II. THE FIRE OF LONDON
IF, as some hold the cause of the long-continued Plague, which lasted, with intervals of rest, from the middle of the sixteenth century to 1665, was nothing but the accumulated filth of London, so that the ground on which it stood was saturated many feet in depth with poisonous filtrations, the Fire of 1666 must be regarded in the light of a surgical operation absolutely essential if life was to be preserved, and as an operation highly successful in its results. For it burned, more or less, every house and every building over an area of 436 acres out of those which made up London within the walls.
It began in the dead of night--Sunday morning, 3 A.M., September 2, 1666-- at the shop of one Farryner, a baker, in Pudding Lane, one of those narrow lanes which run to north and south of Thames Street. All the houses in that lane were of wood, pitched throughout, and as the stories jutted out, the houses almost met at the top. The house itself was full of brush and faggot 'wood, so that the Fire quickly grew to a head, and then began to spread out in all directions at once, but especially to the west and north. Close to the house was an inn called the "Star," the courtyard of which was full of hay and straw. In a very short time Pudding Lane itself was completely destroyed; it would seem as if the people were distracted and attempted little or nothing except their own escape. When day broke the fire had caught Thames Street, which was full of warehouses containing everything combustible, as butter, cheese, brandy, wine, oil, sugar, hemp, flax, tar, pitch, rosin, brimstone, cordage, hops, wood, and coal. The only means of combating a fire fed by such materials was to blow up the houses, and this the people vehemently opposed at first. As for the supply of water, there was none at all adequate to the situation, and the water machines of London Bridge, were quickly destroyed with the houses on the Bridge. In order to escape and to carry away their property, every available vehicle, cart, waggon, carriage, or boat, was in requisition. Forty pounds was offered and given by many householders for the safe removal of their property, while in some cases--those of the wealthy--£400 was paid simply to get the plate and jewels and