« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
months, there died above two-hundred and fifty thousand people; and it was particularly observed, that, in eight days, that is, from the tenth to the eighteenth of August, there died two-thou. sand seven hundred and three priests; and this plague did continue so fiercely, that, in the end of it, every one wondered when he met any body of his acquaintance,
This extraordinary misery was followed, the year after, on the fifteenth of May, by a strange ruin and conflagration; the occasion was, that the emperor of the Tartarians, being discontented that the Russians did not pay him some annual tribute; and hear. ing besides, that the great duke, by his tyranny and massacres, had so de populated the country, that he should find no great resistance that way, did summon him to pay the said tribute; but the great duke returned nothing in answer, but spightful and reproachful words; wherefore, the Tartarian came out of his country, about the of February, followed with an army of one-hundred thousand horse, who, within the space of two months and a half, did ride about fivea · huodred German leagues, which make two-thousand English miles : When they were come about two days journey from the frontiers of the Duke, he resolved to meet thein, and to give them battle; but he lost it with a prodigious slaughter of his men. Thc Duke, knowing that the Tartarian would seek him out, ran away, as fast, and as far as he could : lle was only within nine leagues of Moscow, when the Tartarians came and encompassed the town, thinking he was within ; they set a-fire all the villages 'round about it; and, seeing that the war would prove too tedious for them, resolved to burn that great city, or, at least, the suburbs of it; For this pur. poše, having placed their troops round about it, they set fire on all sides, so that it seemed a burning globe; then did arise so fierce and violent a wind, that it drove the rafters and long trees from the suburbs into the city ; the conflagration was so sudden, that no body had time to save himself, but in that place where he was then: The persons, that were burnt in this fire, were above two-hundred thousand ; which did happen, because the houses are all of wood, and the streets paved with great fir-trees, set close together; which, being oily and rosinous, made the incendy unexpressible, so that, in four hours time, the city and suburbs were wholly consumed. I and a young man of Rochelle, that was my interpreter, were in the middle of the tire, in a magazine vaulted with stone, and extraordinarily strong, whose wall was three feet and a half thick, and had no air but on two sides ; one wherein was the coming in and going out, which was a long alley, in which there were three iron gates, distant about six feet from each other; on the other side there was a window, or grate, fenced with three iron shutters, distant half a foot ope from another: We shut then inwardly, as well as possibly we could'; nevertheless, there came in so much smoke, that it was more than sufficient to choak us, had it not been for some beer that was there, with the which we refreshed ourselves now and then. Many lords and gentlemen were stifled in the caves, where they had retired, because, their
houses being made of great trees, when they fell, they crushed down all that was underneath; others, being consumed to ashes, stopped all the passages of going and coming out, so that, for want of air, they all perished. The poor country people, that had saved themselves, in the city, with their cattle, from threescore miles round about, seeing the conflagration, ran all into the market-place, which is not paved of wood, as the rest; never. theless, they were all roasted there, in such sort, that the tallest man seemed but a child, so much had the fire contracted their limbs; and this, by reason of the great houses that were round about; a thing more hideous and frightful than any can imagine. In many places of the said market, the bodies were piled, one upon another, to the height of half a pike; which put me into a wonderful admiration, being not able to apprehend, nor under, stand, how it was possible they should be so heaped together,
This wonderful conflagration caused all the fortifications of the Town-wall to fall, and all the ordnance, that were upon it, to burst. The walls were made of brick, according to the ancient way of building, without either fortifications, or ditches : Nany, that had saved ihemselves among them, were, nevertheless, roasted, so fierce and vehement was the fire; among them, many Italians and Walloons of my acquaintance. While the fire lasted, we thought that a million of cannons had been thundering together, and our thoughts were upon nothing but death, thinking that the fire would last some days, because of the great circumference of the castle and suburbs; but all this was done in less than four hours time, at the end of which, the noise growing less, we were curious to know, whether the Tartarians, of whom we stood in no less fear than of the fire, were entered. They are a warlike peo. ple, though they eat nothing but roots, and such other like substance, and drink only water. The greatest lords among them feed upon flesh baked between a horse and the saddle, wherein rideth the horseman : Nevertheless, they are very strong, lusty, and inured to all hardship, as, also, are their horses, who are wonderful swift, and will travel further, in one day, eating nothing but grass, than ours will do in three, feeding upon oats ; therefore, the Tartarians come so easily, from so far, to invade the Russians. They have also that craft, that they only come in the summer, for the conveniency of their horses : Their country is temperate, from whence they come about the latter end of Fe. bruary, that they may be in Russia about the beginning of June, and go back again, into their own country, at the end of it, lest they should be overtaken by the winter in Russia ; which, if it should fall out, they would be all starved, because of the great deserts uninhabited, containing above three-hundred German leagues, and, therefore, void of all relief, as well for themselves, as for their horses, there being then no grass upon the ground; which constraineth them to make such a journey, which is of above twelve-hundred German leagues, in four or five months time, with all their army, which consisteth commonly of about one hundred
and fifty thousand, or two hundred thousand horses, as good as can be; but the horsemen are but slightly armed, having, for all wea. pons, a jack of inail, a dart, and bow and arrows; they know no. thing of what belongeth to guns, having, in all their country, bot two cities, wherein the emperor keepeth his court, without any villages or houses, but are contented to live under tents, which they remove to and fro, as they see occasion.
But to come again to our misery, after we had hearkened a while, we heard some Russians running to and fro, through the smoke, who were talking of walling the gates, to prevent the coming in of the Tartarians, who were expecting when the fire went out. I and my interpreter, being come out of the magazine, found the ashes so hot, that we durst scarce tread upon them ; but, necessity compelling is, we ran towards the chief gate, where we found twenty-five or thirty men escaped from the fire, with whom, in a few hours, we did wall that gate, and the rest, and kept a strict watch all that night with some guns that had been preserved from the fire. In the morning, seeing that the place was not defensible with so few people as we were, we sought the means to get into the castle, whose entry was then inaccessible ; the governor was very glad to hear of our intention, and cried to us, We should be very welcome; but it was a most difficult thing to come in, be. cause the bridges were all burnt, so that we were fain to get over the wall, having, instead of ladders, some high fir-trees thrown from the castle to us, wherein, instead of rounds to get up, they had made some notches, with a hatchet, to keep us from sliding : We got up then, with much ado; for, besides the evident incon. veniency of those rough ladders, we did carry about us the sum of four-thousand thalers, besides'some jewels, which was a great hin. derance to us to climb along those high trees; and that, which did double our fear, was, that we saw before our eyes some of our company, that had nothing but their bodies to save, yet tumble dowo from the middle of those high trees into the ditch, full of burnt bodies, so that we could not tread but upon whose heaps were so thick every where, that we could not avoid to tread upon them, as if it had been a hill to climb up; and that, which did augment our trouble, was, that, in treading upon them, the arms and legs broke like glass ; the poor limbs of these creatùres being calcined, by the vehement heat of the fire, and our feet sinking into those miserable bodies, the blood and the filth did sqoirt in our faces, which begot such a stench all the town over, that it was impossible to subsist ia it.
The twenty-fifth of May, in the evening, as we expected, in: great perplexity, what the Tartarians would attempt against us, who were about four-hundred in the castle : The Tartarians, whom we had saluted with our guns, and killed some of them that were come too near one of the castle-gates, began to go back the same way that they came in, with so much speed, that, the next morning, all that torrent was drained up; for which, having given
God thanks, and set our business in order, as well as the present calamity would permit, we went away from that desolate place.
Now, O London! consider that thy fate is not peculiar to thyself, and that will allay the bitterness of thy sufferiogs; remember, also, that, if thou sanctifiest this affliction to thy use, the Lord promiseth by his prophet, “ That those shall reap in joy who did sow in tears." Psal. cxxvi. 6,
In the richest city of Europe, and perhaps in the world; the greatest magazine that could be found for all sorts of merchandises, incom, parable for the salubrity of the air, and conveniency of situation; magnificent in publick buildings ; illustrious in good deeds; renowned for hospitality; famous for government; venerable for antiquity; having subsisted about two-thousand years ; inhabited by citizens, whose courage was equal to their fortunes ; in a word, a city of which it might be said more truly than of Ormus :
Si terrarum orbis quaqua patet annulus esset,
Londinum illius gemma decusque foret. This circumstance, which we tread over so slightly, that we may not be suspected of flattery, is not the least that aggravateth the enormity of this accident; there is none of those characters, we have given it, but are very true, and might be the worthy employ. ment of a better pen than mine, and the subject of a full volume.
SECT. IV. Here we must have recourse to what we have said before in the first paragraph, when we spoke of the second causes, and say that God hath made use chiefly of eight things to accomplish this work. The negligence of the master or his servants, in whose house the fire did first begin; the solitariness of the night; the narrowness of the place; the weakness of the buildings; the quantity of combus. tible and bituminous matters gathered thereabouts; the preceding summer which was extraordinarily hot and dry; the east-wind that blew violently all that while; and the want of engines and water to quench the fire; we shall give every one its little section, to, satify the curiosity of tho e who inquire so much of the causes that have made this contlagration so violent, dismal, and irreme. diable.
I. Though there be some accidents which no human prudence can prevent; as when a man either in his own house, or going through the street, is crashed by a sudden ruin; nevertheless, the
philosophers are not to blame, when they say that every one may be the author of his own fortune, for it is certain, that, if a man neglecteth or forsaketh that Providence given him by nature, he doth together forsake the instrument and the means which his good genius maketh.use of, to make him avoid the ill accidents that may befall him; for, as our soul doth only act by the organs of our body, so our genius either good or bad cannot act bat by the means of our soul. Now if our soul enjoyeth a sound and temperate body, and doth her functions with purity and facility ; that genius, which is always near hand, and as it were whispering at our ear, doth move and stir her to the preservation of whatsoever belongeth or concerneth her. If, on the contrary, this soul in. habiteth a body dyscratiated, melancholick, full of obstructions, or drowned in the excesses of eating and drinking, or passions, its nature being igneous, and never ceasing from action; it necessarily followeth, that, according to the disposition of the organs, she turneth to the wrong way, and neglecteth those things wherein she is merely concerned. Now, in things that might be prevented or remedied, it is an invalid excuse to say, I would never have thought that such a thing should happen : For, who can attribute it to a mere accident to put fire in an oren, and to leave a quantity of dry wood, and some flitches of bacon by it, within the sphere of its activity, and so go to bed, in leaving his providence with his slippers.
I remember that, some thirty-six years ago, in a town of Brie, a province of France, called Sezane, upon a Sunday morning, a woman that kept a chandler's shop, having occasion to snuff a can. dle, threw the snuff into a corner of her shop, among some old rags and papers, and so shutting the door went to mass; but, vithin the
space of half an hour, and before she could come back again, not only her house, but those of her neighbours were all in a flame, which being helped by an east-wind which blew at that time, and which is the most dangerous of all the winds for incen, dies, as we shall shew hereafter, did in the space of a day and a night consume the whole town, consisting of about four-hundred houses. Can this be called a mere accident, since there is nobody so void of common sense, but might have either foreseen, or prevented so calaitous a consequence ?
II. The second cause of this misfortune is, the time wherein it did happen, to wit, about one of the clock in the night, when every one is buried in bis first sleep; when some for weariness, others by deboistness, have given leave to their cares to retire; when slothfulness and the heat of the bed have riveted a man to his pillow, and made him almost incapable of waking, much less of acting and helping his neighbours.
III. The narrowness of the place did also much contribute to this conflagration, for the street where it did happen, as also most of those about it, were the parrowest of the city, insomuch that in Some a cart could scarce go along, and in others not at all. The danger, I did once run of my life thereabouts by the crowd of