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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 9.djvu/469

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9*8. IX. JUNK 14, 1902.] NOTES AND QUERIES.



CONTENTS.-No. 233.

NOTES : Defoe and the St. Vincent Eruption of 1718, 461 - St. Margaret's and Westminster Benefactors, 4*3-Song- stresses of Scotland Death of Balaclava Trtimpet-Maior -"Caribou" New Business Hours of M.P.s " TMal wave " " Girafflne," 4fi5 " Circular joys " " Coptic " " God has three chancellors " The Iron Duke, 4tt5.

QUERIES: -Optic or Optical Glass, 466 Dr. Johnson " Hopeful " : " Sanguine " Aix-la-Chape!le Quotation T. Phaer, 467 Roman Catholic Chapel Second Earl of Alhemarle Sir G. Pole -Lodge's 'Earls of Kildare ' Translator Wanted Will ughby's 'Ornithology 'Ana- logous Book-Titles "Knife" Green=Cary: Smythies= Gary' Sweepings from my Study ' ' Stemmata'Chiche- liana,' 468 -Alphabet-keeper Eastgate Ervin Dervish Sects Sir E. Coke, 469.

REPLIES :-Bruce and Burns, 469 Herrick's Taylor. Shorthand Writer Ships of War on Land, 471 Church Furniture Many Religions and One Sauce " Grey city by the Northern Sea" Arms of Continental Cities Sir E. B. Godfrey, 472 Coronation Item "Buff Week "Flint-glass Trade, 473 Gee Family-Surnames from Single Letters" Say not that he did well" Darley Downie's Slaughter, 474 Inquests Portraits Wanted Gothic Building Greek Pronunciation, 475 Eulogies of the Bible " Lupo-mannaro " " Week-end " Rossetti's ' Ruggiero and Angelica,' 476 Sweeny Todd Passage in Thackeray Yarrow Unvisited " Away with " Monosyllab'es in L?trary Composition. 477 "Conser- vative" W. T. Edwards British Epitaphs Herrick : Silver-pence, 478 Gwyneth Old Spoons, 479.

NOTES ON BOOKS : Madame van Muyden's ' Foreign View of England in the Reigns of George I. and George II.' Venn's 'Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College.'

Notices to Correspondents.


THE appalling consequences of the volcanic eruptions in the island of St. Vincent during the greater portion of May in this present year have served to call public attention, in a very marked degree, to one of the many literary problems associated with the name and career of Daniel Defoe. One of these I may claim to have already solved in these pages (see 8 th S. viii. 221, 349), and with the other I hope not less satisfactorily to deal.

In the issue for 5 July, 1718, of the Weekly Post, with Fresh Advices Foreign and Domestick commonly known, from the name of its publisher, as Mist's Journal there appeared in the most prominent position a long, detailed, and (if I may use the word) moralized description of ** the entire desola- tion of the island of St. Vincent in the West Indies, by the immediate hand of Nature, directed by Providence." This was asserted to be gathered from many letters received in London descriptive of a most destructive eruption at St. Vincent on the previous 26 March ; and as

it would be impossible to bring the letters all

separately into this journal we have thought it

better to give the substance of this amazing acci- dent in one collection, making together as full and as distinct account of the whole as we believe is possible to come at by any intelligence whatsoever."

It has never been doubted that the writer of that account was Defoe; but what is astonishing is that his biographers have followed one another in expressing the belief that he not merely wrote, but invented it. Mr. William Lee was not emphatic in that belief as he started, but it appeared to grow upon him as he proceeded with his monu- mental work. In the first volume (p. 280) he merely remarked that

" in June, 1718, an exaggerated account reached England that the Island of St. Vincent had been destroyed by an earthquake, upon which Defoe wrote a long and wonderfully circumstantial narra- tive of the catastrophe."

But in the preface to the second volume (p. viii) he considered that "lovers of the marvellous " would be " amused by [Defoe's] refusal afterward to admit that the story was not true "; while on p. 48, without a word of caution as to there being a doubt on the subject, he bluntly headed the narrative 'Imaginary Destruction of the Isle of St. Vincent.'

This very brusque fashion of dealing with the matter appears to have misled subsequent biographers. Prof. Minto (in the " English Men of Letters " series) wrote (p. 125) :

" It is a notable circumstance that one of the marks by which contemporaries traced his hand was ' the little art he is truly master of, of forging a story and imposing it on the world for truth.' Of this he gave a conspicuous instance in MixCs Journal in an account of the marvellous blowing up of the island of St. Vincent, which in circumstantial in- vention and force of description must be ranked among his masterpieces."

And Mr. George A. Aitken, in his introduc- tion to the collected edition of Defoe's works, which contains this narrative (vol. xv.), is even more precise :

" Defoe's ' make-believe' cannot be denied in the account of the ' Destruction of St. Vincent.' The article appeared in Mist'* Journal, and seems to have been entirely of Defoe's invention, for no mention of any rumours about the island is to be found in the other newspapers of the day."

In face of so positive a statement, it will come upon your readers with some sur- prise to learn that, on the very date of the publication of Defoe's narrative in J/ut', there appeared in the rival Applebee's the Original Weekly Journal, with Fresh Advices, Foreign and D'omestick, for 28 June-5 July an account of the same eruption, giving some details not possessed by the other ; and