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Please try again later, or contact the organizer directly. This event has ended. A Journal of the Plague Year. View Details. Follow this organizer to stay informed on future events. Rob Smith, Footprints of London Event creator. Events you might like:. And a whole lot of other bugs and rodents come to think of it.
Oh, by the way, if you happen to look up the Great Plague you get a lot of pictures of fleas and rats. Wonderful, I'm not going to look it up anymore. There are lots of details in this book that I enjoyed, but I kept wishing I had a map of London in to see where all these places were. There are names of streets, names of churches, pubs, shops and parishes.
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Did you know there are 97 parishes in London? I didn't, but I do now. One of the things that puzzled me about people's behavior during this terrible time was how they would try to hide the fact that they or someone in their family had the disease: " 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.
The shutting up of houses is just what it sounds like, if someone in the house had the plague than the house was "shut up". It was locked and guarded, no one leaves, whether they have the plague or not. After all, they've been living for who knows how long with a plague victim, there is a good chance they already have the plague. So everyone in the house stays in the house. And because of this people were always either trying to hide the fact that someone in the house had the plague at all, or were thinking of ways to escape from the house. While I can see why the healthy people didn't want to be locked up in the same house as the sick people, I didn't understand why the sick people went to so much trouble to escape, and for that matter although I could understand how the healthy people felt I wouldn't have tried to escape.
At least I hope I wouldn't have, for I would have been afraid of just what the authorities seemed to be afraid of, that I would give this horrible plague to someone else. So hopefully I would have locked myself in the house without any help from watchmen or other authorities.
Which brings me to watchmen and other authorities. Now not only do we have infected people escaping and running through the street, we also have occupants of the infected house escaping into the streets, and then we have Examiners, they are appointed to go into houses and confirm there is plague, next there are the Watchmen, they are to keep the infected and exposed locked in their houses, Searchers are to search the bodies for plague, Chirurgeons which is an odd name are to assist the searchers, Nurse-keepers are obviously supposed to be taking care of the sick, all these positions are appointed and you must accept your position or go to jail.
There are also Physicians who are treating the sick and Buriers who are burying the dead. With all these people running around the city, going in and out of plague victim's houses, I'm surprised more people didn't have the plague. And speaking of physicians among others reminded me of this quote mentioning not only physicians but quacks, as Defoe calls them: "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 skillful 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.
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.
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According to Defoe the people were deceived into believing in wearing charms, amulets, and things like that to strengthen the body against the plague. Of course, I'm not even sure Abracadabra is a real word. Defoe spends a lot of time telling or showing us bills of mortality, this is the bill of mortality published in December of "Plague, 2. Parishes infected, 1. He walks out into the fields going towards the river, for he wanted to see how things were going on there.
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As he reaches the water he meets a poor man walking on the bank. Our narrator asks the man how the people in that area are doing and the replies: 'Alas, sir! 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.
A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe
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. He has called his wife to come and get the money and food he brought her, but she hasn't come out yet. He tells our narrator that he always places the money on a large rock by the street and calls his wife, then when he has moved away she comes out and gets it.
As they talk his wife finally calls to him: "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. 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. 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.
Well, almost done. I've learned a lot about the Great Plague by reading this book, and I've got things to go look up, that's always a good thing, if I remember to do it. I liked the book as much as you can like a book about lots and lots of people dying horrible deaths because of rats and fleas. I would and possibly will read it again, there are just so many books out there to read and re-read who knows if I'll actually get around to it again. The book is definitely creepy, things like carts for the dead and big pits for the bodies, and bodies laying in houses for days until someone figures out the people in the house must all be dead.
Things like that. I'll give it four stars anyway, unless that "a journal should be separated into days" thing bugs me too much, then it will go down to a three star. For now it's four.
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