Living through a plague

Or rather, living through the plague: Thursday 14 September 1665 (Pepys’ Diary)

Then, on the other side, my finding that though the Bill in general is abated, yet the City within the walls is encreased, and likely to continue so, and is close to our house there. My meeting dead corpses of the plague, carried to be buried close to me at noon-day through the City in Fanchurch-street. To see a person sick of the sores, carried close by me by Gracechurch in a hackney-coach. My finding the Angell tavern, at the lower end of Tower- hill, shut up, and more than that, the alehouse at the Tower-stairs, and more than that, the person was then dying of the plague when I was last there, a little while ago, at night, to write a short letter there, and I overheard the mistresse of the house sadly saying to her husband somebody was very ill, but did not think it was of the plague. To hear that poor Payne, my waiter, hath buried a child, and is dying himself. To hear that a labourer I sent but the other day to Dagenhams, to know how they did there, is dead of the plague; and that one of my own watermen, that carried me daily, fell sick as soon as he had landed me on Friday morning last, when I had been all night upon the water (and I believe he did get his infection that day at Brainford), and is now dead of the plague. To hear that Captain Lambert and Cuttle are killed in the taking these ships; and that Mr. Sidney Montague is sick of a desperate fever at my Lady Carteret’s, at Scott’s-hall. To hear that Mr. Lewes hath another daughter sick. And, lastly, that both my servants, W. Hewer and Tom Edwards, have lost their fathers, both in St. Sepulchre’s parish, of the plague this week, do put me into great apprehensions of melancholy, and with good reason. But I put off the thoughts of sadness as much as I can, and the rather to keep my wife in good heart and family also.

One Reply to “Living through a plague”

  1. Just this weekend, I talked to a friend who’d come upon pictures from 1992. One picture showed his first trip to Provincetown with his then new boyfriend and a bunch of their pals from Boston.

    He scanned the picture in so I could see it — a pack of good friends laughing without a care in the world, cute men, their arms around each other, their entire lives to come, pausing just for a moment so that someone could snap the photo.

    He said that everyone in that picture is now dead except for him. He is Pos, 57, and has no clue how he made it past 35, let alone 40 or 50.

    Thanks for this posting. Moving on its own, but moving too with a nod to more recent history.

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