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that a suitable house, as an hospital, should be provided near the city, for the reception of the infected poor.

In consequence, in the evening of the same day, the guardians of the poor agreed to sundry resolutions, viz. to use their utmost exertions to procure a house, of the above description, for an hospital, (out of town, and as near thereto as might be practicable, consistently with the safety of the inhabitants,) for the poor who were or might be afflicted with contagious disorders, and be destitute of the means of providing necessary assistance otherwise ; to engage physicians, nurses, attendants, and all necessaries for their relief in that house, to appoint proper persons in each district, to inquire after such poor as might be afflicted; to administer assistance to them in their own houses, and, if necessary, to remove them to the hospital. They reserved to themselves, at the same time, the liberty of drawing on the Mayor for such sums as might be necessary to carry their plans into effect.

Conformably with these resolves, a committee of the guardians was appointed, to make inquiry for a suitable place; and on due examination, they judged that a building adjacent to Bushhill, the mansion house of William Hamilton, Esq. was the best calculated for the purpose. That gentleman was then absent, and had no agent in the city; and the great urgency of the case admitting no delay, eight of the guardians, accompanied by Hilary Baker, Esq. one of the city aldermen, with the concurrence of the Governor, proceeded, on the 31st of August, to the building they had fixed upon; and meeting with some opposition from a tenant who occupied it, they took possession of the mansion-house itself, to which, on the same evening, they sent the four patients who remained at the circus.

Shortly after this, the guardians of the poor for the city, except James Wilson, Jacob Tomkins, Jun. and William Sansom, ceased the performance of their duties, nearly the whole of them having removed out of the city. Before this virtual vacation of office, they passed a resolve against the admission of any paupers whatever into the Alms House during the prevalence of the disorder.* The whole care of the poor of the city, the providing for Bushhill, sending the sick there, and burying the dead, devolved, therefore, on the above three guardians.

* The reason for entering into this order, was, that some paupers, who had been admitted previous thereto, with a certificate from the physicians, of their being free from the infection, had, novertheless, died of it.


General Despondency. Deplorable Scenes. Frightful View of

Human Nature. A noble and exhilarating Contrast.

The consternation of the people of Philadelphia, at this period, was carried beyond all bounds. Dismay and affright were visible in almost every person's countenance. Most of those who could, by any means, make it convenient, fled from the city. Of those who remained, many shut themselves up in their houses, being afraid to walk the streets. The smoke of tobacco being regarded as a preventive, many persons, even women and small boys, had segars almost constantly in their mouths. Others, placing full confidence in garlic, chewed it almost the whole day; some kept it in their pockets and shoes. Many were afraid to allow the barbers or hair-dressers to come near them, as instances had occurred of some of them having shaved the dead, and many having engaged as bleeders. Some, who carried their caution pretty far, bought lancets for themselves, not daring to allow themselves to be bled with the lancets of the bleeders. Many houses were scarcely a moment in the day, free from the smell of gunpowder, burned tobacco, nitre, sprinkled vinegar, &c. Some of the churches were almost deserted, and others wholly closed. The coffee-house was shut up, as was the city library, and most of the public officesthree, out of the four, daily papers were discontinued,* as were some of the others. Many devoted no small portion of their time to purifying, scouring, and whitewashing their rooms. Those who ventured abroad, had handkerchiefs or sponges, impregnated with vinegar or camphor, at their noses, or smelling-bottles full of thieves' vinegar. Other's carried pieces of tarred rope in their hands or pockets, or camphor bags tied round their necks. The corpses of the most respectable citizens, even of those who had not died of the epidemic,

* It would be improper to pass over this opportunity of mentioning, that the Federal Gazette, printed by Andrew Brown, was uninterruptedly continued, and with the usual industry, during the whole calamity, and was of the utmost service, in conveying to the citizens of the United States authentic intelligence of the state of the disorder, and of the city.

were carried to the grave on the shafts of a chair, the horse driven by a negro, unattended by a friend or relation, and without any sort of ceremony. People uniformly and hastily shifted their course at the sight of a hearse coming towards them. Many never walked on the foot-path, but went into the middle of the streets, to avoid being infected in passing houses wherein people had died. Acquaintances and friends avoided each other in the streets, and only signified their regard by a cold nod. The old custom of shaking hands, fell into such general disuse, that many shrunk back with affright at even the offer of the hand. A person with a crape, or any appearance of mourning, was shunned like a viper. And many valued themselves highly on the skill and address with which they got to windward of every person whom they met. Indeed it is not probable that London, at the last stage of the plague, exhibited stronger marks of terror, than were to be seen in Philadelphia, from the 25th or 26th of August, till late in September. When the citizens summoned resolution to walk abroad, and take the air, the sick cart conveying patients to the hospital, or the hearse carrying the dead to the grave, which were travelling almost the whole day soon damped their spirits, and plunged them again into despondency.

While affairs were in this deplorable state, and people at the lowest ebb of despair, we cannot be astonished at the frightful scenes that were acted, which seemed to indicate a total dissolution of the bonds of society in the nearest and dearest connexions. Who, without horror, can reflect on a husband, married perhaps for twenty years, deserting his wife in the last agony—a wife, unfeelingly, abandoning her husband on his death bed-parents forsaking their children-children ungratefully flying from their parents, and resigning them to chance, often without an inquiry after their health or safety-masters hurrying off their faithful servants to Bushhill, even on suspicion of the fever, and that at a time, when, almost like Tartarus, it was open to every visitant, but rarely returned any—servants abandoning tender and humane masters, who only wanted a little care to restore them to health and usefulness—who, I say, can think of these things, without horror? Yet they were often exhibited throughout our city; and such was the force of habit, that the parties who were guilty of this cruelty, felt no remorse themselves—nor met with the censure from their fellow citizens, which such conduct would have excited at any other period. Indeed, at this awful crisis, so much did self appear to engross the whole attention of many, that in some cases not more concern was felt for the loss of a parent, a husband, a wife, or an only child, than, on other occasions, would have been caused by the death of a faithful servant.

This kind of conduct produced scenes of distress and misery, of which parallels are rarely to be met with, and which nothing could palliate, but the extraordinary public panic, and the great law of self-preservation, the dominion of which extends over the whole animated world. Men of affluent fortunes, who have given daily employment and sustenance to hundreds, have been abandoned to the care of a negro, after their wives, children, friends, clerks, and servants, had fled away, and left them to their fate. In some cases, at the commencement of the disorder, no money could procure proper attendance. With the poor, the case was, as might be expected, infinitely worse than with the rich. Many of these have perished, without a human being to hand them a drink of water, to administer medicines, or to perform any charitable office for them. Various instances have occurred, of dead bodies found lying in the streets, of persons who had no house or habitation, and could procure no shelter.*

A man and his wife, once in affluent circumstances, were found lying dead in bed, and between them was their child, a little infant, who was sucking its mother's breast. How long they had lain thus, was uncertain.

A woman, whose husband had just died of the fever, was seized with the pains of parturition, and had nobody to assist her, as the women in the neighbourhood were afraid to go into the house. She lay, for a considerable time, in a degree of anguish that will not bear description. At length, she struggled to reach the windows, and cried out for assistance. passing by, went up stairs; but they came at too late a stage.She was striving with death—and actually, in a few minutes, expired in their arms.

Another woman, whose husband and two children lay dead in the room with her, was in the same situation as the former, without a midwife, or any other person to aid her. Her cries at the window brought up one of the carters employed by the committee for the relief of the sick. With his assistance she

Two men,

* The novel of Arthur Mervyn, by C. B. Brown, gives a vivid and terrify. ing picture, probably not too highly coloured, of the horrors of that period.


was delivered of a child, which died in a few minutes, as did the mother, who was utterly exhausted by her labour, by the disorder, and by the dreadful spectacle before her. And thus lay, in one room, no less than five dead bodies, an entire family, carried off within a few hours. Instances have occurred, of respectable women, who, in their lying-in, have been obliged to depend on their maid-servants, for assistance and some have had none but from their husbands. Some of the midwives were dead—and others had left the city.

A servant girl, belonging to a family in this city, in which the fever had prevailed, was apprehensive of danger, and resolved to remove to a relation's house, in the country. She was, however, taken sick on the road, and returned to town, where she could find no person to receive her. One of the guardians of the poor provided a cart, and took her to the Alms House, into which she was refused admittance. She was brought back, but the guardian could not procure her a single night's lodging. And in fine, after every effort made to provide her shelter, she absolutely expired in the cart. This occurrence took place before Bushhill hospital was opened.

To relate all the frightful cases of this nature that occurred, would fill a volume. To pass them over wholly would have been improperto dwell on them longer would be painful. Let these few, therefore, suffice. But I must observe, that most of them happened in the first stage of the public panic. Afterwards, when the citizens recovered a little from their fright, they became rare.

These horrid circumstances having a tendency to throw a shade over the human character, it is proper to shed a little light on the subject, wherever justice and truth will permit. Amidst the general abandonment of the sick that prevailed, there were to be found many illustrious instances of men and women, some in the middle, others in the lower spheres of life, who, in the exercise of the duties of humanity, exposed themselves to dangers, which terrified men, who had often faced death without fear, in the field of battle. Some of them, alas! have fallen in the good cause! But why should they be regretted? never could they have fallen more gloriously. Foremost in this noble groupe stands Joseph Inskeep, a most excellent man in all the social relations of citizen, brother, husband, and friend.—To the sick and the forsaken has he devoted his hours, to relieve and comfort them in their tribulation, and his kind

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