(Extract from a letter, dated Nevis, 9th Feb, 1843)
"Yesterday was the anniversary of the dreadful earthquakes which we were visited in the year 1833, just ten years before; and upon that anniversary
at half past ten in the morning we had a shock that it is impossible for me faithfully to describe. It was preceded by the usual low rumbling noise like
distant thunder. The earth then commenced a tremulous motion which continued for half a minute. This was succeeded by a dreadful heaving and
shaking, which I am told lasted full a minute and a half. I was upstairs at the commencement, and instantly ran down, calling out to my mother and
sister to follow me into the yard. Scarcely had I left the house, when the violent motion I have mentioned came on, and the sensation was as if a vast
wave was moving violently beneath my feet. At this time the scene beggared description. Houses cracking and shaking as if ready to be precipitated
from their foundation; stone buildings falling and crushing in every description, people running to and fro, overwhelmed with terror and consternation,
and shrieking in the most appalling manner. For myself, I stood up in the centre of the yard, expecting every moment when the ground would open
and Charlestown be swallowed up, and its inhabitants ushered into eternity. Thank Heaven it passed; and tho' Charlestown is almost in ruins, it
stands and not a life has been lost, and scarcely any personal accident of any kind has happened to any one.
"Our Court House is nearly level with the ground: the Secretary's Office quite gone, and the Marshal's split and cracked in every direction. The
Church is partially injured, the Vestry Room quite down. Mrs. Frederick Huggins stone building, and one put up about 8 years ago by Mr. Lennington,
are both so much damaged as to render it unsafe to inhabit them. Penny Abbot's large building, which you may remember, presents an awful aspect;
the stone part next the street fell in and nothing of it remains but the wooden pillars which support the flooring. Poor Mrs. Cassin's too, will never be fit
to be inhabitated, almost every apartment is split from top to bottom. She had lately fitted up the two rooms to the north in a very nice manner, and
must have expended at least £300 sterling. The Bath house yet stands, but it is cracked in several places, and it cannot survive another shock.
There is scarcely an estate in the island upon which the works have not been completely destroyed; and with respect to town, Lawrence Nicholsonn's
house, beneath which stands his stores and the Bank, is the only one that has not been injured.
"My house, which is as you know, a wooden one has sustained no damage; but all the wall of the servants rooms which forms one entire side of them
is down, also the greatest part of the kitchen (very lately put up) and the wall which divides the premises from Lennington's (formerly the Smiths').
"St. Kitts, I hear, felt the shock as severely as we did, and the damage has been more considerable; one or two lives have been lost there.
"Such is an imperfect sketch of the calamity of yesterday. The undulation appeared to me to come in a north easterly direction; and I have no doubt a
sad tale is to be told of Antigua and Montserrat, and perhaps of islands even further to the southward than the latter.
"You have felt it, though perhaps but slightly - was on an eminence at the prospect when the shock commenced, and he told me that the scene
appeared more ideal than real. He stated that he saw the island with its huge mountain waving to and fro before him, just like a moving panorama.
Several rents which appear in the mountain he observed when they gave way, and then, to a considerable extent, the mountain itself seemed
enveloped in smoke. We had two slight shocks in the early part of last night, but the earth is at present quite still. As you may readily imagine,
people's minds are in a sad state of fear and apprehension. It is upon such occasions, more than any other, that man feels and acknowledges the
almighty power of the great author of nature and father of all, and in deep, unfeigned humility of soul, is made conscious of his own utter
insignificance and helplessness. O! that they may properly operate upon and influence the heart of all."
Saturday, March 4, 1843
On Wednesday the 8th, at half past ten a.m., the inhabitants of this island were called to witness one of the severest earthquakes to which either the
memory of the aged, or the past history of the island bears testimony.
Extensively destructive in its consequences, it has impressed in its tumultuous course, marks upon the geographical features of the country, that will
be monuments for posterity to gaze at; and which the wear and waste of ages, or confusion of matter alone can obliterate: while the feeble structures
of art reared by the finite hand of man with presumptuous claims to strength, and durability, crumbled upon the bosom of their mother earth, in
obedience to inexorable demands of gravity. On the dawn of this long to be remembered day, no threatening indication of struggling elements was
observable, the whole face of nature seemed to share in one general smile at the benefits which Providence day by day had conferred. The first
perception of motion was not preceded by those rumbling presages of sound, which are the terrific harbingers of earthquakes of a volcanic origin, but
a gentle undulatory swing which lasted about 30 seconds accompanied by a cracking noise sufficient to indicate the character of the phenomenon:
then suddenly advancing to violent motion with longitudinal waves from East to West, succeeded by an equally increased and deafening noise for an
additional time of two minutes.
In this sad short space of Time the Court House, the ornament of our town, including the Secretary's Office was destroyed, the East and Western
ends of the Jail were thrown down, and nearly every stone building of value has been so rent and injured as to require extensive repairs and in some
instances to be taken down altogether. In the rural districts the Parishes of Windward and Gingerland, appeared to be the theatre of the most violent
action: in the former Parish, on the estates of the Hon. J.W. Maynard two continuous sets of works comprising two windmills, Dwelling Houses, Boiling
Houses, and a numerous suite of out buildings, shared in one common overthrow, while the neighbouring estates north and south upon narrow lines
appeared to suffer partially: then extending beyond these again in both directions, several plantation buildings have been thrown down, of these
Hack's, and Potworks in Windward, Dunbars, and Zetlands, and the two Sugar works of the Hon. Jas. Hanley, may be considered as totally ruined, -
there is hardly a single locality throughout the island, that has not suffered more or less - not five chimneys out of twenty - that have escaped. The
Churches in Windward Gingerland are so rent and fractured as require them to be rebuilt: the Wesleyan Chapel in the latter place has been nearly
In the central line which proceeds from Charlestown across the mountain, large slips of earth have taken place, sweeping in their course trees and
massive fragments down the steep slopes, leaving exposed the hard granite - fissures were observed in the neighbourhood of Charlestown while
from high situations were seen the agitated waters of the sea for an extent of two miles from the coast heaving up the slumbering deposits which had
submerged beneath the waves for years, and which mixed with the briny foam, seemed to be the outlines of one vast grave into which the country
was fast settling. This earthquake has been succeeded by some others, barely perceptible; but reverting to the circumstances, the marvel is, of man
and beast neither life or limb has suffered in the slightest degree: a constant, superintending, Almighty God alone, held his affrighted creatures safe
in the hollow of his Hand.