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Title: A Journal of the Plague Year
 - Written by a Citizen Who Continued All the While in London
Author: Defoe, Daniel
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Journal of the Plague Year
 - Written by a Citizen Who Continued All the While in London" ***


A Journal of the Plague Year

by Daniel Defoe

      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 publick 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

      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 moderate.

      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 be 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

      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

      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

      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 by-and-by.

      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 !’ and the like; and at that juncture I
      happened to stop turning over the book at the ninety-first 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

      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

      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 call 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

      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

      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

      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

      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

      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

      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 be 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. 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:
     ABRACADA             I H
     ABRACAD               S.
     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 plague 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

      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

      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

      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 be 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


      ‘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


      ‘That where several inmates 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

      ‘That the brewers and tippling-houses be looked into for musty
      and unwholesome casks.

      ‘That no hogs, dogs, or cats, or tame pigeons, or ponies, 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


      ‘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 JOHN LAWRENCE, Lord Mayor.
      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

      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

      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

      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

      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

      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
      effectual secure step that could be taken for such whose
      circumstances would not admit them to remove, or who had not
      retreats abroad proper for the case; for in being thus shut up
      they were as if they had been a hundred miles off. Nor do I
      remember that any one of those families miscarried. Among these,
      several Dutch merchants were particularly remarkable, who kept
      their houses like little garrisons besieged suffering none to go
      in or out or come near them, particularly one in a court in
      Throgmorton Street whose house looked into Draper’s Garden.

      But I come back to the case of families infected and shut up by
      the magistrates. The misery of those families is not to be
      expressed; and it was generally in such houses that we heard the
      most dismal shrieks and outcries of the poor people, terrified
      and even frighted to death by the sight of the condition of their
      dearest relations, and by the terror of being imprisoned as they

      I remember, and while I am writing this story I think I hear the
      very sound of it, a certain lady had an only daughter, a young
      maiden about nineteen years old, and who was possessed of a very
      considerable fortune. They were only lodgers in the house where
      they were. The young woman, her mother, and the maid had been
      abroad on some occasion, I do not remember what, for the house
      was not shut up; but about two hours after they came home the
      young lady complained she was not well; in a quarter of an hour
      more she vomited and had a violent pain in her head. ‘Pray God’,
      says her mother, in a terrible fright, ‘my child has not the
      distemper!’ The pain in her head increasing, her mother ordered
      the bed to be warmed, and resolved to put her to bed, and
      prepared to give her things to sweat, which was the ordinary
      remedy to be taken when the first apprehensions of the distemper

      While the bed was airing the mother undressed the young woman,
      and just as she was laid down in the bed, she, looking upon her
      body with a candle, immediately discovered the fatal tokens on
      the inside of her thighs. Her mother, not being able to contain
      herself, threw down her candle and shrieked out in such a
      frightful manner that it was enough to place horror upon the
      stoutest heart in the world; nor was it one scream or one cry,
      but the fright having seized her spirits, she—fainted first, then
      recovered, then ran all over the house, up the stairs and down
      the stairs, like one distracted, and indeed really was
      distracted, and continued screeching and crying out for several
      hours void of all sense, or at least government of her senses,
      and, as I was told, never came thoroughly to herself again. As to
      the young maiden, she was a dead corpse from that moment, for the
      gangrene which occasions the spots had spread [over] her whole
      body, and she died in less than two hours. But still the mother
      continued crying out, not knowing anything more of her child,
      several hours after she was dead. It is so long ago that I am not
      certain, but I think the mother never recovered, but died in two
      or three weeks after.

      This was an extraordinary case, and I am therefore the more
      particular in it, because I came so much to the knowledge of it;
      but there were innumerable such-like cases, and it was seldom
      that the weekly bill came in but there were two or three put in,
      ‘frighted’; that is, that may well be called frighted to death.
      But besides those who were so frighted as to die upon the spot,
      there were great numbers frighted to other extremes, some
      frighted out of their senses, some out of their memory, and some
      out of their understanding. But I return to the shutting up of

      As several people, I say, got out of their houses by stratagem
      after they were shut up, so others got out by bribing the
      watchmen, and giving them money to let them go privately out in
      the night. I must confess I thought it at that time the most
      innocent corruption or bribery that any man could be guilty of,
      and therefore could not but pity the poor men, and think it was
      hard when three of those watchmen were publicly whipped through
      the streets for suffering people to go out of houses shut up.

      But notwithstanding that severity, money prevailed with the poor
      men, and many families found means to make sallies out, and
      escape that way after they had been shut up; but these were
      generally such as had some places to retire to; and though there
      was no easy passing the roads any whither after the 1st of
      August, yet there were many ways of retreat, and particularly, as
      I hinted, some got tents and set them up in the fields, carrying
      beds or straw to lie on, and provisions to eat, and so lived in
      them as hermits in a cell, for nobody would venture to come near
      them; and several stories were told of such, some comical, some
      tragical, some who lived like wandering pilgrims in the deserts,
      and escaped by making themselves exiles in such a manner as is
      scarce to be credited, and who yet enjoyed more liberty than was
      to be expected in such cases.

      I have by me a story of two brothers and their kinsman, who being
      single men, but that had stayed in the city too long to get away,
      and indeed not knowing where to go to have any retreat, nor
      having wherewith to travel far, took a course for their own
      preservation, which though in itself at first desperate, yet was
      so natural that it may be wondered that no more did so at that
      time. They were but of mean condition, and yet not so very poor
      as that they could not furnish themselves with some little
      conveniences such as might serve to keep life and soul together;
      and finding the distemper increasing in a terrible manner, they
      resolved to shift as well as they could, and to be gone.

      One of them had been a soldier in the late wars, and before that
      in the Low Countries, and having been bred to no particular
      employment but his arms, and besides being wounded, and not able
      to work very hard, had for some time been employed at a baker’s
      of sea-biscuit in Wapping.

      The brother of this man was a seaman too, but somehow or other
      had been hurt of one leg, that he could not go to sea, but had
      worked for his living at a sailmaker’s in Wapping, or
      thereabouts; and being a good husband, had laid up some money,
      and was the richest of the three.

      The third man was a joiner or carpenter by trade, a handy fellow,
      and he had no wealth but his box or basket of tools, with the
      help of which he could at any time get his living, such a time as
      this excepted, wherever he went—and he lived near Shadwell.

      They all lived in Stepney parish, which, as I have said, being
      the last that was infected, or at least violently, they stayed
      there till they evidently saw the plague was abating at the west
      part of the town, and coming towards the east, where they lived.

      The story of those three men, if the reader will be content to
      have me give it in their own persons, without taking upon me to
      either vouch the particulars or answer for any mistakes, I shall
      give as distinctly as I can, believing the history will be a very
      good pattern for any poor man to follow, in case the like public
      desolation should happen here; and if there may be no such
      occasion, which God of His infinite mercy grant us, still the
      story may have its uses so many ways as that it will, I hope,
      never be said that the relating has been unprofitable.

      I say all this previous to the history, having yet, for the
      present, much more to say before I quit my own part.

      I went all the first part of the time freely about the streets,
      though not so freely as to run myself into apparent danger,
      except when they dug the great pit in the churchyard of our
      parish of Aldgate. A terrible pit it was, and I could not resist
      my curiosity to go and see it. As near as I may judge, it was
      about forty feet in length, and about fifteen or sixteen feet
      broad, and at the time I first looked at it, about nine feet
      deep; but it was said they dug it near twenty feet deep
      afterwards in one part of it, till they could go no deeper for
      the water; for they had, it seems, dug several large pits before
      this. For though the plague was long a-coming to our parish, yet,
      when it did come, there was no parish in or about London where it
      raged with such violence as in the two parishes of Aldgate and

      I say they had dug several pits in another ground, when the
      distemper began to spread in our parish, and especially when the
      dead-carts began to go about, which was not, in our parish, till
      the beginning of August. Into these pits they had put perhaps
      fifty or sixty bodies each; then they made larger holes wherein
      they buried all that the cart brought in a week, which, by the
      middle to the end of August, came to from 200 to 400 a week; and
      they could not well dig them larger, because of the order of the
      magistrates confining them to leave no bodies within six feet of
      the surface; and the water coming on at about seventeen or
      eighteen feet, they could not well, I say, put more in one pit.
      But now, at the beginning of September, the plague raging in a
      dreadful manner, and the number of burials in our parish
      increasing to more than was ever buried in any parish about
      London of no larger extent, they ordered this dreadful gulf to be
      dug—for such it was, rather than a pit.

      They had supposed this pit would have supplied them for a month
      or more when they dug it, and some blamed the churchwardens for
      suffering such a frightful thing, telling them they were making
      preparations to bury the whole parish, and the like; but time
      made it appear the churchwardens knew the condition of the parish
      better than they did: for, the pit being finished the 4th of
      September, I think, they began to bury in it the 6th, and by the
      20th, which was just two weeks, they had thrown into it 1114
      bodies when they were obliged to fill it up, the bodies being
      then come to lie within six feet of the surface. I doubt not but
      there may be some ancient persons alive in the parish who can
      justify the fact of this, and are able to show even in what place
      of the churchyard the pit lay better than I can. The mark of it
      also was many years to be seen in the churchyard on the surface,
      lying in length parallel with the passage which goes by the west
      wall of the churchyard out of Houndsditch, and turns east again
      into Whitechappel, coming out near the Three Nuns’ Inn.

      It was about the 10th of September that my curiosity led, or
      rather drove, me to go and see this pit again, when there had
      been near 400 people buried in it; and I was not content to see
      it in the day-time, as I had done before, for then there would
      have been nothing to have been seen but the loose earth; for all
      the bodies that were thrown in were immediately covered with
      earth by those they called the buriers, which at other times were
      called bearers; but I resolved to go in the night and see some of
      them thrown in.

      There was a strict order to prevent people coming to those pits,
      and that was only to prevent infection. But after some time that
      order was more necessary, for people that were infected and near
      their end, and delirious also, would run to those pits, wrapt in
      blankets or rugs, and throw themselves in, and, as they said,
      bury themselves. I cannot say that the officers suffered any
      willingly to lie there; but I have heard that in a great pit in
      Finsbury, in the parish of Cripplegate, it lying open then to the
      fields, for it was not then walled about, [many] came and threw
      themselves in, and expired there, before they threw any earth
      upon them; and that when they came to bury others and found them
      there, they were quite dead, though not cold.

      This may serve a little to describe the dreadful condition of
      that day, though it is impossible to say anything that is able to
      give a true idea of it to those who did not see it, other than
      this, that it was indeed very, very, very dreadful, and such as
      no tongue can express.

      I got admittance into the churchyard by being acquainted with the
      sexton who attended; who, though he did not refuse me at all, yet
      earnestly persuaded me not to go, telling me very seriously (for
      he was a good, religious, and sensible man) that it was indeed
      their business and duty to venture, and to run all hazards, and
      that in it they might hope to be preserved; but that I had no
      apparent call to it but my own curiosity, which, he said, he
      believed I would not pretend was sufficient to justify my running
      that hazard. I told him I had been pressed in my mind to go, and
      that perhaps it might be an instructing sight, that might not be
      without its uses. ‘Nay,’ says the good man, ‘if you will venture
      upon that score, name of God go in; for, depend upon it, ’twill
      be a sermon to you, it may be, the best that ever you heard in
      your life. ’Tis a speaking sight,’ says he, ‘and has a voice with
      it, and a loud one, to call us all to repentance’; and with that
      he opened the door and said, ‘Go, if you will.’

      His discourse had shocked my resolution a little, and I stood
      wavering for a good while, but just at that interval I saw two
      links come over from the end of the Minories, and heard the
      bellman, and then appeared a dead-cart, as they called it, coming
      over the streets; so I could no longer resist my desire of seeing
      it, and went in. There was nobody, as I could perceive at first,
      in the churchyard, or going into it, but the buriers and the
      fellow that drove the cart, or rather led the horse and cart; but
      when they came up to the pit they saw a man go to and again,
      muffled up in a brown Cloak, and making motions with his hands
      under his cloak, as if he was in great agony, and the buriers
      immediately gathered about him, supposing he was one of those
      poor delirious or desperate creatures that used to pretend, as I
      have said, to bury themselves. He said nothing as he walked
      about, but two or three times groaned very deeply and loud, and
      sighed as he would break his heart.

      When the buriers came up to him they soon found he was neither a
      person infected and desperate, as I have observed above, or a
      person distempered—in mind, but one oppressed with a dreadful
      weight of grief indeed, having his wife and several of his
      children all in the cart that was just come in with him, and he
      followed in an agony and excess of sorrow. He mourned heartily,
      as it was easy to see, but with a kind of masculine grief that
      could not give itself vent by tears; and calmly defying the
      buriers to let him alone, said he would only see the bodies
      thrown in and go away, so they left importuning him. But no
      sooner was the cart turned round and the bodies shot into the pit
      promiscuously, which was a surprise to him, for he at least
      expected they would have been decently laid in, though indeed he
      was afterwards convinced that was impracticable; I say, no sooner
      did he see the sight but he cried out aloud, unable to contain
      himself. I could not hear what he said, but he went backward two
      or three steps and fell down in a swoon. The buriers ran to him
      and took him up, and in a little while he came to himself, and
      they led him away to the Pie Tavern over against the end of
      Houndsditch, where, it seems, the man was known, and where they
      took care of him. He looked into the pit again as he went away,
      but the buriers had covered the bodies so immediately with
      throwing in earth, that though there was light enough, for there
      were lanterns, and candles in them, placed all night round the
      sides of the pit, upon heaps of earth, seven or eight, or perhaps
      more, yet nothing could be seen.

      This was a mournful scene indeed, and affected me almost as much
      as the rest; but the other was awful and full of terror. The cart
      had in it sixteen or seventeen bodies; some were wrapt up in
      linen sheets, some in rags, some little other than naked, or so
      loose that what covering they had fell from them in the shooting
      out of the cart, and they fell quite naked among the rest; but
      the matter was not much to them, or the indecency much to any one
      else, seeing they were all dead, and were to be huddled together
      into the common grave of mankind, as we may call it, for here was
      no difference made, but poor and rich went together; there was no
      other way of burials, neither was it possible there should, for
      coffins were not to be had for the prodigious numbers that fell
      in such a calamity as this.

      It was reported by way of scandal upon the buriers, that if any
      corpse was delivered to them decently wound up, as we called it
      then, in a winding-sheet tied over the head and feet, which some
      did, and which was generally of good linen; I say, it was
      reported that the buriers were so wicked as to strip them in the
      cart and carry them quite naked to the ground. But as I cannot
      easily credit anything so vile among Christians, and at a time so
      filled with terrors as that was, I can only relate it and leave
      it undetermined.

      Innumerable stories also went about of the cruel behaviours and
      practices of nurses who tended the sick, and of their hastening
      on the fate of those they tended in their sickness. But I shall
      say more of this in its place.

      I was indeed shocked with this sight; it almost overwhelmed me,
      and I went away with my heart most afflicted, and full of the
      afflicting thoughts, such as I cannot describe just at my going
      out of the church, and turning up the street towards my own
      house, I saw another cart with links, and a bellman going before,
      coming out of Harrow Alley in the Butcher Row, on the other side
      of the way, and being, as I perceived, very full of dead bodies,
      it went directly over the street also toward the church. I stood
      a while, but I had no stomach to go back again to see the same
      dismal scene over again, so I went directly home, where I could
      not but consider with thankfulness the risk I had run, believing
      I had gotten no injury, as indeed I had not.

      Here the poor unhappy gentleman’s grief came into my head again,
      and indeed I could not but shed tears in the reflection upon it,
      perhaps more than he did himself; but his case lay so heavy upon
      my mind that I could not prevail with myself, but that I must go
      out again into the street, and go to the Pie Tavern, resolving to
      inquire what became of him.

      It was by this time one o’clock in the morning, and yet the poor
      gentleman was there. The truth was, the people of the house,
      knowing him, had entertained him, and kept him there all the
      night, notwithstanding the danger of being infected by him,
      though it appeared the man was perfectly sound himself.

      It is with regret that I take notice of this tavern. The people
      were civil, mannerly, and an obliging sort of folks enough, and
      had till this time kept their house open and their trade going
      on, though not so very publicly as formerly: but there was a
      dreadful set of fellows that used their house, and who, in the
      middle of all this horror, met there every night, behaved with
      all the revelling and roaring extravagances as is usual for such
      people to do at other times, and, indeed, to such an offensive
      degree that the very master and mistress of the house grew first
      ashamed and then terrified at them.

      They sat generally in a room next the street, and as they always
      kept late hours, so when the dead-cart came across the street-end
      to go into Houndsditch, which was in view of the tavern windows,
      they would frequently open the windows as soon as they heard the
      bell and look out at them; and as they might often hear sad
      lamentations of people in the streets or at their windows as the
      carts went along, they would make their impudent mocks and jeers
      at them, especially if they heard the poor people call upon God
      to have mercy upon them, as many would do at those times in their
      ordinary passing along the streets.

      These gentlemen, being something disturbed with the clutter of
      bringing the poor gentleman into the house, as above, were first
      angry and very high with the master of the house for suffering
      such a fellow, as they called him, to be brought out of the grave
      into their house; but being answered that the man was a
      neighbour, and that he was sound, but overwhelmed with the
      calamity of his family, and the like, they turned their anger
      into ridiculing the man and his sorrow for his wife and children,
      taunted him with want of courage to leap into the great pit and
      go to heaven, as they jeeringly expressed it, along with them,
      adding some very profane and even blasphemous expressions.

      They were at this vile work when I came back to the house, and,
      as far as I could see, though the man sat still, mute and
      disconsolate, and their affronts could not divert his sorrow, yet
      he was both grieved and offended at their discourse. Upon this I
      gently reproved them, being well enough acquainted with their
      characters, and not unknown in person to two of them.

      They immediately fell upon me with ill language and oaths, asked
      me what I did out of my grave at such a time when so many
      honester men were carried into the churchyard, and why I was not
      at home saying my prayers against the dead-cart came for me, and
      the like.

      I was indeed astonished at the impudence of the men, though not
      at all discomposed at their treatment of me. However, I kept my
      temper. I told them that though I defied them or any man in the
      world to tax me with any dishonesty, yet I acknowledged that in
      this terrible judgement of God many better than I were swept away
      and carried to their grave. But to answer their question
      directly, the case was, that I was mercifully preserved by that
      great God whose name they had blasphemed and taken in vain by
      cursing and swearing in a dreadful manner, and that I believed I
      was preserved in particular, among other ends of His goodness,
      that I might reprove them for their audacious boldness in
      behaving in such a manner and in such an awful time as this was,
      especially for their jeering and mocking at an honest gentleman
      and a neighbour (for some of them knew him), who, they saw, was
      overwhelmed with sorrow for the breaches which it had pleased God
      to make upon his family.

      I cannot call exactly to mind the hellish, abominable raillery
      which was the return they made to that talk of mine: being
      provoked, it seems, that I was not at all afraid to be free with
      them; nor, if I could remember, would I fill my account with any
      of the words, the horrid oaths, curses, and vile expressions,
      such as, at that time of the day, even the worst and ordinariest
      people in the street would not use; for, except such hardened
      creatures as these, the most wicked wretches that could be found
      had at that time some terror upon their minds of the hand of that
      Power which could thus in a moment destroy them.

      But that which was the worst in all their devilish language was,
      that they were not afraid to blaspheme God and talk
      atheistically, making a jest of my calling the plague the hand of
      God; mocking, and even laughing, at the word judgement, as if the
      providence of God had no concern in the inflicting such a
      desolating stroke; and that the people calling upon God as they
      saw the carts carrying away the dead bodies was all enthusiastic,
      absurd, and impertinent.

      I made them some reply, such as I thought proper, but which I
      found was so far from putting a check to their horrid way of
      speaking that it made them rail the more, so that I confess it
      filled me with horror and a kind of rage, and I came away, as I
      told them, lest the hand of that judgement which had visited the
      whole city should glorify His vengeance upon them, and all that
      were near them.

      They received all reproof with the utmost contempt, and made the
      greatest mockery that was possible for them to do at me, giving
      me all the opprobrious, insolent scoffs that they could think of
      for preaching to them, as they called it, which indeed grieved
      me, rather than angered me; and I went away, blessing God,
      however, in my mind that I had not spared them, though they had
      insulted me so much.

      They continued this wretched course three or four days after
      this, continually mocking and jeering at all that showed
      themselves religious or serious, or that were any way touched
      with the sense of the terrible judgement of God upon us; and I
      was informed they flouted in the same manner at the good people
      who, notwithstanding the contagion, met at the church, fasted,
      and prayed to God to remove His hand from them.

      I say, they continued this dreadful course three or four days—I
      think it was no more—when one of them, particularly he who asked
      the poor gentleman what he did out of his grave, was struck from
      Heaven with the plague, and died in a most deplorable manner;
      and, in a word, they were every one of them carried into the
      great pit which I have mentioned above, before it was quite
      filled up, which was not above a fortnight or thereabout.

      These men were guilty of many extravagances, such as one would
      think human nature should have trembled at the thoughts of at
      such a time of general terror as was then upon us, and
      particularly scoffing and mocking at everything which they
      happened to see that was religious among the people, especially
      at their thronging zealously to the place of public worship to
      implore mercy from Heaven in such a time of distress; and this
      tavern where they held their dub being within view of the
      church-door, they had the more particular occasion for their
      atheistical profane mirth.

      But this began to abate a little with them before the accident
      which I have related happened, for the infection increased so
      violently at this part of the town now, that people began to be
      afraid to come to the church; at least such numbers did not
      resort thither as was usual. Many of the clergymen likewise were
      dead, and others gone into the country; for it really required a
      steady courage and a strong faith for a man not only to venture
      being in town at such a time as this, but likewise to venture to
      come to church and perform the office of a minister to a
      congregation, of whom he had reason to believe many of them were
      actually infected with the plague, and to do this every day, or
      twice a day, as in some places was done.

      It is true the people showed an extraordinary zeal in these
      religious exercises, and as the church-doors were always open,
      people would go in single at all times, whether the minister was
      officiating or no, and locking themselves into separate pews,
      would be praying to God with great fervency and devotion.

      Others assembled at meeting-houses, every one as their different
      opinions in such things guided, but all were promiscuously the
      subject of these men’s drollery, especially at the beginning of
      the visitation.

      It seems they had been checked for their open insulting religion
      in this manner by several good people of every persuasion, and
      that, and the violent raging of the infection, I suppose, was the
      occasion that they had abated much of their rudeness for some
      time before, and were only roused by the spirit of ribaldry and
      atheism at the clamour which was made when the gentleman was
      first brought in there, and perhaps were agitated by the same
      devil, when I took upon me to reprove them; though I did it at
      first with all the calmness, temper, and good manners that I
      could, which for a while they insulted me the more for thinking
      it had been in fear of their resentment, though afterwards they
      found the contrary.

      I went home, indeed, grieved and afflicted in my mind at the
      abominable wickedness of those men, not doubting, however, that
      they would be made dreadful examples of God’s justice; for I
      looked upon this dismal time to be a particular season of Divine
      vengeance, and that God would on this occasion single out the
      proper objects of His displeasure in a more especial and
      remarkable manner than at another time; and that though I did
      believe that many good people would, and did, fall in the common
      calamity, and that it was no certain rule to judge of the eternal
      state of any one by their being distinguished in such a time of
      general destruction neither one way or other; yet, I say, it
      could not but seem reasonable to believe that God would not think
      fit to spare by His mercy such open declared enemies, that should
      insult His name and Being, defy His vengeance, and mock at His
      worship and worshippers at such a time; no, not though His mercy
      had thought fit to bear with and spare them at other times; that
      this was a day of visitation, a day of God’s anger, and those
      words came into my thought, Jer. v. 9: ‘Shall I not visit for
      these things? saith the Lord: and shall not My soul be avenged of
      such a nation as this?’

      These things, I say, lay upon my mind, and I went home very much
      grieved and oppressed with the horror of these men’s wickedness,
      and to think that anything could be so vile, so hardened, and
      notoriously wicked as to insult God, and His servants, and His
      worship in such a manner, and at such a time as this was, when He
      had, as it were, His sword drawn in His hand on purpose to take
      vengeance not on them only, but on the whole nation.

      I had, indeed, been in some passion at first with them—though it
      was really raised, not by any affront they had offered me
      personally, but by the horror their blaspheming tongues filled me
      with. However, I was doubtful in my thoughts whether the
      resentment I retained was not all upon my own private account,
      for they had given me a great deal of ill language too—I mean
      personally; but after some pause, and having a weight of grief
      upon my mind, I retired myself as soon as I came home, for I
      slept not that night; and giving God most humble thanks for my
      preservation in the eminent danger I had been in, I set my mind
      seriously and with the utmost earnestness to pray for those
      desperate wretches, that God would pardon them, open their eyes,
      and effectually humble them.

      By this I not only did my duty, namely, to pray for those who
      despitefully used me, but I fully tried my own heart, to my full
      satisfaction, that it was not filled with any spirit of
      resentment as they had offended me in particular; and I humbly
      recommend the method to all those that would know, or be certain,
      how to distinguish between their zeal for the honour of God and
      the effects of their private passions and resentment.

      But I must go back here to the particular incidents which occur
      to my thoughts of the time of the visitation, and particularly to
      the time of their shutting up houses in the first part of their
      sickness; for before the sickness was come to its height people
      had more room to make their observations than they had afterward;
      but when it was in the extremity there was no such thing as
      communication with one another, as before.

      During the shutting up of houses, as I have said, some violence
      was offered to the watchmen. As to soldiers, there were none to
      be found. The few guards which the king then had, which were
      nothing like the number entertained since, were dispersed, either
      at Oxford with the Court, or in quarters in the remoter parts of
      the country, small detachments excepted, who did duty at the
      Tower and at Whitehall, and these but very few. Neither am I
      positive that there was any other guard at the Tower than the
      warders, as they called them, who stand at the gate with gowns
      and caps, the same as the yeomen of the guard, except the
      ordinary gunners, who were twenty-four, and the officers
      appointed to look after the magazine, who were called armourers.
      As to trained bands, there was no possibility of raising any;
      neither, if the Lieutenancy, either of London or Middlesex, had
      ordered the drums to beat for the militia, would any of the
      companies, I believe, have drawn together, whatever risk they had

      This made the watchmen be the less regarded, and perhaps
      occasioned the greater violence to be used against them. I
      mention it on this score to observe that the setting watchmen
      thus to keep the people in was, first of all, not effectual, but
      that the people broke out, whether by force or by stratagem, even
      almost as often as they pleased; and, second, that those that did
      thus break out were generally people infected who, in their
      desperation, running about from one place to another, valued not
      whom they injured: and which perhaps, as I have said, might give
      birth to report that it was natural to the infected people to
      desire to infect others, which report was really false.

      And I know it so well, and in so many several cases, that I could
      give several relations of good, pious, and religious people who,
      when they have had the distemper, have been so far from being
      forward to infect others that they have forbid their own family
      to come near them, in hopes of their being preserved, and have
      even died without seeing their nearest relations lest they should
      be instrumental to give them the distemper, and infect or
      endanger them. If, then, there were cases wherein the infected
      people were careless of the injury they did to others, this was
      certainly one of them, if not the chief, namely, when people who
      had the distemper had broken out from houses which were so shut
      up, and having been driven to extremities for provision or for
      entertainment, had endeavoured to conceal their condition, and
      have been thereby instrumental involuntarily to infect others who
      have been ignorant and unwary.

      This is one of the reasons why I believed then, and do believe
      still, that the shutting up houses thus by force, and
      restraining, or rather imprisoning, people in their own houses,
      as I said above, was of little or no service in the whole. Nay, I
      am of opinion it was rather hurtful, having forced those
      desperate people to wander abroad with the plague upon them, who
      would otherwise have died quietly in their beds.

      I remember one citizen who, having thus broken out of his house
      in Aldersgate Street or thereabout, went along the road to
      Islington; he attempted to have gone in at the Angel Inn, and
      after that the White Horse, two inns known still by the same
      signs, but was refused; after which he came to the Pied Bull, an
      inn also still continuing the same sign. He asked them for
      lodging for one night only, pretending to be going into
      Lincolnshire, and assuring them of his being very sound and free
      from the infection, which also at that time had not reached much
      that way.

      They told him they had no lodging that they could spare but one
      bed up in the garret, and that they could spare that bed for one
      night, some drovers being expected the next day with cattle; so,
      if he would accept of that lodging, he might have it, which he
      did. So a servant was sent up with a candle with him to show him
      the room. He was very well dressed, and looked like a person not
      used to lie in a garret; and when he came to the room he fetched
      a deep sigh, and said to the servant, ‘I have seldom lain in such
      a lodging as this. ‘However, the servant assuring him again that
      they had no better, ‘Well,’ says he, ‘I must make shift; this is
      a dreadful time; but it is but for one night.’ So he sat down
      upon the bedside, and bade the maid, I think it was, fetch him up
      a pint of warm ale. Accordingly the servant went for the ale, but
      some hurry in the house, which perhaps employed her other ways,
      put it out of her head, and she went up no more to him.

      The next morning, seeing no appearance of the gentleman, somebody
      in the house asked the servant that had showed him upstairs what
      was become of him. She started. ‘Alas I,’ says she, ‘I never
      thought more of him. He bade me carry him some warm ale, but I
      forgot.’ Upon which, not the maid, but some other person was sent
      up to see after him, who, coming into the room, found him stark
      dead and almost cold, stretched out across the bed. His clothes
      were pulled off, his jaw fallen, his eyes open in a most
      frightful posture, the rug of the bed being grasped hard in one
      of his hands, so that it was plain he died soon after the maid
      left him; and ’tis probable, had she gone up with the ale, she
      had found him dead in a few minutes after he sat down upon the
      bed. The alarm was great in the house, as anyone may suppose,
      they having been free from the distemper till that disaster,
      which, bringing the infection to the house, spread it immediately
      to other houses round about it. I do not remember how many died
      in the house itself, but I think the maid-servant who went up
      first with him fell presently ill by the fright, and several
      others; for, whereas there died but two in Islington of the
      plague the week before, there died seventeen the week after,
      whereof fourteen were of the plague. This was in the week from
      the 11th of July to the 18th.

      There was one shift that some families had, and that not a few,
      when their houses happened to be infected, and that was this: the
      families who, in the first breaking-out of the distemper, fled
      away into the country and had retreats among their friends,
      generally found some or other of their neighbours or relations to
      commit the charge of those houses to for the safety of the goods
      and the like. Some houses were, indeed, entirely locked up, the
      doors padlocked, the windows and doors having deal boards nailed
      over them, and only the inspection of them committed to the
      ordinary watchmen and parish officers; but these were but few.

      It was thought that there were not less than 10,000 houses
      forsaken of the inhabitants in the city and suburbs, including
      what was in the out-parishes and in Surrey, or the side of the
      water they called Southwark. This was besides the numbers of
      lodgers, and of particular persons who were fled out of other
      families; so that in all it was computed that about 200,000
      people were fled and gone. But of this I shall speak again. But I
      mention it here on this account, namely, that it was a rule with
      those who had thus two houses in their keeping or care, that if
      anybody was taken sick in a family, before the master of the
      family let the examiners or any other officer know of it, he
      immediately would send all the rest of his family, whether
      children or servants, as it fell out to be, to such other house
      which he had so in charge, and then giving notice of the sick
      person to the examiner, have a nurse or nurses appointed, and
      have another person to be shut up in the house with them (which
      many for money would do), so to take charge of the house in case
      the person should die.

      This was, in many cases, the saving a whole family, who, if they
      had been shut up with the sick person, would inevitably have
      perished. But, on the other hand, this was another of the
      inconveniences of shutting up houses; for the apprehensions and
      terror of being shut up made many run away with the rest of the
      family, who, though it was not publicly known, and they were not
      quite sick, had yet the distemper upon them; and who, by having
      an uninterrupted liberty to go about, but being obliged still to
      conceal their circumstances, or perhaps not knowing it
      themselves, gave the distemper to others, and spread the
      infection in a dreadful manner, as I shall explain further

      And here I may be able to make an observation or two of my own,
      which may be of use hereafter to those into whose hands these may
      come, if they should ever see the like dreadful visitation. (1)
      The infection generally came into the houses of the citizens by
      the means of their servants, whom they were obliged to send up
      and down the streets for necessaries; that is to say, for food or
      physic, to bakehouses, brew-houses, shops, &c.; and who going
      necessarily through the streets into shops, markets, and the
      like, it was impossible but that they should, one way or other,
      meet with distempered people, who conveyed the fatal breath into
      them, and they brought it home to the families to which they
      belonged. (2) It was a great mistake that such a great city as
      this had but one pest-house; for had there been, instead of one
      pest-house—viz., beyond Bunhill Fields, where, at most, they
      could receive, perhaps, two hundred or three hundred people—I
      say, had there, instead of that one, been several pest-houses,
      every one able to contain a thousand people, without lying two in
      a bed, or two beds in a room; and had every master of a family,
      as soon as any servant especially had been taken sick in his
      house, been obliged to send them to the next pest-house, if they
      were willing, as many were, and had the examiners done the like
      among the poor people when any had been stricken with the
      infection; I say, had this been done where the people were
      willing (not otherwise), and the houses not been shut, I am
      persuaded, and was all the while of that opinion, that not so
      many, by several thousands, had died; for it was observed, and I
      could give several instances within the compass of my own
      knowledge, where a servant had been taken sick, and the family
      had either time to send him out or retire from the house and
      leave the sick person, as I have said above, they had all been
      preserved; whereas when, upon one or more sickening in a family,
      the house has been shut up, the whole family have perished, and
      the bearers been obliged to go in to fetch out the dead bodies,
      not being able to bring them to the door, and at last none left
      to do it.

      (3) This put it out of question to me, that the calamity was
      spread by infection; that is to say, by some certain steams or
      fumes, which the physicians call effluvia, by the breath, or by
      the sweat, or by the stench of the sores of the sick persons, or
      some other way, perhaps, beyond even the reach of the physicians
      themselves, which effluvia affected the sound who came within
      certain distances of the sick, immediately penetrating the vital
      parts of the said sound persons, putting their blood into an
      immediate ferment, and agitating their spirits to that degree
      which it was found they were agitated; and so those newly
      infected persons communicated it in the same manner to others.
      And this I shall give some instances of, that cannot but convince
      those who seriously consider it; and I cannot but with some
      wonder find some people, now the contagion is over, talk of its
      being an immediate stroke from Heaven, without the agency of
      means, having commission to strike this and that particular
      person, and none other—which I look upon with contempt as the
      effect of manifest ignorance and enthusiasm; likewise the opinion
      of others, who talk of infection being carried on by the air
      only, by carrying with it vast numbers of insects and invisible
      creatures, who enter into the body with the breath, or even at
      the pores with the air, and there generate or emit most acute
      poisons, or poisonous ovae or eggs, which mingle themselves with
      the blood, and so infect the body: a discourse full of learned
      simplicity, and manifested to be so by universal experience; but
      I shall say more to this case in its order.

      I must here take further notice that nothing was more fatal to
      the inhabitants of this city than the supine negligence of the
      people themselves, who, during the long notice or warning they
      had of the visitation, made no provision for it by laying in
      store of provisions, or of other necessaries, by which they might
      have lived retired and within their own houses, as I have
      observed others did, and who were in a great measure preserved by
      that caution; nor were they, after they were a little hardened to
      it, so shy of conversing with one another, when actually
      infected, as they were at first: no, though they knew it.

      I acknowledge I was one of those thoughtless ones that had made
      so little provision that my servants were obliged to go out of
      doors to buy every trifle by penny and halfpenny, just as before
      it began, even till my experience showing me the folly, I began
      to be wiser so late that I had scarce time to store myself
      sufficient for our common subsistence for a month.

      I had in family only an ancient woman that managed the house, a
      maid-servant, two apprentices, and myself; and the plague
      beginning to increase about us, I had many sad thoughts about
      what course I should take, and how I should act. The many dismal
      objects which happened everywhere as I went about the streets,
      had filled my mind with a great deal of horror for fear of the
      distemper, which was indeed very horrible in itself, and in some
      more than in others. The swellings, which were generally in the
      neck or groin, when they grew hard and would not break, grew so
      painful that it was equal to the most exquisite torture; and
      some, not able to bear the torment, threw themselves out at
      windows or shot themselves, or otherwise made themselves away,
      and I saw several dismal objects of that kind. Others, unable to
      contain themselves, vented their pain by incessant roarings, and
      such loud and lamentable cries were to be heard as we walked
      along the streets that would pierce the very heart to think of,
      especially when it was to be considered that the same dreadful
      scourge might be expected every moment to seize upon ourselves.

      I cannot say but that now I began to faint in my resolutions; my
      heart failed me very much, and sorely I repented of my rashness.
      When I had been out, and met with such terrible things as these I
      have talked of, I say I repented my rashness in venturing to
      abide in town. I wished often that I had not taken upon me to
      stay, but had gone away with my brother and his family.

      Terrified by those frightful objects, I would retire home
      sometimes and resolve to go out no more; and perhaps I would keep
      those resolutions for three or four days, which time I spent in
      the most serious thankfulness for my preservation and the
      preservation of my family, and the constant confession of my
      sins, giving myself up to God every day, and applying to Him with
      fasting, humiliation, and meditation. Such intervals as I had I
      employed in reading books and in writing down my memorandums of
      what occurred to me every day, and out of which afterwards I took
      most of this work, as it relates to my observations without
      doors. What I wrote of my private meditations I reserve for
      private use, and desire it may not be made public on any account

      I also wrote other meditations upon divine subjects, such as
      occurred to me at that time and were profitable to myself, but
      not fit for any other view, and therefore I say no more of that.

      I had a very good friend, a physician, whose name was Heath, whom
      I frequently visited during this dismal time, and to whose advice
      I was very much obliged for many things which he directed me to
      take, by way of preventing the infection when I went out, as he
      found I frequently did, and to hold in my mouth when I was in the
      streets. He also came very often to see me, and as he was a good
      Christian as well as a good physician, his agreeable conversation
      was a very great support to me in the worst of this terrible

      It was now the beginning of August, and the plague grew very
      violent and terrible in the place where I lived, and Dr Heath
      coming to visit me, and finding that I ventured so often out in
      the streets, earnestly persuaded me to lock myself up and my
      family, and not to suffer any of us to go out of doors; to keep
      all our windows fast, shutters and curtains close, and never to
      open them; but first, to make a very strong smoke in the room
      where the window or door was to be opened, with rozen and pitch,
      brimstone or gunpowder and the like; and we did this for some
      time; but as I had not laid in a store of provision for such a
      retreat, it was impossible that we could keep within doors
      entirely. However, I attempted, though it was so very late, to do
      something towards it; and first, as I had convenience both for
      brewing and baking, I went and bought two sacks of meal, and for
      several weeks, having an oven, we baked all our own bread; also I
      bought malt, and brewed as much beer as all the casks I had would
      hold, and which seemed enough to serve my house for five or six
      weeks; also I laid in a quantity of salt butter and Cheshire
      cheese; but I had no flesh-meat, and the plague raged so
      violently among the butchers and slaughter-houses on the other
      side of our street, where they are known to dwell in great
      numbers, that it was not advisable so much as to go over the
      street among them.

      And here I must observe again, that this necessity of going out
      of our houses to buy provisions was in a great measure the ruin
      of the whole city, for the people catched the distemper on these
      occasions one of another, and even the provisions themselves were
      often tainted; at least I have great reason to believe so; and
      therefore I cannot say with satisfaction what I know is repeated
      with great assurance, that the market-people and such as brought
      provisions to town were never infected. I am certain the butchers
      of Whitechappel, where the greatest part of the flesh-meat was
      killed, were dreadfully visited, and that at least to such a
      degree that few of their shops were kept open, and those that
      remained of them killed their meat at Mile End and that way, and
      brought it to market upon horses.

      However, the poor people could not lay up provisions, and there
      was a necessity that they must go to market to buy, and others to
      send servants or their children; and as this was a necessity
      which renewed itself daily, it brought abundance of unsound
      people to the markets, and a great many that went thither sound
      brought death home with them.

      It is true people used all possible precaution. When any one
      bought a joint of meat in the market they would not take it off
      the butcher’s hand, but took it off the hooks themselves. On the
      other hand, the butcher would not touch the money, but have it
      put into a pot full of vinegar, which he kept for that purpose.
      The buyer carried always small money to make up any odd sum, that
      they might take no change. They carried bottles of scents and
      perfumes in their hands, and all the means that could be used
      were used, but then the poor could not do even these things, and
      they went at all hazards.

      Innumerable dismal stories we heard every day on this very
      account. Sometimes a man or woman dropped down dead in the very
      markets, for many people that had the plague upon them knew
      nothing of it till the inward gangrene had affected their vitals,
      and they died in a few moments. This caused that many died
      frequently in that manner in the streets suddenly, without any
      warning; others perhaps had time to go to the next bulk or stall,
      or to any door-porch, and just sit down and die, as I have said

      These objects were so frequent in the streets that when the
      plague came to be very raging on one side, there was scarce any
      passing by the streets but that several dead bodies would be
      lying here and there upon the ground. On the other hand, it is
      observable that though at first the people would stop as they
      went along and call to the neighbours to come out on such an
      occasion, yet afterward no notice was taken of them; but that if
      at any time we found a corpse lying, go across the way and not
      come near it; or, if in a narrow lane or passage, go back again
      and seek some other way to go on the business we were upon; and
      in those cases the corpse was always left till the officers had
      notice to come and take them away, or till night, when the
      bearers attending the dead-cart would take them up and carry them
      away. Nor did those undaunted creatures who performed these
      offices fail to search their pockets, and sometimes strip off
      their clothes if they were well dressed, as sometimes they were,
      and carry off what they could get.

      But to return to the markets. The butchers took that care that if
      any person died in the market they had the officers always at
      hand to take them up upon hand-barrows and carry them to the next
      churchyard; and this was so frequent that such were not entered
      in the weekly bill, ‘Found dead in the streets or fields’, as is
      the case now, but they went into the general articles of the
      great distemper.

      But now the fury of the distemper increased to such a degree that
      even the markets were but very thinly furnished with provisions
      or frequented with buyers compared to what they were before; and
      the Lord Mayor caused the country people who brought provisions
      to be stopped in the streets leading into the town, and to sit
      down there with their goods, where they sold what they brought,
      and went immediately away; and this encouraged the country people
      greatly-to do so, for they sold their provisions at the very
      entrances into the town, and even in the fields, as particularly
      in the fields beyond Whitechappel, in Spittlefields; also in St
      George’s Fields in Southwark, in Bunhill Fields, and in a great
      field called Wood’s Close, near Islington. Thither the Lord
      Mayor, aldermen, and magistrates sent their officers and servants
      to buy for their families, themselves keeping within doors as
      much as possible, and the like did many other people; and after
      this method was taken the country people came with great
      cheerfulness, and brought provisions of all sorts, and very
      seldom got any harm, which, I suppose, added also to that report
      of their being miraculously preserved.

      As for my little family, having thus, as I have said, laid in a
      store of bread, butter, cheese, and beer, I took my friend and
      physician’s advice, and locked myself up, and my family, and
      resolved to suffer the hardship of living a few months without
      flesh-meat, rather than to purchase it at the hazard of our

      But though I confined my family, I could not prevail upon my
      unsatisfied curiosity to stay within entirely myself; and though
      I generally came frighted and terrified home, yet I could not
      restrain; only that indeed I did not do it so frequently as at

      I had some little obligations, indeed, upon me to go to my
      brother’s house, which was in Coleman Street parish and which he
      had left to my care, and I went at first every day, but
      afterwards only once or twice a week.

      In these walks I had many dismal scenes before my eyes, as
      particularly of persons falling dead in the streets, terrible
      shrieks and screechings of women, who, in their agonies, would
      throw open their chamber windows and cry out in a dismal,
      surprising manner. It is impossible to describe the variety of
      postures in which the passions of the poor people would express

      Passing through Tokenhouse Yard, in Lothbury, of a sudden a
      casement violently opened just over my head, and a woman gave
      three frightful screeches, and then cried, ‘Oh! death, death,
      death!’ in a most inimitable tone, and which struck me with
      horror and a chillness in my very blood. There was nobody to be
      seen in the whole street, neither did any other window open, for
      people had no curiosity now in any case, nor could anybody help
      one another, so I went on to pass into Bell Alley.

      Just in Bell Alley, on the right hand of the passage, there was a
      more terrible cry than that, though it was not so directed out at
      the window; but the whole family was in a terrible fright, and I
      could hear women and children run screaming about the rooms like
      distracted, when a garret-window opened and somebody from a
      window on the other side the alley called and asked, ‘What is the
      matter?’ upon which, from the first window, it was answered, ‘Oh
      Lord, my old master has hanged himself!’ The other asked again,
      ‘Is he quite dead?’ and the first answered, ‘Ay, ay, quite dead;
      quite dead and cold!’ This person was a merchant and a deputy
      alderman, and very rich. I care not to mention the name, though I
      knew his name too, but that would be an hardship to the family,
      which is now flourishing again.

      But this is but one; it is scarce credible what dreadful cases
      happened in particular families every day. People in the rage of
      the distemper, or in the torment of their swellings, which was
      indeed intolerable, running out of their own government, raving
      and distracted, and oftentimes laying violent hands upon
      themselves, throwing themselves out at their windows, shooting
      themselves &c.; mothers murdering their own children in their
      lunacy, some dying of mere grief as a passion, some of mere
      fright and surprise without any infection at all, others frighted
      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-plaisters or
      poultices to break them, and if these did not do they cut and
      scarified them in a terrible manner. In some those swellings were
      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 above. Some broke out into the streets,
      perhaps naked, and would run directly down to the river if they
      were not stopped by the watchman or other officers, and plunge
      themselves into the water wherever they found it.

      It often pierced my very soul to hear the groans and cries of
      those who were thus tormented, but of the two this was counted
      the most promising particular in the whole infection, for if
      these swellings could be brought to a head, and to break and run,
      or, as the surgeons call it, to digest, the patient generally
      recovered; whereas those who, like the gentlewoman’s daughter,
      were struck with death at the beginning, and had the tokens come
      out upon them, often went about indifferent easy till a little
      before they died, and some till the moment they dropped down, as
      in apoplexies and epilepsies is often the case. Such would be
      taken suddenly very sick, and would run to a bench or bulk, or
      any convenient place that offered itself, or to their own houses
      if possible, as I mentioned before, and there sit down, grow
      faint, and die. This kind of dying was much the same as it was
      with those who die of common mortifications, who die swooning,
      and, as it were, go away in a dream. Such as died thus had very
      little notice of their being infected at all till the gangrene
      was spread through their whole body; nor could physicians
      themselves know certainly how it was with them till they opened
      their breasts or other parts of their body and saw the tokens.

      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 broke in and murdered that body, and immediately
      thrown them out into the dead-cart! And so they have gone scarce
      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 excused 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, nor did it seem to be so rational where the
      people were brought so low as not to be able to help themselves,
      for such seldom recovered, and there was no temptation to commit
      a murder, at least none equal to the fact, where they were sure
      persons would die in so short a time, and could not live.

      That there were a great many robberies and wicked practices
      committed even in this dreadful time I do not deny. The power of
      avarice was so strong in some that they would run any hazard to
      steal and to plunder; and particularly in houses where all the
      families or inhabitants have been dead and carried out, they
      would break in at all hazards, and without regard to the danger
      of infection, take even the clothes off the dead bodies and the
      bed-clothes from others where they lay dead.

      This, I suppose, must be the case of a family in Houndsditch,
      where a man and his daughter, the rest of the family being, as I
      suppose, carried away before by the dead-cart, were found stark
      naked, one in one chamber and one in another, lying dead on the
      floor, and the clothes of the beds, from whence ’tis supposed
      they were rolled off by thieves, stolen and carried quite away.

      It is indeed to be observed that the women were in all this
      calamity the most rash, fearless, and desperate creatures, and as
      there were vast numbers that went about as nurses to tend those
      that were sick, they committed a great many petty thieveries in
      the houses where they were employed; and some of them were
      publicly whipped for it, when perhaps they ought rather to have
      been hanged for examples, for numbers of houses were robbed on
      these occasions, till at length the parish officers were sent to
      recommend nurses to the sick, and always took an account whom it
      was they sent, so as that they might call them to account if the
      house had been abused where they were placed.

      But these 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
      the 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.

      They did tell me, indeed, of a nurse in one place that laid a wet
      cloth upon the face of a dying patient whom she tended, and so
      put an end to his life, who was just expiring before; and another
      that smothered a young woman she was looking to when she was in a
      fainting fit, and would have come to herself; some that killed
      them by giving them one thing, some another, and some starved
      them by giving them nothing at all. But these stories had two
      marks of suspicion that always attended them, which caused me
      always to slight them and to look on them as mere stories that
      people continually frighted one another with. First, that
      wherever it was that we heard it, they always placed the scene at
      the farther end of the town, opposite or most remote from where
      you were to hear it. If you heard it in Whitechappel, it had
      happened at St Giles’s, or at Westminster, or Holborn, or that
      end of the town. If you heard of it at that end of the town, then
      it was done in Whitechappel, or the Minories, or about
      Cripplegate parish. If you heard of it in the city, why, then it
      happened in Southwark; and if you heard of it in Southwark, then
      it was done in the city, and the like.

      In the next place, of what part soever you heard the story, the
      particulars were always the same, especially that of laying a wet
      double cloth on a dying man’s face, and that of smothering a
      young gentlewoman; so that it was apparent, at least to my
      judgement, that there was more of tale than of truth in those

      However, I cannot say but it had some effect upon the people, and
      particularly that, as I said before, they grew more cautious whom
      they took into their houses, and whom they trusted their lives
      with, and had them always recommended if they could; and where
      they could not find such, for they were not very plenty, they
      applied to the parish officers.

      But here again the misery of that time lay upon the poor who,
      being infected, had neither food or physic, neither physician or
      apothecary to assist them, or nurse to attend them. Many of those
      died calling for help, and even for sustenance, out at their
      windows in a most miserable and deplorable manner; but it must be
      added that whenever the cases of such persons or families were
      represented to my Lord Mayor they always were relieved.

      It is true, in some houses where the people were not very poor,
      yet where they had sent perhaps their wives and children away,
      and if they had any servants they had been dismissed;—I say it is
      true that to save the expenses, many such as these shut
      themselves in, and not having help, died alone.

      A neighbour and acquaintance of mine, having some money owing to
      him from a shopkeeper in Whitecross Street or thereabouts, sent
      his apprentice, a youth about eighteen years of age, to endeavour
      to get the money. He came to the door, and finding it shut,
      knocked pretty hard; and, as he thought, heard somebody answer
      within, but was not sure, so he waited, and after some stay
      knocked again, and then a third time, when he heard somebody
      coming downstairs.

      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 slipped-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 again, and died
      the same day; nay, perhaps the same hour. This the young man told
      me himself, and I have reason to believe it. This was while the
      plague was not come to a height. I think it was in June, towards
      the latter end of the month; it must be before the dead-carts
      came about, and while they used the ceremony of ringing the bell
      for the dead, which was over for certain, in that parish at
      least, before the month of July, for by the 25th of July there
      died 550 and upwards in a week, and then they could no more bury
      in form, rich or poor.

      I have mentioned above that notwithstanding this dreadful
      calamity, yet the numbers of thieves were abroad upon all
      occasions, where they had found any prey, and that these were
      generally women. It was one morning about eleven O’clock, I had
      walked out to my brother’s house in Coleman Street parish, as I
      often did, to see that all was safe.

      My brother’s house had a little court before it, and a brick wall
      and a gate in it, and within that several warehouses where his
      goods of several sorts lay. It happened that in one of these
      warehouses were several packs of women’s high-crowned hats, which
      came out of the country and were, as I suppose, for exportation:
      whither, I know not.

      I was surprised that when I came near my brother’s door, which
      was in a place they called Swan Alley, I met three or four women
      with high-crowned hats on their heads; and, as I remembered
      afterwards, one, if not more, had some hats likewise in their
      hands; but as I did not see them come out at my brother’s door,
      and not knowing that my brother had any such goods in his
      warehouse, I did not offer to say anything to them, but went
      across the way to shun meeting them, as was usual to do at that
      time, for fear of the plague. But when I came nearer to the gate
      I met another woman with more hats come out of the gate. ‘What
      business, mistress,’ said I, ‘have you had there?’ ‘There are
      more people there,’ said she; ‘I have had no more business there
      than they.’ I was hasty to get to the gate then, and said no more
      to her, by which means she got away. But just as I came to the
      gate, I saw two more coming across the yard to come out with hats
      also on their heads and under their arms, at which I threw the
      gate to behind me, which having a spring lock fastened itself;
      and turning to the women, ‘Forsooth,’ said I, ‘what are you doing
      here?’ and seized upon the hats, and took them from them. One of
      them, who, I confess, did not look like a thief—‘Indeed,’ says
      she, ‘we are wrong, but we were told they were goods that had no
      owner. Be pleased to take them again; and look yonder, there are
      more such customers as we.’ She cried and looked pitifully, so I
      took the hats from her and opened the gate, and bade them be
      gone, for I pitied the women indeed; but when I looked towards
      the warehouse, as she directed, there were six or seven more, all
      women, fitting themselves with hats as unconcerned and quiet as
      if they had been at a hatter’s shop buying for their money.

      I was surprised, not at the sight of so many thieves only, but at
      the circumstances I was in; being now to thrust myself in among
      so many people, who for some weeks had been so shy of myself that
      if I met anybody in the street I would cross the way from them.

      They were equally surprised, though on another account. They all
      told me they were neighbours, that they had heard anyone might
      take them, that they were nobody’s goods, and the like. I talked
      big to them at first, went back to the gate and took out the key,
      so that they were all my prisoners, threatened to lock them all
      into the warehouse, and go and fetch my Lord Mayor’s officers for

      They begged heartily, protested they found the gate open, and the
      warehouse door open; and that it had no doubt been broken open by
      some who expected to find goods of greater value: which indeed
      was reasonable to believe, because the lock was broke, and a
      padlock that hung to the door on the outside also loose, and an
      abundance of the hats carried away.

      At length I considered that this was not a time to be cruel and
      rigorous; and besides that, it would necessarily oblige me to go
      much about, to have several people come to me, and I go to
      several whose circumstances of health I knew nothing of; and that
      even at this time the plague was so high as that there died 4000
      a week; so that in showing my resentment, or even in seeking
      justice for my brother’s goods, I might lose my own life; so I
      contented myself with taking the names and places where some of
      them lived, who were really inhabitants in the neighbourhood, and
      threatening that my brother should call them to an account for it
      when he returned to his habitation.

      Then I talked a little upon another foot with them, and asked
      them how they could do such things as these in a time of such
      general calamity, and, as it were, in the face of God’s most
      dreadful judgements, when the plague was at their very doors,
      and, it may be, in their very houses, and they did not know but
      that the dead-cart might stop at their doors in a few hours to
      carry them to their graves.

      I could not perceive that my discourse made much impression upon
      them all that while, till it happened that there came two men of
      the neighbourhood, hearing of the disturbance, and knowing my
      brother, for they had been both dependents upon his family, and
      they came to my assistance. These being, as I said, neighbours,
      presently knew three of the women and told me who they were and
      where they lived; and it seems they had given me a true account
      of themselves before.

      This brings these two men to a further remembrance. The name of
      one was John Hayward, who was at that time undersexton of the
      parish of St Stephen, Coleman Street. By undersexton 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, Swan Alley, Bell Alley,
      White Horse Alley, and many more. Here they went with a kind of
      hand-barrow and laid the dead bodies on it, 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 never was infected neither.

      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
      vinegar up her nose and sprinkled vinegar upon her head-clothes,
      and held a handkerchief wetted with vinegar to her mouth.

      It must be confessed that though the plague was chiefly among the
      poor, yet were the poor the most venturous and fearless of it,
      and went about their employment with a sort of brutal courage; I
      must call it so, for it was founded neither on religion nor
      prudence; scarce did they use any caution, but ran into any
      business which they could get employment in, though it was the
      most hazardous. Such was that of tending the sick, watching
      houses shut up, carrying infected persons to the pest-house, and,
      which was still worse, carrying the dead away to their graves.

      It was under this John Hayward’s care, and within his bounds,
      that the story of the piper, with which people have made
      themselves so 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 walked 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 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 no—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 for 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 rang 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 Mount Mill; 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 frighted 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 an’t dead though, am I?’
      says the piper, which made them laugh a little though, as John
      said, they were heartily frighted at first; so they helped the
      poor fellow down, and he went about his business.

      I know the story goes he set up his pipes in the cart and
      frighted the bearers and others so that they ran away; but John
      Hayward did not tell the story so, nor say anything of his piping
      at all; but that he was a poor piper, and that he was carried
      away as above I am fully satisfied of the truth of.

      It is to be noted here that the dead-carts in the city were not
      confined to particular parishes, but one cart went through
      several parishes, according as the number of dead presented; nor
      were they tied to carry the dead to their respective parishes,
      but many of the dead taken up in the city were carried to the
      burying-ground in the out-parts for want of room.

      I have already mentioned the surprise that this judgement was at
      first among the people. I must be allowed to give some of my
      observations on the more serious and religious part. Surely never
      city, at least of this bulk and magnitude, was taken in a
      condition so perfectly unprepared for such a dreadful visitation,
      whether I am to speak of the civil preparations or religious.
      They were, indeed, as if they had had no warning, no expectation,
      no apprehensions, and consequently the least provision imaginable
      was made for it in a public way. For example, the Lord Mayor and
      sheriffs had made no provision as magistrates for the regulations
      which were to be observed. They had gone into no measures for
      relief of the poor. The citizens had no public magazines or
      storehouses for corn or meal for the subsistence of the poor,
      which if they had provided themselves, as in such cases is done
      abroad, many miserable families who were now reduced to the
      utmost distress would have been relieved, and that in a better
      manner than now could be done.

      The stock of the city’s money I can say but little to. The
      Chamber of London was said to be exceedingly rich, and it may be
      concluded that they were so, by the vast of money issued from
      thence in the rebuilding the public edifices after the fire of
      London, and in building new works, such as, for the first part,
      the Guildhall, Blackwell Hall, part of Leadenhall, half the
      Exchange, the Session House, the Compter, the prisons of Ludgate,
      Newgate, &c., several of the wharfs and stairs and landing-places
      on the river; all which were either burned down or damaged by the
      great fire of London, the next year after the plague; and of the
      second sort, the Monument, Fleet Ditch with its bridges, and the
      Hospital of Bethlem or Bedlam, &c. But possibly the managers of
      the city’s credit at that time made more conscience of breaking
      in upon the orphan’s money to show charity to the distressed
      citizens than the managers in the following years did to beautify
      the city and re-edify the buildings; though, in the first case,
      the losers would have thought their fortunes better bestowed, and
      the public faith of the city have been less subjected to scandal
      and reproach.

      It must be acknowledged that the absent citizens, who, though
      they were fled for safety into the country, were yet greatly
      interested in the welfare of those whom they left behind, forgot
      not to contribute liberally to the relief of the poor, and large
      sums were also collected among trading towns in the remotest
      parts of England; and, as I have heard also, the nobility and the
      gentry in all parts of England took the deplorable condition of
      the city into their consideration, and sent up large sums of
      money in charity to the Lord Mayor and magistrates for the relief
      of the poor. The king also, as I was told, ordered a thousand
      pounds a week to be distributed in four parts: one quarter to the
      city and liberty of Westminster; one quarter or part among the
      inhabitants of the Southwark side of the water; one quarter to
      the liberty and parts within of the city, exclusive of the city
      within the walls; and one-fourth part to the suburbs in the
      county of Middlesex, and the east and north parts of the city.
      But this latter I only speak of as a report.

      Certain it is, the greatest part of the poor or families who
      formerly lived by their labour, or by retail trade, lived now on
      charity; and had there not been prodigious sums of money given by
      charitable, well-minded Christians for the support of such, the
      city could never have subsisted. There were, no question,
      accounts kept of their charity, and of the just distribution of
      it by the magistrates. But as such multitudes of those very
      officers died through whose hands it was distributed, and also
      that, as I have been told, most of the accounts of those things
      were lost in the great fire which happened in the very next year,
      and which burnt even the chamberlain’s office and many of their
      papers, so I could never come at the particular account, which I
      used great endeavours to have seen.

      It may, however, be a direction in case of the approach of a like
      visitation, which God keep the city from;—I say, it may be of use
      to observe that by the care of the Lord Mayor and aldermen at
      that time in distributing weekly great sums of money for relief
      of the poor, a multitude of people who would otherwise have
      perished, were relieved, and their lives preserved. And here let
      me enter into a brief state of the case of the poor at that time,
      and what way apprehended from them, from whence may be judged
      hereafter what may be expected if the like distress should come
      upon the city.

      At the beginning of the plague, when there was now no more hope
      but that the whole city would be visited; when, as I have said,
      all that had friends or estates in the country retired with their
      families; and when, indeed, one would have thought the very city
      itself was running out of the gates, and that there would be
      nobody left behind; you may be sure from that hour all trade,
      except such as related to immediate subsistence, was, as it were,
      at a full stop.

      This is so lively a case, and contains in it so much of the real
      condition of the people, that I think I cannot be too particular
      in it, and therefore I descend to the several arrangements or
      classes of people who fell into immediate distress upon this
      occasion. For example:

      1. 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 riband-weavers
      and other weavers, gold and silver lace makers, and gold and
      silver wire drawers, sempstresses, milliners, shoemakers,
      hatmakers, and glovemakers; also upholsterers, joiners,
      cabinet-makers, looking-glass makers, and innumerable trades
      which depend upon such as these;—I say, the master-workmen in
      such stopped their work, dismissed their journeymen and workmen,
      and all their dependents.

      2. As merchandising was at a full stop, for very few ships
      ventured to come up the river and none at all went out, so all
      the extraordinary officers of the customs, likewise the watermen,
      carmen, porters, and all the poor whose labour depended upon the
      merchants, were at once dismissed and put out of business.

      3. All the tradesmen usually employed in building or repairing of
      houses were at a full stop, for the people were far from wanting
      to build houses when so many thousand houses were at once
      stripped of their inhabitants; so that this one article turned
      all the ordinary workmen of that kind out of business, such as
      bricklayers, masons, carpenters, joiners, plasterers, painters,
      glaziers, smiths, plumbers, and all the labourers depending on

      4. As navigation was at a stop, our ships neither coming in or
      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, caulkers, ropemakers, dry
      coopers, sailmakers, anchorsmiths, and other smiths; blockmakers,
      carvers, gunsmiths, ship-chandlers, ship-carvers, and the like.
      The masters of those perhaps might live upon their substance, but
      the traders were universally at a stop, and consequently all
      their workmen discharged. Add to these that the river was in a
      manner without boats, and all or most part of the watermen,
      lightermen, boat-builders, and lighter-builders in like manner
      idle and laid by.

      5. 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’ bookkeepers, 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.

      I might be more particular as to this part, but it may suffice to
      mention in general, all trades being stopped, employment ceased:
      the labour, and by that the bread, of the poor were cut off; and
      at first indeed the cries of the poor were most lamentable to
      hear, though by the distribution of charity their misery that way
      was greatly abated. Many indeed fled into the counties, but
      thousands of them having stayed in London till nothing but
      desperation sent them away, death overtook them on the road, and
      they served for no better than the messengers of death; indeed,
      others carrying the infection along with them, spread it very
      unhappily into the remotest parts of the kingdom.

      Many of these were the miserable objects of despair which I have
      mentioned before, and were removed by the destruction which
      followed. These might be said to perish not by the infection
      itself but by the consequence of it; indeed, namely, by hunger
      and distress and the want of all things: being without lodging,
      without money, without friends, without means to get their bread,
      or without anyone to give it them; for many of them were without
      what we call legal settlements, and so could not claim of the
      parishes, and all the support they had was by application to the
      magistrates for relief, which relief was (to give the magistrates
      their due) carefully and cheerfully administered as they found it
      necessary, and those that stayed behind never felt the want and
      distress of that kind which they felt who went away in the manner
      above noted.

      Let any one who is acquainted with what multitudes of people get
      their daily bread in this city by their labour, whether
      artificers or mere workmen—I say, let any man consider what must
      be the miserable condition of this town if, on a sudden, they
      should be all turned out of employment, that labour should cease,
      and wages for work be no more.

      This was the case with us at that time; and had not the sums of
      money contributed in charity by well-disposed people of every
      kind, as well abroad as at home, been prodigiously great, it had
      not been in the power of the Lord Mayor and sheriffs to have kept
      the public peace. Nor were they without apprehensions, as it was,
      that desperation should push the people upon tumults, and cause
      them to rifle the houses of rich men and plunder the markets of
      provisions; in which case the country people, who brought
      provisions very freely and boldly to town, would have been
      terrified from coming any more, and the town would have sunk
      under an unavoidable famine.

      But the prudence of my Lord Mayor and the Court of Aldermen
      within the city, and of the justices of peace in the out-parts,
      was such, and they were supported with money from all parts so
      well, that the poor people were kept quiet, and their wants
      everywhere relieved, as far as was possible to be done.

      Two things besides this contributed to prevent the mob doing any
      mischief. One was, that really the rich themselves had not laid
      up stores of provisions in their houses as indeed they ought to
      have done, and which if they had been wise enough to have done,
      and locked themselves entirely up, as some few did, they had
      perhaps escaped the disease better. But as it appeared they had
      not, so the mob had no notion of finding stores of provisions
      there if they had broken in as it is plain they were sometimes
      very near doing, and which: if they had, they had finished the
      ruin of the whole city, for there were no regular troops to have
      withstood them, nor could the trained bands have been brought
      together to defend the city, no men being to be found to bear

      But the vigilance of the Lord Mayor and such magistrates as could
      be had (for some, even of the aldermen, were dead, and some
      absent) prevented this; and they did it by the most kind and
      gentle methods they could think of, as particularly by relieving
      the most desperate with money, and putting others into business,
      and particularly that employment of watching houses that were
      infected and shut up. And as the number of these were very great
      (for it was said there was at one time ten thousand houses shut
      up, and every house had two watchmen to guard it, viz., one by
      night and the other by day), this gave opportunity to employ a
      very great number of poor men at a time.

      The women and servants that were turned off from their places
      were likewise employed as nurses to tend the sick in all places,
      and this took off a very great number of them.

      And, which though a melancholy article in itself, yet was a
      deliverance in its kind: namely, the plague, which raged in a
      dreadful manner from the middle of August to the middle of
      October, carried off in that time thirty or forty thousand of
      these very people which, had they been left, would certainly have
      been an insufferable burden by their poverty; that is to say, the
      whole city could not have supported the expense of them, or have
      provided food for them; and they would in time have been even
      driven to the necessity of plundering either the city itself or
      the country adjacent, to have subsisted themselves, which would
      first or last have put the whole nation, as well as the city,
      into the utmost terror and confusion.

      It was observable, then, that this calamity of the people made
      them very humble; for now for about nine weeks together there
      died near a thousand a day, one day with another, even by the
      account of the weekly bills, which yet, I have reason to be
      assured, never gave a full account, by many thousands; the
      confusion being such, and the carts working in the dark when they
      carried the dead, that in some places no account at all was kept,
      but they worked on, the clerks and sextons not attending for
      weeks together, and not knowing what number they carried. This
      account is verified by the following bills of mortality:—

 -                        Of all of the
     -                        Diseases.      Plague
     From August   8    to August 15          5319          3880
     ”     ”      15         ”    22          5568          4237
     ”     ”      22         ”    29          7496          6102
     ”     ”      29 to September  5          8252          6988
     ”  September  5         ”    12          7690          6544
     ”     ”      12         ”    19          8297          7165
     ”     ”      19         ”    26          6460          5533
     ”     ”      26 to October    3          5720          4979
     ”   October   3         ”    10          5068          4327
     -                                       ——-         ——-
     -                                      59,870        49,705

      So that the gross of the people were carried off in these two
      months; for, as the whole number which was brought in to die of
      the plague was but 68,590, here is 50,000 of them, within a
      trifle, in two months; I say 50,000, because, as there wants 295
      in the number above, so there wants two days of two months in the
      account of time.

      Now when I say that the parish officers did not give in a full
      account, or were not to be depended upon for their account, let
      any one but consider how men could be exact in such a time of
      dreadful distress, and when many of them were taken sick
      themselves and perhaps died in the very time when their accounts
      were to be given in; I mean the parish clerks, besides inferior
      officers; for though these poor men ventured at all hazards, yet
      they were far from being exempt from the common calamity,
      especially if it be true that the parish of Stepney had, within
      the year, 116 sextons, gravediggers, and their assistants; that
      is to say, bearers, bellmen, and drivers of carts for carrying
      off the dead bodies.

      Indeed the work was not of a nature to allow them leisure to take
      an exact tale of the dead bodies, which were all huddled together
      in the dark into a pit; which pit or trench no man could come
      nigh but at the utmost peril. I observed often that in the
      parishes of Aldgate and Cripplegate, Whitechappel and Stepney,
      there were five, six, seven, and eight hundred in a week in the
      bills; whereas if we may believe the opinion of those that lived
      in the city all the time as well as I, there died sometimes 2000
      a week in those parishes; and I saw it under the hand of one that
      made as strict an examination into that part as he could, that
      there really died an hundred thousand people of the plague in
      that one year whereas in the bills, the articles of the plague,
      it was but 68,590.

      If I may be allowed to give my opinion, by what I saw with my
      eyes and heard from other people that were eye-witnesses, I do
      verily believe the same, viz., that there died at least 100,000
      of the plague only, besides other distempers and besides those
      which died in the fields and highways and secret Places out of
      the compass of the communication, as it was called, and who were
      not put down in the bills though they really belonged to the body
      of the inhabitants. It was known to us all that abundance of poor
      despairing creatures who had the distemper upon them, and were
      grown stupid or melancholy by their misery, as many were,
      wandered away into the fields and Woods, and into secret uncouth
      places almost anywhere, to creep into a bush or hedge and die.

      The inhabitants of the villages adjacent would, in pity, carry
      them food and set it at a distance, that they might fetch it, if
      they were able; and sometimes they were not able, and the next
      time they went they should find the poor wretches lie dead and
      the food untouched. The number of these miserable objects were
      many, and I know so many that perished thus, and so exactly
      where, that I believe I could go to the very place and dig their
      bones up still; for the country people would go and dig a hole at
      a distance from them, and then with long poles, and hooks at the
      end of them, drag the bodies into these pits, and then throw the
      earth in from as far as they could cast it, to cover them, taking
      notice how the wind blew, and so coming on that side which the
      seamen call to windward, that the scent of the bodies might blow
      from them; and thus great numbers went out of the world who were
      never known, or any account of them taken, as well within the
      bills of mortality as without.

      This, indeed, I had in the main only from the relation of others,
      for I seldom walked into the fields, except towards Bethnal Green
      and Hackney, or as hereafter. But when I did walk, I always saw a
      great many poor wanderers at a distance; but I could know little
      of their cases, for whether it were in the street or in the
      fields, if we had seen anybody coming, it was a general method to
      walk away; yet I believe the account is exactly true.

      As this puts me upon mentioning my walking the streets and
      fields, I cannot omit taking notice what a desolate place the
      city was at that time. The great street I lived in (which is
      known to be one of the broadest of all the streets of London, I
      mean of the suburbs as well as the liberties) all the side where
      the butchers lived, especially without the bars, was more like a
      green field than a paved street, and the people generally went in
      the middle with the horses and carts. It is true that the
      farthest end towards Whitechappel Church was not all paved, but
      even the part that was paved was full of grass also; but this
      need not seem strange, since the great streets within the city,
      such as Leadenhall Street, Bishopsgate Street, Cornhill, and even
      the Exchange itself, had grass growing in them in several places;
      neither cart or coach were seen in the streets from morning to
      evening, except some country carts to bring roots and beans, or
      peas, hay, and straw, to the market, and those but very few
      compared to what was usual. As for coaches, they were scarce used
      but to carry sick people to the pest-house, and to other
      hospitals, and some few to carry physicians to such places as
      they thought fit to venture to visit; for really coaches were
      dangerous things, and people did not care to venture into them,
      because they did not know who might have been carried in them
      last, and sick, infected people were, as I have said, ordinarily
      carried in them to the pest-houses, and sometimes people expired
      in them as they went along.

      It is true, when the infection came to such a height as I have
      now mentioned, there were very few physicians which cared to stir
      abroad to sick houses, and very many of the most eminent of the
      faculty were dead, as well as the surgeons also; for now it was
      indeed a dismal time, and for about a month together, not taking
      any notice of the bills of mortality, I believe there did not die
      less than 1500 or 1700 a day, one day with another.

      One of the worst days we had in the whole time, as I thought, was
      in the beginning of September, when, indeed, good people began to
      think that God was resolved to make a full end of the people in
      this miserable city. This was at that time when the plague was
      fully come into the eastern parishes. The parish of Aldgate, if I
      may give my opinion, buried above a thousand a week for two
      weeks, though the bills did not say so many;—but it surrounded me
      at so dismal a rate that there was not a house in twenty
      uninfected in the Minories, in Houndsditch, and in those parts of
      Aldgate parish about the Butcher Row and the alleys over against
      me. I say, in those places death reigned in every corner.
      Whitechappel parish was in the same condition, and though much
      less than the parish I lived in, yet buried near 600 a week by
      the bills, and in my opinion near twice as many. 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 fetch out the people,
      for that they were all dead.

      And, indeed, the work of removing the dead bodies by carts was
      now grown so very odious and dangerous that it was complained of
      that the bearers did not take care to clear such houses where all
      the inhabitants were dead, but that sometimes the bodies lay
      several days unburied, till the neighbouring families were
      offended with the stench, and consequently infected; and this
      neglect of the officers was such that the churchwardens and
      constables were summoned to look after it, and even the justices
      of the Hamlets were obliged to venture their lives among them to
      quicken and encourage them, for innumerable of the bearers died
      of the distemper, infected by the bodies they were obliged to
      come so near. And had it not been that the number of poor people
      who wanted employment and wanted bread (as I have said before)
      was so great that necessity drove them to undertake anything and
      venture anything, they would never have found people to be
      employed. And then the bodies of the dead would have lain above
      ground, and have perished and rotted in a dreadful manner.

      But the magistrates cannot be enough commended in this, that they
      kept such good order for the burying of the dead, that as fast as
      any of these they employed to carry off and bury the dead fell
      sick or died, as was many times the case, they immediately
      supplied the places with others, which, by reason of the great
      number of poor that was left out of business, as above, was not
      hard to do. This occasioned, that notwithstanding the infinite
      number of people which died and were sick, almost all together,
      yet they were always cleared away and carried off every night, so
      that it was never to be said of London that the living were not
      able to bury the 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 in the agonies of their distemper, and this part was
      very affecting. Some went roaring and crying and wringing their
      hands along the street; 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 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 judgement 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.

      I will not say whether that clergyman was distracted or not, or
      whether he did it in pure zeal for the poor people, who went
      every evening through the streets of Whitechappel, and, with his
      hands lifted up, repeated that part of the Liturgy of the Church
      continually, ‘Spare us, good Lord; spare Thy people, whom Thou
      has redeemed with Thy most precious blood.’ I say, I cannot speak
      positively of these things, because these were only the dismal
      objects which represented themselves to me as I looked through my
      chamber windows (for I seldom opened the casements), while I
      confined myself within doors during that most violent raging of
      the pestilence; when, indeed, as I have said, many began to
      think, and even to say, that there would none escape; and indeed
      I began to think so too, and therefore kept within doors for
      about a fortnight and never stirred out. But I could not hold it.
      Besides, there were some people 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
      clergymen 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 any would come
      to hear them. And Dissenters did the like also, and even in the
      very churches where the parish ministers were either dead or
      fled; nor was there any room for making difference at such a time
      as this was.

      It was indeed a lamentable thing to hear the miserable
      lamentations of poor dying creatures calling out for ministers to
      comfort them and pray with them, to counsel them and to direct
      them, calling out to God for pardon and mercy, and confessing
      aloud their past sins. It would make the stoutest heart bleed to
      hear how many warnings were then given by dying penitents to
      others not to put off and delay their repentance to the day of
      distress; that such a time of calamity as this was no time for
      repentance, was no time to call upon God. I wish I could repeat
      the very sound of those groans and of those exclamations that I
      heard from some poor dying creatures when in the height of their
      agonies and distress, and that I could make him that reads this
      hear, as I imagine I now hear them, for the sound seems still to
      ring in my ears.

      If I could but tell this part in such moving accents as should
      alarm the very soul of the reader, I should rejoice that I
      recorded those things, however short and imperfect.

      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 to 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 leather 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 that 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 fetch 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, that 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
      burnt 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 shilling and some smooth groats and brass

      There might perhaps have been several poor people, as I have
      observed above, that would have been hardy enough to have
      ventured for the sake of the money; but you may easily see by
      what I have observed that the few people who were spared were
      very careful of themselves at that time when the distress was so
      exceeding great.

      Much about the same time I walked out into the fields towards
      Bow; for I had a great mind to 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 which 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
      rest 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
      he 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’, says he, ‘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 has 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’s my
      house’ (pointing to a very little, low-boarded house), ‘and there
      my poor wife and two children live,’ said he, ‘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 assure you.

      ‘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 happened on 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 want. ‘Well,’
      says I, ‘honest man, that is a great mercy as things 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’s my boat,’ says he, ‘and the
      boat serves me for a house. I work in it in the day, and I sleep
      in it in the night; and what I get I lay down upon that stone,’
      says he, 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 any money as a
      waterman? Does any body go by water these times?’ ‘Yes, sir,’
      says he, ‘in the way I am employed there does. Do you see there,’
      says he, ‘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 ship’s boats, and there I sleep by myself,
      and, blessed be God, I am preserved hitherto.’

      ‘Well,’ said I, ‘friend, but will they let you come on board
      after you have been on shore here, when this is such a terrible
      place, and so infected as it is?’

      ‘Why, as to that,’ said he, ‘I very seldom go up the ship-side,
      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
      anybody, no, not of my own family; but I fetch provisions for

      ‘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’, said I, ‘is, as it were, the beginning
      of London, though it be at some distance from it.’

      ‘That is true,’ added he; ‘but you do not understand me right; I
      do not buy provisions for them here. I row up to Greenwich and
      buy fresh meat there, and sometimes I row down the river to
      Woolwich and buy there; then I go to single farm-houses on the
      Kentish side, where I am known, and buy fowls and eggs and
      butter, and bring to the ships, as they direct me, sometimes one,
      sometimes the other. I seldom come on shore here, and I came now
      only to call on my wife and hear how my family do, and give them
      a little money, which I received last night.’

      ‘Poor man!’ said I; ‘and how much hast thou gotten for them?’

      ‘I have gotten four shillings,’ said he, ‘which is a great sum,
      as things go now with poor men; but they have given me a bag of
      bread too, and a salt fish and some flesh; so all helps out.’
      ‘Well,’ said I, ‘and have you given it them yet?’

      ‘No,’ said he; ‘but I have called, and my wife has answered that
      she cannot come out yet, but in half-an-hour she hopes to come,
      and I am waiting for her. Poor woman!’ says he, ‘she is brought
      sadly down. She has a swelling, and it is broke, and I hope she
      will recover; but I fear the child will die, but it is the Lord—’

      Here he stopped, and wept very much.

      ‘Well, honest friend,’ said I, ‘thou hast a sure Comforter, if
      thou hast brought thyself to be resigned to the will of God; He
      is dealing with us all in judgement.’

      ‘Oh, sir!’ says he, ‘it is infinite mercy if any of us are
      spared, and who am I to repine!’

      ‘Sayest thou so?’ said I, ‘and how much less is my faith than
      thine?’ And here my heart smote me, suggesting how much better
      this poor man’s foundation was on which he stayed in the danger
      than mine; that he had nowhere to fly; that he had a family to
      bind him to attendance, which I had not; and mine was mere
      presumption, his a true dependence and a courage resting on God;
      and yet that he used all possible caution for his safety.

      I turned a little way from the man while these thoughts engaged
      me, for, indeed, I could no more refrain from tears than he.

      At length, after some further talk, the poor woman opened the
      door and called, ‘Robert, Robert’. He answered, and bid her stay
      a few moments and he would come; so he ran down the common stairs
      to his boat and fetched up a sack, in which was the provisions he
      had brought from the ships; and when he returned he hallooed
      again. Then he went to the great stone which he showed me and
      emptied the sack, and laid all out, everything by themselves, and
      then retired; and his wife came with a little boy to fetch them
      away, and called and said such a captain had sent such a thing,
      and such a captain such a thing, and at the end adds, ‘God has
      sent it all; give thanks to Him.’ When the poor woman had taken
      up all, she was so weak she could not carry it at once in, though
      the weight was not much neither; so she left the biscuit, which
      was in a little bag, and left a little boy to watch it till she
      came again.

      ‘Well, but’, says I to him, ‘did you leave her the four shillings
      too, which you said was your week’s pay?’

      ‘Yes, yes,’ says he; ‘you shall hear her own it.’ So he calls
      again, ‘Rachel, Rachel,’ which it seems was her name, ‘did you
      take up the money?’ ‘Yes,’ said she. ‘How much was it?’ said he.
      ‘Four shillings and a groat,’ said she. ‘Well, well,’ says he,
      ‘the Lord keep you all’; and so he turned to go away.

      As I could not refrain contributing tears to this man’s story, so
      neither could I refrain my charity for his assistance. So I
      called him, ‘Hark thee, friend,’ said I, ‘come hither, for I
      believe thou art in health, that I may venture thee’; so I pulled
      out my hand, which was in my pocket before, ‘Here,’ says I, ‘go
      and call thy Rachel once more, and give her a little more comfort
      from me. God will never forsake a family that trust in Him as
      thou dost.’ So I gave him four other shillings, and bid him go
      lay them on the stone and call his wife.

      I have not words to express the poor man’s thankfulness, neither
      could he express it himself but by tears running down his face.
      He called his wife, and told her God had moved the heart of a
      stranger, upon hearing their condition, to give them all that
      money, and a great deal more such as that he said to her. The
      woman, too, made signs of the like thankfulness, as well to
      Heaven as to me, and joyfully picked it up; and I parted with no
      money all that year that I thought better bestowed.

      I then asked the poor man if the distemper had not reached to
      Greenwich. He said it had not till about a fortnight before; but
      that then he feared it had, but that it was only at that end of
      the town which lay south towards Deptford Bridge; that he went
      only to a butcher’s shop and a grocer’s, where he generally
      bought such things as they sent him for, but was very careful.

      I asked him then how it came to pass that those people who had so
      shut themselves up in the ships had not laid in sufficient stores
      of all things necessary. He said some of them had—but, on the
      other hand, some did not come on board till they were frighted
      into it and till it was too dangerous for them to go to the
      proper people to lay in quantities of things, and that he waited
      on two ships, which he showed me, that had laid in little or
      nothing but biscuit bread and ship beer, and that he had bought
      everything else almost for them. I asked him if there was any
      more ships that had separated themselves as those had done. He
      told me yes, all the way up from the point, right against
      Greenwich, to within the shore of Limehouse and Redriff, all the
      ships that could have room rid two and two in the middle of the
      stream, and that some of them had several families on board. I
      asked him if the distemper had not reached them. He said he
      believed it had not, except two or three ships whose people had
      not been so watchful to keep the seamen from going on shore as
      others had been, and he said it was a very fine sight to see how
      the ships lay up the Pool.

      When he said he was going over to Greenwich as soon as the tide
      began to come in, I asked if he would let me go with him and
      bring me back, for that I had a great mind to see how the ships
      were ranged, as he had told me. He told me, if I would assure him
      on the word of a Christian and of an honest man that I had not
      the distemper, he would. I assured him that I had not; that it
      had pleased God to preserve me; that I lived in Whitechappel, but
      was too impatient of being so long within doors, and that I had
      ventured out so far for the refreshment of a little air, but that
      none in my house had so much as been touched with it.

      Well, sir,’ says he, ‘as your charity has been moved to pity me
      and my poor family, sure you cannot have so little pity left as
      to put yourself into my boat if you were not sound in health
      which would be nothing less than killing me and ruining my whole
      family.’ The poor man troubled me so much when he spoke of his
      family with such a sensible concern and in such an affectionate
      manner, that I could not satisfy myself at first to go at all. I
      told him I would lay aside my curiosity rather than make him
      uneasy, though I was sure, and very thankful for it, that I had
      no more distemper upon me than the freshest man in the world.
      Well, he would not have me put it off neither, but to let me see
      how confident he was that I was just to him, now importuned me to
      go; so when the tide came up to his boat I went in, and he
      carried me to Greenwich. While he bought the things which he had
      in his charge to buy, I walked up to the top of the hill under
      which the town stands, and on the east side of the town, to get a
      prospect of the river. But it was a surprising sight to see the
      number of ships which lay in rows, two and two, and some places
      two or three such lines in the breadth of the river, and this not
      only up quite to the town, between the houses which we call
      Ratcliff and Redriff, which they name the Pool, but even down the
      whole river as far as the head of Long Reach, which is as far as
      the hills give us leave to see it.

      I cannot guess at the number of ships, but I think there must be
      several hundreds of sail; and I could not but applaud the
      contrivance: for ten thousand people and more who attended ship
      affairs were certainly sheltered here from the violence of the
      contagion, and lived very safe and very easy.

      I returned to my own dwelling very well satisfied with my day’s
      journey, and particularly with the poor man; also I rejoiced to
      see that such little sanctuaries were provided for so many
      families in a time of such desolation. I observed also that, as
      the violence of the plague had increased, so the ships which had
      families on board removed and went farther off, till, as I was
      told, some went quite away to sea, and put into such harbours and
      safe roads on the north coast as they could best come at.

      But it was also true that all the people who thus left the land
      and lived on board the ships were not entirely safe from the
      infection, for many died and were thrown overboard into the
      river, some in coffins, and some, as I heard, without coffins,
      whose bodies were seen sometimes to drive up and down with the
      tide in the river.

      But I believe I may venture to say that in those ships which were
      thus infected it either happened where the people had recourse to
      them too late, and did not fly to the ship till they had stayed
      too long on shore and had the distemper upon them (though perhaps
      they might not perceive it) and so the distemper did not come to
      them on board the ships, but they really carried it with them; or
      it was in these ships where the poor waterman said they had not
      had time to furnish themselves with provisions, but were obliged
      to send often on shore to buy what they had occasion for, or
      suffered boats to come to them from the shore. And so the
      distemper was brought insensibly among them.

      And here I cannot but take notice that the strange temper of the
      people of London at that time contributed extremely to their own
      destruction. The plague began, as I have observed, at the other
      end of the town, namely, in Long Acre, Drury Lane, &c., and came
      on towards the city very gradually and slowly. It was felt at
      first in December, then again in February, then again in April,
      and always but a very little at a time; then it stopped till May,
      and even the last week in May there was but seventeen, and all at
      that end of the town; and all this while, even so long as till
      there died above 3000 a week, yet had the people in Redriff, and
      in Wapping and Ratcliff, on both sides of the river, and almost
      all Southwark side, a mighty fancy that they should not be
      visited, or at least that it would not be so violent among them.
      Some people fancied the smell of the pitch and tar, and such
      other things as oil and rosin and brimstone, which is so much
      used by all trades relating to shipping, would preserve them.
      Others argued it, because it was in its extreamest violence in
      Westminster and the parish of St Giles and St Andrew, &c., and
      began to abate again before it came among them—which was true
      indeed, in part. For example—

 From the 8th to the 15th August—
     -    St Giles-in-the-Fields               242
     -    Cripplegate                          886
     -    Stepney                              197
     -    St Margaret, Bermondsey               24
     -    Rotherhithe                            3
     -    Total this week                     4030

     From the 15th to the 22nd August—
     -    St Giles-in-the-Fields               175
     -    Cripplegate                          847
     -    Stepney                              273
     -    St Margaret, Bermondsey               36
     -    Rotherhithe                            2
     -    Total this week                     5319

      N.B.—That it was observed the numbers mentioned in Stepney parish
      at that time were generally all on that side where Stepney parish
      joined to Shoreditch, which we now call Spittlefields, where the
      parish of Stepney comes up to the very wall of Shoreditch
      Churchyard, and the plague at this time was abated at St
      Giles-in-the-Fields, and raged most violently in Cripplegate,
      Bishopsgate, and Shoreditch parishes; but there was not ten
      people a week that died of it in all that part of Stepney parish
      which takes in Limehouse, Ratcliff Highway, and which are now the
      parishes of Shadwell and Wapping, even to St Katherine’s by the
      Tower, till after the whole month of August was expired. But they
      paid for it afterwards, as I shall observe by-and-by.

      This, I say, made the people of Redriff and Wapping, Ratcliff and
      Limehouse, so secure, and flatter themselves so much with the
      plague’s going off without reaching them, that they took no care
      either to fly into the country or shut themselves up. Nay, so far
      were they from stirring that they rather received their friends
      and relations from the city into their houses, and several from
      other places really took sanctuary in that part of the town as a
      Place of safety, and as a place which they thought God would pass
      over, and not visit as the rest was visited.

      And this was the reason that when it came upon them they were
      more surprised, more unprovided, and more at a loss what to do
      than they were in other places; for when it came among them
      really and with violence, as it did indeed in September and
      October, there was then no stirring out into the country, nobody
      would suffer a stranger to come near them, no, nor near the towns
      where they dwelt; and, as I have been told, several that wandered
      into the country on Surrey side were found starved to death in
      the woods and commons, that country being more open and more
      woody than any other part so near London, especially about
      Norwood and the parishes of Camberwell, Dullege, and Lusum,
      where, it seems, nobody durst relieve the poor distressed people
      for fear of the infection.

      This notion having, as I said, prevailed with the people in that
      part of the town, was in part the occasion, as I said before,
      that they had recourse to ships for their retreat; and where they
      did this early and with prudence, furnishing themselves so with
      provisions that they had no need to go on shore for supplies or
      suffer boats to come on board to bring them,—I say, where they
      did so they had certainly the safest retreat of any people
      whatsoever; but the distress was such that people ran on board,
      in their fright, without bread to eat, and some into ships that
      had no men on board to remove them farther off, or to take the
      boat and go down the river to buy provisions where it might be
      done safely, and these often suffered and were infected on board
      as much as on shore.

      As the richer sort got into ships, so the lower rank got into
      hoys, smacks, lighters, and fishing-boats; and many, especially
      watermen, lay in their boats; but those made sad work of it,
      especially the latter, for, going about for provision, and
      perhaps to get their subsistence, the infection got in among them
      and made a fearful havoc; many of the watermen died alone in
      their wherries as they rid at their roads, as well as above
      bridge as below, and were not found sometimes till they were not
      in condition for anybody to touch or come near them.

      Indeed, the distress of the people at this seafaring end of the
      town was very deplorable, and deserved the greatest
      commiseration. But, alas! this was a time when every one’s
      private safety lay so near them that they had no room to pity the
      distresses of others; for every one had death, as it were, at his
      door, and many even in their families, and knew not what to do or
      whither to fly.

      This, I say, took away all compassion; self-preservation, indeed,
      appeared here to be the first law. For the children ran away from
      their parents as they languished in the utmost distress. And in
      some places, though not so frequent as the other, parents did the
      like to their children; nay, some dreadful examples there were,
      and particularly two in one week, of distressed mothers, raving
      and distracted, killing their own children; one whereof was not
      far off from where I dwelt, the poor lunatic creature not living
      herself long enough to be sensible of the sin of what she had
      done, much less to be punished for it.

      It is not, indeed, to be wondered at: for the danger of immediate
      death to ourselves took away all bowels of love, all concern for
      one another. I speak in general, for there were many instances of
      immovable affection, pity, and duty in many, and some that came
      to my knowledge, that is to say, by hearsay; for I shall not take
      upon me to vouch the truth of the particulars.

      To introduce one, let me first mention that one of the most
      deplorable cases in all the present calamity was that of women
      with child, who, when they came to the hour of their sorrows, and
      their pains come upon them, could neither have help of one kind
      or another; neither midwife or neighbouring women to come near
      them. Most of the midwives were dead, especially of such as
      served the poor; and many, if not all the midwives of note, were
      fled into the country; so that it was next to impossible for a
      poor woman that could not pay an immoderate price to get any
      midwife to come to her—and if they did, those they could get were
      generally unskilful and ignorant creatures; and the consequence
      of this was that a most unusual and incredible number of women
      were reduced to the utmost distress. Some were delivered and
      spoiled by the rashness and ignorance of those who pretended to
      lay them. Children without number were, I might say, murdered by
      the same but a more justifiable ignorance: pretending they would
      save the mother, whatever became of the child; and many times
      both mother and child were lost in the same manner; and
      especially where the mother had the distemper, there nobody would
      come near them and both sometimes perished. Sometimes the mother
      has died of the plague, and the infant, it may be, half born, or
      born but not parted from the mother. Some died in the very pains
      of their travail, and not delivered at all; and so many were the
      cases of this kind that it is hard to judge of them.

      Something of it will appear in the unusual numbers which are put
      into the weekly bills (though I am far from allowing them to be
      able to give anything of a full account) under the articles of—

     Child-bed. Abortive and Still-born. Chrisoms and Infants.

      Take the weeks in which the plague was most violent, and compare
      them with the weeks before the distemper began, even in the same
      year. For example:—

Child-bed. Abortive.  Still-born.
     From January 3 to January  10     7        1           13
     ”     ”   10       ”       17     8        6           11
     ”     ”   17       ”       24     9        5           15
     ”     ”   24       ”       31     3        2            9
     ”     ”   31 to February    7     3        3            8
     ” February 7        ”      14     6        2           11
     ”     ”   14       ”       21     5        2           13
     ”     ”   21       ”       28     2        2           10
     ”     ”   28 to March       7     5        1           10
     -                               —-      —-         ——
     -                                48       24          100

     From August  1 to August    8    25        5           11
     ”     ”    8       ”       15    23        6            8
     ”     ”   15       ”       22    28        4            4
     ”     ”   22       ”       29    40        6           10
     ”     ”   29 to September   5    38        2           11
     September  5       ”       12    39       23          ...
     ”     ”   12       ”       19    42        5           17
     ”     ”   19       ”       26    42        6           10
     ”     ”   26 to October     3    14        4            9
     -                               —-       —          —-
     -                               291       61           80

      To the disparity of these numbers it is to be considered and
      allowed for, that according to our usual opinion who were then
      upon the spot, there were not one-third of the people in the town
      during the months of August and September as were in the months
      of January and February. In a word, the usual number that used to
      die of these three articles, and, as I hear, did die of them the
      year before, was thus:—

      1664.                               1665.
     Child-bed                   189     Child-bed                   625
     Abortive and still-born     458     Abortive and still-born     617
     -                          ——                                ——
     -                           647                                1242

      This inequality, I say, is exceedingly augmented when the numbers
      of people are considered. I pretend not to make any exact
      calculation of the numbers of people which were at this time in
      the city, but I shall make a probable conjecture at that part
      by-and-by. What I have said now is to explain the misery of those
      poor creatures above; so that it might well be said, as in the
      Scripture, Woe be to those who are with child, and to those which
      give suck in that day. For, indeed, it was a woe to them in

      I was not conversant in many particular families where these
      things happened, but the outcries of the miserable were heard
      afar off. As to those who were with child, we have seen some
      calculation made; 291 women dead in child-bed in nine weeks, out
      of one-third part of the number of whom there usually died in
      that time but eighty-four of the same disaster. Let the reader
      calculate the proportion.

      There is no room to doubt but the misery of those that gave suck
      was in proportion as great. Our bills of mortality could give but
      little light in this, yet some it did. There were several more
      than usual starved at nurse, but this was nothing. The misery was
      where they were, first, starved for want of a nurse, the mother
      dying and all the family and the infants found dead by them,
      merely for want; and, if I may speak my opinion, I do believe
      that many hundreds of poor helpless infants perished in this
      manner. Secondly, not starved, but poisoned by the nurse. Nay,
      even where the mother has been nurse, and having received the
      infection, has poisoned, that is, infected the infant with her
      milk even before they knew they were infected themselves; nay,
      and the infant has died in such a case before the mother. I
      cannot but remember to leave this admonition upon record, if ever
      such another dreadful visitation should happen in this city, that
      all women that are with child or that give suck should be gone,
      if they have any possible means, out of the place, because their
      misery, if infected, will so much exceed all other people’s.

      I could tell here dismal stories of living infants being found
      sucking the breasts of their mothers, or nurses, after they have
      been dead of the plague. Of a mother in the parish where I lived,
      who, having a child that was not well, sent for an apothecary to
      view the child; and when he came, as the relation goes, was
      giving the child suck at her breast, and to all appearance was
      herself very well; but when the apothecary came close to her he
      saw the tokens upon that breast with which she was suckling the
      child. He was surprised enough, to be sure, but, not willing to
      fright the poor woman too much, he desired she would give the
      child into his hand; so he takes the child, and going to a cradle
      in the room, lays it in, and opening its cloths, found the tokens
      upon the child too, and both died before he could get home to
      send a preventive medicine to the father of the child, to whom he
      had told their condition. Whether the child infected the
      nurse-mother or the mother the child was not certain, but the
      last most likely. Likewise of a child brought home to the parents
      from a nurse that had died of the plague, yet the tender mother
      would not refuse to take in her child, and laid it in her bosom,
      by which she was infected; and died with the child in her arms
      dead also.

      It would make the hardest heart move at the instances that were
      frequently found of tender mothers tending and watching with
      their dear children, and even dying before them, and sometimes
      taking the distemper from them and dying, when the child for whom
      the affectionate heart had been sacrificed has got over it and

      The like of a tradesman in East Smithfield, whose wife was big
      with child of her first child, and fell in labour, having the
      plague upon her. He could neither get midwife to assist her or
      nurse to tend her, and two servants which he kept fled both from
      her. He ran from house to house like one distracted, but could
      get no help; the utmost he could get was, that a watchman, who
      attended at an infected house shut up, promised to send a nurse
      in the morning. The poor man, with his heart broke, went back,
      assisted his wife what he could, acted the part of the midwife,
      brought the child dead into the world, and his wife in about an
      hour died in his arms, where he held her dead body fast till the
      morning, when the watchman came and brought the nurse as he had
      promised; and coming up the stairs (for he had left the door
      open, or only latched), they found the man sitting with his dead
      wife in his arms, and so overwhelmed with grief that he died in a
      few hours after without any sign of the infection upon him, but
      merely sunk under the weight of his grief.

      I have heard also of some who, on the death of their relations,
      have grown stupid with the insupportable sorrow; and of one, in
      particular, who was so absolutely overcome with the pressure upon
      his spirits that by degrees his head sank into his body, so
      between his shoulders that the crown of his head was very little
      seen above the bone of his shoulders; and by degrees losing both
      voice and sense, his face, looking forward, lay against his
      collarbone and could not be kept up any otherwise, unless held up
      by the hands of other people; and the poor man never came to
      himself again, but languished near a year in that condition, and
      died. Nor was he ever once seen to lift up his eyes or to look
      upon any particular object.

      I cannot undertake to give any other than a summary of such
      passages as these, because it was not possible to come at the
      particulars, where sometimes the whole families where such things
      happened were carried off by the distemper. But there were
      innumerable cases of this kind which presented to the eye and the
      ear, even in passing along the streets, as I have hinted above.
      Nor is it easy to give any story of this or that family which
      there was not divers parallel stories to be met with of the same

      But as I am now talking of the time when the plague raged at the
      easternmost part of the town—how for a long time the people of
      those parts had flattered themselves that they should escape, and
      how they were surprised when it came upon them as it did; for,
      indeed, it came upon them like an armed man when it did come;—I
      say, this brings me back to the three poor men who wandered from
      Wapping, not knowing whither to go or what to do, and whom I
      mentioned before; one a biscuit-baker, one a sailmaker, and the
      other a joiner, all of Wapping, or there-abouts.

      The sleepiness and security of that part, as I have observed, was
      such that they not only did not shift for themselves as others
      did, but they boasted of being safe, and of safety being with
      them; and many people fled out of the city, and out of the
      infected suburbs, to Wapping, Ratcliff, Limehouse, Poplar, and
      such Places, as to Places of security; and it is not at all
      unlikely that their doing this helped to bring the plague that
      way faster than it might otherwise have come. For though I am
      much for people flying away and emptying such a town as this upon
      the first appearance of a like visitation, and that all people
      who have any possible retreat should make use of it in time and
      be gone, yet I must say, when all that will fly are gone, those
      that are left and must stand it should stand stock-still where
      they are, and not shift from one end of the town or one part of
      the town to the other; for that is the bane and mischief of the
      whole, and they carry the plague from house to house in their
      very clothes.

      Wherefore were we ordered to kill all the dogs and cats, but
      because as they were domestic animals, and are apt to run from
      house to house and from street to street, so they are capable of
      carrying the effluvia or infectious streams of bodies infected
      even in their furs and hair? And therefore it was that, in the
      beginning of the infection, an order was published by the Lord
      Mayor, and by the magistrates, according to the advice of the
      physicians, that all the dogs and cats should be immediately
      killed, and an officer was appointed for the execution.

      It is incredible, if their account is to be depended upon, what a
      prodigious number of those creatures were destroyed. I think they
      talked of forty thousand dogs, and five times as many cats; few
      houses being without a cat, some having several, sometimes five
      or six in a house. All possible endeavours were used also to
      destroy the mice and rats, especially the latter, by laying
      ratsbane and other poisons for them, and a prodigious multitude
      of them were also destroyed.

      I often reflected upon the unprovided condition that the whole
      body of the people were in at the first coming of this calamity
      upon them, and how it was for want of timely entering into
      measures and managements, as well public as private, that all the
      confusions that followed were brought upon us, and that such a
      prodigious number of people sank in that disaster, which, if
      proper steps had been taken, might, Providence concurring, have
      been avoided, and which, if posterity think fit, they may take a
      caution and warning from. But I shall come to this part again.

      I come back to my three men. Their story has a moral in every
      part of it, and their whole conduct, and that of some whom they
      joined with, is a pattern for all poor men to follow, or women
      either, if ever such a time comes again; and if there was no
      other end in recording it, I think this a very just one, whether
      my account be exactly according to fact or no.

      Two of them are said to be brothers, the one an old soldier, but
      now a biscuit-maker; the other a lame sailor, but now a
      sailmaker; the third a joiner. Says John the biscuit-maker one
      day to Thomas his brother, the sailmaker, ‘Brother Tom, what will
      become of us? The plague grows hot in the city, and increases
      this way. What shall we do?’

      ‘Truly,’ says Thomas, ‘I am at a great loss what to do, for I
      find if it comes down into Wapping I shall be turned out of my
      lodging.’ And thus they began to talk of it beforehand.

      John. Turned out of your lodging, Tom! If you are, I don’t know
      who will take you in; for people are so afraid of one another
      now, there’s no getting a lodging anywhere.

      Thomas. Why, the people where I lodge are good, civil people, and
      have kindness enough for me too; but they say I go abroad every
      day to my work, and it will be dangerous; and they talk of
      locking themselves up and letting nobody come near them.

      John. Why, they are in the right, to be sure, if they resolve to
      venture staying in town.

      Thomas. Nay, I might even resolve to stay within doors too, for,
      except a suit of sails that my master has in hand, and which I am
      just finishing, I am like to get no more work a great while.
      There’s no trade stirs now. Workmen and servants are turned off
      everywhere, so that I might be glad to be locked up too; but I do
      not see they will be willing to consent to that, any more than to
      the other.

      John. Why, what will you do then, brother? And what shall I do?
      for I am almost as bad as you. The people where I lodge are all
      gone into the country but a maid, and she is to go next week, and
      to shut the house quite up, so that I shall be turned adrift to
      the wide world before you, and I am resolved to go away too, if I
      knew but where to go.

      Thomas. We were both distracted we did not go away at first; then
      we might have travelled anywhere. There’s no stirring now; we
      shall be starved if we pretend to go out of town. They won’t let
      us have victuals, no, not for our money, nor let us come into the
      towns, much less into their houses.

      John. And that which is almost as bad, I have but little money to
      help myself with neither.

      Thomas. As to that, we might make shift, I have a little, though
      not much; but I tell you there’s no stirring on the road. I know
      a couple of poor honest men in our street have attempted to
      travel, and at Barnet, or Whetstone, or thereabouts, the people
      offered to fire at them if they pretended to go forward, so they
      are come back again quite discouraged.

      John. I would have ventured their fire if I had been there. If I
      had been denied food for my money they should have seen me take
      it before their faces, and if I had tendered money for it they
      could not have taken any course with me by law.

      Thomas. You talk your old soldier’s language, as if you were in
      the Low Countries now, but this is a serious thing. The people
      have good reason to keep anybody off that they are not satisfied
      are sound, at such a time as this, and we must not plunder them.

      John. No, brother, you mistake the case, and mistake me too. I
      would plunder nobody; but for any town upon the road to deny me
      leave to pass through the town in the open highway, and deny me
      provisions for my money, is to say the town has a right to starve
      me to death, which cannot be true.

      Thomas. But they do not deny you liberty to go back again from
      whence you came, and therefore they do not starve you.

      John. But the next town behind me will, by the same rule, deny me
      leave to go back, and so they do starve me between them. Besides,
      there is no law to prohibit my travelling wherever I will on the

      Thomas. But there will be so much difficulty in disputing with
      them at every town on the road that it is not for poor men to do
      it or undertake it, at such a time as this is especially.

      John. Why, brother, our condition at this rate is worse than
      anybody else’s, for we can neither go away nor stay here. I am of
      the same mind with the lepers of Samaria: ‘If we stay here we are
      sure to die’, I mean especially as you and I are stated, without
      a dwelling-house of our own, and without lodging in anybody
      else’s. There is no lying in the street at such a time as this;
      we had as good go into the dead-cart at once. Therefore I say, if
      we stay here we are sure to die, and if we go away we can but
      die; I am resolved to be gone.

      Thomas. You will go away. Whither will you go, and what can you
      do? I would as willingly go away as you, if I knew whither. But
      we have no acquaintance, no friends. Here we were born, and here
      we must die.

      John. Look you, Tom, the whole kingdom is my native country as
      well as this town. You may as well say I must not go out of my
      house if it is on fire as that I must not go out of the town I
      was born in when it is infected with the plague. I was born in
      England, and have a right to live in it if I can.

      Thomas. But you know every vagrant person may by the laws of
      England be taken up, and passed back to their last legal

      John. But how shall they make me vagrant? I desire only to travel
      on, upon my lawful occasions.

      Thomas. What lawful occasions can we pretend to travel, or rather
      wander upon? They will not be put off with words.

      John. Is not flying to save our lives a lawful occasion? And do
      they not all know that the fact is true? We cannot be said to

      Thomas. But suppose they let us pass, whither shall we go?

      John. Anywhere, to save our lives; it is time enough to consider
      that when we are got out of this town. If I am once out of this
      dreadful place, I care not where I go.

      Thomas. We shall be driven to great extremities. I know not what
      to think of it.

      John. Well, Tom, consider of it a little.

      This was about the beginning of July; and though the plague was
      come forward in the west and north parts of the town, yet all
      Wapping, as I have observed before, and Redriff, and Ratdiff, and
      Limehouse, and Poplar, in short, Deptford and Greenwich, all both
      sides of the river from the Hermitage, and from over against it,
      quite down to Blackwall, was entirely free; there had not one
      person died of the plague in all Stepney parish, and not one on
      the south side of Whitechappel Road, no, not in any parish; and
      yet the weekly bill was that very week risen up to 1006.

      It was a fortnight after this before the two brothers met again,
      and then the case was a little altered, and the plague was
      exceedingly advanced and the number greatly increased; the bill
      was up at 2785, and prodigiously increasing, though still both
      sides of the river, as below, kept pretty well. But some began to
      die in Redriff, and about five or six in Ratcliff Highway, when
      the sailmaker came to his brother John express, and in some
      fright; for he was absolutely warned out of his lodging, and had
      only a week to provide himself. His brother John was in as bad a
      case, for he was quite out, and had only begged leave of his
      master, the biscuit-maker, to lodge in an outhouse belonging to
      his workhouse, where he only lay upon straw, with some
      biscuit-sacks, or bread-sacks, as they called them, laid upon it,
      and some of the same sacks to cover him.

      Here they resolved (seeing all employment being at an end, and no
      work or wages to be had), they would make the best of their way
      to get out of the reach of the dreadful infection, and, being as
      good husbands as they could, would endeavour to live upon what
      they had as long as it would last, and then work for more if they
      could get work anywhere, of any kind, let it be what it would.

      While they were considering to put this resolution in practice in
      the best manner they could, the third man, who was acquainted
      very well with the sailmaker, came to know of the design, and got
      leave to be one of the number; and thus they prepared to set out.

      It happened that they had not an equal share of money; but as the
      sailmaker, who had the best stock, was, besides his being lame,
      the most unfit to expect to get anything by working in the
      country, so he was content that what money they had should all go
      into one public stock, on condition that whatever any one of them
      could gain more than another, it should without any grudging be
      all added to the public stock.

      They resolved to load themselves with as little baggage as
      possible because they resolved at first to travel on foot, and to
      go a great way that they might, if possible, be effectually safe;
      and a great many consultations they had with themselves before
      they could agree about what way they should travel, which they
      were so far from adjusting that even to the morning they set out
      they were not resolved on it.

      At last the seaman put in a hint that determined it. ‘First,’
      says he, ‘the weather is very hot, and therefore I am for
      travelling north, that we may not have the sun upon our faces and
      beating on our breasts, which will heat and suffocate us; and I
      have been told’, says he, ‘that it is not good to overheat our
      blood at a time when, for aught we know, the infection may be in
      the very air. In the next place,’ says he, ‘I am for going the
      way that may be contrary to the wind, as it may blow when we set
      out, that we may not have the wind blow the air of the city on
      our backs as we go.’ These two cautions were approved of, if it
      could be brought so to hit that the wind might not be in the
      south when they set out to go north.

      John the baker, who had been a soldier, then put in his opinion.
      ‘First,’ says he, ‘we none of us expect to get any lodging on the
      road, and it will be a little too hard to lie just in the open
      air. Though it be warm weather, yet it may be wet and damp, and
      we have a double reason to take care of our healths at such a
      time as this; and therefore,’ says he, ‘you, brother Tom, that
      are a sailmaker, might easily make us a little tent, and I will
      undertake to set it up every night, and take it down, and a fig
      for all the inns in England; if we have a good tent over our
      heads we shall do well enough.’

      The joiner opposed this, and told them, let them leave that to
      him; he would undertake to build them a house every night with
      his hatchet and mallet, though he had no other tools, which
      should be fully to their satisfaction, and as good as a tent.

      The soldier and the joiner disputed that point some time, but at
      last the soldier carried it for a tent. The only objection
      against it was, that it must be carried with them, and that would
      increase their baggage too much, the weather being hot; but the
      sailmaker had a piece of good hap, fell in which made that easy,
      for his master whom he worked for, having a rope-walk as well as
      sailmaking trade, had a little, poor horse that he made no use of
      then; and being willing to assist the three honest men, he gave
      them the horse for the carrying their baggage; also for a small
      matter of three days’ work that his man did for him before he
      went, he let him have an old top-gallant sail that was worn out,
      but was sufficient and more than enough to make a very good tent.
      The soldier showed how to shape it, and they soon by his
      direction made their tent, and fitted it with poles or staves for
      the purpose; and thus they were furnished for their journey,
      viz., three men, one tent, one horse, one gun—for the soldier
      would not go without arms, for now he said he was no more a
      biscuit-baker, but a trooper.

      The joiner had a small bag of tools such as might be useful if he
      should get any work abroad, as well for their subsistence as his
      own. What money they had they brought all into one public stock,
      and thus they began their journey. It seems that in the morning
      when they set out the wind blew, as the sailor said, by his
      pocket-compass, at N.W. by W. So they directed, or rather
      resolved to direct, their course N.W.

      But then a difficulty came in their way, that, as they set out
      from the hither end of Wapping, near the Hermitage, and that the
      plague was now very violent, especially on the north side of the
      city, as in Shoreditch and Cripplegate parish, they did not think
      it safe for them to go near those parts; so they went away east
      through Ratcliff Highway as far as Ratcliff Cross, and leaving
      Stepney Church still on their left hand, being afraid to come up
      from Ratcliff Cross to Mile End, because they must come just by
      the churchyard, and because the wind, that seemed to blow more
      from the west, blew directly from the side of the city where the
      plague was hottest. So, I say, leaving Stepney they fetched a
      long compass, and going to Poplar and Bromley, came into the
      great road just at Bow.

      Here the watch placed upon Bow Bridge would have questioned them,
      but they, crossing the road into a narrow way that turns out of
      the hither end of the town of Bow to Old Ford, avoided any
      inquiry there, and travelled to Old Ford. The constables
      everywhere were upon their guard not so much, It seems, to stop
      people passing by as to stop them from taking up their abode in
      their towns, and withal because of a report that was newly raised
      at that time: and that, indeed, was not very improbable, viz.,
      that the poor people in London, being distressed and starved for
      want of work, and by that means for want of bread, were up in
      arms and had raised a tumult, and that they would come out to all
      the towns round to plunder for bread. This, I say, was only a
      rumour, and it was very well it was no more. But it was not so
      far off from being a reality as it has been thought, for in a few
      weeks more the poor people became so desperate by the calamity
      they suffered that they were with great difficulty kept from
      going out into the fields and towns, and tearing all in pieces
      wherever they came; and, as I have observed before, nothing
      hindered them but that the plague raged so violently and fell in
      upon them so furiously that they rather went to the grave by
      thousands than into the fields in mobs by thousands; for, in the
      parts about the parishes of St Sepulcher, Clarkenwell,
      Cripplegate, Bishopsgate, and Shoreditch, which were the places
      where the mob began to threaten, the distemper came on so
      furiously that there died in those few parishes even then, before
      the plague was come to its height, no less than 5361 people in
      the first three weeks in August; when at the same time the parts
      about Wapping, Radcliff, and Rotherhithe were, as before
      described, hardly touched, or but very lightly; so that in a word
      though, as I said before, the good management of the Lord Mayor
      and justices did much to prevent the rage and desperation of the
      people from breaking out in rabbles and tumults, and in short
      from the poor plundering the rich,—I say, though they did much,
      the dead-carts did more: for as I have said that in five parishes
      only there died above 5000 in twenty days, so there might be
      probably three times that number sick all that time; for some
      recovered, and great numbers fell sick every day and died
      afterwards. Besides, I must still be allowed to say that if the
      bills of mortality said five thousand, I always believed it was
      near twice as many in reality, there being no room to believe
      that the account they gave was right, or that indeed they were
      among such confusions as I saw them in, in any condition to keep
      an exact account.

      But to return to my travellers. Here they were only examined, and
      as they seemed rather coming from the country than from the city,
      they found the people the easier with them; that they talked to
      them, let them come into a public-house where the constable and
      his warders were, and gave them drink and some victuals which
      greatly refreshed and encouraged them; and here it came into
      their heads to say, when they should be inquired of afterwards,
      not that they came from London, but that they came out of Essex.

      To forward this little fraud, they obtained so much favour of the
      constable at Old Ford as to give them a certificate of their
      passing from Essex through that village, and that they had not
      been at London; which, though false in the common acceptance of
      London in the county, yet was literally true, Wapping or Ratcliff
      being no part either of the city or liberty.

      This certificate directed to the next constable that was at
      Homerton, one of the hamlets of the parish of Hackney, was so
      serviceable to them that it procured them, not a free passage
      there only, but a full certificate of health from a justice of
      the peace, who upon the constable’s application granted it
      without much difficulty; and thus they passed through the long
      divided town of Hackney (for it lay then in several separated
      hamlets), and travelled on till they came into the great north
      road on the top of Stamford Hill.

      By this time they began to be weary, and so in the back-road from
      Hackney, a little before it opened into the said great road, they
      resolved to set up their tent and encamp for the first night,
      which they did accordingly, with this addition, that finding a
      barn, or a building like a barn, and first searching as well as
      they could to be sure there was nobody in it, they set up their
      tent, with the head of it against the barn. This they did also
      because the wind blew that night very high, and they were but
      young at such a way of lodging, as well as at the managing their

      Here they went to sleep; but the joiner, a grave and sober man,
      and not pleased with their lying at this loose rate the first
      night, could not sleep, and resolved, after trying to sleep to no
      purpose, that he would get out, and, taking the gun in his hand,
      stand sentinel and guard his companions. So with the gun in his
      hand, he walked to and again before the barn, for that stood in
      the field near the road, but within the hedge. He had not been
      long upon the scout but he heard a noise of people coming on, as
      if it had been a great number, and they came on, as he thought,
      directly towards the barn. He did not presently awake his
      companions; but in a few minutes more, their noise growing louder
      and louder, the biscuit-baker called to him and asked him what
      was the matter, and quickly started out too. The other, being the
      lame sailmaker and most weary, lay still in the tent.

      As they expected, so the people whom they had heard came on
      directly to the barn, when one of our travellers challenged, like
      soldiers upon the guard, with ‘Who comes there?’ The people did
      not answer immediately, but one of them speaking to another that
      was behind him, ‘Alas! alas! we are all disappointed,’ says he.
      ‘Here are some people before us; the barn is taken up.’

      They all stopped upon that, as under some surprise, and it seems
      there was about thirteen of them in all, and some women among
      them. They consulted together what they should do, and by their
      discourse our travellers soon found they were poor, distressed
      people too, like themselves, seeking shelter and safety; and
      besides, our travellers had no need to be afraid of their coming
      up to disturb them, for as soon as they heard the words, ‘Who
      comes there?’ these could hear the women say, as if frighted, ‘Do
      not go near them. How do you know but they may have the plague?’
      And when one of the men said, ‘Let us but speak to them’, the
      women said, ‘No, don’t by any means. We have escaped thus far by
      the goodness of God; do not let us run into danger now, we
      beseech you.’

      Our travellers found by this that they were a good, sober sort of
      people, and flying for their lives, as they were; and, as they
      were encouraged by it, so John said to the joiner, his comrade,
      ‘Let us encourage them too as much as we can’; so he called to
      them, ‘Hark ye, good people,’ says the joiner, ‘we find by your
      talk that you are flying from the same dreadful enemy as we are.
      Do not be afraid of us; we are only three poor men of us. If you
      are free from the distemper you shall not be hurt by us. We are
      not in the barn, but in a little tent here in the outside, and we
      will remove for you; we can set up our tent again immediately
      anywhere else’; and upon this a parley began between the joiner,
      whose name was Richard, and one of their men, who said his name
      was Ford.

      Ford. And do you assure us that you are all sound men?

      Richard. Nay, we are concerned to tell you of it, that you may
      not be uneasy or think yourselves in danger; but you see we do
      not desire you should put yourselves into any danger, and
      therefore I tell you that we have not made use of the barn, so we
      will remove from it, that you may be safe and we also.

      Ford. That is very kind and charitable; but if we have reason to
      be satisfied that you are sound and free from the visitation, why
      should we make you remove now you are settled in your lodging,
      and, it may be, are laid down to rest? We will go into the barn,
      if you please, to rest ourselves a while, and we need not disturb

      Richard. Well, but you are more than we are. I hope you will
      assure us that you are all of you sound too, for the danger is as
      great from you to us as from us to you.

      Ford. Blessed be God that some do escape, though it is but few;
      what may be our portion still we know not, but hitherto we are

      Richard. What part of the town do you come from? Was the plague
      come to the places where you lived?

      Ford. Ay, ay, in a most frightful and terrible manner, or else we
      had not fled away as we do; but we believe there will be very few
      left alive behind us.

      Richard. What part do you come from?

      Ford. We are most of us of Cripplegate parish, only two or three
      of Clerkenwell parish, but on the hither side.

      Richard. How then was it that you came away no sooner?

      Ford. We have been away some time, and kept together as well as
      we could at the hither end of Islington, where we got leave to
      lie in an old uninhabited house, and had some bedding and
      conveniences of our own that we brought with us; but the plague
      is come up into Islington too, and a house next door to our poor
      dwelling was infected and shut up; and we are come away in a

      Richard. And what way are you going?

      Ford. As our lot shall cast us; we know not whither, but God will
      guide those that look up to Him.

      They parleyed no further at that time, but came all up to the
      barn, and with some difficulty got into it. There was nothing but
      hay in the barn, but it was almost full of that, and they
      accommodated themselves as well as they could, and went to rest;
      but our travellers observed that before they went to sleep an
      ancient man who it seems was father of one of the women, went to
      prayer with all the company, recommending themselves to the
      blessing and direction of Providence, before they went to sleep.

      It was soon day at that time of the year, and as Richard the
      joiner had kept guard the first part of the night, so John the
      soldier relieved him, and he had the post in the morning, and
      they began to be acquainted with one another. It seems when they
      left Islington they intended to have gone north, away to
      Highgate, but were stopped at Holloway, and there they would not
      let them pass; so they crossed over the fields and hills to the
      eastward, and came out at the Boarded River, and so avoiding the
      towns, they left Hornsey on the left hand and Newington on the
      right hand, and came into the great road about Stamford Hill on
      that side, as the three travellers had done on the other side.
      And now they had thoughts of going over the river in the marshes,
      and make forwards to Epping Forest, where they hoped they should
      get leave to rest. It seems they were not poor, at least not so
      poor as to be in want; at least they had enough to subsist them
      moderately for two or three months, when, as they said, they were
      in hopes the cold weather would check the infection, or at least
      the violence of it would have spent itself, and would abate, if
      it were only for want of people left alive to be infected.

      This was much the fate of our three travellers, only that they
      seemed to be the better furnished for travelling, and had it in
      their view to go farther off; for as to the first, they did not
      propose to go farther than one day’s journey, that so they might
      have intelligence every two or three days how things were at

      But here our travellers found themselves under an unexpected
      inconvenience: namely that of their horse, for by means of the
      horse to carry their baggage they were obliged to keep in the
      road, whereas the people of this other band went over the fields
      or roads, path or no path, way or no way, as they pleased;
      neither had they any occasion to pass through any town, or come
      near any town, other than to buy such things as they wanted for
      their necessary subsistence, and in that indeed they were put to
      much difficulty; of which in its place.

      But our three travellers were obliged to keep the road, or else
      they must commit spoil, and do the country a great deal of damage
      in breaking down fences and gates to go over enclosed fields,
      which they were loth to do if they could help it.

      Our three travellers, however, had a great mind to join
      themselves to this company and take their lot with them; and
      after some discourse they laid aside their first design which
      looked northward, and resolved to follow the other into Essex; so
      in the morning they took up their tent and loaded their horse,
      and away they travelled all together.

      They had some difficulty in passing the ferry at the river-side,
      the ferryman being afraid of them; but after some parley at a
      distance, the ferryman was content to bring his boat to a place
      distant from the usual ferry, and leave it there for them to take
      it; so putting themselves over, he directed them to leave the
      boat, and he, having another boat, said he would fetch it again,
      which it seems, however, he did not do for above eight days.

      Here, giving the ferryman money beforehand, they had a supply of
      victuals and drink, which he brought and left in the boat for
      them; but not without, as I said, having received the money
      beforehand. But now our travellers were at a great loss and
      difficulty how to get the horse over, the boat being small and
      not fit for it: and at last could not do it without unloading the
      baggage and making him swim over.

      From the river they travelled towards the forest, but when they
      came to Walthamstow the people of that town denied to admit them,
      as was the case everywhere. The constables and their watchmen
      kept them off at a distance and parleyed with them. They gave the
      same account of themselves as before, but these gave no credit to
      what they said, giving it for a reason that two or three
      companies had already come that way and made the like pretences,
      but that they had given several people the distemper in the towns
      where they had passed; and had been afterwards so hardly used by
      the country (though with justice, too, as they had deserved) that
      about Brentwood, or that way, several of them perished in the
      fields—whether of the plague or of mere want and distress they
      could not tell.

      This was a good reason indeed why the people of Walthamstow
      should be very cautious, and why they should resolve not to
      entertain anybody that they were not well satisfied of. But, as
      Richard the joiner and one of the other men who parleyed with
      them told them, it was no reason why they should block up the
      roads and refuse to let people pass through the town, and who
      asked nothing of them but to go through the street; that if their
      people were afraid of them, they might go into their houses and
      shut their doors; they would neither show them civility nor
      incivility, but go on about their business.

      The constables and attendants, not to be persuaded by reason,
      continued obstinate, and would hearken to nothing; so the two men
      that talked with them went back to their fellows to consult what
      was to be done. It was very discouraging in the whole, and they
      knew not what to do for a good while; but at last John the
      soldier and biscuit-maker, considering a while, ‘Come,’ says he,
      ‘leave the rest of the parley to me.’ He had not appeared yet, so
      he sets the joiner, Richard, to work to cut some poles out of the
      trees and shape them as like guns as he could, and in a little
      time he had five or six fair muskets, which at a distance would
      not be known; and about the part where the lock of a gun is he
      caused them to wrap cloth and rags such as they had, as soldiers
      do in wet weather to preserve the locks of their pieces from
      rust; the rest was discoloured with clay or mud, such as they
      could get; and all this while the rest of them sat under the
      trees by his direction, in two or three bodies, where they made
      fires at a good distance from one another.

      While this was doing he advanced himself and two or three with
      him, and set up their tent in the lane within sight of the
      barrier which the town’s men had made, and set a sentinel just by
      it with the real gun, the only one they had, and who walked to
      and fro with the gun on his shoulder, so as that the people of
      the town might see them. Also, he tied the horse to a gate in the
      hedge just by, and got some dry sticks together and kindled a
      fire on the other side of the tent, so that the people of the
      town could see the fire and the smoke, but could not see what
      they were doing at it.

      After the country people had looked upon them very earnestly a
      great while, and, by all that they could see, could not but
      suppose that they were a great many in company, they began to be
      uneasy, not for their going away, but for staying where they
      were; and above all, perceiving they had horses and arms, for
      they had seen one horse and one gun at the tent, and they had
      seen others of them walk about the field on the inside of the
      hedge by the side of the lane with their muskets, as they took
      them to be, shouldered; I say, upon such a sight as this, you may
      be assured they were alarmed and terribly frighted, and it seems
      they went to a justice of the peace to know what they should do.
      What the justice advised them to I know not, but towards the
      evening they called from the barrier, as above, to the sentinel
      at the tent.

      ‘What do you want?’ says John.[1]

      [1] It seems John was in the tent, but hearing them call, he
      steps out, and taking the gun upon his shoulder, talked to them
      as if he had been the sentinel placed there upon the guard by
      some officer that was his superior. [Footnote in the original.]

      ‘Why, what do you intend to do?’ says the constable. ‘To do,’
      says John; ‘what would you have us to do?’ Constable. Why don’t
      you be gone? What do you stay there for?

      John. Why do you stop us on the king’s highway, and pretend to
      refuse us leave to go on our way?

      Constable. We are not bound to tell you our reason, though we did
      let you know it was because of the plague.

      John. We told you we were all sound and free from the plague,
      which we were not bound to have satisfied you of, and yet you
      pretend to stop us on the highway.

      Constable. We have a right to stop it up, and our own safety
      obliges us to it. Besides, this is not the king’s highway; ’tis a
      way upon sufferance. You see here is a gate, and if we do let
      people pass here, we make them pay toll.

      John. We have a right to seek our own safety as well as you, and
      you may see we are flying for our lives: and ’tis very
      unchristian and unjust to stop us.

      Constable. You may go back from whence you came; we do not hinder
      you from that.

      John. No; it is a stronger enemy than you that keeps us from
      doing that, or else we should not have come hither.

      Constable. Well, you may go any other way, then.

      John. No, no; I suppose you see we are able to send you going,
      and all the people of your parish, and come through your town
      when we will; but since you have stopped us here, we are content.
      You see we have encamped here, and here we will live. We hope you
      will furnish us with victuals.

      Constable. We furnish you! What mean you by that?

      John. Why, you would not have us starve, would you? If you stop
      us here, you must keep us.

      Constable. You will be ill kept at our maintenance.

      John. If you stint us, we shall make ourselves the better

      Constable. Why, you will not pretend to quarter upon us by force,
      will you?

      John. We have offered no violence to you yet. Why do you seem to
      oblige us to it? I am an old soldier, and cannot starve, and if
      you think that we shall be obliged to go back for want of
      provisions, you are mistaken.

      Constable. Since you threaten us, we shall take care to be strong
      enough for you. I have orders to raise the county upon you.

      John. It is you that threaten, not we. And since you are for
      mischief, you cannot blame us if we do not give you time for it;
      we shall begin our march in a few minutes.[2]

       [2] This frighted the constable and the people that were with
       him, that they immediately changed their note.

      Constable. What is it you demand of us?

      John. At first we desired nothing of you but leave to go through
      the town; we should have offered no injury to any of you, neither
      would you have had any injury or loss by us. We are not thieves,
      but poor people in distress, and flying from the dreadful plague
      in London, which devours thousands every week. We wonder how you
      could be so unmerciful!

      Constable. Self-preservation obliges us.

      John. What! To shut up your compassion in a case of such distress
      as this?

      Constable. Well, if you will pass over the fields on your left
      hand, and behind that part of the town, I will endeavour to have
      gates opened for you.

      John. Our horsemen[3] cannot pass with our baggage that way; it
      does not lead into the road that we want to go, and why should
      you force us out of the road? Besides, you have kept us here all
      day without any provisions but such as we brought with us. I
      think you ought to send us some provisions for our relief.

       [3] They had but one horse among them. [Footnotes in the

      Constable. If you will go another way we will send you some

      John. That is the way to have all the towns in the county stop up
      the ways against us.

      Constable. If they all furnish you with food, what will you be
      the worse? I see you have tents; you want no lodging.

      John. Well, what quantity of provisions will you send us?

      Constable. How many are you?

      John. Nay, we do not ask enough for all our company; we are in
      three companies. If you will send us bread for twenty men and
      about six or seven women for three days, and show us the way over
      the field you speak of, we desire not to put your people into any
      fear for us; we will go out of our way to oblige you, though we
      are as free from infection as you are.[4]

       [4] Here he called to one of his men, and bade him order Captain
       Richard and his people to march the lower way on the side of the
       marches, and meet them in the forest; which was all a sham, for
       they had no Captain Richard, or any such company. [Footnote in
       the original.]

      Constable. And will you assure us that your other people shall
      offer us no new disturbance?

      John. No, no you may depend on it.

      Constable. You must oblige yourself, too, that none of your
      people shall come a step nearer than where the provisions we send
      you shall be set down.

      John. I answer for it we will not.

      Accordingly they sent to the place twenty loaves of bread and
      three or four large pieces of good beef, and opened some gates,
      through which they passed; but none of them had courage so much
      as to look out to see them go, and, as it was evening, if they
      had looked they could not have seen them as to know how few they

      This was John the soldier’s management. But this gave such an
      alarm to the county, that had they really been two or three
      hundred the whole county would have been raised upon them, and
      they would have been sent to prison, or perhaps knocked on the

      They were soon made sensible of this, for two days afterwards
      they found several parties of horsemen and footmen also about, in
      pursuit of three companies of men, armed, as they said, with
      muskets, who were broke out from London and had the plague upon
      them, and that were not only spreading the distemper among the
      people, but plundering the country.

      As they saw now the consequence of their case, they soon saw the
      danger they were in; so they resolved by the advice also of the
      old soldier to divide themselves again. John and his two
      comrades, with the horse, went away, as if towards Waltham; the
      other in two companies, but all a little asunder, and went
      towards Epping.

      The first night they encamped all in the forest, and not far off
      of one another, but not setting up the tent, lest that should
      discover them. On the other hand, Richard went to work with his
      axe and his hatchet, and cutting down branches of trees, he built
      three tents or hovels, in which they all encamped with as much
      convenience as they could expect.

      The provisions they had at Walthamstow served them very
      plentifully this night; and as for the next, they left it to
      Providence. They had fared so well with the old soldier’s conduct
      that they now willingly made him their leader, and the first of
      his conduct appeared to be very good. He told them that they were
      now at a proper distance enough from London; that as they need
      not be immediately beholden to the country for relief, so they
      ought to be as careful the country did not infect them as that
      they did not infect the country; that what little money they had,
      they must be as frugal of as they could; that as he would not
      have them think of offering the country any violence, so they
      must endeavour to make the sense of their condition go as far
      with the country as it could. They all referred themselves to his
      direction, so they left their three houses standing, and the next
      day went away towards Epping. The captain also (for so they now
      called him), and his two fellow-travellers, laid aside their
      design of going to Waltham, and all went together.

      When they came near Epping they halted, choosing out a proper
      place in the open forest, not very near the highway, but not far
      out of it on the north side, under a little cluster of low
      pollard-trees. Here they pitched their little camp—which
      consisted of three large tents or huts made of poles which their
      carpenter, and such as were his assistants, cut down and fixed in
      the ground in a circle, binding all the small ends together at
      the top and thickening the sides with boughs of trees and bushes,
      so that they were completely close and warm. They had, besides
      this, a little tent where the women lay by themselves, and a hut
      to put the horse in.

      It happened that the next day, or next but one, was market-day at
      Epping, when Captain John and one of the other men went to market
      and bought some provisions; that is to say, bread, and some
      mutton and beef; and two of the women went separately, as if they
      had not belonged to the rest, and bought more. John took the
      horse to bring it home, and the sack which the carpenter carried
      his tools in, to put it in. The carpenter went to work and made
      them benches and stools to sit on, such as the wood he could get
      would afford, and a kind of table to dine on.

      They were taken no notice of for two or three days, but after
      that abundance of people ran out of the town to look at them, and
      all the country was alarmed about them. The people at first
      seemed afraid to come near them; and, on the other hand, they
      desired the people to keep off, for there was a rumour that the
      plague was at Waltham, and that it had been in Epping two or
      three days; so John called out to them not to come to them,
      ‘for,’ says he, ‘we are all whole and sound people here, and we
      would not have you bring the plague among us, nor pretend we
      brought it among you.’

      After this the parish officers came up to them and parleyed with
      them at a distance, and desired to know who they were, and by
      what authority they pretended to fix their stand at that place.
      John answered very frankly, they were poor distressed people from
      London who, foreseeing the misery they should be reduced to if
      plague spread into the city, had fled out in time for their
      lives, and, having no acquaintance or relations to fly to, had
      first taken up at Islington; but, the plague being come into that
      town, were fled farther; and as they supposed that the people of
      Epping might have refused them coming into their town, they had
      pitched their tents thus in the open field and in the forest,
      being willing to bear all the hardships of such a disconsolate
      lodging rather than have any one think or be afraid that they
      should receive injury by them.

      At first the Epping people talked roughly to them, and told them
      they must remove; that this was no place for them; and that they
      pretended to be sound and well, but that they might be infected
      with the plague for aught they knew, and might infect the whole
      country, and they could not suffer them there.

      John argued very calmly with them a great while, and told them
      that London was the place by which they—that is, the townsmen of
      Epping and all the country round them—subsisted; to whom they
      sold the produce of their lands, and out of whom they made their
      rent of their farms; and to be so cruel to the inhabitants of
      London, or to any of those by whom they gained so much, was very
      hard, and they would be loth to have it remembered hereafter, and
      have it told how barbarous, how inhospitable, and how unkind they
      were to the people of London when they fled from the face of the
      most terrible enemy in the world; that it would be enough to make
      the name of an Epping man hateful through all the city, and to
      have the rabble stone them in the very streets whenever they came
      so much as to market; that they were not yet secure from being
      visited themselves, and that, as he heard, Waltham was already;
      that they would think it very hard that when any of them fled for
      fear before they were touched, they should be denied the liberty
      of lying so much as in the open fields.

      The Epping men told them again, that they, indeed, said they were
      sound and free from the infection, but that they had no assurance
      of it; and that it was reported that there had been a great
      rabble of people at Walthamstow, who made such pretences of being
      sound as they did, but that they threatened to plunder the town
      and force their way, whether the parish officers would or no;
      that there were near two hundred of them, and had arms and tents
      like Low Country soldiers; that they extorted provisions from the
      town, by threatening them with living upon them at free quarter,
      showing their arms, and talking in the language of soldiers; and
      that several of them being gone away toward Rumford and
      Brentwood, the country had been infected by them, and the plague
      spread into both those large towns, so that the people durst not
      go to market there as usual; that it was very likely they were
      some of that party; and if so, they deserved to be sent to the
      county jail, and be secured till they had made satisfaction for
      the damage they had done, and for the terror and fright they had
      put the country into.

      John answered that what other people had done was nothing to
      them; that they assured them they were all of one company; that
      they had never been more in number than they saw them at that
      time (which, by the way, was very true); that they came out in
      two separate companies, but joined by the way, their cases being
      the same; that they were ready to give what account of themselves
      anybody could desire of them, and to give in their names and
      places of abode, that so they might be called to an account for
      any disorder that they might be guilty of; that the townsmen
      might see they were content to live hardly, and only desired a
      little room to breathe in on the forest where it was wholesome;
      for where it was not they could not stay, and would decamp if
      they found it otherwise there.

      ‘But,’ said the townsmen, ‘we have a great charge of poor upon
      our hands already, and we must take care not to increase it; we
      suppose you can give us no security against your being chargeable
      to our parish and to the inhabitants, any more than you can of
      being dangerous to us as to the infection.’

      ‘Why, look you,’ says John, ‘as to being chargeable to you, we
      hope we shall not. If you will relieve us with provisions for our
      present necessity, we will be very thankful; as we all lived
      without charity when we were at home, so we will oblige ourselves
      fully to repay you, if God pleases to bring us back to our own
      families and houses in safety, and to restore health to the
      people of London.

      ‘As to our dying here: we assure you, if any of us die, we that
      survive will bury them, and put you to no expense, except it
      should be that we should all die; and then, indeed, the last man
      not being able to bury himself, would put you to that single
      expense which I am persuaded’, says John, ‘he would leave enough
      behind him to pay you for the expense of.

      ‘On the other hand,’ says John, ‘if you shut up all bowels of
      compassion, and not relieve us at all, we shall not extort
      anything by violence or steal from any one; but when what little
      we have is spent, if we perish for want, God’s will be done.’

      John wrought so upon the townsmen, by talking thus rationally and
      smoothly to them, that they went away; and though they did not
      give any consent to their staying there, yet they did not molest
      them; and the poor people continued there three or four days
      longer without any disturbance. In this time they had got some
      remote acquaintance with a victualling-house at the outskirts of
      the town, to whom they called at a distance to bring some little
      things that they wanted, and which they caused to be set down at
      a distance, and always paid for very honestly.

      During this time the younger people of the town came frequently
      pretty near them, and would stand and look at them, and sometimes
      talk with them at some space between; and particularly it was
      observed that the first Sabbath-day the poor people kept retired,
      worshipped God together, and were heard to sing psalms.

      These things, and a quiet, inoffensive behaviour, began to get
      them the good opinion of the country, and people began to pity
      them and speak very well of them; the consequence of which was,
      that upon the occasion of a very wet, rainy night, a certain
      gentleman who lived in the neighbourhood sent them a little cart
      with twelve trusses or bundles of straw, as well for them to
      lodge upon as to cover and thatch their huts and to keep them
      dry. The minister of a parish not far off, not knowing of the
      other, sent them also about two bushels of wheat and half a
      bushel of white peas.

      They were very thankful, to be sure, for this relief, and
      particularly the straw was a—very great comfort to them; for
      though the ingenious carpenter had made frames for them to lie in
      like troughs, and filled them with leaves of trees, and such
      things as they could get, and had cut all their tent-cloth out to
      make them coverlids, yet they lay damp and hard and unwholesome
      till this straw came, which was to them like feather-beds, and,
      as John said, more welcome than feather-beds would have been at
      another time.

      This gentleman and the minister having thus begun, and given an
      example of charity to these wanderers, others quickly followed,
      and they received every day some benevolence or other from the
      people, but chiefly from the gentlemen who dwelt in the country
      round them. Some sent them chairs, stools, tables, and such
      household things as they gave notice they wanted; some sent them
      blankets, rugs, and coverlids, some earthenware, and some kitchen
      ware for ordering their food.

      Encouraged by this good usage, their carpenter in a few days
      built them a large shed or house with rafters, and a roof in
      form, and an upper floor, in which they lodged warm: for the
      weather began to be damp and cold in the beginning of September.
      But this house, being well thatched, and the sides and roof made
      very thick, kept out the cold well enough. He made, also, an
      earthen wall at one end with a chimney in it, and another of the
      company, with a vast deal of trouble and pains, made a funnel to
      the chimney to carry out the smoke.

      Here they lived comfortably, though coarsely, till the beginning
      of September, when they had the bad news to hear, whether true or
      not, that the plague, which was very hot at Waltham Abbey on one
      side and at Rumford and Brentwood on the other side, was also
      coming to Epping, to Woodford, and to most of the towns upon the
      Forest, and which, as they said, was brought down among them
      chiefly by the higlers, and such people as went to and from
      London with provisions.

      If this was true, it was an evident contradiction to that report
      which was afterwards spread all over England, but which, as I
      have said, I cannot confirm of my own knowledge: namely, that the
      market-people carrying provisions to the city never got the
      infection or carried it back into the country; both which, I have
      been assured, has been false.

      It might be that they were preserved even beyond expectation,
      though not to a miracle, that abundance went and came and were
      not touched; and that was much for the encouragement of the poor
      people of London, who had been completely miserable if the people
      that brought provisions to the markets had not been many times
      wonderfully preserved, or at least more preserved than could be
      reasonably expected.

      But now these new inmates began to be disturbed more effectually,
      for the towns about them were really infected, and they began to
      be afraid to trust one another so much as to go abroad for such
      things as they wanted, and this pinched them very hard, for now
      they had little or nothing but what the charitable gentlemen of
      the country supplied them with. But, for their encouragement, it
      happened that other gentlemen in the country who had not sent
      them anything before, began to hear of them and supply them, and
      one sent them a large pig—that is to say, a porker—another two
      sheep, and another sent them a calf. In short, they had meat
      enough, and sometimes had cheese and milk, and all such things.
      They were chiefly put to it for bread, for when the gentlemen
      sent them corn they had nowhere to bake it or to grind it. This
      made them eat the first two bushel of wheat that was sent them in
      parched corn, as the Israelites of old did, without grinding or
      making bread of it.

      At last they found means to carry their corn to a windmill near
      Woodford, where they had it ground, and afterwards the
      biscuit-maker made a hearth so hollow and dry that he could bake
      biscuit-cakes tolerably well; and thus they came into a condition
      to live without any assistance or supplies from the towns; and it
      was well they did, for the country was soon after fully infected,
      and about 120 were said to have died of the distemper in the
      villages near them, which was a terrible thing to them.

      On this they called a new council, and now the towns had no need
      to be afraid they should settle near them; but, on the contrary,
      several families of the poorer sort of the inhabitants quitted
      their houses and built huts in the forest after the same manner
      as they had done. But it was observed that several of these poor
      people that had so removed had the sickness even in their huts or
      booths; the reason of which was plain, namely, not because they
      removed into the air, but, (1) because they did not remove time
      enough; that is to say, not till, by openly conversing with the
      other people their neighbours, they had the distemper upon them,
      or (as may be said) among them, and so carried it about them
      whither they went. Or (2) because they were not careful enough,
      after they were safely removed out of the towns, not to come in
      again and mingle with the diseased people.

      But be it which of these it will, when our travellers began to
      perceive that the plague was not only in the towns, but even in
      the tents and huts on the forest near them, they began then not
      only to be afraid, but to think of decamping and removing; for
      had they stayed they would have been in manifest danger of their

      It is not to be wondered that they were greatly afflicted at
      being obliged to quit the place where they had been so kindly
      received, and where they had been treated with so much humanity
      and charity; but necessity and the hazard of life, which they
      came out so far to preserve, prevailed with them, and they saw no
      remedy. John, however, thought of a remedy for their present
      misfortune: namely, that he would first acquaint that gentleman
      who was their principal benefactor with the distress they were
      in, and to crave his assistance and advice.

      The good, charitable gentleman encouraged them to quit the Place
      for fear they should be cut off from any retreat at all by the
      violence of the distemper; but whither they should go, that he
      found very hard to direct them to. At last John asked of him
      whether he, being a justice of the peace, would give them
      certificates of health to other justices whom they might come
      before; that so whatever might be their lot, they might not be
      repulsed now they had been also so long from London. This his
      worship immediately granted, and gave them proper letters of
      health, and from thence they were at liberty to travel whither
      they pleased.

      Accordingly they had a full certificate of health, intimating
      that they had resided in a village in the county of Essex so long
      that, being examined and scrutinised sufficiently, and having
      been retired from all conversation for above forty days, without
      any appearance of sickness, they were therefore certainly
      concluded to be sound men, and might be safely entertained
      anywhere, having at last removed rather for fear of the plague
      which was come into such a town, rather than for having any
      signal of infection upon them, or upon any belonging to them.

      With this certificate they removed, though with great reluctance;
      and John inclining not to go far from home, they moved towards
      the marshes on the side of Waltham. But here they found a man
      who, it seems, kept a weir or stop upon the river, made to raise
      the water for the barges which go up and down the river, and he
      terrified them with dismal stories of the sickness having been
      spread into all the towns on the river and near the river, on the
      side of Middlesex and Hertfordshire; that is to say, into
      Waltham, Waltham Cross, Enfield, and Ware, and all the towns on
      the road, that they were afraid to go that way; though it seems
      the man imposed upon them, for that the thing was not really

      However, it terrified them, and they resolved to move across the
      forest towards Rumford and Brentwood; but they heard that there
      were numbers of people fled out of London that way, who lay up
      and down in the forest called Henalt Forest, reaching near
      Rumford, and who, having no subsistence or habitation, not only
      lived oddly and suffered great extremities in the woods and
      fields for want of relief, but were said to be made so desperate
      by those extremities as that they offered many violences to the
      county, robbed and plundered, and killed cattle, and the like;
      that others, building huts and hovels by the roadside, begged,
      and that with an importunity next door to demanding relief; so
      that the county was very uneasy, and had been obliged to take
      some of them up.

      This in the first place intimated to them, that they would be
      sure to find the charity and kindness of the county, which they
      had found here where they were before, hardened and shut up
      against them; and that, on the other hand, they would be
      questioned wherever they came, and would be in danger of violence
      from others in like cases as themselves.

      Upon all these considerations John, their captain, in all their
      names, went back to their good friend and benefactor, who had
      relieved them before, and laying their case truly before him,
      humbly asked his advice; and he as kindly advised them to take up
      their old quarters again, or if not, to remove but a little
      farther out of the road, and directed them to a proper place for
      them; and as they really wanted some house rather than huts to
      shelter them at that time of the year, it growing on towards
      Michaelmas, they found an old decayed house which had been
      formerly some cottage or little habitation but was so out of
      repair as scarce habitable; and by the consent of a farmer to
      whose farm it belonged, they got leave to make what use of it
      they could.

      The ingenious joiner, and all the rest, by his directions went to
      work with it, and in a very few days made it capable to shelter
      them all in case of bad weather; and in which there was an old
      chimney and old oven, though both lying in ruins; yet they made
      them both fit for use, and, raising additions, sheds, and leantos
      on every side, they soon made the house capable to hold them all.

      They chiefly wanted boards to make window-shutters, floors,
      doors, and several other things; but as the gentlemen above
      favoured them, and the country was by that means made easy with
      them, and above all, that they were known to be all sound and in
      good health, everybody helped them with what they could spare.

      Here they encamped for good and all, and resolved to remove no
      more. They saw plainly how terribly alarmed that county was
      everywhere at anybody that came from London, and that they should
      have no admittance anywhere but with the utmost difficulty; at
      least no friendly reception and assistance as they had received

      Now, although they received great assistance and encouragement
      from the country gentlemen and from the people round about them,
      yet they were put to great straits: for the weather grew cold and
      wet in October and November, and they had not been used to so
      much hardship; so that they got colds in their limbs, and
      distempers, but never had the infection; and thus about December
      they came home to the city again.

      I give this story thus at large, principally to give an account
      what became of the great numbers of people which immediately
      appeared in the city as soon as the sickness abated; for, as I
      have said, great numbers of those that were able and had retreats
      in the country fled to those retreats. So, when it was increased
      to such a frightful extremity as I have related, the middling
      people who had not friends fled to all parts of the country where
      they could get shelter, as well those that had money to relieve
      themselves as those that had not. Those that had money always
      fled farthest, because they were able to subsist themselves; but
      those who were empty suffered, as I have said, great hardships,
      and were often driven by necessity to relieve their wants at the
      expense of the country. By that means the country was made very
      uneasy at them, and sometimes took them up; though even then they
      scarce knew what to do with them, and were always very backward
      to punish them, but often, too, they forced them from place to
      place till they were obliged to come back again to London.

      I have, since my knowing this story of John and his brother,
      inquired and found that there were a great many of the poor
      disconsolate people, as above, fled into the country every way;
      and some of them got little sheds and barns and outhouses to live
      in, where they could obtain so much kindness of the country, and
      especially where they had any the least satisfactory account to
      give of themselves, and particularly that they did not come out
      of London too late. But others, and that in great numbers, built
      themselves little huts and retreats in the fields and woods, and
      lived like hermits in holes and caves, or any place they could
      find, and where, we may be sure, they suffered great extremities,
      such that many of them were obliged to come back again whatever
      the danger was; and so those little huts were often found empty,
      and the country people supposed the inhabitants lay dead in them
      of the plague, and would not go near them for fear—no, not in a
      great while; nor is it unlikely but that some of the unhappy
      wanderers might die so all alone, even sometimes for want of
      help, as particularly in one tent or hut was found a man dead,
      and on the gate of a field just by was cut with his knife in
      uneven letters the following words, by which it may be supposed
      the other man escaped, or that, one dying first, the other buried
      him as well as he could:—

     O mIsErY!
     We BoTH ShaLL DyE,
     WoE, WoE.

      I have given an account already of what I found to have been the
      case down the river among the seafaring men; how the ships lay in
      the offing, as it’s called, in rows or lines astern of one
      another, quite down from the Pool as far as I could see. I have
      been told that they lay in the same manner quite down the river
      as low as Gravesend, and some far beyond: even everywhere or in
      every place where they could ride with safety as to wind and
      weather; nor did I ever hear that the plague reached to any of
      the people on board those ships—except such as lay up in the
      Pool, or as high as Deptford Reach, although the people went
      frequently on shore to the country towns and villages and
      farmers’ houses, to buy fresh provisions, fowls, pigs, calves,
      and the like for their supply.

      Likewise I found that the watermen on the river above the bridge
      found means to convey themselves away up the river as far as they
      could go, and that they had, many of them, their whole families
      in their boats, covered with tilts and bales, as they call them,
      and furnished with straw within for their lodging, and that they
      lay thus all along by the shore in the marshes, some of them
      setting up little tents with their sails, and so lying under them
      on shore in the day, and going into their boats at night; and in
      this manner, as I have heard, the river-sides were lined with
      boats and people as long as they had anything to subsist on, or
      could get anything of the country; and indeed the country people,
      as well Gentlemen as others, on these and all other occasions,
      were very forward to relieve them—but they were by no means
      willing to receive them into their towns and houses, and for that
      we cannot blame them.

      There was one unhappy citizen within my knowledge who had been
      visited in a dreadful manner, so that his wife and all his
      children were dead, and himself and two servants only left, with
      an elderly woman, a near relation, who had nursed those that were
      dead as well as she could. This disconsolate man goes to a
      village near the town, though not within the bills of mortality,
      and finding an empty house there, inquires out the owner, and
      took the house. After a few days he got a cart and loaded it with
      goods, and carries them down to the house; the people of the
      village opposed his driving the cart along; but with some
      arguings and some force, the men that drove the cart along got
      through the street up to the door of the house. There the
      constable resisted them again, and would not let them be brought
      in. The man caused the goods to be unloaden and laid at the door,
      and sent the cart away; upon which they carried the man before a
      justice of peace; that is to say, they commanded him to go, which
      he did. The justice ordered him to cause the cart to fetch away
      the goods again, which he refused to do; upon which the justice
      ordered the constable to pursue the carters and fetch them back,
      and make them reload the goods and carry them away, or to set
      them in the stocks till they came for further orders; and if they
      could not find them, nor the man would not consent to take them
      away, they should cause them to be drawn with hooks from the
      house-door and burned in the street. The poor distressed man upon
      this fetched the goods again, but with grievous cries and
      lamentations at the hardship of his case. But there was no
      remedy; self-preservation obliged the people to those severities
      which they would not otherwise have been concerned in. Whether
      this poor man lived or died I cannot tell, but it was reported
      that he had the plague upon him at that time; and perhaps the
      people might report that to justify their usage of him; but it
      was not unlikely that either he or his goods, or both, were
      dangerous, when his whole family had been dead of the distempers
      so little a while before.

      I know that the inhabitants of the towns adjacent to London were
      much blamed for cruelty to the poor people that ran from the
      contagion in their distress, and many very severe things were
      done, as may be seen from what has been said; but I cannot but
      say also that, where there was room for charity and assistance to
      the people, without apparent danger to themselves, they were
      willing enough to help and relieve them. But as every town were
      indeed judges in their own case, so the poor people who ran
      abroad in their extremities were often ill-used and driven back
      again into the town; and this caused infinite exclamations and
      outcries against the country towns, and made the clamour very

      And yet, more or less, (with) all the caution, there was not a
      town of any note within ten (or, I believe, twenty) miles of the
      city but what was more or less infected and had some died among
      them. I have heard the accounts of several, such as they were
      reckoned up, as follows:—

     In Enfield           32          In Uxbridge        117
     ”  Hornsey           58               ”  Hertford    90
     ”  Newington         17          ”  Ware            160
     ”  Tottenham         42          ”  Hodsdon          30
     ”  Edmonton          19          ”  Waltham Abbey    23
     ”  Barnet and Hadly  19          ”  Epping           26
     ”  St Albans        121          ”  Deptford        623
     ”  Watford           45          ”  Greenwich       231
     ”  Eltham and Lusum  85          ”  Kingston        122
     ”  Croydon           61          ”  Stanes           82
     ”  Brentwood         70          ”  Chertsey         18
     ”  Rumford          109          ”  Windsor         103
     ”  Barking Abbot    200
     ”  Brentford        432                       Cum aliis.

      Another thing might render the country more strict with respect
      to the citizens, and especially with respect to the poor, and
      this was what I hinted at before: namely, that there was a
      seeming propensity or a wicked inclination in those that were
      infected to infect others.

      There have been great debates among our physicians as to the
      reason of this. Some will have it to be in the nature of the
      disease, and that it impresses every one that is seized upon by
      it with a kind of a rage, and a hatred against their own kind—as
      if there was a malignity not only in the distemper to communicate
      itself, but in the very nature of man, prompting him with evil
      will or an evil eye, that, as they say in the case of a mad dog,
      who though the gentlest creature before of any of his kind, yet
      then will fly upon and bite any one that comes next him, and
      those as soon as any who had been most observed by him before.

      Others placed it to the account of the corruption of human
      nature, who cannot bear to see itself more miserable than others
      of its own species, and has a kind of involuntary wish that all
      men were as unhappy or in as bad a condition as itself.

      Others say it was only a kind of desperation, not knowing or
      regarding what they did, and consequently unconcerned at the
      danger or safety not only of anybody near them, but even of
      themselves also. And indeed, when men are once come to a
      condition to abandon themselves, and be unconcerned for the
      safety or at the danger of themselves, it cannot be so much
      wondered that they should be careless of the safety of other

      But I choose to give this grave debate a quite different turn,
      and answer it or resolve it all by saying that I do not grant the
      fact. On the contrary, I say that the thing is not really so, but
      that it was a general complaint raised by the people inhabiting
      the outlying villages against the citizens to justify, or at
      least excuse, those hardships and severities so much talked of,
      and in which complaints both sides may be said to have injured
      one another; that is to say, the citizens pressing to be received
      and harboured in time of distress, and with the plague upon them,
      complain of the cruelty and injustice of the country people in
      being refused entrance and forced back again with their goods and
      families; and the inhabitants, finding themselves so imposed
      upon, and the citizens breaking in as it were upon them whether
      they would or no, complain that when they were infected they were
      not only regardless of others, but even willing to infect them;
      neither of which were really true—that is to say, in the colours
      they were described in.

      It is true there is something to be said for the frequent alarms
      which were given to the country of the resolution of the people
      of London to come out by force, not only for relief, but to
      plunder and rob; that they ran about the streets with the
      distemper upon them without any control; and that no care was
      taken to shut up houses, and confine the sick people from
      infecting others; whereas, to do the Londoners justice, they
      never practised such things, except in such particular cases as I
      have mentioned above, and such like. On the other hand,
      everything was managed with so much care, and such excellent
      order was observed in the whole city and suburbs by the care of
      the Lord Mayor and aldermen and by the justices of the peace,
      church-wardens, &c., in the outparts, that London may be a
      pattern to all the cities in the world for the good government
      and the excellent order that was everywhere kept, even in the
      time of the most violent infection, and when the people were in
      the utmost consternation and distress. But of this I shall speak
      by itself.

      One thing, it is to be observed, was owing principally to the
      prudence of the magistrates, and ought to be mentioned to their
      honour: viz., the moderation which they used in the great and
      difficult work of shutting up of houses. It is true, as I have
      mentioned, that the shutting up of houses was a great subject of
      discontent, and I may say indeed the only subject of discontent
      among the people at that time; for the confining the sound in the
      same house with the sick was counted very terrible, and the
      complaints of people so confined were very grievous. They were
      heard into the very streets, and they were sometimes such that
      called for resentment, though oftener for compassion. They had no
      way to converse with any of their friends but out at their
      windows, where they would make such piteous lamentations as often
      moved the hearts of those they talked with, and of others who,
      passing by, heard their story; and as those complaints oftentimes
      reproached the severity, and sometimes the insolence, of the
      watchmen placed at their doors, those watchmen would answer
      saucily enough, and perhaps be apt to affront the people who were
      in the street talking to the said families; for which, or for
      their ill-treatment of the families, I think seven or eight of
      them in several places were killed; I know not whether I should
      say murdered or not, because I cannot enter into the particular
      cases. It is true the watchmen were on their duty, and acting in
      the post where they were placed by a lawful authority; and
      killing any public legal officer in the execution of his office
      is always, in the language of the law, called murder. But as they
      were not authorised by the magistrates’ instructions, or by the
      power they acted under, to be injurious or abusive either to the
      people who were under their observation or to any that concerned
      themselves for them; so when they did so, they might be said to
      act themselves, not their office; to act as private persons, not
      as persons employed; and consequently, if they brought mischief
      upon themselves by such an undue behaviour, that mischief was
      upon their own heads; and indeed they had so much the hearty
      curses of the people, whether they deserved it or not, that
      whatever befell them nobody pitied them, and everybody was apt to
      say they deserved it, whatever it was. Nor do I remember that
      anybody was ever punished, at least to any considerable degree,
      for whatever was done to the watchmen that guarded their houses.

      What variety of stratagems were used to escape and get out of
      houses thus shut up, by which the watchmen were deceived or
      overpowered, and that the people got away, I have taken notice of
      already, and shall say no more to that. But I say the magistrates
      did moderate and ease families upon many occasions in this case,
      and particularly in that of taking away, or suffering to be
      removed, the sick persons out of such houses when they were
      willing to be removed either to a pest-house or other Places; and
      sometimes giving the well persons in the family so shut up, leave
      to remove upon information given that they were well, and that
      they would confine themselves in such houses where they went so
      long as should be required of them. The concern, also, of the
      magistrates for the supplying such poor families as were
      infected—I say, supplying them with necessaries, as well physic
      as food—was very great, and in which they did not content
      themselves with giving the necessary orders to the officers
      appointed, but the aldermen in person, and on horseback,
      frequently rode to such houses and caused the people to be asked
      at their windows whether they were duly attended or not; also,
      whether they wanted anything that was necessary, and if the
      officers had constantly carried their messages and fetched them
      such things as they wanted or not. And if they answered in the
      affirmative, all was well; but if they complained that they were
      ill supplied, and that the officer did not do his duty, or did
      not treat them civilly, they (the officers) were generally
      removed, and others placed in their stead.

      It is true such complaint might be unjust, and if the officer had
      such arguments to use as would convince the magistrate that he
      was right, and that the people had injured him, he was continued
      and they reproved. But this part could not well bear a particular
      inquiry, for the parties could very ill be well heard and
      answered in the street from the windows, as was the case then.
      The magistrates, therefore, generally chose to favour the people
      and remove the man, as what seemed to be the least wrong and of
      the least ill consequence; seeing if the watchman was injured,
      yet they could easily make him amends by giving him another post
      of the like nature; but if the family was injured, there was no
      satisfaction could be made to them, the damage perhaps being
      irreparable, as it concerned their lives.

      A great variety of these cases frequently happened between the
      watchmen and the poor people shut up, besides those I formerly
      mentioned about escaping. Sometimes the watchmen were absent,
      sometimes drunk, sometimes asleep when the people wanted them,
      and such never failed to be punished severely, as indeed they

      But after all that was or could be done in these cases, the
      shutting up of houses, so as to confine those that were well with
      those that were sick, had very great inconveniences in it, and
      some that were very tragical, and which merited to have been
      considered if there had been room for it. But it was authorised
      by a law, it had the public good in view as the end chiefly aimed
      at, and all the private injuries that were done by the putting it
      in execution must be put to the account of the public benefit.

      It is doubtful to this day whether, in the whole, it contributed
      anything to the stop of the infection; and indeed I cannot say it
      did, for nothing could run with greater fury and rage than the
      infection did when it was in its chief violence, though the
      houses infected were shut up as exactly and as effectually as it
      was possible. Certain it is that if all the infected persons were
      effectually shut in, no sound person could have been infected by
      them, because they could not have come near them. But the case
      was this (and I shall only touch it here): namely, that the
      infection was propagated insensibly, and by such persons as were
      not visibly infected, who neither knew whom they infected or who
      they were infected by.

      A house in Whitechappel was shut up for the sake of one infected
      maid, who had only spots, not the tokens come out upon her, and
      recovered; yet these people obtained no liberty to stir, neither
      for air or exercise, forty days. Want of breath, fear, anger,
      vexation, and all the other gifts attending such an injurious
      treatment cast the mistress of the family into a fever, and
      visitors came into the house and said it was the plague, though
      the physicians declared it was not. However, the family were
      obliged to begin their quarantine anew on the report of the
      visitors or examiner, though their former quarantine wanted but a
      few days of being finished. This oppressed them so with anger and
      grief, and, as before, straitened them also so much as to room,
      and for want of breathing and free air, that most of the family
      fell sick, one of one distemper, one of another, chiefly
      scorbutic ailments; only one, a violent colic; till, after
      several prolongings of their confinement, some or other of those
      that came in with the visitors to inspect the persons that were
      ill, in hopes of releasing them, brought the distemper with them
      and infected the whole house; and all or most of them died, not
      of the plague as really upon them before, but of the plague that
      those people brought them, who should have been careful to have
      protected them from it. And this was a thing which frequently
      happened, and was indeed one of the worst consequences of
      shutting houses up.

      I had about this time a little hardship put upon me, which I was
      at first greatly afflicted at, and very much disturbed about
      though, as it proved, it did not expose me to any disaster; and
      this was being appointed by the alderman of Portsoken Ward one of
      the examiners of the houses in the precinct where I lived. We had
      a large parish, and had no less than eighteen examiners, as the
      order called us; the people called us visitors. I endeavoured
      with all my might to be excused from such an employment, and used
      many arguments with the alderman’s deputy to be excused;
      particularly I alleged that I was against shutting up houses at
      all, and that it would be very hard to oblige me to be an
      instrument in that which was against my judgement, and which I
      did verily believe would not answer the end it was intended for;
      but all the abatement I could get was only, that whereas the
      officer was appointed by my Lord Mayor to continue two months, I
      should be obliged to hold it but three weeks, on condition
      nevertheless that I could then get some other sufficient
      housekeeper to serve the rest of the time for me—which was, in
      short, but a very small favour, it being very difficult to get
      any man to accept of such an employment, that was fit to be
      entrusted with it.

      It is true that shutting up of houses had one effect, which I am
      sensible was of moment, namely, it confined the distempered
      people, who would otherwise have been both very troublesome and
      very dangerous in their running about streets with the distemper
      upon them—which, when they were delirious, they would have done
      in a most frightful manner, and as indeed they began to do at
      first very much, till they were thus restrained; nay, so very
      open they were that the poor would go about and beg at people’s
      doors, and say they had the plague upon them, and beg rags for
      their sores, or both, or anything that delirious nature happened
      to think of.

      A poor, unhappy gentlewoman, a substantial citizen’s wife, was
      (if the story be true) murdered by one of these creatures in
      Aldersgate Street, or that way. He was going along the street,
      raving mad to be sure, and singing; the people only said he was
      drunk, but he himself said he had the plague upon him, which it
      seems was true; and meeting this gentlewoman, he would kiss her.
      She was terribly frighted, as he was only a rude fellow, and she
      ran from him, but the street being very thin of people, there was
      nobody near enough to help her. When she saw he would overtake
      her, she turned and gave him a thrust so forcibly, he being but
      weak, and pushed him down backward. But very unhappily, she being
      so near, he caught hold of her and pulled her down also, and
      getting up first, mastered her and kissed her; and which was
      worst of all, when he had done, told her he had the plague, and
      why should not she have it as well as he? She was frighted enough
      before, being also young with child; but when she heard him say
      he had the plague, she screamed out and fell down into a swoon,
      or in a fit, which, though she recovered a little, yet killed her
      in a very few days; and I never heard whether she had the plague
      or no.

      Another infected person came and knocked at the door of a
      citizen’s house where they knew him very well; the servant let
      him in, and being told the master of the house was above, he ran
      up and came into the room to them as the whole family was at
      supper. They began to rise up, a little surprised, not knowing
      what the matter was; but he bid them sit still, he only came to
      take his leave of them. They asked him, ‘Why, Mr—, where are you
      going?’ ‘Going,’ says he; ‘I have got the sickness, and shall die
      tomorrow night.’ ’Tis easy to believe, though not to describe,
      the consternation they were all in. The women and the man’s
      daughters, which were but little girls, were frighted almost to
      death and got up, one running out at one door and one at another,
      some downstairs and some upstairs, and getting together as well
      as they could, locked themselves into their chambers and screamed
      out at the window for help, as if they had been frighted out of
      their wits. The master, more composed than they, though both
      frighted and provoked, was going to lay hands on him and throw
      him downstairs, being in a passion; but then, considering a
      little the condition of the man and the danger of touching him,
      horror seized his mind, and he stood still like one astonished.
      The poor distempered man all this while, being as well diseased
      in his brain as in his body, stood still like one amazed. At
      length he turns round: ‘Ay!’ says he, with all the seeming
      calmness imaginable, ‘is it so with you all? Are you all
      disturbed at me? Why, then I’ll e’en go home and die there.’ And
      so he goes immediately downstairs. The servant that had let him
      in goes down after him with a candle, but was afraid to go past
      him and open the door, so he stood on the stairs to see what he
      would do. The man went and opened the door, and went out and
      flung the door after him. It was some while before the family
      recovered the fright, but as no ill consequence attended, they
      have had occasion since to speak of it (You may be sure) with
      great satisfaction. Though the man was gone, it was some
      time—nay, as I heard, some days before they recovered themselves
      of the hurry they were in; nor did they go up and down the house
      with any assurance till they had burnt a great variety of fumes
      and perfumes in all the rooms, and made a great many smokes of
      pitch, of gunpowder, and of sulphur, all separately shifted, and
      washed their clothes, and the like. As to the poor man, whether
      he lived or died I don’t remember.

      It is most certain that, if by the shutting up of houses the sick
      had not been confined, multitudes who in the height of their
      fever were delirious and distracted would have been continually
      running up and down the streets; and even as it was a very great
      number did so, and offered all sorts of violence to those they
      met, even just as a mad dog runs on and bites at every one he
      meets; nor can I doubt but that, should one of those infected,
      diseased creatures have bitten any man or woman while the frenzy
      of the distemper was upon them, they, I mean the person so
      wounded, would as certainly have been incurably infected as one
      that was sick before, and had the tokens upon him.

      I heard of one infected creature who, running out of his bed in
      his shirt in the anguish and agony of his swellings, of which he
      had three upon him, got his shoes on and went to put on his coat;
      but the nurse resisting, and snatching the coat from him, he
      threw her down, ran over her, ran downstairs and into the street,
      directly to the Thames in his shirt; the nurse running after him,
      and calling to the watch to stop him; but the watchman, frighted
      at the man, and afraid to touch him, let him go on; upon which he
      ran down to the Stillyard stairs, threw away his shirt, and
      plunged into the Thames, and, being a good swimmer, swam quite
      over the river; and the tide being coming in, as they call it
      (that is, running westward) he reached the land not till he came
      about the Falcon stairs, where landing, and finding no people
      there, it being in the night, he ran about the streets there,
      naked as he was, for a good while, when, it being by that time
      high water, he takes the river again, and swam back to the
      Stillyard, landed, ran up the streets again to his own house,
      knocking at the door, went up the stairs and into his bed again;
      and that this terrible experiment cured him of the plague, that
      is to say, that the violent motion of his arms and legs stretched
      the parts where the swellings he had upon him were, that is to
      say, under his arms and his groin, and caused them to ripen and
      break; and that the cold of the water abated the fever in his

      I have only to add that I do not relate this any more than some
      of the other, as a fact within my own knowledge, so as that I can
      vouch the truth of them, and especially that of the man being
      cured by the extravagant adventure, which I confess I do not
      think very possible; but it may serve to confirm the many
      desperate things which the distressed people falling into
      deliriums, and what we call light-headedness, were frequently run
      upon at that time, and how infinitely more such there would have
      been if such people had not been confined by the shutting up of
      houses; and this I take to be the best, if not the only good
      thing which was performed by that severe method.

      On the other hand, the complaints and the murmurings were very
      bitter against the thing itself. It would pierce the hearts of
      all that came by to hear the piteous cries of those infected
      people, who, being thus out of their understandings by the
      violence of their pain or the heat of their blood, were either
      shut in or perhaps tied in their beds and chairs, to prevent
      their doing themselves hurt—and who would make a dreadful outcry
      at their being confined, and at their being not permitted to die
      at large, as they called it, and as they would have done before.

      This running of distempered people about the streets was very
      dismal, and the magistrates did their utmost to prevent it; but
      as it was generally in the night and always sudden when such
      attempts were made, the officers could not be at hand to prevent
      it; and even when any got out in the day, the officers appointed
      did not care to meddle with them, because, as they were all
      grievously infected, to be sure, when they were come to that
      height, so they were more than ordinarily infectious, and it was
      one of the most dangerous things that could be to touch them. On
      the other hand, they generally ran on, not knowing what they did,
      till they dropped down stark dead, or till they had exhausted
      their spirits so as that they would fall and then die in perhaps
      half-an-hour or an hour; and, which was most piteous to hear,
      they were sure to come to themselves entirely in that half-hour
      or hour, and then to make most grievous and piercing cries and
      lamentations in the deep, afflicting sense of the condition they
      were in. This was much of it before the order for shutting up of
      houses was strictly put in execution, for at first the watchmen
      were not so vigorous and severe as they were afterward in the
      keeping the people in; that is to say, before they were (I mean
      some of them) severely punished for their neglect, failing in
      their duty, and letting people who were under their care slip
      away, or conniving at their going abroad, whether sick or well.
      But after they saw the officers appointed to examine into their
      conduct were resolved to have them do their duty or be punished
      for the omission, they were more exact, and the people were
      strictly restrained; which was a thing they took so ill and bore
      so impatiently that their discontents can hardly be described.
      But there was an absolute necessity for it, that must be
      confessed, unless some other measures had been timely entered
      upon, and it was too late for that.

      Had not this particular (of the sick being restrained as above)
      been our case at that time, London would have been the most
      dreadful place that ever was in the world; there would, for aught
      I know, have as many people died in the streets as died in their
      houses; for when the distemper was at its height it generally
      made them raving and delirious, and when they were so they would
      never be persuaded to keep in their beds but by force; and many
      who were not tied threw themselves out of windows when they found
      they could not get leave to go out of their doors.

      It was for want of people conversing one with another, in this
      time of calamity, that it was impossible any particular person
      could come at the knowledge of all the extraordinary cases that
      occurred in different families; and particularly I believe it was
      never known to this day how many people in their deliriums
      drowned themselves in the Thames, and in the river which runs
      from the marshes by Hackney, which we generally called Ware
      River, or Hackney River. As to those which were set down in the
      weekly bill, they were indeed few; nor could it be known of any
      of those whether they drowned themselves by accident or not. But
      I believe I might reckon up more who within the compass of my
      knowledge or observation really drowned themselves in that year,
      than are put down in the bill of all put together: for many of
      the bodies were never found who yet were known to be lost; and
      the like in other methods of self-destruction. There was also one
      man in or about Whitecross Street burned himself to death in his
      bed; some said it was done by himself, others that it was by the
      treachery of the nurse that attended him; but that he had the
      plague upon him was agreed by all.

      It was a merciful disposition of Providence also, and which I
      have many times thought of at that time, that no fires, or no
      considerable ones at least, happened in the city during that
      year, which, if it had been otherwise, would have been very
      dreadful; and either the people must have let them alone
      unquenched, or have come together in great crowds and throngs,
      unconcerned at the danger of the infection, not concerned at the
      houses they went into, at the goods they handled, or at the
      persons or the people they came among. But so it was, that
      excepting that in Cripplegate parish, and two or three little
      eruptions of fires, which were presently extinguished, there was
      no disaster of that kind happened in the whole year. They told us
      a story of a house in a place called Swan Alley, passing from
      Goswell Street, near the end of Old Street, into St John Street,
      that a family was infected there in so terrible a manner that
      every one of the house died. The last person lay dead on the
      floor, and, as it is supposed, had lain herself all along to die
      just before the fire; the fire, it seems, had fallen from its
      place, being of wood, and had taken hold of the boards and the
      joists they lay on, and burnt as far as just to the body, but had
      not taken hold of the dead body (though she had little more than
      her shift on) and had gone out of itself, not burning the rest of
      the house, though it was a slight timber house. How true this
      might be I do not determine, but the city being to suffer
      severely the next year by fire, this year it felt very little of
      that calamity.

      Indeed, considering the deliriums which the agony threw people
      into, and how I have mentioned in their madness, when they were
      alone, they did many desperate things, it was very strange there
      were no more disasters of that kind.

      It has been frequently asked me, and I cannot say that I ever
      knew how to give a direct answer to it, how it came to pass that
      so many infected people appeared abroad in the streets at the
      same time that the houses which were infected were so vigilantly
      searched, and all of them shut up and guarded as they were.

      I confess I know not what answer to give to this, unless it be
      this: that in so great and populous a city as this is it was
      impossible to discover every house that was infected as soon as
      it was so, or to shut up all the houses that were infected; so
      that people had the liberty of going about the streets, even
      where they Pleased, unless they were known to belong to
      such-and-such infected houses.

      It is true that, as several physicians told my Lord Mayor, the
      fury of the contagion was such at some particular times, and
      people sickened so fast and died so soon, that it was impossible,
      and indeed to no purpose, to go about to inquire who was sick and
      who was well, or to shut them up with such exactness as the thing
      required, almost every house in a whole street being infected,
      and in many places every person in some of the houses; and that
      which was still worse, by the time that the houses were known to
      be infected, most of the persons infected would be stone dead,
      and the rest run away for fear of being shut up; so that it was
      to very small purpose to call them infected houses and shut them
      up, the infection having ravaged and taken its leave of the house
      before it was really known that the family was any way touched.

      This might be sufficient to convince any reasonable person that
      as it was not in the power of the magistrates or of any human
      methods of policy, to prevent the spreading the infection, so
      that this way of shutting up of houses was perfectly insufficient
      for that end. Indeed it seemed to have no manner of public good
      in it, equal or proportionable to the grievous burden that it was
      to the particular families that were so shut up; and, as far as I
      was employed by the public in directing that severity, I
      frequently found occasion to see that it was incapable of
      answering the end. For example, as I was desired, as a visitor or
      examiner, to inquire into the particulars of several families
      which were infected, we scarce came to any house where the plague
      had visibly appeared in the family but that some of the family
      were fled and gone. The magistrates would resent this, and charge
      the examiners with being remiss in their examination or
      inspection. But by that means houses were long infected before it
      was known. Now, as I was in this dangerous office but half the
      appointed time, which was two months, it was long enough to
      inform myself that we were no way capable of coming at the
      knowledge of the true state of any family but by inquiring at the
      door or of the neighbours. As for going into every house to
      search, that was a part no authority would offer to impose on the
      inhabitants, or any citizen would undertake: for it would have
      been exposing us to certain infection and death, and to the ruin
      of our own families as well as of ourselves; nor would any
      citizen of probity, and that could be depended upon, have stayed
      in the town if they had been made liable to such a severity.

      Seeing then that we could come at the certainty of things by no
      method but that of inquiry of the neighbours or of the family,
      and on that we could not justly depend, it was not possible but
      that the uncertainty of this matter would remain as above.

      It is true masters of families were bound by the order to give
      notice to the examiner of the place wherein he lived, within two
      hours after he should discover it, of any person being sick in
      his house (that is to say, having signs of the infection)—but
      they found so many ways to evade this and excuse their negligence
      that they seldom gave that notice till they had taken measures to
      have every one escape out of the house who had a mind to escape,
      whether they were sick or sound; and while this was so, it is
      easy to see that the shutting up of houses was no way to be
      depended upon as a sufficient method for putting a stop to the
      infection because, as I have said elsewhere, many of those that
      so went out of those infected houses had the plague really upon
      them, though they might really think themselves sound. And some
      of these were the people that walked the streets till they fell
      down dead, not that they were suddenly struck with the distemper
      as with a bullet that killed with the stroke, but that they
      really had the infection in their blood long before; only, that
      as it preyed secretly on the vitals, it appeared not till it
      seized the heart with a mortal power, and the patient died in a
      moment, as with a sudden fainting or an apoplectic fit.

      I know that some even of our physicians thought for a time that
      those people that so died in the streets were seized but that
      moment they fell, as if they had been touched by a stroke from
      heaven as men are killed by a flash of lightning—but they found
      reason to alter their opinion afterward; for upon examining the
      bodies of such after they were dead, they always either had
      tokens upon them or other evident proofs of the distemper having
      been longer upon them than they had otherwise expected.

      This often was the reason that, as I have said, we that were
      examiners were not able to come at the knowledge of the infection
      being entered into a house till it was too late to shut it up,
      and sometimes not till the people that were left were all dead.
      In Petticoat Lane two houses together were infected, and several
      people sick; but the distemper was so well concealed, the
      examiner, who was my neighbour, got no knowledge of it till
      notice was sent him that the people were all dead, and that the
      carts should call there to fetch them away. The two heads of the
      families concerted their measures, and so ordered their matters
      as that when the examiner was in the neighbourhood they appeared
      generally at a time, and answered, that is, lied, for one
      another, or got some of the neighbourhood to say they were all in
      health—and perhaps knew no better—till, death making it
      impossible to keep it any longer as a secret, the dead-carts were
      called in the night to both the houses, and so it became public.
      But when the examiner ordered the constable to shut up the houses
      there was nobody left in them but three people, two in one house
      and one in the other, just dying, and a nurse in each house who
      acknowledged that they had buried five before, that the houses
      had been infected nine or ten days, and that for all the rest of
      the two families, which were many, they were gone, some sick,
      some well, or whether sick or well could not be known.

      In like manner, at another house in the same lane, a man having
      his family infected but very unwilling to be shut up, when he
      could conceal it no longer, shut up himself; that is to say, he
      set the great red cross upon his door with the words, ‘Lord have
      mercy upon us’, and so deluded the examiner, who supposed it had
      been done by the constable by order of the other examiner, for
      there were two examiners to every district or precinct. By this
      means he had free egress and regress into his house again and out
      of it, as he pleased, notwithstanding it was infected, till at
      length his stratagem was found out; and then he, with the sound
      part of his servants and family, made off and escaped, so they
      were not shut up at all.

      These things made it very hard, if not impossible, as I have
      said, to prevent the spreading of an infection by the shutting up
      of houses—unless the people would think the shutting of their
      houses no grievance, and be so willing to have it done as that
      they would give notice duly and faithfully to the magistrates of
      their being infected as soon as it was known by themselves; but
      as that cannot be expected from them, and the examiners cannot be
      supposed, as above, to go into their houses to visit and search,
      all the good of shutting up houses will be defeated, and few
      houses will be shut up in time, except those of the poor, who
      cannot conceal it, and of some people who will be discovered by
      the terror and consternation which the things put them into.

      I got myself discharged of the dangerous office I was in as soon
      as I could get another admitted, whom I had obtained for a little
      money to accept of it; and so, instead of serving the two months,
      which was directed, I was not above three weeks in it; and a
      great while too, considering it was in the month of August, at
      which time the distemper began to rage with great violence at our
      end of the town.

      In the execution of this office I could not refrain speaking my
      opinion among my neighbours as to this shutting up the people in
      their houses; in which we saw most evidently the severities that
      were used, though grievous in themselves, had also this
      particular objection against them: namely, that they did not
      answer the end, as I have said, but that the distempered people
      went day by day about the streets; and it was our united opinion
      that a method to have removed the sound from the sick, in case of
      a particular house being visited, would have been much more
      reasonable on many accounts, leaving nobody with the sick persons
      but such as should on such occasion request to stay and declare
      themselves content to be shut up with them.

      Our scheme for removing those that were sound from those that
      were sick was only in such houses as were infected, and confining
      the sick was no confinement; those that could not stir would not
      complain while they were in their senses and while they had the
      power of judging. Indeed, when they came to be delirious and
      light-headed, then they would cry out of the cruelty of being
      confined; but for the removal of those that were well, we thought
      it highly reasonable and just, for their own sakes, they should
      be removed from the sick, and that for other people’s safety they
      should keep retired for a while, to see that they were sound, and
      might not infect others; and we thought twenty or thirty days
      enough for this.

      Now, certainly, if houses had been provided on purpose for those
      that were sound to perform this demi-quarantine in, they would
      have much less reason to think themselves injured in such a
      restraint than in being confined with infected people in the
      houses where they lived.

      It is here, however, to be observed that after the funerals
      became so many that people could not toll the bell, mourn or
      weep, or wear black for one another, as they did before; no, nor
      so much as make coffins for those that died; so after a while the
      fury of the infection appeared to be so increased that, in short,
      they shut up no houses at all. It seemed enough that all the
      remedies of that kind had been used till they were found
      fruitless, and that the plague spread itself with an irresistible
      fury; so that as the fire the succeeding year spread itself, and
      burned with such violence that the citizens, in despair, gave
      over their endeavours to extinguish it, so in the plague it came
      at last to such violence that the people sat still looking at one
      another, and seemed quite abandoned to despair; whole streets
      seemed to be desolated, and not to be shut up only, but to be
      emptied of their inhabitants; doors were left open, windows stood
      shattering with the wind in empty houses for want of people to
      shut them. In a word, people began to give up themselves to their
      fears and to think that all regulations and methods were in vain,
      and that there was nothing to be hoped for but an universal
      desolation; and it was even in the height of this general despair
      that it Pleased God to stay His hand, and to slacken the fury of
      the contagion in such a manner as was even surprising, like its
      beginning, and demonstrated it to be His own particular hand, and
      that above, if not without the agency of means, as I shall take
      notice of in its proper place.

      But I must still speak of the plague as in its height, raging
      even to desolation, and the people under the most dreadful
      consternation, even, as I have said, to despair. It is hardly
      credible to what excess the passions of men carried them in this
      extremity of the distemper, and this part, I think, was as moving
      as the rest. What could affect a man in his full power of
      reflection, and what could make deeper impressions on the soul,
      than to see a man almost naked, and got out of his house, or
      perhaps out of his bed, into the street, come out of Harrow
      Alley, a populous conjunction or collection of alleys, courts,
      and passages in the Butcher Row in Whitechappel,—I say, what
      could be more affecting than to see this poor man come out into
      the open street, run dancing and singing and making a thousand
      antic gestures, with five or six women and children running after
      him, crying and calling upon him for the Lord’s sake to come
      back, and entreating the help of others to bring him back, but
      all in vain, nobody daring to lay a hand upon him or to come near

      This was a most grievous and afflicting thing to me, who saw it
      all from my own windows; for all this while the poor afflicted
      man was, as I observed it, even then in the utmost agony of pain,
      having (as they said) two swellings upon him which could not be
      brought to break or to suppurate; but, by laying strong caustics
      on them, the surgeons had, it seems, hopes to break them—which
      caustics were then upon him, burning his flesh as with a hot
      iron. I cannot say what became of this poor man, but I think he
      continued roving about in that manner till he fell down and died.

      No wonder the aspect of the city itself was frightful. The usual
      concourse of people in the streets, and which used to be supplied
      from our end of the town, was abated. The Exchange was not kept
      shut, indeed, but it was no more frequented. The fires were lost;
      they had been almost extinguished for some days by a very smart
      and hasty rain. But that was not all; some of the physicians
      insisted that they were not only no benefit, but injurious to the
      health of people. This they made a loud clamour about, and
      complained to the Lord Mayor about it. On the other hand, others
      of the same faculty, and eminent too, opposed them, and gave
      their reasons why the fires were, and must be, useful to assuage
      the violence of the distemper. I cannot give a full account of
      their arguments on both sides; only this I remember, that they
      cavilled very much with one another. Some were for fires, but
      that they must be made of wood and not coal, and of particular
      sorts of wood too, such as fir in particular, or cedar, because
      of the strong effluvia of turpentine; others were for coal and
      not wood, because of the sulphur and bitumen; and others were for
      neither one or other. Upon the whole, the Lord Mayor ordered no
      more fires, and especially on this account, namely, that the
      plague was so fierce that they saw evidently it defied all means,
      and rather seemed to increase than decrease upon any application
      to check and abate it; and yet this amazement of the magistrates
      proceeded rather from want of being able to apply any means
      successfully than from any unwillingness either to expose
      themselves or undertake the care and weight of business; for, to
      do them justice, they neither spared their pains nor their
      persons. But nothing answered; the infection raged, and the
      people were now frighted and terrified to the last degree: so
      that, as I may say, they gave themselves up, and, as I mentioned
      above, abandoned themselves to their despair.

      But let me observe here that, when I say the people abandoned
      themselves to despair, I do not mean to what men call a religious
      despair, or a despair of their eternal state, but I mean a
      despair of their being able to escape the infection or to outlive
      the plague which they saw was so raging and so irresistible in
      its force that indeed few people that were touched with it in its
      height, about August and September, escaped; and, which is very
      particular, contrary to its ordinary operation in June and July,
      and the beginning of August, when, as I have observed, many were
      infected, and continued so many days, and then went off after
      having had the poison in their blood a long time; but now, on the
      contrary, most of the people who were taken during the two last
      weeks in August and in the three first weeks in September,
      generally died in two or three days at furthest, and many the
      very same day they were taken; whether the dog-days, or, as our
      astrologers pretended to express themselves, the influence of the
      dog-star, had that malignant effect, or all those who had the
      seeds of infection before in them brought it up to a maturity at
      that time altogether, I know not; but this was the time when it
      was reported that above 3000 people died in one night; and they
      that would have us believe they more critically observed it
      pretend to say that they all died within the space of two hours,
      viz., between the hours of one and three in the morning.

      As to the suddenness of people’s dying at this time, more than
      before, there were innumerable instances of it, and I could name
      several in my neighbourhood. One family without the Bars, and not
      far from me, were all seemingly well on the Monday, being ten in
      family. That evening one maid and one apprentice were taken ill
      and died the next morning—when the other apprentice and two
      children were touched, whereof one died the same evening, and the
      other two on Wednesday. In a word, by Saturday at noon the
      master, mistress, four children, and four servants were all gone,
      and the house left entirely empty, except an ancient woman who
      came in to take charge of the goods for the master of the
      family’s brother, who lived not far off, and who had not been

      Many houses were then left desolate, all the people being carried
      away dead, and especially in an alley farther on the same side
      beyond the Bars, going in at the sign of Moses and Aaron, there
      were several houses together which, they said, had not one person
      left alive in them; and some that died last in several of those
      houses were left a little too long before they were fetched out
      to be buried; the reason of which was not, as some have written
      very untruly, that the living were not sufficient to bury the
      dead, but that the mortality was so great in the yard or alley
      that there was nobody left to give notice to the buriers or
      sextons that there were any dead bodies there to be buried. It
      was said, how true I know not, that some of those bodies were so
      much corrupted and so rotten that it was with difficulty they
      were carried; and as the carts could not come any nearer than to
      the Alley Gate in the High Street, it was so much the more
      difficult to bring them along; but I am not certain how many
      bodies were then left. I am sure that ordinarily it was not so.

      As I have mentioned how the people were brought into a condition
      to despair of life and abandon themselves, so this very thing had
      a strange effect among us for three or four weeks; that is, it
      made them bold and venturous: they were no more shy of one
      another, or restrained within doors, but went anywhere and
      everywhere, and began to converse. One would say to another, ‘I
      do not ask you how you are, or say how I am; it is certain we
      shall all go; so ’tis no matter who is all sick or who is sound’;
      and so they ran desperately into any place or any company.

      As it brought the people into public company, so it was
      surprising how it brought them to crowd into the churches. They
      inquired no more into whom they sat near to or far from, what
      offensive smells they met with, or what condition the people
      seemed to be in; but, looking upon themselves all as so many dead
      corpses, they came to the churches without the least caution, and
      crowded together as if their lives were of no consequence
      compared to the work which they came about there. Indeed, the
      zeal which they showed in coming, and the earnestness and
      affection they showed in their attention to what they heard, made
      it manifest what a value people would all put upon the worship of
      God if they thought every day they attended at the church that it
      would be their last.

      Nor was it without other strange effects, for it took away, all
      manner of prejudice at or scruple about the person whom they
      found in the pulpit when they came to the churches. It cannot be
      doubted but that many of the ministers of the parish churches
      were cut off, among others, in so common and dreadful a calamity;
      and others had not courage enough to stand it, but removed into
      the country as they found means for escape. As then some parish
      churches were quite vacant and forsaken, the people made no
      scruple of desiring such Dissenters as had been a few years
      before deprived of their livings by virtue of the Act of
      Parliament called the Act of Uniformity to preach in the
      churches; nor did the church ministers in that case make any
      difficulty of accepting their assistance; so that many of those
      whom they called silenced ministers had their mouths opened on
      this occasion and preached publicly to the people.

      Here we may observe and I hope it will not be amiss to take
      notice of it that a near view of death would soon reconcile men
      of good principles one to another, and that it is chiefly owing
      to our easy situation in life and our putting these things far
      from us that our breaches are fomented, ill blood continued,
      prejudices, breach of charity and of Christian union, so much
      kept and so far carried on among us as it is. Another plague year
      would reconcile all these differences; a close conversing with
      death, or with diseases that threaten death, would scum off the
      gall from our tempers, remove the animosities among us, and bring
      us to see with differing eyes than those which we looked on
      things with before. As the people who had been used to join with
      the Church were reconciled at this time with the admitting the
      Dissenters to preach to them, so the Dissenters, who with an
      uncommon prejudice had broken off from the communion of the
      Church of England, were now content to come to their parish
      churches and to conform to the worship which they did not approve
      of before; but as the terror of the infection abated, those
      things all returned again to their less desirable channel and to
      the course they were in before.

      I mention this but historically. I have no mind to enter into
      arguments to move either or both sides to a more charitable
      compliance one with another. I do not see that it is probable
      such a discourse would be either suitable or successful; the
      breaches seem rather to widen, and tend to a widening further,
      than to closing, and who am I that I should think myself able to
      influence either one side or other? But this I may repeat again,
      that ’tis evident death will reconcile us all; on the other side
      the grave we shall be all brethren again. In heaven, whither I
      hope we may come from all parties and persuasions, we shall find
      neither prejudice or scruple; there we shall be of one principle
      and of one opinion. Why we cannot be content to go hand in hand
      to the Place where we shall join heart and hand without the least
      hesitation, and with the most complete harmony and affection—I
      say, why we cannot do so here I can say nothing to, neither shall
      I say anything more of it but that it remains to be lamented.

      I could dwell a great while upon the calamities of this dreadful
      time, and go on to describe the objects that appeared among us
      every day, the dreadful extravagancies which the distraction of
      sick people drove them into; how the streets began now to be
      fuller of frightful objects, and families to be made even a
      terror to themselves. But after I have told you, as I have above,
      that one man, being tied in his bed, and finding no other way to
      deliver himself, set the bed on fire with his candle, which
      unhappily stood within his reach, and burnt himself in his bed;
      and how another, by the insufferable torment he bore, danced and
      sung naked in the streets, not knowing one ecstasy from another;
      I say, after I have mentioned these things, what can be added
      more? What can be said to represent the misery of these times
      more lively to the reader, or to give him a more perfect idea of
      a complicated distress?

      I must acknowledge that this time was terrible, that I was
      sometimes at the end of all my resolutions, and that I had not
      the courage that I had at the beginning. As the extremity brought
      other people abroad, it drove me home, and except having made my
      voyage down to Blackwall and Greenwich, as I have related, which
      was an excursion, I kept afterwards very much within doors, as I
      had for about a fortnight before. I have said already that I
      repented several times that I had ventured to stay in town, and
      had not gone away with my brother and his family, but it was too
      late for that now; and after I had retreated and stayed within
      doors a good while before my impatience led me abroad, then they
      called me, as I have said, to an ugly and dangerous office which
      brought me out again; but as that was expired while the height of
      the distemper lasted, I retired again, and continued close ten or
      twelve days more, during which many dismal spectacles represented
      themselves in my view out of my own windows and in our own
      street—as that particularly from Harrow Alley, of the poor
      outrageous creature which danced and sung in his agony; and many
      others there were. Scarce a day or night passed over but some
      dismal thing or other happened at the end of that Harrow Alley,
      which was a place full of poor people, most of them belonging to
      the butchers or to employments depending upon the butchery.

      Sometimes heaps and throngs of people would burst out of the
      alley, most of them women, making a dreadful clamour, mixed or
      compounded of screeches, cryings, and calling one another, that
      we could not conceive what to make of it. Almost all the dead
      part of the night the dead-cart stood at the end of that alley,
      for if it went in it could not well turn again, and could go in
      but a little way. There, I say, it stood to receive dead bodies,
      and as the churchyard was but a little way off, if it went away
      full it would soon be back again. It is impossible to describe
      the most horrible cries and noise the poor people would make at
      their bringing the dead bodies of their children and friends out
      of the cart, and by the number one would have thought there had
      been none left behind, or that there were people enough for a
      small city living in those places. Several times they cried
      ‘Murder’, sometimes ‘Fire’; but it was easy to perceive it was
      all distraction, and the complaints of distressed and distempered

      I believe it was everywhere thus as that time, for the plague
      raged for six or seven weeks beyond all that I have expressed,
      and came even to such a height that, in the extremity, they began
      to break into that excellent order of which I have spoken so much
      in behalf of the magistrates; namely, that no dead bodies were
      seen in the street or burials in the daytime: for there was a
      necessity in this extremity to bear with its being otherwise for
      a little while.

      One thing I cannot omit here, and indeed I thought it was
      extraordinary, at least it seemed a remarkable hand of Divine
      justice: viz., that all the predictors, astrologers,
      fortune-tellers, and what they called cunning-men, conjurers, and
      the like: calculators of nativities and dreamers of dream, and
      such people, were gone and vanished; not one of them was to be
      found. I am verily persuaded that a great number of them fell in
      the heat of the calamity, having ventured to stay upon the
      prospect of getting great estates; and indeed their gain was but
      too great for a time, through the madness and folly of the
      people. But now they were silent; many of them went to their long
      home, not able to foretell their own fate or to calculate their
      own nativities. Some have been critical enough to say that every
      one of them died. I dare not affirm that; but this I must own,
      that I never heard of one of them that ever appeared after the
      calamity was over.

      But to return to my particular observations during this dreadful
      part of the visitation. I am now come, as I have said, to the
      month of September, which was the most dreadful of its kind, I
      believe, that ever London saw; for, by all the accounts which I
      have seen of the preceding visitations which have been in London,
      nothing has been like it, the number in the weekly bill amounting
      to almost 40,000 from the 22nd of August to the 26th of
      September, being but five weeks. The particulars of the bills are
      as follows, viz.:—

     From August the   22nd to the 29th             7496
     ”     ”           29th     ”    5th September  8252
     ”    September the 5th     ”   12th            7690
     ”     ”           12th     ”   19th            8297
     ”     ”           19th     ”   26th            6460

      This was a prodigious number of itself, but if I should add the
      reasons which I have to believe that this account was deficient,
      and how deficient it was, you would, with me, make no scruple to
      believe that there died above ten thousand a week for all those
      weeks, one week with another, and a proportion for several weeks
      both before and after. The confusion among the people, especially
      within the city, at that time, was inexpressible. The terror was
      so great at last that the courage of the people appointed to
      carry away the dead began to fail them; nay, several of them
      died, although they had the distemper before and were recovered,
      and some of them dropped down when they have been carrying the
      bodies even at the pit side, and just ready to throw them in; and
      this confusion was greater in the city because they had flattered
      themselves with hopes of escaping, and thought the bitterness of
      death was past. One cart, they told us, going up Shoreditch was
      forsaken of the drivers, or being left to one man to drive, he
      died in the street; and the horses going on overthrew the cart,
      and left the bodies, some thrown out here, some there, in a
      dismal manner. Another cart was, it seems, found in the great pit
      in Finsbury Fields, the driver being dead, or having been gone
      and abandoned it, and the horses running too near it, the cart
      fell in and drew the horses in also. It was suggested that the
      driver was thrown in with it and that the cart fell upon him, by
      reason his whip was seen to be in the pit among the bodies; but
      that, I suppose, could not be certain.

      In our parish of Aldgate the dead-carts were several times, as I
      have heard, found standing at the churchyard gate full of dead
      bodies, but neither bellman or driver or any one else with it;
      neither in these or many other cases did they know what bodies
      they had in their cart, for sometimes they were let down with
      ropes out of balconies and out of windows, and sometimes the
      bearers brought them to the cart, sometimes other people; nor, as
      the men themselves said, did they trouble themselves to keep any
      account of the numbers.

      The vigilance of the magistrates was now put to the utmost
      trial—and, it must be confessed, can never be enough acknowledged
      on this occasion also; whatever expense or trouble they were at,
      two things were never neglected in the city or suburbs either:—

      (1) Provisions were always to be had in full plenty, and the
      price not much raised neither, hardly worth speaking.

      (2) No dead bodies lay unburied or uncovered; and if one walked
      from one end of the city to another, no funeral or sign of it was
      to be seen in the daytime, except a little, as I have said above,
      in the three first weeks in September.

      This last article perhaps will hardly be believed when some
      accounts which others have published since that shall be seen,
      wherein they say that the dead lay unburied, which I am assured
      was utterly false; at least, if it had been anywhere so, it must
      have been in houses where the living were gone from the dead
      (having found means, as I have observed, to escape) and where no
      notice was given to the officers. All which amounts to nothing at
      all in the case in hand; for this I am positive in, having myself
      been employed a little in the direction of that part in the
      parish in which I lived, and where as great a desolation was made
      in proportion to the number of inhabitants as was anywhere; I
      say, I am sure that there were no dead bodies remained unburied;
      that is to say, none that the proper officers knew of; none for
      want of people to carry them off, and buriers to put them into
      the ground and cover them; and this is sufficient to the
      argument; for what might lie in houses and holes, as in Moses and
      Aaron Alley, is nothing; for it is most certain they were buried
      as soon as they were found. As to the first article (namely, of
      provisions, the scarcity or dearness), though I have mentioned it
      before and shall speak of it again, yet I must observe here:—

      (1) The price of bread in particular was not much raised; for in
      the beginning of the year, viz., in the first week in March, the
      penny wheaten loaf was ten ounces and a half; and in the height
      of the contagion it was to be had at nine ounces and a half, and
      never dearer, no, not all that season. And about the beginning of
      November it was sold ten ounces and a half again; the like of
      which, I believe, was never heard of in any city, under so
      dreadful a visitation, before.

      (2) Neither was there (which I wondered much at) any want of
      bakers or ovens kept open to supply the people with the bread;
      but this was indeed alleged by some families, viz., that their
      maidservants, going to the bakehouses with their dough to be
      baked, which was then the custom, sometimes came home with the
      sickness (that is to say the plague) upon them.

      In all this dreadful visitation there were, as I have said
      before, but two pest-houses made use of, viz., one in the fields
      beyond Old Street and one in Westminster; neither was there any
      compulsion used in carrying people thither. Indeed there was no
      need of compulsion in the case, for there were thousands of poor
      distressed people who, having no help or conveniences or supplies
      but of charity, would have been very glad to have been carried
      thither and been taken care of; which, indeed, was the only thing
      that I think was wanting in the whole public management of the
      city, seeing nobody was here allowed to be brought to the
      pest-house but where money was given, or security for money,
      either at their introducing or upon their being cured and sent
      out—for very many were sent out again whole; and very good
      physicians were appointed to those places, so that many people
      did very well there, of which I shall make mention again. The
      principal sort of people sent thither were, as I have said,
      servants who got the distemper by going on errands to fetch
      necessaries to the families where they lived, and who in that
      case, if they came home sick, were removed to preserve the rest
      of the house; and they were so well looked after there in all the
      time of the visitation that there was but 156 buried in all at
      the London pest-house, and 159 at that of Westminster.

      By having more pest-houses I am far from meaning a forcing all
      people into such places. Had the shutting up of houses been
      omitted and the sick hurried out of their dwellings to
      pest-houses, as some proposed, it seems, at that time as well as
      since, it would certainly have been much worse than it was. The
      very removing the sick would have been a spreading of the
      infection, and rather because that removing could not effectually
      clear the house where the sick person was of the distemper; and
      the rest of the family, being then left at liberty, would
      certainly spread it among others.

      The methods also in private families, which would have been
      universally used to have concealed the distemper and to have
      concealed the persons being sick, would have been such that the
      distemper would sometimes have seized a whole family before any
      visitors or examiners could have known of it. On the other hand,
      the prodigious numbers which would have been sick at a time would
      have exceeded all the capacity of public pest-houses to receive
      them, or of public officers to discover and remove them.

      This was well considered in those days, and I have heard them
      talk of it often. The magistrates had enough to do to bring
      people to submit to having their houses shut up, and many ways
      they deceived the watchmen and got out, as I have observed. But
      that difficulty made it apparent that they would have found it
      impracticable to have gone the other way to work, for they could
      never have forced the sick people out of their beds and out of
      their dwellings. It must not have been my Lord Mayor’s officers,
      but an army of officers, that must have attempted it; and the
      people, on the other hand, would have been enraged and desperate,
      and would have killed those that should have offered to have
      meddled with them or with their children and relations, whatever
      had befallen them for it; so that they would have made the
      people, who, as it was, were in the most terrible distraction
      imaginable, I say, they would have made them stark mad; whereas
      the magistrates found it proper on several accounts to treat them
      with lenity and compassion, and not with violence and terror,
      such as dragging the sick out of their houses or obliging them to
      remove themselves, would have been.

      This leads me again to mention the time when the plague first
      began; that is to say, when it became certain that it would
      spread over the whole town, when, as I have said, the better sort
      of people first took the alarm and began to hurry themselves out
      of town. It was true, as I observed in its place, that the throng
      was so great, and the coaches, horses, waggons, and carts were so
      many, driving and dragging the people away, that it looked as if
      all the city was running away; and had any regulations been
      published that had been terrifying at that time, especially such
      as would pretend to dispose of the people otherwise than they
      would dispose of themselves, it would have put both the city and
      suburbs into the utmost confusion.

      But the magistrates wisely caused the people to be encouraged,
      made very good bye-laws for the regulating the citizens, keeping
      good order in the streets, and making everything as eligible as
      possible to all sorts of people.

      In the first place, the Lord Mayor and the sheriffs, the Court of
      Aldermen, and a certain number of the Common Council men, or
      their deputies, came to a resolution and published it, viz., that
      they would not quit the city themselves, but that they would be
      always at hand for the preserving good order in every place and
      for the doing justice on all occasions; as also for the
      distributing the public charity to the poor; and, in a word, for
      the doing the duty and discharging the trust reposed in them by
      the citizens to the utmost of their power.

      In pursuance of these orders, the Lord Mayor, sheriffs, &c., held
      councils every day, more or less, for making such dispositions as
      they found needful for preserving the civil peace; and though
      they used the people with all possible gentleness and clemency,
      yet all manner of presumptuous rogues such as thieves,
      housebreakers, plunderers of the dead or of the sick, were duly
      punished, and several declarations were continually published by
      the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen against such.

      Also all constables and churchwardens were enjoined to stay in
      the city upon severe penalties, or to depute such able and
      sufficient housekeepers as the deputy aldermen or Common Council
      men of the precinct should approve, and for whom they should give
      security; and also security in case of mortality that they would
      forthwith constitute other constables in their stead.

      These things re-established the minds of the people very much,
      especially in the first of their fright, when they talked of
      making so universal a flight that the city would have been in
      danger of being entirely deserted of its inhabitants except the
      poor, and the country of being plundered and laid waste by the
      multitude. Nor were the magistrates deficient in performing their
      part as boldly as they promised it; for my Lord Mayor and the
      sheriffs were continually in the streets and at places of the
      greatest danger, and though they did not care for having too
      great a resort of people crowding about them, yet in emergent
      cases they never denied the people access to them, and heard with
      patience all their grievances and complaints. My Lord Mayor had a
      low gallery built on purpose in his hall, where he stood a little
      removed from the crowd when any complaint came to be heard, that
      he might appear with as much safety as possible.

      Likewise the proper officers, called my Lord Mayor’s officers,
      constantly attended in their turns, as they were in waiting; and
      if any of them were sick or infected, as some of them were,
      others were instantly employed to fill up and officiate in their
      places till it was known whether the other should live or die.

      In like manner the sheriffs and aldermen did in their several
      stations and wards, where they were placed by office, and the
      sheriff’s officers or sergeants were appointed to receive orders
      from the respective aldermen in their turn, so that justice was
      executed in all cases without interruption. In the next place, it
      was one of their particular cares to see the orders for the
      freedom of the markets observed, and in this part either the Lord
      Mayor or one or both of the sheriffs were every market-day on
      horseback to see their orders executed and to see that the
      country people had all possible encouragement and freedom in
      their coming to the markets and going back again, and that no
      nuisances or frightful objects should be seen in the streets to
      terrify them or make them unwilling to come. Also the bakers were
      taken under particular order, and the Master of the Bakers’
      Company was, with his court of assistants, directed to see the
      order of my Lord Mayor for their regulation put in execution, and
      the due assize of bread (which was weekly appointed by my Lord
      Mayor) observed; and all the bakers were obliged to keep their
      oven going constantly, on pain of losing the privileges of a
      freeman of the city of London.

      By this means bread was always to be had in plenty, and as cheap
      as usual, as I said above; and provisions were never wanting in
      the markets, even to such a degree that I often wondered at it,
      and reproached myself with being so timorous and cautious in
      stirring abroad, when the country people came freely and boldly
      to market, as if there had been no manner of infection in the
      city, or danger of catching it.

      It was indeed one admirable piece of conduct in the said
      magistrates that the streets were kept constantly clear and free
      from all manner of frightful objects, dead bodies, or any such
      things as were indecent or unpleasant—unless where anybody fell
      down suddenly or died in the streets, as I have said above; and
      these were generally covered with some cloth or blanket, or
      removed into the next churchyard till night. All the needful
      works that carried terror with them, that were both dismal and
      dangerous, were done in the night; if any diseased bodies were
      removed, or dead bodies buried, or infected clothes burnt, it was
      done in the night; and all the bodies which were thrown into the
      great pits in the several churchyards or burying-grounds, as has
      been observed, were so removed in the night, and everything was
      covered and closed before day. So that in the daytime there was
      not the least signal of the calamity to be seen or heard of,
      except what was to be observed from the emptiness of the streets,
      and sometimes from the passionate outcries and lamentations of
      the people, out at their windows, and from the numbers of houses
      and shops shut up.

      Nor was the silence and emptiness of the streets so much in the
      city as in the out-parts, except just at one particular time
      when, as I have mentioned, the plague came east and spread over
      all the city. It was indeed a merciful disposition of God, that
      as the plague began at one end of the town first (as has been
      observed at large) so it proceeded progressively to other parts,
      and did not come on this way, or eastward, till it had spent its
      fury in the West part of the town; and so, as it came on one way,
      it abated another. For example, it began at St Giles’s and the
      Westminster end of the town, and it was in its height in all that
      part by about the middle of July, viz., in St
      Giles-in-the-Fields, St Andrew’s, Holborn, St Clement Danes, St
      Martin-in-the-Fields, and in Westminster. The latter end of July
      it decreased in those parishes; and coming east, it increased
      prodigiously in Cripplegate, St Sepulcher’s, St James’s,
      Clarkenwell, and St Bride’s and Aldersgate. While it was in all
      these parishes, the city and all the parishes of the Southwark
      side of the water and all Stepney, Whitechappel, Aldgate,
      Wapping, and Ratcliff, were very little touched; so that people
      went about their business unconcerned, carried on their trades,
      kept open their shops, and conversed freely with one another in
      all the city, the east and north-east suburbs, and in Southwark,
      almost as if the plague had not been among us.

      Even when the north and north-west suburbs were fully infected,
      viz., Cripplegate, Clarkenwell, Bishopsgate, and Shoreditch, yet
      still all the rest were tolerably well. For example from 25th
      July to 1st August the bill stood thus of all diseases:—

     St Giles, Cripplegate                              554
     St Sepulchers                                      250
     Clarkenwell                                        103
     Bishopsgate                                        116
     Shoreditch                                         110
     Stepney parish                                     127
     Aldgate                                             92
     Whitechappel                                       104
     All the ninety-seven parishes within the walls     228
     All the parishes in Southwark                      205
     -                                                ——-
     -    Total                                        1889

      So that, in short, there died more that week in the two parishes
      of Cripplegate and St Sepulcher by forty-eight than in all the
      city, all the east suburbs, and all the Southwark parishes put
      together. This caused the reputation of the city’s health to
      continue all over England—and especially in the counties and
      markets adjacent, from whence our supply of provisions chiefly
      came even much longer than that health itself continued; for when
      the people came into the streets from the country by Shoreditch
      and Bishopsgate, or by Old Street and Smithfield, they would see
      the out-streets empty and the houses and shops shut, and the few
      people that were stirring there walk in the middle of the
      streets. But when they came within the city, there things looked
      better, and the markets and shops were open, and the people
      walking about the streets as usual, though not quite so many; and
      this continued till the latter end of August and the beginning of

      But then the case altered quite; the distemper abated in the west
      and north-west parishes, and the weight of the infection lay on
      the city and the eastern suburbs, and the Southwark side, and
      this in a frightful manner. Then, indeed, the city began to look
      dismal, shops to be shut, and the streets desolate. In the High
      Street, indeed, necessity made people stir abroad on many
      occasions; and there would be in the middle of the day a pretty
      many people, but in the mornings and evenings scarce any to be
      seen, even there, no, not in Cornhill and Cheapside.

      These observations of mine were abundantly confirmed by the
      weekly bills of mortality for those weeks, an abstract of which,
      as they respect the parishes which I have mentioned and as they
      make the calculations I speak of very evident, take as follows.

      The weekly bill, which makes out this decrease of the burials in
      the west and north side of the city, stands thus—

From the 12th of September to the 19th—
     -    St Giles, Cripplegate                            456
     -    St Giles-in-the-Fields                           140
     -    Clarkenwell                                       77
     -    St Sepulcher                                     214
     -    St Leonard, Shoreditch                           183
     -    Stepney parish                                   716
     -    Aldgate                                          623
     -    Whitechappel                                     532
     -    In the ninety-seven parishes within the walls   1493
     -    In the eight parishes on Southwark side         1636
     -                                                    ————
     -         Total                                      6060

      Here is a strange change of things indeed, and a sad change it
      was; and had it held for two months more than it did, very few
      people would have been left alive. But then such, I say, was the
      merciful disposition of God that, when it was thus, the west and
      north part which had been so dreadfully visited at first, grew,
      as you see, much better; and as the people disappeared here, they
      began to look abroad again there; and the next week or two
      altered it still more; that is, more to the encouragement of the
      other part of the town. For example:—

From the 19th of September to the 26th—
     -    St Giles, Cripplegate                           277
     -    St Giles-in-the-Fields                          119
     -    Clarkenwell                                      76
     -    St Sepulchers                                   193
     -    St Leonard, Shoreditch                          146
     -    Stepney parish                                  616
     -    Aldgate                                         496
     -    Whitechappel                                    346
     -    In the ninety-seven parishes within the walls  1268
     -    In the eight parishes on Southwark side        1390
     -                                                   ————
     -              Total                                4927

     From the 26th of September to the 3rd of October—
     -    St Giles, Cripplegate                           196
     -    St Giles-in-the-Fields                           95
     -    Clarkenwell                                      48
     -    St Sepulchers                                   137
     -    St Leonard, Shoreditch                          128
     -    Stepney parish                                  674
     -    Aldgate                                         372
     -    Whitechappel                                    328
     -    In the ninety-seven parishes within the walls  1149
     -    In the eight parishes on Southwark side        1201
     -                                                   ————
     -    Total                                          4382

      And now the misery of the city and of the said east and south
      parts was complete indeed; for, as you see, the weight of the
      distemper lay upon those parts, that is to say, the city, the
      eight parishes over the river, with the parishes of Aldgate,
      Whitechappel, and Stepney; and this was the time that the bills
      came up to such a monstrous height as that I mentioned before,
      and that eight or nine, and, as I believe, ten or twelve thousand
      a week, died; for it is my settled opinion that they never could
      come at any just account of the numbers, for the reasons which I
      have given already.

      Nay, one of the most eminent physicians, who has since published
      in Latin an account of those times, and of his observations says
      that in one week there died twelve thousand people, and that
      particularly there died four thousand in one night; though I do
      not remember that there ever was any such particular night so
      remarkably fatal as that such a number died in it. However, all
      this confirms what I have said above of the uncertainty of the
      bills of mortality, &c., of which I shall say more hereafter.

      And here let me take leave to enter again, though it may seem a
      repetition of circumstances, into a description of the miserable
      condition of the city itself, and of those parts where I lived at
      this particular time. The city and those other parts,
      notwithstanding the great numbers of people that were gone into
      the country, was vastly full of people; and perhaps the fuller
      because people had for a long time a strong belief that the
      plague would not come into the city, nor into Southwark, no, nor
      into Wapping or Ratcliff at all; nay, such was the assurance of
      the people on that head that many removed from the suburbs on the
      west and north sides, into those eastern and south sides as for
      safety; and, as I verily believe, carried the plague amongst them
      there perhaps sooner than they would otherwise have had it.

      Here also I ought to leave a further remark for the use of
      posterity, concerning the manner of people’s infecting one
      another; namely, that it was not the sick people only from whom
      the plague was immediately received by others that were sound,
      but the well. To explain myself: by the sick people I mean those
      who were known to be sick, had taken their beds, had been under
      cure, or had swellings and tumours upon them, and the like; these
      everybody could beware of; they were either in their beds or in
      such condition as could not be concealed.

      By the well I mean such as had received the contagion, and had it
      really upon them, and in their blood, yet did not show the
      consequences of it in their countenances: nay, even were not
      sensible of it themselves, as many were not for several days.
      These breathed death in every place, and upon everybody who came
      near them; nay, their very clothes retained the infection, their
      hands would infect the things they touched, especially if they
      were warm and sweaty, and they were generally apt to sweat too.

      Now it was impossible to know these people, nor did they
      sometimes, as I have said, know themselves to be infected. These
      were the people that so often dropped down and fainted in the
      streets; for oftentimes they would go about the streets to the
      last, till on a sudden they would sweat, grow faint, sit down at
      a door and die. It is true, finding themselves thus, they would
      struggle hard to get home to their own doors, or at other times
      would be just able to go into their houses and die instantly;
      other times they would go about till they had the very tokens
      come out upon them, and yet not know it, and would die in an hour
      or two after they came home, but be well as long as they were
      abroad. These were the dangerous people; these were the people of
      whom the well people ought to have been afraid; but then, on the
      other side, it was impossible to know them.

      And this is the reason why it is impossible in a visitation to
      prevent the spreading of the plague by the utmost human
      vigilance: viz., that it is impossible to know the infected
      people from the sound, or that the infected people should
      perfectly know themselves. I knew a man who conversed freely in
      London all the season of the plague in 1665, and kept about him
      an antidote or cordial on purpose to take when he thought himself
      in any danger, and he had such a rule to know or have warning of
      the danger by as indeed I never met with before or since. How far
      it may be depended on I know not. He had a wound in his leg, and
      whenever he came among any people that were not sound, and the
      infection began to affect him, he said he could know it by that
      signal, viz., that his wound in his leg would smart, and look
      pale and white; so as soon as ever he felt it smart it was time
      for him to withdraw, or to take care of himself, taking his
      drink, which he always carried about him for that purpose. Now it
      seems he found his wound would smart many times when he was in
      company with such who thought themselves to be sound, and who
      appeared so to one another; but he would presently rise up and
      say publicly, ‘Friends, here is somebody in the room that has the
      plague’, and so would immediately break up the company. This was
      indeed a faithful monitor to all people that the plague is not to
      be avoided by those that converse promiscuously in a town
      infected, and people have it when they know it not, and that they
      likewise give it to others when they know not that they have it
      themselves; and in this case shutting up the well or removing the
      sick will not do it, unless they can go back and shut up all
      those that the sick had conversed with, even before they knew
      themselves to be sick, and none knows how far to carry that back,
      or where to stop; for none knows when or where or how they may
      have received the infection, or from whom.

      This I take to be the reason which makes so many people talk of
      the air being corrupted and infected, and that they need not be
      cautious of whom they converse with, for that the contagion was
      in the air. I have seen them in strange agitations and surprises
      on this account. ‘I have never come near any infected body’, says
      the disturbed person; ‘I have conversed with none but sound,
      healthy people, and yet I have gotten the distemper!’ ‘I am sure
      I am struck from Heaven’, says another, and he falls to the
      serious part. Again, the first goes on exclaiming, ‘I have come
      near no infection or any infected person; I am sure it is the
      air. We draw in death when we breathe, and therefore ’tis the
      hand of God; there is no withstanding it.’ And this at last made
      many people, being hardened to the danger, grow less concerned at
      it; and less cautious towards the latter end of the time, and
      when it was come to its height, than they were at first. Then,
      with a kind of a Turkish predestinarianism, they would say, if it
      pleased God to strike them, it was all one whether they went
      abroad or stayed at home; they could not escape it, and therefore
      they went boldly about, even into infected houses and infected
      company; visited sick people; and, in short, lay in the beds with
      their wives or relations when they were infected. And what was
      the consequence, but the same that is the consequence in Turkey,
      and in those countries where they do those things—namely, that
      they were infected too, and died by hundreds and thousands?

      I would be far from lessening the awe of the judgements of God
      and the reverence to His providence which ought always to be on
      our minds on such occasions as these. Doubtless the visitation
      itself is a stroke from Heaven upon a city, or country, or nation
      where it falls; a messenger of His vengeance, and a loud call to
      that nation or country or city to humiliation and repentance,
      according to that of the prophet Jeremiah (xviii. 7, 8): ‘At what
      instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a
      kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if
      that nation against whom I have pronounced turn from their evil,
      I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.’ Now to
      prompt due impressions of the awe of God on the minds of men on
      such occasions, and not to lessen them, it is that I have left
      those minutes upon record.

      I say, therefore, I reflect upon no man for putting the reason of
      those things upon the immediate hand of God, and the appointment
      and direction of His providence; nay, on the contrary, there were
      many wonderful deliverances of persons from infection, and
      deliverances of persons when infected, which intimate singular
      and remarkable providence in the particular instances to which
      they refer; and I esteem my own deliverance to be one next to
      miraculous, and do record it with thankfulness.

      But when I am speaking of the plague as a distemper arising from
      natural causes, we must consider it as it was really propagated
      by natural means; nor is it at all the less a judgement for its
      being under the conduct of human causes and effects; for, as the
      Divine Power has formed the whole scheme of nature and maintains
      nature in its course, so the same Power thinks fit to let His own
      actings with men, whether of mercy or judgement, to go on in the
      ordinary course of natural causes; and He is pleased to act by
      those natural causes as the ordinary means, excepting and
      reserving to Himself nevertheless a power to act in a
      supernatural way when He sees occasion. Now ’tis evident that in
      the case of an infection there is no apparent extraordinary
      occasion for supernatural operation, but the ordinary course of
      things appears sufficiently armed, and made capable of all the
      effects that Heaven usually directs by a contagion. Among these
      causes and effects, this of the secret conveyance of infection,
      imperceptible and unavoidable, is more than sufficient to execute
      the fierceness of Divine vengeance, without putting it upon
      supernaturals and miracle.

      The acute penetrating nature of the disease itself was such, and
      the infection was received so imperceptibly, that the most exact
      caution could not secure us while in the place. But I must be
      allowed to believe—and I have so many examples fresh in my memory
      to convince me of it, that I think none can resist their
      evidence—I say, I must be allowed to believe that no one in this
      whole nation ever received the sickness or infection but who
      received it in the ordinary way of infection from somebody, or
      the clothes or touch or stench of somebody that was infected

      The manner of its coming first to London proves this also, viz.,
      by goods brought over from Holland, and brought thither from the
      Levant; the first breaking of it out in a house in Long Acre
      where those goods were carried and first opened; its spreading
      from that house to other houses by the visible unwary conversing
      with those who were sick; and the infecting the parish officers
      who were employed about the persons dead, and the like. These are
      known authorities for this great foundation point—that it went on
      and proceeded from person to person and from house to house, and
      no otherwise. In the first house that was infected there died
      four persons. A neighbour, hearing the mistress of the first
      house was sick, went to visit her, and went home and gave the
      distemper to her family, and died, and all her household. A
      minister, called to pray with the first sick person in the second
      house, was said to sicken immediately and die with several more
      in his house. Then the physicians began to consider, for they did
      not at first dream of a general contagion. But the physicians
      being sent to inspect the bodies, they assured the people that it
      was neither more or less than the plague, with all its terrifying
      particulars, and that it threatened an universal infection, so
      many people having already conversed with the sick or
      distempered, and having, as might be supposed, received infection
      from them, that it would be impossible to put a stop to it.

      Here the opinion of the physicians agreed with my observation
      afterwards, namely, that the danger was spreading insensibly, for
      the sick could infect none but those that came within reach of
      the sick person; but that one man who may have really received
      the infection and knows it not, but goes abroad and about as a
      sound person, may give the plague to a thousand people, and they
      to greater numbers in proportion, and neither the person giving
      the infection or the persons receiving it know anything of it,
      and perhaps not feel the effects of it for several days after.

      For example, many persons in the time of this visitation never
      perceived that they were infected till they found to their
      unspeakable surprise, the tokens come out upon them; after which
      they seldom lived six hours; for those spots they called the
      tokens were really gangrene spots, or mortified flesh in small
      knobs as broad as a little silver penny, and hard as a piece of
      callus or horn; so that, when the disease was come up to that
      length, there was nothing could follow but certain death; and
      yet, as I said, they knew nothing of their being infected, nor
      found themselves so much as out of order, till those mortal marks
      were upon them. But everybody must allow that they were infected
      in a high degree before, and must have been so some time, and
      consequently their breath, their sweat, their very clothes, were
      contagious for many days before. This occasioned a vast variety
      of cases which physicians would have much more opportunity to
      remember than I; but some came within the compass of my
      observation or hearing, of which I shall name a few.

      A certain citizen who had lived safe and untouched till the month
      of September, when the weight of the distemper lay more in the
      city than it had done before, was mighty cheerful, and something
      too bold (as I think it was) in his talk of how secure he was,
      how cautious he had been, and how he had never come near any sick
      body. Says another citizen, a neighbour of his, to him one day,
      ‘Do not be too confident, Mr—; it is hard to say who is sick and
      who is well, for we see men alive and well to outward appearance
      one hour, and dead the next.’ ‘That is true’, says the first man,
      for he was not a man presumptuously secure, but had escaped a
      long while—and men, as I said above, especially in the city began
      to be over-easy upon that score. ‘That is true,’ says he; ‘I do
      not think myself secure, but I hope I have not been in company
      with any person that there has been any danger in.’ ‘No?’ says
      his neighbour. ‘Was not you at the Bull Head Tavern in
      Gracechurch Street with Mr—the night before last?’ ‘Yes,’ says
      the first, ‘I was; but there was nobody there that we had any
      reason to think dangerous.’ Upon which his neighbour said no
      more, being unwilling to surprise him; but this made him more
      inquisitive, and as his neighbour appeared backward, he was the
      more impatient, and in a kind of warmth says he aloud, ‘Why, he
      is not dead, is he?’ Upon which his neighbour still was silent,
      but cast up his eyes and said something to himself; at which the
      first citizen turned pale, and said no more but this, ‘Then I am
      a dead man too’, and went home immediately and sent for a
      neighbouring apothecary to give him something preventive, for he
      had not yet found himself ill; but the apothecary, opening his
      breast, fetched a sigh, and said no more but this, ‘Look up to
      God’; and the man died in a few hours.

      Now let any man judge from a case like this if it is possible for
      the regulations of magistrates, either by shutting up the sick or
      removing them, to stop an infection which spreads itself from man
      to man even while they are perfectly well and insensible of its
      approach, and may be so for many days.

      It may be proper to ask here how long it may be supposed men
      might have the seeds of the contagion in them before it
      discovered itself in this fatal manner, and how long they might
      go about seemingly whole, and yet be contagious to all those that
      came near them. I believe the most experienced physicians cannot
      answer this question directly any more than I can; and something
      an ordinary observer may take notice of, which may pass their
      observations. The opinion of physicians abroad seems to be that
      it may lie dormant in the spirits or in the blood-vessels a very
      considerable time. Why else do they exact a quarantine of those
      who came into their harbours and ports from suspected places?
      Forty days is, one would think, too long for nature to struggle
      with such an enemy as this, and not conquer it or yield to it.
      But I could not think, by my own observation, that they can be
      infected so as to be contagious to others above fifteen or
      sixteen days at furthest; and on that score it was, that when a
      house was shut up in the city and any one had died of the plague,
      but nobody appeared to be ill in the family for sixteen or
      eighteen days after, they were not so strict but that they would
      connive at their going privately abroad; nor would people be much
      afraid of them afterward, but rather think they were fortified
      the better, having not been vulnerable when the enemy was in
      their own house; but we sometimes found it had lain much longer

      Upon the foot of all these observations I must say that though
      Providence seemed to direct my conduct to be otherwise, yet it is
      my opinion, and I must leave it as a prescription, viz., that the
      best physic against the plague is to run away from it. I know
      people encourage themselves by saying God is able to keep us in
      the midst of danger, and able to overtake us when we think
      ourselves out of danger; and this kept thousands in the town
      whose carcases went into the great pits by cartloads, and who, if
      they had fled from the danger, had, I believe, been safe from the
      disaster; at least ’tis probable they had been safe.

      And were this very fundamental only duly considered by the people
      on any future occasion of this or the like nature, I am persuaded
      it would put them upon quite different measures for managing the
      people from those that they took in 1665, or than any that have
      been taken abroad that I have heard of. In a word, they would
      consider of separating the people into smaller bodies, and
      removing them in time farther from one another—and not let such a
      contagion as this, which is indeed chiefly dangerous to collected
      bodies of people, find a million of people in a body together, as
      was very near the case before, and would certainly be the case if
      it should ever appear again.

      The plague, like a great fire, if a few houses only are
      contiguous where it happens, can only burn a few houses; or if it
      begins in a single, or, as we call it, a lone house, can only
      burn that lone house where it begins. But if it begins in a
      close-built town or city and gets a head, there its fury
      increases: it rages over the whole place, and consumes all it can

      I could propose many schemes on the foot of which the government
      of this city, if ever they should be under the apprehensions of
      such another enemy (God forbid they should), might ease
      themselves of the greatest part of the dangerous people that
      belong to them; I mean such as the begging, starving, labouring
      poor, and among them chiefly those who, in case of a siege, are
      called the useless mouths; who being then prudently and to their
      own advantage disposed of, and the wealthy inhabitants disposing
      of themselves and of their servants and children, the city and
      its adjacent parts would be so effectually evacuated that there
      would not be above a tenth part of its people left together for
      the disease to take hold upon. But suppose them to be a fifth
      part, and that two hundred and fifty thousand people were left:
      and if it did seize upon them, they would, by their living so
      much at large, be much better prepared to defend themselves
      against the infection, and be less liable to the effects of it
      than if the same number of people lived close together in one
      smaller city such as Dublin or Amsterdam or the like.

      It is true hundreds, yea, thousands of families fled away at this
      last plague, but then of them, many fled too late, and not only
      died in their flight, but carried the distemper with them into
      the countries where they went and infected those whom they went
      among for safety; which confounded the thing, and made that be a
      propagation of the distemper which was the best means to prevent
      it; and this too is an evidence of it, and brings me back to what
      I only hinted at before, but must speak more fully to here,
      namely, that men went about apparently well many days after they
      had the taint of the disease in their vitals, and after their
      spirits were so seized as that they could never escape it, and
      that all the while they did so they were dangerous to others; I
      say, this proves that so it was; for such people infected the
      very towns they went through, as well as the families they went
      among; and it was by that means that almost all the great towns
      in England had the distemper among them, more or less, and always
      they would tell you such a Londoner or such a Londoner brought it

      It must not be omitted that when I speak of those people who were
      really thus dangerous, I suppose them to be utterly ignorant of
      their own conditions; for if they really knew their circumstances
      to be such as indeed they were, they must have been a kind of
      wilful murtherers if they would have gone abroad among healthy
      people—and it would have verified indeed the suggestion which I
      mentioned above, and which I thought seemed untrue: viz., that
      the infected people were utterly careless as to giving the
      infection to others, and rather forward to do it than not; and I
      believe it was partly from this very thing that they raised that
      suggestion, which I hope was not really true in fact.

      I confess no particular case is sufficient to prove a general,
      but I could name several people within the knowledge of some of
      their neighbours and families yet living who showed the contrary
      to an extreme. One man, a master of a family in my neighbourhood,
      having had the distemper, he thought he had it given him by a
      poor workman whom he employed, and whom he went to his house to
      see, or went for some work that he wanted to have finished; and
      he had some apprehensions even while he was at the poor workman’s
      door, but did not discover it fully; but the next day it
      discovered itself, and he was taken very in, upon which he
      immediately caused himself to be carried into an outbuilding
      which he had in his yard, and where there was a chamber over a
      workhouse (the man being a brazier). Here he lay, and here he
      died, and would be tended by none of his neighbours, but by a
      nurse from abroad; and would not suffer his wife, nor children,
      nor servants to come up into the room, lest they should be
      infected—but sent them his blessing and prayers for them by the
      nurse, who spoke it to them at a distance, and all this for fear
      of giving them the distemper; and without which he knew, as they
      were kept up, they could not have it.

      And here I must observe also that the plague, as I suppose all
      distempers do, operated in a different manner on differing
      constitutions; some were immediately overwhelmed with it, and it
      came to violent fevers, vomitings, insufferable headaches, pains
      in the back, and so up to ravings and ragings with those pains;
      others with swellings and tumours in the neck or groin, or
      armpits, which till they could be broke put them into
      insufferable agonies and torment; while others, as I have
      observed, were silently infected, the fever preying upon their
      spirits insensibly, and they seeing little of it till they fell
      into swooning, and faintings, and death without pain. I am not
      physician enough to enter into the particular reasons and manner
      of these differing effects of one and the same distemper, and of
      its differing operation in several bodies; nor is it my business
      here to record the observations which I really made, because the
      doctors themselves have done that part much more effectually than
      I can do, and because my opinion may in some things differ from
      theirs. I am only relating what I know, or have heard, or believe
      of the particular cases, and what fell within the compass of my
      view, and the different nature of the infection as it appeared in
      the particular cases which I have related; but this may be added
      too: that though the former sort of those cases, namely, those
      openly visited, were the worst for themselves as to pain—I mean
      those that had such fevers, vomitings, headaches, pains, and
      swellings, because they died in such a dreadful manner—yet the
      latter had the worst state of the disease; for in the former they
      frequently recovered, especially if the swellings broke; but the
      latter was inevitable death; no cure, no help, could be possible,
      nothing could follow but death. And it was worse also to others,
      because, as above, it secretly and unperceived by others or by
      themselves, communicated death to those they conversed with, the
      penetrating poison insinuating itself into their blood in a
      manner which it is impossible to describe, or indeed conceive.

      This infecting and being infected without so much as its being
      known to either person is evident from two sorts of cases which
      frequently happened at that time; and there is hardly anybody
      living who was in London during the infection but must have known
      several of the cases of both sorts.

      (1) Fathers and mothers have gone about as if they had been well,
      and have believed themselves to be so, till they have insensibly
      infected and been the destruction of their whole families, which
      they would have been far from doing if they had the least
      apprehensions of their being unsound and dangerous themselves. A
      family, whose story I have heard, was thus infected by the
      father; and the distemper began to appear upon some of them even
      before he found it upon himself. But searching more narrowly, it
      appeared he had been affected some time; and as soon as he found
      that his family had been poisoned by himself he went distracted,
      and would have laid violent hands upon himself, but was kept from
      that by those who looked to him, and in a few days died.

      (2) The other particular is, that many people having been well to
      the best of their own judgement, or by the best observation which
      they could make of themselves for several days, and only finding
      a decay of appetite, or a light sickness upon their stomachs;
      nay, some whose appetite has been strong, and even craving, and
      only a light pain in their heads, have sent for physicians to
      know what ailed them, and have been found, to their great
      surprise, at the brink of death: the tokens upon them, or the
      plague grown up to an incurable height.

      It was very sad to reflect how such a person as this last
      mentioned above had been a walking destroyer perhaps for a week
      or a fortnight before that; how he had ruined those that he would
      have hazarded his life to save, and had been breathing death upon
      them, even perhaps in his tender kissing and embracings of his
      own children. Yet thus certainly it was, and often has been, and
      I could give many particular cases where it has been so. If then
      the blow is thus insensibly striking—if the arrow flies thus
      unseen, and cannot be discovered—to what purpose are all the
      schemes for shutting up or removing the sick people? Those
      schemes cannot take place but upon those that appear to be sick,
      or to be infected; whereas there are among them at the same time
      thousands of people who seem to be well, but are all that while
      carrying death with them into all companies which they come into.

      This frequently puzzled our physicians, and especially the
      apothecaries and surgeons, who knew not how to discover the sick
      from the sound; they all allowed that it was really so, that many
      people had the plague in their very blood, and preying upon their
      spirits, and were in themselves but walking putrefied carcases
      whose breath was infectious and their sweat poison, and yet were
      as well to look on as other people, and even knew it not
      themselves; I say, they all allowed that it was really true in
      fact, but they knew not how to propose a discovery.

      My friend Dr Heath was of opinion that it might be known by the
      smell of their breath; but then, as he said, who durst smell to
      that breath for his information? since, to know it, he must draw
      the stench of the plague up into his own brain, in order to
      distinguish the smell! I have heard it was the opinion of others
      that it might be distinguished by the party’s breathing upon a
      piece of glass, where, the breath condensing, there might living
      creatures be seen by a microscope, of strange, monstrous, and
      frightful shapes, such as dragons, snakes, serpents, and devils,
      horrible to behold. But this I very much question the truth of,
      and we had no microscopes at that time, as I remember, to make
      the experiment with.

      It was the opinion also of another learned man, that the breath
      of such a person would poison and instantly kill a bird; not only
      a small bird, but even a cock or hen, and that, if it did not
      immediately kill the latter, it would cause them to be roupy, as
      they call it; particularly that if they had laid any eggs at any
      time, they would be all rotten. But those are opinions which I
      never found supported by any experiments, or heard of others that
      had seen it; so I leave them as I find them; only with this
      remark, namely, that I think the probabilities are very strong
      for them.

      Some have proposed that such persons should breathe hard upon
      warm water, and that they would leave an unusual scum upon it, or
      upon several other things, especially such as are of a glutinous
      substance and are apt to receive a scum and support it.

      But from the whole I found that the nature of this contagion was
      such that it was impossible to discover it at all, or to prevent
      its spreading from one to another by any human skill.

      Here was indeed one difficulty which I could never thoroughly get
      over to this time, and which there is but one way of answering
      that I know of, and it is this, viz., the first person that died
      of the plague was on December 20, or thereabouts, 1664, and in or
      about long Acre; whence the first person had the infection was
      generally said to be from a parcel of silks imported from
      Holland, and first opened in that house.

      But after this we heard no more of any person dying of the
      plague, or of the distemper being in that place, till the 9th of
      February, which was about seven weeks after, and then one more
      was buried out of the same house. Then it was hushed, and we were
      perfectly easy as to the public for a great while; for there were
      no more entered in the weekly bill to be dead of the plague till
      the 22nd of April, when there was two more buried, not out of the
      same house, but out of the same street; and, as near as I can
      remember, it was out of the next house to the first. This was
      nine weeks asunder, and after this we had no more till a
      fortnight, and then it broke out in several streets and spread
      every way. Now the question seems to lie thus: Where lay the
      seeds of the infection all this while? How came it to stop so
      long, and not stop any longer? Either the distemper did not come
      immediately by contagion from body to body, or, if it did, then a
      body may be capable to continue infected without the disease
      discovering itself many days, nay, weeks together; even not a
      quarantine of days only, but soixantine; not only forty days, but
      sixty days or longer.

      It is true there was, as I observed at first, and is well known
      to many yet living, a very cold winter and a long frost which
      continued three months; and this, the doctors say, might check
      the infection; but then the learned must allow me to say that if,
      according to their notion, the disease was (as I may say) only
      frozen up, it would like a frozen river have returned to its
      usual force and current when it thawed—whereas the principal
      recess of this infection, which was from February to April, was
      after the frost was broken and the weather mild and warm.

      But there is another way of solving all this difficulty, which I
      think my own remembrance of the thing will supply; and that is,
      the fact is not granted—namely, that there died none in those
      long intervals, viz., from the 20th of December to the 9th of
      February, and from thence to the 22nd of April. The weekly bills
      are the only evidence on the other side, and those bills were not
      of credit enough, at least with me, to support an hypothesis or
      determine a question of such importance as this; for it was our
      received opinion at that time, and I believe upon very good
      grounds, that the fraud lay in the parish officers, searchers,
      and persons appointed to give account of the dead, and what
      diseases they died of; and as people were very loth at first to
      have the neighbours believe their houses were infected, so they
      gave money to procure, or otherwise procured, the dead persons to
      be returned as dying of other distempers; and this I know was
      practised afterwards in many places, I believe I might say in all
      places where the distemper came, as will be seen by the vast
      increase of the numbers placed in the weekly bills under other
      articles of diseases during the time of the infection. For
      example, in the months of July and August, when the plague was
      coming on to its highest pitch, it was very ordinary to have from
      a thousand to twelve hundred, nay, to almost fifteen hundred a
      week of other distempers. Not that the numbers of those
      distempers were really increased to such a degree, but the great
      number of families and houses where really the infection was,
      obtained the favour to have their dead be returned of other
      distempers, to prevent the shutting up their houses. For

     Dead of other diseases beside the plague—
          From the 18th July  to  the 25th                     942
          ”        25th July       ”  1st August              1004
          ”         1st August     ”  8th                     1213
          ”         8th            ” 15th                     1439
          ”        15th            ” 22nd                     1331
          ”        22nd            ” 29th                     1394
          ”        29th            ”  5th September           1264
          ”         5th September to the 12th                 1056
          ”        12th            ” 19th                     1132
          ”        19th            ” 26th                      927

      Now it was not doubted but the greatest part of these, or a great
      part of them, were dead of the plague, but the officers were
      prevailed with to return them as above, and the numbers of some
      particular articles of distempers discovered is as follows:—

      Aug.    Aug.    Aug.    Aug.    Aug.    Sept.  Sept.   Sept.
                1       8       15      22     29        5     12      19
               to 8   to 15   to 22   to 29 to Sept.5  to 12  to 19   to 26

     Fever     314     353     348     383     364     332     309     268
     Spotted   174     190     166     165     157      97     101      65
     Surfeit    85      87      74      99      68      45      49      36
     Teeth      90     113     111     133     138     128     121     112
                ——      ——      ——      ——      ——      ——      ——      ——
               663     743     699     780     727     602     580     481

      There were several other articles which bore a proportion to
      these, and which, it is easy to perceive, were increased on the
      same account, as aged, consumptions, vomitings, imposthumes,
      gripes, and the like, many of which were not doubted to be
      infected people; but as it was of the utmost consequence to
      families not to be known to be infected, if it was possible to
      avoid it, so they took all the measures they could to have it not
      believed, and if any died in their houses, to get them returned
      to the examiners, and by the searchers, as having died of other

      This, I say, will account for the long interval which, as I have
      said, was between the dying of the first persons that were
      returned in the bill to be dead of the plague and the time when
      the distemper spread openly and could not be concealed.

      Besides, the weekly bills themselves at that time evidently
      discover the truth; for, while there was no mention of the
      plague, and no increase after it had been mentioned, yet it was
      apparent that there was an increase of those distempers which
      bordered nearest upon it; for example, there were eight, twelve,
      seventeen of the spotted fever in a week, when there were none,
      or but very few, of the plague; whereas before, one, three, or
      four were the ordinary weekly numbers of that distemper.
      Likewise, as I observed before, the burials increased weekly in
      that particular parish and the parishes adjacent more than in any
      other parish, although there were none set down of the plague;
      all which tells us, that the infection was handed on, and the
      succession of the distemper really preserved, though it seemed to
      us at that time to be ceased, and to come again in a manner

      It might be, also, that the infection might remain in other parts
      of the same parcel of goods which at first it came in, and which
      might not be perhaps opened, or at least not fully, or in the
      clothes of the first infected person; for I cannot think that
      anybody could be seized with the contagion in a fatal and mortal
      degree for nine weeks together, and support his state of health
      so well as even not to discover it to themselves; yet if it were
      so, the argument is the stronger in favour of what I am saying:
      namely, that the infection is retained in bodies apparently well,
      and conveyed from them to those they converse with, while it is
      known to neither the one nor the other.

      Great were the confusions at that time upon this very account,
      and when people began to be convinced that the infection was
      received in this surprising manner from persons apparently well,
      they began to be exceeding shy and jealous of every one that came
      near them. Once, on a public day, whether a Sabbath-day or not I
      do not remember, in Aldgate Church, in a pew full of people, on a
      sudden one fancied she smelt an ill smell. Immediately she
      fancies the plague was in the pew, whispers her notion or
      suspicion to the next, then rises and goes out of the pew. It
      immediately took with the next, and so to them all; and every one
      of them, and of the two or three adjoining pews, got up and went
      out of the church, nobody knowing what it was offended them, or
      from whom.

      This immediately filled everybody’s mouths with one preparation
      or other, such as the old woman directed, and some perhaps as
      physicians directed, in order to prevent infection by the breath
      of others; insomuch that if we came to go into a church when it
      was anything full of people, there would be such a mixture of
      smells at the entrance that it was much more strong, though
      perhaps not so wholesome, than if you were going into an
      apothecary’s or druggist’s shop. In a word, the whole church was
      like a smelling-bottle; in one corner it was all perfumes; in
      another, aromatics, balsamics, and variety of drugs and herbs; in
      another, salts and spirits, as every one was furnished for their
      own preservation. Yet I observed that after people were
      possessed, as I have said, with the belief, or rather assurance,
      of the infection being thus carried on by persons apparently in
      health, the churches and meeting-houses were much thinner of
      people than at other times before that they used to be. For this
      is to be said of the people of London, that during the whole time
      of the pestilence the churches or meetings were never wholly shut
      up, nor did the people decline coming out to the public worship
      of God, except only in some parishes when the violence of the
      distemper was more particularly in that parish at that time, and
      even then no longer than it continued to be so.

      Indeed nothing was more strange than to see with what courage the
      people went to the public service of God, even at that time when
      they were afraid to stir out of their own houses upon any other
      occasion; this, I mean, before the time of desperation, which I
      have mentioned already. This was a proof of the exceeding
      populousness of the city at the time of the infection,
      notwithstanding the great numbers that were gone into the country
      at the first alarm, and that fled out into the forests and woods
      when they were further terrified with the extraordinary increase
      of it. For when we came to see the crowds and throngs of people
      which appeared on the Sabbath-days at the churches, and
      especially in those parts of the town where the plague was
      abated, or where it was not yet come to its height, it was
      amazing. But of this I shall speak again presently. I return in
      the meantime to the article of infecting one another at first,
      before people came to right notions of the infection, and of
      infecting one another. People were only shy of those that were
      really sick, a man with a cap upon his head, or with clothes
      round his neck, which was the case of those that had swellings
      there. Such was indeed frightful; but when we saw a gentleman
      dressed, with his band on and his gloves in his hand, his hat
      upon his head, and his hair combed, of such we had not the least
      apprehensions, and people conversed a great while freely,
      especially with their neighbours and such as they knew. But when
      the physicians assured us that the danger was as well from the
      sound (that is, the seemingly sound) as the sick, and that those
      people who thought themselves entirely free were oftentimes the
      most fatal, and that it came to be generally understood that
      people were sensible of it, and of the reason of it; then, I say,
      they began to be jealous of everybody, and a vast number of
      people locked themselves up, so as not to come abroad into any
      company at all, nor suffer any that had been abroad in
      promiscuous company to come into their houses, or near them—at
      least not so near them as to be within the reach of their breath
      or of any smell from them; and when they were obliged to converse
      at a distance with strangers, they would always have
      preservatives in their mouths and about their clothes to repel
      and keep off the infection.

      It must be acknowledged that when people began to use these
      cautions they were less exposed to danger, and the infection did
      not break into such houses so furiously as it did into others
      before; and thousands of families were preserved (speaking with
      due reserve to the direction of Divine Providence) by that means.

      But it was impossible to beat anything into the heads of the
      poor. They went on with the usual impetuosity of their tempers,
      full of outcries and lamentations when taken, but madly careless
      of themselves, foolhardy and obstinate, while they were well.
      Where they could get employment they pushed into any kind of
      business, the most dangerous and the most liable to infection;
      and if they were spoken to, their answer would be, ‘I must trust
      to God for that; if I am taken, then I am provided for, and there
      is an end of me’, and the like. Or thus, ‘Why, what must I do? I
      can’t starve. I had as good have the plague as perish for want. I
      have no work; what could I do? I must do this or beg.’ Suppose it
      was burying the dead, or attending the sick, or watching infected
      houses, which were all terrible hazards; but their tale was
      generally the same. It is true, necessity was a very justifiable,
      warrantable plea, and nothing could be better; but their way of
      talk was much the same where the necessities were not the same.
      This adventurous conduct of the poor was that which brought the
      plague among them in a most furious manner; and this, joined to
      the distress of their circumstances when taken, was the reason
      why they died so by heaps; for I cannot say I could observe one
      jot of better husbandry among them, I mean the labouring poor,
      while they were all well and getting money than there was before,
      but as lavish, as extravagant, and as thoughtless for tomorrow as
      ever; so that when they came to be taken sick they were
      immediately in the utmost distress, as well for want as for
      sickness, as well for lack of food as lack of health.

      This misery of the poor I had many occasions to be an eyewitness
      of, and sometimes also of the charitable assistance that some
      pious people daily gave to such, sending them relief and supplies
      both of food, physic, and other help, as they found they wanted;
      and indeed it is a debt of justice due to the temper of the
      people of that day to take notice here, that not only great sums,
      very great sums of money were charitably sent to the Lord Mayor
      and aldermen for the assistance and support of the poor
      distempered people, but abundance of private people daily
      distributed large sums of money for their relief, and sent people
      about to inquire into the condition of particular distressed and
      visited families, and relieved them; nay, some pious ladies were
      so transported with zeal in so good a work, and so confident in
      the protection of Providence in discharge of the great duty of
      charity, that they went about in person distributing alms to the
      poor, and even visiting poor families, though sick and infected,
      in their very houses, appointing nurses to attend those that
      wanted attending, and ordering apothecaries and surgeons, the
      first to supply them with drugs or plasters, and such things as
      they wanted; and the last to lance and dress the swellings and
      tumours, where such were wanting; giving their blessing to the
      poor in substantial relief to them, as well as hearty prayers for

      I will not undertake to say, as some do, that none of those
      charitable people were suffered to fall under the calamity
      itself; but this I may say, that I never knew any one of them
      that miscarried, which I mention for the encouragement of others
      in case of the like distress; and doubtless, if they that give to
      the poor lend to the Lord, and He will repay them, those that
      hazard their lives to give to the poor, and to comfort and assist
      the poor in such a misery as this, may hope to be protected in
      the work.

      Nor was this charity so extraordinary eminent only in a few, but
      (for I cannot lightly quit this point) the charity of the rich,
      as well in the city and suburbs as from the country, was so great
      that, in a word, a prodigious number of people who must otherwise
      inevitably have perished for want as well as sickness were
      supported and subsisted by it; and though I could never, nor I
      believe any one else, come to a full knowledge of what was so
      contributed, yet I do believe that, as I heard one say that was a
      critical observer of that part, there was not only many thousand
      pounds contributed, but many hundred thousand pounds, to the
      relief of the poor of this distressed, afflicted city; nay, one
      man affirmed to me that he could reckon up above one hundred
      thousand pounds a week, which was distributed by the
      churchwardens at the several parish vestries by the Lord Mayor
      and aldermen in the several wards and precincts, and by the
      particular direction of the court and of the justices
      respectively in the parts where they resided, over and above the
      private charity distributed by pious bands in the manner I speak
      of; and this continued for many weeks together.

      I confess this is a very great sum; but if it be true that there
      was distributed in the parish of Cripplegate only, 17,800 in one
      week to the relief of the poor, as I heard reported, and which I
      really believe was true, the other may not be improbable.

      It was doubtless to be reckoned among the many signal good
      providences which attended this great city, and of which there
      were many other worth recording,—I say, this was a very
      remarkable one, that it pleased God thus to move the hearts of
      the people in all parts of the kingdom so cheerfully to
      contribute to the relief and support of the poor at London, the
      good consequences of which were felt many ways, and particularly
      in preserving the lives and recovering the health of so many
      thousands, and keeping so many thousands of families from
      perishing and starving.

      And now I am talking of the merciful disposition of Providence in
      this time of calamity, I cannot but mention again, though I have
      spoken several times of it already on other accounts, I mean that
      of the progression of the distemper; how it began at one end of
      the town, and proceeded gradually and slowly from one part to
      another, and like a dark cloud that passes over our heads, which,
      as it thickens and overcasts the air at one end, clears up at the
      other end; so, while the plague went on raging from west to east,
      as it went forwards east, it abated in the west, by which means
      those parts of the town which were not seized, or who were left,
      and where it had spent its fury, were (as it were) spared to help
      and assist the other; whereas, had the distemper spread itself
      over the whole city and suburbs, at once, raging in all places
      alike, as it has done since in some places abroad, the whole body
      of the people must have been overwhelmed, and there would have
      died twenty thousand a day, as they say there did at Naples; nor
      would the people have been able to have helped or assisted one

      For it must be observed that where the plague was in its full
      force, there indeed the people were very miserable, and the
      consternation was inexpressible. But a little before it reached
      even to that place, or presently after it was gone, they were
      quite another sort of people; and I cannot but acknowledge that
      there was too much of that common temper of mankind to be found
      among us all at that time, namely, to forget the deliverance when
      the danger is past. But I shall come to speak of that part again.

      It must not be forgot here to take some notice of the state of
      trade during the time of this common calamity, and this with
      respect to foreign trade, as also to our home trade.

      As to foreign trade, there needs little to be said. The trading
      nations of Europe were all afraid of us; no port of France, or
      Holland, or Spain, or Italy would admit our ships or correspond
      with us; indeed we stood on ill terms with the Dutch, and were in
      a furious war with them, but though in a bad condition to fight
      abroad, who had such dreadful enemies to struggle with at home.

      Our merchants were accordingly at a full stop; their ships could
      go nowhere—that is to say, to no place abroad; their manufactures
      and merchandise—that is to say, of our growth—would not be
      touched abroad. They were as much afraid of our goods as they
      were of our people; and indeed they had reason: for our woollen
      manufactures are as retentive of infection as human bodies, and
      if packed up by persons infected, would receive the infection and
      be as dangerous to touch as a man would be that was infected; and
      therefore, when any English vessel arrived in foreign countries,
      if they did take the goods on shore, they always caused the bales
      to be opened and aired in places appointed for that purpose. But
      from London they would not suffer them to come into port, much
      less to unlade their goods, upon any terms whatever, and this
      strictness was especially used with them in Spain and Italy. In
      Turkey and the islands of the Arches indeed, as they are called,
      as well those belonging to the Turks as to the Venetians, they
      were not so very rigid. In the first there was no obstruction at
      all; and four ships which were then in the river loading for
      Italy—that is, for Leghorn and Naples—being denied product, as
      they call it, went on to Turkey, and were freely admitted to
      unlade their cargo without any difficulty; only that when they
      arrived there, some of their cargo was not fit for sale in that
      country; and other parts of it being consigned to merchants at
      Leghorn, the captains of the ships had no right nor any orders to
      dispose of the goods; so that great inconveniences followed to
      the merchants. But this was nothing but what the necessity of
      affairs required, and the merchants at Leghorn and Naples having
      notice given them, sent again from thence to take care of the
      effects which were particularly consigned to those ports, and to
      bring back in other ships such as were improper for the markets
      at Smyrna and Scanderoon.

      The inconveniences in Spain and Portugal were still greater, for
      they would by no means suffer our ships, especially those from
      London, to come into any of their ports, much less to unlade.
      There was a report that one of our ships having by stealth
      delivered her cargo, among which was some bales of English cloth,
      cotton, kerseys, and such-like goods, the Spaniards caused all
      the goods to be burned, and punished the men with death who were
      concerned in carrying them on shore. This, I believe, was in part
      true, though I do not affirm it; but it is not at all unlikely,
      seeing the danger was really very great, the infection being so
      violent in London.

      I heard likewise that the plague was carried into those countries
      by some of our ships, and particularly to the port of Faro in the
      kingdom of Algarve, belonging to the King of Portugal, and that
      several persons died of it there; but it was not confirmed.

      On the other hand, though the Spaniards and Portuguese were so
      shy of us, it is most certain that the plague (as has been said)
      keeping at first much at that end of the town next Westminster,
      the merchandising part of the town (such as the city and the
      water-side) was perfectly sound till at least the beginning of
      July, and the ships in the river till the beginning of August;
      for to the 1st of July there had died but seven within the whole
      city, and but sixty within the liberties, but one in all the
      parishes of Stepney, Aldgate, and Whitechappel, and but two in
      the eight parishes of Southwark. But it was the same thing
      abroad, for the bad news was gone over the whole world that the
      city of London was infected with the plague, and there was no
      inquiring there how the infection proceeded, or at which part of
      the town it was begun or was reached to.

      Besides, after it began to spread it increased so fast, and the
      bills grew so high all on a sudden, that it was to no purpose to
      lessen the report of it, or endeavour to make the people abroad
      think it better than it was; the account which the weekly bills
      gave in was sufficient; and that there died two thousand to three
      or four thousand a week was sufficient to alarm the whole trading
      part of the world; and the following time, being so dreadful also
      in the very city itself, put the whole world, I say, upon their
      guard against it.

      You may be sure, also, that the report of these things lost
      nothing in the carriage. The plague was itself very terrible, and
      the distress of the people very great, as you may observe of what
      I have said. But the rumour was infinitely greater, and it must
      not be wondered that our friends abroad (as my brother’s
      correspondents in particular were told there, namely, in Portugal
      and Italy, where he chiefly traded) [said] that in London there
      died twenty thousand in a week; that the dead bodies lay unburied
      by heaps; that the living were not sufficient to bury the dead or
      the sound to look after the sick; that all the kingdom was
      infected likewise, so that it was an universal malady such as was
      never heard of in those parts of the world; and they could hardly
      believe us when we gave them an account how things really were,
      and how there was not above one-tenth part of the people dead;
      that there was 500,000, left that lived all the time in the town;
      that now the people began to walk the streets again, and those
      who were fled to return, there was no miss of the usual throng of
      people in the streets, except as every family might miss their
      relations and neighbours, and the like. I say they could not
      believe these things; and if inquiry were now to be made in
      Naples, or in other cities on the coast of Italy, they would tell
      you that there was a dreadful infection in London so many years
      ago, in which, as above, there died twenty thousand in a week,
      &c., just as we have had it reported in London that there was a
      plague in the city of Naples in the year 1656, in which there
      died 20,000 people in a day, of which I have had very good
      satisfaction that it was utterly false.

      But these extravagant reports were very prejudicial to our trade,
      as well as unjust and injurious in themselves, for it was a long
      time after the plague was quite over before our trade could
      recover itself in those parts of the world; and the Flemings and
      Dutch (but especially the last) made very great advantages of it,
      having all the market to themselves, and even buying our
      manufactures in several parts of England where the plague was
      not, and carrying them to Holland and Flanders, and from thence
      transporting them to Spain and to Italy as if they had been of
      their own making.

      But they were detected sometimes and punished: that is to say,
      their goods confiscated and ships also; for if it was true that
      our manufactures as well as our people were infected, and that it
      was dangerous to touch or to open and receive the smell of them,
      then those people ran the hazard by that clandestine trade not
      only of carrying the contagion into their own country, but also
      of infecting the nations to whom they traded with those goods;
      which, considering how many lives might be lost in consequence of
      such an action, must be a trade that no men of conscience could
      suffer themselves to be concerned in.

      I do not take upon me to say that any harm was done, I mean of
      that kind, by those people. But I doubt I need not make any such
      proviso in the case of our own country; for either by our people
      of London, or by the commerce which made their conversing with
      all sorts of people in every country and of every considerable
      town necessary, I say, by this means the plague was first or last
      spread all over the kingdom, as well in London as in all the
      cities and great towns, especially in the trading manufacturing
      towns and seaports; so that, first or last, all the considerable
      places in England were visited more or less, and the kingdom of
      Ireland in some places, but not so universally. How it fared with
      the people in Scotland I had no opportunity to inquire.

      It is to be observed that while the plague continued so violent
      in London, the outports, as they are called, enjoyed a very great
      trade, especially to the adjacent countries and to our own
      plantations. For example, the towns of Colchester, Yarmouth, and
      Hull, on that side of England, exported to Holland and Hamburg
      the manufactures of the adjacent countries for several months
      after the trade with London was, as it were, entirely shut up;
      likewise the cities of Bristol and Exeter, with the port of
      Plymouth, had the like advantage to Spain, to the Canaries, to
      Guinea, and to the West Indies, and particularly to Ireland; but
      as the plague spread itself every way after it had been in London
      to such a degree as it was in August and September, so all or
      most of those cities and towns were infected first or last; and
      then trade was, as it were, under a general embargo or at a full
      stop—as I shall observe further when I speak of our home trade.

      One thing, however, must be observed: that as to ships coming in
      from abroad (as many, you may be sure, did) some who were out in
      all parts of the world a considerable while before, and some who
      when they went out knew nothing of an infection, or at least of
      one so terrible—these came up the river boldly, and delivered
      their cargoes as they were obliged to do, except just in the two
      months of August and September, when the weight of the infection
      lying, as I may say, all below Bridge, nobody durst appear in
      business for a while. But as this continued but for a few weeks,
      the homeward-bound ships, especially such whose cargoes were not
      liable to spoil, came to an anchor for a time short of the
      Pool,[5] or fresh-water part of the river, even as low as the
      river Medway, where several of them ran in; and others lay at the
      Nore, and in the Hope below Gravesend. So that by the latter end
      of October there was a very great fleet of homeward-bound ships
      to come up, such as the like had not been known for many years.

 [5] That part of the river where the ships lie up when they come home
 is called the Pool, and takes in all the river on both sides of the
 water, from the Tower to Cuckold’s Point and Limehouse. [Footnote in
 the original.]

      Two particular trades were carried on by water-carriage all the
      while of the infection, and that with little or no interruption,
      very much to the advantage and comfort of the poor distressed
      people of the city: and those were the coasting trade for corn
      and the Newcastle trade for coals.

      The first of these was particularly carried on by small vessels
      from the port of Hull and other places on the Humber, by which
      great quantities of corn were brought in from Yorkshire and
      Lincolnshire. The other part of this corn-trade was from Lynn, in
      Norfolk, from Wells and Burnham, and from Yarmouth, all in the
      same county; and the third branch was from the river Medway, and
      from Milton, Feversham, Margate, and Sandwich, and all the other
      little places and ports round the coast of Kent and Essex.

      There was also a very good trade from the coast of Suffolk with
      corn, butter, and cheese; these vessels kept a constant course of
      trade, and without interruption came up to that market known
      still by the name of Bear Key, where they supplied the city
      plentifully with corn when land-carriage began to fail, and when
      the people began to be sick of coming from many places in the

      This also was much of it owing to the prudence and conduct of the
      Lord Mayor, who took such care to keep the masters and seamen
      from danger when they came up, causing their corn to be bought
      off at any time they wanted a market (which, however, was very
      seldom), and causing the corn-factors immediately to unlade and
      deliver the vessels loaden with corn, that they had very little
      occasion to come out of their ships or vessels, the money being
      always carried on board to them and put into a pail of vinegar
      before it was carried.

      The second trade was that of coals from Newcastle-upon-Tyne,
      without which the city would have been greatly distressed; for
      not in the streets only, but in private houses and families,
      great quantities of coals were then burnt, even all the summer
      long and when the weather was hottest, which was done by the
      advice of the physicians. Some indeed opposed it, and insisted
      that to keep the houses and rooms hot was a means to propagate
      the temper, which was a fermentation and heat already in the
      blood; that it was known to spread and increase in hot weather
      and abate in cold; and therefore they alleged that all contagious
      distempers are the worse for heat, because the contagion was
      nourished and gained strength in hot weather, and was, as it
      were, propagated in heat.

      Others said they granted that heat in the climate might propagate
      infection—as sultry, hot weather fills the air with vermin and
      nourishes innumerable numbers and kinds of venomous creatures
      which breed in our food, in the plants, and even in our bodies,
      by the very stench of which infection may be propagated; also
      that heat in the air, or heat of weather, as we ordinarily call
      it, makes bodies relax and faint, exhausts the spirits, opens the
      pores, and makes us more apt to receive infection, or any evil
      influence, be it from noxious pestilential vapours or any other
      thing in the air; but that the heat of fire, and especially of
      coal fires kept in our houses, or near us, had a quite different
      operation; the heat being not of the same kind, but quick and
      fierce, tending not to nourish but to consume and dissipate all
      those noxious fumes which the other kind of heat rather exhaled
      and stagnated than separated and burnt up. Besides, it was
      alleged that the sulphurous and nitrous particles that are often
      found to be in the coal, with that bituminous substance which
      burns, are all assisting to clear and purge the air, and render
      it wholesome and safe to breathe in after the noxious particles,
      as above, are dispersed and burnt up.

      The latter opinion prevailed at that time, and, as I must
      confess, I think with good reason; and the experience of the
      citizens confirmed it, many houses which had constant fires kept
      in the rooms having never been infected at all; and I must join
      my experience to it, for I found the keeping good fires kept our
      rooms sweet and wholesome, and I do verily believe made our whole
      family so, more than would otherwise have been.

      But I return to the coals as a trade. It was with no little
      difficulty that this trade was kept open, and particularly
      because, as we were in an open war with the Dutch at that time,
      the Dutch capers at first took a great many of our collier-ships,
      which made the rest cautious, and made them to stay to come in
      fleets together. But after some time the capers were either
      afraid to take them, or their masters, the States, were afraid
      they should, and forbade them, lest the plague should be among
      them, which made them fare the better.

      For the security of those northern traders, the coal-ships were
      ordered by my Lord Mayor not to come up into the Pool above a
      certain number at a time, and ordered lighters and other vessels
      such as the woodmongers (that is, the wharf-keepers or
      coal-sellers) furnished, to go down and take out the coals as low
      as Deptford and Greenwich, and some farther down.

      Others delivered great quantities of coals in particular places
      where the ships could come to the shore, as at Greenwich,
      Blackwall, and other places, in vast heaps, as if to be kept for
      sale; but were then fetched away after the ships which brought
      them were gone, so that the seamen had no communication with the
      river-men, nor so much as came near one another.

      Yet all this caution could not effectually prevent the distemper
      getting among the colliery: that is to say among the ships, by
      which a great many seamen died of it; and that which was still
      worse was, that they carried it down to Ipswich and Yarmouth, to
      Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and other places on the coast—where,
      especially at Newcastle and at Sunderland, it carried off a great
      number of people.

      The making so many fires, as above, did indeed consume an unusual
      quantity of coals; and that upon one or two stops of the ships
      coming up, whether by contrary weather or by the interruption of
      enemies I do not remember, but the price of coals was exceeding
      dear, even as high as 4 l. a chalder; but it soon abated when the
      ships came in, and as afterwards they had a freer passage, the
      price was very reasonable all the rest of that year.

      The public fires which were made on these occasions, as I have
      calculated it, must necessarily have cost the city about 200
      chalders of coals a week, if they had continued, which was indeed
      a very great quantity; but as it was thought necessary, nothing
      was spared. However, as some of the physicians cried them down,
      they were not kept alight above four or five days. The fires were
      ordered thus:—

      One at the Custom House, one at Billingsgate, one at Queenhith,
      and one at the Three Cranes; one in Blackfriars, and one at the
      gate of Bridewell; one at the corner of Leadenhal Street and
      Gracechurch; one at the north and one at the south gate of the
      Royal Exchange; one at Guild Hall, and one at Blackwell Hall
      gate; one at the Lord Mayor’s door in St Helen’s, one at the west
      entrance into St Paul’s, and one at the entrance into Bow Church.
      I do not remember whether there was any at the city gates, but
      one at the Bridge-foot there was, just by St Magnus Church.

      I know some have quarrelled since that at the experiment, and
      said that there died the more people because of those fires; but
      I am persuaded those that say so offer no evidence to prove it,
      neither can I believe it on any account whatever.

      It remains to give some account of the state of trade at home in
      England during this dreadful time, and particularly as it relates
      to the manufactures and the trade in the city. At the first
      breaking out of the infection there was, as it is easy to
      suppose, a very great fright among the people, and consequently a
      general stop of trade, except in provisions and necessaries of
      life; and even in those things, as there was a vast number of
      people fled and a very great number always sick, besides the
      number which died, so there could not be above two-thirds, if
      above one-half, of the consumption of provisions in the city as
      used to be.

      It pleased God to send a very plentiful year of corn and fruit,
      but not of hay or grass—by which means bread was cheap, by reason
      of the plenty of corn. Flesh was cheap, by reason of the scarcity
      of grass; but butter and cheese were dear for the same reason,
      and hay in the market just beyond Whitechappel Bars was sold at 4
      pound per load. But that affected not the poor. There was a most
      excessive plenty of all sorts of fruit, such as apples, pears,
      plums, cherries, grapes, and they were the cheaper because of the
      want of people; but this made the poor eat them to excess, and
      this brought them into fluxes, griping of the guts, surfeits, and
      the like, which often precipitated them into the plague.

      But to come to matters of trade. First, foreign exportation being
      stopped or at least very much interrupted and rendered difficult,
      a general stop of all those manufactures followed of course which
      were usually brought for exportation; and though sometimes
      merchants abroad were importunate for goods, yet little was sent,
      the passages being so generally stopped that the English ships
      would not be admitted, as is said already, into their port.

      This put a stop to the manufactures that were for exportation in
      most parts of England, except in some out-ports; and even that
      was soon stopped, for they all had the plague in their turn. But
      though this was felt all over England, yet, what was still worse,
      all intercourse of trade for home consumption of manufactures,
      especially those which usually circulated through the Londoner’s
      hands, was stopped at once, the trade of the city being stopped.

      All kinds of handicrafts in the city, &c., tradesmen and
      mechanics, were, as I have said before, out of employ; and this
      occasioned the putting-off and dismissing an innumerable number
      of journeymen and workmen of all sorts, seeing nothing was done
      relating to such trades but what might be said to be absolutely

      This caused the multitude of single people in London to be
      unprovided for, as also families whose living depended upon the
      labour of the heads of those families; I say, this reduced them
      to extreme misery; and I must confess it is for the honour of the
      city of London, and will be for many ages, as long as this is to
      be spoken of, that they were able to supply with charitable
      provision the wants of so many thousands of those as afterwards
      fell sick and were distressed: so that it may be safely averred
      that nobody perished for want, at least that the magistrates had
      any notice given them of.

      This stagnation of our manufacturing trade in the country would
      have put the people there to much greater difficulties, but that
      the master-workmen, clothiers and others, to the uttermost of
      their stocks and strength, kept on making their goods to keep the
      poor at work, believing that soon as the sickness should abate
      they would have a quick demand in proportion to the decay of
      their trade at that time. But as none but those masters that were
      rich could do thus, and that many were poor and not able, the
      manufacturing trade in England suffered greatly, and the poor
      were pinched all over England by the calamity of the city of
      London only.

      It is true that the next year made them full amends by another
      terrible calamity upon the city; so that the city by one calamity
      impoverished and weakened the country, and by another calamity,
      even terrible too of its kind, enriched the country and made them
      again amends; for an infinite quantity of household Stuff,
      wearing apparel, and other things, besides whole warehouses
      filled with merchandise and manufactures such as come from all
      parts of England, were consumed in the fire of London the next
      year after this terrible visitation. It is incredible what a
      trade this made all over the whole kingdom, to make good the want
      and to supply that loss; so that, in short, all the manufacturing
      hands in the nation were set on work, and were little enough for
      several years to supply the market and answer the demands. All
      foreign markets also were empty of our goods by the stop which
      had been occasioned by the plague, and before an open trade was
      allowed again; and the prodigious demand at home falling in,
      joined to make a quick vent for all sort of goods; so that there
      never was known such a trade all over England for the time as was
      in the first seven years after the plague, and after the fire of

      It remains now that I should say something of the merciful part
      of this terrible judgement. The last week in September, the
      plague being come to its crisis, its fury began to assuage. I
      remember my friend Dr Heath, coming to see me the week before,
      told me he was sure that the violence of it would assuage in a
      few days; but when I saw the weekly bill of that week, which was
      the highest of the whole year, being 8297 of all diseases, I
      upbraided him with it, and asked him what he had made his
      judgement from. His answer, however, was not so much to seek as I
      thought it would have been. ‘Look you,’ says he, ‘by the number
      which are at this time sick and infected, there should have been
      twenty thousand dead the last week instead of eight thousand, if
      the inveterate mortal contagion had been as it was two weeks ago;
      for then it ordinarily killed in two or three days, now not under
      eight or ten; and then not above one in five recovered, whereas I
      have observed that now not above two in five miscarry. And,
      observe it from me, the next bill will decrease, and you will see
      many more people recover than used to do; for though a vast
      multitude are now everywhere infected, and as many every day fall
      sick, yet there will not so many die as there did, for the
      malignity of the distemper is abated’;—adding that he began now
      to hope, nay, more than hope, that the infection had passed its
      crisis and was going off; and accordingly so it was, for the next
      week being, as I said, the last in September, the bill decreased
      almost two thousand.

      It is true the plague was still at a frightful height, and the
      next bill was no less than 6460, and the next to that, 5720; but
      still my friend’s observation was just, and it did appear the
      people did recover faster and more in number than they used to
      do; and indeed, if it had not been so, what had been the
      condition of the city of London? For, according to my friend,
      there were not fewer than 60,000 people at that time infected,
      whereof, as above, 20,477 died, and near 40,000 recovered;
      whereas, had it been as it was before, 50,000 of that number
      would very probably have died, if not more, and 50,000 more would
      have sickened; for, in a word, the whole mass of people began to
      sicken, and it looked as if none would escape.

      But this remark of my friend’s appeared more evident in a few
      weeks more, for the decrease went on, and another week in October
      it decreased 1843, so that the number dead of the plague was but
      2665; and the next week it decreased 1413 more, and yet it was
      seen plainly that there was abundance of people sick, nay,
      abundance more than ordinary, and abundance fell sick every day
      but (as above) the malignity of the disease abated.

      Such is the precipitant disposition of our people (whether it is
      so or not all over the world, that’s none of my particular
      business to inquire), but I saw it apparently here, that as upon
      the first fright of the infection they shunned one another, and
      fled from one another’s houses and from the city with an
      unaccountable and, as I thought, unnecessary fright, so now, upon
      this notion spreading, viz., that the distemper was not so
      catching as formerly, and that if it was catched it was not so
      mortal, and seeing abundance of people who really fell sick
      recover again daily, they took to such a precipitant courage, and
      grew so entirely regardless of themselves and of the infection,
      that they made no more of the plague than of an ordinary fever,
      nor indeed so much. They not only went boldly into company with
      those who had tumours and carbuncles upon them that were running,
      and consequently contagious, but ate and drank with them, nay,
      into their houses to visit them, and even, as I was told, into
      their very chambers where they lay sick.

      This I could not see rational. My friend Dr Heath allowed, and it
      was plain to experience, that the distemper was as catching as
      ever, and as many fell sick, but only he alleged that so many of
      those that fell sick did not die; but I think that while many did
      die, and that at best the distemper itself was very terrible, the
      sores and swellings very tormenting, and the danger of death not
      left out of the circumstances of sickness, though not so frequent
      as before; all those things, together with the exceeding
      tediousness of the cure, the loathsomeness of the disease, and
      many other articles, were enough to deter any man living from a
      dangerous mixture with the sick people, and make them as anxious
      almost to avoid the infections as before.

      Nay, there was another thing which made the mere catching of the
      distemper frightful, and that was the terrible burning of the
      caustics which the surgeons laid on the swellings to bring them
      to break and to run, without which the danger of death was very
      great, even to the last. Also, the insufferable torment of the
      swellings, which, though it might not make people raving and
      distracted, as they were before, and as I have given several
      instances of already, yet they put the patient to inexpressible
      torment; and those that fell into it, though they did escape with
      life, yet they made bitter complaints of those that had told them
      there was no danger, and sadly repented their rashness and folly
      in venturing to run into the reach of it.

      Nor did this unwary conduct of the people end here, for a great
      many that thus cast off their cautions suffered more deeply
      still, and though many escaped, yet many died; and at least it
      had this public mischief attending it, that it made the decrease
      of burials slower than it would otherwise have been. For as this
      notion ran like lightning through the city, and people’s heads
      were possessed with it, even as soon as the first great decrease
      in the bills appeared, we found that the two next bills did not
      decrease in proportion; the reason I take to be the people’s
      running so rashly into danger, giving up all their former
      cautions and care, and all the shyness which they used to
      practise, depending that the sickness would not reach them—or
      that if it did, they should not die.

      The physicians opposed this thoughtless humour of the people with
      all their might, and gave out printed directions, spreading them
      all over the city and suburbs, advising the people to continue
      reserved, and to use still the utmost caution in their ordinary
      conduct, notwithstanding the decrease of the distemper,
      terrifying them with the danger of bringing a relapse upon the
      whole city, and telling them how such a relapse might be more
      fatal and dangerous than the whole visitation that had been
      already; with many arguments and reasons to explain and prove
      that part to them, and which are too long to repeat here.

      But it was all to no purpose; the audacious creatures were so
      possessed with the first joy and so surprised with the
      satisfaction of seeing a vast decrease in the weekly bills, that
      they were impenetrable by any new terrors, and would not be
      persuaded but that the bitterness of death was past; and it was
      to no more purpose to talk to them than to an east wind; but they
      opened shops, went about streets, did business, and conversed
      with anybody that came in their way to converse with, whether
      with business or without, neither inquiring of their health or so
      much as being apprehensive of any danger from them, though they
      knew them not to be sound.

      This imprudent, rash conduct cost a great many their lives who
      had with great care and caution shut themselves up and kept
      retired, as it were, from all mankind, and had by that means,
      under God’s providence, been preserved through all the heat of
      that infection.

      This rash and foolish conduct, I say, of the people went so far
      that the ministers took notice to them of it at last, and laid
      before them both the folly and danger of it; and this checked it
      a little, so that they grew more cautious. But it had another
      effect, which they could not check; for as the first rumour had
      spread not over the city only, but into the country, it had the
      like effect: and the people were so tired with being so long from
      London, and so eager to come back, that they flocked to town
      without fear or forecast, and began to show themselves in the
      streets as if all the danger was over. It was indeed surprising
      to see it, for though there died still from 1000 to 1800 a week,
      yet the people flocked to town as if all had been well.

      The consequence of this was, that the bills increased again 400
      the very first week in November; and if I might believe the
      physicians, there was above 3000 fell sick that week, most of
      them new-comers, too.

      One John Cock, a barber in St Martin’s-le-Grand, was an eminent
      example of this; I mean of the hasty return of the people when
      the plague was abated. This John Cock had left the town with his
      whole family, and locked up his house, and was gone in the
      country, as many others did; and finding the plague so decreased
      in November that there died but 905 per week of all diseases, he
      ventured home again. He had in his family ten persons; that is to
      say, himself and wife, five children, two apprentices, and a
      maid-servant. He had not returned to his house above a week, and
      began to open his shop and carry on his trade, but the distemper
      broke out in his family, and within about five days they all
      died, except one; that is to say, himself, his wife, all his five
      children, and his two apprentices; and only the maid remained

      But the mercy of God was greater to the rest than we had reason
      to expect; for the malignity (as I have said) of the distemper
      was spent, the contagion was exhausted, and also the winter
      weather came on apace, and the air was clear and cold, with sharp
      frosts; and this increasing still, most of those that had fallen
      sick recovered, and the health of the city began to return. There
      were indeed some returns of the distemper even in the month of
      December, and the bills increased near a hundred; but it went off
      again, and so in a short while things began to return to their
      own channel. And wonderful it was to see how populous the city
      was again all on a sudden, so that a stranger could not miss the
      numbers that were lost. Neither was there any miss of the
      inhabitants as to their dwellings—few or no empty houses were to
      be seen, or if there were some, there was no want of tenants for

      I wish I could say that as the city had a new face, so the
      manners of the people had a new appearance. I doubt not but there
      were many that retained a sincere sense of their deliverance, and
      were that heartily thankful to that Sovereign Hand that had
      protected them in so dangerous a time; it would be very
      uncharitable to judge otherwise in a city so populous, and where
      the people were so devout as they were here in the time of the
      visitation itself; but except what of this was to be found in
      particular families and faces, it must be acknowledged that the
      general practice of the people was just as it was before, and
      very little difference was to be seen.

      Some, indeed, said things were worse; that the morals of the
      people declined from this very time; that the people, hardened by
      the danger they had been in, like seamen after a storm is over,
      were more wicked and more stupid, more bold and hardened, in
      their vices and immoralities than they were before; but I will
      not carry it so far neither. It would take up a history of no
      small length to give a particular of all the gradations by which
      the course of things in this city came to be restored again, and
      to run in their own channel as they did before.

      Some parts of England were now infected as violently as London
      had been; the cities of Norwich, Peterborough, Lincoln,
      Colchester, and other places were now visited; and the
      magistrates of London began to set rules for our conduct as to
      corresponding with those cities. It is true we could not pretend
      to forbid their people coming to London, because it was
      impossible to know them asunder; so, after many consultations,
      the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen were obliged to drop it. All
      they could do was to warn and caution the people not to entertain
      in their houses or converse with any people who they knew came
      from such infected places.

      But they might as well have talked to the air, for the people of
      London thought themselves so plague-free now that they were past
      all admonitions; they seemed to depend upon it that the air was
      restored, and that the air was like a man that had had the
      smallpox, not capable of being infected again. This revived that
      notion that the infection was all in the air, that there was no
      such thing as contagion from the sick people to the sound; and so
      strongly did this whimsy prevail among people that they ran all
      together promiscuously, sick and well. Not the Mahometans, who,
      prepossessed with the principle of predestination, value nothing
      of contagion, let it be in what it will, could be more obstinate
      than the people of London; they that were perfectly sound, and
      came out of the wholesome air, as we call it, into the city, made
      nothing of going into the same houses and chambers, nay, even
      into the same beds, with those that had the distemper upon them,
      and were not recovered.

      Some, indeed, paid for their audacious boldness with the price of
      their lives; an infinite number fell sick, and the physicians had
      more work than ever, only with this difference, that more of
      their patients recovered; that is to say, they generally
      recovered, but certainly there were more people infected and fell
      sick now, when there did not die above a thousand or twelve
      hundred in a week, than there was when there died five or six
      thousand a week, so entirely negligent were the people at that
      time in the great and dangerous case of health and infection, and
      so ill were they able to take or accept of the advice of those
      who cautioned them for their good.

      The people being thus returned, as it were, in general, it was
      very strange to find that in their inquiring after their friends,
      some whole families were so entirely swept away that there was no
      remembrance of them left, neither was anybody to be found to
      possess or show any title to that little they had left; for in
      such cases what was to be found was generally embezzled and
      purloined, some gone one way, some another.

      It was said such abandoned effects came to the king, as the
      universal heir; upon which we are told, and I suppose it was in
      part true, that the king granted all such, as deodands, to the
      Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen of London, to be applied to the
      use of the poor, of whom there were very many. For it is to be
      observed, that though the occasions of relief and the objects of
      distress were very many more in the time of the violence of the
      plague than now after all was over, yet the distress of the poor
      was more now a great deal than it was then, because all the
      sluices of general charity were now shut. People supposed the
      main occasion to be over, and so stopped their hands; whereas
      particular objects were still very moving, and the distress of
      those that were poor was very great indeed.

      Though the health of the city was now very much restored, yet
      foreign trade did not begin to stir, neither would foreigners
      admit our ships into their ports for a great while. As for the
      Dutch, the misunderstandings between our court and them had
      broken out into a war the year before, so that our trade that way
      was wholly interrupted; but Spain and Portugal, Italy and
      Barbary, as also Hamburg and all the ports in the Baltic, these
      were all shy of us a great while, and would not restore trade
      with us for many months.

      The distemper sweeping away such multitudes, as I have observed,
      many if not all the out-parishes were obliged to make new
      burying-grounds, besides that I have mentioned in Bunhill Fields,
      some of which were continued, and remain in use to this day. But
      others were left off, and (which I confess I mention with some
      reflection) being converted into other uses or built upon
      afterwards, the dead bodies were disturbed, abused, dug up again,
      some even before the flesh of them was perished from the bones,
      and removed like dung or rubbish to other places. Some of those
      which came within the reach of my observation are as follow:

      (1) A piece of ground beyond Goswell Street, near Mount Mill,
      being some of the remains of the old lines or fortifications of
      the city, where abundance were buried promiscuously from the
      parishes of Aldersgate, Clerkenwell, and even out of the city.
      This ground, as I take it, was since made a physic garden, and
      after that has been built upon.

      (2) A piece of ground just over the Black Ditch, as it was then
      called, at the end of Holloway Lane, in Shoreditch parish. It has
      been since made a yard for keeping hogs, and for other ordinary
      uses, but is quite out of use as a burying-ground.

      (3) The upper end of Hand Alley, in Bishopsgate Street, which was
      then a green field, and was taken in particularly for Bishopsgate
      parish, though many of the carts out of the city brought their
      dead thither also, particularly out of the parish of St
      All-hallows on the Wall. This place I cannot mention without much
      regret. It was, as I remember, about two or three years after the
      plague was ceased that Sir Robert Clayton came to be possessed of
      the ground. It was reported, how true I know not, that it fell to
      the king for want of heirs, all those who had any right to it
      being carried off by the pestilence, and that Sir Robert Clayton
      obtained a grant of it from King Charles II. But however he came
      by it, certain it is the ground was let out to build on, or built
      upon, by his order. The first house built upon it was a large
      fair house, still standing, which faces the street or way now
      called Hand Alley which, though called an alley, is as wide as a
      street. The houses in the same row with that house northward are
      built on the very same ground where the poor people were buried,
      and the bodies, on opening the ground for the foundations, were
      dug up, some of them remaining so plain to be seen that the
      women’s skulls were distinguished by their long hair, and of
      others the flesh was not quite perished; so that the people began
      to exclaim loudly against it, and some suggested that it might
      endanger a return of the contagion; after which the bones and
      bodies, as fast as they came at them, were carried to another
      part of the same ground and thrown all together into a deep pit,
      dug on purpose, which now is to be known in that it is not built
      on, but is a passage to another house at the upper end of Rose
      Alley, just against the door of a meeting-house which has been
      built there many years since; and the ground is palisadoed off
      from the rest of the passage, in a little square; there lie the
      bones and remains of near two thousand bodies, carried by the
      dead carts to their grave in that one year.

      (4) Besides this, there was a piece of ground in Moorfields; by
      the going into the street which is now called Old Bethlem, which
      was enlarged much, though not wholly taken in on the same

      [N.B.—The author of this journal lies buried in that very ground,
      being at his own desire, his sister having been buried there a
      few years before.]

      (5) Stepney parish, extending itself from the east part of London
      to the north, even to the very edge of Shoreditch Churchyard, had
      a piece of ground taken in to bury their dead close to the said
      churchyard, and which for that very reason was left open, and is
      since, I suppose, taken into the same churchyard. And they had
      also two other burying-places in Spittlefields, one where since a
      chapel or tabernacle has been built for ease to this great
      parish, and another in Petticoat Lane.

      There were no less than five other grounds made use of for the
      parish of Stepney at that time: one where now stands the parish
      church of St Paul, Shadwell, and the other where now stands the
      parish church of St John’s at Wapping, both which had not the
      names of parishes at that time, but were belonging to Stepney

      I could name many more, but these coming within my particular
      knowledge, the circumstance, I thought, made it of use to record
      them. From the whole, it may be observed that they were obliged
      in this time of distress to take in new burying-grounds in most
      of the out-parishes for laying the prodigious numbers of people
      which died in so short a space of time; but why care was not
      taken to keep those places separate from ordinary uses, that so
      the bodies might rest undisturbed, that I cannot answer for, and
      must confess I think it was wrong. Who were to blame I know not.

      I should have mentioned that the Quakers had at that time also a
      burying-ground set apart to their use, and which they still make
      use of; and they had also a particular dead-cart to fetch their
      dead from their houses; and the famous Solomon Eagle, who, as I
      mentioned before, had predicted the plague as a judgement, and
      ran naked through the streets, telling the people that it was
      come upon them to punish them for their sins, had his own wife
      died the very next day of the plague, and was carried, one of the
      first in the Quakers’ dead-cart, to their new burying-ground.

      I might have thronged this account with many more remarkable
      things which occurred in the time of the infection, and
      particularly what passed between the Lord Mayor and the Court,
      which was then at Oxford, and what directions were from time to
      time received from the Government for their conduct on this
      critical occasion. But really the Court concerned themselves so
      little, and that little they did was of so small import, that I
      do not see it of much moment to mention any part of it here:
      except that of appointing a monthly fast in the city and the
      sending the royal charity to the relief of the poor, both which I
      have mentioned before.

      Great was the reproach thrown on those physicians who left their
      patients during the sickness, and now they came to town again
      nobody cared to employ them. They were called deserters, and
      frequently bills were set up upon their doors and written, ‘Here
      is a doctor to be let’, so that several of those physicians were
      fain for a while to sit still and look about them, or at least
      remove their dwellings, and set up in new places and among new
      acquaintance. The like was the case with the clergy, whom the
      people were indeed very abusive to, writing verses and scandalous
      reflections upon them, setting upon the church-door, ‘Here is a
      pulpit to be let’, or sometimes, ‘to be sold’, which was worse.

      It was not the least of our misfortunes that with our infection,
      when it ceased, there did not cease the spirit of strife and
      contention, slander and reproach, which was really the great
      troubler of the nation’s peace before. It was said to be the
      remains of the old animosities, which had so lately involved us
      all in blood and disorder. But as the late Act of Indemnity had
      laid asleep the quarrel itself, so the Government had recommended
      family and personal peace upon all occasions to the whole nation.

      But it could not be obtained; and particularly after the ceasing
      of the plague in London, when any one that had seen the condition
      which the people had been in, and how they caressed one another
      at that time, promised to have more charity for the future, and
      to raise no more reproaches; I say, any one that had seen them
      then would have thought they would have come together with
      another spirit at last. But, I say, it could not be obtained. The
      quarrel remained; the Church and the Presbyterians were
      incompatible. As soon as the plague was removed, the Dissenting
      ousted ministers who had supplied the pulpits which were deserted
      by the incumbents retired; they could expect no other but that
      they should immediately fall upon them and harass them with their
      penal laws, accept their preaching while they were sick, and
      persecute them as soon as they were recovered again; this even we
      that were of the Church thought was very hard, and could by no
      means approve of it.

      But it was the Government, and we could say nothing to hinder it;
      we could only say it was not our doing, and we could not answer
      for it.

      On the other hand, the Dissenters reproaching those ministers of
      the Church with going away and deserting their charge, abandoning
      the people in their danger, and when they had most need of
      comfort, and the like: this we could by no means approve, for all
      men have not the same faith and the same courage, and the
      Scripture commands us to judge the most favourably and according
      to charity.

      A plague is a formidable enemy, and is armed with terrors that
      every man is not sufficiently fortified to resist or prepared to
      stand the shock against. It is very certain that a great many of
      the clergy who were in circumstances to do it withdrew and fled
      for the safety of their lives; but ’tis true also that a great
      many of them stayed, and many of them fell in the calamity and in
      the discharge of their duty.

      It is true some of the Dissenting turned-out ministers stayed,
      and their courage is to be commended and highly valued—but these
      were not abundance; it cannot be said that they all stayed, and
      that none retired into the country, any more than it can be said
      of the Church clergy that they all went away. Neither did all
      those that went away go without substituting curates and others
      in their places, to do the offices needful and to visit the sick,
      as far as it was practicable; so that, upon the whole, an
      allowance of charity might have been made on both sides, and we
      should have considered that such a time as this of 1665 is not to
      be paralleled in history, and that it is not the stoutest courage
      that will always support men in such cases. I had not said this,
      but had rather chosen to record the courage and religious zeal of
      those of both sides, who did hazard themselves for the service of
      the poor people in their distress, without remembering that any
      failed in their duty on either side. But the want of temper among
      us has made the contrary to this necessary: some that stayed not
      only boasting too much of themselves, but reviling those that
      fled, branding them with cowardice, deserting their flocks, and
      acting the part of the hireling, and the like. I recommend it to
      the charity of all good people to look back and reflect duly upon
      the terrors of the time, and whoever does so will see that it is
      not an ordinary strength that could support it. It was not like
      appearing in the head of an army or charging a body of horse in
      the field, but it was charging Death itself on his pale horse; to
      stay was indeed to die, and it could be esteemed nothing less,
      especially as things appeared at the latter end of August and the
      beginning of September, and as there was reason to expect them at
      that time; for no man expected, and I dare say believed, that the
      distemper would take so sudden a turn as it did, and fall
      immediately two thousand in a week, when there was such a
      prodigious number of people sick at that time as it was known
      there was; and then it was that many shifted away that had stayed
      most of the time before.

      Besides, if God gave strength to some more than to others, was it
      to boast of their ability to abide the stroke, and upbraid those
      that had not the same gift and support, or ought not they rather
      to have been humble and thankful if they were rendered more
      useful than their brethren?

      I think it ought to be recorded to the honour of such men, as
      well clergy as physicians, surgeons, apothecaries, magistrates,
      and officers of every kind, as also all useful people who
      ventured their lives in discharge of their duty, as most
      certainly all such as stayed did to the last degree; and several
      of all these kinds did not only venture but lose their lives on
      that sad occasion.

      I was once making a list of all such, I mean of all those
      professions and employments who thus died, as I call it, in the
      way of their duty; but it was impossible for a private man to
      come at a certainty in the particulars. I only remember that
      there died sixteen clergymen, two aldermen, five physicians,
      thirteen surgeons, within the city and liberties before the
      beginning of September. But this being, as I said before, the
      great crisis and extremity of the infection, it can be no
      complete list. As to inferior people, I think there died
      six-and-forty constables and head-boroughs in the two parishes of
      Stepney and Whitechappel; but I could not carry my list on, for
      when the violent rage of the distemper in September came upon us,
      it drove us out of all measures. Men did then no more die by tale
      and by number. They might put out a weekly bill, and call them
      seven or eight thousand, or what they pleased; ’tis certain they
      died by heaps, and were buried by heaps, that is to say, without
      account. And if I might believe some people, who were more abroad
      and more conversant with those things than I though I was public
      enough for one that had no more business to do than I had,—I say,
      if I may believe them, there was not many less buried those first
      three weeks in September than 20,000 per week. However, the
      others aver the truth of it; yet I rather choose to keep to the
      public account; seven and eight thousand per week is enough to
      make good all that I have said of the terror of those times;—and
      it is much to the satisfaction of me that write, as well as those
      that read, to be able to say that everything is set down with
      moderation, and rather within compass than beyond it.

      Upon all these accounts, I say, I could wish, when we were
      recovered, our conduct had been more distinguished for charity
      and kindness in remembrance of the past calamity, and not so much
      a valuing ourselves upon our boldness in staying, as if all men
      were cowards that fly from the hand of God, or that those who
      stay do not sometimes owe their courage to their ignorance, and
      despising the hand of their Maker—which is a criminal kind of
      desperation, and not a true courage.

      I cannot but leave it upon record that the civil officers, such
      as constables, head-boroughs, Lord Mayor’s and sheriffs’-men, as
      also parish officers, whose business it was to take charge of the
      poor, did their duties in general with as much courage as any,
      and perhaps with more, because their work was attended with more
      hazards, and lay more among the poor, who were more subject to be
      infected, and in the most pitiful plight when they were taken
      with the infection. But then it must be added, too, that a great
      number of them died; indeed it was scarce possible it should be

      I have not said one word here about the physic or preparations
      that we ordinarily made use of on this terrible occasion—I mean
      we that went frequently abroad and up down street, as I did; much
      of this was talked of in the books and bills of our quack
      doctors, of whom I have said enough already. It may, however, be
      added, that the College of Physicians were daily publishing
      several preparations, which they had considered of in the process
      of their practice, and which, being to be had in print, I avoid
      repeating them for that reason.

      One thing I could not help observing: what befell one of the
      quacks, who published that he had a most excellent preservative
      against the plague, which whoever kept about them should never be
      infected or liable to infection. This man, who, we may reasonably
      suppose, did not go abroad without some of this excellent
      preservative in his pocket, yet was taken by the distemper, and
      carried off in two or three days.

      I am not of the number of the physic-haters or physic-despisers;
      on the contrary, I have often mentioned the regard I had to the
      dictates of my particular friend Dr Heath; but yet I must
      acknowledge I made use of little or nothing—except, as I have
      observed, to keep a preparation of strong scent to have ready, in
      case I met with anything of offensive smells or went too near any
      burying-place or dead body.

      Neither did I do what I know some did: keep the spirits always
      high and hot with cordials and wine and such things; and which,
      as I observed, one learned physician used himself so much to as
      that he could not leave them off when the infection was quite
      gone, and so became a sot for all his life after.

      I remember my friend the doctor used to say that there was a
      certain set of drugs and preparations which were all certainly
      good and useful in the case of an infection; out of which, or
      with which, physicians might make an infinite variety of
      medicines, as the ringers of bells make several hundred different
      rounds of music by the changing and order or sound but in six
      bells, and that all these preparations shall be really very good:
      ‘Therefore,’ said he, ‘I do not wonder that so vast a throng of
      medicines is offered in the present calamity, and almost every
      physician prescribes or prepares a different thing, as his
      judgement or experience guides him; but’, says my friend, ‘let
      all the prescriptions of all the physicians in London be
      examined, and it will be found that they are all compounded of
      the same things, with such variations only as the particular
      fancy of the doctor leads him to; so that’, says he, ‘every man,
      judging a little of his own constitution and manner of his
      living, and circumstances of his being infected, may direct his
      own medicines out of the ordinary drugs and preparations. Only
      that’, says he, ‘some recommend one thing as most sovereign, and
      some another. Some’, says he, ‘think that pill. ruff., which is
      called itself the anti-pestilential pill is the best preparation
      that can be made; others think that Venice treacle is sufficient
      of itself to resist the contagion; and I’, says he, ‘think as
      both these think, viz., that the last is good to take beforehand
      to prevent it, and the first, if touched, to expel it.’ According
      to this opinion, I several times took Venice treacle, and a sound
      sweat upon it, and thought myself as well fortified against the
      infection as any one could be fortified by the power of physic.

      As for quackery and mountebanks, of which the town was so full, I
      listened to none of them, and have observed often since, with
      some wonder, that for two years after the plague I scarcely saw
      or heard of one of them about 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 at 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 tumours, &c., which were
      broke and kept open by the directions 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 opinions 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 that sorer and severer strokes were yet behind. Had they
      stopped there, or had they descended to particulars, and told us
      that the city should the next year be 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 a 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 clamours, 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
      200 and 300 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 we now call Newgate
      Market, but that in the middle of the street which is now called
      Blowbladder 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 meat.

      It was in those shambles that two persons falling down dead, as
      they were buying meat, gave rise to a rumour 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 so
      easily frighted again.

      There was still a question among the learned, and at first
      perplexed the people a little: and that was in what manner to
      purge the house and goods where the plague had been, and how to
      render them 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 and 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,
      burned 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 the 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 burned
      perfumes, incense, benjamin, rozin, 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 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 Holbourn, 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 by fire, nor was it
      far off; for within nine months more I saw it all lying in ashes;
      when, as some of our quacking 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, Whitechappel, Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Shoreditch,
      Cripplegate, and St Giles, where the fire never came, and where
      the plague raged 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.

      And yet after all, 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 in 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 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 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 circumstance 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 of 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’,—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
      weeks’ bill decreased 1843; 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 ask 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 number that were taken sick the
      week or two before, besides those that died, was 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 neighbourhood but was infected, so had it gone on it would
      not have been long that there would have been any more neighbours
      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 30,000 people dead and near 100.000 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, sank 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
      tumours were broke, or the carbuncles went down and the
      inflammations round them changed colour, 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 judgement 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 labour 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

      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
      extraordinary 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 and
      let us give thanks to Him, for ’tis all His own doing, human help
      and human skill was 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 behaviour, the very
      common people went along the streets giving God thanks for their

      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 wrapt 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.

      I can go no farther 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 eye-witness of myself. I shall conclude
      the account of this calamitous year therefore with a coarse but
      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.



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 - Written by a Citizen Who Continued All the While in London" ***

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