E. S. de Beer (ed.), The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke: The Correspondence of John Locke: In Eight Volumes, Vol. 4: Letters Nos. 1242–1701

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1534. Benjamin Furly to Locke, 8 September 1692 (1533, 1562)

B.L., MS. Locke c. 9, ff. 94–5. Furly generally uses new-style dates when writing to Locke from Rotterdam; the earthquake shows that the date of the present letter is old style.

Rotterdam 8 September 1692


This comes by Captain Masham,1 by whom I could not but give you an account of an Earthquake that happend in this Town about 2 aclock when many were sitting at table, But I had dined, my servants retired into my comptoir, and I putting of my upper garments to lye down, and take a nap, as—when they came affrighted into my chamber and askt me if I did not feel the house to shake I said no, but standing still saw it, and found my head grow light and my stomach grow sick, as if I were at sea; I went then into the street, not thinking any thing but that it was some particular defect in my own house, to looke upon the Gable, and outside, as I stood gazing, I saw the people in heaps, and my next neighbour came and askt me, if I felt it also, I askt what, she said the earth quake.2

My next neighbour on the left-hand of me, one of the Vroedschaaps3 of this Town, askt me what I thought of it, I said I thought it was an earthquake, and he gravely said he beleevd it to be a discharge of one of those machines provided for the walls of Dunkirk. in which there is 30000 and some 50000 lb of powder; I desire this case may be layd before your Royall Society. Whether it be more probable to have been an earthquake, seing the earth houses, water and ships all were very gently 7 or 8 times tost to and fro from South to North and back again, in a cuntry that have no subterraneous caverns, or sulphureous matter, but what is in pg 518our mud of which we make our turf, so wel guarded with water from having any effect upon us, till it be sufficiently dryed in the sun.

Or whether any quantity of powder, at such a distance, as we could not heare the least noise in the Ayre, not so much as to make our glass windows rattle, could shake our cuntry; they say the bell in the steeple sounded.

All the files of papers hanging in my counting house shaked too and fro, and the booke the lad was writing in was moved from under his Arme;

This is a strange passage, as ever has been seen—one telling mony, the table was overturnd with the mony, but my clock, or slinger,1 that in motion was shaked into rest. I wish it be not a presage of a shaking of our fabrick,—I am

  • Sir
  • Your most affectionate friend and servant
  • Benjamin Furly

My service to Sir Fr. M. and my Lady

Just now come to towne, my Lord Pagets2 Gentleman of the horse from the Hague, that says it was more violent there, than we felt it here, as they sate at table the whole Table shooke.

Address (written by an amanuensis): To Doctor Locke per Ami Q D G

Endorsed by Locke: B. Furly 8 Sept. 92

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 Presumably Henry Masham.
Editor’s Note
2 London Gazette, 12, 15, and 22 September; pp. 519, 524, 571–2. A Dutch pamphlet gives the time of the earthquake as 2.19 p.m.: Knuttel, no. 13809.
Editor’s Note
1 Pendulum; the Dutch word.
Editor’s Note
2 He was now going as ambassador to Turkey.
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