John Howard

On his wife's death, he resolved to leave England for another tour on the continent. In his former tour he had visited most of the places of usual resort in France and Italy; during the present, therefore, he intended to pursue some less common route. After some deliberation, he determined to sail first to Portugal, in order to visit its capital, Lisbon, then in ruins from the effects of that tremendous earthquake the news of which had appalled Europe. Nothing is more interesting than to observe the effects which great public events of a calamitous nature produce on different minds; indeed one of the most instructive ways of contrasting men's dispositions, is to consider how they are severally affected by some stupendous occurrence. It is to be regretted, therefore, that we are not informed more particularly by Howard's biographers of the reasons which determined him to visit the scene of the awful catastrophe which had recently occurred in Portugal whether they were motives of mere curiosity, or whether they partook of that desire to place himself in contact with misery, that passion for proximity to wretchedness which formed so large an element in Howard's character, and marked him out from the first as predestined for a career of philanthrophy.