Today, some advice on surviving the plague, published in 1603 by a London doctor: Abstain from sex, drink wine for breakfast, and put a clove in your mouth when leaving the house.
Perceiving many in this Citie to weare about their necks, upon the region of the heart, certaine Amulets (as Preservatives against the Pestilence) confected of Arsenicke, a strong poyson, I have thought it needfull to declare briefly my opinion touching the said Amulets: My opinion is that these Placents of Arsenicke carried about upon the Region of the heart, are so farre from effecting any good in that kinde, as a preservative, that they are very dangerous and hurtfull, if not pernicious to those that weare them.
All dead corpses be layd a convenient depth in the ground, and not one coffin heaped upon another. It were necessarie the place of Buriall should be on the South side of the Citie, that the Sunne may draw the vapours from it.
Let care be had that the streets, especially the narrow lanes and allies, be kept from annoyance of dung-hilles, vaults or houses of office, the common sewers and chanels be well purged and scowred, the dung-farmers tyed to their stint of time in Winter, and not suffered (unlesse urgent necessitie require) to perfume the streets all Summer long, especially in this time of contagion. Let not the carkasses of horses, dogs, cats, &c. lye rotting and poysoning the ayre (as they have done) in More and Finsburie fields, and elsewhere round about the Citie.
Let the Pipes layd from the new River be often opened, to clense the channels of every streete in the Citie. Let the Ditches towards the suburbs, especially towards Islington and Pick-hatch, Old-streete, and towards Shoreditch and White-chappell, be well cleansed, and if it might be, the water of the new River to runne through them, as also the like to be done through the Burrough of South-worke.
Let the ayre be purged and corrected, especially in evenings which are somewhat cold, and in places low and neare the River (as Thames street and the Allyes there about) by making fires of Oaken or Ash wood, with some few bundles of Juniper cast into them.
Let men in their private houses amend the aire by laying in their windowes sweet herbes, as Marjoram, Time, Rosemarie, Balme, Fennell, Peniroyall, Mints, &c. Likewise by burning Juniper, Rosemarie, Time, Bay-leaves, Cloves, Cinamon, or using other compound perfumes. The poorer sort may burne Worme-wood, Rue, Time. Let them cast often on the floores of their houses water mingled with Vineger.
Concourse of people to Stage-playes, Wakes or Feasts, and May-pole dauncings, are to be prohibited by publique Authoritie, whereby the bodies of men and women by surfetting, drunkennes, and other riots, the contagion dangerously scattered both in Citie and Countrie.
Let the Bells in Cities and Townes be rung often, and the great Ordnance discharged, thereby the aire is purified.
Touching our regiment and diet, those meats are to be used which are of easie digestion and apt to breed good juice. Such as are of hard concoction are to be avoyded: specially those that easily corrupt and putrifie in the stomacke, as the most part of summer fruit, raw cherries, plums, apples, &c.
The blankets, matresses, flockbeds, and all bed-clothes of the infected, are to be burned, also leather garments, because they hold the infection very long. Alexander Benedictus reports that in Venice, a flockbed used in a contagious time, was after 7 yeares found in an inward roome, the Mistris of the house commanded the servants to ayre and beat it, whereupon the servants were instantly infected with the pestilence and died.
It is not good to be abroad in the ayre early in the morning before the Sunne has purified the ayre, or late in the night after Sunne-setting. In rainie, darke, and cloudie weather, keepe to your house as much as you can.
Let your exercise be moderate. The time of exercise is an houre before dinner or supper, not in the heat of the day, or when the stomacke is full. Use seldome familiaritie with Venus, for shee enfeebleth the body, and maketh it more obnoxious to externall injuries.
You may feede three times in the day, but more sparingly than at other times. Shunne varietie of dishes at one meale: The most simple feeding is the most wholsome feeding.
Goe not forth of your house into the ayre, neither willingly speake with any, till you have broken your Fast. For breakfast you may use a good draught of wormwood beere or ale, and a few morsels of bread and butter with the leaves of sage, or else a toste with sweet salade oyle, two or three drops of rose vinegar, and a little sugar. They that have cold stomackes may drinke a draught of wormewood wine or malmsey, in stead of small beere. But take heed of extreame hot waters, as Aqua vitae.
If you be not accustomed to a breakfast, take the quantitie of a Nutmeg or thereabouts of some cordiall before you set foot out of doores.
As you walke in the streets or talke with any; hold in your mouth a Clove, or a peece of Angelica.
Once in foure of five dayes take three or foure cordiall and stomachicall pilles by direction of your Physitian, to fortifie the heart and stomacke against all corruption, and to cleanse your body from such humours as may dispose you to the sicknesse.
If any man be bound by Religion, office, or any such respect, to visite the sicke parties, let him first provide that the chamber bee well perfumed, the windowes layd with the herbes afore-named, the floore cleane swept and sprinkled with rose-water and vineger: that there be a fire of sweet wood burning in the chimney, the windowes being shut for an houre, then open the casements towardes the North. Then let him wash his face and hands with rose-water and rose-vineger, and enter into the chamber with a waxe candle in the one hand, and a sponge with rose-vineger and wormewood, or some other Pomander, to smell unto. Let him hold in his mouth a peece of Cinamon, or Citron, or a Clove. Let him desire his sicke friend to speake with his face turned from him.
When he goeth forth, let him wash his hands and face with rose vineger and water as before, especially if he have taken his friend by the hand as the manner is: and going presently to his owne house, let him change his garments, and lay those wherein he visited his friend, apart for a good time before he resume them againe.
Let him not forget upon his returne home or before, to take a convenient quantitie of his cordiall, and forbeare meat an houre or two after it.
Published list of plague deaths by London parish, 1603
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