Thursday 29 June 1665

Up and by water to White Hall, where the Court full of waggons and people ready to go out of towne. To the Harp and Ball, and there drank and talked with Mary, she telling me in discourse that she lived lately at my neighbour’s, Mr. Knightly, which made me forbear further discourse. This end of the towne every day grows very bad of the plague. The Mortality Bill is come to 267;1 which is about ninety more than the last: and of these but four in the City, which is a great blessing to us. Thence to Creed, and with him up and down about Tangier business, to no purpose. Took leave again of Mr. Coventry; though I hope the Duke has not gone to stay, and so do others too. So home, calling at Somersett House, where all are packing up too: the Queene-Mother setting out for France this day to drink Bourbon waters this year, she being in a consumption; and intends not to come till winter come twelvemonths.2 So by coach home, where at the office all the morning, and at noon Mrs. Hunt dined with us. Very merry, and she a very good woman. To the office, where busy a while putting some things in my office in order, and then to letters till night. About 10 a’clock home, the days being sensibly shorter before I have once kept a summer’s day by shutting up office by daylight; but my life hath been still as it was in winter almost. But I will for a month try what I can do by daylight. So home to supper and to bed.


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Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to White Hall, where the Court full of waggons and people ready to go out of towne."

L&M describe the court's itinerary thus:

To Syon House, Islesworth until 9 July
http://www.statelyhomes.com/areas/details.asp?H...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isleworth

Hampton Court, 9 July-end of July
http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/1765/

Salisbury, Wiltshire, 1 August-23 September
http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/8028/

Oxford (plague-free), 23 September- 27 January 1665/66
http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/3201/

Hampton Court, 27 January 1665/66-1 February 1665/66
http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/1765/

Whitehall Palace, 1 February 1665/66
http://www.pepysdiary.com/background/places/bui...

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Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... she lived lately at my neighbour’s, Mr. Knightly, which made me forbear further discourse. "

[Spoilers] Per L&M Companion:

Knightly [Robert], kt 1677 (d. 1699). A merchant long resident in Seething Lane; also of Ashtead, Surrey; churchwarden of St. Olive's in 1667; and a Common Councilman in 1675. ...

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dirk  •  Link

The plague...

How exactly Sam and his contemporaries saw the plague and the risk of contagion has been discussed before, but I find the following article by F. Gonzalez-Crussi, MD, 1998, summarizes things very neatly:

"In the pre-microbiology era [...] medical European thought was dominated by what an Italian historian, Carlo Cipolla, has called the "miasmatic paradigm." Contagion was thought to arise from exposure to unhealthy, "corrupted" air, although the precise nature of this noxious influence was left vague. [...] A bewildering number of circumstances could "infect" or "corrupt" the air[...]. Heat, humidity, an inauspicious conjunction of the stars, sudden wind currents, effluvia from animal skin, especially from furry animals: all were imagined potentially capable of conveying pestiferous atoms, and thus transmitting the plague.

In this scheme, the pathways followed by infection were dauntingly numerous: marshy water-to-man, animal-to-man, dead body-to-man, rotting wood-to-man, metal-to-man [...] and so on. The pathways were simple and direct, less convoluted than those which modern science teaches, but frightening by their overwhelming profusion. Disease could come from anywhere.

[...] the "miasmatic theory" had a perfect logical consistency, and was beautifully adapted to accommodate every new observation, without losing credibility. For instance, it was correctly pointed out that plague was more likely to break out during the summer months. This true fact was correlated with a greater number and offensiveness of pernicious miasmas. No one thought of linking the factual observation with a greater number of rats and fleas. After all, everyone was used to rats and fleas in those times."

http://www.childsdoc.org/spring2000/contagion.asp

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PHE  •  Link

They think they had it tough with the Plague. At least, they didn't have to face 'the greatest threat to mankind' - Climate Change! Or bird flu or mad cow disease for that matter. Ah, the good old days...

In fact, what is interesting in Sam's style is that despite this great threat of the Plague - on his very doorstep and all around, he seems to remain incredibly unpanicked about it.

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andy  •  Link

the days being sensibly shorter before I have once kept a summer’s day by shutting up office by daylight; but my life hath been still as it was in winter almost

Poor Sam has missed the summer, his unexpectedly long days meaning that it's dark (and getting darker) when he goes home, just like it is in winter. That means he must be rising (betimes) about 4:30 am and finishing work at 11 -ish pm. Not much time for anything else apart from a break in the middle of the day.

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Michael Robinson  •  Link

Ah, the good old days …

No antibiotics, no antisepsis, no anesthesia, no germ theory ...

". Sir J. Lawson is come to Greenwich; but his wound in his knee yet very bad." http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1665/06/16/
" ..thinking to have visited Sir J. Lawson, where, when I come, I find that he is dead, and died this morning, at which I was much surprized;"
http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1665/06/25/

[The first patient Florey and Chain treated successfully in February 1941, who subsequently died of the infection, had 'only' scratched himself on a rose thorn...]

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Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Not much time for anything else apart from a break in the middle of the day." Oh, there's always time for a Mary...Unless some snoop of a Knightly is about, like to go round blabbing his fool head off.
***
I'd be interested to hear more of Hooke's take on the plague. Surely seeing all those little creatures in the microscope must give rise to some wondering as to whether they might possibly play a role in disease.

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dirk  •  Link

"I’d be interested to hear more of Hooke’s take on the plague." (Robert Gertz)

"Examples of Hooke's detailed drawings can be seen in the illustration of [...] a flea below. [...] the flea in this illustration was the carrier of the Bubonic Plague that was sweeping through Europe at time. However, this was not known by Hooke."
http://askabiologist.asu.edu/research/buildingb...

Hooke really had no idea what caused the plague (as a matter of fact neither had anybody else at the time):
On "Exploring our archives" (the "Blog from the Royal Society, the UK and Commonwealth academy of science") there is an item that refers to the "Waller Collection from Uppsala University", stating that

"It includes a letter from Hooke to his friend the MP, natural philosopher and antiquary James Long dated 1688 in which he discusses the auctioning of books, sends a new history of China along with some ‘very considerable relations’ of earthquakes in Peru, China, Spain, and India. Hooke puts forward a theory that ‘the Poysenous Exhalations that Issue from such Eruptions may have caused those Distempers in the seasons and constitutions of the air and euen of the helth of People, though in Countrys very Remote, which haue accompanyd them or been always contemporary’. He goes on to speculate that such noxious fumes might have contributed to the ‘Aguish distemper’ then affecting people in England and France, as well as to the plague spreading in Germany. Hooke was of course correct to assume that the effects of earthquakes could have long-term effects on public health through environmental contamination, although inaccurate in linking them to the plague."

http://www.scienceblogs.org.uk/archives/

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JWB  •  Link

Hooke & Leeuwenhoek

Leeuwenhoek was seeing @ 400x magnification while Hooke et al still @ 20-50x. We're talking animacules vs. animals- germs vs. fleas.

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Albatross  •  Link

"despite this great threat of the Plague - on his very doorstep and all around, he seems to remain incredibly unpanicked about it"

I wonder if there is a fatalism to life in the 17th Century which we cannot grasp. We believe we understand the fundamental threats which face us, and even how to control them, and hence we panic when faced with a threat because we desire to see the threat immediately controlled by a known means. In Sam's time the threats were innumerable, their sources unknown, and panic as likely to increase them as not.

Sam has already survived a very risky surgery to remove The Stone, but something will get him eventually as it will all of us. What is the purpose of panicking? He could flee London to dodge the plague, lose his hard-earned position, and starve. He could avoid the plague in London and be killed by a kidney-stone, or avoid getting tetanus or dysentery and be killed by the scratch of a rose thorn.

When Death is so close and yet so capricious, at some point you have to just go about your business and hope it passes you by. It's a mindset of pragmatic courageousness with which we could fortify ourselves, in my opinion.

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Terry Foreman  •  Link

"In Sam’s time the threats were innumerable, their sources unknown, and panic as likely to increase them as not."

All in his time did/could not respond in the same way to the present threat. Compare SP's cautious willingness to keep his nose to the grindstone, even as those who might provide him cash for his tallies -- goldsmiths and those with direct access to the royal treasury -- to theirs.

He stays as many of them take to the road out of town with the court to the West and North (SPOILERS -- see the first post above for the court's itinerary). Methinks evacuation plans been in the works for a while (as his for Elizabeth have). But I can also imagine panic if my next-door neighbor's were a "plague house."

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Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Leeuwenhoek was seeing @ 400x magnification while Hooke et al still @ 20-50x. We’re talking animacules vs. animals- germs vs. fleas."

Probably not for a few years:

"And at some time before 1668, Antony van Leeuwenhoek learned to grind lenses, made simple microscopes, and began observing with them. He seems to have been inspired to take up microscopy by having seen a copy of Robert Hooke's illustrated book Micrographia, which depicted Hooke's own observations with the microscope and was very popular." http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/leeuwenhoe...

"In 1648 in Amsterdam van Leeuwenhoek saw his first simple microscope, a magnifying glass mounted on a small stand used by textile merchants capable of magnifying to a power of 3. He soon acquired one for his own use. In 1654, he left Amsterdam, moved back to Delft and started his own lucrative drapery business there....It is believed that soon after 1665 he read a book by Robert Hooke, titled Micrographia. His reading of Hooke's book is believed to have roused an interest in van Leeuwenhoek to use his microscopes for the purpose of investigating the natural world beyond the mere quality of the fabrics he sold." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonie_van_Leeuwe...

The Wikipedia article documents his relationship with the Royal Society, who sent witnesses to verify he saw what he said he had seen, as JWB has recorded -- proving which changed the RS's view of reality.

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Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

Dirk's quote from Hooke, below, is a clear exposition of the "miasmatic paradigm" he cites earlier. I'm amused by the parallel to the way the press and some scientists treat every climate aberation as a confirmation of the theory of anthropogenic global warming. As one who studied under Thomas Kuhn before the publication of "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," I'm familiar with the long history of scientific hypotheses that have fallen by the wayside over the centuries, and with the conceptual ans sociological trap that causes most scientists to work hard to confirm the reigning "paradigm". (And of course most social scientists take the reigning scientific hypothesis as a starting point for projecting futures and proposing policy responses.) This puts me in the camp of those who are skeptical about claims that "the science is settled," and leaves me curious about alternative hypotheses and alternative uses of human resources. I also go back to Gulliver's Travels and Alice in Wonderland.

("Poysenous Exhalations that Issue from such Eruptions may have caused those Distempers in the seasons and constitutions of the air and euen of the helth of People, though in Countrys very Remote, which haue accompanyd them or been always contemporary.")

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jeannine  •  Link

"The Queen-Mother never came to England again."

After her death Somerset House will become Queen Catherine's. Catherine actually will spend about 9 or so years of her life there, living away from Charles & his mistress du jour (sort of a 'separation' although not in the legal sense) up until the Popish Plots, when he will ‘recall’ her to come back and live with him. Not a lot is known of Catherine's life during that time.

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Robert Gertz  •  Link

On the practical observational side one can sympathize with the difficulty-everyone saw rats and fleas abounded, more or less harmlessly most of the time...There was no particular reason to associate them with the outbreak of plague. Perhaps what's more puzzling is that Muslim physicians despite the discovery of innoculation didn't make a better connect of disease transmission, seeing an example of smallpox transfer in the matter passed between donor and recipient...Or that Western physician clung so long to the miasmata theory after Jenner, even though they had clear evidence of disease transfer mechanics. But, hindsight is easy and the technology to carry out controlled experiments was still to be acquired.

And returning to practical observation, it always did seem that people were healthier away from those miasmatic marshes...

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dirk  •  Link

A very lively description, also from http://www.childsdoc.org/spring2000/contagion.asp

"[...] everyone was used to rats and fleas in those times. As late as the beginning of the present century, if you were traveling in certain parts of Italy or Southern Europe, and were going to stay overnight at an inn, you probably would ask the innkeeper to bring to your room four large basins filled with water. Then you would ask someone to help you raise the bed, and immerse each of the legs of the bed into the respective water basin. This was a standard precaution recommended to all travelers, including refined aristocrats on their continental Grand Tour, to prevent blood-sucking vermin from crawling from the floor to the bed."

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cgs  •  Link

Why does it take time for new provable thoughts to be accepted.
DeCartes said it well. I AM.

The brain in my mind, be hard wired to solve those standard problem of processing food, but we have the opportunity to rewire or make new connections but it is painful to think, it be easier to spout what has already been spouted as it has already been accepted, it is hard work to qed.
It took 1500 years to accept that Socrates etal was not always right.
Most thought be democratic, the majority rules, regardless of logic .

This period of time begins supplying a quantity of thinkers whom rightly or wrongly documented their thoughts, and requesting not to be published until they no longer have to defend work.

Ideas require an accepting environment.

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Australian Susan  •  Link

We may start to get ever so smug about our modern approach to medicine, but here is a cautionary tale....

Someone we knew told us she was getting her breast cancer healed by a psychic healer in Western Australia. All she had to do was hold her palm on a wad of kitchen paper towel for a short time, then place this in an envelope with a cheque for $400 (Aus.$), post it to him and he healed her. She did this every month. We lost touch after she got expelled from the hospice we had helped her move in to and went to live in rural NSW, so we don't know if the man in NSW continued to "heal" her.

Why did the hospice expell her? She said one of the night staff was a psychic vampire and was killing her slowly every night. Eventually she attacked the vampire in self-defence.

A sad story. But think of all the wash of silly ideas which swill around this world, even in the 21st century - we are not so far removed from Sam and his trusty rabbit's foot.

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