Friday, 14 August 2009

Account of an Earthquake at Macao

XL Account of an Earthquake at Macao, and a short Description of a singular Species of Monkeys without Tails, found in the Interior Part of Bengal.*

By Stephen De Visme, Esq. at Canton, in China, p. 71.

The following account of an earthquake, at Macao, was sent to Mr. D. from that place, in a letter, dated Nov. 23, 1767, viz. " Last night, at 50 minutes after 9 o'clock, we were all surprized with a heavy shock of an earthquake which continued above a minute. This shock was so great that the house rocked, and I was afraid we were all going down into the bowels of the earth. Another shock we felt 5 minutes after 11 o'clock, but not so great: and at 3 this morning another pretty great. In all we have had 5 shocks, but the first the greatest. It came with a rolling, and a dreadful noise in the air; so that at first some people thought it to be the firing of guns, or thunder at some distance. At the first shock I could hardly hold my feet; but, thank God, no bad accident has happened. The wind was northerly, but faint, and it was sultry hot; the sky close and cloudy, and not a star to be seen. The oldest people here say, they never remember to have felt so violent a shock, and of so long continuance. The ships in the harbour shook and whirled about, and those on board imagined at first that it had been a whirlwind."—At Manilla earthquakes are often very violent, so as to overturn steeples, houses, and other buildings; and I observed, when I was there, that, to prevent such accidents, their timbers in building are placed in a very particular manner; they have no attic story, only warehouses, and one floor over them.

* The species of ape here mentioned by Mr. De Visme is the Simla Lar, once described by Linnaeus under the name of Homo Lar. It is figured in Miller's plates of Natural History, pi. 27.

Perhaps the drawing, now sent you, of a singular sort of monkeys, male and female, may not prove unacceptable. These animals are called golok, or wild people, and are thought to be originally a mixture with the human kind, having no tails. They come out of the forests in the interior part of Bengal from the country called Mevat. They inhabit the woods: their food is fruit, leaves, bark of trees, and milk: flesh only when caught. They are very gentle, and extremely modest. They are of the height of a man; their teeth are as white as pearls; and their legs and arms are in due proportion to their body.*

The Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London, Volume 12 1769

No comments: