Friday, June 10, 2011

To Sir Horace Mann      Arlington Street      April 2, 1750
You will not wonder so much at our earthquakes as at the effects they have had. All the women in town have taken them up upon the foot of Judgments; and the clergy, who have had no windfalls of a long season, have driven horse and foot into this opinion.
There has been a shower of sermons and exhortations; Secker, the jesuitical Bishop of Oxford, began the mode. He heard the women were all going out of town to avoid the next shock; and so: for fear of losing his Easter offerings, he set himself to advise them to await God's good pleasure in fear and trembling. But what is more astonishing, Sherlock, who has much better sense, and much less of the Popish confessor has been running a race with him for the old ladies, and has written a pastoral letter, of which ten thousand were sold in two days; and fifty thousand have been subscribed for, since the two first editions.
I told you the women talked of going out of town: several families are literally gone, and many more going to-day and to-morrow; for what adds to the absurdity, is, that the second shock having happened exactly a month after the former, it prevails that there will be a third on Thursday next, another month, which is to swallow up London. I am almost ready to burn my letter now I have begun it, lest you should think I am laughing at you: but it is so true, that Arthur of White's told me last night, that he should put off the last ridotto, which was to be on Thursday, because he hears nobody would come to it. I have advised several who are going to keep their next earthquake in the country, to take the bark for it, as it is so periodic. Dick Leveson and Mr. Rigby, who had supped and strived late at Bedford House the other night, knocked at several doors, and in a watchman's voice cried, "Past four o'clock, and a dreadful earthquake!"
But I have done with this ridiculous panic: two pages were too much to talk of it. We have had nothing in Parliament but trade-bills, on one of which the Speaker humbled the arrogance of Sir John Barnard, who had reflected upon the proceedings of the House. It is to break up on Thursday Se'nnight, and the King goes this day fortnight.
I was entertained the other night at the house of much such a creature as Sir John Rawdon, and one whom you remember too, Naylor. he has a wife who keeps the most indecent house of all those that are called decent: every Sunday she has a contraband assembly: I had had a card for Monday a fortnight before. As the day was new, I expected a great assembly, but found scarce six persons. I asked where the company was--I was answered, "Oh! they are not come yet: they will be here presently; they all supped here last night, stayed till morning, and I suppose are not up yet."
Wednesday           I had not time to finish my letter on Monday. I return to the earthquake, which I had mistaken; it is to be to-day. This frantic terror is so much, that within these three days seven hundred and thirty coaches have been counted passing Hyde Park corner, with whole parties removing into the country. Here is a good advertisement which I cut out of the papers to-day; "On Monday next will be published (price 6d.) A true and exact List of all the Nobility and Gentry who have left, or shall leave, this place through fear of another Earthquake."
Several women have made earthquake gowns; that is, warm gowns to sit out of doors all to-night. These are of the more courageous. One woman, still more heroic, is come to town on purpose: she says, all her friends are in London, and she will not survive them. But what will you think of Lady Catherine Pelham, Lady Frances Arundel, and Lord and Lady Galway, who go this evening to an inn ten miles out of town, where they are to play at brag till five in the morning, and then come back-I suppose, to look for the bones of their husbands and families under the rubbish. The prophet of all this (next to the Bishop of London) is a trooper of Lord Delawar's who was yesterday sent to Bedlam. His colonel sent to the man's wife, and asked her if her husband had ever been disordered before. She cried, "Oh dear! my lord, he is not mad now; if your lordship would but get any sensible man to examine him, you would find, he is quite in his right mind." I shall now tell you something more serious: Lord Dalkeith is dead of the small-pox in three days. It is so dreadfully fatal in his family, that besides several uncles and aunts, his eldest boy died of it last year; and his only brother, who was ill but two days, putrefied so fast that his limbs fell off as they lifted the body into the coffin.

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