Saturday, March 27, 2004

Progress. "The year 1685 was not accounted sickly; yet in the year 1685 more than one in twenty-three of the inhabitants of the capital died. At present only one inhabitant of the capital in forty dies annually. The difference in salubrity between the London of the nineteenth century and the London of the seventeenth century is very far greater than the difference between London in an ordinary year and London in a year of cholera." - Thomas Babington Macaulay (writing in the 1840s), in the first volume of his History of England.
The gap between us and Macaulay helps make the gap between now and 1685 seem bigger, no? It's the cheery "year of cholera" coda does it.
Having said that, London's now at about one death per hundred, which isn't as much better as I might have hoped.
[The History of England from the Accession of James II, by Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1849-1861. I'm only three-quarters of the way through Vol. I (there are five), so comment is reserved. It's very quotable, though; expect more.]

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