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as we have observed above, under Anne and George I. It has not been deemed necessary by the crown, which has the exclusive initiative in such matters, to propound any ecclesiastical canons for the convocation's assent since the restoration of Charles II.
The following extract will do full justice to Dr Lingard's manner. It is longer than usual, but of an interesting nature, as it relates to events among the most remarkable that occurred in that period, the obstinate battle between the English and Dutch fleets in the summer of 1665, and the great plague of London, which was nearly contemporaneous with it. The latter has never been noticed by any historian in more than a very few lines. Dr Lingard has made good use of his materials, and may fairly challenge comparison with the well-known account of the plague at Athens by Thucydides.
At length an easterly wind drove the English to their shores, and the Dutch fleet immediately put to sea. It sailed in seven divisions, comprising one hundred and thirteen ships of war, under the command-in-chief of Opdam, an officer, who, in the late war, had deserved the confidence of his countrymen. It exhibited a gallant and animating spectacle; the bravest and noblest youths of Holland repaired on board to share the dangers of the expedition; and, as the admiral had received a positive order to fight, every heart beat high with the hope or assurance of victory. Opdam himself was an exception. His experienced eye discovered, in the insufficiency of many among his captains, and the constitution of their crews, reason to doubt the result of a battle; and to his confidants he observed, "I know what prudence would suggest; but I must obey my orders, and, by this time tomorrow, you will see me crowned with laurel or with cypress."
Early in the morning of the 3d of June, the hostile fleets descried each other near Lowestoffe. Seven hours were spent in attempts on each side to gain and keep the advantage of the wind; at length the English, by a skilful manoeuvre, tacked in the same direction with the enemy, and accompanied them in a parallel line, till the signal was made for each ship to bear down and engage its opponent. The sea was calm; not a cloud could be seen in the sky; and a gentle breeze blew from the south-west. The two nations fought with their characteristic obstinacy, and, during four hours, the issue hung in suspense. On one occasion, the duke was in the most imminent peril. All the ships of the red squadron, with the exception of two, had dropped out of the line to refit; and the weight of the enemy was directed against his flag-ship, the Royal Charles. The Earl of Falmouth, the Lord Muskerry, and Boyle, son to the Earl of Burlington, who stood by his side, were slain by the same shot; and James himself was covered with the blood of his slaughtered friends. Gradually, however, the disabled ships resumed their stations; the English obtained the superiority; and the fire of the enemy was observed to slacken. A short
pause allowed the smoke to clear away; and the confusion which the duke observed on board his opponent, the Eendracht, bearing Opdam's flag, induced him to order all his guns to be discharged into her in succession, and with deliberate aim. At the third shot from the lower tier she blew up; and the admiral, with five hundred men, perished in the explosion. Alarmed at the loss of their commander, the Dutch fled; James led the chase; the four sternmost sail of the enemy ran foul of each other, and were consumed by a fire-ship; and three others shortly afterwards experienced the same fate. Van Tromp endeavoured to keep the fugitives together; the darkness of the night retarded the pursuit of the conquerors; and in the morning the Dutch fleet was moored in safety within the shallows. In this action, the most glorious hitherto fought by the navy of England, the enemy lost four admirals, seven thousand men slain, or made prisoners, and eighteen sail either burnt or taken. The loss of the victors was small in proportion. One ship of fifty guns had been taken in the beginning of the action; and the killed and wounded amounted to six hundred men. But among the slain, besides the noblemen already mentioned, were the Earls of Marlborough and Portland, and two distinguished naval commanders, the Admirals Lawson and Sampson.
At another time the report of such a victory would have been received with the most enthusiastic demonstrations of joy; but it came at a time when the spirits of men were depressed by one of the most calamitous visitations ever experienced by this or any other nation. In the depth of the last winter, two or three isolated cases of plague had occurred in the outskirts of the metropolis. The fact excited alarm, and directed the attention of the public to the weekly variations in the bills of mortality. On the one hand, the cool temperature of the air, and the frequent changes in the weather, were hailed as favourable circumstances; on the other, it could not be concealed that the number of deaths, from whatever cause it arose, was progressively on the advance. In this state of suspense, alternately agitated by their hopes and fears, men looked to the result with the most intense anxiety; and at length, about the end of May, under the influence of a warmer sun, and with the aid of a close and stagnant atmosphere, the evil burst forth in all its terrors. From the centre of St Giles's, the infection spread with rapidity over the adjacent parishes, threatened the court at Whitehall, and, in defiance of every precaution, stole its way into the city. A general panic ensued; the nobility and gentry were the first to flee; the royal family followed; and then all, who valued their personal safety more than the considerations of home and interest, prepared to imitate the example. For some weeks the tide of emigration flowed from every outlet towards the country; it was checked at first by the refusal of the lord mayor to grant certificates of health, and by the opposition of the neighbouring townships, which rose in their own defence, and formed a barrier round the devoted city.
The absence of the fugitives, and the consequent cessation of trade and breaking up of establishments, served to aggravate the calamity.
It was calculated that forty thousand servants had been left without a home, and the number of artisans and labourers thrown out of employment was still more considerable. It is true, that the charity of the opulent seemed to keep pace with the progress of distress. The king subscribed the weekly sum of L.1000; the city of L.600; the queendowager, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Earl of Craven, and the lord mayor, distinguished themselves by the amount of their benefactions; and the magistrates were careful to ensure a constant supply of provisions in the markets; yet the families that depended on casual relief for the means of subsistence were necessarily subjected to privations, which rendered them more liable to receive, and less able to subdue, the contagion. The mortality was at first confined chiefly to the lower classes, carrying off, in a larger proportion, the children than the adults, the females than the men. But, by the end of June, so rapid was the diffusion, so destructive were the ravages of the disease, that the civil authorities deemed it time to exercise the powers with which they had been invested by an act of James I., "for the charitable relief and ordering of persons infected with the plague." 1. They divided the parishes into districts, and allotted to each district a competent number of officers, under the denomination of examiners, searchers, nurses, and watchmen; 2. They ordered that the existence of the disease, wherever it might penetrate, should be made known to the public by a red cross, one foot in length, painted on the door, with the words," Lord, have mercy on us!" placed above it. From that moment the house was closed; all egress for the space of one month was inexorably refused; and the wretched inmates were doomed to remain under the same roof, communicating death one to another. Of these many sunk under the horrors of their situation; many were rendered desperate. They eluded the vigilance, or corrupted the fidelity of the watchmen; and by their escape, instead of avoiding, served only to disseminate the contagion; 3. Provision was also made for the speedy interment of the dead. In the daytime, officers were always on the watch to withdraw from public view the bodies of those who expired in the streets; during the night the tinkling of a bell, accompanied with the glare of links, announced the approach of the pest-cart, making its round to receive the victims of the last twenty-four hours. No coffins were prepared; no funeral service was read; no mourners were permitted to follow the remains of their relations or friends. The cart proceeded to the nearest cemetery, and shot its burden into the common grave, a deep and spacious pit, capable of holding some scores of bodies, and dug in the churchyard, or, when the churchyard was full, in the outskirts of the parish. Of the hardened and brutal conduct of the men to whom this duty was committed, men taken from the refuse of society, and lost to all sense of morality or decency, instances were related, to which it would be difficult to find a parallel in the annals of human depravity.
The disease generally manifested itself by the usual febrile symptoms of shivering, nausea, headach, and delirium. In some these
affections were so mild, as to be mistaken for a slight and transient indisposition. The victim saw not, or would not see, the insidious approach of his foe; he applied to bis usual avocations, till a sudden faintness came on, the maculæ, the fatal "tokens" appeared on his breast, and within an hour life was extinct. But, in most cases, the pain and the delirium left no room for doubt. On the third or fourth day, buboes or carbuncles arose; if these could be made to suppurate, recovery might be anticipated; if they resisted the efforts of nature, and the skill of the physician, death was inevitable. The sufferings of the patient often threw them into paroxysms of frensy. They burst the bands by which they were confined to their beds; they precipitated themselves from the windows; they ran naked into the streets, and plunged into the river.
Men of the strongest minds were lost in amazement, when they contemplated this scene of woe and desolation; the weak and the credulous became the dupes of their own fears and imaginations. Tales the most improbable, and predictions the most terrific, were circulated; numbers assembled at different cemeteries to behold the ghosts of the dead walk round the pits in which their bodies had been deposited; and crowds believed that they saw in the heavens a sword of flame, stretching from Westminster to the Tower. To add to their terrors, came the fanatics, who felt themselves inspired to act the part of prophets. One of these, in a state of nudity, walked through the city, bearing on his head a pan of burning coals, and denouncing the judgments of God on its sinful inhabitants; another, assuming the character of Jonah, proclaimed aloud, as he passed, "Yet forty days, and London shall be destroyed;" and a third might be met, sometimes by day, sometimes by night, advancing with a hurried step, and exclaiming, with a deep sepulchral voice, "Oh the great and dreadful God!"
During the months of July and August, the weather was sultry, the heat more and more oppressive. The eastern parishes, which at first had been spared, became the chief seat of the pestilence, and the more substantial citizens, whom it had hitherto respected, suffered in common with their less opulent neighbours. In many places, the regulations of the magistrates could no longer be enforced. The nights did not suffice for the burial of the dead, who were now borne in coffins to their graves at all hours of the day; and it was inhuman to shut up the dwellings of the infected poor, whose families must have perished through want, had they not been permitted to go and seek relief. London presented a wide and heart-rending scene of misery and desolation. Rows of houses stood tenantless, and open to the winds; others, in almost equal numbers, exhibited the red cross flaming on the doors. The chief thoroughfares, so lately trodden by the feet of thousands, were overgrown with grass. The few individuals who ventured abroad, walked in the middle; and, when they met, declined on opposite sides, to avoid the contact of each other. But, if the solitude and stillness of the streets impressed the mind with awe, there was something yet more appalling in the sounds
which occasionally burst on the ear. At one moment were heard the ravings of delirium, or the wail of woe, from the infected dwelling; at another, the merry song, or the loud and careless laugh, issuing from the wassailers at the tavern, or the inmates of the brothel. Men became so familiarized with the form, that they steeled their feelings against the terrors of death. They waited each for his turn with the resignation of the Christian, or the indifference of the stoic. Some devoted themselves to exercises of piety; others sought relief in the riot of dissipation, and the recklessness of despair.
'September came; the heat of the atmosphere began to abate; but, contrary to expectation, the mortality increased. Formerly, a hope of recovery might be indulged; now infection was the certain harbinger of death, which followed, generally, in the course of three days, often within the space of twenty-four hours. The privy council ordered an experiment to be tried, which was grounded on the practice of former times. To dissipate the pestilential miasm, fires of seacoal, in the proportion of one fire to every twelve houses, were kindled in every street, court, and alley of London and Westminster. They were kept burning three days and nights, and were at last extinguished by a heavy and continuous fall of rain. The next bill exhibited a considerable reduction in the amount of deaths; and the survivors congratulated each other on the cheering prospect. But the cup was soon dashed from their lips; and in the following week, more than ten thousand victims, a number hitherto unknown, sunk under the augmented violence of the disease. Yet even now, when hope had yielded to despair, their deliverance was at hand. The high winds which usually accompany the autumnal equinox, cooled and purified the air; the fever, though equally contagious, assumed a less malignant form, and its ravages were necessarily more confined, from the diminution of the population on which it had hitherto fed. The weekly burials successively decreased from thousands to hundreds ; and in the beginning of December, seventy-three parishes were pronounced clear of the disease. The intelligence was hailed with joy by the emigrants, who returned in crowds to take possession of their homes, and resume their usual occupations: in February, the court was once more fixed at Whitehall, and the nobility and gentry followed the footsteps of the sovereign. Though more than one hundred thousand individuals are said to have perished, yet in a short time, the chasm in the population was no longer discernible. The plague continued indeed to linger in particular spots, but its terrors were forgotten or despised; and the streets, so recently abandoned by the inhabitants, were again thronged with multitudes in the eager pursuit of profit, or pleasure, or crime.'-Vol. xii. p. 123.
We observe a singular oversight in our diligent and learned historian, vol. xii. p. 213: On the third reading of Lord Rous's Divorce bill, in 1670, a measure in which the king took great interest; for reasons which were suspected to be personal, he surprised the House by taking his seat on the throne, and directing the lords to proceed as if he were not present. This fact is