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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 retum 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 to 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 I?' 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. In 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 :-“ Ist, 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 weavers, 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 fied 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, were swept away together; insomuch that it was frequent for neighbours to call to the bellman to go to such and such houses and carry out the people, for that they were all dead.
“As the desolation was greater during those terrible times, so the amazement of the people increased, and a thousand unaccountable things they would do in the violence of their fright, as others did the same the agonies of their distemper; and this part was very affecting. Some went roaring, and crying, 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 distraction; 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
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 a 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 fled, as other people did, for the safety of their lives, yet all did not do so; 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 also, and
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 and 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 ħad 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
might come back to look for it. I had no such need of money, nor was the sum so big that I had any inclination to meddle with it, or to get the money at the hazard it might be attended with; so I seemed to go away, when the man who had opened the door said he would take it up, but so, that if the right owner came for it, he should be sure to have it. So he went in, and fetched a pail of water, and set it down hard by the purse, then went again and fetched some gunpowder, and cast a good deal of powder upon the purse, and then made a train from that which he had thrown loose upon the purse—the train reached about two yards-after this he goes in a third time, and fetches out a pair of tongs, red-hot, and which he had prepared, I suppose, on purpose, and first setting fire to the train of powder, which singed the purse, and also smoked the air sufficiently. But he was not content with that; but he then takes up the purse with the tongs, holding it so long till the tongs burned through the purse, and then he shook the money out into the pail of water; so he carried it in. The money, as I remember, was about thirteen shillings, and some smooth groats and brass farthings.
“Much about the same time I walked out into the fields towards Bow, for I had a great mind see how things were managed in the river, and among the ships; and as I had some concern in shipping, I had a notion that it had been one of the best ways of securing one's self from the infection to have retired into a ship; and musing how to satisfy my curiosity in that point, I turned away over the fields from Bow to Bromley, and down to Blackwall
, to the stairs that are there for landing or taking water. Here I saw a poor man walking on the bank, or sea-wall, as they call it, by himself. I walked a while also about, seeing the houses all shut up. At last I fell into some talk, at a distance, with this poor man.
First I asked him how people did thereabouts.
• Alas! sir,' says he, almost desolate-all dead or sick. Here are very few families in this part, or in that village, pointing at Poplar, where half of them are not dead already, and the jest sick. Then he, pointing to one house, 'There they are all dead,' said he,' and the house stands open; nobody dares go into it. A poor thief,' says he, ventured in to steal something, but ke paid dear for his theft, for he was carried to the churchyard too last night.' Then he pointed to several other houses. “There,' says he, they are all dead, the man and his wife, and five children.
There they are shut up; you see a watchman at the door;' and so of other houses. Why,' says I, 'what do you here all alone?' Why,' says he, I am a poor desolate man; it hath pleased God I am not yet visited, though my family, is, and one of my children dead. How do you mean, then,' said I,that you are not visited ?? Why,' says he, that is my house,' pointing to a very little low boarded house, and there may poor wife and two children live, if they may be said to live; for my wife and one of the children are visited, but
I do not come at them. And with that word I saw the tears run very plentifully down his face; and so they did down mine too, I am sure.
But,' said I, 'why do you not come at them? How can you abandon your own flesh and blood ?', 'Oh, sir,says he, the Lord forbid; I do not abandon them; I work for them as much as I am able; and, blessed be the Lord, I keep them from want.' And with that I observed he lifted up his eyes to Heaven, with a countenance that presently told me I had met with a man that was no hypocrite, but a serious, religious, good man; and his ejaculation was an expression of thankfulness that, in such a condition as he was in, he should be able to say his family did not
Well,' says I,' honest man, that is a great mercy, as thing's go now with the poor. But how do you live then, and how are you kept from the dreadful calamity that is now upon us all?' Why, sir,' says he, ' I am a waterman, and there is my boat, and the boat serves me for a house. I work in it during the day, and I sleep in it at night; and what I get I lay it down upon that stone, showing me a broad stone on the other side of the street, a good way from his house; and then, says he, 'I halloo and call to them till I make them hear, and they come and fetch it.' Well, friend,' says I, but how can you get money as a
Does anybody go by water these times?' sir,' says he, in the way I am employed there does. Do you see there five ships lie at anchor?' pointing down the river a good way below the town;,' and do you see,' says he,
eight or ten ships lie at the chain there, and at anchor yonder!' pointing above the town. All those ships have families on board, of their merchants and owners, and such like, who have locked themselves up, and live on board, close shut in, for fear of the infection; and I tend on them, to fetch things for them, carry letters, and do what is absolutely necessary, that they may not be obliged to come on shore; and every night I fasten my boat on board one of the ships' boats, and there I sleep by myself; and, blessed be God, I am preserved hitherto.?
Well, friend, said" I, but will they let you come on board after you have been on shore here, when this has been such a terrible place, and so infected as it is?' Why, as to that,' said he, 'I
go up the shipside, but deliver what I bring to their boat, or lie by the side, and they hoist it on board; if I did, I think they are in no danger from me, for I never go into any house on shore, or touch any. body, no, not of my own family; but I fetch provisions for them.'
· Nay,' says I, but that may be worse, for you must have those provisions of somebody or other; and since all this part of the town is so infected, it is dangerous so much as to speak with anybody, for the village is, as it were, the beginning of London, though it be at some distance from it.