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The History of an event so appalling and so dreadful as the Great Plague in London in the year 1665, must always be read with the deepest interest and attention, more especially at a time when the nation is alarmed lest a calamity of a like nature should fall upon it. There is, indeed, no subject in the whole range of historical records which possesses in a greater degree the

power to harrow


the feelings, or which affords a greater scope for affecting and striking description, and for deep reflection, than the history of a large and populous city given up to the devastation of a disease that defies all the skill of medicine, and almost sets at nought all that caution and prudence could suggest with a view to check its progress or to mitigate its severity. Independently of the power which the simple relation of facts of such a nature must possess over every heart, it has another and a stronger claim upon our feelings, for it carries us into the bosoms of families, and shows us how the dearest and most cherished objects of affection

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and love were torn from their friends, and how all those thousand little kindnesses of domestic life which constitute so large a portion of human happiness, were forgotten in the midst of horrors so appalling; calamities so mighty and oppressive; and how every nobler feeling of the heart, how every hope, every joy, lay prostrate before the strides of the disease, until all exertion was paralyzed under the pressure of the dreadful evil, and the soul itself lost in deep and overwhelming anguish and despair.

Miseries like these must find a responsive chord in every breast, for every one will think of those most dear to himself; and imagine his woe if they were laid down in death and taken from him ; not one, but all; not by slow degrees, but by the rapid and irresistible advances of a loathsome and painful disease; not after preparation, but carried off and laid amongst the dead almost before they had notice that the malady was come.

To trace the rise of such an evil, and to observe its progress, must possess an interest of no ordinary kind. The incredulity which marks its first approach, then the panic which follows certainty, then the fluctuations of hope and fear; the agitation of departure from the scene of death, the painful separations, and the struggling resolution to stay: the flight, and the bustle and hurry which attends it; and then the cold and fixed determination of those left behind to remain and abide the approaching

enemy; then the horror of death; the sight of thousands swept away before the giant strokes of the distemper, and of many struck with the malady and driven to madness by its tortures, seeking relief in motion, and running, in the wildness of despair, through the streets, and finally casting themselves, yet alive, in the grave where thousands of their fellow-creatures, victims of the same tortures, lie in festering heaps. And then the anguish of the broken-hearted, the paroxysms of the despairing, the wailings of the bereft and helpless, all at last sinking into sullenness and indifference. Then the death of affection and love, the traversing of the dead-cart; the solemn, the awful stillness of the town; a peopled city made a wilderness; its site one huge grave for its former inhabitants. All these and more are pourtrayed in the fearful accuracy of truth in the following history; and these visitations and these horrors are rendered still more appalling and affecting by the simple language in which they are clothed, and the plain and intelligible manner in which the painful narrative is told.

But the history itself must not be taken as altogether authentic. There are good grounds to believe that Defoe has embellished his melancholy narrative with imaginary facts, and heightened the picture of wretchedness and misery which the Great Plague of 1665 must of necessity have occasioned, by the addition of circumstances which

have no ground in truth. However, the whole together forms a tale of woe that has no parallel, and must in all ages fix the attention, and excite the interest, of every reader of it.

Such being the nature of the history now submitted to the public attention, a word or two ought to be said as to the moment which has been selected for its republication. The work itself is out of print. The republication, therefore, was not undertaken with any special reference to the malady that seems at present to threaten the world, or with a view to excite any additional alarm, or to draw the slightest parallel between the Plague of 1665 and the Cholera of 1831. It is true that the same incredulity which marked the commencement of the Great Plague in London, has, in like manner, marked the commencement of the Cholera, but there the coincidence ends : and it may be most confidently advanced, that, under no circumstances can this latter evil produce such melancholy, such appalling and dreadful results as the former. It has not the same rapidity of attack. The patient always has a warning sufficient to put him on his guard; and the means of cure are certain of operation, are plentiful, and may be easily obtained and applied. Moreover, even under its most malignant form, if taken in time it will for the most part yield to medical treatment.

But it is obvious, that in the event of the actual

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