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[Perspectives] Making us as cruel as dogs: plague in 16th and 17th century England

On Aug 31, 1665, Samuel Pepys noted dolefully in his diary: “Thus this month ends, with great sadness upon the public through the greatness of the plague, everywhere through the Kingdom almost. Every day sadder news of its increase. In the City died this week 7496; and of them 6102 of the plague. But it is feared that the true number of the dead this week is near 10 000—partly from the poor that cannot be taken notice of through the greatness of the number, and partly from the Quakers and other that will not have any bell ring for them.” Some 40 years earlier, the Puritan William Gouge had characterised the disease as one of God’s three arrows: “Plague, Famine, Sword”.

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