Philobiblon: A timely report from a 'Lady of Quality'

Friday, October 14, 2005

A timely report from a 'Lady of Quality'

Miss Frances Williams Wynn is today reporting on her experiences in the Naples earthquake of 1805. She maintains (at least in retrospect) an admirable scientific sangfroid; she's quite Pliny-like in her observations:

You may form some idea of the violence of the shock, from the circumstance of some persons being affected by it as by sea-sickness. The children of Sir Grenville Temple, who, from being ignorant of the danger, cannot be supposed to have been influenced by fear, were affected in this manner in common with several grown people. I myself did not feel any sensation of this sort, perhaps from having been constantly in motion ...

The full account is here.

I say the account is timely since the poor of Naples and environs were no doubt in much the same state (although without the threat of snow) as the poor of Kashmir are today.


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