It occurred to me as I was typing this, I’m not really sure of the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic. So I looked it up. I knew that pandemic was bigger, was worse, but it seems that in order to be a pandemic it has to have an international effect. The Sligo cholera outbreak of 1832 qualifies, then. While it only affected people living in and around Sligo, Ireland, it went on to have very much an international influence. Worldwide, in fact.
You see, Charlotte Thornley, who would become Charlotte Stoker, was a teenage girl at the time of the outbreak, which would be the worst such incident in all Ireland. Hundreds of people died. Charlotte and her family survived the outbreak by breaking quarantine and fleeing.
Here is what Charlotte wrote of the affair: “But gradually the terror grew on us as time by time we heard of it nearer and nearer. It was in France, it was in Germany, it was in England, and (with wild affright) we began to hear a whisper pass ‘it was in Ireland’. Then mens’ senses began failing them for fear, and deeds were done (in selfish dread) enough to call down Gods direct vengeance on us. One I vividly remember, a poor traveler was taken ill on the roadside, some miles from the town, and how did those Samaritans tend him? They dug a pit and with long poles pushed him living into it and covered him up alive. But God’s hand is not to be thus stayed and severely like Sodom did our city pay for such crimes.” Yikes. The cholera outbreak began on August 11th of 1832. It was believed to have reached Ireland by ship.
Charlotte Stoker told her son Bram about the outbreak as he lay abed as a sickly child. Years later, Bram would have Count Dracula arrive in England by ship, bringing with him a different sort of plague. And Dracula arrived in England—on the 11th of August. No coincidence, that.