Setting books in the 1830s has made me acutely conscious of the shadow cholera—currently raging through Haiti—cast across Europe in the 19th century.
It first reached Paris in the spring of 1832. The following numbers are the city's daily death toll for April.
Apr 1—79, 2—168, 3—212, 4—342, 5—351, 6—416, 7—582, 8—769, 9—861, 10—848, 11—769, 12—768, 13—816, 14—692, 15—567, 16—512
“Up to the last of these dates, there had died in Paris alone, upwards of 8,700 persons ; and before the end of the month the number was nearly doubled….
“In Paris, as in Hungary, the populace took up the idea that the disease was indicted on them by their water and wine being poisoned. Under this impression they perpetrated the most atrocious murders ; it required but the finger of any miscreant to point out an obnoxious individual. An old Jew, who carried a bottle of camphor as a preservative, was called a poisoner, while passing through the market place of the Innocents. The market-women and poissardes attacked him, and he fell dead beneath repeated stabs. At Vaugirard, a village close by Paris, two young men, being attacked by the mob on the same pretext, sought refuge in the house of the magistrate. They were forced out, and murdered in the street. At Paris, however, less than any where else, did the cholera maintain its character of choosing its victims among the squalid, the needy, and the dissolute. The panic, that reigned throughout the capital, was enormously increased by the number of persons, in the higher ranks, on whom the malady laid hold. Peers of France, members of the Chamber of Deputies, of the courts of justice, and of the diplomatic body, swelled the triumph of the pestilence. On the 6th of April, it struck down the prime-minister himself; and although he recovered from the first shock, the hand of death had been laid upon him too heavily to be removed.”
—Excerpt from The Annual Register of 1832.
1610 "Newes from Virginia" by Richard Rich
2 years ago