arose, and part of the beach was forced up out of its place, which had the appearance in the morning of a rugged embankment or reef, from thirty to forty feet above the level of the sea, more than a mile in length, and exceeding in dimensions the Cobb of Lyme Regis.
The vale of the Axe is bounded by cliffs of red marl, Superstrata of a chalky freestone, with sandstone underneath, rest upon the marl; and a stratum of sand, which is called from its colour fox mould, is interposed between them, and is saturated with wet in winter. Instead of this bed of red marl at Culverhole, there is a blue lias. From a well dug in the high land, no spring of water could be found at a less depth than from 200 to 300 feet ; but an unusual quantity of rain fell during part of last summer, and the whole of the autumn, so that the softer strata retained the exceeding accumulation of moisture, being inaccessible to the process of evaporation ; and near the shore a stream oozed from the green sand, which was sufficient to fill a hogshead in four or five minutes. The flood of the Axe in July was also greater than in any year since 1809, and it was probably increased by the melted snows of the following winter. Natural coincidences therefore combined in producing this appalling but picturesque aperture of the earth at its surface. Mr. Dawson, a land-surveyor of Exeter, has measured the extent of arable ground, consisting of about twenty seven acres, which has thus been detached, and in its falling ruin has carried with it cottages, rocks, and trees. The fissures are from 83 to 130 yards in width, with cliffs of green sands from 110 to 210 feet in height, comprizing an area of 100 acres, and the whole ravine extends to 200 acres. Subsequently to this vast land-slip, which appears to have arisen from the west, sloping towards the sea, there has been another breach of the undercliff at Whitelands, on the east, which took place on the 23rd February last, when two cottages of the Preventive Water Guard were in like manner destroyed. Dr. Buckland has delivered his opinion of this land-slip, which I believe nearly agrees with the account here given, as well as the Rev. W. D. Conybeare, Vicar of Axminster. Similar occurrences have before taken place at Lyme, in 1689, in 1764–5, and 1790. One happened at Niton, in the Isle of Wight, in 1799, when 100 acres of soil sank. A mountain is also reported to have slipped in January last, known by the appellation of the “Cernans” near Salins, being part of the Jura, and the road to have been lowered, from Dijon to Pontarliers, 300 feet in one place. This event may be attributed to a land-spring.
The Rev. Gilbert White, the well-known natural historian of Sel. borne, thus describes another land-slip :
“ When I was a boy I used to read with astonishment and implicit assent accounts in Baker's Chronicle of walking hills and travelling mountains. Jobn Phillips, in his Cyder, alludes to the credit that was given to such stories with a delicate but quaint vein of humour peculiar to the author of the Splendid Shilling.
" I nor advise, nor reprehend the choice
Of Marclay Hill*; the apple no where finds
For law debates," But when I came to consider better, I began to suspect that though our bills bave journeyed far, yet that the ends of many of them bave slipped and fallen away at distant periods, leaving the cliffs bare and abrupt. This seems to have been the case witb Nore and Whetham Hills; and especially with the ridge between Hartely Park and Ward-le-ham, where the ground bas slid into vast swellings and furrows; and lies still in such a romantic confusion as cannot be accounted for from any other cause. A strange event that happened not long since justifies our suspicions, which though it befell not within the limits of this parish, yet as it was within the Hundred of Selborne, and as the circumstances were singular, may fairly claim a place in a work of this nature. The months of January and February, in the year 1774, were remarkable for great melting snows and vast gluts of rain ; so that by the end of the latter month the landsprings or lavents began to prevail, and to be near as high as in the memorable winter of 1764. The beginning of March also went on in the same tenor ; when in the night between the 8th and 9th of that month a considerable part of the great wood-hanger at Hawkley was torn from its place and fell down, leaving a high freestone cliff naked and bare, and resembling the steep side of a chalk-pit. It appears that this huge fragment being perhaps sapped and undermined by waters, foundered and was ingulfed,going down in a perpendicular direc
Marclay Hill, about six miles east broad, and carried with it a chapel and of Hereford, slipped for eight hours in dwellings. 1595, left a gap 400 feet long, 320
tion; for a gate which stood in the field on the top of the hill, after sinking with its posts from thirty or forty feet, remained in so true and upright a position, as to open and shut with the greatest exactness, just as in its first situation. Several oaks also are still standing, and in a state of vegetation, after taking the same desperate leap. That great part of this prodigious mass was absorbed in some gulf below is plain also from the inclining ground at the bottom of the bill, which is free and unincumbered; but would have been buried in beaps of rubbish, bad the fragment parted and fallen forward. About one hundred yards from the foot of this hanging coppice stood a cottage by the side of a lane; and two hundred yards lower on the other side of the lane was a farm-house, in which lived a labourer and his family ; and just by a stout new barn. The cottage was inbabited by an old woman, and her son and his wife. These people in the evening, which was very dark and tempestuous, observed that the brick floors of their kitchens began to heave and part, and that the walls seemed to open, and the roofs to crack : but they all agreed that no tremor of the ground indicating an earthquake was ever felt; only that the wind continued to make a most tremendous roaring in the woods and hangers. The miserable inhabitants not daring to go to bed, remained in the utmost solicitude and confusion, expecting every moment to be buried under the ruins of their shattered edifices. When day-light came they were at leisure to contemplate the devastation of the night. They then found that a deep rift or chasm had opened under their houses, and torn them, as it were, in two; and that one end of the barn had suffered in a similar manner; that a pond near the cottage had undergone a strange reverse, becoming deep at the shallow end, and so vice versa ; that many large oaks were removed out of their perpendicular, some thrown down, and some fallen into the beads of neighbouring trees; and that a gate was thrust forward, with its lodge, full six feet, so as to require a new track to be made to it. From the foot of the cliff the general course of the ground, which is pasture, inclines in a moderate descent for half a mile, and is interspersed with some billocks, which were rifted in every direction, as well towards the great woody hanger, as from it. In the first pasture the deep clefts began : and running across the lane, and under the buildings, made such vast shelves that the road was impassable for some time: and so over to an arable field on the other side, which was strangely torn and disordered. The second pasture field, being more soft and springy, was protruded forward without many fissures in the turf, which was raised in long ridges resembling graves, lying at right angles to the motion. At the bottom of this enclosure the soil and turf rose many feet against the bodies of some oaks that obstructed their farther course, and terminated this awful commotion. The perpendicular height of the precipice in general is twenty-three yards : the length of the lapse or slip, as seen from the fields below, one hundred and eighty-one; and a partial fall, concealed in the coppice, extends seventy yards more : so that the total length of this fragment that fell was two hundred and fifty-one yards. About fifty acres of land suffered from this violent convulsion : two houses were entirely destroyed; one end of a new barn was left in ruins, the walls being cracked through the very stones that composed them ; a hanging coppice was changed to a naked rock; and some grass grounds and an arable field so broken and rifted by the chasms as to be rendered for a time neither fit for the plough, or safe for pasturage, till considerable labour and expense had been bestowed in levelling the surface and filling-in the gaping fissures.”
These remarkable phenomena may interest your readers philosophically; though they were suggested to my recollection merely in connexion with the rash prophetical conjectures which ignorant and credulous persons are so prompt to attach to them.
ON TWO-FOLD REGENERATION.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. If there is a two-fold church-that is, a visible church into which men of all descriptions, good and bad, are admitted; and an invisible church, consisting of those only who are justified by the merits of Christ applied to themselves by the instrumentality of faith, and who