Given the extent of medical knowledge at the time, it is not surprising that a whole host of symptoms, ranging from difficulty in breathing, tingling hands, and loss of appetite, to diarrhoea and dysentery, were blamed on the fog, whether or not it was the actual cause.
Breathing in fumes from poisonous chemicals was highly dangerous; for example, inhaling vapour from mercury used in the manufacture of felt hats, caused Mad hatter disease.
It has been estimated that smallpox was killing as many as 400,000 people per year in Europe by the end of the 18th century. Sadly, the majority of these deaths were children, as it was “chiefly a disease of infancy and early childhood”. However, even if some of the population survive the disease itself, they may well succumb to secondary infections such as bronchopneumonia and streptococcal septicaemia.
“The rich ate a bulky though unbalanced diet. There was a high intake of protein but few vegetables, as these were thought to cause melancholy and flatulence, and little fruit, white meats, milk, whey, butter, eggs, and cheese.”
It was not only among the poor that this insanitary state existed. Dr. Samuel Johnson, for example, when talking about his friend, the poet, Kit Smart, remarked: “Another charge was that he did not love clean linen; and I have no passion for it.”
On 6th of December 1768 the first edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica was published in Edinburgh.
The grave of Malvina Wells born in Grenada in 1805 can be found in Edinburgh with the Scottish family she worked for.