Time for Part Twenty-Seven of my serialization of A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe. Tonight's radio news update from the Great Plague of London in 1665 is not just a tale of contagion, but of what happens, then as now, when an entire economy is shut down:
All intercourse of trade for home consumption of manufactures, especially those which usually circulated through the Londoner's hands, was stopped at once, the trade of the city being stopped.
All kinds of handicrafts in the city, &c., tradesmen and mechanics, were, as I have said before, out of employ; and this occasioned the putting-off and dismissing an innumerable number of journeymen and workmen of all sorts, seeing nothing was done relating to such trades but what might be said to be absolutely necessary.
This caused the multitude of single people in London to be unprovided for, as also families whose living depended upon the labour of the heads of those families; I say, this reduced them to extreme misery; and I must confess it is for the honour of the city of London, and will be for many ages, as long as this is to be spoken of, that they were able to supply with charitable provision the wants of so many thousands of those as afterwards fell sick and were distressed: so that it may be safely averred that nobody perished for want.
I'm not sure the same confident assertion can be made with respect to today's economic lockdown. However, if you've heard President Trump and Larry Kudlow and the like talk about a "V-shaped recovery", the recovery in the England of the 1660s was spectacularly v-shaped - thanks, as our narrator explains, to the Great Fire of London.
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear Part Twenty-Seven of our adventure simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes can be found here.
We have some audio additions to the bill of fare at SteynOnline: first, a new morning show of Corona updates, elegaic obits, poems, useless Brit coppers and more; and this weekend, an audio cavalcade of Song of the Week requests. For the latter, Steyn Club members can leave their favorite songs here - but you don't have to be a member to listen to what's shaping up to be a grand musical anthology. As to the former - the new Mark Steyn Show - a South Carolina Steyn Club member, Doug Lauder, enthuses:
This is the best forty minutes of my day. The production values of the show set it apart from any podcast I've ever heard.
That's too kind, Doug, but I'm glad you like it, and we'll have a new episode tomorrow morning, Friday.
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