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fire ; and I appeal to the coal-meters' book, which were then set up, for the quantity of coals then consumed in London and the parts adjacent.
Then that the woods about London were chiefly of chestnut. That they were so about 300 years before, I believe
be true ; but as the oldest man alive cannot remember one wood of chestnut standing near London, or so much as a chestnut tree left among all the woods near London, it is strange this gentleman should take upon him to write that which so many people now alive can contradict.
Again, as to the wines which people then drank, this gentleman is most ridiculously mistaken ; for when he gives the want of the use of brandy and hot spirituous liquors as for a proof that the plague increased upon them, their diet not being so invigorating as now; on the contrary, I insist that the food of the people was rather more invigorating than it is now. For as this gentleman chiefly mentions the wines they drank, I oppose to it, and appeal to the knowledge of the whole town, that if they had not so great a variety of wines to drink, they had no adulterated wines to poison and debauch their blood as we have.
If Canary was their highest cordial, I must tell him that they had then only the best, most generous, and most sanitive wine in the world for their cordial, and well it were if we, their self-wise posterity, had such cordials as they had; that is to say, that our Canary was only our cordials, and that our other wines were not adulterated and poisoned as they are; and especially considering that we do not drink wine
now by drams, that is to say, by small quantities, and as cordials, as they did, but by quarts and gallons, that we make our physic our food, and drink diseas upon ourselves which our ancestors at the late plague knew nothing of. In like manner 't is a mistake to
say that they had no brandy or cordials at that time; the Custom House books abundantly contradict it, and it is too recent in our memory for any man of years to forget, that the people had their aqua vitæ and other distilled waters to drink as cordials on all occasions that required cordials.
But it is true that there was not two thousand brandy-shops and twelve hundred punch-houses in London, as they say there are now; and that the spirits which are now distilled (or rather half-drawn) from malt and musty grounds, are rather adapted to poison and destroy mankind than to be cordials to their blood.
It is out of the question that the people of England lived more regular, and, if I may judge of it, fared better in those days by far, than they do now. What they ate and drank then was much more invigorating than our way of living now is ; for this gentleman, though a member of the Royal Society, must not tell us that intemperance is an invigorating way of living: drinking wine as we drink wine, corrupted, adulterated, and poisoned ; drinking punch by gallons made of malt spirits, stinking, as I may justly call it, of the humid, and half-drawn from the half-brewed worts. Could any man of common-sense instance the temperate living of those days as a reason why the plague spread with more violence, and then bring up the drunken sordid swallowing down foul liquors, and gorging ourselves with poison and stench, as a reason why we should bear it off better than they ?
On the contrary, I must insist that our vices, which are already a plague upon our morals, are a dreadful kind of fuel for a contagion, and miserably prepare us for a plague upon our bodies. As to the havoc they make of conscience and religion, and the ruin they are to souls, I refer that to its place.
Our forefathers had sins enough, no doubt, and for which Heaven brought judgment upon them most righteously; but our forefathers never were guilty of the luxury that we practise, neither in kind or in degree.
But besides this, the author I am speaking of should have gone a little farther back, too, for the deficiency in good liquors which he mentions, than the year,'65; for the flux of wine from France, which began to supply us, and the breach made on people's morals by excesses, were really begun some time before, namely, at the restoration of civil peace, and the people were arrived to some degrees of proficiency in debauchery by that time, though not to the violent height which they are come to since.
I bring it home to our present case thus: If the plague made such progress in those days, when people lived in a so much more temperate manner than they do now, how much more reason have we to apprehend its progress now, when the bodies of men are debauched with excesses in meats and drinks, and all kinds of intemperance ? From the whole, it is highly to the purpose to press our people to use proper remedies, to clean their bodies of all the gross exhalations and nauseous humours which fly up to the brain from a foul stomach, and from corrupted juices in the body; and to show how much reason there is to change our way of living, and begin a temperate course of diet, that Nature, after having had the assistance of medicine, may be invigorated and supported for the combat she is to enter into.
I persuade myself that what I have said here is so just, and is supported by such reason, as it will not be disputed. I cannot but think that if these things were effectually considered and put in practice, the people of this city would fare much better for it in a time of infection ; and I am sure they would have particular satisfaction in the experiment.
FAMILY PREPARATIONS AGAINST
I include these preparations under the head of private, as opposed to the public preparations I spoke of in the first general ; but they are a kind of public, as they are different from the preparations last mentioned, which are personal and particular.
I must for the sake of this head suppose that the plague (God forbid it) was at the door, or perhaps really begun in the nation. Next to the physicking the body, as I have said, and entering into a regular and temperate life, it comes to be considered, how families are to manage themselves, and in what manner of posture people should propose to put themselves, if possible to prevent the contagion breaking
in upon them.
The pestilence being, as has been said, a contagious distemper, it is one of the first principles in the argument now in hand, that every family should keep themselves from conversing with one another, that is to say, from conversing with the streets as much as possible.
When a house is infected with the plague, we shut it up; this was done in the late plague, 1665, with great severity ; the design is to keep the common people from conversing with the infected families. When a house is sound and uninfected, they should shut themselves up, to keep them from conversing with the common people, who perhaps may be infected. The first is done to keep the families from giving the plague to the common people; the last should be done to keep the common people from giving the plague to the family; and the reasons are a just alternative. Nature dictates the one as well as the other; and let the inconveniences be what they will, it is certain the thing is so necessary, and the success so visible and promising, that no family can repent the design of doing it; many have repented sorely that they did not do it, or did not do it in time.
'Tis no new thing to direct people to live as retired in their houses as possible in time of infection ; but the case is, that people will not confine themselves, or will not put themselves in a condition to do it effectually, and I must add, that not to do it effectually, that is strictly, is not to do it at all. Nay,