A Brief History of the Plague IV

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The Meaning of the Plague in the XNUMXth Century


Already at the beginning of the 1605th century, the Brussels-born Joan Baptista van Helmont, having practiced in Antwerp during the plague of XNUMX, when experience had shown the very select remedies prescribed by the books and compendiums he had at hand to be invalid, weak and vain, conceived, among his opuscula medica: Plague Tomb, published late in 1707, Frankfurt, a booklet in which he understands the nature, progress and properties of the plague in a very different way from how the schools then understood it:

“In the writings of the ancients, there appears no little consolation to the soul eager to know or to the stormy and wild afflictions. First of all, it is of faith that the stars agree with signs, times, days & years, and in no way can man alienate the offices of the stars, or divert them to other scopes. As the heavens are the works of the Lord's hands, and as God did not create death, therefore, neither does heaven contain death, disease, poison, discord, corruption or the effective cause thereof. Since they are not intended for the cause, but for the signs of the future, and only for the change of times or meteors, succession of days & years; therefore, the office of the heavens is not to generate evil, to cause poisons, to spread or influence them, to sow wars and provoke deaths; as heaven cannot exceed the bounds of its destination, the heavens tell the glory of god, in whose honor it was created, & for the uses of ungrateful mankind. And therefore it contains life, fire, joy, peace and sanity; with orderly and continued movement, no curse, since Adam's transgression, is read to have been communicated by heaven, nor execration infused, nor in any way spread disaster. The earth produces tribulations and thorns. For under the moon is the feud (because of sinners) of unhappiness and death, the empire of discord and vicissitudes. The earth has become our stepmother; so valley of miseries, pregnant with disaster & embarrassment of sinners. … I believe in the word of God, but I do not believe in the vanities of the soothsayers of heaven; and I think those who write that the plague comes from heaven have so far been mistaken, they stumble upon the errors of the Gentiles. The heavens tell the glory of God, & the work of the Lord's hands the firmament declares. Soon, the heavens announce the sweet and the bitter adventure; they do not, however, cause it. And certainly it is not lawful for us to call the bitter evil, since God has intended everything for good. Soon, the sky announces the futures; it does not, however, cause them; and the stars are only signs to us of the future, and therefore there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. The stars only cause, for the lazy native, the vicissitudes of time in the air, in the waters, on the earth. From which consequently depend the mutations and maturation both of the fruits, and of the human body, which is much more afflicted”.[I]

The sun as an Apollonian archer dismissing the poisonous darts of the infectious plague, as Homerically proposed by Paracelsus, seems to van Helmont a ridiculous assumption, since it constitutes God as an unjust magistrate, who cruelly kills the good, not understanding the plague of the nefarious. The slaughter of those who do not even think about crimes cancels the divine plague, since the works of God give life, so that the cause of the plague appears in nature, that is, under the moon, or on the land where people live. The biblical sky supports the natural explanation of the plague and meteoric revolutions; the attachment to the contemplative experience prevails over the speculative consideration: although founded by divine dogma, the conjecture physically projects the pestiferous operations:

“After all, if the plague were the offspring of the celestial light, it would certainly always appear instantly; once the aspects of the stars last for very tiny moments. Therefore, the poison born elsewhere, before the plague reached us, by the first wind dispersed, by the first torrent of rain dissipated and by the cold of nights and clouds if it dawned, even sooner would it have reached us, & would punish cities who have sinned in the least. (…) Especially when there is a dispute about the natural plague, not the divine one, it is necessary to inquire about the remedies, causes & obstacles. For, first of all, it is not uncommon for the plague to start from a single individual, certainly an innocent boy, and therefore, by the atonement of that boy, would heaven strike the whole family, the opiate &, finally, the province, that is, the harmless instead of the vicious, in the manner of Seplasia[ii], replacing one with the other. Afterwards, then, the plague wriggles with its contagion from one to another, to a second, third, and tenth: it will not be by heaven propounded poison, or by heaven wider inflicted vulneration: it is as if all the wrath or vengeance of heaven were aroused by fault of the first innocent, in short, the plague is conceived as the solitary terror of the terrified, since in terms of species it does not differ very much – for no other exists in actuality in individuals – from whatever was sent from heaven with poison from the stars. Therefore, not even a single one will be natural from heaven, if it is conceived elsewhere by a naked image of error, nor if its origin is unworthy of heaven, for otherwise it does not constitute a single individual of parents in every different predicament. Now if the Most High created the physician & medicine out of the earth; if the plague is formed from the stars; I fear that even all medicine will be impotent in the face of so much poison. But at least the Lord could not be wrong, for he sent medicine from earth, & not from heaven”.[iii]

The celestial generation of the plague does not explain the natural way of its dissipation, since it cannot be that neighboring provinces are not similarly subject to the ordered movement of the stars, being equally subject to the same incident rays, which proposes a physical explanation that cancels the celestial light as instantaneous way of its proliferation, distinguishing, by the pestilential movement experienced, the natural plague. Natural events, such as winds, rains, cold weather and the confluence of clouds, act to naturally dissipate plague by opids; this captures one who drags many, and, rounding up innocents, makes himself unworthy of the heavenly offspring. Heaven observes biblical morals; moralized, it shines forth divine goodness worthy of the Father, so that the divine plague, from there, would manifest itself as loving though just. But the natural one, not being corrective, is not justified, it is a poisonous chalice that passes from lip to lip, vulnerating whoever receives the bribe, it is a strange affliction whose only image is already haunting, even if the disease in the patient does not exist. Affected, however, the individual, the earthly medicine and doctor treat the natural pestilence, which against the divine cannot, since the correction only fulfills what is of the earth, not concerning them the cure of vices and higher sins. Just as medicine brings the causes, remedies and obstacles to the natural plague to the earth, so the natural becomes earthly, the plague a plague, however, under divine heaven.


As early as the 1665th century, but especially in the XNUMXth century, as the plague progressed, spreading across wild regions, the texts that said it and the languages ​​in which it appeared proliferated, so that the progress of the thing shaped its lexicon . It having touched London in the year XNUMX, Daniel Defoe writes, as a London citizen who stayed there and saw it, A journal of the plague year, a report that supplies the printed newspapers, which at the time were not available, and which was opportune for those who came after him[iv]. By hearsay, it was known that the plague had returned to Holland at the beginning of September 1664, not knowing exactly where it had been brought and where it ended up, but that it had probably accompanied the naval squadrons. Their silent coming was accompanied by the silence surrounding their arrival, for rumors about such things were gleaned only from letters from merchants and foreign correspondence, and from the mouths of some, fame flew, they were not disseminated instantly, and soon after the rumors forgot: the government, although aware of it, kept it private[v]. The circulation of both the plague and news of it remained restricted to historically structured means of communication: the ship, the letter, the voice.

Plague and fame are alike in the evils that at every step gain new strength. As the plague event is not evidenced by itself, but in the existence of the sick, who accumulate, what is said about them shapes the way in which its coming is conceived. The saying of what is happening appears as an evident counterpart of the latent subsistence of the plague, whose great fame, which like the plague only lives in mobility, travels through the city, incessantly provoking the proficiency of the plague sayings, which, being incorporeal, involve more.

Initially a foreigner, the first apparition, it was said, took place at the north end of Drury Lane Street in early December of that same year, entered through the hospitality of a London family, taking two French men who lived there, which indicated where they came from. came from[vi]. A family attempt to stifle the event follows, but through the cracks in the house, the new escapes into the neighborhood. The rumor spreads to the Secretaries of State, who then act by sending a medical delegation for local inspection. The signs on the bodies show it. Public opinion of the cause of death, which is printed in the weekly obituary[vii]:

“Plague, 2. Infected parishes, 1”.

The city is alarmed. The plague becomes familiar when, in the last week of December, it kills the first Londoner in the very same house. Six weeks with no signs of infection. In February, one dies, in a nearby house, in the same parish: the same signs. It is suspected that the plague is already among the people, at the end of the city, where it enters. One tries to contain his rapid fame, which, advancing, grows, possessing the heads of the people. Drury Lane is avoided, but extraordinary business forces some to go there. The ordinary number of burials in St. Giles, parish district, parish, where the plague began, and in the vicinity[viii]. The course of the London plague is outlined since the first French deaths. Before, however, it is not known whether from Cyprus, Candia[ix], Italy, or the Levant, if among other goods it was brought by a Turkish squadron; the coastal and insular distribution and the naval route generate the mercantile event of the plague, which precedes its urban circulation. He disembarked in the port cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam in 1663, the year before the new world map had come to light new orbis tabula, by the Dutch cartographer Frederick de Wit, a demonstration of the golden age of the Netherlands due to the intense maritime traffic that connected them to the Dutch East Indies. By land or sea, he headed for France, where he embarked for Great Britain, arriving there at the end of 64, more than a year after the Dutch apparition. The plague-ridden pilgrimage sails the seas, touches the shores, spreading pedestrians through the interior, enters the cities on the outskirts, stopping for weeks in a single house, months without going beyond the street through which it entered.

Expansion progresses along an uncertain course, through which it finds passage; oscillating, its periods and places of containment and distension alternate. A recurring event, the plague comes and goes and returns: it appears, seems to disappear, reappears. Rumors announce her return, vary according to the places where her appearances are more imminent. As it circulates throughout the social body, its appearances are generated from the various material circumstances in which they manifest themselves, with many fantasies of the plague that at the same time seizes many.

If the Homeric plague poetically involves honor and the commanders of peoples, then the dishonor committed by those who command loses the entire army; if, in Latin, the medical plague infects the family, then the opium, the province, crossing regions; the London plague, reported by a citizen torn between continuing his business, a saddlery, a saddles, or preserving one's own life, makes up a commercial route, involving circumnavigation, it starts in the house where there is a foreign presence, it starts with the guest, it spreads through the parishes, through the neighborhoods, it does not instantly take over the whole city, nor at the same time the 97 parishes, it remains mainly in the external parishes, more populous and abundant in poor, the most exposed[X]. The encounter with the strange generator of the strange disease, which, among the Greeks, occurs in the corporal combat and in the carnage of the war, of penetration attached to the rhythm of the marches and of the triremes, already in the London of the XVII century it derives from the commercial business and the distribution goods, which involve the population more quickly, since markets demand cities.

Added to the deaths from the plague were those from spotted fever, spotted-fever, which seemed to be the same distemper, distemper, of the first, although the number of the second is even more alarming[xi]. The apprehension of the people turned especially to the change in climate, which then warmed up with the arrival of summer, as the people placed some hope in the temperate, variable and cool weather.[xii]. The plague is linked to the climate, wheather: climate plague.

The distemper expands, spread, from parish to parish, St. Andrew's, St. Clement Danes, but when the first dies within the walls, within the walls, next to the bag, stock market, in St. Mary Woolchruch, the whole town grieves[xiii]. Urbanization, having the market as the focus of dissemination, as everyone converges there, emerges as the hallmark of the mercantile plague.

The infection spreads at first stumblingly, so that it often appears, exhausted, to regress in its progress, tricking and deluding, and quickly appearing quite expanded with breath in many parts. The controversy over the counting of the dead contributes to the illusion, revealing trickery and collusion, knavery and collusion, of those who govern weekly public accounts or reports, weekly bill, covering up the pestilential deaths with other intemperance:

The next report was for the 23rd to the 30th of May, when the number of plague cases was seventeen. But there were fifty-three burials in St. Gile's – a frightening number! – of which only nine were recorded due to the plague; but, upon closer examination by the justices of the peace, and at the request of the lord mayor, it was found that there were twenty more who actually died of the plague in that parish, but had been accounted for in the das due to spotted fever or other intemperance, in addition to other concealed ones.

But these were trivial things next to what followed immediately after; for the hot weather begins, and from the first week of June the infection spreads terribly, and the bills increase very much; fever clauses, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and teeth began to grow; for all who could cover up their tempers did so, to prevent their neighbors from shunning them and refusing to converse with them, as well as to prevent the authority from locking them up in their houses, which, though not yet practiced , had already been threatened, and people were extremely terrified just thinking about it.[xiv].

Public accounts and the infected cover up the plague, both, seeking to stop the infamy that accompanies it, taking care of their own, neglect the common: they contribute to the infection. They contrast the consternation on the side of the city that has already been taken with that where the temper has not yet reached, where the neighborhood is not concerned. The richest leave with their families, with or without their farms, with their servants, taking precautions against the approaching misery and the sad condition of those who remain. O lord mayor issues health certificates, certificates of health, to those living in parishes, authorizing them to travel[xv]. Everyone leaves. Horses disappear, you travel on foot. Rumors afflict and hasten decisions based on imagination. Each tries to preserve himself from the siege of danger and death. In 91th century London, you see, the bible is used when deciding: Psalm XNUMX, according to Protestants, following the numbering of books and Hebrew authority, proposed here according to the psalterium iuxta hebraeos, by Jerome:

Quihabitat in abscondito Excelsi
in umbrella Domini commorabitur
Domino sayings spes mea et fortitudo mea
God my trust in eum

quia ipse liberabit te de lacqueo venantium
of death insidiarum
in scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi
et sub alis eius sperabis
scutum et protectio veritas eius
non timebis a timore nocturno
the flying sagitta per diem
the walking plague in tenebris
a morsu insanientis meridie
Cadent a latere tuo mille et decem
milia a dextris tuis
ad te autem non adpropinquabit
verumtamen oculis tuis videbis
et ultionem impiorum cores
you enim are Domine spes mea

Excelsum posuisti habitaculum
don't accept ad te malum
et leprosy non adpropinquabit
tebernaculo tu
quia angelis suis mandabit de te ut
custodian te in omnibus viis tuis
in manibus portabunt you are strong
offendat ad lapidem pes tuus
super aspidem et basiliscum calcabis
conculcabis leonem et draconem

quoniam mihi adhesit et liberabo
it is a
I exalt eum quoniam cognovit
my name
invoke me et exaudiam eum
cum ipso ero in tribulatione eruam
eum et glorified
longitudine dierum implebo illum
et ostendam ei salutare meum.

Holy Bible iuxta vulgatam version – tomus I, Genesis – Psalmi. Recensuit Robertus Weber Osb.[xvi]

Who dwells in the secret place of the Excellency,
in the umbrella of the Lord he will linger,
saying to the Lord, my hope and my strength,
my God, in him will I trust.

Because he will free you from the snare of the hunters,
the death of snares;
in the shadow of his shoulder blades he will shelter you,
and under his wings you will wait:
shield and protection, his truth.
Thou shalt not fear the fear of the night,
the flying arrow by day,
the walking plague in the darkness,
the meridian bite of the insane;
a thousand and ten will fall at your side
a thousand at your right hand,
but he will not approach you,
however with your eyes you will see
the punishment of the wicked, and discern;
for you are, Lord, my hope.

You made the Excellency your dwelling place,
no harm will happen to you,
and leprosy will not approach
from your tent,
for as for you, he will command his angels to
guard you in all your ways,
in their hands they will carry you, so that perhaps
do not stumble your foot on the stone,
on asp and basilisk you will tread,
thou shalt tread upon lion and serpent.

Because he adhered to me, release him
I will exalt him, because he knew
my name;
he will call on me, and I will answer him,
I will be with him in tribulation, take him out
I will and will glorify him,
and with the longevity of days I will satisfy him
and I will offer my salvation to him.   



The exalted abode subsists on trust, hope, adhesion, invocation to the Lord, so that it may be without existing, as a circumstance of those subsisting around the believer, so that they accompany him wherever the body goes. In contrast, the place where the body is collected, the shadow under which it rests and lives, strengthen it rather by the incorporeal it is surrounded by than the circuit of the building's walls, involving rather the bodies and events that inhabit there from the outside. than the bricks and bolts that fortify it. Incorporeal, housing subsists in the place of protection against the tribulations of life, the insistence and confluence of the events that one lives through, which, altered by the movements of everyday bodies, change, concentrating in the very place where life is protected. .

The psalm articulates three different ways in which the wicked fear, according to their shifts: the flying arrow in daylight, the insane man and his blows at dusk, the invisible plague walking at night. As for this nocturnal fear, the authorized transmission of the divine verb makes it three, as it identifies plague, business, and action. In translating the Hebrew text into Latin, Jerome uses the name pestis, resorting, however, to business, when following the Greek lesson of Septuagint, which reads pragma, so that, except for the Hebrew reference, the following variation of the aforementioned step can be found:

yuxta heb:

non timebis a timore nocturno
the flying sagitta per diem
the walking plague in tenebris

lxta LXX:

non timebis a timore nocturno
the flying sagitta in die
a wandering business in tenebris


ouj fobhqh√sh≥ ajpo; fo√bou nukterinou:,
ajpo; be√louß petome√nou hÔme√raß,
ajpo; pra√gmatoß diaporeuome√nou e∆n sko√tei

according to the Hebrew:

Thou shalt not fear the fear of the night
the arrow that flies through the day
a plague who walks in the darkness

according to the Septuagint:

Thou shalt not fear the fear of the night
the arrow that flies in the day
o business wandering in the dark


will not be frightened by night fright,
by the arrows that fly by day,
from action who walks in the darkness

The correlation of the three terms, plague, business, action, shows that the lexical variation that occurred in the transmission of the sacred text is not a fortuitous interchange, rather it proposes different ways of considering it, so that the trinity of the plague is revealed by the verb of god. Triune unit in which the apprehension of one understands the others, articulating them: the action of the business, inseparable from fear and darkness, insists obscurely on the practices that preside over furtive and harmful undertakings, being equally obscure the actions of the plague, subsisting in the business of action, which implies the practice of business in the business of the plague, which transits through the pestilential actions of businesses that cannot be lost.

The biblical sky in which the Most High Lord inhabits confuses the origin of the plague with the shelter against it, the frightening shadow under which one is sheltered, since in the very same sky one finds both divine salvation and divine punishment; in that, abundance and elevation; in this, want and fall. The fear of divinely conceived punishment and justification by the appearance of the plague seizes the people by degrees, beginning young, growing with the successes of the disease, until the whole body of the people moves as one man wholly seized with fear.[xvii]. The face of the city changes, the face of things as a whole is greatly altered, grief and sadness stamped on everything and everyone, and although not everyone has been struck down by the disease, everyone seems to see extreme danger in themselves and their loved ones.[xviii]. Previous accidents are retrieved that explain the present events, or retrospectively they are taken to find the reason for what happened:

First, a bright star or comet appeared a few months before the plague, just as it did two years later, just before the fire. The old women and the hypochondriac phlegmatic part of the other sex, which I could almost also call old women, noticed (especially later, even if not before these two executions ended) that these two comets passed directly over the city, and so close to the houses that it was obvious that they brought something peculiar to this town alone; that the comet before the pestilence was of a pale, fatuous, languid color, and its motion very heavy, solemn, and slow; but that the comet before fire was bright and sparkling, or, as others have said, flaming, and its motion swift and furious; and that, consequently, the one foreshadowed a heavy, slow, but severe, terrible and frightful execution, such as the plague; the other already foreshadowed a blow, sudden, swift and burning, like fire. Furthermore, some people were so particular that, having looked at that comet that preceded the fire, they fantasized that they not only saw it pass swiftly and ardently and could perceive the movement with their eyes, but that they even heard it, that it did a rushing noise, immense, fierce and terrible, yet distant and scarcely perceptible.

I saw these two stars, and, I must confess, I got so much common impression about such things in my head, that I was ready to look upon them as harbingers and warnings of God's judgments; and especially when, after the plague had followed the first, I saw yet another, of the same kind, I could not but say that God had not yet sufficiently chastened the city.

But at the same time I could not carry these things as far as others have, knowing, too, what natural causes are assigned by astronomers for such things, and that their motions and even their revolutions were calculated, or were intended to be calculated, so that they could not so perfectly be called the harbingers or harbingers, much less the provocateurs, of such events as pestilence, war, fire, and such[xx].

The appearance of extraordinary stars alerts those who notice them of the imminence of extraordinary events, such as plague and fire, but these celestial bodies are not responsible for the events themselves, effects of just divine providence, according to the common notion. The comet that precedes the plague does not cause it, but announces it, so that signs of the future are commonly perceived in the sky, which is proper to divination. The celestial is involved in the earthly. The ordinary sky indicates the sustenance of everyday things; when, however, the order is broken due to an extraordinary event, it is known that, in the near future, their disposition will change. The significant passage of the comet means to those who capture it the meaning of what happens, reporting to them the similarities: the plague is pale, fatuous, languid, as this is the face of the bodies and cities that it sickens and haunts; its movement is heavy, because moving it thickens; solemn, because the year always comes when it is only celebrated by everyone; slow, because once its time has come, it lasts. The pestilential event and the sign that anticipates it resemble the severe, terrible and frightening justice that distinguishes so much punishment from God. However, these imagined similarities are opposed by the astronomical calculation verified by observation, which demonstrates celestial regularities in the extraordinary event, indicating natural causes instead of supernatural or divine ones; the sky is finally naturalized, the ties that tied the revolution of the stars to the events of the earth are untied; the event is not justified, but meanings and provocations are not concocted that invoke the temple of the firmament as justification.

*Yuri Ulbricht He holds a master's degree in philosophy from USP.

To read the first part go to https://aterraeredonda.com.br/uma-breve-historia-da-peste-i/

To read the second part go to https://aterraeredonda.com.br/uma-breve-historia-da-peste-ii/

To read the third part go to https://aterraeredonda.com.br/uma-breve-historia-da-peste-iii/


[i] Joannis Baptistae van Helmont, Unheard of medical opuscula. tumulus pestis. A labe nostra immune, ut & innocuum cœlum.
Ab Antiquorum scriptis, ne minima animæ, sciendi avidæ, consolatio, aut ærumnosis, desertisque apparuit ægris. In primis fidei est, Stellas, esse in signa, tempora, dies & annos, nec hominem posse ullatenus officia stellarum alienare, aut ad alios scopos declinare. Quòd opera manuum Domini, sint coœli; Quòd Deus non creavit mortem. Ideoque nec coelum contineat mortem, morbum, venenum, discordias, corruptiones, aut causa effectivam horum. Siquidem non ad causa; sed ad signa futurorum: ac duntaxat in temporum, sive meteororum mutationem, dierum & annorum successionem destinantur. Officium ergo cœlorum, non est malum generare, causare venena, spargere, aut influere, bella serere, ac mortem raisere. Quia cœlum nequit excerelimites suæ destinationis, cœli enarrant gloriam DEI, in cujus honorem, & humanitatis ingratae usus, creatum est. Ideoque in se potius continet vitam, lumen, gaudium, pacem, sanitatemque, cum ordinato continuatoque motu, Cœlo nulla, à transgressu Adami, legitur communicata maledictio, nec infusa exsecratio, ut nec labes inspersa. Terra quidem profert tribulos, & spinas. Quia subter Lunam, est cacodæmonis, mortisque (quia peccatorum) feudum, imperium discordiarum, atque vicissitudinum. Terra nobis evait noverca; vallis ideò miseriarum, peccatorum labe & sarcinâ prægnans. (…) Credo verbo Dei, nequaquam autem vanitatibus Augurum cœli: reorque, qui Pestem à cœlo oriundam scribunt, adhuc deceptos, gentilium erroribus cespitare. Cœli enarrant gloriam Dei, & opera manuum Domini, annunciat firmamentum. Coeli ergò annunciant dulce, ac amarum venturum; non autem causant illud. Imò nec amara nobis licet vocare mala: nam Deus omnia ad bonum finem dixerit. Ergo cœlum futuro annunciat; non autem causat: & stelæ sunt nobis ad signa futurorum duntaxat, eruntque ideo signa in Sole, Luna ac stellis. Causant etiam duntaxat stellae, per nativum Blas, vicissitudines temporum, in aëre, aquis, terrâ. Unde consequentr pendent mutationes, ac maturationes, tam in fructibus, quam in corpore humano, potissimum aegrotante.

[ii] Praça de Cápua, where perfumes, drugs, spices were sold.
Demum, si Pestis, cœlestis lucis proles ea certe in instanti semper exsurgeret: cum astrorum aspectus sint per minuta momentanei. Quare Pestis, antequam poison aliunde nato ad nos deveniret, primo vento dispergeretur, primà pluviae irroratione ablueretur, noctisque ac nubium frigoribus pacaretur, priusquam ad nos devenerit: & punirent urbes, quae minimè peccâssent. (…) Præcipuè ubi de Peste naturali, & non Deali disputatio occurrit, deque remediis, causis & obstaculis est inquirendum. Nam inprimis, non rarò, Pestis unico ab individuo incipit, puero nempe insonte, adeoque cœli, piaculo hujus pueri, integram familiam, oppidum, & provinciam tandem, innocuum nempe pro facinoroso, feriissent, per modum Seplasiæ, quid pro quo substituentis. Denique dum Pestis serpit suo contagio ab uno in alium, saltem in secundo, tertio ac decimo, non erit amplius venenum à cœlo propinatum, aut vulnus à cœlo inflictum: quasi tota ira, aut vindicta cœli, concitaretur culpa primi insontis, denique Pestis, solo terrore pavidi concepta, cum in specie specialissima (etenim nulla alia exsistit actu in individuis) non differat à qualibet alia, quae cœlo mitteretur poison astrorum. Ergo neque ulla prorsus erit naturalis à cœlo, si aliunde nuda erroris imagine concipiatur, nec cœli sit indigna sui origo. Nam alioquin unum individuum non constitutur à parentibus, toto praedicamento diversis. Etenim si Medicum, & terra creaverit medicine Altissimus; & Pestis ab astris formetur: vereor saltem, not so much odd poison omnis sit future medicine. At saltem Dominus non potuit errasse, quod medicinal land, & non de cœlo miserit

[iii] Joannis Baptistae van Helmont, Unheard of medical opuscula. tumulus pestis. A labe nostra immune, ut & innocuum cœlum.

[iv] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague yearp. 9.

[v] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague yearp. 1.

[vi] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague yearp. 2.

[vii] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague yearp. 2.

[viii] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague year. 2-4.

[ix] Duchy of Candia, name of the island of Crete during the period when it was an overseas colony of the Republic of Venice.

[x] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague yearp. 16.

[xi] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague yearp. 5.

[xii] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague year, P. 5.

[xiii] Deofe, D. A journal of the plague yearp. 5.

[xiv] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague year. pp. 6-7: “The next bill was from the 23rd of May to the 30th, when the number of the plague was seventeen. But the burials in St. Gile's were fifty-three – a frightful number! – of whom they set down but nine of the plague; but on an examination more strictly by the justices of the peace, and at the Lord Mayor's request, it was found there were twenty more who were really dead of the plague in that parish, but had been set down of the spotted-fever or other distempers, besides others concealed.

But those were trifling things to what followed immediately after; for now the weather set in hot, and from the first week in June the infection spread in a dreadful manner, and the bills rose high; the articles of the fever, spotted-fever, and teeth began to swell; for all that could conceal their distempers did it, to prevent their neighbors shunning and refusing to converse with them, and also to prevent authority shutting up their houses, which though it was not yet practiced, yet was threatened, and people were, extremely terrified at the thoughts of it”. 

[xv] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague yearp. 8.

[xvi] Holy Bible iuxta vulgatam version – tomus I, Genesis – Psalmi. Recensuit Robertus Weber Osb.

[xvii] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague yearp. 22.

[xviii] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague yearp. 18.

[xix] Defoe, D. A journal of the plague year. pp. 22-23: “in the first place, a blazing star or comet appeared for several months before the plague, as there did the year after another, a little before the fire. The old women and the phlegmatic hypochondriac part of the other sex, whom I could almost call old women too, remarked (especially afterward, though not till both those judgments were over) that those two comets passed directly over the city, and that so very near the houses that it was plain they imported something peculiar to the city alone; that the comet before the pestilence was of a faint, dull, languid colour, and its motion very heavy, solemn, and slow; but that the comet before the fire was bright and sparkling, or, as others said, flaming, and its motion swift and furious; and that accordingly one foretold a heavy judgment, slow but severe, terrible and frightful, as was the plague; but the other foretold a stroke, sudden, swift, and fiery as the conflagration. Nay, so particular some people were, that as they looked upon that comet preceding the fire, they fancied that they not only saw it pass swiftly and fiercely, and could perceive the motion with their eye, but even they heard it; that it made a rushing, mighty noise, fierce and terrible, though at a distance, and but just perceptible.

I saw both these stars, and, I must confess, had so much of the common notion of such things in my head, that I was apt to look upon them as the forerunners and warnings of God's judgments; and especially when, after the plague had followed the first, I yet saw another of the like kind, I could not but say God had not yet sufficiently scourged the city.

But I could not at the same time carry these things to the height that others did, knowing, too, that natural causes are assigned by the astronomers for such things, and that their motions and even their revolutions are calculated, or intended to be calculated , so that they cannot be so perfectly called the forerunners or foretellers, much less the seekers, of such events as pestilence, war, fire, and the like”.

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