Chronicles of the Virus Day 11

Every morning, I sit at my computer and check Facebook, the internet, and blogs I follow. Among them is Anthea's Virtual Jotter, written by a woman who lives in Manchester, England, and is a friend of another English blogger I follow from Pontevedra, Thoughts from Galicia. Anthea mentioned Samuel Pepys diary and a quote, though the quote came from an account recently set up on Twitter to follow this pandemia in the style of Pepys. ( for those who want to check it out.)

But it made me remember Pepys' famous Diary, of which I have excerpts in an English literature book. The actual diary can be found online, too, at This habit of keeping blogs and online diaries is not new at all. Samuel Pepys kept a personal diary he wrote in shorthand, where he described his daily life as the Chief Secretary of the Admiralty for Charles II, and all his personal relationships (he was quite the womanizer). He also spoke about the two most important catastrophes of his time, the plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of London of 1666.

He made many mentions of the state of London during the plague, such as the one on 31 August, 1665:

  Thus this month ends with great sadness upon the publick, through the greatness of the plague every where through the kingdom almost. Every day sadder and sadder news of its encrease. In the City died this week 7,496 and of them 6,102 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 others that will not have any bell ring for them.

A total of around 20% of the population of London died that year. He also spoke of how few people were out and about in the city on 28 August:
Up, and being ready I out to Mr. Colvill, the goldsmith’s, having not for some days been in the streets; but now how few people I see, and those looking like people that had taken leave of the world. I there, and made even all accounts in the world between him and I, in a very good condition, and I would have done the like with Sir Robert Viner, but he is out of towne, the sicknesse being every where thereabouts. I to the Exchange, and I think there was not fifty people upon it, and but few more like to be as they told me, Sir G. Smith and others. Thus I think to take adieu to-day of the London streets, unless it be to go again to Viner’s.

We are unlucky in that we are visited once more by pandemia, but luckier in that we know what causes it and how to combat it. The biggest problem we have is lack of proper hospital care for all the cases that appear. So, stay home and realize how lucky you are as you read what daily life was like four hundred years ago during a different pandemia.

There are many people out there writing about it. Others I regularly follow are The Expat Writer, loving life in europe, Shared Scribblings, and a blog by an American painter who is stuck in the Patagonia, Watch Me Paint. All these different people, in different places, provide different points of view on the old human scourge of sickness. And different ways of handling a quarantine that is designed to keep us safe, if not too sane. 

There is also news of a comet, C/2019 Y4, that is quickly brightening in the Ursa Major constellation. It might even be visible to the naked eye later in the spring. I wonder just what people would have made of that in Pepys' time. The end of the world, no doubt. It does make for superstitious thinking, though.

Remember those drones that made such nifty Christmas presents and then you didn't know what to do with them? Well, now they come in pretty handy. Besides using them to take toilet paper to neighbors, now they're also useful as dog walkers. Others have lowered their (small) dogs down by their harness to the street from their (lower floor) balcony. Some towns are cracking down on dog walkers. In many places now, you can't go further than a hundred meters from your front door. In others, people are taking advantage to go out three, four, or five times a day to walk the dog. Renting out the dog has been caught on to by the police, and now they're on the lookout for those transactions. 

Today, I'm just satisfying my historical curiosity by reading Pepys diary. But I suppose I still should wash the dishes and do other things. I have plenty of time to do so.

Life continues.



  1. Pepys becomes even more distressed the following year. He frets about a round of Parmesan cheese he buried in his garden. He also wrote of a noxious event when found that his neighbour's latrine overflowed into his cellar. IIFC, he stepped in it.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Chronicles of the Virus I

Be Informed, Be Aware

Chronicles of the Virus Day 7