Fourth Reason against shutting up of houses infected with the Plague, from the condition of those houses and the inhabitants thereof.
BUt if we will not be wise by other mens experience, let us be so by our own most sad and most deplorable, whereby we have known the healthiest men shut up, and with the very thought of a sad and dismal restraint, contracting first a Melan∣choly, and then a feaver, and at last (as all diseases turn to that which is most epidemical) a Plague. Little is it considered that some spirits are so averse to the very least restraint, that the lock∣ing of their pew door puts them to a swound, and a dayes impri∣sonment to them is mortal. Neither is it a fourth part of the inconvenience of this mewing up of men, that a whole & healthy familie to day, for want of preservatives, antidotes, attendance, and (it may be) necessaries of meat and drink, is to morrow none at all. If they want meat, then the infection seizeth their empty veins, if they eat ill-dressed, or unwholsome meat, that turns to crudities, and that to distempers, and these to the prevailing one, the Plague. This shutting up would breed a Plague if there were none: Infection may have killed its thousands, but shutting Page 9 up hath killed its ten thousands. Little is it considered how careless most Nurses are in attending the Visited, and how care∣ful (being possessed with rooking avarice) they are to watch their opportunity to ransack their houses; the assured absence of friends making the sick desperate on the one hand, and them on the other unfaithful: their estates are the Plague most dye on, if they have any thing to lose, to be sure those sad creatures (for the Nurses in such cases are the off-scouring of the City) have a dose to give them; besides that, it is something beyond a Plague to an ingenious spirit to be in the hands of those dirty, ugly, and unwholsome Haggs; even a hell it self, on the one hand to hear nothing but screetches, cryes, groans, and on the other hand to see nothing but ugliness and deformity, black as night, and dark as Melancholy: Ah! to lye at the mercy of a strange woman is sad: to leave wife, children, plate, jewels, to the In∣genuity of poverty, is worse; but who can express the misery of being exposed to their rapine that have nothing of the woman left but shape?
With what art do they neglect the rich? and with what seve∣rity the poor? A world, cry they, for drink, for physick, for sweat, for cordials: by and by answereth the cunning Suecuba, till the poor patient breaths out his soul in his vain wishes, glad now to escape into a rest and quietness much happier than his fretful state wherein his disease tormented him much, but his oversees more, adding her fury from without, to the diseases rage from within, and proving the more Intollerable Plague. And now the Husbands gone, if Sorrow doth not, a Close Room, and Posset drink, shall break the good womans heart, equally divided be∣tween her grief for the husband that is gone, and her fear for the children that are left behind: a needless fear, they shall not long survive, heirs rather of the parents misfortune, than their estates; and if the blessing of God and the poor upon the devout and charitable family (according to the promise made to them and their seed) keeps up a child or two against the infection of the disease, the unwholsomness of their diet, the nastiness of their chamber, and the artifice of their tender, they are conveyed away forsooth, in order to their security, and in the mean time the well-furnished house lyeth at a beggar or Page 10 two's mercy for a quarter, of a year together.
During which time the Plague-brokers diligently attend, and there goeth a Tankard that shall infect the fifth Cupboard; here the set of Spoones that taint the hundredth dish of Broath; this man steales a bargain of the Cloak that kills ten Men; another buyeth a Suit that infects Bristol; and a third gets a fine Childs Coat that shall cut-off a first-born Son. In vain do you here ob∣ject the severe Lawes against removal of infected Goods before the 40. dayes are past, when the careful Nurse dares not stay out the 40. houres, least a right owner interpose, or cunning Lawyer seize on the house and the estate; but let the Estate go, a World cryeth the Patient for an able Physician, that might help the nature, or a serious Divine that may settle the soul; and neither must be sent for, for the doors are fast; and if the rigid overseers per∣mit that civility they dare not come on pain of being shut up themselves, and by serving the necessities of one man being made unserviceable unto all.