Monday, March 30, 2020

Pepys' Plague - 1665

'In the weeks ahead, Lapham's Quarterly will feature voices from the past who told stories that rhyme with the one unfolding before us—stories dealing with quarantine, unfathomable deaths, isolation, dread, and attempts to find community when the rest of the world feels far away.

It’s likely that nearly a hundred thousand people—a quarter of London—died during the Great Plague of 1665. Transmitted by flea-covered rats, the bubonic plague started with a fever, and its victims then erupted in boils on their groins, their armpits, seemingly anywhere uncomfortable for an abscess to appear. People usually died within a week of contracting the bacterial infection, vomiting up bile and blood until they expired. Thirty-two-year-old Samuel Pepys watched the plague ravage London, dutifully recording how the city emptied as he continued to work, socialize, and dream of assignations.' Read his diary here.