Memoirs of Benjamin Franklin; Written by Himself. [Vol. 2 of 2] With his Most Interesting Essays, Letters, and Miscellaneous Writings; Familiar, Moral, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, Selected with Care from All His Published Productions, and Comprising Whatever Is Most Entertaining and Valuable to the General Reader

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 187

obstruction in the
pores or passages through which it used to ascend to the surface,
becomes, by such means, preternaturally assembled in a greater quantity
than usual into one place, and therefore causeth a great rarefaction and
intumescence of the water of the abyss, putting it into great commotions
and disorders, and at the same time making the like effort on the earth,
which, being expanded upon the face of the abyss, occasions that
agitation and concussion we call an earthquake.

This effort in some earthquakes, he observes, is so vehement, that it
splits and tears the earth, making cracks and chasms in it some miles in
length, which open at the instant of the shock, and close again in the
intervals between them; nay, it is sometimes so violent that it forces
the superincumbent strata, breaks them all throughout, and thereby
perfectly undermines and ruins the foundation of them; so that, these
failing, the whole tract, as soon as the shock is over, sinks down into
the abyss, and is swallowed up by it, the water thereof immediately
rising up and forming a lake in the place where the said tract before
was. That this effort being made in all directions indifferently, the
fire, dilating and expanding on all hands, and endeavouring to get room
and make its way through all obstacles, falls as foul on the waters of
the abyss beneath as on the earth above, forcing it forth, which way
soever it can find vent or passage, as well through its ordinary exits,
wells, springs, and the outlets of rivers, as through the chasms then
newly opened, through the _camini_ or spiracles of Aetna, or other
neighbouring volcanoes, and those hiatuses at the bottom of the sea
whereby the abyss below opens into it and communicates with it. That as
the water resident in the abyss is, in all parts of it, stored with a
considerable quantity of heat, and more especially in those where those
extraordinary aggregations of this fire happen, so likewise is the water
which is thus forced out of it, insomuch that, when thrown forth and
mixed with the waters of wells, or springs of rivers and the sea, it
renders them very sensibly hot.

He adds, that though the abyss be liable to those commotions in all
parts, yet the effects are nowhere very remarkable except in those
countries which are mountainous, and, consequently, stony or cavernous
underneath; and especially where the disposition of the strata is such
that those caverns open the abyss, and so freely admit and entertain the
fire which, assembling therein, is the cause of

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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that is innocent to man, has added so much to the fair side of a life otherwise too much darkened by anxiety and too much injured by pain.
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