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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 571 pages of information about Old Saint Paul's.

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V.

HOW SAINT PATHOS WAS USED AS A PEST-HOUSE.

The distemper had by this time increased to such a frightful extent, that the pest-houses being found wholly inadequate to contain the number of sick persons sent to them, it was resolved by the civic authorities, who had obtained the sanction of the Dean and Chapter of Saint Paul’s for that purpose, to convert the cathedral into a receptacle for the infected.  Accordingly, a meeting was held in the Convocation House to make final arrangements.  It was attended by Sir John Lawrence, the Lord Mayor; by Sir George Waterman, and Sir Charles Doe, sheriffs; by Doctor Sheldon, Archbishop of Canterbury; by the Duke of Albemarle, the Earl of Craven, and, a few other zealous and humane persons.  Several members of the College of Physicians were likewise present, and, amongst others, Doctor Hodges; and the expediency of the measure being fully agreed upon, it was determined to carry it into immediate execution.

The cloisters surrounding the Convocation House were crowded with sick persons, drawn thither by the rumour of what was going forward; and when the meeting adjourned to the cathedral, these unfortunate beings followed them, and were with some difficulty kept aloof from the uninfected by the attendants.  A very earnest and touching address was next pronounced by the archbishop.  Calling upon his hearers to look upon themselves as already dead to the world,—­to regard the present visitation as a just punishment of their sins, and to rejoice that their sufferings would be so soon terminated, when, if they sincerely and heartily repented, they would at once be transported from the depths of wretchedness and misery to regions of unfading bliss; he concluded by stating that he, and all those around him, were prepared to devote themselves, without regard to their own safety, to the preservation of their fellow-citizens, and that they would leave nothing undone to stop the ravages of the devouring scourge.

It chanced that Leonard Holt was present on this occasion, and as he listened to the eloquent discourse of the archbishop, and gazed at the group around him, all equally zealous in the good cause, and equally regardless of themselves, he could not but indulge a hope that their exertions might be crowned with success.  It was indeed a touching sight to see the melancholy congregation to whom his address was delivered—­many, nay most of whom were on the verge of dissolution;—­and Leonard Holt was so moved by the almost apostolic fervour of the prelate, that, but for the thought of Amabel, he might have followed the example of several of the auditors, and devoted himself altogether to the service of the sick.

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