Extracts from memoirs and diariesby Ian Irvine / January 23, 2013 / Leave a comment
Published in February 2013 issue of Prospect Magazine
The collapse of the South Sea Bubble, 1720, by William Hogarth © AKG-Images
St John Brodrick, an Irish MP, tells his father, the Irish Lord Chancellor, of the collapse of the South Sea Bubble in 1720. The enterprise was founded in 1711 to consolidate and reduce the cost of national debt:
“Various are the conjectures why the South Sea directors have suffered the cloud to break so early… They have stretched credit so far beyond what it would bear, that specie proves insufficient to support it. Their most considerable men have drawn out, securing themselves by the losses of the deluded, thoughtless numbers, whose understandings have been overruled by avarice and the hope of making mountains out of molehills. Thousands of families will be reduced to beggary. The consternation is inexpressible—the rage beyond description, and the case altogether so desperate that I do not see any plan or scheme so much as thought of for averting the blow, so that I cannot pretend to guess what is next to be done.”
Claud Cockburn, a British journalist in New York, recalls Black Thursday in the Wall Street Crash on 24th October 1929:
“On the subway to the City Hall Square the change [in the atmosphere] was as evident as a notable change in the weather. At the Sun office [a now defunct New York newspaper], there was just that nip in the emotional air which you get on the day after a big air raid, when people have grasped that the bombers really did get through last night and may do so again today. It was a situation in which nobody says much, but everyone knows what everyone else is thinking and knows that everyone else is a little frightened too.
“As the electric clocks ticked off the minutes until the o…