“Until the year 1883 few had ever heard of Krakatoa. It was unknown to fame, as are hundreds of other gems of glorious vegetation set in tropical waters. It was not inhabited, but the natives from the surrounding shores of Sumatra and Java used occasionally to draw their canoes up on its beach, while they roamed through the jungle in search of the wild fruits that there abounded. It was known to the mariner who navigated the Straits of Sunda, for it was marked on his charts as one of the perils of the intricate navigation in those waters. It was no doubt recorded that the locality had been once, or more than once, the seat of an active volcano. In fact, the island seemed to owe its existence to some frightful eruption of by-gone days; but for a couple of centuries there had been no fresh outbreak. It almost seemed as if Krakatoa might be regarded as a volcano that had become extinct. In this respect it would only be like many other similar objects all over the globe, or like the countless extinct volcanoes all over the moon.
“As the summer of 1883 advanced the vigor of Krakatoa, which had sprung into notoriety at the beginning of the year, steadily increased and the noises became more and more vehement; these were presently audible on shores ten miles distant, and then twenty miles distant; and still those noises waxed louder and louder, until the great thunders of the volcano, now so rapidly developing, astonished the inhabitants that dwelt over an area at least as large as Great Britain. And there were other symptoms of the approaching catastrophe. With each successive convulsion a quantity of fine dust was projected aloft into the clouds. The wind could not carry this dust away as rapidly as it was hurled upward by Krakatoa, and accordingly the atmosphere became heavily charged with suspended particles.
“A pall of darkness thus hung over the adjoining seas and islands. Such was the thickness and density of these atmospheric volumes of Krakatoa dust that, for a hundred miles around, the darkness of midnight prevailed at midday. Then the awful tragedy of Krakatoa took place. Many thousands of the unfortunate inhabitants of the adjacent shores of Sumatra and Java were destined never to behold the sun again. They were presently swept away to destruction in an invasion of the shore by the tremendous waves with which the seas surrounding Krakatoa were agitated.
“As the days of August passed by the spasms of Krakatoa waxed more and more vehement. By the middle of that month the panic was widespread, for the supreme catastrophe was at hand. On the night of Sunday, August 26, 1883, the blackness of the dust-clouds, now much thicker than ever in the Straits of Sunda and adjacent parts of Sumatra and Java, was only occasionally illumined by lurid flashes from the volcano.