There was an evil inclination in people affected by the plague to infect deliberately others during the Great Plague in England (1665/66). Physicians led numerous discussion at that time to find the reason for this sinful tendency.
Some attributed it to the nature of the disease similarly to the madness of dogs. One might have been prompted to become so malign to anybody as if this had been rooted in their own personality.
The deprevation of human character may have been also blamed. It tends to crave that all of its own species be as miserable as itself. More fortunate fellows are unbearable for it.
The boundless desperation invading the terminally ill minds might have been the reason. They could reach such a confused condition that they became careless of others and even of themselves.
Although I am inclined to choose the most rational explanation, another disgraceful event has made me reassess my choice.
During that period, European nations broke all commercial relations with England for sanitary considerations. However, one particular European nation could not resist the templation to draw more profits. They bought British products from England’s parts free from plague and transported them around Europe as if their own. This clandestine trade endangered even their own country’s health.
I think that the conception of humanity, which desperately strives to differenciate itself from any other species, must have conceited in the mind of some early benefactors of our civilisation. The universal declaration of human rights, the abolishment of slavery and the establishment of the rules of justice were significant steps towards a philosophical idea of a noble, conscious and monogynous creature.
Earlier, I used to focus on our failures to comply with that conceit. I could not forgive our mistakes eroding the repute of such a specific species. Recently I have realised that idea is not our point of departure at all, instead it is our dream destination. While cursing our shortcomings, I should acknowledge the huge distance we have already made and the struggle to go on.
Source: A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe