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give a zest to one another. 'Ods fish! the sight of those tipsy masquers has made me thirsty: so hey for the banquet-room! without further parley.»
At these words he walked out of the hall, followed by the courtiers, each leading his partner or his mistress, and all smiling, talking, and laughing, till their glittering dresses and waving plumes gradually disappeared ; the buzz of their voices was no longer heard, and only one person remained in the silent and deserted hall : that one was Jocelyn. Disgusted by what he had already seen, he was too sad and sick at heart to endure any farther festivities. Far from participating in the past entertainment, his thoughts had reverted to the appalling scenes from which he had so recently escaped; and when he contrasted the ghastliness and desolation of the depopulated, plague-stricken city, its yawning sepulchres, and the tolling bells of its dead-carts, with the wild festivities and unbridled foolery, the mirth, music, and madness that had just been exhibiting before his eyes, he almost expected that a voice should come up out of the great pit to rebuke these revellers for thus defying the King of terrors, and flaunting in the very face of an offended God. Impressed with these feelings, he withdrew from the hall to his own apartments, wrote an excuse to the Duke of Monmouth, with whom he had engaged to sup on the following night, and determined to remain at home, and devote the whole of the fast-day' to that serious frame of mind,
Pepys assigns a reason for accelerating the Fast-day, which, if not founded on fact, at least shows the opinion that was then entertained of the Court.—« 1666, November 20. To church, it being thanksgivingday for the cessation of the plague. But, Lord ! how the town do say
and those devotional exercises, which were appropriate to the solemn occasion. that it is hastened before the plague is quite over, there being some people still ill of it, but only to get ground of plays to be publicly acted, which the bishops would not suffer till the plague was over.» Diary, Vol. i. p. 483.
Evelyn says the Fast was ordered to « humble us on the most dismal judgments that could be inflicted, but which, indeed, we highly deserved, for our prodigious ingratitude, burning lusts, dissolute court, profane and abominable lives, under such dispensations of God's continued favour in restoring Church, Prince, and People, from our late intestine calamities, of which we were altogether unmindful, even to astonishment.» Memoirs, Vol.
Although De Foe's Journal of the Plague was not written till fiftyseven years after the event which it records, and is a mere fiction as to the assumed character and station of the author, yet its details appear to have been accurately compiled from authentic materials, a circumstance which may give some value to the following statements.—« I should observe that the court removed early, viz. in the month of June, and went to Oxford, where it pleased God to preserve them; and the distemper did not, as I heard of, so much as touch them; for which I cannot say that I ever saw they showed any great token of thankfulness; and hardly any thing of reformation, though they did not want being told that their crying vices might, without breach of charity, be said to have gone
far in bringing that terrible calamity upon the whole nation. » p. 33.
But really the court concerned themselves so little, and that little they did was of so small import, that I did not see it of much moment to mention any part of it here, except that of appointing a monthly Fast in the city, and the sending the royal charity to the relief of the poor, both which I have mentioned before.» p. 477. This was a donation of 1000l. a-week, to be distributed in four different quarters; but the author adds that he only speaks of it as a report.
While he, young, wanton, and effeminate boy,
AFTER having remained for some weeks longer at Oxford, beguiling the time with such festivities and amusements as could be obtained in that
and reverend city, the joyful news was at length circulated that the court was about to return to London; the plague having gradually exhausted its fury, until all danger of contagion had disappeared. Congratulations flew from mouth to mouth, not so
cessation of the pestilence, as upon the prospect of again plunging into the delights and dissipation of the metropolis. Never was à more cheerful alacrity displayed in packing up and preparing for flight. The seat of the Muses had little attractions for a set of gay triflers, whose literature was limited to licentious poems and obscene plays, and who consequently thought colleges and gowns a sorry substitute for theatres and petticoats. Oxford had long been voted triste à toute outrance, a phrase which was in every mouth, when, in the rage
for Frçoch, fashians, che langage de beau was affected by all pretenders to modishness and gentility; and the whole assemblage that accompanied or followed the King and Queen, turned their backs upon the city to which they had been indebted for their preservation from infection, not only without gratitude or regret, but with all the vituperation and ridicule that their anger or their wit could suggest.
By the greater part of them, London was re-entered with little or no emotion, for they found it nearly as they had left it. To Jocelyn, however, it offered a contrast with its last appearance, which he could have hardly believed credible in so short a space of time. The numerous fugitives, encouraged by the announced return of the court, had all hastened back to their abodes; the shops were re-opened; the streets were again thronged with people; equipages and carriages of every description were rattling along the pavement; quick-lime had been spread over the church-yards, and the other huge excavations in which the dead had been deposited; and it appeared as if some moral caus tic had been also spread over the memories of the survivors; for after the expression of a transient wonder, and the inquiries of Who has perished? Who has been saved ? the business and pleasures of the capital recommenced, and the great social wheel, as it again rolled forward, seemed to obliterate in its progress every trace of the past, every print that had been left by the foot of Death!
Jocelyn made it his first care, after his arrival in London, to call upon Alderman Staunton, for the pur
pose of renewing a more formal expression of his gratitude to Constantia, as well as of repaying the money she had lent him; for his proud spirit was impatient of pecuniary obligation, and the Queen's continued bounty now enabled him to cancel his debt without inconvenience. That which he still owed to Constantia for his recovery was of course beyond all power of acquittance; though, had his heart been at his own disposal, he would gladly have dedicated to her service the life she had preserved. Being informed that she had left the city some days before, on a visit to Mr Ashmole, at South Lambeth, he proceeded to Turret House, where he was courteously received by that gentleman, to whom he explained the purport of his visit. Instead, however, of being enabled to gain an interview with Constantia, he received from her a cold message, intimating that she had never doubted his being the most punctual of all debtors, and that as there were now no further accounts to settle between them, she would dispense
with his future visits. Having satisfied his conscience, as far as he was enabled to do so, and feeling somewhat piqued at this repulsive communication, which he conceived to be calculated to lower him with Mr Ashmole, he abruptly quitted the house, and returned to his own apartments at Whitehall, fully determined to obey the unceremonious notice he had received, and to drop an acquaintance, the continuance of which, by again bringing him in communication with Julia, might only serve to foster a passion which every prudential consideration most imperatively called upon him to forget.