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History of the Plague in London
by Daniel Defoe
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As for quackery and mountebank, of which the town was so full, I listened to none of them, and observed often since, with some wonder, that for two years after the plague I scarcely ever heard one of them about the town. Some fancied they were all swept away in the infection to a man, and were for calling it a particular mark of God's vengeance upon them for leading the poor people into the pit of destruction merely for the lucre of a little money they got by them; but I cannot go that length, neither. That abundance of them died is certain (many of them came within the reach of my own knowledge); but that all of them were swept off, I much question. I believe, rather, they fled into the country, and tried their practices upon the people there, who were in apprehension of the infection before it came among them.

This, however, is certain, not a man of them appeared for a great while in or about London. There were indeed several doctors who published bills recommending their several physical preparations for cleansing the body, as they call it, after the plague, and needful, as they said, for such people to take who had been visited and had been cured; whereas, I must own, I believe that it was the opinion of the most eminent physicians of that time, that the plague was itself a sufficient purge, and that those who escaped the infection needed no physic to cleanse their bodies of any other things (the running sores, the tumors, etc., which were broken and kept open by the direction of the physicians, having sufficiently cleansed them); and that all other distempers, and causes of distempers, were effectually carried off that way. And as the physicians gave this as their opinion wherever they came, the quacks got little business.

There were indeed several little hurries which happened after the decrease of the plague, and which, whether they were contrived to fright and disorder the people, as some imagined, I cannot say; but sometimes we were told the plague would return by such a time; and the famous Solomon Eagle, the naked Quaker I have mentioned, prophesied evil tidings every day, and several others, telling us that London had not been sufficiently scourged, and the sorer and severer strokes were yet behind. Had they stopped there, or had they descended to particulars, and told us that the city should be the next year destroyed by fire, then, indeed, when we had seen it come to pass, we should not have been to blame to have paid more than common respect to their prophetic spirits (at least, we should have wondered at them, and have been more serious in our inquiries after the meaning of it, and whence they had the foreknowledge); but as they generally told us of a relapse into the plague, we have had no concern since that about them. Yet by those frequent clamors we were all kept with some kind of apprehensions constantly upon us; and if any died suddenly, or if the spotted fevers at any time increased, we were presently alarmed; much more if the number of the plague increased, for to the end of the year there were always between two and three hundred[342] of the plague. On any of these occasions, I say, we were alarmed anew.

Those who remember the city of London before the fire must remember that there was then no such place as that we now call Newgate Market; but in the middle of the street, which is now called Blow Bladder Street, and which had its name from the butchers, who used to kill and dress their sheep there (and who, it seems, had a custom to blow up their meat with pipes, to make it look thicker and fatter than it was, and were punished there for it by the lord mayor),—I say, from the end of the street towards Newgate there stood two long rows of shambles for the selling[343] meat.

It was in those shambles that two persons falling down dead as they were buying meat, gave rise to a rumor that the meat was all infected; which though it might affright the people, and spoiled the market for two or three days, yet it appeared plainly afterwards that there was nothing of truth in the suggestion: but nobody can account for the possession of fear when it takes hold of the mind. However, it pleased God, by the continuing of the winter weather, so to restore the health of the city, that by February following we reckoned the distemper quite ceased, and then we were not easily frighted again.

There was still a question among the learned, and[344] at first perplexed the people a little; and that was, in what manner to purge the houses and goods where the plague had been, and how to render them[345] habitable again which had been left empty during the time of the plague. Abundance of perfumes and preparations were prescribed by physicians, some of one kind, some of another, in which the people who listened to them put themselves to a great, and indeed in my opinion to an unnecessary, expense; and the poorer people, who only set open their windows night and day, burnt brimstone, pitch, and gunpowder, and such things, in their rooms, did as well as the best; nay, the eager people who, as I said above, came home in haste and at all hazards, found little or no inconvenience in their houses, nor in their goods, and did little or nothing to them.

However, in general, prudent, cautious people did enter into some measures for airing and sweetening their houses, and burnt perfumes, incense, benjamin,[346] resin, and sulphur in their rooms, close shut up, and then let the air carry it all out with a blast of gunpowder; others caused large fires to be made all day and all night for several days and nights. By the same token that[347] two or three were pleased to set their houses on fire, and so effectually sweetened them by burning them down to the ground (as particularly one at Ratcliff, one in Holborn, and one at Westminster, besides two or three that were set on fire; but the fire was happily got out again before it went far enough to burn down the houses); and one citizen's servant, I think it was in Thames Street, carried so much gunpowder into his master's house, for clearing it of the infection, and managed it so foolishly, that he blew up part of the roof of the house. But the time was not fully come that the city was to be purged with fire, nor was it far off; for within nine months more I saw it all lying in ashes, when, as some of our quaking philosophers pretend, the seeds of the plague were entirely destroyed, and not before,—a notion too ridiculous to speak of here, since, had the seeds of the plague remained in the houses, not to be destroyed but by fire, how has it been that they have not since broken out, seeing all those buildings in the suburbs and liberties, all in the great parishes of Stepney, Whitechapel, Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Shoreditch, Cripplegate, and St. Giles's, where the fire never came, and where the plague raced with the greatest violence, remain still in the same condition they were in before?

But to leave these things just as I found them, it was certain that those people who were more than ordinarily cautious of their health did take particular directions for what they called seasoning of their houses; and abundance of costly things were consumed on that account, which I cannot but say not only seasoned those houses as they desired, but filled the air with very grateful and wholesome smells, which others had the share of the benefit of, as well as those who were at the expenses of them.

Though the poor came to town very precipitantly, as I have said, yet, I must say, the rich made no such haste. The men of business, indeed, came up, but many of them did not bring their families to town till the spring came on, and that they saw reason to depend upon it that the plague would not return.

The court, indeed, came up soon after Christmas; but the nobility and gentry, except such as depended upon and had employment under the administration, did not come so soon.

I should have taken notice here, that notwithstanding the violence of the plague in London and other places, yet it was very observable that it was never on board the fleet; and yet for some time there was a strange press[348] in the river, and even in the streets, for seamen to man the fleet. But it was in the beginning of the year, when the plague was scarce begun, and not at all come down to that part of the city where they usually press for seamen; and though a war with the Dutch was not at all grateful to the people at that time, and the seamen went with a kind of reluctancy into the service, and many complained of being dragged into it by force, yet it proved, in the event, a happy violence to several of them, who had probably perished in the general calamity, and who, after the summer service was over, though they had cause to lament the desolation of their families (who, when they came back, were many of them in their graves), yet they had room to be thankful that they were carried out of the reach of it, though so much against their wills. We, indeed, had a hot war with the Dutch that year, and one very great engagement[349] at sea, in which the Dutch were worsted; but we lost a great many men and some ships. But, as I observed, the plague was not in the fleet; and when they came to lay up the ships in the river, the violent part of it began to abate.

I would be glad if I could close the account of this melancholy year with some particular examples historically, I mean of the thankfulness to God, our Preserver, for our being delivered from this dreadful calamity. Certainly the circumstances of the deliverance, as well as the terrible enemy we were delivered from, called upon the whole nation for it. The circumstances of the deliverance were indeed very remarkable, as I have in part mentioned already; and particularly the dreadful condition which we were all in, when we were, to the surprise of the whole town, made joyful with the hope of a stop to the infection.

Nothing but the immediate finger of God, nothing but omnipotent power, could have done it. The contagion despised all medicine, death raged in every corner; and, had it gone on as it did then, a few weeks more would have cleared the town of all and everything that had a soul. Men everywhere began to despair; every heart failed them for fear; people were made desperate through the anguish of their souls; and the terrors of death sat in the very faces and countenances of the people.

In that very moment, when we might very well say, "Vain was the help of man,"[350]—I say, in that very moment it pleased God, with a most agreeable surprise, to cause the fury of it to abate, even of itself; and the malignity declining, as I have said, though infinite numbers were sick, yet fewer died; and the very first week's bill decreased 1,843, a vast number indeed.

It is impossible to express the change that appeared in the very countenances of the people that Thursday morning when the weekly bill came out. It might have been perceived in their countenances that a secret surprise and smile of joy sat on everybody's face. They shook one another by the hands in the streets, who would hardly go on the same side of the way with one another before. Where the streets were not too broad, they would open their windows and call from one house to another, and asked how they did, and if they had heard the good news that the plague was abated. Some would return, when they said good news, and ask, "What good news?" And when they answered that the plague was abated, and the bills decreased almost two thousand, they would cry out, "God be praised!" and would weep aloud for joy, telling them they had heard nothing of it; and such was the joy of the people, that it was, as it were, life to them from the grave. I could almost set down as many extravagant things done in the excess of their joy as of their grief; but that would be to lessen the value of it.

I must confess myself to have been very much dejected just before this happened; for the prodigious numbers that were taken sick the week or two before, besides those that died, was[351] such, and the lamentations were so great everywhere, that a man must have seemed to have acted even against his reason if he had so much as expected to escape; and as there was hardly a house but mine in all my neighborhood but what was infected, so, had it gone on, it would not have been long that there would have been any more neighbors to be infected. Indeed, it is hardly credible what dreadful havoc the last three weeks had made: for, if I might believe the person whose calculations I always found very well grounded, there were not less than thirty thousand people dead, and near one hundred thousand fallen sick, in the three weeks I speak of; for the number that sickened was surprising, indeed it was astonishing, and those whose courage upheld them all the time before, sunk under it now.

In the middle of their distress, when the condition of the city of London was so truly calamitous, just then it pleased God, as it were, by his immediate hand, to disarm this enemy: the poison was taken out of the sting. It was wonderful. Even the physicians themselves were surprised at it. Wherever they visited, they found their patients better,—either they had sweated kindly, or the tumors were broke, or the carbuncles went down and the inflammations round them changed color, or the fever was gone, or the violent headache was assuaged, or some good symptom was in the case,—so that in a few days everybody was recovering. Whole families that were infected and down, that had ministers praying with them, and expected death every hour, were revived and healed, and none died at all out of them.

Nor was this by any new medicine found out, or new method of cure discovered, or by any experience in the operation which the physicians or surgeons attained to; but it was evidently from the secret invisible hand of Him that had at first sent this disease as a judgment upon us. And let the atheistic part of mankind call my saying what they please, it is no enthusiasm: it was acknowledged at that time by all mankind. The disease was enervated, and its malignity spent; and let it proceed from whencesoever it will, let the philosophers search for reasons in nature to account for it by, and labor as much as they will to lessen the debt they owe to their Maker, those physicians who had the least share of religion in them were obliged to acknowledge that it was all supernatural, that it was extraordinary, and that no account could be given of it.

If I should say that this is a visible summons to us all to thankfulness, especially we that were under the terror of its increase, perhaps it may be thought by some, after the sense of the thing was over, an officious canting of religious things, preaching a sermon instead of writing a history, making myself a teacher instead of giving my observations of things (and this restrains me very much from going on here, as I might otherwise do); but if ten lepers were healed, and but one returned to give thanks, I desire to be as that one, and to be thankful for myself.

Nor will I deny but there were abundance of people who, to all appearance, were very thankful at that time: for their mouths were stopped, even the mouths of those whose hearts were not extraordinarily long affected with it; but the impression was so strong at that time, that it could not be resisted, no, not by the worst of the people.

It was a common thing to meet people in the street that were strangers, and that we knew nothing at all of, expressing their surprise. Going one day through Aldgate, and a pretty many people being passing and repassing, there comes a man out of the end of the Minories; and, looking a little up the street and down, he throws his hands abroad: "Lord, what an alteration is here! Why, last week I came along here, and hardly anybody was to be seen." Another man (I heard him) adds to his words, "'Tis all wonderful; 'tis all a dream."—"Blessed be God!" says a third man; "and let us give thanks to him, for 'tis all his own doing." Human help and human skill were at an end. These were all strangers to one another, but such salutations as these were frequent in the street every day; and, in spite of a loose behavior, the very common people went along the streets, giving God thanks for their deliverance.

It was now, as I said before, the people had cast off all apprehensions, and that too fast. Indeed, we were no more afraid now to pass by a man with a white cap upon his head, or with a cloth wrapped round his neck, or with his leg limping, occasioned by the sores in his groin,—all which were frightful to the last degree but the week before. But now the street was full of them, and these poor recovering creatures, give them their due, appeared very sensible of their unexpected deliverance, and I should wrong them very much if I should not acknowledge that I believe many of them were really thankful; but I must own that for the generality of the people it might too justly be said of them, as was said of the children of Israel after their being delivered from the host of Pharaoh, when they passed the Red Sea, and looked back and saw the Egyptians overwhelmed in the water, viz., "that they sang his praise, but they soon forgot his works."[352]

I can go no further here. I should be counted censorious, and perhaps unjust, if I should enter into the unpleasing work of reflecting, whatever cause there was for it, upon the unthankfulness and return of all manner of wickedness among us, which I was so much an eyewitness of myself. I shall conclude the account of this calamitous year, therefore, with a coarse but a sincere stanza of my own, which I placed at the end of my ordinary memorandums the same year they were written:—

A dreadful plague in London was, In the year sixty-five, Which swept an hundred thousand souls Away, yet I alive.

H.F.[353]

FOOTNOTES:

[4] It was popularly believed in London that the plague came from Holland; but the sanitary (or rather unsanitary) conditions of London itself were quite sufficient to account for the plague's originating there. Andrew D. White tells us, that it is difficult to decide to-day between Constantinople and New York as candidates for the distinction of being the dirtiest city in the world.

[5] Incorrectly used for "councils."

[6] In April, 1663, the first Drury Lane Theater had been opened. The present Drury Lane Theater (the fourth) stands on the same site.

[7] The King's ministers. At this time they held office during the pleasure of the Crown, not, as now, during the pleasure of a parliamentary majority.

[8] Gangrene spots (see text, pp. 197, 198).

[9] The local government of London at this time was chiefly in the hands of the vestries of the different parishes. It is only of recent years that the power of these vestries has been seriously curtailed, and transferred to district councils.

[10] The report.

[11] Pronounced Hō'burn. {Transcriber's note: ō indicates o-macron}

[12] Was.

[13] Were.

[14] Outlying districts; so called because they enjoyed certain municipal immunities, or liberties. Until recent years, a portion of Philadelphia was known as the "Northern Liberties."

[15] Attempts to believe the evil lessened.

[16] Was.

[17] Were.

[18] The chief executive officer of the city of London still bears this title.

[19] One of the many instances in which Defoe mixes his tenses.

[20] Whom. We shall find many more instances of Defoe's misuse of this form, as also of others (see Introduction, p. 15).

[21] Used almost in its original sense of a military barrier.

[22] Whom.

[23] See Matt, xxvii. 40; Mark xv. 30; Luke xxiii. 35.

[24] Denial.

[25] The civil war between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians, 1642-51.

[26] Whom.

[27] This argument is neatly introduced to account for the narrator's staying in the city at all, when he could easily have escaped.

[28] Explained by the two following phrases.

[29] Whom.

[30] "Lay close to me," i.e., was constantly in my mind.

[31] Kept safe from the plague.

[32] "My times are in thy hand" (Ps. xxxi. 15).

[33] Dorking is about twenty miles southwest of London.

[34] Rather St. Martin's-in-the-Fields and St. Giles's.

[35] Was.

[36] Charles II. and his courtiers. The immunity of Oxford was doubtless due to good drainage and general cleanliness.

[37] Eccl. xii. 5.

[38] Have seen.

[39] Nor. This misuse of "or" for "nor" is frequent with Defoe.

[40] The four inns of court in London which have the exclusive right of calling to the bar, are the Inner Temple, the Middle Temple, Lincoln's Inn, and Gray's Inn. The Temple is so called because it was once the home of the Knights Templars.

[41] The city proper, i.e., the part within the walls, as distinguished from that without.

[42] Were.

[43] The population of London at this time was probably about half a million. It is now about six millions. (See Macaulay's History, chap. iii.)

[44] Acel'dama, the field of blood (see Matt. xxvii. 8).

[45] Phlegmatic hypochondriac is a contradiction in terms; for "phlegmatic" means "impassive, self-restrained," while "hypochondriac" means "morbidly anxious" (about one's health). Defoe's lack of scholarship was a common jest among his more learned adversaries, such as Swift, and Pope.

[46] It was in this very plague year that Newton formulated his theory of gravitation. Incredible as it may seem, at this same date even such men as Dryden held to a belief in astrology.

[47] William Lilly was the most famous astrologer and almanac maker of the time. In Butler's Hudibras he is satirized under the name of Sidrophel.

[48] Poor Robin's Almanack was first published in 1661 or 1662, and was ascribed to Robert Herrick, the poet.

[49] See Rev. xviii. 4.

[50] Jonah iii. 4.

[51] Flavius Josephus, the author of the History of the Jewish Wars. He is supposed to have died in the last decade of the first century A.D.

[52] So called because many Frenchmen lived there. In Westminster there was another district with this same name.

[53] "Gave them vapors," i.e., put them into a state of nervous excitement.

[54] Soothsayers.

[55] In astrology, the scheme or figure of the heavens at the moment of a person's birth. From this the astrologers pretended to foretell a man's destiny.

[56] Roger Bacon, a Franciscan friar of the thirteenth century, had a knowledge of mechanics and optics far in advance of his age: hence he was commonly regarded as a wizard. The brazen head which he manufactured was supposed to assist him in his necromantic feats; it is so introduced by Greene in his play of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (1594).

[57] A fortune teller who lived in the reign of Henry VIII., and was famous for her prophecies.

[58] The most celebrated magician of mediaeval times (see Spenser's Faerie Queene and Tennyson's Merlin and Vivien).

[59] Linen collar or ruff.

[60] Him.

[61] The interlude was originally a short, humorous play acted in the midst of a morality play to relieve the tedium of that very tedious performance. From the interlude was developed farce; and from farce, comedy.

[62] Charles II. and his courtiers, from their long exile in France, brought back to England with them French fashions in literature and in art.

[63] To be acted.

[64] Buffoons, clowns.

[65] About 621/2 cents.

[66] About twenty-five dollars; but the purchasing power of money was then seven or eight times what it is now.

[67] Strictly speaking, this word means "love potions."

[68] Exorcism is the act of expelling evil spirits, or the formula used in the act. Defoe's use of the word here is careless and inaccurate.

[69] Bits of metal, parchment, etc., worn as charms.

[70] Making the sign of the cross.

[71] Paper on which were marked the signs of the zodiac,—a superstition from astrology.

[72] A meaningless word used in incantations. Originally the name of a Syrian deity.

[73] Iesus Hominum Salvator ("Jesus, Savior of Men"). The order of the Jesuits was founded by Ignatius de Loyola in 1534.

[74] The Feast of St. Michael, Sept. 29.

[75] This use of "to" for "of" is frequent with Defoe.

[76] The Royal College of Physicians was founded by Thomas Linacre, physician to Henry VIII. Nearly every London physician of prominence is a member.

[77] The city of London proper lies entirely in the county of Middlesex.

[78] Literally, "hand workers;" now contracted into "surgeons."

[79] Cares, duties.

[80] Consenting knowledge.

[81] Disposed of to the public, put in circulation.

[82] That is, by the disease.

[83] Happen.

[84] Engaged.

[85] Heaps of rubbish.

[86] A kind of parish constable.

[87] The writer seems to mean that the beggars are so importunate, there is no avoiding them.

[88] Fights between dogs and bears. This was not declared a criminal offense in England until 1835.

[89] Contests with sword and shield.

[90] The guilds or organizations of tradesmen, such as the goldsmiths, the fishmongers, the merchant tailors.

[91] St. Katherine's by the Tower.

[92] Trinity (east of the) Minories. The Minories (a street running north from the Tower) was so designated from an abbey of St. Clare nuns called Minoresses. They took their name from that of the Franciscan Order, Fratres Minores, or Lesser Brethren.

[93] St. Luke's.

[94] St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate.

[95] St. Giles's, Cripplegate.

[96] Were.

[97] Chemise.

[98] This word is misplaced; it should go before "perish."

[99] Before "having," supply "the master."

[100] Fences.

[101] From.

[102] This old form for "caught" is used frequently by Defoe.

[103] Came to grief.

[104] "Who, being," etc., i.e., who, although single men, had yet staid.

[105] The wars of the Commonwealth or of the Puritan Revolution, 1640-52.

[106] Holland and Belgium.

[107] "Hurt of," a common form of expression used in Defoe's time.

[108] Manager, economist. This meaning of "husband" is obsolete.

[109] A participial form of expression very common in Old English, the "a" being a corruption of "in" or "on."

[110] Were.

[111] "'Name of God," i.e., in the name of God.

[112] Torches.

[113] "To and again," i.e., to and fro.

[114] Were.

[115] As if.

[116] Magpie.

[117] This word is from the same root as "lamp." The old form "lanthorn" crept in from the custom of making the sides of a lantern of horn.

[118] Supply "be."

[119] Inclination.

[120] In expectation of the time when.

[121] Their being checked.

[122] This paragraph could hardly have been more clumsily expressed. It will be found a useful exercise to rewrite it.

[123] "To have gone," i.e., to go.

[124] Spotted.

[125] "Make shift," i.e., endure it.

[126] Device, expedient.

[127] "In all" is evidently a repetition.

[128] Objects cannot very well happen. Defoe must mean, "the many dismal sights I saw as I went about the streets."

[129] As.

[130] "Rosin" is a long-established misspelling for "resin." Resin exudes from pine trees, and from it the oil of turpentine is separated by distillation.

[131] As distinguished from fish meat.

[132] Defoe uses these pronouns in the wrong number, as in numerous other instances.

[133] The projecting part of a building.

[134] Their miraculous preservation was wrought by their keeping in the fresh air of the open fields. It seems curious that after this object lesson the physicians persisted in their absurd policy of shutting up infected houses, thus practically condemning to death their inmates.

[135] Used here for "this," as also in many other places.

[136] Supply "with."

[137] Such touches as this created a widespread and long-enduring belief that Defoe's fictitious diary was an authentic history.

[138] "Running out," etc., i.e., losing their self-control.

[139] Idiocy. In modern English, "idiotism" is the same as "idiom."

[140] Gangrene, death of the soft tissues.

[141] Before "that" supply "we have been told."

[142] Hanging was at this time a common punishment for theft. In his novel Moll Flanders, Defoe has a vivid picture of the mental and physical sufferings of a woman who was sent to Newgate, and condemned to death, for stealing two pieces of silk.

[143] Cloth, rag.

[144] They could no longer give them regular funerals, but had to bury them promiscuously in pits.

[145] Evidently a repetition.

[146] In old and middle English two negatives did not make an affirmative, as they do in modern English.

[147] It is now well known that rue has no qualities that are useful for warding off contagion.

[148] "Set up," i.e., began to play upon.

[149] Constrained.

[150] Because they would have been refused admission to other ports.

[151] Matter. So used by Sheridan in The Rivals, act iii. sc. 2.

[152] Probably a misprint for "greatly."

[153] This.

[154] Are.

[155] He has really given two days more than two months.

[156] A count.

[157] Range, limits.

[158] Unknown.

[159] Lying.

[160] Was.

[161] Notice this skillful touch to give verisimilitude to the narrative.

[162] Country.

[163] "Without the bars," i.e., outside the old city limits.

[164] Profession.

[165] The plague.

[166] The legal meaning of "hamlet" in England is a village without a church of its own: ecclesiastically, therefore, it belongs to the parish of some other village.

[167] All Protestant sects other than the Established Church of England.

[168] A groat equals fourpence, about eight cents. It is not coined now.

[169] A farthing equals one quarter of a penny.

[170] About ten miles down the Thames.

[171] The t is silent in this word.

[172] Hard-tack, pilot bread.

[173] Old form for "rode."

[174] See the last sentence of the next paragraph but one.

[175] Roadstead, an anchoring ground less sheltered than a harbor.

[176] Substitute "that they would not be visited."

[177] The plague.

[178] St. Margaret's.

[179] Nota bene, note well.

[180] Dul'ich. All these places are southward from London. Norwood is six miles distant.

[181] Old form of "dared."

[182] Small vessels, generally schooner-rigged, used for carrying heavy freight on rivers and harbors.

[183] London Bridge.

[184] This incident is so overdone, that it fails to be pathetic, and rather excites our laughter.

[185] Supply "themselves."

[186] Barnet was about eleven miles north-northwest of London.

[187] Holland and Belgium.

[188] See Luke xvii. 11-19.

[189] Well.

[190] With speed, in haste.

[191] This word is misplaced. It should go immediately before "to lodge."

[192] Luck.

[193] Whom.

[194] A small sail set high upon the mast.

[195] "Fetched a long compass," i.e., went by a circuitous route.

[196] The officers.

[197] Refused.

[198] Nearly twenty miles northeast of London.

[199] He. This pleonastic use of a conjunction with the relative is common among illiterate writers and speakers to-day.

[200] Waltham and Epping, towns two or three miles apart, at a distance of ten or twelve miles almost directly north of London.

[201] Pollard trees are trees cut back nearly to the trunk, and so caused to grow into a thick head (poll) of branches.

[202] Entertainment. In this sense, the plural, "quarters," is the commoner form.

[203] Preparing.

[204] Peddlers.

[205] "Has been," an atrocious solecism for "were."

[206] To a miraculous extent.

[207] "Put to it," i.e., hard pressed.

[208] There are numerous references in the Hebrew Scriptures to parched corn as an article of food (see, among others, Lev. xxiii. 14, Ruth ii. 14, 2 Sam. xvii. 28).

[209] Supply "(1)."

[210] Soon.

[211] Substitute "would."

[212] Whom.

[213] Familiar intercourse.

[214] Evidently a repetition.

[215] "For that," i.e., because.

[216] Singly.

[217] Supply "to be."

[218] Buildings the rafters of which lean against or rest upon the outer wall of another building.

[219] Supply "of."

[220] The plague.

[221] "Middling people," i.e., people of the middle class.

[222] At the mouth of the Thames.

[223] Awnings.

[224] Two heavy timbers placed horizontally, the upper one of which can be raised. When lowered, it is held in place by a padlock. Notches in the timbers form holes, through which the prisoner's legs are thrust, and held securely.

[225] The constables.

[226] The carters.

[227] The goods.

[228] In spite of, notwithstanding.

[229] Supply "who."

[230] "Cum aliis," i.e., with others. Most of the places mentioned in this list are several miles distant from London: for example, Enfield is ten miles northeast; Hadley, over fifty miles northeast; Hertford, twenty miles north; Kingston, ten miles southwest; St. Albans, twenty miles northwest; Uxbridge, fifteen miles west; Windsor, twenty miles west; etc.

[231] Kindly regarded.

[232] Which.

[233] The citizens.

[234] Such statements.

[235] For "so that," substitute "so."

[236] How.

[237] It was not known in Defoe's time that minute disease germs may be carried along by a current of air.

[238] Affected with scurvy.

[239] "Which," as applied to persons, is a good Old English idiom, and was in common use as late as 1711 (see Spectator No. 78; and Matt. vi. 9, version of 1611).

[240] Flung to.

[241] Changed their garments.

[242] Supply "I heard."

[243] At.

[244] Various periods are assigned for the duration of the dog days: perhaps July 3 to Aug. 11 is that most commonly accepted. The dog days were so called because they coincided with the heliacal rising of Sirius or Canicula (the little dog).

[245] An inn with this title (and probably a picture of the brothers) painted on its signboard.

[246] Whom.

[247] The Act of Uniformity was passed in 1661. It required all municipal officers and all ministers to take the communion according to the ritual of the Church of England, and to sign a document declaring that arms must never be borne against the King. For refusing obedience to this tyrannical measure, some two thousand Presbyterian ministers were deprived of their livings.

[248] Madness, as in Hamlet, act iii. sc. 1.

[249] "Represented themselves," etc., i.e., presented themselves to my sight.

[250] "Dead part of the night," i.e., from midnight to dawn. Compare,

"In the dead waste and middle of the night."

Hamlet, act i. sc 2.

[251] "Have been critical," etc., i.e., have claimed to have knowledge enough to say.

[252] Being introduced.

[253] The plague.

[254] "First began" is a solecism common in the newspaper writing of to-day.

[255] Literally, laws of the by (town). In modern usage, "by-law" is used to designate a rule less general and less easily amended than a constitutional provision.

[256] "Sheriff" is equivalent to shire-reeve (magistrate of the county or shire). London had, and still has, two sheriffs.

[257] Acted.

[258] The inspection, according to ordinance, of weights, measures, and prices.

[259] "Pretty many," i.e., a fair number of.

[260] The officers.

[261] Were.

[262] "Falls to the serious part," i.e., begins to discourse on serious matters.

[263] See note, p. 28. The Mohammedans are fatalists. {Transcriber's note: The reference is to footnote 28.}

[264] A growth of osseous tissue uniting the extremities of fractured bones.

[265] Disclosed.

[266] The officers.

[267] Leading principle.

[268] Defoe means, "can burn only a few houses." In the next line he again misplaces "only."

[269] Put to confusion.

[270] Left out of consideration.

[271] The distemper.

[272] A means for discovering whether the person were infected or not.

[273] Defoe's ignorance of microscopes was not shared by Robert Hooke, whose Micrographia (published in 1664) records numerous discoveries made with that instrument.

[274] Roup is a kind of chicken's catarrh.

[275] Them, i.e., such experiments.

[276] From the Latin quadraginta ("forty").

[277] From the Latin sexaginta ("sixty").

[278] Kinds, species.

[279] Old age.

[280] Abscesses.

[281] Himself.

[282] The essential oils of lavender, cloves, and camphor, added to acetic acid.

[283] In chemistry, balsams are vegetable juices consisting of resins mixed with gums or volatile oils.

[284] Supply "they declined coming to public worship."

[285] This condition of affairs.

[286] Collar.

[287] Economy.

[288] Supply "they were."

[289] Action (obsolete in this sense). See this word as used in 2 Henry IV., act iv. sc. 4.

[290] Which.

[291] Sailors' slang for "Archipelagoes."

[292] An important city in Asia Minor.

[293] A city in northern Syria, better known as Iskanderoon or Alexandretta. The town was named in honor of Alexander the Great, the Turkish form of Alexander being Iskander.

[294] Though called a kingdom, Algarve was nothing but a province of Portugal. It is known now as Faro.

[295] The natives of Flanders, a mediaeval countship now divided among Holland, Belgium, and France.

[296] Colonies. In the reign of Charles II., the English colonies were governed by a committee (of the Privy Council) known as the "Council of Plantations."

[297] The east side.

[298] On the west side.

[299] See map of England for all these places. Feversham is in Kent, forty-five miles southeast of London; Margate is on the Isle of Thanet, eighty miles southeast.

[300] Commission merchants.

[301] Privateers. Capers is a Dutch word.

[302] Supply "he."

[303] Supply "the coals."

[304] "One another," by a confusion of constructions, has been used here for "them."

[305] By a statute of Charles II. a chaldron was fixed at 36 coal bushels. In the United States, it is generally 261/4 hundredweight.

[306] Opening.

[307] "To seek," i.e., without judgment or knowledge.

[308] Mixing.

[309] Him.

[310] This unwary conduct.

[311] Think.

[312] Were.

[313] Accept.

[314] Personal chattels that had occasioned the death of a human being, and were therefore given to God (Deo, "to God"; dandum, "a thing given"); i.e., forfeited to the King, and by him distributed in alms. This curious law of deodands was not abolished in England until 1846.

[315] The southern coast of the Mediterranean, from Egypt to the Atlantic.

[316] Censure.

[317] Afterward.

[318] "Physic garden," i.e., a garden for growing medicinal herbs.

[319] Since.

[320] Lord mayor of London, 1679-80, and for many years member of Parliament for the city.

[321] The workmen.

[322] Recognized.

[323] Fenced.

[324] Members of the Society of Friends, a religious organization founded by George Fox about 1650. William Penn was one of the early members. The society condemns a paid ministry, the taking of oaths, and the making of war.

[325] See p. 105, next to the last paragraph.

[326] Die. "Of the plague" should immediately follow "died."

[327] See Note 3, p. 26. {Transcriber's note: the reference is to footnote 26.}

[328] The act of indemnity passed at the restoration of Charles II. (1660). In spite of the King's promise of justice, the Parliamentarians were largely despoiled of their property, and ten of those concerned in the execution of Charles I. were put to death.

[329] Family and personal peace.

[330] The Established Church of England, nearly all of whose ministers were Royalists. The Presbyterians were nearly all Republicans.

[331] The dissenting ministers.

[332] The Churchmen.

[333] Of.

[334] What we should call an assistant minister is still called a curate in the Church of England.

[335] "I had not said this," etc., i.e., I would not have said this, but would rather have chosen, etc.

[336] See Rev. vi. 8.

[337] Moved away (into the country).

[338] The duties of headboroughs differed little from those of the constables. The title is now obsolete.

[339] Count.

[340] "Must." In this sense common in Chaucer. The past tense, "should," retains something of this force. Compare the German sollen.

[341] Otherwise known as theriac (from the Greek [Greek: theriakos], "pertaining to a wild beast," since it was supposed to be an antidote for poisonous bites). This medicine was compounded of sixty or seventy drugs, and was mixed with honey.

[342] Supply "died."

[343] Supply "of."

[344] Substitute "which."

[345] Those.

[346] A corruption of "benzoin," a resinous juice obtained from a tree that flourishes in Siam and the Malay Archipelago. When heated, it gives off a pleasant odor. It is one of the ingredients used in court-plaster.

[347] This word should be omitted.

[348] The "press gang" was a naval detachment under the command of an officer, empowered to seize men and carry them off for service on men-of-war.

[349] Off Lowestoft, in 1665. Though the Dutch were beaten, they made good their retreat, and heavily defeated the English the next year in the battle of The Downs.

[350] See Ps. lx. 11; cviii. 12.

[351] Were.

[352] See Exod. xiv., xv., and xvi. 1-3.

[353] "H.F." is of course fictitious.



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