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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/60

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BOOK I.

 

NIGHT NOT SO BLACK AS MAN.

 
 

CHAPTER I.


PORTLAND BILL.


A STRONG north wind blew continuously over the mainland of Europe, and yet more roughly over England, during the entire month of December, 1689, and also the month of January, 1690. Hence the terrible cold weather which caused that winter to be noted as "memorable to the poor" on the margin of the old Bible in the Presbyterian chapel of the Non-jurors in London. Thanks to the lasting qualities of the old monarchical parchment employed in official registers, long lists of poor persons, found dead of famine and cold, are still legible in many local repositories,—particularly in the archives of the Liberty of the Clink, in the borough of Southwark, of Pie Powder Court (which signifies Dusty Feet Court), and in those of Whitechapel Court, held in the village of Stepney by the bailiff of the Lord of the Manor. The Thames was frozen over,—a thing which does not happen once in a century, as ice forms on it with difficulty owing to the action of the sea. Coaches rolled over the frozen river, and a fair was held upon it with booths, bear-baiting and bull-baiting.