SECTION VI. Historical view of Pestilential Epidemics from the year 1600 to the close of the year 1700.
THE year 1600 was remarkable for pestilence in almost every part of Europe. Spain, where the disease was fatal the year before, was this year almost depopulated. There raged throughout Europe, a pestilential, mortal cholic which destroyed the lives of all whom it seized, within four days. The patient, as soon as he was seized, became senseless—the hair fell from his head—a livid pustule arose on the nose, which consumed it— the extremities became cold and mortified.
In Florence a terrible earthquake destroyed many buildings.
The winter of 1600 was very cold. In the summer of 160• there was a severe drouth of four or five months; and a violent dysentery followed, with double tertians and continual fevers. The plague raged in Portugal, attended with black round worms. At Christmas, there was an earthquake in England. The same year there was an earthquake at Arequipa, in Peru, accompa|nied by an eruption of a volcano.
In 1602 a cold and dry summer and winter, the catarrh was epidemic, and acute fevers prevalent. These diseases and phe|nomena accompanied a series of calamities in all parts of Europe.
The famin that marked this period, for a series of years, ex|ceeded in extent and severity, what had been before recorded. Famins are usually local; but in the present instance, there was a failure of crops for several years, in almost every part of Eu|rope; while the plague committed most desolating ravages.
In Muscovy the famin raged for three years at the beginning of the century under consideration, attended with the plague. Parents devoured their dying children; cats, rats and every un|clean Page 172 thing was used to sustain life. All the ties of nature and morality were disregarded; human flesh was exposed to sale in the open market. The more powerful seized their neighbors; fathers and mothers, their children; husbands, their wives, and offered them for sale. Multitudes of dead were found, with their mouths filled with straw, and the most filthy substances. Five hundred thousand persons were supposed to perish in Mus|covy, by famin and pestilence.
At the same time, the famin in Livonia, and the cold winter of 1602, destroyed 30,000 lives. The dead bodies lay in the streets, for want of hands to bury them.
Thuanus, lib. 135. Encyclopedia, art. Russia.
At the same time, raged a most dreadful pestilence in Con|stantinople, which also followed a famin.
In England, there was also a dearth, and in 1603 perished 36,000 in London, of the plague, which was said to be imported from Ostend.
Maitland's Hist. Lond. Mignot's Hist Turkish Empire, p. 256.
Even in this case, the report of imported infection into Lon|don was believed, altho the nation had before their eyes, a de|monstration to the contrary; for the same malady broke out in every part of the kingdom, and had actually prevailed in Chester, in the north-west corner of England, the year preceding.
It is idle to ascribe the plague to infection, communicated from person to person, or from clothes to persons. The disease, in 1602 was in every part of Europe, and appeared nearly at the same time, in the most distant parts. In this case, as in those before related, of 1580 and 1591, it had been preceded by catarrh, and a course of malignant fevers. The malignity of the disease in 1602 resembled that of 1348—persons were seized with spitting of blood, and died in three days.
In August 1603 in Paris died 2000 persons weekly of the plague. This disease was attributed to the diet and filth accu|mulated, under a defective police.
Wraxall, vol. 3. 438.
Why the filth of Paris did not produce the plague in other seasons, writers have not informed us.
Page 173The period under consideration was remarkable for the uni|versality of the action of subterranean fire. The earthquakes of 1600 and 1601 and the bursting of a volcano in South-A|merica have been mentioned. In 1603 there was an explosion of Etna. In 1604 a second eruption in Peru, and a comet.
The plague abated, in some places, the year following; but London was not free from it for a number of years, and from 1606 to 1609 inclusive the distemper carried off from two to four thousand citizens in each season.
In 1607 commenced an unusual concurrence of great agitations in the elements, and severe pestilence attended.
In this year appeared a comet, and another in 1609. The winter of 1607-8 was the severest that had been known for an age; boats were built on the Thames. And here for the first time, I am able to introduce North-America, into this history; from which will be derived some of the most important evidence in regard to the universality of the causes of pestilential epidemics.
The severity of the winter mentioned was equally great in America, as in Europe. George Popham, and a company of settlers under the patent of king James, to the London mer|chants, attempted a settlement at Sagadahoc in 1607; but Pop|ham, the President, died during the winter, and the extreme cold was one of the discouragements that contributed to break up the settlement.
Gorges Hist. New-England. Purchas, vol. 4. 1637. Hutchinson's Hist. Mass. vol. 1. 2.
In this same year was an eruption of Etna.
The comet of this year produced a most remarkable tempest, with a swell of the ocean, that did incredible damage in Eng|land. In the latter part of winter, the tempest brought in a flood into the Severn, which overflowed the country, near Bristol, to the extent of ten miles, with a rapidity, that left no time for the people to save their effects, and many lives were lost. The flood rose above the houses, where people had re|sorted for safety, and overwhelmed them. The loss of cattle and goods was immense.
In Somersetshire, the inundation laid waste an extent of 20 miles by 10; overwhelming five towns. So sudden was the Page 174 irruption, that laborers were caught in the fields, and were seen floating on the timbers of their houses. In Norfolk, the inun|dation was not less destructive.
Thuanus, lib. 138.
In 1608 a very malignant dysentery prevailed.
In 1609 the approach of the second comet produced effects equally remarkable with the last. The action of subterranean fire was extensive. There was an eruption of Etna, and a vio|lent earthquake at Lima in Peru. The winter was so severe, as to convert the Thames into a common highway.
In this year the plague was augmented in London; and it raged in Alemar and Denmark. In the years 1607 and 8, it had been very mortal in Cork.
The pestilential state of air, at this time, was experienced at sea. The people on board the fleet under Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Somers, bound to Virginia, were seized with the calenture, a spotted pestilent fever, which, on board of one of the ships, was so malignant as to be called the plague. Thir|ty-two dead bodies were thrown out of two ships. Was this disease imported? In the same passage, the fleet met with a tre|mendous storm of four days continuance, and Sir T. Gates was shipwrecked on Bermuda.
Purchas, vol. 4. p. 1733.
In 1610 the catarrh was again epidemic. In some parts of the continent prevailed the Hungarian fever like the plague, and severe bilious complaints. A remarkable fiery bow in the heav|ens was observed in Hungary; and Constantinople was infested with clouds of grass-hoppers, of great size, that devoured every green thing. The malignant sore throat was fatal in Spain, and authors relate that this was its first appearance in that coun|try.
In 1611 the plague carried off 200,000 of the inhabitants of Constantinople. It appeared also in some other places. The summers of the three last years were very hot and dry.
In 1612 appeared a comet. A terrible tempest made great havoc with shipping—2000 dead bodies of sailors were found on the coast of England, and 1200 on that of Holland. Some towns were injured. In the following year, Provence in France Page 175 was greatly injured by an inundation; and swarms of locusts succeeded, which laid waste the vegetable kingdom.
The summer of 1612 in England was excessively dry, and a malignant fever severely afflicted the nation.
In 1613 the plague appeared in detached parts of France, and in Montpelier, a malignant disease so fatal, as to want only the buboes, to prove it the true plague. It was marked with red and livid spots, swellings behind the ears and carbuncles. One third who were seized died.
Riverius, lib. 17.
The preceding summers, the earth was covered with grass|hoppers, and the air filled with clouds of flies.
In this year also Constantinople was ravaged with the plague; and as cats were supposed to spread the infection, the physicians, who were mostly Jews, advised the emperor Achmet I. and he accordingly ordered all the cats to be transported to a desert island near Scutari.
Short, vol. 1. Mign•t's Hist. Turkish Empire.
In 1614 the winter was severe; there was an eruption of Etna, and an earthquake in the Azores. The heavens appeared, at one time in a flame, and afterwards very dark.
This year was remarkable for the most universal small-pox, and most fatal ever known. It laid waste Alexandria, Crete, Turkey, Calabria, Italy, Venice, Dalmatia, France, Germa|ny, Poland, Flanders and England. The mortality equalled that of the plague. In Persia also it raged, with measles.
In 1615 the seasons were cold. In 1616 a very hot and dry summer—quartan agues epidemic—not a family in Germany escaped; but not fatal.
In 1617 the summer was hot and dry.
In 1618 appeared a remarkable comet in November, (Short mentions four) and a town in Rhetia was overwhelmed by an earthquake. Violent tempests, inundations and hurricanes are recorded of the same year, and in Bermuda, the year following, a storm tore up the strongest trees by the roots. In 1619 Heckla discharged her fiery contents.
In 1618 broke out in Naples a malignant Angina which rav|aged the place for many years. The plague appeared at Bergen, Page 176 in Norway, in Denmark and in Grand Cairo. This was the beginning of a very pestilential period, and here must be intro|duced the terrible pestilence which wasted the American Indians, just before our ancestors landed in Massachusetts. As this is one of the most remarkable facts in history, and one that demon|strates the general causes of plague to belong to other climates, besides those of Egypt and the Levant, I have taken great pains to ascertain the species of disease, and the time of its appearance.
Capt. Dermer, an English adventurer, who had arrived in America, in a fishing vessel, a year or two before, passed the winter of 1618-19 in Monhiggan, an Indian town on the northern coast On the 19th of May 1619 he sailed along the coast, on his way to Virginia, and landed at several places, where he had been the year before; and he found many Indian towns totally depopulated—in others a few natives remained alive, but "not free of sickness;" "their disease, the plague, for we might perceive the sores of some that had escaped, who described the spots of such as usually die." These are his words. He found some villages, which, in his former visit, were populous, all deserted—the Indians "all dead."
Purchas, vol. 4. 1778.
Richard Vines, and his companions, who had been sent by Ferdinando Gorges, to explore the country, wintered among the Indians, during the pestilence, and remained untouched, the disease attacking none of the English. Belknap's Life of Gor|ges, American Biography, vol. 1. p. 355, but the year is not specified.
Gookin, in his account of the Indians, Historical Collections, p. 8, places this pestilence in 1612 and 13, about seven or eight years before the English arrived at Plymouth. But this cannot be accurate, unless the disease began to rage for a number of years previous to 1618. Capt. Dermer's letter in Purchas is decisive of the time of the principal sickness, and fortunately we have another authority which is indisputable.
A sermon was preached by Elder Cushman at Plymouth, in 1620, just after the colony arrived, and sent to London to be published. In the Epistle Dedicatory which is dated December, 21, 1621, the author has these words. "They [the Indians] Page 177 were very much wasted of late, by a great mortality, that fell amongst them, three years since, which, with their own civil dissentions and bloody wars, hath so wasted them, as I think the twentieth person is scarce left alive."
Hazard's Collection, vol. 1. p. 148.
This corresponds also with the accounts in Prince's Chronol|ogy from original manuscripts. This fixes the time in 1618, precisely agreeable to Capt. Dermer's account. This was the year of the principal mortality; but like other pestilential pe|riods, this continued for a number of years; for some of the Plymouth settlers went to Massachusetts, (now Boston) in 1622, to purchase corn of the natives; and "found among the In|dians, a great sickness, not unlike the plague, if not the same." It raged in winter, and affected the Indians only.
See Purchas 4. 1858. Prince's Chron. 124.
The time then is fixed. The disease commenced, or raged with its principal violence in 1618 and through the winter. This was the year of the remarkable comet, when the plague was raging in many parts of the world. So fatal was the pestilence in America, that the warriors from Narragansett to Penobscot, the distance to which the disease seems to have been limited, were reduced from 9000 to a few hundreds.* When our an|cestors arrived in 1620, they found the bones of those who per|ished, in many places, unburied.
Magnalia, book 1. p. 7.
The kind of disease is another important question. Dermer seems to think it a species of plague, and he saw some of the sores of those who had survived. Hutchinson, vol. 1. p. 34, 35, says some have supposed it to have been the small-pox, but the Indians, who were perfectly acquainted with this disease, after the English arrived, always gave a very different account of it, and described it as a pestilential putrid fever.
Fortunately General Gookin, in the passage above cited, has left us a fact, which leaves no doubt as to the nature of the mal|ady. His words are— "What the disease was, which so gen|erally Page 178 and mortally swept them away, I cannot learn. Doubt|less it was some pestilential disease. I have discoursed with some old Indians, that were then youths, who say, that the bodies all over were exceeding yellow (describing it by a yellow garment they showed me) both before they died and afterwards."
This account may be relied on for its authenticity and it de|cides the question, that the pestilence was the true American plague, called yellow fever. If any confirmation of this evi|dence were necessary, we have it in Prince's Chronology, where it is recorded that this fever produced hemorrhagy from the nose.
At the time Gookin wrote, about forty or fifty years after the settlement of New-England, the infectious fevers of autumn were called "pestilent," and they were frequent in the country, but had not then acquired the appellation of yellow.
Winthrop's Journal, p. 51.
This fever has been frequent among the Indians since the Eng|lish settled the country. Some instances will be hereafter related.
The evidence then of the origin of the yellow fever in this country, between the 41st and 44th degrees of latitude, is com|plete, leaving no room for doubt or controversy. No intercourse existed, in 1618, between this continent and the West-Indies; nor did a single vessel pass between New-England and the islands, till twenty years after that pestilence. Not one of the islands was then settled, except by the Spaniards, with whom our an|cestors had no commerce. Not an European was among the Indians, except a French seaman, who had escaped from a wreck a year or two before, and Mr. Vine's men, who arrived di|rectly from England. These men escaped the disease; none be|ing attacked but the Indians; another evidence of the origin of the malady in the country.
In Gorges' description of New-England, there is the follow|ing account of this pestilence. " The summer after the blazing star, which moved from the east to the west, even a little before the English removed from Holland to Plymouth, in New-Eng|land, there befel a great mortality among the Indians, the great|est that had ever happened in the memory of man, or been ta|ken notice of by tradition, laying waste the cast."
Page 179The author further remarks that this star was much noted in Europe. In America it was seen in the south-west, for "thirty sleeps," as the Indians express themselves. The description of the comet here given answers to that of Riverius, who repre|sents it as very splendid, larger than Venus, moving from the east to the west, and visible from Nov. 27, 1618, till the close of December. This was the time the pestilence was raging among the Indians. Gorges indeed says, it was the summer after the blazing star. It is true, that the disease continued not only into 1619, but occurred in autumn for some years subse|quent. We hear of it among the Massachusetts Indians in 1622. From this it appears that this was a long and severe period of pestilence, between 1617 and 1623, or a later year; like the present period in the United States.
It must be remarked that in 1618, the same year when the In|dians in America were falling a prey to this malady, the angina ma|ligna broke out in the kingdom of Naples, and spread mortality over the country, as authors affirm, for eighteen years. This how|ever is not understood, as affirming the disease to have been con|stantly epidemic; but as prevailing at certain times and seasons.
The same destructive principle operated in Virginia. Capt. Dermer relates that when he arrived in the Chesapeek on the 8th of September, "The first news struck cold to our hearts, the sickness over the land."* Three hundred of the settlers died in 1619.
It appears from Purchas that the emigrants to Virginia in 1619, 20 and 21, amounted to 3570, in 42 sail of ships.† There were 600 souls in that colony before these arrived, mak|ing the whole number 4170. Of these, 349 perished in the Indian massacre of 1622, which would leave 3821 survivors. But in 1624 no more than 1800 were living. Scanty means of subsistence might have contributed to this mortality; but most of it was in consequence of fevers, that were probably the ef|fects Page 180 of the climate, and a very unfavorable state of the atmos|phere.
In 1620 a comet was followed by a cold winter. In England the year was distinguished by a violent tempest, a preternatural tide, and a very wet summer. The Hungarian fever, so called, spread along the Rhine, and in the next year became infectious. London became sickly. The year 1621 was remarkable for an epidemic malignant small-pox.
In 1622 a •omet is noted, and an earthquake in Italy. In New-England the spring was excessively dry, from the third week in May to the middle of July.
In 1623 the epidemic fevers in Europe became more fatal, as the period of pestilence approached. This is obvious from the London burials, which show a considerable increment. Rive|rius, who has written on the epidemic fevers of this period in the south of France, observes that the mortality was great, until he began to bleed and purge, when it abated. He refers to the city of Montpelier, where almost half died who were seized. The disease was a species of pestilence.
This author concurs with the ancients in ascribing pestilence to comets. Speaking of the singular star of 1618, he says, "Hunc vero Cometam, morborum malignorum et pestilentium, necnon etiam bellorum, quibus universa penè hactenus Europa devastata est, praesagium ac prenuntium fuisse, credere non alie|num est."
De febre pest. 533. fol.
The author falls into the error, which has brought into con|tempt the opinions of the ancient sages, in regard to the influ|ence of the stars on man, and the state of the elements. He ascribes moral as well as physical effects to that influence. Ad|mitting the distant orbs to have some effect on the air or fire of our system, and through that medium to augment or diminish the stimulus which acts on the human body and of course on the passions, by the exciting powers; yet any moral effects derived from this source, must be so inconsiderable, or so blended with the effects of other causes, as interest, ambition, love, revenge and the like, that the degree of influence could not be ascer|tained, nor the effects of one cause distinguished from those of the Page 181 other. I reject therefore all moral effects ascribed to comets; but the physical effects are, beyond question, great and extensive.
The diseases of this period continued to multiply and grow more malignant in 1624, when the epidemic assumed the form of the spotted fever. In 1625 this fever turned to the plague, and in 1626 changed back to the spotted fever, says Lotichius, cited by Short. This is not an unusual fact.
The plague in 1625 swept away 35,000 of the citizens of London. It raged at the same time in Italy, Denmark and Leyden, and how much more extensively, I am not informed.
In this year another comet was seen; several cities in Spain were overwhelmed by inundations; the winter was severe; the summer, hot and moist weather; and there was an eruption of a volcano in Iceland. It is remarkable also that, in this year, a volcano burst forth in Palma, one of the Canaries, with a vi|olent earthquake.
The summer of 1626 was very hot, and the plague continued its ravages in many parts of Europe, as in Wittemburg and the vicinity; and in Lyons, which lost 60,000 of its inhabitants. This was the prelude to more general calamity in France; for in the following years the whole country felt the distressing ef|fects of the malady.
In 1627 and 8 the same disease prevailed in various other countries, especially in Augsburg after a famin. In 1629 the pestilence raged in Amsterdam. In 1630 Cambridge in Eng|land was visited. It was a very sickly summer in London, so that the citizens were alarmed and many retired to the country; but finding the country very sickly, they returned.
In 1629 Pola, a town in the Venetian territories, lost 7000 inhabitants by an earthquake.
Of the pestilence in this period, there was hardly a suspen|sion. Particular countries enjoyed short intervals of health; but Europe and America were severely annoyed by pestilential diseases between 1632 and 1637.
In 1630 happened great explosions of subterranean fire. A|pulia lost 17,000 people by an earthquake; and Lima, in South-America, Page 182 was laid in ruins by the like catastrophe. At this time the plague prevailed in Vienna.
In 1631 happened a memorable earthquake in Naples, with a tremendous eruption of Vesuvius, which continued or was re|peated in 1632. In this eruption, Baglivus assures us, Vesu|vius lost 240 feet of its altitude.
Cotemporary with these discharges of fire and lava, was an erysipelous fever in Europe with inflammation in the jaws, and an increase of mortality, antecedent to a general plague. See the bills of mortality for London, Augsburg and Dresden, where the progress of the malignity in the epidemics, is distinct|ly marked, by an augmentation of the bills, till the plague in 1636.
In 1633 appeared a comet, which was followed by a severe winter. The same winter in America was mild, says Winthrop, p. 61. Southerly winds prevailed till the close of winter, when there were great snows. It is very common that severe cold is progressive, happening in Europe one year before it does in A|merica, as will hereafter appear.
In 1633 the year of the comet, commenced an eruption of Etna, which continued for four or five years, through this whole pestilential period. London was shaken by an earthquake, and at Halifax in Yorkshire raged a very malignant fever.
In this year also a "pestilent fever," invaded the little colo|ny at Plymouth in Massachusetts, and carried off twenty of their number. This was a great mortality for that small settle|ment. It must have been occasioned by a fever of domestic ori|gin, as the colony had, at that time, no intercourse with for|eign countries, except with England. No suspicion has ever been entertained that the disease was of foreign origin.
At the same time, the Indians were invaded by the small-pox which swept them away in multitudes. It spread from Narra|gansett to Piscataqua, and westward to Connecticut river.
The summer of this year was remarkable for innumerable large flies, of the size of bees, which made the woods resound with a humming noise.
Hubbard's M. S. p. 131. Winthrop's Journal, 51—56—59—61.
We have then a remarkable evidence of the extent of a pes|tilential Page 183 principle in the elements. The same species of diseases appeared, at the same time, in Augsburg, Dresden, London, and in America. Probably the same species prevailed over most of Europe; for we hear of them in every part of Holland in the following year. The diseases predominant, previous to the plague, are of the eruptive kind: Such was the case in the pres|ent instance. In America, the epidemic among the Indians took the form of the small-pox; and altho it is the current opin|ion that the small-pox is communicated only by contagion, yet my investigations have satisfied me that this is a great error. The small-pox is one of the family of eruptive diseases, which belong to almost every pestilential period. Before its origin and progress had been affected by the art of innoculation, it used to be epidemic, in large cities, under that inflammatory condition of the atmosphere, which originated measles, influenza, anginas and plague, and rarely or never at any other time. This disease therefore, tho communicable at any time by infection, is gene|rated in particular habits without any infecting cause ab extra; and is the offspring of that state of the atmosphere which gen|erates other eruptive epidemics.
In 1634 the plague showed itself at Ratisbon. The summer in America was hotter than usual, and the following winter was very cold.
In 1635 the plague appeared in Leyden and 20,000 inhabit|ants perished. This year was distinguished for an eruption of Vesuvius, violent earthquakes, an inundation in Holstein which des•royed 600 people and 50,000 head of cattle, and a terrible tempest in America on the 15th of August O. S. which brot in a remarkable swell of the ocean. It will appear hereafter that most of the violent storms and hurricanes, which sweep the earth, happen during or near the time of the discharges of great quantities of fire from volcanoes. In this year, Etna and Ve|suvius were both in a state of eruption. The plague appeared also in Mentz and other parts of Germany.
In 1636 there was an eruption of Heckla. The pestilence was general in proportion to this universal agitation of the central Page 184 fires. In London it prevailed in 1636 after a regular increase of previous malignity in diseases.
Of the progress of the pestilence in Holland, and especially in Nimeguen, we have an accurate account in the treatise of the able Diemerbroeck, which is by far the most learned and philo|sophic work on the plague, that I have seen. Not that I believe his opinion of the cause of the plague; but his view of the sub|ject is otherwise correct and worthy of universal attention.
In 1635 when the plague appeared in Leyden, the malignant diseases, its precursors, appeared in various parts of Holland. In Nimeguen, these precursors were measles, small-pox, dysen|teries of the worst type, but especially the spotted fever. The malignity of this fever increased, until it changed into the real plague—"donec in apertissimam pestem transiret," says Diemer|broeck.
The plague appeared, in a few cases, in November 1635, but made little progress, during the winter. In January appearan|ces were more alarming; in March the malady spread rapidly and continued to increase till autumn. Scarcely a house escaped; more than half who were seized, •ied; and medical aid was baffled. The disease declined in the following winter, and was extinguished by a severe frost in February 1637.
The summers of 1636 and 7 were warm, the winds constantly from the south and west, "cum magnis aeris squaloribus," says Diemerbroeck.
In 1635 a dysentery prevailed in most parts of Germany. In 1636 the eruption from Etna was augmented, and Rome was severely afflicted with the plague. In 1637 the same distemper raged in some parts of Holland, in Denmark, Constantinople and Natolia; after which year the disease declined or disappeared.
This period of disease was also experienced in Virginia, where, says Winthrop, died 1800 people in the year 1635.
The summer of 1638 was very hot and dry in England, as it was in America, after a very severe winter, and cold spring.
In this year was a most tremendous earthquake in Calabria, memorable for the destruction of whole towns and the loss of 30,000 lives.
Page 185On the first of June, between 3 and 4 o'clock in the after|noon, in a clear warm day, with a westerly wind, happened a great earthquake in America, which extended from the Piscat|aqua to the Connecticut, and perhaps over the whole northern region. The year was also distinguished for tempestuous weath|er; not for ordinary storms which occur many times every year, but violent hurricanes of vast extent. On the third of August a tempest raised the tide, on the Narragansett shore, fourteen feet above common spring tides. Autumn was very rainy and considerable snow fell in October, which our ancestors ascri|bed to the earthquake. On the 25th of September, another mighty tempest occurred and the highest swell of the sea that had then been observed in America. If I mistake not, the state of the atmosphere, during earthquakes and eruptions of volca|noes, is peculiarly disposed, not only to produce high winds, but to generate snow and hail.
This year was very sickly in America. In December a gen|eral fast was observed, one reason for which was the prevalence of the "small-pox and fevers."
Winthrop, p. 165.
The spring of 1639 in America was very dry, there was no rain from April 26th, to June 4th, O. S. and from the south|ward came swarms of small flies, which covered the sea, but they did not invade the land.
Winthrop, p. 181—184.
The plague continued to infest London, without interruption, from 1636 to 1648; see the bills of mortality; but it was not epidemic, nor very fatal.
In 1640 a hard winter, and epidemic pleurisies were fatal in Europe. The following year, a malignant fever was epidemic, in England, and other countries.
In September 11th appeared, in the evening, a remarkable light in the heavens, about 30 or 40 feet in length; it moved rapidly and was visible about a minute. It was seen in Boston, in Plymouth and in New-Haven, and to the spectators every Page 186 where, appeared to be in the same part of the heavens—of course must have been of a great altitude.
Winthrop, p. 232.
I notice this fact as it confirms the testimony of ancient wri|ters, who, in describing the seasons and phenomena of pesti|lential periods, frequently mention similar appearances. This seems to have been of the figure of a beam, called by the Latin writers, trabs, but it differed from those meteors discribed by ancient writers, in the rapidity of its motion.
In November following a series of tempests took place, and the highest tide ever known at Boston.
This summer of 1641 was remarkably wet and cold, so that a great part of the corn did not come to maturity. Those who fed on it, the year following, were exceedingly troubled with worms, and some persons found a remedy in leaving bread and living on fish.
Winthrop, p. 234.
The following winter was the most severe that had been known for 40 years. The bay at Boston was frozen so that teams and loads passed to the town from the neighboring islands. The snow was deep, and Chesapeek bay was nearly frozen. At Boston, the ice extended to sea, as far as the eye could reach. The following spring 1642 was early, but wet.
Winthrop, p. 240, 243.
The oldest Indians declared they could scarcely recollect such a winter.
This severe winter was followed by a very sickly summer on the Delaware river. Such was the mortality among the settlers from New-Haven, who had not long been in that country, that it broke up their settlement. The Swedes settled there suffered much by the same disease.
The very wet weather of the last year produced a dearth of corn in Boston, in the spring of 1643, and myriads of pigeons appeared also and did no small injury, the same season. It is an old observation, in America, that pigeons are uncommonly nu|merous in the spring of sickly years. The Massachusetts colony suffered also from the number of mice which devoured their grain, and the bark of the fruit-trees.
One fact in the foregoing account deserves notice; the ex|treme winter in America was in 1641-2, one year later than in Europe. Several instances have occurred in other periods, which seem to indicate a kind of progressiveness in great cold from east to west. It often happens however that the winter is severe at the same time, in both hemispheres, as in 1607-8— 1683-4—1762-3—1779-80.
In England, in 1643 a malignant fever was epidemic and few escaped. In autumn, it put on pestilential symptoms and pe|techiae. The same year, an eruption of Vesuvius and of Etna.
In 1644 a malignant fever was epidemic in Denmark.
The summer of 1645 being excessively hot, there prevailed a contagious dysentery, which was fatal in England. For the great mortality in England, through a series of years at this time, see the London bills.
In this year a great sickness prevailed among the Indians on Martha's Vineyard—few escaped.
Neal's Hist. New-England, vol. 1. 264.
In 1646 inundations laid a part of Holland, Friefland and Zealand under water so suddenly, as to destroy more than one hundred thousand lives and three hundred villages. Gorges re|lates that two mock suns, with other singular celestial phenomena, were seen this year in America.
In 1647 May 13th, a most tremendous earthquake in Chili, South-America, sunk whole mountains into the earth and nearly ruined the large city of Santiago.
Ulloa, book 8. ch. 7.
This year appeared a comet. The plague in London also was more severe, and appeared after this year to subside.
In 1646 and 7 the Ukrain was ravaged by locusts.
Page 188A. D. 1647. This year appeared an epidemic catarrh in America, and the first of which we have any account. It is not named either influenza or catarrh, but is clearly the same disease. It is thus described in Hubbard's Manuscript, p. 276. "In 1647 an epidemic sickness passed through the whole country, affecting the colonists and the natives, English, French and Dutch. It began with a cold and in many accompanied with a light fever. Such as bled or used cooling drinks died—such as made use of cordials and more strengthening things, recovered for the most part. It extended through the plantations in Amer|ica, and in the West-Indies. There died in Barbadoes and St. Kitts, 5 or 6000 each. Whether it was a plague, or pestilential fever, in the islands, accompanied by great drouth, which cut short potatoes and fruits."
This epidemic was in the same year with the earthquake in Chili, but the date of the disease is not recorded.
In Connecticut prevailed a malignant fever, occasioned b• the excessive heat of the summer.†
The year 1648 appears to have been less sickly, in London; but in the south of Europe, malignant diseases were the harbin|gers of the plague, which in 1649 carried off 200,000 people in the southern provinces of Spain. In Ireland and Shropshire the plague prevailed in the same year, and a fatal fever in France. The small-pox was epidemic in Boston.
Townsend's Travels, vol. 2. 219. Short, vol. 1. Douglas' Summary, vol. 2. 395.
In 1650 was an eruption of Etna, and an earthquake in the north and west of England. In this and the following year the plague continued in Ireland.
In 1650 the influenza spread over Europe. In 1651 many desolating floods happened in Holland and France—in Italy, a quinsy or sore throat proved very fatal to children. These dis|eases were succeeded by malignant fevers, and plague in most parts of Europe, except in England. The summer of 1651 was hot.
In 1652 appeared a comet. A dangerous synochus prevailed in France and a tertian fever in Denmark.
Page 189In 1653 a slight earthquake occurred in New-England, in Oct.
The years 1652 and 3 were remarkably dry in England, and in 1654 public thanks were ordered for a supply of rain.
In 1654 the plague made its appearance in Denmark. Some severe epidemic had prevailed in New-England; for in the spring of 1654 a general fast was appointed by the government of Con|necticut, one reason assigned for which was, "the mortality which had been among the people of Massachusetts." What the disease was, I am not informed.
Trum. Hist. Con. 225.
In 1655 occurred the second epidemic catarrh, recorded in the Annals of America. The following is the account of it in Hubbard's Manuscript, p. 285.
"In 1655 there was another faint cough that passed through the whole country of New-England, occasioned by some strange distemper or infection of the air. It was so epidemical, that few persons escaped. It began about the end of June. Few were able to visit their friends or perform the last testimony of respect to any of their relations at a distance. Of this died Mr. Nathaniel Rogers, minister of Ipswich."
See also Magnalia, b. 3. 108.
It will be observed that this epidemic commenced in the heat of summer, and that its invasion was sudden and universal. In November 1655 occurred an earthquake in South-America.
Of the seasons in America I have no account; but in Europe the winter of 1654-5 was extremely severe. The rivers and harbors in Holland were all made fast with ice; a series of snow storms took place in April, and as late as the 19th there was a severe frost at Brussels.
See Mercurius Politicus, a London paper for 1655.
In March 1655 was an eruption of Vesuvius; it was very sickly in the north of England; and there were great tempests of wind and hail in 1654 and 5.
In 1654 the plague appeared at Chester in England; but did not become epidemic; owing, it was supposed, to the precaution of confining the diseased to their houses.* At the same time Page 190 the disease was raging in Turkey, in Presburg, Hungary and in the city of Moscow, it is alledged, perished 200,000 inhabitants. We have here precise and authentic evidence, that the plague appeared in Chester, in the north-west of England, in Denmark, in Russia, Hungary and Turkey, in the same season. To prove this to be the effect of a general principle, we have numberless authorities, in the Gazettes of that and the next year, that ma|lignant diseases prevailed over Europe. See the paper above cited. Thus when a few cases of plague occurred in Chester, fatal dis|eases prevailed over the north of England. And it is remark|able in this instance, that the epidemic plague appeared in the north of Europe before it did in Italy—an exception to the gen|eral course of that disease.
In 1655 the plague was more general in Europe. It prevailed in Sardinia, Malta, Leyden, Amsterdam, and in Riga, a Rus|sian port at the mouth of the Divina. There died in Riga 9000 —Amsterdam 13,•00—Leyden 13,000.
In 1656 the same disease invaded Naples, Rome, Genoa, Candia, Benevento, and most parts of the Neapolitan territories. In the city of Naples, perished three fourths of the inhabitants, and in Benevento, a greater proportion. The numbers of deaths were estimated as follows—
In the city of Naples died 240,000—survived 50,000.
In the Neapolitan territories 400,000.
In Benevento died 9000—survived 500.
In Rome about 10,000.
In Genoa in 1656, 10,000, and in 1657, 70,000, and 14,000 only survived.
In Riga 9000.
In Thorn 8200.
I have not materials for a complete view of the diseases of this pestilential period. But it is to be observed, that influenza prevailed over Europe in 1650, and diseases of the throat in It|aly in 1651—diseases which seem to precede pestilential fevers on most occasions.
The summer of 1656 was hot, and an earthquake in the south of Italy accompanied the dreadful mortality.
See Univ. Hist. vol. 28. 318. Mercurius Politicus, 1656. Encyclopedia, art. Plague.
Page 191The influenza in America was also succeeded by fatal epidemic diseases, altho I have no means of determining what they were. The account recorded is that there "was a great sickness and mortality, throughout New-England in 1658. The season was intemperate and the crops light." Trumbull, p. 244. This year was also distinguished for what is called in our annals, the "Great Earthquake." This is an instance of a violent con|cussion of the earth, in the same year with violent rains; but unfortunately I can find no account which phenomenon preceded the other. The summer was so rainy, that the christianized Indians observed days of fasting, on that account, apprehending that their crops would fail and the world be drowned.
Neal, vol. 1. 259.
The introduction of the plague into Naples was ascribed to a transport of soldiers from Sardinia. How the disease came to be in Sardinia, we are not informed. But this report, like nine tenths of all the stories about infection, is demonstrably a mis|take. The account given in the history of the disease, is, that it was at first called by physicians a "malignant fever." One of the faculty, a man probably of more observation and firm|ness than the others, affirmed the distemper to be pestilential, and for his audacity, was imprisoned by the Viceroy, who ap|prehended the report might injure the business and reputation of the city.
We have then another instance of the uncertainty in the minds of medical gentlemen, about the nature of the disease, when it first appeared, because it was not characterized by the distinctive marks of the plague, the glandular tumors. This circumstance demonstrates that the disease was not imported, but an epidemic; appearing first, as al• great plagues first appear, in the form of catarrh, inflammatory fevers, affections of the throat, and typhus fevers.
There cannot be a more clear and demonstrable truth, than that a disease of specific contagion, must communicate a disease of the same specific character. If the plague has this species of contagion, it cannot communicate another disease, a malignant fever, for instance, which has a different character or type, and Page 192 is destitute of the distinctive marks of the plague. A single in|stance might occur, in which the disease might not bear the character of its original; but it is absurd to suppose, that a plague with glandular tumors, can communicate and render epi|demic a fever without glandular tumors.
Yet all severe plagues first appear in the form of such fever, or other diseases without tumors. I challenge the followers of Mead to produce an exception. Hence the uncertainty that per|plexes the physician and the magistrate at the commencement of the plague—an uncertainty that has originated in the errors re|specting the specific nature of the disease and its propagation by infection—errors as fatal to great cities, as to truth and philoso|phy.
Had the real origin of this disease been known, the certainty of the existence of it in Naples, Venice, Rome, Vienna, Am|sterdam and London, would have induced the citizens to aban|don the places, before the distemper had made much progress, and multitudes of lives would have been saved—an expedient practised in America, with the most salutary effects.
In Genoa, the disease manifested a more distinct progression; 10,000 died the first year, and about 70,000 the second.
When this distemper appeared in Malta, Candia and Sardinia, every possible precaution was taken to prevent its introduction in|to Genoa, by stopping intercourse with those places; but in vain.
When the report of a malignant infectious fever in Naples prevailed in May 1656, an alarm was excited in Rome; a com|mittee of health watched over the safety of that city; four of the gates were shut and barred; the others were guarded with vigilance to prevent any person from entering who could be sus|pected of infection; but all efforts were useless. The real truth was the disease was an epidemic, no more under the control of health laws, than the influenza and sore throat which had pre|ceded it.
The summer of 1657 in England was very hot, and succeed|ed by a long severe winter and deep snow.
In April 1658 commenced in Europe an epidemic catarrh, which was so sudden in its attack as to seize a whole village in a Page 193 night. It was severe and fatal to old people—its course was fin|ished in about six weeks. The summer was hot and fevers with vertigo and delirium, were epidemic.
See Short, vol. 1. and Morton's Treatise.
It will be remarked that the year 1647 when the influenza invaded America, was a sickly year in Europe. In 1655 when the plague was epidemic in Europe, the influenza again prevailed in America. In 1658 when the influenza invaded Europe, great sickness and mortality occurred in America. These alter|nations of epidemic diseases will be observed in the subsequent stages of this history.
In 1659 prevailed the Cynanche Trachealis in America—the first instance mentioned in our annals. Magnalia, b. 4. 156.— This disease was also succeeded by malignant diseases, for the Legislature of Connecticut in October 1662 appointed a day of thanksgiving, two reasons assigned for which were, the "abate|ment of the sickness in the country, and a supply of rain in time of drouth."
This was the commencement of a very sickly period in Europe. In 1660 occurred an eruption of Vesuvius, and of a volcano in Iceland. The year was very tempestuous, and earthquakes shook England, France and America. In 1661 appeared a comet.
In 1662 another considerable earthquake happened in New-England; and in this year was the drouth above mentioned.— In 1663 Canada was convulsed for five months by a series of successive shocks—small rivers and springs were dried up—the waters of others were tinctured with the taste of sulphur—an immense ridge of mountains subsided to a plain. Such were the phenomena in America which marked this pestilential period.
Mem. Royal Society, vol. 6. 86. Neal's Hist. N. England. Mem. Amer. Acad. vol. 1. 263.
In 1663 a malignant disease seized the inhabitants of the Ve|netian territories and 60,000 perished. The country, at the same time, was overrun by innumerable small worms.
In the same year, a memorable mortality occurred in England, among the cattle and sheep, by means of a disease in which the Page 194 liver was eaten by small worms, and in some cases, the lungs. These phenomena were the precursors of the plague in many parts of Europe. In England, all diseases assumed new violence, as early as in 1661, preparatory to the great plague. See Sy|denham. In Holland, the plague appeared at Heusden, in 1663.
The winter of 1663-4 was mild. In the following summer, Prussia was afflicted by a malignant purple fever, attended with tumors or inflammation in the throat, very fatal to the young. Bonnetus. Med. Septen. p. 206. A species of scarlatina.
In 1664 appeared a comet; another in 1665, and a third in 1666. In 1664 began an eruption of Etna, which lasted, with various degrees of violence, till the year 1669, when it ended with a most dreadful explosion. This period corresponds with the epidemics described by Sydenham.
In 1664 the summer in England was wet, and cattle died of diseases. In New-England commenced the mildew of wheat, which has rendered it impossible to cultivate that grain, on the Atlantic coast of the three Eastern States. The winter of 1664-5, was terribly severe in England; the Thames was a bridge of ice, and in January happened earthquakes, in Coven|try and Buckinghamshire. During this winter inflammatory fevers and quinsies, says Sydenham, were more frequent in Lon|don, than were before known. These gave way in May to a malignant fever, which could hardly be distinguished from the plague, which, in June, became the controling epidemic.
Such were the phenomena of the pestilential period under con|sideration; and at this time, the plague appeared in Holland, and in England. English authors all agree that the disease was imported into England from Holland in some bales of cotton! O fatal bales of cotton! says Short. This tale has been record|ed and repeated by every writer on the subject, without a single document in evidence to prove that any cotton was imported, or that the first persons seized had ever seen such cotton. The whole tale rests on assertion. That the seeds of the distemper were not imported is evident from the acknowledged facts relative to its origin; and is demonstrated by the history of the prece|ding diseases found in the works of Sydenham.
Page 195The origin of the pestilence, which arrived to its crisis in 1665, is to be traced back to the year 1661, when malignant dis|eases began to appear in different and •istant parts of the world. In London, the intermitting tertian •er, says Sydenham, be|came epidemic, and differed from the same disease in other years, by new and unusual symptoms, which in short, amounted to this, that they were "all more violent." In winter, the disease yield|ed, as usual, to cold, but continued fevers prevailed every win|ter. These fevers, with some variations, continued until the spring of 1665, and the bills show how much they augmented the mortality in London. This increased malignity in usual dis|eases, with an increase of the number and mortality of epidemics, is the constant precursor of the plague or other pestilential fevers.
Notwithstanding the clear evidence of these facts, authors have conjured up a tale of importation which would disgrace a school|boy by its inconsistency.* The account states, "That a violent plague had raged in Holland in 1663, on which account, the importation of merchandize from that country was prohibited by the British Legislature in 1664. Notwithstanding this prohibi|tion, it seems the plague had actually been imported; for in the close of 1664, two or three persons died suddenly in Westminster, with marks of the plague on their bodies.—Some of their neighbors, terrified at the thoughts of their danger, removed into the city; but too late; for they soon died of the plague, and communi|cated the infection to others. It was confined however through a hard, frosty winter, till the middle of February, when it again appeared in the Parish of St. Giles, to which it had been ori|ginally brought; and after another long rest, till April, showed its malignant force afresh, as soon as the warmth of spring gave it opportunity. At first, it took off one here and there, without any certain proof of their having infected each other.
Encyclopedia, art. London. 21.
In the substance of the foregoing statement, all authors are agreed, and I want no other proof that the report of the impor|tation of the disease is all a vulgar, childish tale, the propagation Page 196 of which is a disgrace to philosophy and to the faculty of that age.
In the first place we have no authentic evidence in any author, that any bales of cotton were brought from Holland to London, at that time. The whole assertion rests on vulgar report, and is wholly unsupported by proof—had the report been well founded, the fact might have been ascertained, and in an affair of such magnitude, probably would have been. The importation of goods from Holland was prohibited by act of parliament.
In the second place, the disease first appeared in Westminster, not in the commercial city of London, but in a place where bales of cotton would be the least likely to be deposited and opened; Westminster being the residence of the nobility and gen|try, rather than a place of commerce.
In the third place, no proof is stated that the persons first seized had any connection with bales of cotton.
In the fourth place, the death of two or three persons, with the plague-marks on their bodies, in December 1664, is no evidence of any imported infection at that time; for the bills of mortality show, and the reader is desired to turn to them, to be satisfied, that a smaller number died that year of the plague, than had died of it in any of the six preceding years. In the year 1659 died of that disease 36—in 1661 died 20, and every year more or less. In 1664 died but 6 of the plague, and yet this number, small as it was, must be proof of the importation of infection, that year, when greater numbers, in preceding years, are passed over in silence! In such accounts, there must be want of knowledge, or want of honesty. The plague imported from Holland! when the city of London had not been free from it, for 28 years preceding! See the bills of mortality!—
Besides, why in the name of common sense, should "two or three," infected persons in 1664, spread the plague over Lon|don, and desolate the city, when twelve, fourteen, twenty and thirty-six infected persons, who died in preceding years, produced no ill effects? To account for such effects on the principle of in|fection, is not possible; and men of science ought to be ashamed of such absurdities.
Page 197In the fifth place, the suspension of the disease, during six weeks, is evidence, that infection had no agency in spreading the disease. It is a fact known and acknowledged, that infection cannot be preserved, for a tenth part of that time in the open air. Air dissolves the poison of any disease, in a very short time. Infection can only be preserved in confinement, as in close ves|sels or packages of goods. The walls of an infected house will be cleansed by the action of air, in a very few days, so as to be perfectly harmless. During the six weeks suspension of the plague in London, where was the infection concealed to preserve it from air and frost?
Was the fomes shut up by design for a few weeks and then set at liberty? Had the persons who were first seized in Febru|ary, any access to the infected houses or clothes of those who died in December? Is this probable? There is no suggestion of this sort.
Then again another interval of several weeks elapsed from the death of those in February, before others were feized. It is not solely improbable; but I aver, that the fomes or infecting principle of no disease whatever, can be suspended in a state of inaction, in the open air, and afterwards give rise to disease. Unless therefore it can be proved that the persons who died in April had access to infection, which had been closely confined from the air, they could never have received the disease from the virus generated in February or December. Now it appears from the statement, that the persons, seized in February, lived in a different part of the city, from those who died in December, and no suggestion that they had an intercourse with any infected object.
But the last sentence of the statement disproves fully all asser|tions and suspicions respecting infection. It seems that when the disease showed itself in spring, it seized one here, and another there, in scattered situations, "without any certain proof of their having infected each other." This is usually the case in the plague, and in the yellow fever, in the ulcerous sore throat, the dysentery and other contagious, epidemic diseases. The whole mystery is, that any disease will first seize the constitutions least Page 198 capable of resisting that state of air, from which the disease pro|ceeds. One person will sust••n a vitiated air, for one day only; another for two days, and a t••rd for a week, before his consti|tution yields to the destructive principle. It is precisely with the access of the plague, in a city, as with a company of men going from a healthy situation, into a marshy place—one man will be seized very speedily with the ague and fever; another will sustain his health for a week or two, and some perhaps es|cape unaffected. This example explains the phenomena which attend the invasion of pestilence, as related by Evagrius, Die|merbroeck and others, and which will be more fully discussed in a subsequent section.
The account therefore of the origin of the plague in London in 1665, not only does not prove the disease to have proceeded from imported fomes, but actually demonstrates the impossibility of the fact.
But we have better evidence than the popular accounts afford us, that the disease was generated in the city of London. Sy|denham has left facts on record, which place this point beyond controversy.
After describing the multiplied diseases of increased malignity, which prevailed in London, from 1661 to 1665, and which swelled greatly the bills of mortality in that city, he informs us that in May 1665 he was called to assist a woman of a sanguine habit, who was seized with violent fever and frequent vomitings. He was surprised at the singularity of the symptoms, and puz|zled to know how to treat the disease. The woman died the 14th day. He observed her face, during the fever, to be red, and that a little before her death, a few drops of blood issued from her nose. These and other circumstances suggested to him the use of bleeding, and his next patient recovered.
This species of malignant fever soon spread and towards the close of May and beginning of June, became epidemic. Soon after appeared the true plague with its characteristic symptoms. After stating these facts, Sydenham says, "Whether the fever under consideration deserves to be entitled a plague, I dare not positively affirm; but this I know by experience, that all who Page 199 were then seized with the true plague, attended with all its pe|culiar concomitants, and for some time afterwards, in my neigh|borhood, had the same train of symptoms, both in the beginning and through the course of the disease."
He then observes that he attended some persons with the true plague, and afterwards, he saw several cases of a similar fever.
See chap. 2. sect. 2.
Had not the faculty been blinded to truth by their theory of specific contagion, it would not have been possible so long to over|look the progressiveness of the plague, which not only Sydenham, but many physicians of the 16th and 17th centuries observed and recorded.
The malignant diseases which prevailed from 1661 to 1664 marked a pestilential state of air in London. We now know what Sydenham could not know, that this unhealthy state of air extended not only over Europe, but over Persia and America. But the malignant fever which appeared in May, as described by Sydenham, was the first stage of the plague, or mild form of the disease, which always precedes that state of it which is char|acterized by buboes. This form of the disease appears before the season or state of the atmosphere is advanced sufficiently to give the destructive principle its full force.
The same species of fever preceded the terrible plague in Ve|nice and in Naples, as before related; and this is always the cause of uncertainty and controversy respecting the nature of the disease, at its commencement. And it is remarkable that this milder form of the plague, often rages for many months, before the disease arrives to its crisis. Thus in London, the pestilen|tial principle produced a few cases of real plague, in the winter of 1664-5. The cases must have occurred in constitutions more irritable, or susceptible of the cause, than bodies in gene|ral; or the persons must have been exposed to the action of pow|erful local causes, or to extreme debility. The severe frost doubtless suspended the operation of the pestilential principle— but on the opening of spring, the operation began, and pro|ceeded from the malignant epidemic of May to produce the most deadly effects.
Page 200I have one observation further to make on this subejct. It has been alledged and generally admitted that the plague was intro|duced into Amsterdam, in 1663 by a vessel from the Mediter|ranean. It is probable that if this question could be fully can|vassed, the popular belief would appear to have had no better foundation, than many opinions in America, in regard to the importation of the yellow fever, which are proved to rest merely on conjectures, suppositions, and vague reports. But in regard to the origin of the pestilence in Holland, in this instance, it is wholly immaterial, whether popular opinion was well founded or not; for we have the express authority of Diemerbroeck, that anterior to the arrival of the ship, with the supposed infec|tion, the plague broke out in Heusden, a town on a branch of the Meuse, surrounded by a morass, not a maritime place. Be|sides the spotted fever, which precedes the plague and turns into it, had been prevailing in all parts of Holland in the preceding year. The pestilence therefore originated in Holland, before the infection arrived; and the tales of importation vanish in smoke.
According to the bills of mortality, London lost upwards of 68,000 inhabitants by the plague in 1665, and more than 28,000 by other diseases. As the 28,000 deaths by common diseases must have occurred mostly in the six first months of the year, before the plague raged, this circumstance shows what a great increase of mortality preceded the plague. With such evidence before their eyes, how can discerning men look abroad for the sources of the malady!
It should also be remarked that this calamity among the hu|man race was preceded by a great mortality among cattle in 1664.
It must not pass unobserved that the summer of 1665 in Eng|land was very temperate, the weather fine and the fruits good. All the writers of that day agree, that no cause of pestilence could be observed in the visible qualities of the season.
This was the last plague that has appeared in London, or in Great Britain. The disappearance of the plague in that and other countries, is a most consoling fact, and one that has not a little engaged the minds of philosophic men, to discover the Page 201 cause. The causes usually assigned are, the destruction of the city by fire in 1666, the more airy, convenient construction of the modern city, the introduction of fresh water, with more cleanliness, and improved habits of living.
These reasons would have more weight in my mind, if the other large cities in England, in France, Spain, Holland and Germany, which have neither been burnt nor improved in their general structure, had not also escaped the ravages of pestilence. But as the plague has not visited Paris and Amsterdam, which retain their ancient construction, no more than London, which has been improved, we must resort to other circumstances for the causes of this exemption. The consideration of this subject will fall under another part of this work.
In 1666, appeared a comet, the summer was very hot, and a tremendous hurricane, tore up a thousand trees in Nottingham forest, and of 50 houses in one village, seven only were left standing. In this tempest fell hail-stones, as large as hens eggs. An earthquake occurred in Oxfordshire. Persia did not escape the effects of this pestilential constitution. In 1667 prevailed famin and epidemic diseases, and an earthquake demolished great part of Teflis, the capital of Georgia, and four villages, with the loss of 30,000 lives; and another city with the loss of 2,000 lives.
Chardin's travels, 86. •26.
In 1666 dysentery prevailed over England and many parts of Europe and in St. Domingo. This disease seems to be the suc|cessor of the plague, and other epidemics. During the inflam|matory stage of an epidemic constitution, evidenced by measles, influenza, a mild small-pox, we rarely hear of destructive dysen|tery. But after those diseases have run their course, dysentery appears in many parts of a country, and sometimes becomes al|most universal. It would be a curious question, by what means the inflammatory diathesis, so to speak, of the epidemic period, acts upon the nerves, muscles and intestines, to give to the sub|sequent autumnal fevers this particular direction.
During the foregoing series of epidemics in Europe, America did not escape. Slight shocks of earthquake were felt in 1660, Page 202 and in 1665. Great sickness prevailed at this period also, but I am not informed of the species of disorder, except the small|pox in Boston in 1666.
In 1668, appeared a comet with a stupendous coma. This was attended by an excessively hot summer, and malignant dis|eases in America. In New-York the epidemic was so fatal, that a fast was •ppointed in September, on that account. This was undoubtedly the autumnal bilious fever in its infectious form. In this same year was an earthquake in America, and a meteor in the west, in form of a spear, pointing towards the sitting sun, which greadually sunk and disappeared.
Neal's Hist. vol. 1. 367. Magnal. b. 4. 184.
This year was marked also by violent earthquakes in Europe and Asia. The winter of 1668-9 was very severe, and ice was seen in the Bosphorus; that of 1670 covered the Danube with a bridge of ice.
In winter appeared in Hungary two mock-suns of resplendent brightness—the infallible forerunner of great discharges of elec|trical fire, or of violent tempests.—On the 11th of March 1669, the eruption of Etna which had commenced in 1664 redoubled its fury, and by immense discharges of lava laid waste the coun|try below. Its violence subsided in July; but tremendous hurri|canes marked the year. The summer of this year also was ex|cessively hot.
In this year, the cats in Westphalia died with an eruption on the head, accompanied with drowsiness. In England prevailed a dangerous fever, with slimy tongue and sore mouth.
In Norway prevailed measles of a malignant kind, attacking old and young. Bonetus, Med. Sept. 223.—In the two fol|lowing years measles was epidemic in London alternating with the small-pox.—See Sydenham.—In 1673 winter was cold; and catarrhs were frequent with spotted fevers—A comet appeared in the preceding year.
In 1675 a wet and cool summer, the influenza prevailed in Europe with the usual symptoms. In Italy was seen a meteor or fire ball, from the north-east; and the following winter in America was colder than usual.
Page 203The summer of 1676 in England was cold. Measles and small-pox prevailed in some places.
In 1677 was seen a comet in April and May; an earthquake was experienced in England; and in Charlestown, Massachu|setts, raged the small-pox with the mortality of a plague.
Mag. b. 4. 189.
The summer of 1678 was very hot and dry. There was a comet and an earthquake in Lima. Fevers and affections of the throat were epidemic in the north of Europe. The plague raged with most desolating fury in Algiers and Morocco. Authors re|late that four millions of people perished, and that the waste of population has not since been repaired.
Cheniers Morocco, vol. 2. 180.
On the 12th of January occurred in England a most extraor|dinary darkness, at noon.
Notwithstanding the barrenness of my materials, this pestilen|tial period may be very clearly distinguished, by the measles from 1669 to 1672 with the small-pox, the catarrh of 1675, the subsequent malignant fevers and affections of the throat, and finally the pestilence of 1678.
The same deleterious principle extended to America. Our annals relate that the seasons were unfavorable and the fruits blasted, while malignant diseases prevailed among the people. The sickness and bad seasons were attributed, by our pious an|cestors, to the irreligion of the times, and to their disuse of fast|ing. On this occasion, a synod was convened to investigate the causes of God's judgments, and to propose a plan of reforma|tion. The small-pox prevailed at Boston in 1678, and a singu|lar epidemic in England, France and Holland.
See Neal's Hist. N. Eng. vol. 2. 32. Mag. b. 5. 85. Hutch. vol. 1. 324. Doug. vol. 1. 440. Short, vol. 1.
The comet of 1678 was followed by a very cold winter, after a rainy autumn, with an epidemic cough. A comet is mention|ed in 1679, and the plague was in Vienna.
The year 1680 was distinguished also for a severe winter, and the noted comet that had appeared in Justinian's reign. In Dresden raged the plague. The summer was hot and sickly. Page 204 A large meteor was seen in Germany, descending to the north and leaving behind it a long luminous stream.
The summer of 1681 was excessively dry. This was the forerunner of violent earthquakes, which, in 1682 shook all Germany, Italy and Switzerland. In some places, the shocks were preceeded, for four nights, by lights or flame, like ignes fatui, on the mountains. The convulsions were attended with a disagreeable sulphurous smell. In this year also was visible a comet, and an eruption took place, both of Etna and Vesuvius.
In this year 1682 a mortal disease spread among the cattle in Italy, Switzerland and Germany, that was called the angina ma|ligna, and of which cattle died in 24 hours. Authors relate that a blue mist appeared on the herbage of pastures. The dis|ease moved about two German miles in 24 hours, and spread over Germany and Poland. Cattle at rack and manger were affected equally with those that grazed.
At Halle in Saxony prevailed the plague; and at Dublin, a petechial in which the brain was severely affected, and bleeding pernicious.
The discharges of fire already mentioned were productive, as usual, of violent winds. In Sicily, a tempest, preceded by great darkness, almost laid waste the island.
In 1683 was an earthquake in England, in September, pre|ceded by meteors or lights and fetid exhalations. A comet ap|peared in this year, and another in the following.
The winter of 1683-4 was the coldest that could be recol|lected by the oldest men living. Trees of large size split with the frost. The same winter was excessively severe in America, and from a passage in a letter of the Rev. John Eliot, the sea|son appears to have been sickly.
Hist. Col. vol. 3.
The year 1683 was also remarkable for general sickness in Connecticut, and in some places, unusual mortality. Some towns suffered by excessive rains.
Trumbull's Hist. p. 383.
These unusual seasons were accompanied with singular diseases. In Leyden in 1683 prevailed what was called the hungry fever, which came on with a chill, succeeded by ravenous hunger. Page 205 To gratify this appetite was fatal. When the hot fit came on, th••unger subsided. In 1684 was a terrible earthquake in St. Domingo.
Description of St. Domingo, vol. 1. 142.
After the severe frost in 1684, a malignant dysentery raged over Europe. This and the two succeeding summers were hot and dry. In 1685 Languedoc in France was overrun by grass|hoppers, and the petechial fever was prevalent.
In September 1686 was seen a comet. At Lille in France, fell a storm of hail, the stones of which were of a pound weight. There was an eruption of Etna, in this year also, and a meteor was seen at Leipsick on the 9th of July, which was stationary for 7 minutes, at the height of 30 miles. It is curious to re|mark the coincidence in time between the phenomena of the electrical fluid, tempests, snow and hail.
The summer of 1687 in Europe was very rainy. In Octo|ber the city of Lima in Peru, was demolished by an earthquake.
The winter of 1688 was cold, and in the summer following epidemic catarrh spread over Europe. This was preceded by a disease of the same species among horses, attended with a de|fluxion of rheum from their noses. Swarms of •nsects in some countries announced a pestilential period. In the interior of Germany were some dysenteries. An earthquake was experi|enced at Naples, and Smyrna was laid in ruins.
In 1689 appeared a comet, and both Etna and Vesuvius dis|charged fire. The autumn was very rainy, and the spotted fe|ver prevailed in some parts of Germany. In Boston the small-pox was epidemic.
In 1690 the summer was rainy, frogs were in unusual numbers in Italy, and corn was cut short by mildew. Rainy seasons gen|erally succeed great eruptions of volcanoes and earthquakes.
The year 1691 commenced with severe frost, followed by a hot dry summer. The spotted fever prevailed in Italy, in which bleeding was fatal. There was also great mortality among cat|tle and sheep.
The seasons in this year were peculiarly unfavorable in Amer|ica, altho I am not able to describe them. It appears from the journals of the assembly of New-York, that upon an address of Page 206 the house to the governor and council, a monthly fast was ap|pointed to be observed from September 1691 to June 1692; the special reasons assigned for which were, "a burthensome war, and a blast upon the corn." This is a remarkable fact, and not unfrequent, that at one and the same time, the powers of veget|ation fail in the most distant parts of the earth. Perhaps we shall be able to account for this instance of a deranged state of the elements by the universal explosions of fire in the two fol|lowing years. St. Domingo experienced a severe earthquake in 1691, in the year of this blast on the corn.
Description of St. Domingo, by Moreau St. Mery, vol. 1. 142.
On the 7th of June 1692 after a series of dry, hot, calm weather, a most dreadful earthquake suddenly sunk the town of Port-Royal in Jamaica, and demolished most of the buildings on the island, with the loss of 2000 lives. After the earthquake, the heat was still more intense, musquetoes were innumerable, and a malignant fever fell upon the inhabitants in all parts of the island, with which 3000 perished.
In the same year, a similar disease invaded Barbadoes, and afflicted the island for many years. Indeed the whole world was sickly.
On the 8th of September England, Holland, France and Germany were convulsed by an earthquake, and Switzerland felt a shock in October. In the same year was an eruption of Etna, and great snows followed.
The spotted fever continued its ravages; and it was remarked to be much more malignant and fatal in the wane of the moon. During an eclipse in 1693 the sick almost all died. The disease was more fatal in town than country.
I have no account of the diseases in Egypt or the Levant, during this period; but it will be found on examination that great pe••ilence raged in those places, about this time, or between 1639 and 169•.
On the 10th of January 1693 happened a most terrible earth|quake in Sicily and Naples. On the preceding evening, was observed a great flame or light, apparently at the distance of an Italian mile, and so bright as to be m•st••en for a fire. The spectators attempted to approach it; but 〈◊〉 appeared still at the Page 207 same distance. As soon 〈◊〉 the earth began to shake, the flame disappeares.
It is not within my limits to enumerate the miseries occasioned by this concussion of the earth. Suffice it say that many towns were laid in ruins and 60,000 people perished. During the con|vulsion a fountain discharged its waters as red as blood. This calamity was preceded by a serene sky, and followed by dark|ness or vapor of a reddish or yellow hue.
The effects of this earthquake were remarkable on the human body. Among these were malignant fevers, small-pox fatal among children; madness, dullness, sottishness and melancholy, with deliria and lethargy. Are not these effects produced by an excess of stimulus, occasioned by the superabundance of electricity?
The summer following this convulsion of the earth, was in|temperately wet and cool, and corn was mildewed. Another account says the summer in Italy was very hot and dry. The spotted fever, and in some places dysentery were very morta• Wounds degenerated into ulcers, and blisters were followed by mortification which proved fatal to many.
In this year also Etna in Sicily, and Heckla in Iceland dis|charged fire and lava; a new volcano was opened in Asia, and an island, called Sorea, near the Moluccas, was ruined by its volcano.
Most dreadful storms marked the same year; one in America, on the 19th of October, was memorable for its violence.
An epidemic catarrh began in Europe in October, being pre|ceded by a similar disease among horses.
The preceding winter was probably very mild in America; for on the 13th of February, Gov. Fletcher, with a body of troops, sailed from New-York for Albany.
Smith's Hist. New-York, 82.
In 1693 the seamen and soldiers, under Sir Francis Wheeler, who was sent to conquer Martinico, were seized with the plague of America, and three fourths of them perished. Hutchinson, vol. 2. 72, relates that this fleet came to Boston and introduced the disease into that town, where it occasioned a deplorable mor|tality. Douglas relates the same fact.
Page 208This account seems to be contradicted by Mather, in his Mag|nalia, b. 1. 22. In a sermon delivered on lecture day, April 7, 1698, it is asserted in so many words, that "An English squadron hath not brought among us the tremendous pestilence, under which a neighboring plantation hath undergone prodigious desolations. Boston, 'tis a marvellous thing a plague has not laid thee desolate."
By comparing the date of this sermon, with other events re|lated in it, I find there is no mistake in the date; and as the author lived in Boston, and was cotemporary with these events, and personally acquainted with Sir Francis Wheeler, I conclude it was not Boston, but some other sea port town, which suffered by the arrival of a fleet.
In the 2d book of Magnalia, p. 71, the same author men|tions this expedition and the terrible mortality. He says the distemper was "the most like the plague, of any thing that had ever been seen in America, whereof there died before the fleet could reach to Boston, as I was told by Sir Francis himself, 1300 sailors out of 2100, and 1800 soldiers out of 2400."
In book 7. 116, the same author says, "there was an En|glish fleet of our good friends with a direful plague aboard in|tending hither. Had they come, as they intended, what an horrible desolation had cut us off, let the desolate places, that some of you have seen •n the colonies of the south, declare unto us. And that they did not come was the signal hand of heaven." This passage is in a lecture preached on the 27th of September, 1698.
From this authentic history, written by a cotemporary clergy|man, we infer that Hutchinson must have made a mistake. Sir Francis Wheeler's fleet arrived at Boston, most dreadfully in|fected, but no disease was propagated in Boston. Some other fleet, it seems, had introduced the disease into a "colony of the south," perhaps Newport or New-York, but I have no in|formation on the subject.
The great discharges of fire and earthquakes of 1693, were followed, as usual, by an intensely cold winter. The succeed|ing summer of 1694 was not and excessively dry in Italy, till October, when the earth was deluged with rain.
Page 209In May was a violent earthquake and volcano in Banda, an island in the Indian seas. Fire issued from the neighboring seas, the air was impregnated with the smell of sulphur, and sickness prevailed. An eruption of Vesuvius happened the same year, and violent earthquakes in Sicily and Calabria. In this year the agitations of fire seem to have subsided; and as usual, a series of rainy cool summers succeeded, in which corn perished or was blasted, crops failed, and universal dearth ensued.
One of the most remarkable effects of the late agitations of the elements, was the frequency of apoplexies in Italy. So common were they in 1695, as to be called epidemic, and oc|casion general consternation. This is not an infrequent conse|quence of the high excitement that takes place in pestilential times, ending in extreme debility in the brain. Something of this kind has been observed in America, within the last few years.
I have very few facts in regard to the seasons and diseases in America, during this period, from 1689 to 1695. It appears however that the disorders of the elements were experienced in America.
In 1695 prevailed a mortal sickness among the Indians in the eastern parts of this continent.
Hutch. vol. 2. 87.
A contagious fever prevailed in Bermuda, the same year.
In Europe many malignant fevers prevailed, but no epidemics, except measles and chin cough of a bad type. In Ireland ap|peared offensive fogs, a thick clammy dew on the herbage, of a yellow color, and consistence of butter. A similar substance was observed at Middletown, Connecticut, on the morning after the earthquake, May 17, 1791.
The year 1696 was cool and wet—summer in Britain, resem|bled winter, and winter was like summer. Corn was mildewed. Dysentery fatal among children.
In America the winter of 1696-7, according to Hutchinson, was very severe. Loaded sleds passed from Boston to Nantasket. Food was scarce and losses at sea very great. I am not without suspicions however, that the author has here described the fol|lowing winter, which was as severe as he has represented it.
Page 210In 1697 the weather in Europe was mostly cool. An earth|quake at Lima in Peru shook the country with terrible violence.
In a diary kept by Daniel Fairfield, of Braintree, in Massa|chusetts, an unlettered man of good understanding, I have a particular description of an influenza that prevailed in America in the severe winter of 1697-8.* This catarrh began in No|vember and prevailed till February. Its violence was in Janu|ary, when whole families were sick at once, and whole towns were seized nearly at the same time. It appears to have been an epidemic of the severe kind; and the epidemics which fol|lowed it in America were of correspondent severity.
In the same winter a mortal disease raged in the town of Fairfield in Connecticut, which was so general, that well per|sons could scarcely be found to tend the sick and bury the dead. Seventy persons were buried in three months, altho it may be doubted whether the town then contained 1000 inhabitants.
M. S. letter from Dr. Trumbull.
In the same winter raged a deadly fever in the town of Dover, in New-Hampshire.
M. S. of the Rev. John Pike.
This disease was doubtless that species of inflammatory fever, attacking the brain and ending in typhus, which has often pro|ved a terrible scourge to particular parts of America, during the rage of pestilence in the east, and of other epidemics in this country. We shall hear of it in the following century, and especially in 1761.
On the 20th of June 1698 the town of Latacunga, in the province of Quito, nearly under the equator, was laid in ruins by an earthquake, as were Riobamba, Hambato and other towns in the same district. In one place a chasm of five feet broad and a league in length, was opened, and on a mountain happened a volcanic eruption, from which issued ashes, cinders and flames.
Ulloa, vol. 2.
Page 211The malignant fever already mentioned, whatever might have been its precise symptoms, was soon followed by more general sickness. In 1699 raged in Charleston South-Carolina and in Philadelphia, the most deadly bilious plague that probably ever affected the people of this country.
Mr. Norris of Philadelphia has kindly favored me with a sight of a number of M. S. letters of his grand-father Isaac Norris, written during the sickness, to his correspondents. This worthy gentleman was then in trade, and well acquainted with the facts respecting the disease, as his own family suffered a loss of several of its members.
In a letter dated August 15, 1699, he mentions, that a ma|lignant fever broke out about the beginning of August, which he describes as the "Barbadoes distemper," tho he gives no intimations of its being communicated from countries abroad by infection. He says the patients "vomited and voided blood."
On the 24th of August, arrived the Britannia from Liver|pool, which had been 13 weeks on her passage; she had 200 passengers on board—had lost fifty by death, and others were sickly.
September 1st, he writes that the distemper appeared to abate at one time, but afterwards revived. He mentions the summer to be the hottest he ever knew; men died at harvest in the field. All business in the city was suspended.
During the yearly meeting the disease abated, but the meeting was thinly attended. Afterwards the disease returned in all its violence.
October 9th, he writes that he had hoped the cool weather would have relieved the city, but it did not.
October 22d, the disease had abated. Of this epidemic, died two hundred and twenty, of whom eighty or ninety be|longed to the society of friends.
The population of Philadelphia at this time, is not exactly ascertained; but as the city had been settled but seventeen years, the number of people could not have been great. If we con|sider that the city was thinly inhabited, and that no considera|ble artificial causes of disease had been accumulated; together Page 212 with the fact of the patient's vomiting and voiding blood, we must admit the disease to have been extremely virulent, beyond any thing that has marked its returns in subsequent periods.
In the same letters, Mr. Norris, October 18th, mentions that he had information from Charleston of the great mortality by the same fever—150 had died in a few days, and the survivors mostly fled into the country.
In a history of South-Carolina, lately published, there is a more particular account of the calamities that befel Charleston in this year 1699. A most dreadful tempest, a common event after excessive heat, threatened a total destruction of the town. The sea swelled and rushed violently into the town, compelling the people to fly to the tops of their houses for safety. A fire broke out and laid most of the town in ashes. The small-pox proved fatal to many of the youth, and to fill the cup of calam|ity, the bilious plague broke out with such irresistible mortality, that the principal officers of government, one half of the mem|bers of assembly and multitudes of the citizens fell victims. These calamities came near to dissolve the settlement.
Hist. of S. Carolina, vol. 1. 142.
I find no suggestion that any vessels had arrived from the West-Indies at these places, or that any suspicion existed of the im|portation of this terrible disease. At that time, there was very little intercourse directly between Philadelphia or Charleston and the West-Indies.
But it will be remarked, that the disease first appeared about the "beginning of August," as in modern times—that it once abated, as it did in New-York, both in 1795 and 6, so as to be extinguished in the latter year, and that for two or three weeks.—That in 1699 as in later returns of it, it yielded not to cool weather, until late in October. It will be further re|marked, that a severe epidemic catarrh preceded this plague, about eighteen months, as it did in 1789-90.
During this period, other parts of the earth did not escape affliction. A comet appeared in 1698 and another small one in 1699; and in this latter year, Lima suffered considerable damage by an earthquake, as did some parts of Batavia in the East-Indies.
Page 213In October 1698 began a fatal spotted fever to prevail over all England. In the spring of 1699 a severe and fatal catarrh was epide•ic, which carried off the young and robust, together with hard drinkers. A cough was epidemic among horses in England and France. In this period the catarrh in America preceded that in Europe, one whole year.
The seven last years of this century, the period under con|sideration, were distinguished for a severe and continued famin in Scotland. The general cause was, the wet and cold sum|mers which prevented crops from arriving to maturity. Vast multi|tudes perished with hunger—the dead bodies lay scattered along the highways. See Sinclair's Statistical account of Scotland in a great number of passages, and especially vol. 6. 132, 189. It does not appear that, during this long period of distress and want, any pestilence prevailed in Scotland.
At the same time, famin afflicted Finland and carried off one tenth of the inhabitants, and a greater proportion in the less fertile provinces of Sweden.
Williams's Obs. on North Governments, vol. 1. 638.
The same period was remarkable for failure of crops in A|merica. In a sermon preached in Boston on Lecture Day, Sept. 27, 1698, we have the following account of this subject. "The harvest hath once and again grievously failed, in these years, and we have been struck through with terrible famin.— The very course of nature hath been altered among us; a la|mentable cry for bread, bread, hath been heard in our streets."
Magnalia b. 7. 113.
In the preceding page, of this sermon, it is also remarked, that "Epidemical sicknesses have, in these years, been once and again upon us," and it is mentioned that Boston lost, in one year, six or seven hundred of its people, by one contagious dis|ease. The year is not specified.
It will be observed that in the history of the last two centu|ries few instances of the plague in Egypt and the Levant are mentioned. The reason is, that I have no regular series of ac|counts of plague in Egypt or Constantinople, for the last two or three hundred years. One remark however I will hazard, on Page 214 the strength of facts within the present century, that whenever malignant epidemics prevail generally in Europe or America, the plague ra•es in Egypt and Constantinople, or rather a little before; the commencement of the pestilential state of air in those unhealthy cities being a little anterior to its principal ef|fects in the north of Europe.
At the time of the dreadful bilious plague in Philadelphia and Charleston just before described, the plague was raging in the Levant, and for a year or two after.
During this period, in 1700, the same pestilential constitu|tion displayed itself in a most destructive sore throat in the island of Milo, in the Levant. It is thus described by Tournefort, vol. 1. let. 4. He says it appeared in a "Carbuncle or plague|sore in the bottom of the throat, attended with a violent fever." It carried off children in two days, but spared adults. He calls it the "child's plague." There appears to be some pro|priety in giving the disease this appellation. It has some resem|blance to the true pestis, the ulcer being formed in the throat in|stead of the glands. The insidiousness of the distemper is another circumstance of resemblance—persons in both diseases often walking about, a few hours before they expire. But this is a most prominent fact, that the ulcerous sore throat, or ma|lignant anginas are rarely or never epidemic, except in periods when the plague and yellow fever prevail in places where they usually appear. In no instance has the sore throat been epidemic in America, except when the plague has been raging in Egypt and Constantinople. At least I can find no exception to this remark; and what is more, the virulence of the one disease in one country, corresponds with the malignity of the other disease in the other countries. Thus, as the plague in Egypt in 1736, was far more destructive than the same disease, at other times, so was the angina maligna of that period in America.
When observation and philosophy shall prevail over the preju|dices of men in regard to the origin of these diseases from in|fection, it will be found that the angina, in its various forms, is only a particular stage or modification of the pestilence, which spreads over the world at certain unequal periods. The milder Page 215 forms of the pestilence appear in catarrh, measles and chin cough; which usually appear together, or nearly so, at the beginning of the more virulent general contagion; the later and more fatal stages are marked by anginas, cynanche maligna, petechial fe|ver, bilious and glandular plague in summer; and pestilential pleurisies in winter.
There are certain times, when the constitutions of men in all parts of the world, contract a poison, which nature makes an effort to expel; and the different epidemics that accompany or follow each other, in rapid succession, appear to be the differ|ent modes by which nature strives to rid the human body of the virus. These modes depend on the season of the year, the con|stitution or age of the patient and a multitude of subordinate circumstances.—Whether this poison is a positive substance in|haled by the lungs and pores, or is the effect of mere debility, which unfits the several parts of the body to perform their func|tions, is a question of a curious nature.
It is remarkable that in this year 1700, when this ulcerous sore throat was raging in the Levant Isles, small children in the north of Europe were seized with a suffocating catarrh or catarrh|ous fevers. These were followed by mild epidemic measles.
Short vol. 1. 418.
In the same year the small-pox was confluent and malignant. The winter of 1700 was very mild.
In this year fell a meteor in Jamaica, which entered the earth, making considerable holes, scorching the grass, and leaving a smell of sulphur.
Bad. Mem. 6. 389.