A Penfriend Is A Friend Indeed
PEN WORLD|October 2016

It is hard to imagine the city of London without monarchs and medicine, reason and religion, taxes and trade, plague and revolution.

John Martinson

Throughout the tapestry of time, the city grew from its strong Roman origins to the financial and political capital it is today. London looks quite well for 1,973 years old, while the ghosts of London’s past are being found beneath the main streets and subway system.

Since 2009, when the city began construction on an extension of the city’s Underground rail system, archaeologists have discovered more than 10,000 artifacts weaving London’s present to its past. They also found a cemetery beneath Liverpool Street Station dating back to 1665, when the city was maimed by bubonic plague. In March 2015, around 3,500 skeletons were excavated from the former Bedlam burial ground, over nine meters below the street today.

The Great Plague of London lasted month after endless month in 1665. A physician named Dr. Nathaniel Hodges spent the year treating patients in the city, while many other doctors fled. He documented a scientific record called Loimologia, which would influence bacterial specialists in medicine on how to observe and treat plague patients.

At the same time, Samuel Pepys, a member of Parliament and administrator of the Royal Navy, wrote in his diary of warmth and war. The war against Holland was becoming expensive and King Charles II knew the Dutch were resourceful. “Don’t fight the Dutch,” he told Pepys, “imitate them.” Since Pepys knew a military man fought best with a full plate of food, he created plans to fund the war and feed the troops from a tavern on No. 17 Fleet Street. Pepys made a fortune in the venture.

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