Natural History Handiworks
Aftermath Waterton Links Links - General Book Shelf
Overtown Miscellany - Charles Waterton
 site search by freefind  
Charles Waterton's Life and Family
Charles Waterton - The Black Death (more about plagues)

The Black Vomit (Yellow Jack or Yellow Fever) was just one of several types of plague that had visited Europe over the centuries. Plagues such as the Black Death sent many to their deaths.

In Malaga, the villain was the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti), tiny but deadly. It visited misery and death on rich and poor alike when the Black Vomit swept through Malaga. However, the mosquito was not identified as the source of yellow fever at the time.

Carlos Finlay, a Cuban doctor and scientist, first proposed in 1881 that yellow fever might be transmitted by mosquitoes rather than direct human contact. Yellow fever was the first virus shown to be transmitted by mosquitoes.
[Image Source: John T. Creighton Household Pests
(Gainesville: Agricultureal Extension Service, 1943)
© 2010 by the University of South Florida, http://etc.usf.edu/clipart.]

Other plagues had been caused by rats. For Charles Waterton, one particular type of rat was regarded as an arch enemy - the Hanoverian Rat - a foul beast associated with all that had gone wrong for his family and his religion. Read more about the Hanoverian Rat- click here.

For a brief look at the Black Death - different in origin to the plague that had devastated Malaga, but, nevertheless yet another manifestation of the Grim Reaper, read on....
[Image Source: not known]

To add to the horror, the city was shaken by earthquakes. After two violent shocks in the evening and the early morning, the danger subsided. "It pleased Heaven, in its mercy, to spare us". (1)

The Plague - the Grim Reaper attends upon those about to go .....The Black Death - One of the Faces of the Grim Reaper

Over the centuries, many mysterious pestilences were visited upon mankind. The Black Vomit in Malaga was not untypical of the type of calamities that had no known cause, or, at least, one that could be adequately explained.

Amongst the Grim Reaper's tally of victims, those claimed by the plague are amongst the most numerous.

In May 1348 the Black Death, the worst plague of the medieval period swept across Europe. It originated in the Far East and was brought to Europe by adventurers and traders. Millions died - an estimated third of the population was wiped out. The Black Death was largely a bubonic plague but was also pneumonic and septicaemic. There were major outbreaks in the 1350s and 1370s. The plague returned intermittently to Europe until 1383. Rural life and the economy in many countries were devastated.

The plague is a highly infectious disease caused by the bacterium Pasteurella Pestis, which is transmitted to man by the fleas of rats. The most common form is the bubonic plague which causes fever, vomiting and headache, accompanied by inflammation and swelling of the lymph nodes (buboes). Worse can happen! When the bacteria enters the lungs the pneumonic form of the plague develops; when the bloodstream is infected, the septicaemic plague takes hold.

The last epidemic in England was the Great Plague of London in 1665 and 1666, in which it is estimated that around 70,000 persons died.

The plague has not gone though, it still lingers in areas of poor sanitation in tropical countries. And the rat is ever with us. A relatively small creature of around 8" body length with a scaly tail of around 8" or 9" in length, but capable of inspiring loathing and dread on a scale that belies its size.

Books about Walton, Charles Waterton, Guyana, and more!
See a selection of
books about Walton,
Charles Waterton,
Guyana and more.
• click here •
(Offered for sale by

 Visit the Bookshelf.

OVERTOWN MISCELLANY (overtown.org.uk)  
© John S. Sargent, 1997 - 2021.  All rights reserved.  
• About this site  • Contact  
Squire Charles Waterton