Thomas Twyne’s Discourse On The Earthquake Of 1580.




Pen-In-Hand Publishing Co. St. Michael's Street.





Item Description

8vo. 7 x 8.75 inches. 40 pp. Pamphlet in brown wrapper, with black title. Deckled edges. A little wear to extremities and occasional scattered foxing; otherwise a very good copy. Illustrated by facsimile of title page of 1580 edition. One of several contemporary pamphlets which appeared after the earthquake of 1580 which affected London and much of the south east, as well as towns across the Channel in France and Flanders. It is now considered that the epicentre was under the Dover Straits and that it had a magnitude of between 5.2 and 5.9, making it one of the largest recorded in Britain. Thomas Twyne (1543-1613), a physician, who also translated Virgil and Petrarch was born in Canterbury, graduated from both Oxford and Cambridge and later lived in Lewes. Twyne attempts a scientific rationale of the causes and course of earthquakes, mentioning the 'hollow cliffes by the Sea side... causing great peeces of the earth to fall in: As of late dayes it happened betweene Douer, and Folston, [Dover and Folkestone] the poore Towne of Whytstable in Kent.' Being a follower of the mystical philosophy of John Dee, Twyne also looks for celestial causes relating to the position of the stars, moon and planets; and as a sign from Heaven for people to amend their sinful ways by means of 'that most strange and terrible worke of the Lord in shaking the Earth.' At the time people also tried to find homely explanations for the unexpected sensations: 'Some imputed the ratling of wainescots to Rattes and Weesels: the shaking of the beddes, tables and stooles, to Dogges: the quaking of their walles to their neyghbours rushing on the tother side.' Earthquakes near the Channel coasts have continued at intervals, the latest being the Folkestone Earthquake of 2007 of magnitude 4.3, whose epicentre lay very close to the town itself. A reprint of the original of 1580, entitled A shorte and pithie Discourse, concerning the engendring, tokens, and effects of all Earthquakes in General, edited with an introduction and useful bibliography by Ralph Ernest Ockenden.

[Stock No. 26365]

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