Page:Remarks on the British Quarantine Laws.djvu/25

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British Quarantine Laws.


an order in council was issued by King James I. against the infection of the plague, consisting of a number of articles, drawn up with great care. Advice was also published by the College of Physicians, and orders by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, by direction of the Privy Council. These were republished with very little variation, in the subsequent plagues, in 1625, 1636, and 1665. See certain necessary directions of the College of Physicians; Sundry orders of His Majesty; Select Statutes, &c., London, 1636. An order was also issued, in 1603, by the same monarch, strictly prohibiting all ecclesiastics, and others, from publishing an opinion that the plague was not infectious, or that it was a vain thing not to resort to the infected." (Orders, Jac. 1. Art. 16.)

In 1604, the year immediately succeeding, it was, for the first time, thought proper to support the royal regulations by an express statute. By this statute it is enacted, "that if any person infected with the plague, or dwelling in any infected house, be commanded by the mayor, constable, or other head officer of his town, or vill, to keep his house, and shall venture to disobey it; he may be enforced by the watchmen appointed on such melancholy occasions, to obey such necessary command: and if any hurt ensue by such enforcement, the watchmen are thereby indemnified. And further, if such person so commanded to confine himself, goes abroad, and converses in company, if he has no plague sore upon him, he shall be punished as a vagabond, by whipping, and be bound to his good behaviour: but, if he has any infectious sore upon him uncured, he then shall be guilty of felony." Blackst. Com. vol. iv. b. 4. c. 13.

This bill was passed, after some opposition, on the 16th of June, with certain amendments made by the Lords, in exemption of the Universities. Its continuance was limited to the commencement of the first session of the following parliament. But by subsequent acts it was further continued; and, in the 16th of Charles I., (1640) "from thenceforth until some other act of parliament be made touching its continuance or discontinuance."

In 1665, in October, the plague raging in London, a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to prepare and bring in a bill to supply the defects of that of 1604. It passed the Commons. But amendments being made by the Lords, to which the Commons did not think fit to assent, and the session terminating, the matter dropt, and was never afterwards resumed. Consequently the statute of James I. respecting internal regulations for preventing the spreading of the infection of the plague, remained still in force.

On the subject of the projected bill, in 1665, several conferences were held between the two houses of parliament. What were