« ElőzőTovább »
The usual number of burials within the bills of mortality for a week, was from about two hundred and forty, or thereabouts, to three hundred. The last was esteemed a pretty high bill ; but after this we found the bills successively increasing, as follows:
Increased. December 20, to the 27th, Buried 291
27, to the 3rd Jan. 349 58 January 3, to the 10th,
394 45 10, to the 17th,
415 21 17, to the 24th,
This last bill was really frightful, being a higher number than had been known to have been buried in one week, since the preceding visitation of 1656.
However, all this went off again, and the weather proving cold, and the frost, which began in December, still continuing very severe, even till near the end of February, attended with sharp though moderate winds, the bills decreased again, and the city grew healthy, and everybody began to look upon the danger as good as over; only that still the burials in St. Giles's continued high. From the beginning of April, especially, they stood at twenty-five each week, till the week from the 18th to the 25th, when there was buried in St. Giles's parish thirty, whereof two of the plague, and eight of the spotted fever, which was looked upon as the same thing ; likewise the number that died of the spotted fever in the whole increased, being eight the week before, and twelve the week above named.
This alarmed us all again, and terrible apprehensions were among the people, especially the weather being now changed and growing warm, and the summer being at hand : however, the next week there seemed to be some hopes again, the bills were low, the number of the dead in all was but 388, there was none of the plague, and but four of the spotted fever.
But the following week it returned again, and the distemper was spread into two or three other parishes, viz., St. Andrew's, Holborn, St. Clement's-Danes, and, to the great affliction of the city, one died within the walls, in the parish of St. Mary-Wool-Church, that is to say, in Bearbinder-lane, near Stocks-market; in all there were nine of the plague,
ENDEAVOURS USED TO CONCEAL THE FACT.
and six of the spotted fever. It was, however, upon inquiry, found, that this Frenchman who died in Bearbinder-lane, was one who, having lived in Long-acre, near the infected houses, had removed for fear of the distemper, not knowing that he was already infected.
This was the beginning of May, yet the weather was temperate, variable, and cool enough, and people had still some hopes: that which encouraged them was, that the city was healthy, the whole ninety-seven parishes buried but fiftyfour, and we began to hope, that as it was chiefly among the people at that end of the town, it might go no farther; and the rather, because the next week, which was from the 9th of May to the 16th, there died but three, of which not one within the whole city or liberties, and St. Andrew's buried but fifteen, which was very low. It is true, St. Giles's buried two-and-thirty, but still as there was but one of the plague, people began to be easy; the whole bill also was very low, for the week before the bill was but 347, and the week above mentioned but 343. We continued in these hopes for a few days. But it was but for a few, for the people were no more to be deceived thus; they searched the houses, and found that the plague was really spread every way, and that many died of it every day, so that now all our extenuations abated, and it was no more to be concealed, nay, it quickly appeared that the infection had spread itself beyond all hopes of abatement; that in the parish of St. Giles’s, it was gotten into several streets, and several families lay all sick together; and, accordingly, in the weekly bill for the next week, the thing began to show itself; there was indeed but fourteen set down of the plague, but this was all knavery and collusion; for St. Giles's parish, they buried forty in all, whereof it was certain most of them died of the plague, though they were set down of other distempers; and though the number of all the burials were not increased above thirty-two, and the whole bill being but 385, yet there was fourteen of the spotted fever, as well as fourteen of the plague ; and we took it for granted upon the whole, that there were fifty died that week of the plague.
The next bill was from the 23rd of May, to the 30th, when the number of the plague was seventeen; but the burials in St. Giles's were fifty-three, a frightful number! of whom they set down but nine of the plague : but on an
examination more strictly by the justices of the peace, and at the lord inayor's request, it was found there were twenty more who were really dead of the plague in that parish, but had been set down of the spotted fever, or other distempers, besides others concealed.
But those were trifling things to what followed immediately after; for now the weather set in hot, and from the first week in June, the infection spread in a dreadful manner, and the bills risc high, the articles of the fever, spotted fever, and teeth, began to swell: for all that could conceal their distempers, did it to prevent their neighbours shunning and refusing to converse with them ; and also to prevent authority shutting up their houses, which though it was not yet practised, yet was threatened, and people were extremely terrified at the thoughts of it.
The second week in June, the parish of St. Giles's, where still the weight of the infection lay, buried 120, whereof, though the bills said but sixty-eight of the plague, everybody said there had been a hundred at least, calculating it from the usual number of funerals in that parish as above.
Till this week the city continued free, there having nerer any died except that one Frenchman, who I mentioned before, within the whole ninety-seven parishes. Now there died four within the city, one in Wood-street, one in fenchurch-street, and two in Crooked-lanc: Southwark was entirely free, having 'not one yet died on that side of the water.
I lived without Aldgate, about midway between Aldgate church and Whitechapel Bars, on the left band or north side of the street; and as the distemper had not reached to that side of the city, our neighbourhood continued very easy : but at the other end of the town their consternation was very great, and the richer sort of people, especially the nobility and gentry, from the west part of the city, thronged out of town, with their families and servants in an unusual manner ; and this was more particularly seen in Whitechapel; that is to say, the Broad-street where I lived : indeed nothing
1 was to be seen, but waggons and carts, with goods, women, servants, children, &c.; coaches filled with people of the better sort, and horsemen attending them, and all hurrying away; then empty waggons and carts appeared, and spare horses with servants, who it was apparent were returning, or
CONFUSION AND ALARM IN THE CITY.
sent from the country to fetch more people : besides innumerable numbers of men on horseback, some alone, others with servants, and generally speaking, all loaded with baggage and fitted out for travelling, as any one might perceive by their appearance.
This was a very terrible and melancholy thing to see, and as it was a sight which I could not but look on from morning to night (for indeed there was nothing else of moment to be seen,) it filled me with very serious thoughts of the misery that was coming upon the city, and the unhappy condition of those that would be left in it.
This hurry of the people was such for some weeks, that there was no getting at the lord mayor's door without exceeding difficulty; there was such pressing and crowding there to get passes and certificates of health, for such as travelled abroad; for, without these, there was no being admitted to pass through the towns upon the road, or to lodge in
any inn. Now as there had none died in the city for all this time, my lord mayor gave certificates of health without any difficulty to all those who lived in the ninety-seven parishes, and to those within the liberties too, for awhile.
This hurry, I say, continued some weeks, that is to say, all the months of May and June, and the more because it was rumoured that an order of the government was to be issued out, to place turnpikes and barriers on the road, to prevent people's travelling; and that the towns on the roud would not suffer people from London to pass, for fear of bringing the infection along with them, though neither of these rumours bad any foundation, but in the imagination, especially at first.
I now began to consider seriously with myself, concerning my own case, and how I should dispose of myself; that is lo say, whether I should resolve to stay in London, or shut up my house and fee, as many of my neighbours did. I have set this particular down so fully, because I know not but it + may be of moment to those who come after me, if they come to be brought to the same distress, and to the same manner of making their choice, and therefore 1 desire this account may pass with them rather for a direction to themselves to act by, than a bistory of my actings, seeing it may not be of one farthing value to thein to note what becamo
I had two important things before me; the one was the carrying on my business and shop; which was considerable, and in which was embarked all my effects in the world; and the other was the preservation of my life in so dismal a calamity, as I saw apparently was coming upon the whole city; and which, however great it was, my fears perhaps, as well as other people's, represented to be much greater than it could be.
The first consideration was of great moment to me; my trade was a saddler, and as my dealings were chiefly not by a shop or chance trade, but among the merchants, trading to the English colonies in America, so my effects lay very much in the hands of such. I was a single man it is true, but I had a family of servants, who I kept at my business ; had a house, shop, and warehouses filled with goods; and, in short, to leave them all as things in such a case must be left, that is to say, without any overseer or person fit to be trusted with them, had been to hazard the loss not only of my trade, but of my goods, and indeed of all I had in the world.
I had an elder brother at the same time in London, and not many years before come over from Portugal; and, advising with him, his answer was in the three words, the same that was given in another case quite different, viz., Master, save thyself. In a word, he was for my retiring into the country, as he resolved to do himself, with his family; telling me, what he had, it seems, heard abroad, that the best preparation for the plague was to run away from it. As to my argument of losing my trade, my goods, or debts, he quite confuted me: he told me the same thing, which I argued for my staying, viz., That I would trust God with ny satety and health, was the strongest repulse to my pretensions of losing my trade and my goods ; For, says he, is it not as reasonable that you should trust God with the chance or risk of losing your trade, as that you should stay in so eminent a point of danger, and trust him with your life?
I could not argue that I was in any strait, as to a place where to go, having se friends and relatio in Northamptonshire, whence our family first came from; and particularly, I had an only sister in Lincolnshire, very willing to receive and entertain me.
My brother, who had already sent his wife and two