« VorigeDoorgaan »
was an able man of business, and a tolerably honest man in a corrupt age; but we should perhaps care little for him now, in common with many better and wiser whose good actions have been written in water, had he not left us, in this Diary, the most amusing exhibition of garrulous egotism that the world has seen. But he had a right to be egotistic. How could he know that a hundred and fifty years after he was gone he was to be, a good jest for ever?' His narrative of the Great Plague, which we pick out from his Diary here and there, is almost as interesting as Defoe's artistical but imaginary history.]
April 30th.-Great fears of the sickness here in the city, it being said that two or three houses are already shut up. God preserve us all! May 7th. The hottest day that ever I felt in my life. This day, much against my will, I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and "Lord have mercy upon us," writ there; which was a sad sight to me, being the first of the kind that to my remembrance I ever saw.
July 12th. A solemn fast-day for the plague growing upon us. 13th. Above 700 died of the plague this week.
18th. I was much troubled this day to hear at Westminster, how the officers do bury the dead in the open Tuttle-fields, pretending want of room elsewhere.
20th. Walked to Redriffe, where I hear the sickness is, and indeed is scattered almost every where. There dying 1089 of the plague this week. My lady Carteret did this day give me a bottle of plague-water home with me.
21st. Late in my chamber, setting some papers in order; the plague growing very raging, and my apprehensions of it great.
26th. The king having dined, he came down, and I went in the barge with him, 1 sitting at the door. Down to Woolwich (and there I just saw, and kissed my wife, and saw some of her painting, which is very curious; and away again to the king), and back again with him in the barge, hearing him and the duke talk, and seeing and observing their manner of discourse. And God forgive me! though I admire them with all the duty possible, yet the more a man considers and observes them, the less he finds of difference between them and other men, though (blessed be God!) they are both princes of great nobleness and spirits. The Duke of Monmouth is the most skittish, leaping
gallant that ever I saw, always in action, vaulting or leaping, or clambering. Sad news of the deaths of so many in the parish of the plague, forty last night. The bell always going. This day poor Robin Shaw at Backewell's died, and Backewell himself now in Flanders. The King himself asked about Shaw, and, being told he was dead, said he was very sorry for it. The sickness is got into our parish this week, and is got, indeed, every where; so that I begin to think of setting things in order, which I pray God enable me to put both as to soul and body.
28th. Set out with my lady Sandwich all alone with her with six horses to Dagenhams, going by water to the Ferry. And a pleasant going, and a good discourse; and when there, very merry, and the young couple now well acquainted. But, Lord! to see in what fear all the people here do live. How they are afraid of us that come to them, insomuch that I am troubled at it, and wish myself away. But some cause they have; for the chaplain, with whom but a week or two ago we were here mighty high disputing, is since fallen into a fever and dead, being gone hence to a friend's a good way off. A sober and healthful man. These considerations make us all hasten the marriage, and resolve it upon Monday next.
30th. It was a sad noise to hear our bell to toll and ring so often to day, either for deaths or burials; I think five or six times.
31st. Thus I ended this month with the greatest joy that ever I did any in my life, because I have spent the greatest part of it with abundance of joy, and honour, and pleasant journeys, and brave entertainments, and without cost of money; and at last live to see the business ended with great content on all sides. Thus we end this month, as I said, after the greatest glut of content that ever I had; only under some difficulty because of the plague, which grows mightily upon us, the last week being about 1700, or 1800 of the plague.
August 3rd. To Dagenhams. All the way people, citizens, walking to and fro, enquire how the plague is in the city this week by the bill; which, by chance, at Greenwich, I had heard was 2020 of the plague, and 3000 and odd of all diseases. By and by, met my Lord Crewe returning; Mr. Marr telling me by the way how a maid-servant of Mr. John Wright's (who lives thereabouts) falling sick of the plague, she was removed to an outhouse, and a nurse appointed to look to her; who, being once absent, the maid got out of the house at the window,
and run away. The nurse coming a knocking, and having no answer believed she was dead, and went and told Mr. Wright so; who and his lady were in great strait what to do to get her buried. At last resolved to go to Brentwood hard by, being in the parish, and there get people to do it. But they would not; so he went home full of trouble, and in the way met the wench walking over the common, which frighted him worse than before; and was forced to send people to take her, which he did; and they got one of the pest coaches and put her into it to carry her to a pest-house. And passing in a narrow lane Sir Anthony Browne, with his brother and some friends in the coach, met this coach with the curtains drawn close. The brother being a young man, and believing there might be some lady in it that would not be seen, and the way being narrow, he thrust his head out of his own into her coach, and to look, and there saw somebody look very ill, and in a sick dress, and stunk mightily; which the coachman also cried out upon. And presently they come up to some people that stood looking after it, and told our gallants that it was a maid of Mr. Wright's, carried away sick of the plague; which put the young gentleman into a fright had almost cost him his life, but is now well again. 8th. To my office a little, and then to the Duke of Albemarle's about some business. The streets empty all the way, now even in London, which is a sad sight. And to Westminster Hall, where talking, hearing very sad stories from Mrs. Mumford; among others, of Mr. Michell's son's family. And poor Will. that used to sell us ale at the Hall-door, his wife and three children died, all I think in a day. So home through the City again, wishing I may have taken no ill in ing; but I will go, I think, no more thither.
10th. By and by to the office, where we sat all the morning; in great trouble to see the bill this week rise so high, to above 4000 in all, and of them about 3000 of the plague. Home to draw over anew my will, which I had bound myself by oath to dispatch to-morrow night; the town growing so unhealthy, that a man cannot depend upon living two days.
12th. The people die so, that now it seems they are fain to carry the dead to be buried by day-light, the nights not sufficing to do it in. And my Lord Mayor commands people to be within at nine at night all, as they say, that the sick may have liberty to go abroad for air.
13th. It was dark before I could get home, and so land at Church
yard stairs, where, to my great trouble, I met a dead corpse of the plague, in the narrow alley just bringing down a little pair of stairs. But I thank God I was not much disturbed at it. However, I shall beware of being late abroad again.
16. To the Exchange, where I have not been a great while. But, Lord! how sad a sight it is to see the streets empty of people, and very few upon the 'Change. Jealous of every door that one sees shut up, lest it should be the plague; and about us two shops in three, if not more, generally shut up.
20th. To Brainford; and there at the inn that goes down to the water-side, I light and paid off my post-horses, and so slipped on my shoes, and laid my things by, the tide not serving, and to church, where a dull sermon, and many Londoners.
After church to my room, and eat and drank, and so about seven o'clock by water, and got between nine and ten to Queenhive, very dark. And I could not get my waterman to go elsewhere for fear of the plague. Thence with a lanthorn, in great fear of meeting of dead corpses, carrying to be buried; but (blessed be God!) met none, but did see now and then a link (which is the mark of them) at a distance. 22nd. I went away and walked to Greenwich, in my way seeing a coffin with a dead body therein, dead of the plague, lying in an open close belonging to Coome Farm, which was carried out last night, and the parish have not appointed any body to bury it, but only set a watch there all day and night, that nobody should go thither or come thence; this disease making us more cruel to one another than we are to dogs.
30th. Abroad, and met with Hadley, our clerk, who, upon my asking how the plague goes, told me it increases much, and much in our parish.
31st. Up, and after putting several things in order to my removal to Woolwich, the plague having a great increase this week, beyond all expectation, of almost 2,000, making the general bill 7,000, odd 100; and the plague above 6,000. Thus this month ends with great sadness upon the public, through the greatness of the plague every where through the kingdom almost. Every day sadder and sadder news of its increase. In the city died this week 7,496, and of them 6,102 of the plague. But it is feared that the true number of the dead this week is near 10,000; partly from the poor that cannot be taken
notice of through the greatness of the number, and partly from the Quakers and others, that will not have any bell ring for them.
September 3rd (Lord's Day). Up, and put on my coloured silk suit, very fine, and my new periwig, bought a good while since, but durst not wear, because the plague was in Westminster when I bought it; and it is a wonder what will be the fashion after the plague is done, as to periwigs, for nobody will dare to buy any hair, for fear of the infection, that it had been cut off the heads of people dead of the plague. My Lord Brouncker, Sir J. Minnes, and I, up to the vestry, at the desire of the justices of the peace, in order to the doing something for the keeping of the plague from growing; but, Lord! to consider the madness of people of the town, who will (because they are forbid) come in crowds along with the dead corpses to see them buried; but we agreed on some orders for the prevention thereof. Among other stories, one was very passionate, methought, of a complaint brought against a man in the town for taking a child from London from, an infected house. Alderman Hooker told us it was the child of a very able citizen in Gracious Street, a saddler, who had buried all the rest of his children of the plague, and himself and wife now being shut up, and in despair of escaping, did desire only to save the life of this little child; and so prevailed to have it received stark naked into the arms of a friend, who brought it (having put it into new clothes) to Greenwich; where, upon hearing the story, we did agree it should be permitted to be received and kept in the town.
20th. To Lambeth. But, Lord! what a sad time it is to see no boats upon the river, and grass grows all up and down White Hall court, and nobody but poor wretches in the streets! and, which is worst of all, the Duke showed us the number of the plague this week, brought in the last night from the Lord Mayor; that it is increased about 600 more than the last, which is quite contrary to our hopes and expect ations, from the coldness of the late season. For the whole general number is 8,297, and of them the plague 7,165; which is more in the whole by above 50 than the biggest bill yet: which is very grievous on us all.
October 16th. I walked to the Tower; but, Lord! how empty the streets are and melancholy, so many poor sick people in the streets full of sores; and so many sad stories overheard as I walk, every body talking of this dead, and that man sick, and so many in this place, and so