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139. Sea fires..

263

On Saturday, July 1, A.D. 949, a fire is said to have risen from the sea, and consumed many towns on the coast of Spain. It travelled on into the interior, and continued its work, destroying many 264places entirely, and part of Zamora, Carrion, Castro Xeriz, Burgos, Birviesca, Calzada, Pancorvo, and Buradon. The Añales Compostelanos, and many other ancient writings, record this phenomenon, which Morales[1] calls strange and monstrous, and difficult to believe. Berganza[2] thus quotes the original passage from the Memorias de Cardeña. Era 987. Kal Jun. dia de Sabado, a la hora de nona, salio flama del mar, è encendio muchas villas è cibdades, è omes, è bestias, è en esto mismo mar encendio peñas, è en Zamora un barrio, è en Carrion, è en Castro Xeriz, è en Burgos, è en Birbiesca, e en la Calçada, è en Pancorvo, è en Buradon, è en otras muchas villas.

A similar phenomenon is said to have occurred in our own island at a much later age. ” In the year 1694, the country 265about Harlech in Merionethshire, was annoyed about eight months by a fiery exhalation, that was seen only in the night, and consisted of a livid vapour, which rose from the sea, or seemed to come from Carnarvonshire, across a bay of the sea eight or nine miles broad on the west side. It spread from this bay over the land, and set fire to all the barns, stacks of hay and corn in its way. It also infected the air, and blasted the grass and herbage in such a manner that a great mortality of cattle, sheep, and horses ensued. It proceeded constantly to and from the same place, in stormy as well as in calm nights; but more frequently in the winter than in the following summer. It never fired any thing but in the night, and the flames, which were weak and of a blueish colour, did no injury to human creatures; for the inhabitants did frequently rush into the middle of them, unhurt, to save their hay and corn. This vapour was at length 266extinguished by ringing bells, firing guns, blowing horns, and otherwise putting the air into motion whenever it was seen to approach the shore.

Entick’s present State of the British Empire.

A man of science as well as of philosophic mind, would employ himself well in examining those accounts of prodigies in the early annalists and chroniclers, which of late years have been indiscriminately regarded as only worthy of contempt. The most superficial age of intellectual history is that which commenced with Mr. Locke’s philosophy, and I fear cannot yet be said to have terminated with the French Revolution.


  1. L 16, c. 18, § 9,
  2. Antiguidades de Espana, l. 3, c. 10, § 104.