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nine curiosity, to see what was going to happen, (she *looked," or turned back,) and thus separated from her husband, she was overtaken by the volcanic eruption and perished on the very spot, where the bank of salt was afterwards found to have been thrown up. Should it be objected to this hypothesis of volcanic agency in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, that too few indications of lava are to be met with in the vicinity of the catastrophe, I may remark, that it has been proved, from the testimony of different travellers, that lava and other volcanic products are met with, in greater or less quantity in that region ; particularly bitumen, sulphur, and salt. Geological works inforin us, that volcanic rocks abound with bitumen, which is a combination of carbon and hydrogen, and according to the opinion of some geologists as much a mineral product as sulphur; though most believe it to be the result of vegetable fermentation, or decomposition, and distilled as it were from beds of coal beneath the surface of the earth.* The volcanic tufa in the vicinity of Claremont, in France, contains so much bitumen, that in warm days it oozes out, and forms streams resembling pitch ; and this tufa is supposed to have been ejected some thousand years ago. Bitumen has also often been observed, oozing out of the the lava of Etna. Indeed, it is from the combustion of bitumen, that the black smoke chiefly arises during a volcanic eruption ("the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace,” Gen. 19: 28). “Muriate of soda,
* It is certainly true, that the art of the chemist and the manufacturer has been able, to a good degree, to imitate petroleum, by distilling bituminous coal, and, by the ignition of wood, as happens in preparing charcoal, in iron cylinders, for the manufacture of gun-powder; also in manufacturing pyroligneous acid, during which a substance closely resembling petroleum is produced, from the distillation of which naptha is produced. If we admit that petroleum is the result of veg. etable fermentation, and decomposition, we suppose that the region of the Dead Sea belongs to the regular coal formation, and that underneath its waters, is a coal deposit.—Throughout Asia, the petroleum springs are associated with coal beds. In the State of New York, however, although petroleum occurs, yet our state geologists believe that our rocks do not belong to the regular coal formation.,
or common salt,” says Bakewell, “ is often found in the cra. ters of volcanoes.” With respect to lava, it may be remarked, that it is not always ejected in volcanic eruptions. In Germany, for example, near the Rhine, are numerous extinct volcanoes, some having small cones and eminences; some with craters which are filled with water forming lakes, or meres ; and many of them have ejected nothing but loose fragments of rock, with beds of scorie (or ashes) and sand. * Eight volcanoes of this description, have been described by a German geologist. He likewise enumerates eight others, which have ejected fragments of slag, and six only, which have thrown out lava. It is moreover to be recollected, that in ancient times, (how ancient it is difficult to de. termine,) the action of volcanic fire was far more extensive and intense than it is at present. Between Naples and Cumea, e. g. there are no less than 60 craters, some of them larger than Vesuvius. The city of Cumea, founded 1200 years before Christ, is built in the crater of an ancient volcano. In other parts of Italy there are undoubted vestiges of ancient volcanoes. The same is true of Sicily. Many islands in the Red Sea, and the Grecian Archipelago, are volcanic.
There are remains of large craters in Spain and Portugal; and those in the middle and southern parts of France, cover many thousand square miles. If we consider trap and porphyry, among the volcanic rocks, as they are generally regarded at the present day, we shall find but few countries, but what have, at some period or other, been agitated and convulsed by the agency of internal fires.
It is easy to show that the catastrophe, which overwhelmed the cities of the plain, was not a solitary occurrence of the kind, but that numerous instances are on record, of similar phenomena, even in coniparatively modern times. In the year 1638 a volcano broke out in a mountain, in the island of Timore, one of the Moluccas, and during the eruption the mountain sank and entirely disappeared, and in its place is now a lake. “Many of the circular lakest in the south of Italy," says Bakewell, “ are supposed to have been formed by the sinking down of volcanoes." Governor Raffles, in bis History of the Island of Java, gives an account of one of the largest volcanoes on the island, which was swal
* Bakewell's Geology.
† Ibid. p. 320.
lowed up in the earth, after a short but severe combustion, in the year 1772. He states that near midnight between the Ilth and 12th of August, there was observed about the mountain an uncommonly luminous cloud, by which it appeared to be completely enveloped. The inhabitants, residing on the acclivities of the mountain, becoming alarmed, fled; but before they could all reach a place of safety, the mountain began to give way, and the greatest part of it actually fell in, and disappeared in the earth. At the same time, a tremendous noise was heard, resembling the discharge of the heaviest cannon.
It was estimated that an extent of ground, of the mountain itself and its immediate environs, 15 miles long and 6 broad, was, by this commotion, swallowed up in the earth. About 40 villages, and 2,957 inhabitants were destroyed.* This catastrophe would therefore hardly suffer by comparison, with that which overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. The account of the destruction of Euphemia in Calabria, in 1638, as given by Kircher, strongly reminds us of the Scripture history of the destruction of Sodom. “Here," says he, “ scenes of ruin every where appeared around me ; but my attention was quickly turned from more remote to contiguous danger, by a deep rumbling sound,f which every moment grew louder. The place where we stood shook most dreadfully. After some time, the violent paroxysm ccasing, I stood up, and turning my eyes to look for Euphemia, saw only a frightful black cloud. We waited till it had passed away, when nothing but a dismal and putrid lake was to be seen, where the city once stood.”
Changes in the relative levels of the land, are common occurrences in volcanic countries. On the western shores of the Caspian, there is a tract called the Field of Fire, which emits inflammable gas, and abounds with springs of naptha and petroleum. Violent subterranean commotions have been often experienced through this region, and according to Engelhardt and Parrot, the bottom of the sea has, in modern times, varied in form, while the coast of the Isle of Idak, which was formerly very high land, has now become quite low. The island of Santa Maria, near the coast of
* Raffles' History of Java.
† Josephus states that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by thunder.
Chili, which is seven miles long and two broad, was raised in the course of a few days about ten feet. On the 19th of November, 1822, the coast of Chili was visited by an earthquake, the shock being felt throughout a space of about 1200 miles in length. On examination the following morning, it was found that the whole line of coast for a distance of 100 miles, embracing 100,000 square miles, was raised from four to seven feet above its former level. After an earthquake in India in 1819, a large portion of the Delta of the Indus, where previously the water was only a foot deep at ebb tide, was submerged to the depth of from ten to eighteen feet at low water. The fort and village of Sindue, on the eastern arm of the Indus, were at the same time overflowed, so that the tops of the houses were only to be seen above the water. Immediately after the shock, it was found that a tract of country fifty miles long and sixteen broad, running parallel to the subsided portion, had been elevated about ten feet. Even in our own country, these changes of level are not entirely unknown. In 1812 several severe shocks of an earthquake were experienced in the southern States. The valley of the Mississippi, from the village of New Madrid to the mouth of the Ohio, in one direction, and to the St. Francis in another, was convulsed to such a degree as to create lakes and islands. Mr. Flint, I Mr. Nuttall the naturalist, and others, tell us that a tract of many miles in extent, near the Little Prairie, became covered with water three or four feet deep; and when the water disappeared a stratum of sand was left in its place. Large lakes of twenty miles in extent were formed in an hour, and others were drained. The grave-yard at New Madrid was precipitated into the river, and the ground whereon the town is built, and the river bank for fifteen miles above, sank eight feet below their former level. At one period the ground near New Madrid swelled up, so as to arrest the Mississippi in its course, and to cause a temporary reflux of its waves. Mr. Lyell sums up the principal changes effected by the earthquakes of the last thirty years thus: “New rocks have risen from the waters;
* Edinburgh Phil. Journal, Vol. IV. p. 106.
Lyell’s Geology, Vol. I. p. 379.
the temperature of a thermal spring has been raised; the coast of Chili has been twice permanently elevated ; a considerable tract in the Delta of the Indus has sunk down, and some of its shallow channels have become navigable; an adjoining part of the same district, upwards of sixty, miles in length and sixteen in breadth, has been raised about ten feet above its former level; the town of Tomboro has been submerged, and 12,000 of the inhabitants of Sumbawa have been destroyed." These facts have been mentioned here, because they have an important bearing on the hypothesis advanced. We see that far more violent convulsions and greater elevations and depressions of land have taken place, even within the last half century, than would be necessary to arrest the Jordan, and roll back its waters into the plain of the Dead Sea, and to produce, in short, all the phenomena, which were required for the destruction of the cities of the plain. In confirmation of the fact that Syria and Palestine are volcanic countries, it should be recollected that continual mention is made in history of the ravages committed by earthquakes in Sidon, Tyre, Berylus, Laodicea, Antioch, and the island of Cyprus. Indeed an earthquake occurred but a few years since in this region which destroyed several thousand lives. A district in Asia Minor, near Smyrna, was called by the Greeks Catacecaumene, or the burnt, because the soil is black and cindery, and the territory arid, and without trees.*
In confirmation of the fact that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by a volcanic eruption, attended by an earthquake, I may add, that such a tradition has been handed down from a very remote period, as appears from the works of several ancient writers. It will suffice, perhaps, on this point to quote a single passage from the geographer Strabo. Speaking of the Dead Sea and the adjacent region, he remarks, “ Esse autem ignem in solo ejus regionis multis etiam aliis signis docent. Nam et petras asperas exustas circa Mousada ostendunt: et multis in locis exesas caver. nas, et terram cinerulentam, et picis guttas e petris distallantes et flumina factore eminus edito effuventia : et habitationes passim eversas ; ut iis fides haberi posse videatur, quæ, ab indiginis prædicantur : in hoc loco XIII urbes olim
* Strabo, p. 900.