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A Discourse on the Plague   By: (1673-1754)

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Fellow of the College of Physicians, and of the Royal Society; and Physician to his MAJESTY.

The NINTH EDITION corrected and enlarged.

LONDON , Printed for A. MILLAR, against Catharine Street , in the Strand :

And J. BRINDLEY in New Bond Street .



ONE OF His MAJESTY'S Principal Secretaries of State.


I MOST humbly offer to You my Thoughts concerning the Prevention of the Plague , which I have put together by your Command. As soon as you were pleased to signify to me, in his Majesty's Absence, that their Excellencies the Lords Justices thought it necessary for the publick Safety, upon the Account of the Sickness now in France , that proper Directions should be drawn up to defend our selves from such a Calamity; I most readily undertook the Task, though upon short Warning, and with little Leisure: I have therefore rather put down the principal Heads of Caution , than a Set of Directions in Form .

THE first , which relate to the performing Quarantaines , &c. You, who are perfectly versed in the History of Europe , will see are agreeable to what is practised in other Countries, with some new Regulations. The next , concerning the suppressing Infection here , are very different from the Methods taken in former Times among Us , and from what they commonly do Abroad : But, I persuade my self, will be found agreeable to Reason.

I MOST heartily wish, that the wise Measures, the Government has already taken, and will continue to take, with Regard to the former of these , may make the Rules about the latter unnecessary. However, it is fit, we should be always provided with proper Means of Defence against so terrible an Enemy .

MAY this short Essay be received as one Instance, among many others, of the Care, you always shew for Your Country; and as a Testimony of the great Esteem and Respect, with which I have the Honour to be,


Your most obedient, and Most humble Servant,


Nov. 25. 1720.


The Preface, Page i


Of the PLAGUE in General .

CHAP I. Of the Origine and Nature of the PLAGUE, 1

CHAP II. Of the Causes which spread the PLAGUE, 41


Of the Methods to be taken against the PLAGUE.

CHAP I. Of preventing Infection from other Countries, 80

CHAP II. Of stopping the Progress of the PLAGUE, if it should enter our Country, 100

CHAP III. Of the Cure of the PLAGUE, 151


THIS Book having at first been written only as a Plan of Directions for preserving our Country from the =Plague=[1] was then very short and concise. An Act of Parliament being immediately after made for performing =Quarantaines= &c. according to the Rules here laid down, it passed through seven Editions in one year without any Alterations. I then thought proper to make some =Additions= to it, in order to shew the Reasonableness of the Methods prescribed, by giving a more full Description of this Disease, and collecting some Examples of the good Success which had attended such Measures, when they had been put in Practice. At the same time I annex'd a short Chapter relating to the Cure of the Plague; being induced thereto by considering how widely most Authors have erred in prescribing a Heap of useless and very often hurtful Medicines, which they recommend under the specious Titles of =Antidotes=, =Specifics= and =Alexipharmacs=: hoping that the great Resemblance, which I had observed between this Disease and the =Small Pox=, would justify my writing upon a Distemper which I have never seen.

INDEED the =Small Pox= is a true =Plague=, tho' of a particular kind, bred, as I have shewn all Pestilences are, in the same hot =Egyptian= Climate, and brought into =Asia= and =Europe= by the way of Commerce; but most remarkably by the War with the =Saracens=, called the =Holy War=, at the latter end of the eleventh and the beginning of the twelfth Century[2]... Continue reading book >>

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