Just ahead of tonight's episode in our current Tale for Our Time, a word from your humble host:
As the quarantine enforcers tighten the screws, I want to thank all of you who keep this l'il ol' website and its various activities part of your daily rounds. We try to make modest adjustments for the tenor of the times, and one such is the new audio format of The Mark Steyn Show, which I hope you find a cheery companion for your increasingly housebound routine. David O'Neil, a First Month Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from South Australia, writes of our opening show:
For a first effort you sure set the bar high, Mark. Powerful and beautiful words, terrific production quality, brilliant from start to finish. Australia's ABC gets a billion dollars a year but doesn't even get close to this.
Too kind, David. There have been ABC shows I've enjoyed doing over the years ...but they are few and far between.
So here goes with Part Eight of A Journal of the Plague Year, a classic chronicle of the Great Plague of London by Daniel Defoe - and a meditation on the fragility of civilization that is all too timely. In tonight's episode, Londoners, then as now, chafe at being confined to their homes:
As several people, I say, got out of their houses by stratagem after they were shut up, so others got out by bribing the watchmen, and giving them money to let them go privately out in the night. I must confess I thought it at that time the most innocent corruption or bribery that any man could be guilty of, and therefore could not but pity the poor men, and think it was hard when three of those watchmen were publicly whipped through the streets for suffering people to go out of houses shut up.
But notwithstanding that severity, money prevailed with the poor men, and many families found means to make sallies out, and escape that way after they had been shut up... Though there was no easy passing the roads any whither after the 1st of August, yet there were many ways of retreat, and particularly, as I hinted, some got tents and set them up in the fields, carrying beds or straw to lie on, and provisions to eat, and so lived in them as hermits in a cell, for nobody would venture to come near them; and several stories were told of such, some comical, some tragical, some who lived like wandering pilgrims in the deserts, and escaped by making themselves exiles in such a manner as is scarce to be credited, and who yet enjoyed more liberty than was to be expected...
Earlier instalments of A Journal of the Plague Year can be found here - and thank you again for all your comments, thumbs up or down, on this latest serialization. Very much appreciated. If you'd like to know more about The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget, for fellow fans of classic fiction and/or poetry, our Steyn Club Gift Membership.
I'll see you back here tomorrow for Part Nine of A Journal of the Plague Year - and throughout the week for more audio delights in our new plague-friendly-format Mark Steyn Show.