Friday, November 25, 2011

Great Storm of 1703


England’s Great Storm of 1703 reached its worst state on November 25th 1703, and lasted several days.  Winds gusted to 120 mph.  Many ships were lost, the Royal Navy losing thirteen vessels.  Sir Walter Scott discusses the storm in relation to the work of Daniel Defoe, as part of his biography of Defoe:

‘It is a wonder how so excellent a subject as the Great Fire of London, should have escaped the notice of De Foe, so eager for subjects of a popular character. Yet we can hardly regret this, since besides the verses of Dryden in the Annus Mirabilis, the accounts by two contemporaries, Evelyn and Pepys, have sketched it in all its terrible brilliancy.

The Great Storm, which, on 26th November, 1703, in Addison's phrase, "o'er pale Britannia pass'd," was seized upon by De Foe as a subject for the exercise of his powers of description. But as it consists in a great measure of letters from the country, wretched pastoral poetry, (for De Foe was only a poet in prose,) and similar buckram and binding used by bookmakers, it does not do the genius of the author the same credit as the works before named…’

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