Letter from James O’Hara, Lisbon, 
November 12, 1755

Dear sister,

I sit down to relate to you the dreadful catastrophe that has befallen the once-flourishing city of Lisbon, now a scene of horror and desolation.

On the first day of this month, at half past nine in the forenoon, a sudden earthquake shook its foundations, and laid it in ruins. At this fatal hour, the churches were crowded; and as their fall was momentary, and allowed no time for retreating, those who were in them were crushed to death.
It is impossible to describe the affrighted looks of the inhabitants, flying various ways to avoid destruction. Numbers flocked to the river’s side in hopes to save their lives by means of boats. The custom-house quay was imagined to be a place for safety; but unhappily it was soon inundated, and those who fled on it, only escaped from the falling city, to meet a watery grave. Fathers and mothers were seen seeking their children, and children searching for their parents.


> Homepage