Can you imagine being so very ill and then this 'apparition' appearing at the door?
What is surprising about these doctors is that they considered that having a positive attitude helped aid recovery and therefore they encouraged people not to think of death but of happy things in a effort to comfort .....easier said than done I'd say!
In treating people, along with the usual practice of bloodletting, these doctors brought in spiders and toads to absorb the air or placed them on the infected area, they also used bottled wind and urine baths.
All of this was to no avail, the Great Plague killed over 15% of the cities population. By the February of the following year the death rate had fallen and in the September the Great Fire saw parts London go up in flames along with it the real cause of the disease the flea/rat infested slums of the city.
The following poem in reference to the plague is found in Treatise on the Plague in 1721, it gives us a good description of
the Plague Doctor.
As may be seen on picture here,
In Rome the doctors do appear,
When to their patients they are called,
In places by the plague appalled,
Their hats and cloaks, of fashion new,
Are made of oilcloth, dark of hue,
Their caps with glasses are designed,
Their bills with antidotes all lined,
That foulsome air may do no harm,
Nor cause the doctor man alarm,
The staff in hand must serve to show
Their noble trade where’er they go.