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drainage. All the while the sewer may be nothing but a place from which sickness and ill-health are being poured into the house. No house with any untrapped, unventilated drain-pipe communicating immediately with an unventilated sewer, whether it be from water-closet, sink, or gully-grate, can ever be healthy. An untrapped sink may at any time spread fevers and other diseases among
the inmates of a palace. Country cottages suffer from bad drainage quite as much as, if not more than, town houses. The best that can be said about their floors is, that they are on the level of the ground, instead of being a foot or more above it, as they ought to be, with the air playing freely below the boards. Most frequently, however, the floors are not boarded, but are merely made of earth or of porous brick, which absorbs a large quantity of the moisture, and keeps damp, cold air always about the feet. Perhaps most frequently of all, the floor has been worn away several inches below the level of the ground, and of course after every wet day the floor is wet and sloppy. One would think this bad enough, but it is not the worst. Sometimes a dunghill or a pig-sty is kept so close to the door, that the foul water from it, after rain, may be seen flowing over the house floor.
It frequently happens, when cottages are built on hill sides, that the cottage wall is built against the damp earth, instead of being separated from it, and the water from the hill keeps both walls and floors constantly damp. There are whole villages in which one or more, or even all of these defects, exist, and the natural result is fever, scarlet fever, measles, rheumatism, &c.
People are astonished that they are not healthy in the country, as if living in the country would save them from attending to any of the laws of health more than living in a town.
Now then, here is a whole field for activity—for saving human life and health. Is there nobody in the parish who would take such matters up, and go from house to house to examine into them? A little common sense, a little labor, which in nine cases out of ten could be found by the people themselves, a few shillings of expense at the outside, and no costly machinery of any kind, would put the whole thing to rights, and save health, life, and poor-rates.
DRAINAGE-continued. Did you ever observe that there were certain groups of houses over which the first fog settled sooner than over others ? The fog is nature's way of showing that the houses and their neighbourhood are saturated with moisture from the neglects above specified. These fogs also point out where the fever or cholera will come.
To remedy this state of things, the ground requires to be drained or trenched, the earth cut away, the floors raised above the level of the ground, and dunghills and pig-sties removed as far as possible from the houses. These things can always be placed in such a way as that the natural drainage removes all that is offensive about them, at least away from the house.
Another not uncommon cause of sickness among village people is a puddle of foul water or an offensive ditch. The former can always be filled up with earth, or drained away by a little spade labor. As regards the latter, there is nothing in which more good could be done than by laying a drain-pipe in the bottom of the ditch, and filling the earth in over it to a sufficient distance on either side the houses.
People often put up with nuisances from dunghills and pigsties, on account of the value of the matter itself. Value there is certainly. But the question is, whether the nuisance is necessary; and whether, in preventing nuisance, money would not be saved ?
“ All foul smell indicates disease, and loss of money," says Mr. Chadwick. “Never live in a house which smells. Either don't take it, or examine where the smell comes from, and put a stop to it; but never think of living in it until there
no smell. A house which smells is a hot-bed of disease.”
“But though those smells always indicate danger," says the same authority, “it does not always follow that there is no danger when there is no smell. The danger is often greater when the smell which gives warning is gone. Therefore remove the thing itself, and not only the smell.”
One of the most common causes of disease in towns is having privies and cesspools, ashpits or middensteads close to the houses. There are great and rich cities and towns which justly pride themselves on their drainage, their water-supply, their paving, and surface cleansing, and yet have more death in their dwellings
than many towns where no such works have been carried out. In all these cases the domestic filth of the population is allowed to accumulate among the houses, in close courts, polluting the soil underneath, and the air within the houses, to such a degree that, in spite of the draining, water-supply, and paving, excellent as these may be, the people suffer from exactly double the sickness and death which ought to fall to their lot. There is no way of putting a stop to this terrible loss of life, except by putting an end to these privies and cesspits, and bringing in drainage and water-closets, as has been done in many of the very worst districts of London, and throughout the whole of the dwelling-houses of improved towns.
An attempt is often made to shield these neglects under the plea that “so much has been done already." But the ready reply is “these things ought you to have done, and not to have left the others undone.”
As regards country cottages, if a safe outlet for the sewage can be obtained, cottages can be very cheaply drained. The pipes required will cost about a shilling per lineal yard, and a soil-pan can be put up for ten shillings additional, more or less.
The worst class of nuisances are certainly those I have referred to, in which the local authorities, who ought to be the uncompromising protectors of the health of the poor, attempt to palliate their own deficiencies. But there is another class in which people injure each other, by committing nuisance, or keeping their premises in a filthy condition. In the present state of the law, this can be avoided by bringing reasonable complaint before the authorities, who will see the law enforced. It often happens, however, that the poor are too ill-informed, or too apathetic, to take
any such step; and it is at this point that they can often be most efficiently assisted by the clergyman or district visitor, in whom a knowledge of the law, as it bears on the health of the parishioners, would often be the means of saving sickness, as well as “parish rates." Unhealthy houses, those whose inmates suffer most from sickness and mortality, are well known to parish doctors, officers of health, and to other medical practitioners. The simple question, “Show us the houses which yield the largest amount of fever or other epidemic disease ?” addressed to any of these officers, will enable the finger to be laid at once on the plague-spots of the parish, and show where the poor require help or advice, or both, in having their houses drained, cleansed, limewashed, or ventilated.
Among the more common causes of ill-health in cottages is overcrowding. There is perhaps only a single room for a whole family, and not more than 150 or 200 cubic feet for every inmate. Nothing can make such a room healthy. Ventilation would improve it, but still it would be unhealthy. The only way to meet this overcrowded state of cottages is by adding rooms, or by building more cottages on a better model.
The ordinary oblong sink is an abomination. That great surface of stone, which is always left wet, is always exhaling into the air. I have known whole houses and hospitals smell of the sink. I have met just as strong a stream of sewer air coming up the back staircase of a grand London house from the sink, as I have ever met at Scutari; and I have seen the rooms in that house all ventilated by the open doors, and the passages all unventilated by the closed windows, in order that as much of the sewer air as possible might be conducted into and retained in the bedrooms. It is wonderful!
Another great evil in house construction is carrying drains underneath the house. Such drains are never safe. All house drains should begin and end outside the walls. Many people will readily say, how important are these things. But how few are there who trace disease in their bouseholds to such causes ! Is it not a fact, that when scarlet fever, measles, or small-pox appear among the children, the very first thought which occurs is “where” the children can have “caught” the disease ? And the parents immediately run over in their minds all the families with whom they may have been. They never think of looking at home for the source of the mischief. If a neighbour's child is seized with small-pox, the first question which occurs is, whether it had been vaccinated. No one would undervalue vaccination ; but it becomes of doubtful benefit when it leads people to look ebroad for the source of evils which exist at home.
CLEANLINESS AND LIGHT. (4). Without cleanliness, within and without your house, ventilation is comparatively useless. In certain foul districts poor people used to object to open their windows and doors because of the foul smells that came in. Rich people like to have their stables and dunghill near their houses. But does it ever occur to them that, with many arrangements of this kind, it would be safer to keep the windows shut than open ? You cannot have the air of the house pure with dungheaps under the windows. These are common everywhere. And yet people are surprised that their children, brought up in "country air," suffer from children's diseases. If they studied nature's laws in the matter of children's health, they would not be so surprised.
There are other ways of having filth inside a house besides having dirt in heaps. Old papered walls of years' standing, dirty carpets, dirty walls and ceilings, uncleaned furniture, pollute the air just as much as if there were a dungheap in the basement. People are so unaccustomed to consider how to make a home healthy, that they either never think of it at all, and take every disease as a matter of course, to be “resigned to," when it comes, “as from the hand of Providence;" or, if they ever entertain the idea of preserving the health of their household as a duty, they are very apt to commit all kinds of “negligences and ignorances" in performing it.
Even in the poorest houses, washing the walls and ceilings with quick-lime wash twice a year would prevent more disease than you wot of.
(5). A dark house is always an unhealthy house, always an ill-aired bouse, always a dirty house. Want of light stops growth, and promotes scrofula, rickets, &c., &c., among the children.
People lose their health in a dark house, and if they get ill, they cannot get well again in it.
Three out of many "negligences and ignorances" in managing the health of houses generally, I will bere mention as specimens -1. That the mistress of any building, large or small, does not think it necessary to visit every hole and corner of it every day. How can she expect others to be more careful to maintain her house in a healthy condition than she who is in charge of it ?2. That it is not considered essential to air, to sun, and to clean every room, whether inhabited or not; which is simply laying the ground ready for all kinds of diseases.-3. That the window