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England during the Reign of Charles II
The Great Plague (1644-1666)
The Great Plague : Extracts from Samuel Pepys' Diary
7 June 1665
"..... 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 that kind that to my remembrance I ever saw. It put me into an ill conception of myself and my smell, so that I was forced to buy some roll-tobacco to smell to and chaw - which took away the apprehension."
10 June 1665
"...... In the evening home to supper, and there to my great trouble hear that the plague is come into the City (though it hath these three or four weeks since its beginning been wholly out of the City); but where it begin but in my good friend and neighbour's, Dr Burnett in Fanchurch Street - which troubles me mightily. ......"
11 June 1665
"I out of doors a little to show forsooth my new suit, and back again; and in going, saw poor Dr Burnets door shut. But he hath, I hear, gained goodwill among his neighbours; for he discovered it himself first, and caused himself to be shut up of his own accord - which was very handsome."
17 June 1665
"It stroke me very deep this afternoon, going with a hackney-coach from my Lord Treasurer's down Holborne - the coachman I found to drive easily and easily; at last stood still, and came down hardly able to stand; and told me that he was suddenly stroke very sick and almost blind. So I light and went into another coach, with a sad heart for the poor man and trouble for myself, lest he should have been stroke with the plague - being at that end of the town that I took him up. But God have mercy upon us all."
20 June 1665
"..... This day I informed myself that there died four or five at Westminster of the Plague, in one alley in several houses upon Sunday last - Bell Alley, over against the Palace gate. yet people do think that the number will be fewer in the town then it was last week. ......"
12 August 1665
"The people die so, that now it seems they are fain to carry the dead to be buried by daylight, the nights not sufficing to do it in. ......."
16 August 1665
"...... Hence to the Exchange, which 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."
3 September 1665
"..... And it is a wonder what will be the fashion after the plague is done to periwigs, for nobody will dare to buy any haire for fear of the infection - that it had been cut off of heads of people dead of the plague. ......... but Lord, to consider the madness of people of the town, who will (because they are forbid) come in crowds along with the dead corps to see them buried. ......"
16 October 1665
"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, everybody talking of this dead, and that man sick, and so many in this place, and so many in that. And they tell me that in Westminster there is never a physitian, and but one apothecary left, all being dead - but that there are great hopes of a great decrease this week. God send it."
9 November 1665
"..... The Bill of Mortality, to all our griefs, is encreased 399 this week, and the encrease general through the whole city and suburbs, which makes us all sad."
22 November 1665
"I heard this day that the plague is come very low; that is 600 and odd - and great hopes of a further decrease, because of this day's being a very exceeding hard frost - and continues freezing. ......"
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