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Remarks Concerning Stones Said to Have Fallen from the Clouds, Both in These Days, and in Antient Times   By: (1735?-1807)

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REMARKS CONCERNING STONES SAID TO HAVE FALLEN FROM THE CLOUDS, BOTH IN THESE DAYS, AND IN ANTIENT TIMES.

BY EDWARD KING, ESQ. F. R. S. AND F. A. S.

Res ubi plurimum proficere, et valere possunt, collocari debent. Cicero de Orat. 37.

LONDON: PRINTED FOR G. NICOL, BOOKSELLER TO HIS MAJESTY, PALL MALL. 1796.

[Illustration: F.1. F.3. F.2.]

An Attempt to account for the Production of a Shower of Stones, that fell in Tuscany, on the 16th of June, 1794; and to shew that there are Traces of similar Events having taken place, in the highest Ages of Antiquity. In the course of which Detail is also inserted, an Account of an extraordinary Hail stone, that fell, with many others, in Cornwall, on the 20th of October, 1791.

Having received this last winter, from Sir Charles Blagden, some very curious manuscript accounts, concerning a surprising shower of stones; which is said, on the testimony of several persons, to have fallen in Tuscany, on the 16th of June, 1794; and having also perused, with much attention, a very interesting pamphlet, written in Italian, by Abbate Ambrose Soldani , Professor of mathematics, in the University of Siena, containing an extraordinary and full detail of such facts as could be collected relating to this shower; the whole has appeared to me to afford such an ample field for philosophical contemplation, and also for the illustration of antient historic facts; that (leaving the whole to rest upon such testimony as the learned Professor has already collected together; and to be supported by such further corroboration, as I am informed is likely soon to arrive in England,) I cannot but think it doing some service to the cause of literature, and science, to give to the world, in the earliest instance, a short abridgement of the substance of the whole of the information; expressed in the most concise and plainest language, in which it is possible for me to convey a full and exact idea of the phænomenon.

It may be of some use, and afford satisfaction to several curious persons, to find the whole here compressed in so small a compass.

And, as I shall add my own conclusions without reserve; because the whole of the phænomenon tends greatly to confirm some ideas which I had previously been led to form, many years ago, concerning the consolidation of certain species of stone; it may open a door for further curious investigation.

And it may at least amuse, if not instruct; whilst I add a short detail of uncommon facts, recorded in antient history, and tending to shew clearly, that we are not without precedents of similar events having happened, in the early ages of antiquity.

On the 16th of June, 1794, a tremendous cloud was seen in Tuscany, near Siena, and Radacofani; coming from the north, about seven o'clock in the evening; sending forth sparks, like rockets; throwing out smoke like a furnace; rendering violent explosions, and blasts, more like those of cannon, and of numerous muskets, than like thunder; and casting down to the ground hot stones: whilst the lightning that issued from the cloud was remarkably red; and moved with less velocity than usual.

The cloud appeared of different shapes; to persons in different situations; and remained suspended a long time: but every where was plainly seen to be burning, and smoking like a furnace.

And its original height, from a variety of circumstances put together, seems to have been much above the common region of the clouds.

The testimony, concerning the falling of the stones from it, appears to be almost unquestionable: and is, evidently, from different persons, who had no communication with each other.

For first; the fall of four stones is precisely ascertained: one of which was of an irregular figure, with a point like that of a diamond; weighed five pounds and an half; and had a vitriolic smell. And another weighed three pounds and an half; was black on the outside, as if from smoke; and, internally, seemed composed of matter of the colour of ashes; in which were perceived small spots of metals, of gold and silver... Continue reading book >>




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