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not to do it strictly, is worse than not to do it at all, as I shall show presently.
I know a family at this time living in Marseilles, who having effectually locked themselves up within their own house, and never conversed with the people of the town, never had the distemper at all; and yet Marseilles, if we may believe the accounts we have seen from thence, was in a far more violent manner infected than ever the city of London was.
If we may believe the accounts from Provence, there died in Marseilles, and the villages within a league of it, above 60,000 people.
If we may believe the bills of mortality published in the city of London for the year 1665, there died of the plague in London, and the villages about it, that is to say, within the lines of communication, 68,596 in that
and no more. Now, all people that know the two cities of London and Marseilles, will acknowledge there is no comparison in the dimensions, or in the number of inhabitants, between the one and the other. If there died 60,000 people in Marseilles, it will be granted that there died at least two-thirds of the people; for they who reckon 90,000 people to have been in that city for the usual number of inhabitants, are, in
my opinion, sure to reckon enough. Should the plague, then, of 1665 have swept away in London a proportion to what it did in Marseilles, there must have died even then above 400,000 people, which would have been dreadful time indeed.
Again, the case in London was really moderate, compared to that of Marseilles ; for though, it is true, there were few people seen in the streets of London in the height of the infection, yet, on the other hand, the dead bodies did not lie unburied in the streets in heaps ; the sick were not laid out in blankets and on couches in the streets, to expire in the open air; the poisoned bedclothes and furniture in which the infected had lived, and on which the miserable wretches had given up the ghost, were not to be seen in London lying out in the streets and at the doors, to be trampled on as the people went along; all which was the case at Marseilles ; so that if the particles of infection were in the air, as some people suggest, it was next to impossible to escape it there.
Now, if the family I speak of did escape the infection in such a place as Marseilles, and in such a time, and next under God's providence by the circumspection they used with regard to conversing with others, much more might it be so in the city of London, whatever may happen, if the distemper be not so violent as to despise all precaution, and to infect people that never come abroad.
It is true, for a family in London to live perfectly retired in the time of a visitation is scarce practicable; nay, unless they are sufficiently stored with provisions of all sorts for their subsistence, with physic, clothes, and all other necessaries, it is not possible ; and for want of this, as well at Marseilles as at London, many thousands of families were infected who might otherwise have been preserved.
In order to direct any particular family who have substance to enable them to shut themselves up in so strict a manner as would be absolutely necessary for preserving them effectually from contagion to be received from any other person, or the goods or clothes of any that are infected, I shall here describe a family shut up, with the precautions they used, how they maintained an absolute retreat from the world, and how far they provided for it, it being partly historical and partly for direction; by which pattern, if any family upon the like occasion thinks fit to act, they may, I doubt not, with the concurrence of Providence, hope to be preserved.
The family I speak of lived in the parish of St. Alban's, Wood Street. They consisted of the master of the family and his wife, being either of them between forty and fifty years of age, the man about eight-and-forty, the wife about two-and-forty, and in pretty good state of health. There were five children, three daughters and two sons, two maidservants and an apprentice; the person was a considerable dealer, and by trade a wholesale grocer. He had another apprentice near out of his time, a porter, and a boy, who he kept all employed in his business ; but, seeing the desolation that was coming upon the city, he dismissed the boy, gave him sufficient to carry him to his friends in Staffordshire, and made him go away directly with the carrier. His eldest apprentice he gave the remainder of his time to, and he went away likewise by consent. As to the porter, he did not lodge in his house before, so there was no occasion of dismissing him; but, being a poor man, and likely to fall into distress for want of his employ, he obliged him to come every day, and sit at the door from nine in the morning to six at night as a watchman, and to receive any orders, go of necessary errands, carry letters to and from the post-house, and the like; and had a wicket made in the door, to take in or give out anything they thought fit; besides which there was a rope fastened to a little pulley to draw up anything from the streets, or let anything down. By this rope they often let down victuals and cordials, and what else they thought fit, to this poor man the porter, and especially his wages constantly every week, or oftener as he wanted it.
The master having resolved thus to shut himself up and all his family, he first took measures for storing himself with all manner of provisions for his house, so that, if possible, he might not be under a necessity to send for anything out of doors, resolving to make it a standing rule that the door should not be opened on any account whatever; that the dearest friend he had in the world should not come into him, nor the greatest necessity in the world, fire excepted, oblige any one of his house to go out of the doors into the streets ; nor would he suffer any of his family so much as to look out of a window into the street, or open any casement, except a wooden window made for the purpose, where the pulley and rope was, and that up two pair of stairs; and this wooden window he caused to be covered with thin plates of latin, or tin, that nothing infected or infectious should stick to it.
Whenever this wooden window was opened, he caused a flash of gunpowder to be made in the room, so as to fill it with smoke, which, as soon as the window was opened, would gush out with some force, so that it carried away what air was at the window, not suffering any to come in from abroad, till it was purified and sufficiently singed with the sulphur that goes with the gunpowder smoke.
While this smoke lasted, he that looked out of the window talked with the porter at the gate, let down to him or drew up from him what he had occasion for; but if the smoke of the gunpowder abated, he immediately shut the door till he had made another flash with powder within.
Before the time of shutting himself and family in, and as soon as he found there would be a necessity of it, he carefully furnished himself with stores of all sorts of provisions, but did it privately, and with as little noise as he could ; and his magazine was as follows: First, as he was ten in family, he allowed them to eat a pound of bread each per day; but as he laid in a quantity of meal besides, he abated one sixth part for cake bread, and such other sorts as might be made in the house; so he bought three thousand pound weight of biscuit bread such as is baked for ships going to sea, and had it put up in hogsheads, as if going to be shipped off, so that the biscuit baker knew nothing but that it was for a ship that he was fitting out. Then he caused it to be taken away in a boat, and bringing it up to Queenshithe, landed it there, and carried it by cart into his warehouse, as if it had been hogsheads of grocery.
In like manner he caused twenty barrels of fine flour to be bought and packed up, as they pack up