PLAGUE AND MEDICINE
THIS chapter dealing with the medical literature of the Plague covers both the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, in which there was little change medicinally.
The sixteenth century was full of plague and pestilence. In Elizabeth's reign there was plague in 1563, in 1569, in 1574, in 1581, in 1592, and in 1603. Preventive ordinances were drawn up and issued. It is, however, evident that the people could not be possibly made to understand the necessity of caution and quarantine. The invisible enemy, to an ignorant folk, does not exist. The people of London bribed the officers, surveyors, constables, and scavengers to take down the I "Bills" affixed to infected houses; they refused to carry the white rods enjoined by law upon the convalescent; they went about among their fellows while they were still dangerous; and they would not keep the streets clean. The period of seclusion was fixed at four weeks; women were appointed to carry necessaries to infected houses; every morning at six, and every evening at eight the streets were to be sluiced with buckets of water; there were to be no funeral assemblies; beggars and masterless men were to be turned out of the City. These precautions were excellent; the sanitary laws were in the right direction; but all was rendered ineffectual for want of an executive; the Plague might have been stamped out had these rules been enforced; but they were not, and so the disease continued until the Great Fire of 1666 purified the soil. New investigations rendered necessary by the outbreak of Plague in India and elsewhere will perhaps lead to an abandonment of the old theory that the Plague was caused simply by the unclean condition of the ground, saturated with the abominations of a thousand years and more. Until science, however, has spoken more definitely, I suppose that we shall continue to associate a visitation of this terrible scourge with unsanitary conditions. It is at least a useful and a wholesome belief.
I have before me certain infallible remedies prescribed in the attack of 1625. Among them are blisters, clysters, cauteries, poultices, cuppings, strong purges