The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, October 16, 1834, by Joseph Mallord William Turner, c. 1835. © The Philadelphia Museum of Art / Art Resource.

Disaster

Volume IX, Number 2 | spring 2016

Miscellany

Astrologers of the Ayyubid Empire predicted in 1186 that the world would end September 16 of that year; a dust storm, stirred up by planetary alignment, would scour the earth of life. Sultan Saladin criticized the “feeble minds” of believers and planned an open-air, candlelit party for that evening. “We never saw a night as calm as that,” an attendee later remarked.

Is all our fire of shipwreck wood?

—Robert Browning, 1862