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died raving med from the torment, and some while the operation was being performed.
A person having some money owing him from a shopkeeper sent his apprentice 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 down stairs. At length the man of the house came to the door, having marks of approaching death in his visage, and said, “ What do you disturb me for ?” The youth, though a little surprised, replied that he came from his master for the money which was owing. “ Very well, child," returned the living ghost; “call as you go by at Cripplegate Church, and bid them toll the bell;" and with these words shut the door again, went upstairs, and died the very same day, within an hour or two.
In order to provide burial for the vast number of people who died when the plague was in its height, they dug a great pit in the churchyard of Aldgate parish. A terrible pit it was, about forty feet in length, sixteen feet broad, and nearly twenty feet deep. Into this, and pits of a similar nature, the contents of the dead-cart were emptied every night. The corpses were so numerous that coffins could not be provided for them ; so they were simply wrapped up in a piece of cloth, and in this way, with many others, tumbled into the pit. They were all huddled together in the common grave of mankind, for there was no difference made between rich and poor.
PART II. At this time the city was in a very desolate state, and in many streets it is stated that grass was growing in them in several places. Neither cart nor coach were to be seen from morning to evening except some country carts to bring roots and beans. People did not like to venture into coaches, because they did not know who might have been carried in them last; and sick, infected people were ordinarily carried in them to the hospitals, and sometimes people expired in them as they went along.
Several cases occurred of persons being infected with the plague while they were travelling, and perishing upon their journey. A citizen, wishing to leave London, called at an inn in the north part of the city, and asked them for lodgings for one night only, assuring the people of the inn that he was very sound and free from infection. They told him that they had no lodging they could spare but one bed up in the garret, and that they could spare that bed but for one night ; 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, and he requested her to go down and fetch him a pint of warm ale. On leaving his room, the maid's attention was taken up with other matters, so that she neglected her errand. The next morning, seeing no appearance of the gentleman, somebody in the house asked the servant that showed him upstairs what was become of him. She started. “Alas!” said she, “I never thought more of him. He bade me carry him some warm ale, but I
forgot;" upon which 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 jaw was fallen, bis eyes open in a most frightful manner, the ring of the bed being grasped hard in one of his hands, so that it was plain he died soon after the maid left him. The alarm was great in the house, as, the infection being thus brought in, spread rapidly to the surrounding district.
Many persons died in the fields and highways outside the city, and were not included in the bills of mortality, though they belonged to the body of the inhabitants. It was known to all, that numbers of poor, despairing creatures, who had the distemper upon them, and were grown stupid or melancholy by their misery, wandered away into the fields and woods, and into secret places, so that they might die quietly.
The inhabitants of the neighbouring villages would in pity carry them food and set it at a distance, that they might fetch it if they were able. Sometimes they were too far gone to partake of food ; and when they came the next time they would find the pool creatures lay dead and the food untouched. The number of these miserable objects was considerable. When they died, the country people would go and dig a hole at a distance from them, and then with long poles having hooks at one end, drag the bodies into these pits, and then throw the earth in, standing as far off as they were able, so as to cover them; taking notice how the wind blew, and so come on that side which the seamen call to windward, that the scent of the bodies might blow from them.
Thus great numbers went out of the world who were never known, or any account of them taken either in the bills of mortality or the registers of deaths in the neighbouring parishes.
An eye-witness walking in a certain street, observing all the houses shut up, and seeing a poor man, inquired of him how people got on in that part. “Alas! sir," said he, “ almost desolate; all dead or sick. There are very few families in this part where the inmates are not either half dead or sick. In this house that you see, they are all dead, and though the house stands open, nobody dares to go into it. A poor thief ventured to steal something, but he paid dear for his theft, for he was buried last night, having caught the plague in the house."
On enquiring how he obtained a livelihood, he said: “I am a waterman, and there is my boat. It serves me for a house. I work in it during the day, and sleep in it in the night. My wife and family are infected with the plague, so that I dare not go near them. I bring them what they require, and lay it down upon that stone (pointing to a broad stone on the other side of the street), and then I shout and call to them till I make them hear, and they come and fetch it."
Every house containing the plague was closed for a month, and a red cross placed upon the door with this inscription above it, “Lord have mercy upon us." In the stillness of the night no other sound was audible but the rumbling of the wheels of the dead cart, and the voice of the bellman crying, “ Bring out your dead!” The number of deaths increased during the autumn, the greatest number being in September, amounting in that month to upwards of twenty thousand. This calamity was attributed to the wickedness of the age, and certainly might be regarded as a dispensation of Divine Providence, for immorality had then attained a height never perhaps exceeded in English history. After the month of September the death-rate gradually grew less, till in December the capital was declared free of the plague. More than a hundred thousand persons are said to have perished in London at this time, and a great many died in the surrounding districts.
THE WRECK OF THE HESPERUS.
That sailed the wintry sea,
To bear him company.
Blue were her eyes as the fairy flax,
Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
That ope in the month of May.
The skipper he stood beside the helm,
His pipe was in his mouth,
The smoke now west, now south.
Then up and spake an old sailor
Had sailed the Spanish main, “ I pray thee put into yonder port,
For I fear the hurricane.
** Last night the moon had a golden ring
And to-night no moon we see !"
And a scornful laugh laughed he.