John Randolph about the weather conditions in St Petersburg in the May of 1830:
"This country may well be likened to a comet; we are now in the perihelion--I shall not wait the aphelion. Never have I seen so many severe cases of summer disease.
St. Petersburg, built upon a morass, resembles Holland in everything but cleanliness and wealth. An inundation of the Neva, the only outlet of the vast Lake Ladoga and its tributary swamps, lays the city under water. The mark of the last inundation is four feet above the surface of the streets, which are all on a dead level. The water for drinking is detestable, worse even than that of Norfolk or New York, and never fails to engender the most fatal diseases. Dysentery in its worst form, bilious fever of the most malignant type, are now raging. The Concord [the ship which brought him] is a perfect hospital.
I have written thus far interrupted every quarter of a minute by innumerable flies, gigantic as the empire they inhabit, which attack the face in all its vulnerable points--nose, mouth, ears, and eyes under the cover of the spectacles. This is the land of Pharaoh and its plagues. It is Egypt in all but fertility. The extremes of human misery and human splendour here meet."