A Journal of the Plague Year
Daniel Defoe

Part 1 out of 5



being observations or memorials
of the most remarkable occurrences,
as well public as private, which happened in
London during the last great visitation in 1665.
Written by a Citizen who continued
all the while in London.
Never made public before

It was about the beginning of September, 1664, that I, among the rest
of my neighbours, heard in ordinary discourse that the plague was
returned again in Holland; for it had been very violent there, and
particularly at Amsterdam and Rotterdam, in the year 1663, whither,
they say, it was brought, some said from Italy, others from the Levant,
among some goods which were brought home by their Turkey fleet;
others said it was brought from Candia; others from Cyprus. It
mattered not from whence it came; but all agreed it was come into
Holland again.

We had no such thing as printed newspapers in those days to spread
rumours and reports of things, and to improve them by the invention
of men, as I have lived to see practised since. But such things as these
were gathered from the letters of merchants and others who
corresponded abroad, and from them was handed about by word of
mouth only; so that things did not spread instantly over the whole
nation, as they do now. But it seems that the Government had a true
account of it, and several councils were held about ways to prevent its
coming over; but all was kept very private. Hence it was that this
rumour died off again, and people began to forget it as a thing we
were very little concerned in, and that we hoped was not true; till the
latter end of November or the beginning of December 1664 when two
men, said to be Frenchmen, died of the plague in Long Acre, or rather
at the upper end of Drury Lane. The family they were in endeavoured
to conceal it as much as possible, but as it had gotten some vent in the
discourse of the neighbourhood, the Secretaries of State got
knowledge of it; and concerning themselves to inquire about it, in
order to be certain of the truth, two physicians and a surgeon were
ordered to go to the house and make inspection. This they did; and
finding evident tokens of the sickness upon both the bodies that were
dead, they gave their opinions publicly that they died of the plague.
Whereupon it was given in to the parish clerk, and he also returned
them to the Hall; and it was printed in the weekly bill of mortality in
the usual manner, thus -

Plague, 2. Parishes infected, 1.

The people showed a great concern at this, and began to be alarmed
all over the town, and the more, because in the last week in December
1664 another man died in the same house, and of the same distemper.
And then we were easy again for about six weeks, when none having
died with any marks of infection, it was said the distemper was gone;
but after that, I think it was about the 12th of February, another died in
another house, but in the same parish and in the same manner.

This turned the people's eyes pretty much towards that end of the
town, and the weekly bills showing an increase of burials in St Giles's
parish more than usual, it began to be suspected that the plague was
among the people at that end of the town, and that many had died of it,
though they had taken care to keep it as much from the knowledge of the
public as possible. This possessed the heads of the people very much,
and few cared to go through Drury Lane, or the other streets suspected,
unless they had extraordinary business that obliged them to it

This increase of the bills stood thus: the usual number of burials in a
week, in the parishes of St Giles-in-the-Fields and St Andrew's,
Holborn, were from twelve to seventeen or nineteen each, few more
or less; but from the time that the plague first began in St Giles's
parish, it was observed that the ordinary burials increased in number
considerably. For example: -

From December 27 to January 3 { St Giles's 16
{ St Andrew's 17

" January 3 " " 10 { St Giles's 12
{ St Andrew's 25

" January 10 " " 17 { St Giles's 18
{ St Andrew's 28

" January 17 " " 24 { St Giles's 23
{ St Andrew's 16

" January 24 " " 31 { St Giles's 24
{ St Andrew's 15

" January 30 " February 7 { St Giles's 21
{ St Andrew's 23

" February 7 " " 14 { St Giles's 24

Whereof one of the plague.

The like increase of the bills was observed in the parishes of St
Bride's, adjoining on one side of Holborn parish, and in the parish of
St James, Clerkenwell, adjoining on the other side of Holborn; in both
which parishes the usual numbers that died weekly were from four to
six or eight, whereas at that time they were increased as follows: -

From December 20 to December 27 { St Bride's 0
{ St James's 8

December 27 to January 3 { St Bride's 6
{ St James's 9

" January 3 " " 10 { St Bride's 11
{ St James's 7

" January 10 " " 17 { St Bride's 12
{ St James's 9

" January 17 " " 24 { St Bride's 9
{ St James's 15

" January 24 " " 31 { St Bride's 8
{ St James's 12

" January 31 " February 7 { St Bride's 13
{ St James's 5

" February 7 " " 14 { St Bride's 12
{ St James's 6

Besides this, it was observed with great uneasiness by the people that
the weekly bills in general increased very much during these weeks,
although it was at a time of the year when usually the bills are very

The usual number of burials within the bills of mortality for a week
was from about 240 or thereabouts to 300. The last was esteemed a
pretty high bill; but after this we found the bills successively
increasing as follows: -
Buried. Increased.
December the 20th to the 27th 291 ...
" 27th " 3rd January 349 58
January the 3rd " 10th " 394 45
" 10th " 17th " 415 21
" 17th " 24th " 474 59

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 Danes; and, to the great affliction of the city, one died within
the walls, in the parish of St Mary Woolchurch, that is to say, in
Bearbinder Lane, near Stocks Market; in all there were nine of the
plague 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 fifty-four, 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. 'Tis 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 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 in 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 peace, and at the Lord Mayor'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 rose 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, 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 100 at
least, calculating it from the usual number of funerals in that parish,
as above.

Till this week the city continued free, there having never any died,
except that one Frenchman whom 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 Lane.
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
Whitechappel Bars, on the left hand 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 Whitechappel; that is to
say, the Broad Street where I lived; indeed, nothing 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 sent from the countries 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 anyone 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
were 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 a while.

This hurry, I say, continued some weeks, that is to say, all the month
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 travelling, and that the towns on the
road would not suffer people from London to pass for fear of bringing
the infection along with them, though neither of these rumours had
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 to say, whether I
should resolve to stay in London or shut up my house and flee, 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 I desire this account
may pass with them rather for a direction to themselves to act by than
a history of my actings, seeing it may not he of one farthing value to
them to note what became of me.

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, 'tis true, but I had a family of servants whom 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 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 my safety 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 several friends and relations 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 children into
Bedfordshire, and resolved to follow them, pressed my going very
earnestly; and I had once resolved to comply with his desires, but at
that time could get no horse; for though it is true all the people did not
go out of the city of London, yet I may venture to say that in a manner
all the horses did; for there was hardly a horse to be bought or hired in
the whole city for some weeks. Once I resolved to travel on foot with
one servant, and, as many did, lie at no inn, but carry a soldier's tent
with us, and so lie in the fields, the weather being very warm, and no
danger from taking cold. I say, as many did, because several did so at
last, especially those who had been in the armies in the war which had
not been many years past; and I must needs say that, speaking of
second causes, had most of the people that travelled done so, the plague
had not been carried into so many country towns and houses as it was,
to the great damage, and indeed to the ruin, of abundance of people.

But then my servant, whom I had intended to take down with me,
deceived me; and being frighted at the increase of the distemper, and
not knowing when I should go, he took other measures, and left me,
so I was put off for that time; and, one way or other, I always found
that to appoint to go away was always crossed by some accident or
other, so as to disappoint and put it off again; and this brings in
a story which otherwise might be thought a needless digression, viz.,
about these disappointments being from Heaven.

I mention this story also as the best method I can advise any person
to take in such a case, especially if he be one that makes conscience of
his duty, and would be directed what to do in it, namely, that he
should keep his eye upon the particular providences which occur at
that time, and look upon them complexly, as they regard one another,
and as all together regard the question before him: and then, I think,
he may safely take them for intimations from Heaven of what is his
unquestioned duty to do in such a case; I mean as to going away from
or staying in the place where we dwell, when visited with an
infectious distemper.

It came very warmly into my mind one morning, as I was musing on
this particular thing, that as nothing attended us without the direction
or permission of Divine Power, so these disappointments must have
something in them extraordinary; and I ought to consider whether it
did not evidently point out, or intimate to me, that it was the will of
Heaven I should not go. It immediately followed in my thoughts, that
if it really was from God that I should stay, He was able effectually to
preserve me in the midst of all the death and danger that would
surround me; and that if I attempted to secure myself by fleeing from
my habitation, and acted contrary to these intimations, which I believe
to be Divine, it was a kind of flying from God, and that He could
cause His justice to overtake me when and where He thought fit.

These thoughts quite turned my resolutions again, and when I came
to discourse with my brother again I told him that I inclined to stay
and take my lot in that station in which God had placed me, and that
it seemed to be made more especially my duty, on the account of what
I have said.

My brother, though a very religious man himself, laughed at all I
had suggested about its being an intimation from Heaven, and told me
several stories of such foolhardy people, as he called them, as I was;
that I ought indeed to submit to it as a work of Heaven if I had been
any way disabled by distempers or diseases, and that then not being
able to go, I ought to acquiesce in the direction of Him, who, having
been my Maker, had an undisputed right of sovereignty in disposing
of me, and that then there had been no difficulty to determine which
was the call of His providence and which was not; but that I should
take it as an intimation from Heaven that I should not go out of town,
only because I could not hire a horse to go, or my fellow was run
away that was to attend me, was ridiculous, since at the time I had my
health and limbs, and other servants, and might with ease travel a day
or two on foot, and having a good certificate of being in perfect health,
might either hire a horse or take post on the road, as I thought fit.

Then he proceeded to tell me of the mischievous consequences
which attended the presumption of the Turks and Mahometans in Asia
and in other places where he had been (for my brother, being a
merchant, was a few years before, as I have already observed, returned
from abroad, coming last from Lisbon), and how, presuming upon
their professed predestinating notions, and of every man's end being
predetermined and unalterably beforehand decreed, they would go
unconcerned into infected places and converse with infected persons,
by which means they died at the rate of ten or fifteen thousand a
week, whereas the Europeans or Christian merchants, who kept
themselves retired and reserved, generally escaped the contagion.

Upon these arguments my brother changed my resolutions again,
and I began to resolve to go, and accordingly made all things ready;
for, in short, the infection increased round me, and the bills were risen
to almost seven hundred a week, and my brother told me he would
venture to stay no longer. I desired him to let me consider of it but till
the next day, and I would resolve: and as I had already prepared
everything as well as I could as to MY business, and whom to entrust
my affairs with, I had little to do but to resolve.

I went home that evening greatly oppressed in my mind, irresolute,
and not knowing what to do. I had set the evening wholly -apart to
consider seriously about it, and was all alone; for already people had,
as it were by a general consent, taken up the custom of not going out
of doors after sunset; the reasons I shall have occasion to say more of

In the retirement of this evening I endeavoured to resolve, first, what
was my duty to do, and I stated the arguments with which my brother
had pressed me to go into the country, and I set, against them the
strong impressions which I had on my mind for staying; the visible
call I seemed to have from the particular circumstance of my calling,
and the care due from me for the preservation of my effects, which
were, as I might say, my estate; also the intimations which I thought I
had from Heaven, that to me signified a kind of direction to venture;
and it occurred to me that if I had what I might call a direction to stay,
I ought to suppose it contained a promise of being preserved if I obeyed.

This lay close to me, and my mind seemed more and more encouraged
to stay than ever, and supported with a secret satisfaction
that I should be kept. Add to this, that, turning over the Bible which
lay before me, and while my thoughts were more than ordinarily
serious upon the question, I cried out, 'Well, I know not what to do;
Lord, direct me I' and the like; and at that juncture I happened to stop
turning over the book at the gist Psalm, and casting my eye on the
second verse, I read on to the seventh verse exclusive, and after that
included the tenth, as follows: 'I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge
and my fortress: my God, in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver
thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou
trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be
afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor
for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that
wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten
thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with
thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most
High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any
plague come nigh thy dwelling,' &C.

I scarce need tell the reader that from that moment I resolved that I
would stay in the town, and casting myself entirely upon the goodness
and protection of the Almighty, would not seek any other shelter
whatever; and that, as my times were in His hands, He was as able to
keep me in a time of the infection as in a time of health; and if He did
not think fit to deliver me, still I was in His hands, and it was meet He
should do with me as should seem good to Him.

With this resolution I went to bed; and I was further confirmed in it
the next day by the woman being taken ill with whom I had intended
to entrust my house and all my affairs. But I had a further obligation
laid on me on the same side, for the next day I found myself very
much out of order also, so that if I would have gone away, I could
not," and I continued ill three or four days, and this entirely
determined my stay; so I took my leave of my brother, who went away
to Dorking, in Surrey, and afterwards fetched a round farther into
Buckinghamshire or Bedfordshire, to a retreat he had found out there
for his family.

It was a very ill time to be sick in, for if any one complained, it was
immediately said he had the plague; and though I had indeed no
symptom of that distemper, yet being very ill, both in my head and in
my stomach, I was not without apprehension that I really was
infected; but in about three days I grew better; the third night I rested
well, sweated a little, and was much refreshed. The apprehensions of
its being the infection went also quite away with my illness, and I
went about my business as usual.

These things, however, put off all my thoughts of going into the
country; and my brother also being gone, I had no more debate either
with him or with myself on that subject.

It was now mid-July, and the plague, which had chiefly raged at the
other end of the town, and, as I said before, in the parishes of St Giles,
St Andrew's, Holborn, and towards Westminster, began to now come
eastward towards the part where I lived. It was to be observed,
indeed, that it did not come straight on towards us; for the city, that is
to say, within the walls, was indifferently healthy still; nor was it got
then very much over the water into Southwark; for though there died
that week 1268 of all distempers, whereof it might be supposed above
600 died of the plague, yet there was but twenty-eight in the whole
city, within the walls, and but nineteen in Southwark, Lambeth parish
included; whereas in the parishes of St Giles and St Martin-in-the-
Fields alone there died 421.

But we perceived the infection kept chiefly in the out-parishes,
which being very populous, and fuller also of poor, the distemper
found more to prey upon than in the city, as I shall observe afterwards.
We perceived, I say, the distemper to draw our way, viz., by the
parishes of Clarkenwell, Cripplegate, Shoreditch, and Bishopsgate;
which last two parishes joining to Aldgate, Whitechappel, and Stepney,
the infection came at length to spread its utmost rage and violence in
those parts, even when it abated at the western parishes where it began.

It was very strange to observe that in this particular week, from the
4th to the 11th of July, when, as I have observed, there died near 400
of the plague in the two parishes of St Martin and St Giles-in-the-
Fields only, there died in the parish of Aldgate but four, in the parish
of Whitechappel three, in the parish of Stepney but one.

Likewise in the next week, from the 11th of July to the 18th, when
the week's bill was 1761, yet there died no more of the plague, on the
whole Southwark side of the water, than sixteen.
But this face of things soon changed, and it began to thicken in
Cripplegate parish especially, and in Clarkenwell; so that by the
second week in August, Cripplegate parish alone buried 886, and
Clarkenwell 155. Of the first, 850 might well be reckoned to die of
the plague; and of the last, the bill itself said 145 were of the plague.

During the month of July, and while, as I have observed, our part of
the town seemed to be spared in comparison of the west part, I went
ordinarily about the streets, as my business required, and particularly
went generally once in a day, or in two days, into the city, to my
brother's house, which he had given me charge of, and to see if it was
safe; and having the key in my pocket, I used to go into the house, and
over most of the rooms, to see that all was well; for though it be
something wonderful to tell, that any should have hearts so hardened
in the midst of such a calamity as to rob and steal, yet certain it is that
all sorts of villainies, and even levities and debaucheries, were then
practised in the town as openly as ever - I will not say quite as
frequently, because the numbers of people were many ways lessened.

But the city itself began now to be visited too, I mean within the
walls; but the number of people there were indeed extremely lessened
by so great a multitude having been gone into the country; and even
all this month of July they continued to flee, though not in such
multitudes as formerly. In August, indeed, they fled in such a manner
that I began to think there would be really none but magistrates and
servants left in the city.

As they fled now out of the city, so I should observe that the Court
removed early, viz., in the month of June, and went to Oxford, where
it pleased God to preserve them; and the distemper did not, as I heard
of, so much as touch them, for which I cannot say that I ever saw they
showed any great token of thankfulness, and hardly anything of
reformation, though they did not want being told that their crying
vices might without breach of charity be said to have gone far in
bringing that terrible judgement upon the whole nation.

The face of London was -now indeed strangely altered: I mean the
whole mass of buildings, city, liberties, suburbs, Westminster,
Southwark, and altogether; for as to the particular part called the city,
or within the walls, that was not yet much infected. But in the whole
the face of things, I say, was much altered; sorrow and sadness sat
upon every face; and though some parts were not yet overwhelmed,
yet all looked deeply concerned; and, as we saw it apparently coming
on, so every one looked on himself and his family as in the utmost
danger. Were it possible to represent those times exactly to those that
did not see them, and give the reader due ideas of the horror 'that
everywhere presented itself, it must make just impressions upon their
minds and fill them with surprise. London might well be said to be all
in tears; the mourners did not go about the streets indeed, for nobody
put on black or made a formal dress of mourning for their nearest
friends; but the voice of mourners was truly heard in the streets. The
shrieks of women and children at the windows and doors of their
houses, where their dearest relations were perhaps dying, or just dead,
were so frequent to be heard as we passed the streets, that it was
enough to pierce the stoutest heart in the world to hear them. Tears
and lamentations were seen almost in every house, especially in the
first part of the visitation; for towards the latter end men's hearts were
hardened, and death was so always before their eyes, that they did not
so much concern themselves for the loss of their friends, expecting
that themselves should be summoned the next hour.

Business led me out sometimes to the other end of the town, even
when the sickness was chiefly there; and as the thing was new to me,
as well as to everybody else, it was a most surprising thing to see
those streets which were usually so thronged now grown desolate, and
so few people to be seen in them, that if I had been a stranger and at a
loss for my way, I might sometimes have gone the length of a whole
street (I mean of the by-streets), and seen nobody to direct me except
watchmen set at the doors of such houses as were shut up, of which I
shall speak presently.

One day, being at that part of the town on some special business,
curiosity led me to observe things more than usually, and indeed I
walked a great way where I had no business. I went up Holborn, and
there the street was full of people, but they walked in the middle of
the great street, neither on one side or other, because, as I suppose,
they would not mingle with anybody that came out of houses, or meet
with smells and scent from houses that might be infected.

The Inns of Court were all shut up; nor were very many of the
lawyers in the Temple, or Lincoln's Inn, or Gray's Inn, to be seen
there. Everybody was at peace; there was no occasion for lawyers;
besides, it being in the time of the vacation too, they were generally
gone into the country. Whole rows of houses in some places were
shut close up, the inhabitants all fled, and only a watchman or two left.

When I speak of rows of houses being shut up, I do not mean shut
up by the magistrates, but that great numbers of persons followed the
Court, by the necessity of their employments and other dependences;
and as others retired, really frighted with the distemper, it was a mere
desolating of some of the streets. But the fright was not yet near so
great in the city, abstractly so called, and particularly because, though
they were at first in a most inexpressible consternation, yet as I have
observed that the distemper intermitted often at first, so they were, as
it were, alarmed and unalarmed again, and this several times, till it
began to be familiar to them; and that even when it appeared violent,
yet seeing it did not presently spread into the city, or the east and
south parts, the people began to take courage, and to be, as I may say,
a little hardened. It is true a vast many people fled, as I have
observed, yet they were chiefly from the west end of the town, and
from that we call the heart of the city: that is to say, among the
wealthiest of the people, and such people as were unencumbered with
trades and business. But of the rest, the generality stayed, and seemed
to abide the worst; so that in the place we calf the Liberties, and in the
suburbs, in Southwark, and in the east part, such as Wapping, Ratcliff,
Stepney, Rotherhithe, and the like, the people generally stayed, except
here and there a few wealthy families, who, as above, did not depend
upon their business.

It must not be forgot here that the city and suburbs were
prodigiously full of people at the time of this visitation, I mean at the
time that it began; for though I have lived to see a further increase,
and mighty throngs of people settling in London more than ever, yet
we had always a notion that the numbers of people which, the wars
being over, the armies disbanded, and the royal family and the
monarchy being restored, had flocked to London to settle in business,
or to depend upon and attend the Court for rewards of services,
preferments, and the like, was such that the town was computed to
have in it above a hundred thousand people more than ever it held
before; nay, some took upon them to say it had twice as many,
because all the ruined families of the royal party flocked hither. All
the old soldiers set up trades here, and abundance of families settled
here. Again, the Court brought with them a great flux of pride, and
new fashions. All people were grown gay and luxurious, and the joy
of the Restoration had brought a vast many families to London.

I often thought that as Jerusalem was besieged by the Romans when
the Jews were assembled together to celebrate the Passover - by which
means an incredible number of people were surprised there who
would otherwise have been in other countries - so the plague entered
London when an incredible increase of people had happened
occasionally, by the particular circumstances above-named. As this
conflux of the people to a youthful and gay Court made a great trade
in the city, especially in everything that belonged to fashion and
finery, so it drew by consequence a great number of workmen,
manufacturers, and the like, being mostly poor people who depended
upon their labour. And I remember in particular that in a
representation to my Lord Mayor of the condition of the poor, it was
estimated that there were no less than an hundred thousand riband-
weavers in and about the city, the chiefest number of whom lived then
in the parishes of Shoreditch, Stepney, Whitechappel, and Bishopsgate,
that, namely, about Spitalfields; that is to say, as Spitalfields was then,
for it was not so large as now by one fifth part.

By this, however, the number of people in the whole may be judged
of; and, indeed, I often wondered that, after the prodigious numbers of
people that went away at first, there was yet so great a multitude left
as it appeared there was.

But I must go back again to the beginning of this surprising time.
While the fears of the people were young, they were increased
strangely by several odd accidents which, put altogether, it was really
a wonder the whole body of the people did not rise as one man and
abandon their dwellings, leaving the place as a space of ground
designed by Heaven for an Akeldama, doomed to be destroyed from
the face of the earth, and that all that would be found in it would
perish with it. I shall name but a few of these things; but sure they
were so many, and so many wizards and cunning people propagating
them, that I have often wondered there was any (women especially)
left behind.

In the first place, a blazing star or comet appeared for several
months before the plague, as there did the year after another, a little
before the fire. The old women and the phlegmatic hypochondriac
part of the other sex, whom I could almost call old women too,
remarked (especially afterward, though not till both those judgements
were over) that those two comets passed directly over the city, and
that so very near the houses that it was plain they imported something
peculiar to the city alone; that the comet before the pestilence was of
a faint, dull, languid colour, and its motion very heavy, Solemn, and
slow; but that the comet before the fire was bright and sparkling, or,
as others said, flaming, and its motion swift and furious; and that,
accordingly, one foretold a heavy judgement, slow but severe, terrible
and frightful, as was the plague; but the other foretold a stroke,
sudden, swift, and fiery as the conflagration. Nay, so particular some
people were, that as they looked upon that comet preceding the fire,
they fancied that they not only saw it pass swiftly and fiercely, and
could perceive the motion with their eye, but even they heard it; that it
made a rushing, mighty noise, fierce and terrible, though at a distance,
and but just perceivable.

I saw both these stars, and, I must confess, had so much of the
common notion of such things in my head, that I was apt to look upon
them as the forerunners and warnings of God's judgements; and
especially when, after the plague had followed the first, I yet saw
another of the like kind, I could not but say God had not yet
sufficiently scourged the city.

But I could not at the same time carry these things to the height that
others did, knowing, too, that natural causes are assigned by the
astronomers for such things, and that their motions and even their
revolutions are calculated, or pretended to be calculated, so that they
cannot be so perfectly called the forerunners or foretellers, much less
the procurers, of such events as pestilence, war, fire, and the like.

But let my thoughts and the thoughts of the philosophers be, or have
been, what they will, these things had a more than ordinary influence
upon the minds of the common people, and they had almost universal
melancholy apprehensions of some dreadful calamity and judgement
coming upon the city; and this principally from the sight of this
comet, and the little alarm that was given in December by two people
dying at St Giles's, as above.

The apprehensions of the people were likewise strangely increased
by the error of the times; in which, I think, the people, from what
principle I cannot imagine, were more addicted to prophecies and
astrological conjurations, dreams, and old wives' tales than ever they
were before or since. Whether this unhappy temper was originally
raised by the follies of some people who got money by it - that is to
say, by printing predictions and prognostications - I know not; but
certain it is, books frighted them terribly, such as Lilly's Almanack,
Gadbury's Astrological Predictions, Poor Robin's Almanack, and the
like; also several pretended religious books, one entitled, Come out of
her, my People, lest you be Partaker of her Plagues; another called,
Fair Warning; another, Britain's Remembrancer; and many such, all,
or most part of which, foretold, directly or covertly, the ruin of the
city. Nay, some were so enthusiastically bold as to run about the
streets with their oral predictions, pretending they were sent to preach
to the city; and one in particular, who, like Jonah to Nineveh, cried in
the streets, 'Yet forty days, and London shall be destroyed.' I will not
be positive whether he said yet forty days or yet a few days. Another
ran about naked, except a pair of drawers about his waist, crying day
and night, like a man that Josephus mentions, who cried, 'Woe to
Jerusalem!' a little before the destruction of that city. So this poor
naked creature cried, 'Oh, the great and the dreadful God!' and said no
more, but repeated those words continually, with a voice and
countenance full of horror, a swift pace; and nobody could ever find
him to stop or rest, or take any sustenance, at least that ever I could
hear of. I met this poor creature several times in the streets, and
would have spoken to him, but he would not enter into speech with
me or any one else, but held on his dismal cries continually.

These things terrified the people to the last degree, and especially
when two or three times, as I have mentioned already, they found one
or two in the bills dead of the plague at St Giles's.

Next to these public things were the dreams of old women, or, I
should say, the interpretation of old women upon other people's
dreams; and these put abundance of people even out of their wits.
Some heard voices warning them to be gone, for that there would be
such a plague in London, so that the living would not be able to bury
the dead. Others saw apparitions in the air; and I must be allowed to
say of both, I hope without breach of charity, that they heard voices
that never spake, and saw sights that never appeared; but the
imagination of the people was really turned wayward and possessed.
And no wonder, if they who were poring continually at the clouds saw
shapes and figures, representations and appearances, which had
nothing in them but air, and vapour. Here they told us they saw a
flaming sword held in a hand coming out of a cloud, with a point
hanging directly over the city; there they saw hearses and coffins in
the air carrying to be buried; and there again, heaps of dead bodies
lying unburied, and the like, just as the imagination of the poor
terrified people furnished them with matter to work upon.
So hypochondriac fancies represent
Ships, armies, battles in the firmament;
Till steady eyes the exhalations solve,
And all to its first matter, cloud, resolve.

I could fill this account with the strange relations such people gave
every day of what they had seen; and every one was so positive of
their having seen what they pretended to see, that there was no
contradicting them without breach of friendship, or being accounted
rude and unmannerly on the one hand, and profane and impenetrable
on the other. One time before the plague was begun (otherwise than
as I have said in St Giles's), I think it was in March, seeing a crowd of
people in the street, I joined with them to satisfy my curiosity, and
found them all staring up into the air to see what a woman told them
appeared plain to her, which was an angel clothed in white, with a
fiery sword in his hand, waving it or brandishing it over his head. She
described every part of the figure to the life, showed them the motion
and the form, and the poor people came into it so eagerly, and with so
much readiness; 'Yes, I see it all plainly,' says one; 'there's the sword
as plain as can be.' Another saw the angel. One saw his very face, and
cried out what a glorious creature he was! One saw one thing, and
one another. I looked as earnestly as the rest, but perhaps not with so
much willingness to be imposed upon; and I said, indeed, that I could
see nothing but a white cloud, bright on one side by the shining of the
sun upon the other part. The woman endeavoured to show it me, but
could not make me confess that I saw it, which, indeed, if I had I must
have lied. But the woman, turning upon me, looked in my face, and
fancied I laughed, in which her imagination deceived her too, for I
really did not laugh, but was very seriously reflecting how the poor
people were terrified by the force of their own imagination. However,
she turned from me, called me profane fellow, and a scoffer; told me
that it was a time of God's anger, and dreadful judgements were
approaching, and that despisers such as I should wander and perish.

The people about her seemed disgusted as well as she; and I found
there was no persuading them that I did not laugh at them, and that
I should be rather mobbed by them than be able to undeceive them.
So I left them; and this appearance passed for as real as the
blazing star itself.

Another encounter I had in the open day also; and this was in going
through a narrow passage from Petty France into Bishopsgate
Churchyard, by a row of alms-houses. There are two churchyards to
Bishopsgate church or parish; one we go over to pass from the place
called Petty France into Bishopsgate Street, coming out just by the
church door; the other is on the side of the narrow passage where the
alms-houses are on the left; and a dwarf-wall with a palisado on it on
the right hand, and the city wall on the other side more to the right.

In this narrow passage stands a man looking through between the
palisadoes into the burying-place, and as many people as the
narrowness of the passage would admit to stop, without hindering the
passage of others, and he was talking mightily eagerly to them, and
pointing now to one place, then to another, and affirming that he saw
a ghost walking upon such a gravestone there. He described the
shape, the posture, and the movement of it so exactly that it was the
greatest matter of amazement to him in the world that everybody did
not see it as well as he. On a sudden he would cry, 'There it is; now it
comes this way.' Then, 'Tis turned back'; till at length he persuaded the
people into so firm a belief of it, that one fancied he saw it, and
another fancied he saw it; and thus he came every day making a
strange hubbub, considering it was in so narrow a passage, till
Bishopsgate clock struck eleven, and then the ghost would seem to
start, and, as if he were called away, disappeared on a sudden.

I looked earnestly every way, and at the very moment that this man
directed, but could not see the least appearance of anything; but so
positive was this poor man, that he gave the people the vapours in
abundance, and sent them away trembling and frighted, till at length
few people that knew of it cared to go through that passage, and
hardly anybody by night on any account whatever.

This ghost, as the poor man affirmed, made signs to the houses, and
to the ground, and to the people, plainly intimating, or else they so
understanding it, that abundance of the people should come to be
buried in that churchyard, as indeed happened; but that he saw such
aspects I must acknowledge I never believed, nor could I see anything
of it myself, though I looked most earnestly to see it, if possible.

These things serve to show how far the people were really overcome
with delusions; and as they had a notion of the approach of a
visitation, all their predictions ran upon a most dreadful plague, which
should lay the whole city, and even the kingdom, waste, and should
destroy almost all the nation, both man and beast.

To this, as I said before, the astrologers added stories of the
conjunctions of planets in a malignant manner and with a mischievous
influence, one of which conjunctions was to happen, and did happen,
in October, and the other in November; and they filled the people's
heads with predictions on these signs of the heavens, intimating that
those conjunctions foretold drought, famine, and pestilence. In the
two first of them, however, they were entirely mistaken, for we had no
droughty season, but in the beginning of the year a hard frost, which
lasted from December almost to March, and after that moderate
weather, rather warm than hot, with refreshing winds, and, in short,
very seasonable weather, and also several very great rains.

Some endeavours were used to suppress the printing of such books
as terrified the people, and to frighten the dispersers of them, some of
whom were taken up; but nothing was done in it, as I am informed,
the Government being unwilling to exasperate the people, who were,
as I may say, all out of their wits already.

Neither can I acquit those ministers that in their sermons rather sank
than lifted up the hearts of their hearers. Many of them no doubt did
it for the strengthening the resolution of the people, and especially for
quickening them to repentance, but it certainly answered not their
end, at least not in proportion to the injury it did another way; and
indeed, as God Himself through the whole Scriptures rather draws to
Him by invitations and calls to turn to Him and live, than drives us by
terror and amazement, so I must confess I thought the ministers
should have done also, imitating our blessed Lord and Master in this,
that His whole Gospel is full of declarations from heaven of God's
mercy, and His readiness to receive penitents and forgive them,
complaining, 'Ye will not come unto Me that ye may have life',
and that therefore His Gospel is called the Gospel of Peace and
the Gospel of Grace.

But we had some good men, and that of all persuasions and opinions,
whose discourses were full of terror, who spoke nothing but dismal things;
and as they brought the people together with a kind of horror, sent them
away in tears, prophesying nothing but evil tidings, terrifying the people
with the apprehensions of being utterly destroyed, not guiding them,
at least not enough, to cry to heaven for mercy.

It was, indeed, a time of very unhappy breaches among us in matters
of religion. Innumerable sects and divisions and separate opinions
prevailed among the people. The Church of England was restored,
indeed, with the restoration of the monarchy, about four years before;
but the ministers and preachers of the Presbyterians and Independents,
and of all the other sorts of professions, had begun to gather separate
societies and erect altar against altar, and all those had their meetings
for worship apart, as they have now, but not so many then, the
Dissenters being not thoroughly formed into a body as they are since;
and those congregations which were thus gathered together were yet
but few. And even those that were, the Government did not allow, but
endeavoured to suppress them and shut up their meetings.

But the visitation reconciled them again, at least for a time, and
many of the best and most valuable ministers and preachers of the
Dissenters were suffered to go into the churches where the
incumbents were fled away, as many were, not being able to stand it;
and the people flocked without distinction to hear them preach, not
much inquiring who or what opinion they were of. But after the
sickness was over, that spirit of charity abated; and every church
being again supplied with their own ministers, or others presented
where the minister was dead, things returned to their old channel again.

One mischief always introduces another. These terrors and
apprehensions of the people led them into a thousand weak, foolish,
and wicked things, which they wanted not a sort of people really
wicked to encourage them to: and this was running about to fortune-
tellers, cunning-men, and astrologers to know their fortune, or, as it is
vulgarly expressed, to have their fortunes told them, their nativities
calculated, and the like; and this folly presently made the town swarm
with a wicked generation of pretenders to magic, to the black art, as
they called it, and I know not what; nay, to a thousand worse dealings
with the devil than they were really guilty of. And this trade grew so
open and so generally practised that it became common to have signs
and inscriptions set up at doors: 'Here lives a fortune-teller', 'Here lives
an astrologer', 'Here you may have your nativity calculated', and the
like; and Friar Bacon's brazen-head, which was the usual sign of these
people's dwellings, was to be seen almost in every street, or else the
sign of Mother Shipton, or of Merlin's head, and the like.

With what blind, absurd, and ridiculous stuff these oracles of the
devil pleased and satisfied the people I really know not, but certain it
is that innumerable attendants crowded about their doors every day.
And if but a grave fellow in a velvet jacket, a band, and a black coat,
which was the habit those quack-conjurers generally went in, was but
seen in the streets the people would follow them in crowds, and ask
them questions as they went along.

I need not mention what a horrid delusion this was, or what it
tended to; but there was no remedy for it till the plague itself put an
end to it all - and, I suppose, cleared the town of most of those
calculators themselves. One mischief was, that if the poor people
asked these mock astrologers whether there would be a plague or no,
they all agreed in general to answer 'Yes', for that kept up their trade.
And had the people not been kept in a fright about that, the wizards
would presently have been rendered useless, and their craft had been
at an end. But they always talked to them of such-and-such influences
of the stars, of the conjunctions of such-and-such planets, which must
necessarily bring sickness and distempers, and consequently the
plague. And some had the assurance to tell them the plague was
begun already, which was too true, though they that said so knew
nothing of the matter.

The ministers, to do them justice, and preachers of most sorts that
were serious and understanding persons, thundered against these and
other wicked practices, and exposed the folly as well as the
wickedness of them together, and the most sober and judicious people
despised and abhorred them. But it was impossible to make any
impression upon the middling people and the working labouring poor.
Their fears were predominant over all their passions, and they threw
away their money in a most distracted manner upon those whimsies.
Maid-servants especially, and men-servants, were the chief of their
customers, and their question generally was, after the first demand of
'Will there be a plague?' I say, the next question was, 'Oh, sir I for the
Lord's sake, what will become of me? Will my mistress keep me, or
will she turn me off? Will she stay here, or will she go into the
country? And if she goes into the country, will she take me with her,
or leave me here to be starved and undone?' And the like of menservants.

The truth is, the case of poor servants was very dismal, as I shall
have occasion to mention again by-and-by, for it was apparent a
prodigious number of them would be turned away, and it was so. And
of them abundance perished, and particularly of those that these false
prophets had flattered with hopes that they should be continued in
their services, and carried with their masters and mistresses into the
country; and had not public charity provided for these poor creatures,
whose number was exceeding great and in all cases of this nature
must be so, they would have been in the worst condition of any people
in the city.

These things agitated the minds of the common people for many
months, while the first apprehensions were upon them, and while the
plague was not, as I may say, yet broken out. But I must also not
forget that the more serious part of the inhabitants behaved after
another manner. The Government encouraged their devotion, and
appointed public prayers and days of fasting and humiliation, to make
public confession of sin and implore the mercy of God to avert the
dreadful judgement which hung over their heads; and it is not to he
expressed with what alacrity the people of all persuasions embraced
the occasion; how they flocked to the churches and meetings, and they
were all so thronged that there was often no coming near, no, not to
the very doors of the largest churches. Also there were daily prayers
appointed morning and evening at several churches, and days of
private praying at other places; at all which the people attended, I say,
with an uncommon devotion. Several private families also, as well of
one opinion as of another, kept family fasts, to which they admitted
their near relations only. So that, in a word, those people who were
really serious and religious applied themselves in a truly Christian
manner to the proper work of repentance and humiliation, as a
Christian people ought to do.

Again, the public showed that they would bear their share in. these
things; the very Court, which was then gay and luxurious, put on a
face of just concern for the public danger. All the plays and interludes
which, after the manner of the French Court, had been set up, and
began to increase among us, were forbid to act; the gaming-tables,
public dancing-rooms, and music-houses, which multiplied and began
to debauch the manners of the people, were shut up and suppressed;
and the jack-puddings, merry-andrews, puppet-shows, rope-dancers,
and such-like doings, which had bewitched the poor common people,
shut up their shops, finding indeed no trade; for the minds of the
people were agitated with other things, and a kind of sadness and
horror at these things sat upon the countenances even of the common
people. Death was before their eyes, and everybody began to think of
their graves, not of mirth and diversions.

But even those wholesome reflections - which, rightly managed,
would have most happily led the people to fall upon their knees, make
confession of their sins, and look up to their merciful Saviour for
pardon, imploring His compassion on them in such a time of their
distress, by which we might have been as a second Nineveh - had a
quite contrary extreme in the common people, who, ignorant and
stupid in their reflections as they were brutishly wicked and
thoughtless before, were now led by their fright to extremes of folly;
and, as I have said before, that they ran to conjurers and witches, and
all sorts of deceivers, to know what should become of them (who fed
their fears, and kept them always alarmed and awake on purpose to
delude them and pick their pockets), so they were as mad upon their
running after quacks and mountebanks, and every practising old
woman, for medicines and remedies; storing themselves with such
multitudes of pills, potions, and preservatives, as they were called,
that they not only spent their money but even poisoned themselves
beforehand for fear of the poison of the infection; and prepared their
bodies for the plague, instead of preserving them against it. On the
other hand it is incredible and scarce to be imagined, how the posts of
houses and corners of streets were plastered over with doctors' bills
and papers of ignorant fellows, quacking and tampering in physic, and
inviting the people to come to them for remedies, which was generally
set off with such flourishes as these, viz.: 'Infallible preventive pills
against the plague.' 'Neverfailing preservatives against the infection.'
'Sovereign cordials against the corruption of the air.' 'Exact regulations
for the conduct of the body in case of an infection.' 'Anti-pestilential
pills.' 'Incomparable drink against the plague, never found out before.'
'An universal remedy for the plague.' 'The only true plague water.' 'The
royal antidote against all kinds of infection'; - and such a number
more that I cannot reckon up; and if I could, would fill a book of
themselves to set them down.

Others set up bills to summon people to their lodgings for directions
and advice in the case of infection. These had specious titles also,
such as these: -

'An eminent High Dutch physician, newly come over from Holland,
where he resided during all the time of the great plague last year in
Amsterdam, and cured multitudes of people that actually had the
plague upon them.'

'An Italian gentlewoman just arrived from Naples, having a choice
secret to prevent infection, which she found out by her great
experience, and did wonderful cures with it in the late plague there,
wherein there died 20,000 in one day.'

'An ancient gentlewoman, having practised with great success in the
late plague in this city, anno 1636, gives her advice only to the female
sex. To be spoken with,' &c.

'An experienced physician, who has long studied the doctrine of
antidotes against all sorts of poison and infection, has, after forty
years' practice, arrived to such skill as may, with God's blessing, direct
persons how to prevent their being touched by any contagious
distemper whatsoever. He directs the poor gratis.'

I take notice of these by way of specimen. I could give you two or
three dozen of the like and yet have abundance left behind. 'Tis
sufficient from these to apprise any one of the humour of those times,
and how a set of thieves and pickpockets not only robbed and cheated
the poor people of their money, but poisoned their bodies with odious
and fatal preparations; some with mercury, and some with other things
as bad, perfectly remote from the thing pretended to, and rather
hurtful than serviceable to the body in case an infection followed.

I cannot omit a subtility of one of those quack operators, with which
he gulled the poor people to crowd about him, but did nothing for
them without money. He had, it seems, added to his bills, which he
gave about the streets, this advertisement in capital letters, viz.,
'He gives advice to the poor for nothing.'

Abundance of poor people came to him accordingly, to whom he
made a great many fine speeches, examined them of the state of their
health and of the constitution of their bodies, and told them many
good things for them to do, which were of no great moment. But the
issue and conclusion of all was, that he had a preparation which if
they took such a quantity of every morning, he would pawn his life
they should never have the plague; no, though they lived in the house
with people that were infected. This made the people all resolve to
have it; but then the price of that was so much, I think 'twas half-a-
crown. 'But, sir,' says one poor woman, 'I am a poor almswoman and
am kept by the parish, and your bills say you give the poor your help
for nothing.' 'Ay, good woman,' says the doctor, 'so I do, as I published
there. I give my advice to the poor for nothing, but not my physic.'
'Alas, sir!' says she, 'that is a snare laid for the poor, then; for you give
them advice for nothing; that is to say, you advise them gratis, to buy
your physic for their money; so does every shop-keeper with his
wares.' Here the woman began to give him ill words, and stood at his
door all that day, telling her tale to all the people that came, till the
doctor finding she turned away his customers, was obliged to call her
upstairs again, and give her his box of physic for nothing, which
perhaps, too, was good for nothing when she had it.

But to return to the people, whose confusions fitted them to be
imposed upon by all sorts of pretenders and by every mountebank.
There is no doubt but these quacking sort of fellows raised great gains
out of the miserable people, for we daily found the crowds that ran
after them were infinitely greater, and their doors were more thronged
than those of Dr Brooks, Dr Upton, Dr Hodges, Dr Berwick, or any,
though the most famous men of the time. I And I was told that some
of them got five pounds a day by their physic.

But there was still another madness beyond all this, which may
serve to give an idea of the distracted humour of the poor people at
that time: and this was their following a worse sort of deceivers than
any of these; for these petty thieves only deluded them to pick their
pockets and get their money, in which their wickedness, whatever it
was, lay chiefly on the side of the deceivers, not upon the deceived.
But in this part I am going to mention, it lay chiefly in the people
deceived, or equally in both; and this was in wearing charms, philtres,
exorcisms, amulets, and I know not what preparations, to fortify the
body with them against the plague; as if the plague was not the hand
of God, but a kind of possession of an evil spirit, and that it was to be
kept off with crossings, signs of the zodiac, papers tied up with so
many knots, and certain words or figures written on them, as
particularly the word Abracadabra, formed in triangle or pyramid,
thus: -

ABRACADABR Others had the Jesuits'
ABRACADAB mark in a cross:
ABRAC Others nothing but this
ABRA mark, thus:
AB * *
A {*}
* *

I might spend a great deal of time in my exclamations against the
follies, and indeed the wickedness, of those things, in a time of such
danger, in a matter of such consequences as this, of a national
infection. But my memorandums of these things relate rather to take
notice only of the fact, and mention only that it was so. How the poor
people found the insufficiency of those things, and how many of them
were afterwards carried away in the dead-carts and thrown into the
common graves of every parish with these hellish charms and trumpery
hanging about their necks, remains to be spoken of as we go along.

All this was the effect of the hurry the people were in, after the first
notion of the plaque being at hand was among them, and which may
be said to be from about Michaelmas 1664, but more particularly after
the two men died in St Giles's in the beginning of December;
and again, after another alarm in February. For when the plague
evidently spread itself, they soon began to see the folly of trusting
to those unperforming creatures who had gulled them of their money;
and then their fears worked another way, namely, to amazement
and stupidity, not knowing what course to take or what to do either
to help or relieve themselves. But they ran about from one neighbour's
house to another, and even in the streets from one door to another,
with repeated cries of, 'Lord, have mercy upon us! What shall we do?'

Indeed, the poor people were to be pitied in one particular thing in
which they had little or no relief, and which I desire to mention with a
serious awe and reflection, which perhaps every one that reads this
may not relish; namely, that whereas death now began not, as we may
say, to hover over every one's head only, but to look into their houses
and chambers and stare in their faces. Though there might be some
stupidity and dulness of the mind (and there was so, a great deal), yet
there was a great deal of just alarm sounded into the very inmost soul,
if I may so say, of others. Many consciences were awakened; many
hard hearts melted into tears; many a penitent confession was made of
crimes long concealed. It would wound the soul of any Christian to
have heard the dying groans of many a despairing creature, and none
durst come near to comfort them. Many a robbery, many a murder,
was then confessed aloud, and nobody surviving to record the
accounts of it. People might be heard, even into the streets as we
passed along, calling upon God for mercy through Jesus Christ, and
saying, 'I have been a thief, 'I have been an adulterer', 'I have been a
murderer', and the like, and none durst stop to make the least inquiry
into such things or to administer comfort to the poor creatures that in
the anguish both of soul and body thus cried out. Some of the
ministers did visit the sick at first and for a little while, but it was not
to be done. It would have been present death to have gone into some
houses. The very buriers of the dead, who were the hardenedest
creatures in town, were sometimes beaten back and so terrified that
they durst not go into houses where the whole families were swept
away together, and where the circumstances were more particularly horrible,
as some were; but this was, indeed, at the first heat of the distemper.

Time inured them to it all, and they ventured everywhere afterwards
without hesitation, as I shall have occasion to mention
at large hereafter.

I am supposing now the plague to be begun, as I have said, and that
the magistrates began to take the condition of the people into their
serious consideration. What they did as to the regulation of the
inhabitants and of infected families, I shall speak to by itself; but as to
the affair of health, it is proper to mention it here that, having seen the
foolish humour of the people in running after quacks and
mountebanks, wizards and fortune-tellers, which they did as above,
even to madness, the Lord Mayor, a very sober and religious
gentleman, appointed physicians and surgeons for relief of the poor - I
mean the diseased poor and in particular ordered the College of
Physicians to publish directions for cheap remedies for the poor, in all
the circumstances of the distemper. This, indeed, was one of the most
charitable and judicious things that could be done at that time, for this
drove the people from haunting the doors of every disperser of bills,
and from taking down blindly and without consideration poison for
physic and death instead of life.

This direction of the physicians was done by a consultation of the
whole College; and, as it was particularly calculated for the use of the
poor and for cheap medicines, it was made public, so that everybody
might see it, and copies were given gratis to all that desired it. But as
it is public, and to be seen on all occasions, I need not give the reader
of this the trouble of it.

I shall not be supposed to lessen the authority or capacity of the
physicians when I say that the violence of the distemper, when it came
to its extremity, was like the fire the next year. The fire, which
consumed what the plague could not touch, defied all the application
of remedies; the fire-engines were broken, the buckets thrown away,
and the power of man was baffled and brought to an end. So the
Plague defied all medicines; the very physicians were seized with it,
with their preservatives in their mouths; and men went about
prescribing to others and telling them what to do till the tokens were
upon them, and they dropped down dead, destroyed by that very
enemy they directed others to oppose. This was the case of several
physicians, even some of them the most eminent, and of several of the
most skilful surgeons. Abundance of quacks too died, who had the
folly to trust to their own medicines, which they must needs be
conscious to themselves were good for nothing, and who rather ought,
like other sorts of thieves, to have run away, sensible of their guilt,
from the justice that they could not but expect should punish them as
they knew they had deserved.

Not that it is any derogation from the labour or application of the
physicians to say they fell in the common calamity; nor is it so
intended by me; it rather is to their praise that they ventured their lives
so far as even to lose them in the service of mankind. They
endeavoured to do good, and to save the lives of others. But we were
not to expect that the physicians could stop God's judgements, or
prevent a distemper eminently armed from heaven from executing the
errand it was sent about.

Doubtless, the physicians assisted many by their skill, and by their
prudence and applications, to the saving of their lives and restoring
their health. But it is not lessening their character or their skill, to say
they could not cure those that had the tokens upon them, or those who
were mortally infected before the physicians were sent for, as was
frequently the case.

It remains to mention now what public measures were taken by the
magistrates for the general safety, and to prevent the spreading of the
distemper, when it first broke out. I shall have frequent occasion to
speak of the prudence of the magistrates, their charity, their vigilance
for the poor, and for preserving good order, furnishing provisions, and
the like, when the plague was increased, as it afterwards was. But I
am now upon the order and regulations they published for the
government of infected families.

I mentioned above shutting of houses up; and it is needful to say
something particularly to that, for this part of the history of the plague
is very melancholy, but the most grievous story must be told.

About June the Lord Mayor of London and the Court of Aldermen,
as I have said, began more particularly to concern themselves for the
regulation of the city.

The justices of Peace for Middlesex, by direction of the Secretary of
State, had begun to shut up houses in the parishes of St Giles-in-the-
Fields, St Martin, St Clement Danes, &c., and it was with good
success; for in several streets where the plague broke out, upon strict
guarding the houses that were infected, and taking care to bury those
that died immediately after they were known to be dead, the plague
ceased in those streets. It was also observed that the plague decreased
sooner in those parishes after they had been visited to the full than it
did in the parishes of Bishopsgate, Shoreditch, Aldgate, Whitechappel,
Stepney, and others; the early care taken in that manner being a great
means to the putting a check to it.

This shutting up of houses was a method first taken, as I understand,
in the plague which happened in 1603, at the coming of King James
the First to the crown; and the power of shutting people up in their
own houses was granted by Act of Parliament, entitled, 'An Act for the
charitable Relief and Ordering of Persons infected with the Plague';
on which Act of Parliament the Lord Mayor and aldermen of the city
of London founded the order they made at this time, and which took
place the 1st of July 1665, when the numbers infected within the city
were but few, the last bill for the ninety-two parishes being but four;
and some houses having been shut up in the city, and some people
being removed to the pest-house beyond Bunhill Fields, in the way to
Islington, - I say, by these means, when there died near one thousand a
week in the whole, the number in the city was but twenty-eight, and
the city was preserved more healthy in proportion than any other place
all the time of the infection.

These orders of my Lord Mayor's were published, as I have said, the
latter end of June, and took place from the 1st of July, and were as
follows, viz.: -


'WHEREAS in the reign of our late Sovereign King James, of happy
memory, an Act was made for the charitable relief and ordering of
persons infected with the plague, whereby authority was given to
justices of the peace, mayors, bailiffs, and other head-officers to
appoint within their several limits examiners, searchers, watchmen,
keepers, and buriers for the persons and places infected, and to
minister unto them oaths for the performance of their offices. And the
same statute did also authorise the giving of other directions, as unto
them for the present necessity should seem good in their directions. It
is now, upon special consideration, thought very expedient for
preventing and avoiding of infection of sickness (if it shall so please
Almighty God) that these officers following be appointed, and these
orders hereafter duly observed.

Examiners to be appointed in every Parish.

'First, it is thought requisite, and so ordered, that in every parish
there be one, two, or more persons of good sort and credit chosen and
appointed by the alderman, his deputy, and common council of every
ward, by the name of examiners, to continue in that office the space of
two months at least. And if any fit person so appointed shall refuse to
undertake the same, the said parties so refusing to be committed to
prison until they shall conform themselves accordingly.

The Examiner's Office.

'That these examiners he sworn by the aldermen to inquire and learn
from time to time what houses in every parish be visited, and what
persons be sick, and of what diseases, as near as they can inform
themselves; and upon doubt in that case, to command restraint of
access until it appear what the disease shall prove. And if they find
any person sick of the infection, to give order to the constable that the
house be shut up; and if the constable shall be found remiss or
negligent, to give present notice thereof to the alderman of the ward.


'That to every infected house there be appointed two watchmen, one
for every day, and the other for the night; and that these watchmen
have a special care that no person go in or out of such infected houses
whereof they have the charge, upon pain of severe punishment. And
the said watchmen to do such further offices as the sick house shall
need and require: and if the watchman be sent upon any business, to
lock up the house and take the key with him; and the watchman by
day to attend until ten of the clock at night, and the watchman by
night until six in the morning.


'That there be a special care to appoint women searchers in every
parish, such as are of honest reputation, and of the best sort as can be
got in this kind; and these to be sworn to make due search and true
report to the utmost of their knowledge whether the persons whose
bodies they are appointed to search do die of the infection, or of what
other diseases, as near as they can. And that the physicians who shall
be appointed for cure and prevention of the infection do call before
them the said searchers who are, or shall be, appointed for the several
parishes under their respective cares, to the end they may consider
whether they are fitly qualified for that employment, and charge them
from time to time as they shall see cause, if they appear defective in
their duties.

'That no searcher during this time of visitation be permitted to use
any public work or employment, or keep any shop or stall, or be
employed as a laundress, or in any other common employment


'For better assistance of the searchers, forasmuch as there hath been
heretofore great abuse in misreporting the disease, to the further
spreading of the infection, it is therefore ordered that there be chosen
and appointed able and discreet chirurgeons, besides those that do
already belong to the pest-house, amongst whom the city and Liberties
to be quartered as the places lie most apt and convenient; and every of
these to have one quarter for his limit; and the said chirurgeons in
every of their limits to join with the searchers for the view of the
body, to the end there may be a true report made of the disease.

'And further, that the said chirurgeons shall visit and search such-
like persons as shall either send for them or be named and directed
unto them by the examiners of every parish, and inform themselves of
the disease of the said parties.

'And forasmuch as the said chirurgeons are to be sequestered from
all other cures, and kept only to this disease of the infection, it is
ordered that every of the said chirurgeons shall have twelve-pence a
body searched by them, to be paid out of the goods of the party
searched, if he be able, or otherwise by the parish.


'If any nurse-keeper shall remove herself out of any infected house
before twenty-eight days after the decease of any person dying of the
infection, the house to which the said nurse-keeper doth so remove
herself shall be shut up until the said twenty-eight days be expired.'


Notice to be given of the Sickness.

'The master of every house, as soon as any one in his house
complaineth, either of blotch or purple, or swelling in any part of his
body, or falleth otherwise dangerously sick, without apparent cause of
some other disease, shall give knowledge thereof to the examiner of
health within two hours after the said sign shall appear.

Sequestration of the Sick.

'As soon as any man shall be found by this examiner, chirurgeon, or
searcher to be sick of the plague, he shall the same night be
sequestered in the same house; and in case he be so sequestered, then
though he afterwards die not, the house wherein he sickened should
be shut up for a month, after the use of the due preservatives taken by
the rest.

Airing the Stuff.

'For sequestration of the goods and stuff of the infection, their
bedding and apparel and hangings of chambers must be well aired
with fire and such perfumes as are requisite within the infected house
before they be taken again to use. This to be done by the appointment
of an examiner.

Shutting up of the House.

'If any person shall have visited any man known to be infected of the
plague, or entered willingly into any known infected house, being not
allowed, the house wherein he inhabiteth shall be shut up for certain
days by the examiner's direction.

None to be removed out of infected Houses, but, &C.

'Item, that none be removed out of the house where he falleth sick of
the infection into any other house in the city (except it be to the pest-
house or a tent, or unto some such house which the owner of the said
visited house holdeth in his own hands and occupieth by his own
servants); and so as security be given to the parish whither such
remove is made, that the attendance and charge about the said visited
persons shall be observed and charged in all the particularities before
expressed, without any cost of that parish to which any such remove
shall happen to be made, and this remove to be done by night. And it
shall be lawful to any person that hath two houses to remove either his
sound or his infected people to his spare house at his choice, so as, if
he send away first his sound, he not after send thither his sick, nor
again unto the sick the sound; and that the same which he sendeth be
for one week at the least shut up and secluded from company, for fear
of some infection at the first not appearing.

Burial of the Dead.

'That the burial of the dead by this visitation be at most convenient
hours, always either before sun-rising or after sun-setting, with the
privity of the churchwardens or constable, and not otherwise; and that
no neighbours nor friends be suffered to accompany the corpse to
church, or to enter the house visited, upon pain of having his house
shut up or be imprisoned.

'And that no corpse dying of infection shall be buried, or remain in
any church in time of common prayer, sermon, or lecture. And that
no children be suffered at time of burial of any corpse in any church,
churchyard, or burying-place to come near the corpse, coffin, or grave.
And that all the graves shall be at least six feet deep.

'And further, all public assemblies at other burials are to be
foreborne during the continuance of this visitation.

No infected Stuff to be uttered.

'That no clothes, stuff, bedding, or garments be suffered to be
carried or conveyed out of any infected houses, and that the criers and
carriers abroad of bedding or old apparel to be sold or pawned be
utterly prohibited and restrained, and no brokers of bedding or old
apparel be permitted to make any outward show, or hang forth on
their stalls, shop-boards, or windows, towards any street, lane,
common way, or passage, any old bedding or apparel to be sold, upon
pain of imprisonment. And if any broker or other person shall buy
any bedding, apparel, or other stuff out of any infected house within
two months after the infection hath been there, his house shall be shut
up as infected, and so shall continue shut up twenty days at the least.

No Person to be conveyed out of any infected House.

'If any person visited do fortune, by negligent looking unto, or by
any other means, to come or be conveyed from a place infected to any
other place, the parish from whence such party hath come or been
conveyed, upon notice thereof given, shall at their charge cause the
said party so visited and escaped to be carried and brought back again
by night, and the parties in this case offending to be punished at the
direction of the alderman of the ward, and the house of the receiver of
such visited person to be shut up for twenty days.

Every visited House to be marked.

'That every house visited be marked with a red cross of a foot long
in the middle of the door, evident to be seen, and with these usual
printed words, that is to say, "Lord, have mercy upon us," to be set
close over the same cross, there to continue until lawful opening of
the same house.

Every visited House to be watched.

'That the constables see every house shut up, and to be attended with
watchmen, which may keep them in, and minister necessaries unto
them at their own charges, if they be able, or at the common charge, if
they are unable; the shutting up to be for the space of four weeks after
all be whole.

'That precise order to be taken that the searchers, chirurgeons,
keepers, and buriers are not to pass the streets without holding a red
rod or wand of three feet in length in their hands, open and evident to
be seen, and are not to go into any other house than into their own, or
into that whereunto they are directed or sent for; but to forbear and
abstain from company, especially when they have been lately used in
any such business or attendance.


'That where several inmate,-c are in one and the same house, and
any person in that house happens to be infected, no other person or
family of such house shall be suffered to remove him or themselves
without a certificate from the examiners of health of that parish; or in
default thereof, the house whither he or they so remove shall be shut
up as in case of visitation.


'That care be taken of hackney-coachmen, that they may not (as
some of them have been observed to do after carrying of infected
persons to the pest-house and other places) be admitted to common
use till their coaches be well aired, and have stood unemployed by the
space of five or six days after such service.'


The Streets to be kept Clean.

'First, it is thought necessary, and so ordered, that every householder
do cause the street to be daily prepared before his door, and so to keep
it clean swept all the week long.

That Rakers take it from out the Houses.

'That the sweeping and filth of houses be daily carried away by the
rakers, and that the raker shall give notice of his coming by the
blowing of a horn, as hitherto hath been done.

Laystalls to be made far off from the City.

'That the laystalls be removed as far as may be out of the city and
common passages, and that no nightman or other be suffered to empty
a vault into any garden near about the city.

Care to be had of unwholesome Fish or Flesh, and of musty Corn.

'That special care be taken that no stinking fish, or unwholesome
flesh, or musty corn, or other corrupt fruits of what sort soever, be
suffered to be sold about the city, or any part of the same.

'That the brewers and tippling-houses he looked unto for musty and
unwholesome casks.

'That no hogs, dogs, or cats, or tame pigeons, or conies, be suffered to
be kept within any part of the city, or any swine to be or stray in the
streets or lanes, but that such swine be impounded by the beadle or
any other officer, and the owner punished according to Act of
Common Council, and that the dogs be killed by the dog-killers
appointed for that purpose.'



'Forasmuch as nothing is more complained of than the multitude of
rogues and wandering beggars that swarm in every place about the
city, being a great cause of the spreading of the infection, and will not
be avoided, notwithstanding any orders that have been given to the
contrary: It is therefore now ordered, that such constables, and others
whom this matter may any way concern, take special care that no
wandering beggars be suffered in the streets of this city in any fashion
or manner whatsoever, upon the penalty provided by the law, to be
duly and severely executed upon them.


'That all plays, bear-baitings, games, singing of ballads, buckler-
play, or such-like causes of assemblies of people be utterly prohibited,
and the parties offending severely punished by every
alderman in his ward.

Feasting prohibited.

'That all public feasting, and particularly by the companies of this
city, and dinners at taverns, ale-houses, and other places of common
entertainment, be forborne till further order and allowance; and that
the money thereby spared be preserved and employed for the benefit
and relief of the poor visited with the infection.


'That disorderly tippling in taverns, ale-houses, coffee-houses, and
cellars be severely looked unto, as the common sin of this time and
greatest occasion of dispersing the plague. And that no company or
person be suffered to remain or come into any tavern, ale-house, or
coffee-house to drink after nine of the clock in the evening, according
to the ancient law and custom of this city, upon the penalties ordained
in that behalf.

'And for the better execution of these orders, and such other rules
and directions as, upon further consideration, shall be found needful:
It is ordered and enjoined that the aldermen, deputies, and common
councilmen shall meet together weekly, once, twice, thrice or oftener
(as cause shall require), at some one general place accustomed in their
respective wards (being clear from infection of the plague), to consult
how the said orders may be duly put in execution; not intending that
any dwelling in or near places infected shall come to the said meeting
while their coming may be doubtful. And the said aldermen, and
deputies, and common councilmen in their several wards may put in
execution any other good orders that by them at their said meetings
shall be conceived and devised for preservation of his Majesty's
subjects from the infection.

SIR CHARLES DoE, Sheriffs.'

I need not say that these orders extended only to such places as were
within the Lord Mayor's jurisdiction, so it is requisite to observe that
the justices of Peace within those parishes and places as were called
the Hamlets and out-parts took the same method. As I remember, the
orders for shutting up of houses did not take Place so soon on our
side, because, as I said before, the plague did not reach to these
eastern parts of the town at least, nor begin to be very violent, till the
beginning of August. For example, the whole bill from the 11th to the
18th of July was 1761, yet there died but 71 of the plague in all those
parishes we call the Tower Hamlets, and they were as follows: -

The next week And to the 1st
was thus: of Aug. thus:
Aldgate 14 34 65
Stepney 33 58 76
Whitechappel 21 48 79
St Katherine, Tower 2 4 4
Trinity, Minories 1 1 4
--- --- ---
71 145 228

It was indeed coming on amain, for the burials that same week were
in the next adjoining parishes thus: -

The next week
prodigiously To the 1st of
increased, as: Aug. thus:
St Leonard's, Shoreditch 64 84 110
St Botolph's, Bishopsgate 65 105 116
St Giles's, Cripplegate 213 421 554
--- --- ---
342 610 780

This shutting up of houses was at first counted a very cruel and
unchristian method, and the poor people so confined made bitter
lamentations. Complaints of the severity of it were also daily brought
to my Lord Mayor, of houses causelessly (and some maliciously) shut
up. I cannot say; but upon inquiry many that complained so loudly
were found in a condition to be continued; and others again,
inspection being made upon the sick person, and the sickness not
appearing infectious, or if uncertain, yet on his being content to be
carried to the pest-house, were released.

It is true that the locking up the doors of people's houses, and setting
a watchman there night and day to prevent their stirring out or any
coming to them, when perhaps the sound people in the family might
have escaped if they had been removed from the sick, looked very
hard and cruel; and many people perished in these miserable
confinements which, 'tis reasonable to believe, would not have been
distempered if they had had liberty, though the plague was in the
house; at which the people were very clamorous and uneasy at first,
and several violences were committed and injuries offered to the men
who were set to watch the houses so shut up; also several people
broke out by force in many places, as I shall observe by-and-by. But it
was a public good that justified the private mischief, and there was no
obtaining the least mitigation by any application to magistrates or
government at that time, at least not that I heard of. This put the
people upon all manner of stratagem in order, if possible, to get out;
and it would fill a little volume to set down the arts used by the people
of such houses to shut the eyes of the watchmen who were employed,
to deceive them, and to escape or break out from them, in which
frequent scuffles and some mischief happened; of which by itself.

As I went along Houndsditch one morning about eight o'clock there
was a great noise. It is true, indeed, there was not much crowd,
because people were not very free to gather together, or to stay long
together when they were there; nor did I stay long there. But the
outcry was loud enough to prompt my curiosity, and I called to one
that looked out of a window, and asked what was the matter.

A watchman, it seems, had been employed to keep his post at the
door of a house which was infected, or said to be infected, and was
shut up. He had been there all night for two nights together, as he told
his story, and the day-watchman had been there one day, and was now
come to relieve him. All this while no noise had been heard in the
house, no light had been seen; they called for nothing, sent him of no
errands, which used to be the chief business of the watchmen; neither
had they given him any disturbance, as he said, from the Monday
afternoon, when he heard great crying and screaming in the house,
which, as he supposed, was occasioned by some of the family dying
just at that time. It seems, the night before, the dead-cart, as it was
called, had been stopped there, and a servant-maid had been brought
down to the door dead, and the buriers or bearers, as they were called,
put her into the cart, wrapt only in a green rug, and carried her away.

The watchman had knocked at the door, it seems, when he heard
that noise and crying, as above, and nobody answered a great while;
but at last one looked out and said with an angry, quick tone, and yet a
kind of crying voice, or a voice of one that was crying, 'What d'ye
want, that ye make such a knocking?' He answered, 'I am the
watchman! How do you do? What is the matter?' The person
answered, 'What is that to you? Stop the dead-cart.' This, it seems,
was about one o'clock. Soon after, as the fellow said, he stopped the
dead-cart, and then knocked again, but nobody answered. He
continued knocking, and the bellman called out several times, 'Bring
out your dead'; but nobody answered, till the man that drove the cart,
being called to other houses, would stay no longer, and drove away.

The watchman knew not what to make of all this, so he let them
alone till the morning-man or day-watchman, as they called him,
came to relieve him. Giving him an account of the particulars,
they knocked at the door a great while, but nobody answered; and they
observed that the window or casement at which the person had looked
out who had answered before continued open, being up two pair of stairs.

Upon this the two men, to satisfy their curiosity, got a long ladder,
and one of them went up to the window and looked into the room,
where he saw a woman lying dead upon the floor in a dismal manner,
having no clothes on her but her shift. But though he called aloud,
and putting in his long staff, knocked hard on the floor, yet nobody
stirred or answered; neither could he hear any noise in the house.

He came down again upon this, and acquainted his fellow, who
went up also; and finding it just so, they resolved to acquaint either
the Lord Mayor or some other magistrate of it, but did not offer to go
in at the window. The magistrate, it seems, upon the information of
the two men, ordered the house to be broke open, a constable and
other persons being appointed to be present, that nothing might be
plundered; and accordingly it was so done, when nobody was found in
the house but that young woman, who having been infected and past
recovery, the rest had left her to die by herself, and were every one
gone, having found some way to delude the watchman, and to get
open the door, or get out at some back-door, or over the tops of the
houses, so that he knew nothing of it; and as to those cries and shrieks
which he heard, it was supposed they were the passionate cries of the
family at the bitter parting, which, to be sure, it was to them all, this
being the sister to the mistress of the family. The man of the house,
his wife, several children, and servants, being all gone and fled,
whether sick or sound, that I could never learn; nor, indeed, did I
make much inquiry after it.

Many such escapes were made out of infected houses, as
particularly when the watchman was sent of some errand; for it was
his business to go of any errand that the family sent him of; that is to
say, for necessaries, such as food and physic; to fetch physicians, if
they would come, or surgeons, or nurses, or to order the dead-cart, and
the like; but with this condition, too, that when he went he was to lock
up the outer door of the house and take the key away with him, To
evade this, and cheat the watchmen, people got two or three keys
made to their locks, or they found ways to unscrew the locks such as
were screwed on, and so take off the lock, being in the inside of the
house, and while they sent away the watchman to the market, to the
bakehouse, or for one trifle or another, open the door and go out as
often as they pleased. But this being found out, the officers
afterwards had orders to padlock up the doors on the outside, and
place bolts on them as they thought fit.

At another house, as I was informed, in the street next within
Aldgate, a whole family was shut up and locked in because the maid-
servant was taken sick. The master of the house had complained by
his friends to the next alderman and to the Lord Mayor, and had
consented to have the maid carried to the pest-house, but was refused;
so the door was marked with a red cross, a padlock on the outside, as
above, and a watchman set to keep the door, according to public order.

After the master of the house found there was no remedy, but that
he, his wife, and his children were to be locked up with this poor
distempered servant, he called to the watchman, and told him he must
go then and fetch a nurse for them to attend this poor girl, for that it
would be certain death to them all to oblige them to nurse her; and
told him plainly that if he would not do this, the maid must perish
either of the distemper or be starved for want of food, for he was
resolved none of his family should go near her; and she lay in the
garret four storey high, where she could not cry out, or call to anybody
for help.

The watchman consented to that, and went and fetched a nurse, as
he was appointed, and brought her to them the same evening. During
this interval the master of the house took his opportunity to break a
large hole through his shop into a bulk or stall, where formerly a
cobbler had sat, before or under his shop-window; but the tenant, as
may be supposed at such a dismal time as that, was dead or removed,
and so he had the key in his own keeping. Having made his way into
this stall, which he could not have done if the man had been at the
door, the noise he was obliged to make being such as would have
alarmed the watchman; I say, having made his way into this stall, he
sat still till the watchman returned with the nurse, and all the next day
also. But the night following, having contrived to send the watchman
of another trifling errand, which, as I take it, was to an apothecary's
for a plaister for the maid, which he was to stay for the making up, or
some other such errand that might secure his staying some time; in
that time he conveyed himself and all his family out of the house, and
left the nurse and the watchman to bury the poor wench - that is,
throw her into the cart - and take care of the house.

I could give a great many such stories as these, diverting enough,
which in the long course of that dismal year I met with - that is, heard
of - and which are very certain to be true, or very near the truth; that is
to say, true in the general: for no man could at such a time learn all
the particulars. There was likewise violence used with the watchmen,
as was reported, in abundance of places; and I believe that from the
beginning of the visitation to the end, there was not less than eighteen
or twenty of them killed, or so wounded as to be taken up for dead,
which was supposed to be done by the people in the infected houses
which were shut up, and where they attempted to come out and were opposed.

Nor, indeed, could less be expected, for here were so many prisons
in the town as there were houses shut up; and as the people shut up or
imprisoned so were guilty of no crime, only shut up because
miserable, it was really the more intolerable to them.

It had also this difference, that every prison, as we may call it, had
but one jailer, and as he had the whole house to guard, and that many
houses were so situated as that they had several ways out, some more,
some less, and some into several streets, it was impossible for one
man so to guard all the passages as to prevent the escape of people
made desperate by the fright of their circumstances, by the resentment
of their usage, or by the raging of the distemper itself; so that they
would talk to the watchman on one side of the house, while the family
made their escape at another.

For example, in Coleman Street there are abundance of alleys, as
appears still. A house was shut up in that they call White's Alley;
and this house had a back-window, not a door, into a court which had a
passage into Bell Alley. A watchman was set by the constable at the
door of this house, and there he stood, or his comrade, night and day,
while the family went all away in the evening out at that window into the
court, and left the poor fellows warding and watching for near a fortnight.

Not far from the same place they blew up a watchman with
gunpowder, and burned the poor fellow dreadfully; and while he made
hideous cries, and nobody would venture to come near to help him,
the whole family that were able to stir got out at the windows one
storey high, two that were left sick calling out for help. Care was
taken to give them nurses to look after them, but the persons fled were
never found, till after the plague was abated they returned; but as
nothing could be proved, so nothing could be done to them.

It is to be considered, too, that as these were prisons without bars
and bolts, which our common prisons are furnished with, so the
people let themselves down out of their windows, even in the face of
the watchman, bringing swords or pistols in their hands, and threatening
the poor wretch to shoot him if he stirred or called for help.

In other cases, some had gardens, and walls or pales, between them
and their neighbours, or yards and back-houses; and these, by
friendship and entreaties, would get leave to get over those walls or
pales, and so go out at their neighbours' doors; or, by giving money to
their servants, get them to let them through in the night; so that in
short, the shutting up of houses was in no wise to be depended upon.
Neither did it answer the end at all, serving more to make the people
desperate, and drive them to such extremities as that they would break
out at all adventures.

And that which was still worse, those that did thus break out spread
the infection farther by their wandering about with the distemper upon
them, in their desperate circumstances, than they would otherwise
have done; for whoever considers all the particulars in such cases
must acknowledge, and we cannot doubt but the severity of those
confinements made many people desperate, and made them run out of
their houses at all hazards, and with the plague visibly upon them, not
knowing either whither to go or what to do, or, indeed, what they did;
and many that did so were driven to dreadful exigencies and
extremities, and perished in the streets or fields for mere want, or
dropped down by the raging violence of the fever upon them. Others
wandered into the country, and went forward any way, as their
desperation guided them, not knowing whither they went or would go:
till, faint and tired, and not getting any relief, the houses and villages
on the road refusing to admit them to lodge whether infected or no,
they have perished by the roadside or gotten into barns and died there,
none daring to come to them or relieve them, though perhaps not
infected, for nobody would believe them.

On the other hand, when the plague at first seized a family that is to
say, when any body of the family had gone out and unwarily or
otherwise catched the distemper and brought it home - it was certainly
known by the family before it was known to the officers, who, as you
will see by the order, were appointed to examine into the
circumstances of all sick persons when they heard of their being sick.

In this interval, between their being taken sick and the examiners
coming, the master of the house had leisure and liberty to remove
himself or all his family, if he knew whither to go, and many did so.
But the great disaster was that many did thus after they were really
infected themselves, and so carried the disease into the houses of
those who were so hospitable as to receive them; which, it must be
confessed, was very cruel and ungrateful.

And this was in part the reason of the general notion, or scandal
rather, which went about of the temper of people infected: namely,
that they did not take the least care or make any scruple of infecting
others, though I cannot say but there might be some truth in it too, but
not so general as was reported. What natural reason could be given for
so wicked a thing at a time when they might conclude themselves just
going to appear at the bar of Divine justice I know not. I am very well
satisfied that it cannot be reconciled to religion and principle any
more than it can be to generosity and Humanity, but I may speak of
that again.

I am speaking now of people made desperate by the apprehensions
of their being shut up, and their breaking out by stratagem or force,
either before or after they were shut up, whose misery was not
lessened when they were out, but sadly increased. On the other hand,
many that thus got away had retreats to go to and other houses, where
they locked themselves up and kept hid till the plague was over; and
many families, foreseeing the approach of the distemper, laid up
stores of provisions sufficient for their whole families, and shut
themselves up, and that so entirely that they were neither seen or
heard of till the infection was quite ceased, and then came abroad
sound and well. I might recollect several such as these, and give you
the particulars of their management; for doubtless it was the most


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