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seventy deaths, and as many new cases per day. We began to fear we were fast approaching that terrible period in the history of this fatal disease, in which it baffles all the efforts of men to restrain it; in which it completely overpowers the struggling population; and when, at last, the number of the healthy becomes too small to take care of the sick and bury the dead. Once arrived to that height, as it happens in the Turkish provinces, the disease riots over the devoted country, until it has thinned the population by one-half or two-thirds, when at the change of the season it begins to decrease of itself, and ceases as it were out of lassitude. To this Malta would have been reduced, had proper measures been neglected much longer. An Ottoman officer of rank, who happened to be at Malta at the time, gave, it was said, a truly Turkish advice to some of the authorities : “ The plague is spread in too many places for you to hope to stop it. Shut up your troops and your civil officers in the forts, keep your shipping in the harbour in quarantine, and then let the communication among the Maltese be free, or leave them to themselves; the plague will destroy thirty or forty thousand of these dogs, and then it will cease of itself. You will have little trouble or expense; you will find a population, troublesome from its density, at once reduced to a convenient number. Then you will purify the place, and take the proper measures against the recurrence of the disease!!" This advice, however, could not suit a civilized government; it was thought that thirty or forty thousand Maltese were worth saving, even at the expense of half a million of money or thereabouts.
It was about the beginning of August, that peremptory measures were taken, which proved effectual
. Sir Thomas Maitland appointed, to be Inspector General of Police, Colonel Rivarola, an active and intelligent officer in the British service, well acquainted with the country, to whom he gave full powers to act. The towns of Valletta and Floriana, which were the seat of the infection, were closed ; and no communication allowed with the rest of the island. Valletta was divided into districts, having barriers and guards betwixt them, and no person allowed to pass from one district to the other, except those on duty. After this, guards were placed in every street, and the inhabitants confined to their respective houses ; provisions were brought daily to their own doors in carts. The carts went at regular hours round the different streets escorted by guards, stopped before each house, when one of each family presented himself at his door, with one or two buckets half filled with water, placed on the outside of the threshold. The vender placed whatever provisions his customers required, whether meat, vegetables, eggs, or fruit, in their respective buckets, where the articles remained completely immersed for half an hour, when the buyers were allowed to take them into their houses. Poultry must be sold stripped of its
feathers, and rabbits skinned. Liquids were poured out into glass, earthen, or wooden recipients ; bread was placed in baskets, or on a board; coffee, sugar, rice, &c., in earthen dishes, taking care that no hair, or thread, or paper, be amongst it; and money was received, and change returned, always through a cup half filled with vinegar. The guards and other persons whose duty obliged them to be in the streets, were recommended to rub their bodies with oil before putting on their clothes.
The above details serve to give some imperfect idea of the infinite trouble, and minute care, which were incumbent upon the authorities at that period. Those of the inhabitants who had no means of supporting themselves during the total interruption of business, received a regular allowance from government for their support, and that of their families.
Extensive wooden barracks were constructed on the most airy and secluded spots in the neighbourhood of the different towns infected, and surrounded by wooden barriers ; each of these encampments was subdivided into three parts-one for the actual sick--the other for the strongly suspected, such as were known to have had communication with an infected person--and the last for those who were vaguely suspected of some such intercourse. The scenes that took place in these dismal abodes, especially in the first, or plague-hospitals, must remain of course unknown to every one except the few of its inmates that survived, and the physicians whose duty it was to visit them; but it is easy to imagine the horrors of the interior of a plague-hospital. I have had. a view into one of these encampments, and the poor creatures were lying down on straw, in their respective huts, or on the ground before it ; some suffering under the infliction of the actual disease, others waiting its almost certain approach ; solitary, sullen, debarred of their friends, cast among total strangers, kept at bay by the guards, and confined within the precincts, under pain of immediate death ; yet in the midst of all their misery, the common wants of nature must be supplied to the last, and men were seen cooking their victuals, eating, basking in the sun of that glowing climate, or inhaling the sea breeze, which came nothing less fresh and voluptuous into the abode of death. Some unfortunate patients became delirious, from the power of the fever, just before their decease. It is but justice to observe that under the pressure of this great calamity, the Maltese evinced in general great submission to the authorities, and a proper sense of the provident measures that were taken for the common safety. Few or none of those disorders and acts of cruelty or ribaldry which are related in all the histories of the famous plagues, took place at Malta. This was of course due in great measure to the
VOL. III. PART II.
vigilance of the authorities, but this vigilance was also supported by the good feeling and sense of the population.
The internal appearance of Valletta, and of the other towns, while under this strict quarantine, was striking. The solitude and stillness that reigned in the streets ; the barriers one met at every corner ; the grim-looking guards parading to and fro with loaded firelocks; the smell of vinegar and perfume (a complete misnomer, for it was an abominable, though useful composition of drugs, among the rest sulphur, assafoetida, fc.); the occasional appearance of the beccamorti, or burying-men, with their gloomy cart, escorted by other guards; the poor inhabitants peeping out of their casements now and then, glad to see some human being walking in the street below;-all these composed a scene which I can never forget.
A number of individuals of every description were enlisted as beccamorti and spurgatori, or purifiers. Criminals, condemned to prison and hard labour, volunteered their services; also French and Italian prisoners of war, attracted by the promise of obtaining their liberty, if they survived; runaways from the Levant, who were acquainted with the plague in their own country, all were employed, and most of them died in this dangerous service. But the most useful were found to be the spestati, or men who had had the plague and recovered. It was a common belief that these men could not take the infection again, or at least, but in slight degree, so as not to endanger their lives. This, however, seems only to apply to the same contagion ; for if at a future period, or in another country a fresh plague should break out, there is no security for them. These men were paid liberally, and plentifully supplied with provisions. Their business was to clear the infected houses, from which families had been removed to the Lazzeretto, of all the furniture, which was either burnt, or its valuable articles purified, and then returned to the survivors. Much, of course, was lost; and the purifiers themselves, although strictly watched, contrived to purloin part of it. The house once cleared, the next thing was to air it, clean and fumigate it thoroughly, and then whitewash it. After which the house is fit to be inhabited again. These spurgatori were led about the streets and the roads of the island from place to place, where their services were required, like so many wild beasts, surrounded by armed guards, and under the direction of proper officers, who had orders to shoot any of them who should attempt to run away, or disobey their orders, to the danger of the public safety. This summary proceeding was necessary to keep these people, many of whom were desperate characters, in proper order.
By means of these, and other similar measures, the disease was got under, and at last finally subdued. In the month of December it was officially announced by the governor, that the foul quarantine of all the towns round the harbour had expired ; that full forty days had terminated, since the last case of infection, or even suspicion, had taken place in either Valletta or Floriana, the towns of the Cottoner district having been free for a much longer period, and the Casali, with the exception of Casal Curmi, which was walled in, and completely surrounded by a cordon of troops, so as to exclude all communication, free from fresh cases for a considerable period. The clear quarantine was therefore proclaimed, during which the inhabitants of each district might hold the most unrea served intercourse among themselves, but without communicating with the other districts. Then, after twenty days, if no new accident happened, the various districts of each town were to com municate one with the other, and at the end of twenty days more the gates were to be opened, and communication with the country reestablished; which joyful event at last took place in January, 1814, about eight months after the breaking out of the disease. It was a pleasing sight when the day of general pratique arrived, to see the thanksgivings in the churches, the congratulations of longdivided friends, mixed now and then with a tear of regret for those who had perished. It was one of those displays of genuine affection, and of the better feelings of human nature, which occur after a general and overwhelming calamity.
It is thus that the plague can be conquered by means of strict and severe measures, and confined, according to the comparison I have heard used on the occasion, as a fold of sheep, in a narrower and still narrower compass, until at last you can be sure of having the whole of it within your power. But the greatest strictness, and the most particular attention, must be paid to the principle of division and subdivision in the different stages of quarantine through which the inhabitants must pass, before free communication be restored again. It ought to be ascertained, in order to be morally sure of the destruction of the contagion, not only that forty days have elapsed since any one of the remaining meinbers of the community has been in the possible contingency of catching the infection, but, which is much more difficult, and 'in å strict sense absolutely beyond men's power, that no infected article, that is to say no susceptible article which has ever come into contact with any person infected with the plague, is any longer in existence, without having undergone purification.
Communication was re-established throughout the whole island of Malta in January, 1814, and after two months more had nearly elapsed, confidence was completely re-established among the inhabitants. And yet in the month of March following, a case of plague occurred in the neighbouring island of Gozo, and
the infection was evidently traced back to Malta, to some clothes belonging to a man who had died of the plague, which had been concealed in a chest in a house in the country, and which chest a relative of the deceased found, and took along with him to Gozo, where he went to assist at some festival, and there put on some of the clothes. And thus, although Malta remained free, Gozo became infected; the disease spread in several casali, and lasted in that island until the month of July following, after several hundred persons had died of it.
At last, in September, 1814, Gozo was also declared free, and Casal Curmi, the village in Malta, in which the plague had been subdued last, having been thoroughly purified, the real termination was proclaimed of this dreadfuf disease, which had affected the islands of Malta and Gozo for the period of about eighteen months, and by which about nine thousand persons were supposed to have perished.
BEHIND THE SCENES ;
A BREAKFAST IN NEWGATE.
RETURNING from the country, I found myself in the Old Bailey, shortly after seven in the morning. I had some difficulty in making my way through the crowd there assembled; which I instantly perceived, from the platform erected in front of Newgate, had been brought together to witness one of those mournful exhibitions which the administration of criminal justice so frequently furnishes in this immense metropolis
. My first impulse was to retreat with all possible expedition, but the impediments opposed to my doing so compelled a pause; and it then struck me, that however reluctant to witness suffering, there was much in the scene before me on which a reflecting mind might dwell with interest, if not with advantage.
The decent gravity of some of the crowd formed a strong contrast to the jocund vivacity of the majority; and this again with the important swagger of the constables, who seemed fully to appreciate the consequence which the modicum of authority dealt out to persons of their standing in society cannot fail to impart. Then the anxiety to complete their task, which the workmen who were still employed in preparing the scaffold