The dumb animals were wiser than man, and early took warning of the storm of fire which Mont Pelee was storing up to hurl upon the island. Even before the mountain began to rumble, late in April, live stock became uneasy, and at times were almost uncontrollable. Cattle lowed in the night. Dogs howled and sought the company of their masters, and when driven forth they gave every evidence of fear.
Wild animals disappeared from the vicinity of Mont Pelee. Even the snakes, which at ordinary times are found in great numbers near the volcano, crawled away. Birds ceased singing and left the trees that shaded the sides of Pelee. A great fear seemed to be upon the island, and though it was shared by the human inhabitants, they alone neglected to protect themselves.
Of the villages in the vicinity of St. Pierre only one escaped, the others suffering the fate of the city. The fortunate one was Le Carbet, on the south, which escaped uninjured, the flood of lava stopping when within two hundred feet of the town. Morne Rouge, a beautiful summer resort, frequented by the people of the island during the hot season as a place of recreation, also escaped. In the height of the season several thousand people gathered there, though at the time of the explosion there were but a few hundred. Though located on an elevation between the city and the crater, it was by great good fortune saved.
The Governor of Martinique, Mr. Mouttet, whose precautions to prevent the people fleeing from the city aided to make the work of death complete, was himself among the victims of the burning mountain. With him in this fate was Colonel Dain, commander of the troops who formed a cordon round the doomed city.
St. Vincent Island and Mont Soufriere in 1812.
Among all the islands of the Caribbees St. Vincent is unique in natural wonders and beauties. Situated about ninety-five miles west of Barbados, it has a length of eighteen and a width of eleven miles, the whole mass being largely composed of a single peak which rises from the ocean’s bed. From north to south volcanic hills traverse its length, their ridges intersected by fertile and beautiful valleys.
A ridge of mountains crosses the island, dividing it into eastern and western parts. Kingstown, the capital, a town of 8,000 inhabitants, is on the southward side and extends along the shores of a beautiful bay, with mountains gradually rising behind it in the form of a vast amphitheatre. Three streets, broad and lined with good houses, run parallel to the water-front. There are many other intersecting highways, some of which lead back to the foothills, from which good roads ascend the mountains.
The majority of the houses have red tile roofing and a goodly number of them are of stone, one story high, with thick walls after the Spanish style—the same types of houses that were in St. Pierre and which are not unlike the old Roman houses which in all stages of ruin and semi-preservation are found in Pompeii to this day.