Posted on: Nov 03, '07
The reverend James Chapter six
The duties of the clergyman of Notheringay on occasion were not always of a pleasant nature. For Notheringay lying some distance from the sea had to its advantage some of the best country in the south east of England. In the early years of the 19th century shortly after the reverend James and his wife had come to Notheringay. The reverend had been called upon to render the service for victims of a strange malady which affected upward of 300 people after a fair at the rectory in the parish. Of the number who had been affected four or five had been so seriously affected as to cause great concern in the clergyman’s mind as to there surviving. This assumption was in due course proved correct for in a short while they departed this life for there eternal rest.
For the malady began on the evening after All Hallows eve when the first reports began to reach the rectory of the unfortunate victims of the parish having displayed signs of great physical discomfort the early symptoms of the malady seemed to appear as if the unfortunate victims had overindulged in the feast which had been prepared that very morning by his faithful and diligent wife Elizabeth. The second stage of the malady was more serious for the poor people had taken to there beds with great moaning’s and utterances of great pains in the gut. All the usual remedies been tried to elevate the sufferings of the unfortunate victims.
The reverend hurried from home to home in the hope of bringing some comfort to the persons in distress sitting by there bedsides he would wipe the brow and puff up the pillows saying a few words of comfort or uttering a prayer that the malady would pass. For it was evident to the good and faithful servant of the church that the poor creatures suffered greatly, his dearest wish been that he could in some measure be of some use to the victims and there families.
Among those affected was Lady Ann Sterley who been heavy with child had taken to her bed early, Lady Ann usually the most agreeable person in the parish was at the time that the malady affected her not the most agreeable for she stormed at the household servants and crossly called for her husband Sir Thomas who happened to be away at sea at the time.
On the second day of the strange season the reverend gentleman had found occasion to address the All mighty upon the subject of the indisposition of the poor victims. It concerned the young clergyman greatly who in more usual times sort and quickly gained from the All mighty an indication upon the matter and was able to proceed accordingly however the All mighty it seemed at the time was otherwise disposed for the reverend gentleman prayed a great deal for the deities assistance however there was no indication from the deity that he was in any way disposed to help on this occasion. Try as he might Mr James was unable to fathom what the cause of the malady it he knew could not be the pasties or any other thing that his wife had made for the people at the fair for had he not himself partaken of these delightful entities and suffered no harm? He asked himself indeed no it could not be that. For he knew that Elizabeth would never intentionally do harm to any of God’s creatures.
However it was still a mystery which concerned him the third stage of the malady was worse then all that had passed before for the patient would become lethargic and resigned to departing this life all remedies having failed.
It was a despite time for the cleric and his parish for all now live din fear that they might be next to fall victim to the great mysterious illness. The first victims had nothing gin common for it affected men woman and child alike of all ages in some households no one was affected and others the whole house while those who lived closest to the victims seemed to suffer no ill effect it affected both the rich and poor.
Those noble families who had a victim among there number sent to London for the best doctors in the hope that in the physic of the town doctors a remedy might be found but all to no avail.
A great scurry of coaches and horsemen was to be seen as the doctors came and went from the great houses those in the houses who were of the lower ranks of society listened at the door and the sick room as the patients were bleed and cold presses applied for any clue with which they could enlighten there fellow villages as to the cure. Still no cure appeared to work it was by pure genius and the most fortunate set of circumstances that a certain maid who worked in the house at Oakland Park offered on the sixth day of Lady Ann’s illness a glass of spirits of salt which aftereffect was an imitate improvement for upon completion of the glass of physic Lady Ann momentarily sat silent before breaking a number of great winds from her extremities. Then declaring that she was much improved and desired that the servant bring her dressing gown directly for she had a desire to see the garden. Thereafter lady Ann rose from her sick bed much improved and went about her daily activates soon there after she was delivered of a grand boy child who showed no signs of any indisposition suffered by Lady Ann’s late illness.
The news flew about the parish word of mouth been outpaced by the eager news bearers to be the first to carry the news to each new location in the hope of relieving the suffering of there poor unfortunate friends and relatives.
It suffices to say that the cause of the strange malady of 1801 which affected upward of three hundred people remains a mystery and for many years thereafter when All Hallows fair came round the people would tread more carefully caution been the watch word.
Of the five persons who died there graves for many years were viewed with great circumspection the saying going about from that time that if one was to eat All Hallows pie then one was liable to pass from this life.
Tags: regency novel