Following are excerpts from the long description of the hurricane which gave Alexander Hamilton his start toward fame.
Honored Sir. I take up my pen just to give you an imperfect account of the most dreadful hurricane that memory or any records whatever can trace, which happened here on the 31st ultimo at night.
It began about dusk, at North, and raged very violently till ten o'clock. Then ensued a sudden and unexpected interval, which lasted about an hour. Meanwhile, the wind was shifting round to the South West point, from whence it returned with redoubled fury and continued so till near three o'clock in the morning. Good God! what horror and destruction — it's impossible for me to describe — or you to form any idea of it. It seemed as if a total dissolution of nature was taking place. The roaring of the sea and wind-fiery meteors flying about in the air — the prodigious glare of almost perpetual lightning — the crash of the falling houses — and the earpiercing shrieks of the distressed, were sufficient to strike astonishment into Angels. A great part of the buildings throughout the Island are leveled to the ground —almost all the rest was very shattered - several persons killed and numbers utterly ruined — whole families running about the streets unknowing where to find a place of shelter - the sick exposed to the keenness of water and air — without a bed to lie upon — or a dry covering to their bodies - our harbour is entirely bare. In a word, misery in all its most hideous shapes spread over the whole face of the country — a strong smell of gunpowder added somewhat to the terrors of the night; and it was observed that the rain was surprisingly salt. Indeed, the water is so brackish and full of sulphur that there is hardly any drinking it.
My reflections and feelings on this frightful and melancholy occasion are set forth in following self-discourse.
Where now OH! Vile worm, is all thy boasted fortitude and sufficiency? — why dost thou tremble and stand aghast? how humble — how helpless — how contemptible you now appear. And for why? the jarring of the elements — the discord of clouds? Oh, impotent presumptuous fool! How darest thou offend that omnipotence, whose nod alone were sufficient to quell the destruction that hovers over thee, or crush thee into atoms? See thy wretched helpless state and learn to know thyself . . .