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without any infection åt all; others frightened into idiotism and foolish distractions; some into despair and lunacy: others into melancholy madness.
The pain of the swelling was in particular very violent, and to some intolerable; the physicians and surgeons may be said to have tortured many poor creatures even to death. The swellings. in some grew hard, and they applied violent drawing-plasters or poultices to break them; and if these did not do, they cut and scarified them in a terrible manner. In some, those swellings
made hard, partly by the force of the distemper, and partly by their being too violently drawn; and were so hard, that no instrument could cut them; and then they burnt them with caustics, so that many died raving mad with the torment, and some in the very operation. In these distresses, some, for want of help to hold them down in their beds, or to look to them, laid hands upon themselves, as already stated; some broke out into the streets, perhaps naked, and would run directly down to the river, if they were not stopped by the watchmen, or other officers, and plunge themselves into the water wherever they found it.
We had at this time a great many frightful stories told us of nurses and watchmen who looked after the dying people; that is to say, hired nurses, who attended infected people, using them barbarously, starving them, smothering them, or by other wicked means hastening their end; that is to say, murdering of them. And watchmen being set to guard houses that were shut up, when there has been but one person left, and perhaps that one lying sick, that they have broken in and murdered that body, and immediately throwing it out into the dead-cart; and so it has gone scarcely cold to the grave.
I cannot say but that some such murders were committed, and I think two were sent to prison for it, but died before they could be tried; and I have heard that three others, at several times, were executed for murders of that kind. But I must say I believe nothing of its being so common a crime as some have since been pleased to say:
** The robberies extended chiefly to wearing-clothes, linen, and what rings or money they could come at, when the person died who was under their care, but not to a general plunder of the houses; and I could give you an account of one of these nurses, who, several years after, being on her deathbed, confessed, with
utmost horror, the robberies she had committed at the time of her being a nurse, and by which she had enriched herself to a great degree; but as for murders, I do not find that there was ever any proof of the facts, in the manner as it has been reported, except as above.
“A neighbour and acquaintance of mine having some money owing to him from a shopkeeper in Whitecross Street, or thèreabouts, sent his apprentice, a youth about eighteen years of age, to endeavour to get the money. He came to the door, and find
ingi it shut, knocked pretty hard, and, as he thought, heard
waited ; and after some stay knocked again ; and then a third time, when he heard somebody coming down stairs. At length the man of the house came to the door; he had on his breeches or drawers, and a yellow flannel waistcoat, no stockings, a pair of slipt shoes, a white cap on his head, and, as the young man said, death in his face. When he opened the door, says he, What do you disturb me thus for?'' The boy, though a little surprised, replied, I come from such-a-one, and my master sent me for the money, which he says you know of. Very well, child, returns the living ghost; call as you go by at Cripplegate church, and bid them ring the bell; and with these words shut the door again, and went up and died the same day, may, perhaps the same hour. etili This puts me in mind of John Hayward, who was at that time under-sexton of the parish of St Stephen, Coleman Street; by under-sexton was understood at that time gravedigger and bearer of the dead. This man carried, or assisted to carry, all the dead to their graves which were buried in that large parish, and who were carried in form; and after that form of burying was stopped, went with the dead-cart and the bell to fetch the dead bodies from the houses where they lay, and fetched many of them out of the chambers and houses; for the parish was, and is still remarkable, particularly above all the parishes in London, for a great number of alleys and thoroughfares, very long, into which no carts could come, and where they were obliged to go and fetch the bodies a very long way, which alleys now remain to witness it; such as White's-alley, Cross-Key-court, Swanalley, Bell-alley, White Horse-alley, and many more, Here they went with a kind of handbarrow, and laid the dead bodies on, and carried them out to the carts; which work he performed, and never had the distemper at all, but lived about twenty years after it, and was sexton of the parish to the time of his death. His wife, at the same time, was a nurse to infected people, and tended many that died in the parish, being for her honesty recommended by the parish officers; yet she was never infected. He never used
any, preservative against the infection other than holding garlic and rue in his mouth, and smoking tobacco; this
I also had from his own mouth; and his wife's remedy was washing her head in vinegar, and sprinkling her head-clothes so with vinegar as to keep them always moist; and if the smell of any of those she waited on was more than ordinary offensive, she snuffed d vinegar up her nose, and sprinkled vinegar upon her head-clothes, and held a handkerchief, wetted with vinegar, to her 13. It was under this John Hayward's care, and within his bounds, that the story of the piper, with which people have made themselves šo merry, happened, and he assured me that it was
true. It is said that it was a blind piper; but, as John told me, the fellow was not blind, but an ignorant weak poor man, and usually went his rounds about ten o'clock at night, and went piping along from door to door; and the people usually took him in at public-houses where they knew him, and would give him drink and victuals, and sometimes farthings; and he in return would pipe and sing, and talk simply, which diverted the people; and thus he lived. It was but a very bad time for this diversion while things were as I have told; yet the poor fellow went about as usual, but was almost starved; and when anybody asked him how he did, he would answer, "The dead-cart had not taken him yet, but that they had promised to call for him next week.'
" It happened one night that this poor fellow, whether somebody had given him too much drink or not, John Hayward said he had not drink in his house, but that they had given him a little more victuals than ordinary at a public-house in Coleman Street; and the poor fellow having not usually had a bellyful, or perhaps not a good while, was laid all along upon the top of a bulk or stall, and fast asleep, at a door in the street near London Wall, towards Cripplegate, and that upon the same bulk or stall, the people of some house, in the alley of which the house was a corner, hearing a bell, which they always rung before the cart came, had laid a body really dead of the plague just by him, thinking too that this poor fellow had been a dead body as the other was, and laid there by some of the neighbours.
Accordingly, when John Hayward with his bell and the cart came along, finding two dead bodies lie upon the stall, they took them up with the instrument they used, and threw them into the cart; and all this while the piper slept soundly. From hence they passed along, and took in other dead bodies, till, as honest John Hayward told me, they almost buried him alive in the cart; yet all this while he slept soundly. At length the cart came the place where the bodies were to be thrown into the ground, which, as I do remember, was at Mountmill; and as the cart usually stopped some time before they were ready to shoot out the melancholy load they had in it, as soon as the cart stopped, the fellow awaked, and struggled a little to get his head out from among the dead bodies, when, raising himself up in the cart, he called out, Hey, where am I?' This frightened the fellow that attended about the work; but, after some pause, John Hayward, recovering himself, said, 'Lord bless us, there's somebody in the cart not quite dead!' So another called to him, and said, 'Who are you?' The fellow answered, “I am the poor piper: where am s?' Where are you !' says Hayward. Why, you are in the dead-cart, and we are going to bury you.' But I aint dead though, am I?' says the piper ;, which made them laugh a little, though, as John said, they were heartily frightened at first: so they helped the poor fellow down, and he went about his business."
The number of weekly deaths had fearfully increased during the month of August. În the week ending the 1st of August, as we have already mentioned, the deaths from plague were 2010; the following week they had risen to 2817; the week after they were 3880; the week ending the 22d of August they were 4237; and the last week of August they were no less than 6102; and all these numbers were known to be under the reality. The state of the town at the end of August cannot be described : the doors and windows of houses boarded up, some because the owners had left town, others because the plague was within—the latter all having the conspicuous mark of the red cross upon them; the grass growing in the once crowded streets; no bustle of buying and selling as formerly; the country people afraid to venture into town, and selling their produce at its outskirts to persons appointed by the magistrates to receive it. All silent, dismal, and death-like. One item in the universal misery to which we have not yet alluded, was the distress caused by the cessation of industry. Defoe thus specifies the classes who suffered most in this respect :-“ 1st, All master workmen in manufactures, especially such as belonged to ornament and the less necessary parts of the people's dress, clothes, and furniture for houses; such as ribbon-weavers and other weayers, gold and silver lace-makers, and gold and silver wire-drawers, seamstresses, milliners, shoemakers, hat-makers, and glove-makers; 2d, all the extraordinary officers of the customs, likewise the watermen, carmen, porters, and all the poor whose labour depended upon the merchants; 3d, all the tradesmen usually employed in building or repairing of houses, such as bricklayers, masons, carpenters, joiners, plasterers, painters, glaziers, smiths, plumbers, and all the labourers depending on such ; 4th, as navigation was at a stop, our ships neither coming in nor going out as before, so the seamen were all out of employment, and many of them in the last and lowest degree of distress; and with the seamen were all the several tradesmen and workmen belonging to, and depending upon, the building and fitting out of ships, such as ship-carpenters, calkers, ropemakers, dry coopers, sailmakers, anchor-smiths and other smiths, block-makers, carvers, gunsmiths, ship-chandlers, shipcarvers, and the like ; 5th, all families retrenched their living as much as possible, as well those that fled as those that stayed; so that an innumerable multitude of footmen, serving-men, shopkeepers, journeymen, merchants' book-keepers, and such sort of people, and especially poor maid-servants, were turned off, and left friendless and helpless without employment, and without habitation; and this was really a dismal article. The women and servants,” he adds, “who were turned off from their places, were employed as nurses to attend the sick in all places; and this took off a very great number of them.”
The mortality reached its height in the month of September. In the beginning of that month the citizens were in a frenzy;
they thought God had resolved to make an end of the city!
Whole families, and indeed whole streets of families,
and such houses and
De 1000 911 the for they were all dead. D166 As the desolation was greater during those terrible unact the amazement of the people increased, and a thousand countable things they would do in the violence of their fright; as
the same in the agonies of their distemper; and this part was very affecting. Some went roaring, and cı'ying, and wringing their hands along the streets; some would go
praying and lifting up their hands to heaven, calling upon God for mercy. I cannot say, indeed, whether this was not in their diss traction; but, be it so, it was still an indication of a more serious mind, when they had the use of their senses, and was 'much better, even as it was, than the frightful yellings and cryings that every day, and especially in the evenings, were heard in some streets. I suppose the world has heard of the famous Solomon Eagle, an enthusiast; he, though not infected at all, but in his head, went about denouncing of judgment upon the city in a frightful manner, sometimes quite naked, and with pan of burning charcoal on his head. What he said or pretended, indeed, I could not learn.
“ There were some people, however, who, notwithstanding the danger, did not omit publicly to attend the worship of God, even in the most dangerous times. And though it is true that a great many of the clergy did shut up their churches and filed, as
for other some ventured to officiate, and to keep up the assemblies of the people by constant prayers, and sometimes sermons or brief exhortations to repentance and reformation, and this as long as they would hear them. And dissenters did the like alsó, and even in the very churches where the parish ministers were either dead'or fled; nor was there any room for making any difference at such a time as this was.
It pleased God that I was still spared, and very hearty and sound in health, but very impatient of being pent up within doors without air, as I had been for fourteen days or thereabouts; and I could not restrain myself, but I would go and carry a letter for my brother to the post-house; then it was, indeed, that I observed a profound silence in the streets. When I came to the post-house, as I went to put in my letter, I saw a man stand in one corner of the yard, and talking to another at a window, and a third had opened a door belonging to the office. In the middle of the yard lay a small leathern purse, with two keys hanging at it, with money in it, but nobody would meddle with it. I asked how long it had lain there; the man'at the window said it had lain almost an hour, but they had not meddled with it, because they did not know but the person who dropped it