An historical account of the plague: and other pestilential distempers….. was written by R. Goodwin, Richard Burdekin, published by R. Burdekin in 1832 (Original from Oxford University), digitized for Google books on Apr 19, 2006 and is 78 pages long.
To view the full version of the book, or to download it, visit this page at Google Books – An historical account of the plague.
The information presented below is from the Googles digitized version of “An historical account of the plague.” Its important for modern mankind to understand how plagues have affected our ancestors. Its only through understanding the past, can we plan for the future.
Flag Ok, or Pestilential Fever, is a very malignant, and contagious disease; being a putrid fever of the worst kind, and seldom failing to prove fatal; though it is generally denned a malignant fever.
That the plague is a poison, or rather carries a poison along with it, is acknowledged by all physicians; but of what kind and nature it is, and whence it proceeds, is left in obscurity.
The plague, it is generally believed, seldom or ever originates in Britain, but is imported from abroad, especially from the Levant, Lesser Asia and Egypt where it is very common. Dr. Sydenham, in his works, has remarked that it rarely infects his country oftener than once in forty years, and happily we have been free from it for a much longer period.
Authors are not yet agreed concerning the nature of this dreadful distemper. Some think that insects are the cause of it, in the same way that they are the cause of blights, being brought in swarms from other climates by the wind, when they are taken into the lungs in respiration ; the consequence of which is, that they mix with the blood and juices, and attack and corrode the viscera. Mr. Boyle, on the other hand, thinks it originates from the effluvia or exhalations breathed into the atmosphere from noxious minerals, to which may be added stagnant waters and putrid bodies of every kind.
Gibbon, the historian, thought the plague originated from damp, hot, and stagnating air, and the putrefaction of animal substances, especially locusts.
The Mahometans believe that the plague proceeds from certain spirits, or goblins, armed with bows and arrows, sent by God to punish men for their sins; and that when the wounds are given by specters of a black color, they certainly prove fatal, but not so when the arrows are shot by those that appear white. They therefore take no precaution to guard themselves against it. The wiser professors of this religion, however, at present act otherwise.
An article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, states it as a remarkable fact, that plagues are some times partial, and that they only attack particular animals, or a particular description of persons, avoiding others altogether, or attacking them but slightly. Thus Fernelius informs U3 of a plague, or murrain, in 1514, which affected only cats. Dionysius Halicarnasseus mentions a plague which attacked none but maids; and that which raged in the time of Gentilis, killed scarcely any women, and very few but lusty men. Eotcrus mentions another plague, which assaulted none but the younger sort. Cardan speaks of a plague at Basle with which the Switzers were infected, and the Italians, Germans, or French, exempted: and John Utenhovius takes notice of a dreadful one at Copenhagen, which, though it raged among the Danes, spared the Germans, Dutch, and English, who went with all freedom and without the least danger, to the houses of the infected. During the plague which ravaged Syria, in 1760, it was observed that people of the soundest constitutions were the most liable to it, and that the weak and delicate were either spared or easily cured. It was most fatal to the Moors; and when it attacked them it was generally incurable.
The historical details connected with this very singular disease are highly interesting. The ancients do not appear to have been acquainted with it; but it must be confessed that its origin and early history are involved in much obscurity. For many centuries past it has been endemic on the shores of the Mediterranean; although it has occasionally shown itself in other latitudes.
A modern writer describes this family of dis- eases commonly called plagues or pestilences, as a variety of fevers, with or without eruptions on the skin, which have from time to time, by spreading epidemically,* thinned the ranks of mankind. These fevers appear under different types, or degrees of immediate severity. The inflammatory type, is indicated by a strong pulse and highly excited system; the typhoid, by a weak pulse and great debility. There is an intermediate type, partaking of both these extremes. They have received different names, often educed from some peculiarity in the symptoms of each particular disease; but occasionally suggested by. the caprice or the peculiar views of the author who may have descanted upon them.
Europe, though less favorable than other quarters of the globe to the generating of the elements of contagion in the first instance, or to the intoduction of an epidemic state of the atmosphere, has been frequently visited by pestilential diseases.
Any disease affecting numbers of people in or about the any time and place, if not dependent upon local and limited circumstance!, is called an epidemic.
With this summary view of these awful and mysterious dispensations of Divine Providence, which, it is hoped, every reader will regard with becoming seriousness, his attention is called to the more detailed particulars, as given in the following .historical account.
Thucydides, who was himself infected, gives .us an account of a dreadful plague which happened at Athens about the year before Christ 430, while the Peloponnesians under the command of A rchidamus wasted all her territory abroad; but of these two enemies the plague was by far the most dreadful and severe.
80 A. D. – At the commencement of the Christian aera, one of the most dreadful plagues that perhaps ever was known visited Rome, it was in the reign of Titus, so early as the year 80. There happened to be a fire in that city, which lasted three days and nights successively, this was followed by an awful plague, in which 10,000 persons were buried in one day. * The emperor did all in his power to repair the damages, and assist the distressed, by declaring he would take the whole loss occasioned by the fire upon himself, and left no remedy unat- tempted to abate the malignity of the distemper.
167 A.D. – A similar disease to the former raged in all the provinces of the Roman empire, in the reign of M. Aurelius, and was followed by a dreadful famine, by earthquakes, inundations, and other calamities. The Romans believed that ^Esculapius sometime* entered into a serpent, and cured the plague.
430 A.D. – The first plague we read of in England, was about this time, just after the Picts and Scots had made a formidable invasion of the southern part of the island. The plague raged with uncommon fury, and swept away most of those whom the sword and famine had spared. 447.
Another plague broke out, which, in a short time destroyed such a multitude of people, that the living were scarcely sufficient to bury the dead. 583.
The next happened in France, but more particularly at Paris, which they called the plague in the groin, because it appeared in that part. It seemed to burn those who were infected with it, and afflicted them with most intolerable pains, making a scar, in a short time, as if it had been done by an actual cautery. It made dreadful havoc among mankind, and the greatest part died in great pain, with dreadful shrieks and cries.
1043 A.D. -There was a remarkable earthquake in England on the first of March, which was attended with a destruction of man and beaat, and the lightning set several towns and fields of corn on fire, which occasioned such a famine, that one horse-load of wheat was sold for five shillings, a considerable Bum in those days.
1086 – The unseasonable weather and heavy rains, which occured at this period, caused a famine; the consequence of which was a dreadful mortality of men and cattle.
1093 – A famine raged this year, which produced so great a loss of life, that it was with difficulty the living were able to bury the dead.
1247 – On Valentine’s day, there was a violent earthquake in several parts of England, especially in London, and on the Banks of the Thames, which was followed by a plague, insomuch that in September following, there were nine or ten buried every day in the churchyard of St. Peter at St. Alban’s.
1259 -A great pestilence broke out in England, whereof many thousands died, which it was thought wa» occasioned by the famine of the proceeding year, \vhich was so destructive, that many were forced to feed upon horse-flesh, bark of trees, &c., and provision were so scarce that 29,000 people were said to be starved to death for want, in London.
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