It’s very intersting but disturbing to compare the reaction to our plague of 2020 and that of our forebears in the black plague of the 1600s.
| Keep your distant ... Gyms are back in business this week - hooray! - but keeping your distance is the vital rule. |
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash
Well, except for the masks shoppers peered over, and notices warning us to keep well apart.
Cashiers and the hoot were screened safely away.
The majority of shoppers were buying huge amounts of food, but there were no cries of alarm, no faintings, no woman throwing themselves into my arms and begging for help, no tears.
However, in the plague of the sixteen hundreds, the scenes were tensely different, and really tragic.
|There People might be heard, even into the streets as we passed along, calling upon God for mercy through Jesus Christ, and saying, ‘I have been a thief,’ ‘I have been an adulterer’, ‘I have been a murderer’...|
Little different from us
In all likelihood, the humans in this report were little different from us, and in all probability not any less intelligent, but perhaps not so well schooled.
Daniel Defoe reports in A Journal of the Plague Year ...
‘Many consciences were awakened; many hard hearts melted into tears; many a penitent confession was made of crimes long concealed.
‘It would wound the soul of any Christian to have heard the dying groans of many a despairing creature ...
'... and none durst come near to comfort them.
‘Many a robbery, many a murder, was then confessed aloud, and nobody surviving to record the accounts of it.
'People might be heard, even into the streets as we passed along, calling upon God for mercy through Jesus Christ, and saying, ‘I have been a thief,’ ‘I have been an adulterer’, ‘I have been a murderer’, and the like, and none durst stop to make the least inquiry into such things or to administer comfort to the poor creatures that in the anguish both of soul and body thus cried out.
‘The very buriers of the dead, who were the hardenedest creatures in town, were sometimes beaten back and so terrified that they durst not go into houses where the whole families were swept away together, and where the circumstances were more particularly horrible, as some were ...
' ... As to the affair of health, it is proper to mention it here that, having seen the foolish humour of the people in running after quacks and mountebanks, wizards and fortune-tellers, which they did, even to madness, the Lord Mayor, a very sober and religious gentleman, appointed physicians and surgeons for relief of the poor…'
Daniel Defoe reports that the College of Physicians published directions for cheap remedies for the poor, 'in all the circumstances of the distemper.'
'This, indeed, was one of the most charitable and judicious things that could be done at that time, for this drove the people from haunting the doors of every disperser of bills, and from taking down blindly and without consideration poison for physic and death instead of life.'
- Defoe, Daniel. A Journal of the Plague Year. Digireads.com Publishing. Kindle Edition.
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