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GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE.

JULY, 1832.

ORIGINAL COMMUNICATIONS,

HISTORICAL VIEW OF PESTILENTIAL DISEASES.

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ATthe present alarming crisis, when experience warranted no such conclua the whole empire is exposed to the pes- sion; the symptoms nearly resembled tiferous influence of a new and unac- those of the common plague, beginning countable disease, which is daily on with delirium. The ill-fated victim sunk the increase, and which threatens as if under the stroke of an invisible every portion of the community with spectre, under a succession of swellings devastation and death, the following and tumours of a black colour, which, historical view of the various pestilen- if they continued without suppuration tial visitations, collected from various till the fifth day were usually fatal, authentic sources, will possess deep accompanied as they were with vomitand impressive interest. With respecting of blood and mortification of the to diseases on the Continent, we do bowels. not profess to do more than allude to A. D. 664. On the authority of the most prominent cases.

Bede (lib. iii. c. 27.), we again find the To commence with our own coun. plague, how introduced he does not try, we do not discover the record

say, extending itself from the southern of any pestilence prior to the year A.D. parts of the island towards the north, 448, when it appears that an epidemic and then turning westward into Wales, disease, after having ravaged the con- which so alarmed the natives, that tinent of Europe, visited Great Britain. considerable numbers emigrated to Bre" It availed itself,” as Grafton informs tagne, accompanied by Cadwalædyr, us, “ of a remarkable season of pros- the son of Cadwallon. perity, there being in the realme so In 772 mention is made of a disorder great plentie of corne and fruite, that that carried off in England 34,000; and the lyke thereof had not been seene in in Scotland of another, whereof died, many yeres passed,”.

" followed in 954, about 40,000 persons. As this therewithal," as Speed adds, “ with last appears on somewhat doubtful ausuch riot and excesse, that the peo- thority, we suspect it is confounded ple's sinnes grew to a plentiful har- with an extraordinary

« sicknesse" veste, running at randome, in the wide mentioned by Speed in A.D. 982. “ It way of all wickednesse; when, lo! was," says he, a sicknesse till then (he quotes from Gyldas) a pestilent unknown in England, being a strong contagion fell heavily upon this foolish burning fever and bloody flux;" this, people, which in short space of time however, by the historians of the time, destroyed such multitudes of them, was received as sent for the offences that the living were not able to bury of some few, and whollie imputed to the dead."

the king and his raisers,” by DunA. D, 542. In Gibbon, vol. vii. p. stan, who was well skilled in giving 419, we have an excellent summary of natural events preternatural complexa pestilential disorder which made ions, and than whom no man better great havoc in Europe, Asia, and Afri- knew how to assume and assert, that ca, and lasted for many years. We may Heaven was at hand to second his judge of its malignance from the as- purposes on earth. serted fact that in Constantinople A.D. 1086. Fire and pestilence com10,000 persons died daily, that many bined to depopulate London and the cities of the East were left vacant, and land. For in the former, says Bathat in several districts of Italy the har. ker, in his Chronicles, “so great a vest and the vintage withered on the fire happened, that from the west gate ground. It is remarkable that the medi- to the east gate it consumed houses cal feeling was anti-contagious, though

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and churches all the way, and amongst horrible to think) the thieves newly the rest the church of St. Paul, the brought into the gaoles were torne in most grievous fire that ever happened pieces and eaten presently half alive, in this citie. Also the same year, by by such as had been longer there. The reason of distemperature of weather, bloody flux or dissentrie,caused through thunderings and lightenings by which' raw and corrupt humours, engendered many men perished, there ensued a fa- by evil meat and dyet, raged every mine, and afterwards a miserable mor- where, and together with other malatality of men and cattle, and what is dies, brought such multitudes of the very strange, hens, peacocks, geese, poorer sort to their end, that the livand ducks, bred in and accustomed to ing could scarce suffice to bury the houses, forsook their wonted hives, dead.” It seems, indeed, to have been and turned wild.”

attended with a prodigious mortality, A.D. 1093. Matthew Paris, without when considering the comparatively particularising, merely remarks that small population of London, according there à pestiferous mortality to Grafton (Chron. p. 386), besyde the amongst men and animals. Grafton bodies that were buried in sundrie and Holinshed are however more ex- churches and church-yards, there were plicit. Their accounts are nearly simi- also buried in the Charter-house lar. We give that of the latter, as per- church-yard 50,000 persons and above. haps the most expressive and concise -Daniel again, in his Collections of the two: This yeare England and (p. 209) speaks of it as exceeding any Normandie were sore vexed with mor- that ever before had been known, attalitie both of men and beasts, inso- tended with famine ; as a remedy for much that tillage of the ground was which the political economists in parlaid aside in manie places, by reason liament propounded a system, the mewhereof there folowed great dearth and rits and consequences of which afford famine. Manie grizely and hideous an excellent lesson to some more mo. sights were seene also in England, as dern, though not much wiser advocates hosts of men fighting in the aire, flashes for maximum and minimum prices in of fier, stars falling from heaven, and our own days. “ A parliament was such like wonders.'

called at London upon the begivning 1247. On doubtful authority, with of this dearth, to abate the prices of out particulars, is recorded as one victuals, which suddenly grew to be marked by pestilence.

excessive; and therefore it was or1279-1316. Baker mentions a sick. dained that an oxe fatted with grasse ness prevailing in 1279, to which we should be sold for 158., fatted with allude more for the strange extremities corn for 20s., the best cow for 12s., to which men were reduced by the a fat hog of two yeares old for 38. 4d., cause, rather than the malady, which a fat sheep shorn 18. 2d., with the naturally enough might be expected to fleece 1s.'8d., a fat goose for 24d, a fat

“ So great a dearth befel the capon 2d., a fat hen 1d., four pidgeons land that horses and dogs were eaten, a penny; whosoever sold above, should and thieves in prison pluckt in pieces forfeit their ware to the king." These those that were newly brought in a- were in fact the prices of similar artimongst them, and eat them up half cles in the 11th yeare of Edw. III.'s alive, which continuing three years, reign, called the year of plenty, by brought in the end such a pestilence, Baker, in his Chronicles, p. 131. that the living scarcely sufficed to bury Here," observes the author, the dead.” But for other attending then to have been no calves, lambs, circumstances, it might have been sup- goslings, chickens, young pigs, to be posed that this was confounded with sold; such dainties were not in use.” a similar event recorded by Speed in Now for the consequences of this sa1316, when the same atrocities were gacious law : “ All kind of victuals repeated. He says,

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grow more scarce than before, so that sembled at a Parleament in London, in addition to a murren, which also where no great matter was concluded, prevailed, provisions could not be had for famine and pestilence increased. for the kinge's house, nor means for The famine was grown so terrible that other great men to maintain their tahorses, dogges, yea men and children, bles (such a just punishment had exwere stolen for food, and (which is cess and riot inflicted thereon in those

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days), insomuch as men put away the mortality bad but twenty-eight their servants in great numbers, who teeth, where before they had two-andhaving been daintily fed, and now not thirty! In England it so wasted the able to work, scorning to beg, fell to people, that scarce the tenth person robbery and spoil."

of all sorts was left alive. There died 1348. This was the memorable in London, some say in Norwich, beyear of pestilence, celebrated as the tween the first of January and the first origin of Boccaccio's Decameron. So of July, 57,374 persons. In Yarmouth, many authors of high note have made within a year, 7052. Before which it a subject of remark, that it is difficult time, the parsonage there was worth to select. But, however interesting 700 marks a year, * and afterwards are the numerous particulars relating was scarce worth forty pounds a year. to its progress in foreign countries, we It is worthy of observation, that this shall pass them over, ard confine our plague is said to have differed altogeinquiry to a few English historians ;* ther from any plague before known, merely stating, that it began in the and it has been a matter of question Levant, in about 1346, from whence by some of the leading medical authoItalian traders brought it to Sicily, rities in London, whether the cholera Pisa, and Genoa. In 1348 it passed is not in fact a return of this epidemic. the Alps, and spread over France and 1361. The recollection of this last Spain, and in the following year it visitation seems to have been strongly reached Britain, and in 1350 laid waste impressed, for Baker speaks of this of Germany, and other northern States, 1361, as if its predecessor were still lasting generally about five months in uppermost in thought. “Now again," each country. Its mortality may be

was the joy and glory that estimated by the number of deaths, England received by her gettings, seaviz. in Germany about 90,000 ; in Sa- soned with the sowrness of another ragosa, in the month of October, about mortality, called the Second Pestilence, 100 per day, insomuch, observes Ma. whereof died many noble men.”. nana,t that the hearts of men became It is worthy of remark, that in reso hardened by the prevalence of death, porting casualties, almost all these old that none mourned for the departed writers seem particularly partial to the and corrupted bodies which were cast giving round numbers of 50,000. Thus forth into the streets without respect Stowe speaks of 50,000 bodies buried or commiseration. In Florence more in ope church-yard, which Sir Walter than three out of five were swept Manny had bought for the use of the away. That this world hath nothing poor ; and again that in Norwich permanent to build upon (say the Eng- alone there died above 50,000 ; à num. lish historians) was found and felt in ber not very short of the increased pothis eventful year, when it rained from pulation in 1831, viz. 61,110 ; a mor. Midsummer till Christmas, and so ter tality which must therefore be consirible a plague ran through the world, dered a gross exaggeration, and in that the earth was filled with graves truth a very unnecessary aggravation and the air with cries, which was of a disorder which Knyghton, Walseconded with murren of cattle and singham, and other writers of repute, death of all things. According to say nearly depopulated the whole Baker, it began in London | about nation.' Allhallowtide in 1348, and continued 1379. Baker speaks of a great mortill the year 1357; where it was ob- tality which prevailed in this year

in served (we quote the author's words, the north of England chiefly, almost without having the slightest inclina- desolating the country; and also of tion to vouch for the truth) that those another, followed by a famine, in 1391, who were born after the beginning of but we can find no particulars.

1406. Hall, in his , Chronicles, The reader who wishes for further in

merely states the fact without details. formation will find ample details in Gin

“In this summer the pestilential plague guepe's Hist. Lit. d'Italie, vol. iii. p. 90.

so infected the citie of Loudon, and Mem. pour la vie de Petrache, vol. ii. p. 442.

the countrie round about, that the Hist. of Florence, par Matteo Villani. King durst not repaire thither,” but, as

+ Manana, Hist. Espagna, vol. iv. 184. * Other writers state in Dorsetshire.

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we learn from Stowe's Annals, retired body, In less than twenty-four hours to Leeds Castle, in Kent. It carried the patient commonly died or recooff, according to Walsingham, above vered; but, after raging with great 30,000 people.

fury a short time, it suddenly abated. 1407. On doubtful authority we In London, two Mayors successively, insert the occurrence of a plague this and six aldermen, within eight days year which killed 30,000 people in died; and for this sickness, says BaLondon,

ker,* “no physick afforded any cure ; 1430. A partial, and apparently till at last this remedy was found. If trifling, contagious malady is alluded a man were taken with the sweat in to as one of the events of this year by. the day time, that then he should preGrafton and Baker,

sently lie down in his cloaths, and so 1477. We may include 1478 and lie still the whole four and twenty 1480 as mere continuations of the hours : if he were taken in the night, plague which commenced in 1477, and then he should not rise out of his bed was followed up, according to Baker, for the space of four and twenty hours, by another, which began in the latter not provoking sweat, nor yet eating or end of September 1480, and continued drinking at all, at least but very motill the beginning of November twelve. derately. In this sickness there was month ensuing, in which space of time one good circumstance, that, though it innumerable people died. Holinshed were violent, yet it lasted not long ; is more particular, “By reason of for, beginning about the one and twengreat heat and distemperance of aire, tieth of September, it cleared up before happened so fierce and quicke a pesti- the end of October.” It began at first lence, that 15 yeares warre past con- upon the King's army landing at Milsumed not the third part of the people, ford Haven, and soon found its way that onlie foure months miserablie and to London. It visited England again five pitifullie dispatched to their graues, times, and always in the summer. The And surely it soundeth to reason that only cure, observes Dr. Freind, in his the pestilence should fetch awaie so History of Physick, t was to carry on manie thousands, as in judgment by the perspiration for a considerable time, proportion of fifteene yeares warre one and by all means to avoid sleep. It is maie gather, and manie more too; for stated that Englishmen residing in foevery man knoweth that in warres, reign countries were seized with it at time, place, persons, and means are the same time, while foreigners residing limited ; time of warre begun and in England escaped. So extraordinary a ended; place circumscribed; persons partiality may wellbedoubted, notwith, imbattled, and weapons also, whereby standing the high authority of Dr. the fight is tried; so that all these Freind, baue their limitations, beyond which 1500. In London | there are said to they haue no extent. But the pesti- have died this year about 30,000 peolence being a generall infection of the

ple: the King and Queen sought refuge aire, an element ordained to mainteine in Calais in May, and remained there life, though it have a limitation in re. a month. Such is the only record spect of the totall compasse of the we have found of this pestilence. world, yet whole climats may be poy- 1507. To what extent the disorder soned ; and it were not absurd to say alluded to in this year prevailed, we that all and every part of the aire maie cannot say, having only a report of its be pestilentlie corrupted, and so con- existence in Cheshire, where (see sequently not limited; wherefore full King's Vale Royal, and Harl. Misc. well it may be said of the pestilence No. 2125.) in Chester 91 householders (proçuring so great a depopulation) as are said to have died of it, of whom it one saith of surfetting :- - Ense cadunt is most remarkable, if true, that five multi, perimit sed crapula plures."

only were women.. 1483. In this year we first hear of 1509. Whether the infection was a disease by name, which afterwards carried by the Court, or others who fled became too well known. From the

to Calais in consequence of the lastbest information we collect that it was mentioned plague, is uncertain ; but not propagated by any contagious infection, but arose from the general dis. position of the air, and of the human

• Chron. 237. + Vol. II. p. 335.

Speed, 987.

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Hall* says:

"This yere also was a Henry VIII. kept his Christmas at greate pestilence in the toune of Calais, Eltham, with a small number, and was and muche people died, in so much therefore called the Still Christmas. that the Kyng, at the request of his The only remedy is thus alluded to in counsaill, considering the weakness of an anonymous|| biographical memoir of the toune, sent thither Sir John Pechie, Sir Thomas More. The sickness of his with 300 men, to tarry there; who daughter by this disorder is thus mencontinued there until suche time that tioned. The phisitians, and all other, the plague was ceased, and new soul despaired of her health. The disease diours admitted to suche roumes as was then unknown and dangerous. then were vacant, and then returned The only remedie they could find out to Englande.”

by experience was to be kept from 1518. In this, the ninth year of sleeping. It was in the time of the Henry VIII.'s reign, Bakert tells of great sweat. All meanes were sought a sweating sickness, whereof infinite

to keep her awake, but it would not multitudes, in many parts of England, be, so there was no hope of her recodied, especially in London; which was verie. Her father, who most entirely so violent that in three, and sometimes loved her, sought reniedie at God's two hours, it took away men's lives; hands : so went to the chappell in his and spared neither rich nor poor; for new building, and there upon his knees, in the King's Court, the Lord Clinton, with tears most devoutlie besought the the Lord Gray of Wilton, and many Divine Majestie, that it would like his knights, gentlemen, and officers, died goodness, unto whom nothing was imof it. It began in July, and continued possible, if it were his blessed will, at to the midst of December; and it de- his mediation to vochsafe gratiouslie serves to be mentioned, as a corrobo. to hear his humble petition for his ration of its extraordinary and peculiar daughter. It came then presentlie into attachment to the English, spoken of his minde that a glister would be the above, that Rapin particularly alludes alone remedie to help her sleeping, to it as the “ Sudor Anglicanus," for which waking she would not have sufthe very same reason, which is repeated fered ; and therewith she was thoas an admitted fact in a subsequent roughly waked. The phisitians misaccount of its similar attacks in 1522. liked this counsaile, yet it pleased God,

1522. A local fever, rather than a for her father's fervent prayer, as we regular plague, occurred this year, ac- may verilie thinke, to restore her to cording to Hall,at Cambridge, during perfect health. Yet God's markes-(an the assizes, “when the Justices and evident token of present death) plainely all the gentlemen, bailiffes and other, appeared upon her; whereby is resorting thither, took suche an infec- plain that this help was more than nacion, whether it were of the savor of tural.” the prisoners, or of the filthe of the 1549. All we know is that Lincoln house, that many gentlemen, knights, was, according to Camden, visited and many

other honest yomen, thereof with plague this year. died, and almost all which were there 1552. In this, the 5th year of Edpresent, were sore sicke, and narrowly ward the VI.'s reign, the sweating escaped with their lives."

sickness broke out in Shrewsbury, and however, probably more general in its then, extending to the northern parts attack, since we find the usualattendant of the kingdom, finally established itfamine present in the same year, when, self in great severity in London ; so as according to the same chronicle, toge- the first week, there died 800 persons, ther with pestilence was “derthe of and was so violent that it took men corne, for whete was sold in the citie of away in four and twenty hours, someLondon for 20s, a quarter, and in other times in twelve, sometimes in less. places for ll. 68. 8d. per quarter.” This disease, he adds, and probably

1528. The sweating sickness ap- from him the above-mentioned pecupeared again this year : the mortality liarity is derived, was proper to the was so great in London that Bakers English nation, for it followed the says the Terms were adjourned, and English wheresoever they were in fo

reign parts, but seized upon none of Chroo. 512. + Chron. 297. Chron. 632. & Chroo. 274.

# Wordsworth, Eccl. Biog. v. II. p. 143.

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