“At the beginning of the plague, when there was now no more hope but that the whole city would be visited; when all that had friends or estates in the country retired with their families: and when one would have thought the very city itself was running out of the gates, you may be sure that all our trade, except such as related to immediate subsistence, was, as it were, at a full stop.”
Daniel Defoe: A Journal of the Plague year. Written in 1722 but based on events in 1665
Defoe could have been writing about England in 2020 and the modern pandemic. There is one big difference; the great Plague of London in 1665 is estimated to have killed around 200,000 – a quarter of the population. Let’s hope we don’t have to deal with another Great Fire that destroyed most of London the following year.