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RUMOUR OF BUTCHER'S MEAT BEING INFECTED.

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upon us; and, if any died suddenly, or if the spotted fevers at any time increased, we were presently alarmed; much more if the number of the plague increased; for, to the end of the year there were always between two and three hundred of the plague. On any of these occasions, I say, we were alarmed anew.

Those who remember the city of London before the fire, must remember, that there was then no such place as that we now call Newgate Market ; but, in the middle of the street, which is now called Blow Bladder-street, and which had its name from the butchers, who used to kill and dress their sheep there (and who, it seems had a custom to blow up their meat with pipes, to make it look thicker and fatter than it was, and were punished there for it by the Lord Mayor), I say, from the end of the street towards Newgate, there stood two long rows of shambles for the selling meat.

It was in those shambles, that two persons falling down dead as they were buying meat, gave rise to a rumour that the meat was all infected, which, though it might affright the people, and spoiled the market for two or three days, yet it appeared plainly afterwards, that there was nothing of truth in the suggestion : but nobody can account for the possession of fear when it takes hold of the mind However, it pleased God, by the continuing of the winter weather, so to restore the health of the city, that by February following, we reckoned the distemper quite ceased, and then we were not easily frighted again.

There was still a question among the learned, and at first perplexed the people a little ; and that was, in what manner to purge the houses and goods where the plague had been, and how to render them habitable again which had been left empty during the time of the plague; abundance of perfumes and preparations were prescribed by physicians, some of one kind, some of another; in which the people who listened to them put themselves to a great, and, indeed, in my opinion, to an unnecessary expense; and the poorer people, who only set open their windows night and day, burnt brimstone, pitch, and gunpowder, and such things, in their rooms, did as well as the best; nay, the eager people, who, as I said above, came home in haste, and at all hazards, found little or no inconvenience in their houses, nor in their goods, and did little or nothing to them.

However, in general, prudent, cautious people did enter into some measures for airing and sweetening their houses, and burnt perfumes, incense, benjamin, resin, and sulphur, in their rooms close shut up, and then let the air carry it all out with a blast of gunpowder; others caused large fires to be made all day and all night, for several days and nights. By the same token that two or three were pleased to set their houses on fire, and so effectually sweetened them by burning them down to the ground; as particularly one at Ratcliff, one in Holborn, and one at Westminster, besides two or three that were set on fire, but the fire was happily got out again before it went far enough to burn down the houses ; and one citizen's servant, I think it was in Thames Street, carried so much gunpowder into his master's house, for clearing it of the infection, and managed it so foolishly, that he blew up part of the roof of the house. But the time was not fully come that the city was to be purged with fire, nor was it far off, for within nine months more I saw it all lying in ashes ; when, as some of our quaking philosophers pretend, the seeds of the plague were entirely destroyed, and not before; a notion too ridiculous to speak of here, since had the seeds of the plague remained in the houses, not to be destroyed but by fire, how has it been that they have not since broken out? seeing all those buildings in the suburbs and liberties, all in the great parishes of Stepney, Whitechapel, Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Shoreditch, Cripplegate, and St. Giles's, where the fire never came, and where the plague raged with the greatest violence, remain still in the same condition they were in before.

But to leave these things just as I found them, it was certain that those people who were more than ordinarily cautious of their health, did take particular directions for what they called seasoning of their houses, and abundance of costly things were consumed on that account, which, I cannot but say, not only seasoned those houses as they desired, but filled the air with very grateful and wholesome smells, which others had the share of the benefit of, as well as those who were at the expenses of them.

Though the poor came to town very precipitantly as I have said, yet, I must say, the rich made no such haste. The

ABSENCE OF THE PLAGUE IN THE FLEET.

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men of business, indeed, came up, but many of them did not bring their families to town till the spring came on, and that they saw reason to depend upon it that the plague would not return.

The court, indeed, came up soon after Christmas; but the nobility and gentry, except such as depended upon, and had employment under the administration, did not come so

I should have taken notice here that, notwithstanding the violence of the plague in London, and other places, yet it was very observable that it was never on board the fleet, and yet for some time, there was a strange press in the river, and even in the streets for seamen to man the fleet. But it was in the beginning of the year, when the plague was scarce begun, and not at all come down to that part of the city where they usually press

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seamen ; and though a war with the Dutch was not at all grateful to the people at that time, and the seamen went with a kind of reluctancy into the service, and many complained of being dragged into it by force, yet it proved, in the event, a happy violence to several of them, who had probably perished in the general calamity, and who, after the summer service was over, though they had cause to lament the desolation of their families, who, when they came back, were many of them in their graves; yet they had room to be thankful that they were carried out of the reach of it, though so much against their wills. We, indeed, had a hot war with the Dutch that year, and one very great engagement at sea, in which the Dutch were worsted; but we lost a great many men and some ships; but as I observed, the plague was not in the fleet, and when they came to lay up the ships in the river, the violent part of it began to abate.

I would be glad if I could close the account of this melancholy year with some particular examples historically; I mean of the thankfulness to God, our Preserver, for our being delivered from this dreadful calamity. Certainly the circumstances of the deliverance, as well as the terrible enemy we were delivered from, called upon the whole nation for it; the circumstances of the deliverance were, indeed, very remarkable, as I have in part mentioned already; and, particularly, the dreadful condition which we were all in, when we were, to the surprise of the whole town, made joyful with the hope of a stop to the infection.

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Nothing but the immediate finger of God, nothing but omnipotent power could have done it; the contagion despised all medicine, death raged in every corner; and had it gone on as it did then, a few weeks more would have cleared the town of all and everything that had a soul. Men everywhere began to despair, every heart failed them for fear; people were made desperate through the anguish of their souls, and the terrors of death sat in the very faces and countenances of the people. In that very moment, when we might very well

say,

Vain was the help of man ; I say, in that very moment it pleased God, with a most agreeable surprise, to cause the fury of it to abate, even of itself; and the malignity declining, as I have said, though infinite numbers were sick, yet fewer died; and the

very first week's bill decreased 1843, a vast number indeed. It is impossible to express the change that appeared in the very countenances of the people, that Thursday morning, when the weekly bill came out: it might have been perceived in their conntenances, that a secret surprise and smile of joy sat on everybody's face; they shook one another by the hands in the streets, who would hardly go on the same side of the way with one another before; where the streets were not too broad, they would open their windows and call from one house to another, and asked how they did, and if they had heard the good news that the plague was abated ; some would return, when they said good news, and ask, What good news? And when they answered that the plague was abated, and the bills decreased almost two thousand, they would cry out, God be praised ; and would weep aloud for joy, telling them they had heard nothing of it; and such was the joy of the people, that it was as it were life to them from the grave. I could almost set down as many extravagant things done in the excess of their joy as of their grief; but that would be to lessen the value of it.

I must confess myself to have been very much dejected just before this happened; for the prodigious numbers that were taken sick the week or two before, besides those that died was such, and the lamentations were so great everywhere, that a man must have seemed to have acted even against his reason if he had so much as expected to escape ; and as there was hardly a house but mine in all my neighbourhood but what was infected, so had it gone on, it would not have been long that there would have been any more neighbours to

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MIRACULOUS INTERPOSITION.

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be infected; indeed it is hardly credible what dreadful havoc the last three weeks had made; for if I might believe the person whose calculations I always found very well grounded, there were not less than thirty thousand people dead, and near one hundred thousand fallen sick in the three weeks I speak of; for the number that sickened was surprising, indeed, it was astonishing, and those whose courage upheld them all the time before, sunk under it now.

In the middle of their distress, when the condition of the city of London was so truly calamitous, just then it pleased God, as it were, by his immediate hand, to disarm this enemy; the poison was taken out of the sting; it was wonderful : even the physicians themselves were surprised at it: wherever they visited they found their patients better, either they had sweated kindly, or the tumours were broke, or the carbuncles went down, and the inflammations round them changed colour, or the fever was gone, or the violent headache was assuaged, or some good symptom was in the case; so that, in a few days everybody was recovering; whole families that were infected and down, that had ministers praying with them, and expected death every hour, were revived and healed, and none died at all out of them.

Nor was this by any new medicine found out, or new method of cure discovered, or by any experience in the operation, which the physicians or surgeons attained to; but it was evidently from the secret invisible hand of Him that had at first sent this disease as a judgment upon us ; and let the atheistic part of mankind call my saying what they please, it is no enthusiasm. It was acknowledged, at that time, by all mankind. The disease was enervated, and its malignity spent, and let it proceed from whencesoever it will, let the philosophers search for reasons in nature to account for it by, and labour as much as they will to lessen the debt they owe to their Maker ; those physicians who had the least share of religion in them, were obliged to acknowledge that it was all supernatural, that it was extraordinary, and that no account could be given of it.

If I should say that this is a visible summons to us all to thankfulness, especially we that were under the terror of its increase, perhaps it may be thought by soine, after the sense of the thing was over, an officious canting of religious things, preaching a sermon instead of writing a history; making

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