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If it were necessary to go to other countries
for records of great fires, we might pick out
New York, where, on the 17th of December,
1835, there was a fire which raged over fifty-
four acres of ground, and destroyed six hundred
and seventy-four houses, and property to the
amount of four millions sterling. There is St.
Petersburg, which was very unfortunate during
the last century, losing two thousand houses by
a fire in 1736; eleven thousand houses by
another fire in 1780; and a hundred vessels in
its harbour with a magazine of naval stores by
another fire in 1796. Copenhagen has had its
trials, being burnt in 1728, when seventy-seven
streets were destroyed; losing its palace with all
the rich furniture, equal in value to nearly five
millions sterling, in 1794; and fifty streets,
containing nearly fourteen hundred houses, in
1795. Many other foreign cities have been
equally unfortunate, but, perhaps, Constantinople has
been the most unfortunate of all. It
lost twelve thousand houses and seven thousand
inhabitants by a fire in September, 1729; it
lost another twelve thousand houses by another
fire in 1749; ten thousand more houses by a
similar calamity in 1750; four thousand more
houses by fire in 1751, while the plague
destroyed seven thousand people; it was nearly
engulphed by an earthquake, and had three
thousand inhabitants killed in 1754; it had five
hundred more houses burnt in 1756; fifteen
thousand more houses and one thousand persons
destroyed by fire in July, 1756; considerable
havoc made by fire in 1761, 1765, 1767, 1769,
and 1771; it had six hundred more houses
burnt in February, 1782; seven thousand more
burnt in June, 1783; ten thousand houses, fifty
mosques, and one hundred corn-fields destroyed
in August, 1782, and ten thousand more houses
in August, 1784. In 1791, it had thirty-two
thousand houses destroyed by fire; seven thousand
more destroyed in 1792; an equal number
more destroyed in 1795, and a fire in 1799, at
the suburb of Pera, which consumed thirteen
hundred houses and many magnificent buildings.
In August, 1816, it lost twelve hundred houses,
and three thousand shops by another fire; and
above one thousand houses more by a similar
calamity in 1829. In August, 1831, it was
visited by another fire, which destroyed about
five thousand houses and many mosques; and
another fire broke out at Pera, August 30, 1833,
when nearly one-fourth of the city was
consumed.

The principles of fire insurance are not
understood or carried out practically in any
country as they are in England, although both
New York and Paris equal if not surpass us in
their fire brigades. Even in this country it is
estimated that not more than one-third of the
insurable property is secured from loss by fire,
owing probably to the heavy government stamp-
duty of three shillings per centa charge just
double what the fire offices demand for all their
labour and risk on ordinary policies. The duty
drawn every year by the Chancellor of the
Exchequer from this most objectionable taxa tax
upon prudenceis now nearly a million and a
half sterling, representing property insured that
is valued by the owners at the immense sum of
a thousand millions sterling. The loss by the
late London-bridge fire, large as it is, hardly
represents one-fifth per cent. of this sum; and
hardly a fifteenth per cent., if we add the
estimated property insurable but uninsured. This
two-thirds of property uninsured is the margin
always acted upon by such calamities as the late
great fire; and the insurance offices, while they
pay out rather heavily with one hand, receive
something back with the other in the shape of
premiums paid upon policies taken out under
the influence of extraordinary fear.

PRIVATEERING

IN the last French war, all Dover used to
dread what was called "the privateer wind,"
that sou' something by something, which enabled
French privateers to flash out of Cherbourg,
make a loop line out at sea, snatch up all they met
and bear it back, with vulture speed, to Dunkirk,
or some not too distant port.

How well I remember, forty years ago, when
I was articled to a solicitor (the town clerk of
Dover), being awoke some murky morning by the
news of a privateer being in sight of the town.
On one particular occasion, Le Petit Renard, a
celebrated piratical privateer lugger, from
Dunkirk, the terror of the Channel, attempted to cut
out an English vessel that she had been pursuing,
from under the very guns of the batteries.
All the town was in a state of effervescence.
The guns of Archcliff fort were replying to those
of a further battery. Everywhere down the
streets you saw running specks of scarlet, which
were soldiers hurrying to their posts. There
was no danger, of course, but there was all the
sportsman's anxiety for capture. Boom! boom!
bang! bang! From the higher cliffs you could
see, every now and then issue, from a rock gallery,
a widening puff of smoke, through which flashed
a thread of fire; then, far away on the grey wave
you saw the shot leap and splash in the direction
of the saucy lugger that was waiting like a
shark for its food.

But Le Petit Renard was too sly a bird to
be caught. It was not going to run its head
into a wasps' nest for all Dover was worth, so it
sent a shot at the town in impudent defiance,
and swept off home, amid the curses and
shouts of our artillerymen. We heard no more
of Le Petit Renard till a week after, when
she bore off a rich merchant vessel. Her
captain was one of the vilest of sea thieves. He
had two sets of ship's papers, one set English,
the other French. If he were boarded by a vessel
of Napoleon's, he produced triumphantly his
French papers; if by one of King George's, he
produced his English license, so that no one
knew where to have him. I believe Le Petit
Renard brought in some thousands of guineas to
her employers, and was lying safe in a French

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