of the Earthquake, the solemn Event which occurred near Axmouth, Devonshire, on the 25th December, 1839 …

London: James Nisbett and Co. … 1840.

8vo., pp. 12; a very good copy in modern wrappers.


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First edition, very rare. The landslip at Bindon near Axmouth on the Jurassic Coast of Devon, which took place over the Christmas of 1839, was perhaps the most dramatic geological event in nineteenth-century England. Months of heavy rain weakened the clay foundations of the coastal landscape, sending eight million tons of rock crashing into the sea over the course of several days, and creating the features now known as Goat Island and the Chasm.

The author of A Brief Account laments that the natural disaster was ‘only slightly noticed by the newspapers’, and proceeds to explain its significance as a sign of the coming ‘great tribulation’. He quotes several remarkable witness accounts and newspaper reports, as well as Biblical prophecy, asserting that the disaster is of unprecedented proportions and only the first of many that ‘will follow quickly one upon another, the nearer we draw to Christ’s second coming’. The destruction of ‘four dwellings’ and ‘a turnip field … thrown full half a mile’ presents, he says, a scene of devastation that ‘may fitly be compared to the desolated lands of Babylon’.

He reserves special scorn for ‘geologists’ who ‘have become fools’ by seeking scientific explanations for the disaster, ‘to the entire leaving out the God of nature who, works above all natural causes’. The landslip at Axmouth is famous as the subject of significant study by two of the age’s leading geologists, W. D. Conybeare and William Buckland, who published a volume of Ten Plates documenting the events in 1840.

COPAC and OCLC together record only one copy, at the British Library.

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