|The Diary of a Young Girl during the 1720 Great Plague
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THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL
In January 1720, eight years old Madelon started her diary on the blank pages of a tiny yearly almanac produced by the protestant community of Lausanne. On the interleaved pages between the first months, she tells the peaceful life of a little girl, surrounded by a cat, a family of rabbits, cousins, the preparations for a wedding. Then the Great Plague of Marseille insinuates itself with travelers’ delays, various quarantines, a wedding postponed after the summer. Madelon summarized the year of the epidemic on the first blank page:
La peste a été à Marseille l’année mille sept cent vingt, et c’est un vaisseau de Marseille qui est venu de Smyrne et qui l’a apportée ; Madelon, fille d’un gentilhomme maréchal de camp des armées du Roi.
The plague was in Marseilles in the year one thousand seven hundred and twenty, and it was a ship of Marseilles that came from Smyrna and brought it; Madelon, daughter of a gentleman marshal of the camp of the king’s armies.
Almanac or new reformed calendar for the Year of Grace 1720 by Jean Aygroz and Frederic Gentil, sold in Lausanne & Combremont le petit, by the authors.
On November 17th we set up the clock in my mother’s room. This November 22nd, 1720 set up the clock in the little room
My sister Delisle gave a ball to the family on the 1st [January] 1720. My brother Delisle went to Bern on the 31st. My brother Delisle returned from his trip from Bern and Solothurn on the 24th.
Jeannot (rabbit) died on the 25th [February] at five in the morning, the day of his feast. I saw string dancers; I saw Harlequin at his toilet. My brother returned from Bern and Solothurn on the 24th.
Mars. Mademoiselle de Corcelles and Monsieur Chabot got married on the 23rd and they love each other very much.
April. We started the vacherin on April 1st. My sister Lisette started dancing on the 3rd. I went to Mademoiselle de Vatote with my sister Pauline on the 4th. The whipping of Mademoiselle de Veten’s unfortunate [maid] on the 6th. My mother made us shawls (in fabric) from Marly on the 6th / Monsieur Guiard began to give lessons to my sisters Delisle and de Villard on the 11th of this month. We went to Corin with Monsieur and Madame de Vernand and two of my cousins from Chandieu on the 17th. We made Karabé syrup on the 20th of this month / Mr and Mrs Pelissari came back on the 27th and they were fed on the 29th with Mr de Gravignan, their son…
Juillet. Mon frère est arrivé de Paris le 15. Aout (blanc). Septembre (blanc). Octobre. Monsieur de Cuilans est venu le 20 de ce mois et il a demeuré quarante jours en chemin et il est demeuré 12 jours en quarantaine à Genève. Mon père et ma mère sont allés à Vevey le 19 et ils sont revenus le 26.
July. My brother arrived from Paris on the 15th. August (blank). September (blank). October. Monsieur de Cuilans came on the 20th of that month and stayed forty days on the way and he stayed 12 days in quarantine in Geneva. My father and mother went to Vevey on the 19th and came back on the 26th.
November. Monsieur de Chabot and Mademoiselle de Corcelles were married on the 6th and Mademoiselle de Cuarnans asked for him on the 9th. My cousin Frederic came on the 4th and returned on the 14th. My mother went to Lausanne with my two sisters on the 6th of this month. On the 9th the female rabbit had 4 cubs. Madame de Cuarnans gave birth at half past noon on the 14th and Monsieur told us on the 15th. My brother Delisle arrived on the 19th and stayed fourteen days on the way. We were given chocolate on my mother’s birthday on the 26th.
Décembre. Mon père est allé à Lausanne le 3 pour le baptême de la petite de Cuarnans. On a baptisé la petite de Cuarnans le 3. Mon père venu de Lausanne le 6. Colet a quitté la maison le 4. Le 8, on a porté de Cuarnens la peite Mimi. Le 10 j’ai commencé à écrire la vie d’Alexandre le Grandet c’est ma sœur Lisette qui a eu la bonté de me le faire écrire. Ce dernoer mois, ma mère m’a forcé à travailler quoique je n’ussa pas courage. Je lui ai une grande obligation. Le 12 il a fait fort beau. Ce 14, mon frère de Villar m’a arraché ma dent je lui ai une grande obligation…Ce 17 j’ai commencé à faire mon écritoire et on a apporté le papier marbré de Lausanne. Ce 18 mon vieux vilain valet a sa … (illisible et raturé)
December. My father went to Lausanne on the 3rd for the baptism of the little girl from Cuarnans. We christened the little girl from Cuarnans on the 3rd. My father came from Lausanne on the 6th. Colet left home on the 4th. On the 8th, we brought little Mimi from Cuarnens. On the 10th I began to write the life of Alexander the Great and it is my sister Lisette who had the kindness to make me write it. This last month, my mother forced me to work although I didn’t have the courage. I have a great obligation to her. On the 12th the weather was very nice. On the 14th, my brother from Villar pulled out my tooth…On the 17th, I started to make my writing case and we brought the marbled paper from Lausanne. On the 18th, my old naughty servant has his… (illegible and crossed out)
Ci-dessus, visite au Palais de Longchamp, Marseille, 2019
Lectures en ligne / Further reading on the Great Plague: https://francearchives.fr/en/article/219900602
During the present year 2020,