Richmond, Jan. 29

Another earthquake was most distinctly felt in this city on Thursday morning last, about 9 o'clock.  Some persons were rocked in their chairs.  Some staggered as they stood.  Hanging keys oscillated.  Doors and windows flapped.  Bedsteads and tall articles of furniture were moved to and fro.  Those who were at breakfast saw a violent ripple on the surface of tea and coffee.  A few ran out of their houses in great alarm.  The convulsion was more sensibly felt on the hill than below it; in high than in low houses.  We distinctly felt two of these convulsions, with the lapse of 15 or 20 minutes between them.

These are indeed times of wonder.  Comets -- eclipses -- tornadoes -- earthquakes.  In the age of superstition, these were held to be portentous signs.  Powers of the physical world, are ye not satisfied?  Are not your omens already out?  Does not the conflagration of the theatre verify your superstitious auguries?  Are not the ashes of our citizens enough?  But this is the language of superstition.  To the eye of the bigot, there seems to be a mysterious sympathy between the revolutions of the moral and physical world.  But truth abjures such absurdities.  Was so large a mass as the comet whirled from its immense circuit to speak to the inhabitants of this smaller globe?  Was the moon quickened in her orbit?  No; it was the regular course of her motion, for on these data the astronomers had predicted the eclipse of the sun; and what is history now, was once a prophecy from their lips.  The laws of earthquakes are just as regular but more unknown to us; because these work out of sight, in the very bowels of the earth.

Away then with these chimeras!  They are only worthy of those ingenious days of witchcraft, when if an old woman sank in the water, she was innocent; if she swam, she was guilty and was to be burnt for a witch.  Away with all the dregs of those "degenerate days."  Whether they are the tales of the nursery or of an old woman; whether we are told of the fate of nations in an eclipse, or of a friend's death in the winding-sheet of a candle; whether it be a dream, or the vision of a bigot, just let loose from prison, they are equally at war with the lessons of philosophy.  Where is the connection between the sign and the event?  What is it that links them together?  Where is the cause or where the effect.


Made possible by the Rivers Institute and the
History Department of Hanover College.


How to cite this article:  "Richmond," Liberty Hall (Cincinnati, Ohio) 26 Feb. 1812, p. 1, available at