Tuesday, November 06, 2007

H.P. Lovecraft Was Right; or, Libertarian Do-Gooding

.....I have always believed that if you wanted to go Do Some Good with your own money, that was fine; and I have long been a fan (in much the same way that small children stare in helpless fascination at very large snakes) of the writings of the late Howard Philips Lovecraft.

To suppose those things might intersect seems wildly unlikely.

It's an unlikely sort of world. Lady and Gentleman, search 'bots of all ages, for your delectation: Williamson's Tunnels!

The nickle read of this dime novel: beneath Liverpool (yes, the one in the UK) there exists a somewhat-lost and vast -- indeed, Cyclopean -- series of tunnels, excavated in the 19th Century by men working for tobacco magnate Joseph Williamson. They've never been entirely lost but many were filled in over the years by builders dumping dirt from excavations.

A small band of Liverpudlians began digging them out some years back, with no end in sight!

The most plausible explanation for this is that Williamson, who had grown up in poverty, was keeping men employed through a very deep recession; but clearly he was fascinated by tunneling as well. It's possible he was a member of some Millennealist sect and was building a refuge, or smuggling tobacco or other goods; the man's dead and he didn't leave a lot of notes.

But whatever else it is, it's amazing stuff. Go have a look. And while looking, consider the number of men kept gainfully employed and the families fed by the eccentricities (whatever they were) of a single wealthy man.


Anonymous said...

Cool! Kind of a subterranean Winchester Mystery House (http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com/).

Anonymous said...

I miss the rich. They were fun to have around. Today's rich are only upper-upper-middle-class.

Even first-generation English money seemed to have a special handle on eccentricity. JL Norton, motorcycle magnate, belonged to the Salvation Army, bigtime. Joseph Lucas, Inventor of Mystical Darkness (although his firm didn't do electrics until after his passing), was a workaholic teetotaler, finally took one vacation, went to Naples and drank water. In Kipling's immortal phrase, it killed him out of hand.