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Title: The Dwelling House
Author: Poore, George Vivian
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Dwelling House" ***

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_By the same Author._

  Second Edition.      With 6 Illustrations.      Crown 8vo. 6_s._ 6_d._


'A highly important book. The whole book is an education in itself.
It is a volume to be read and re-read equally by householders and by
professional sanitarians. Our only regret is that amid the flood of
hygienic literature which is year by year turned loose upon the world,
there are so few books of this type—fearless, honest, and scientific
criticisms of existing errors, and full, likewise, of recommendations
whereby these errors may be rectified.'—Glasgow Herald.

LONGMANS, GREEN, & CO., 39 Paternoster Row, London

New York and Bombay.



Physician to University College Hospital

Fellow of the Sanitary Institute

Member of the Permanent Committee of the International Congress of Hygiene
and Demography

Honorary Member of the Hungarian Society of Public Health, &c.

Author of 'Essays on Rural Hygiene'

 Houses are built to Live in, and not to Looke on.... God Almightie
 first planted a Garden. And, indeed, it is the purest of Humane
 Pleasures. It is the Greatest Refreshment to the Spirits of Man;
 without which Buildings and Pallaces are but Grosse Handy workes.—Bacon

    Is this improvement? where the human breed
    Degenerate as they swarm and overflow,
    Till toil grows cheaper than the trodden weed,
    And man competes with man, like foe with foe,
    Till Death, that thins them, scarce seems public woe?

    To gorge a few with Trade's precarious prize,
    We banish rural life and breathe unwholesome skies




 All rights reserved


This work is intended not merely to point out certain common defects
in the Dwelling House, and to show how evils more or less necessary in
towns may be avoided in the country, but to call attention to the fact
that our modern methods of sanitation, and the heavy taxation of the
dwelling, inevitably increase overcrowding, and the moral and physical
ills which follow in its train.

An attempt is made to review the great subject of the disposal of house
refuse in its political and scientific aspects, rather than from the
point of view of the tradesman or patentee.

The greater part of the ensuing chapters has been previously published.
Addresses delivered before the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the
London Institution, the Sanitary Institute, and the Medico-Chirurgical
Society of Nottingham, together with short papers communicated to the
British Medical Association, the British Institute of Public Health,
and the 'Practitioner,' have been incorporated with the text.

The author is greatly indebted to his friend, Mr. Thomas W. Cutler,
F.R.I.B.A., for much valuable advice and assistance in the preparation
of some of the illustrations; and he is similarly indebted to
Mr. Arthur Blomfield-Jackson and the editors of the 'Lancet' and

For permission to use the diagram illustrating the Model By-Laws of the
Local Government Board (p. 109) the thanks of the author are due to
Messrs. Knight & Co.

From Mr. George Pernet, B.A., M.R.C.S. &c., the author has received
much assistance and many valuable suggestions during the passage of the
work through the press.

  32 Wimpole Street,

  _July 1897_


 CHAPTER                                                     PAGE

   I. Defects in Planning                                       1

  II. The Sanitation of the Isolated Dwelling                  32

 III. Slop-water                                               69

  IV. Overcrowding: Its Causes and Effects                     90

   V. The Circulation of Organic Matter                       125

  VI. The Soil in its Relation to Disease and Sanitation      152


 FIG.                                                        PAGE

 1. }
 2. }  Typical London House                                  4, 5
 3. }

 4. }  Combined Staircase and Ventilated Lobby             10, 11
 5. }

 6.    House with Staircase forming Ventilated Cut-off from
         Kitchen and Lavatory, &c.                             12

 7.    Bungalow facing South                                   14

 8.    Convalescent Home                                       16

 9.    Stove with Air-inlet Underneath                         17

 10.   Ventilating Panel in Door                               17

 11.   Bedroom Window                                          22

 12. } Cellar Window                                           29
 13. }

 14.   Andover Houses and Garden                               35

 15.   Garden at Andover                                       38

 16.   Section of 'Dry-Catch' Privy                            40

 17.   Earth-closet with Ventilated Lobby                      46

 18.   Section through Earth-closet and Dry Catch              47

 19.   Section of Dry Closet Pan                               48

 20.   Urine Filter                                            51

 21.   Dry Urinal                                              57

 22.   Plan of Well, showing its relation to Paths and Hedge   65

 23.   Section of Well, showing Concrete Lining and position
         of Pump                                               65

 24.   Rustic Arch                                             77

 25.   Use of Arch for getting Waste Water clear of House      77

 26.   Filtration Gutter                                       79

 27.   Filtration Gutter on Bank                               80

 28.   Kitchen Sink with Duplicated Outside Filter             82

 29.   Arrangement for Small Tenements                         87

 30.   Section of Small Tenements                              88

 31.   Building Estate                                         92

 32. } Illustrations of 'Model' By-Laws for Regulation of
 33. }   Buildings                                            109
 34. }

 35.   Curves of Unmanured and Manured Barley Plots           139

 36.   Map to Illustrate Marylebone Small-pox Outbreak        145




It is doubtful if there be anything which more affects the health of
the individual than the house in which he lives.

Modern advances in bacteriology, and the certain knowledge of the
way in which many diseases are carried through the air, have given
additional importance to methods of house construction. The danger, for
persons who are not immune, of being under the same roof with a case of
whooping cough, measles, scarlatina, diphtheria, typhus, or smallpox
has long been recognised; but it is only recently that our eyes have
been opened as to similar dangers in relation to tuberculosis and
pneumonia. Pneumonia has now for some years been occasionally spoken of
as a 'house disease,' and the same term has recently—but whether on
sufficient evidence is doubtful—been applied to cancer.

A careful study of the epidemic of influenza, which is showing singular
vigour in the seventh year of its reappearance amongst us, has clearly
shown that it is communicable through the air. And the way in which
whole households go down with it when once it gains a footing in
a house, is an additional reason for reconsidering our methods of

The main object to be kept in view in building a house is the supply
of _fresh_ air. Too much care cannot be taken to insure that all the
channels of internal communication—hall, passages, staircases—have
independent ventilation of their own. Unless there be the means of
getting these internal channels blown out by through draughts, the
house cannot be wholesome; and in the event of any of the air-borne
contagia getting a footing in the house, the liability to spread is
enormously increased.

Not only must these internal channels have air, but they must have
light also. The dark passage, ending in a close _cul-de-sac_ of bedroom
doors, is one of the commonest features of the modern house, and is, of
course, absolutely to be condemned.

When we encounter the smell of the kitchen in the corridors, this may
be taken as sure evidence that the house is unwholesome, and that the
internal channels of communication are as insufficiently ventilated
as is the kitchen. The smell of fried bacon which oozes through the
keyhole of your bedroom may be accompanied by all the infective
potentialities of all the inmates of the house. This test, as applied
to corridors, is analogous to the smoke test or oil of peppermint test
as applied to drains, and is quite as important.

If the house be of several storeys, the ventilation of the staircase
has an importance which bears a direct proportion to the height of the
house. As a rule, in second-class, and, indeed, in many first-class
houses, the ventilation and illumination of the staircase never
trouble the mind of the builder or his architect. Starting from the
front passage, the only light of which is from a closed fan-light over
the door, the staircase oscillates between water-closet doors and
bedroom doors, getting darker and darker as it ascends. In the houses
of artizans, every doctor must be familiar with the rancid whiff that
comes up the absolutely dark stairs leading to the basement; the cold,
damp smell of mildew and soot in the sacred front parlour, where the
'register' is closed and the blinds are drawn; and the variety of
odours which assault his nose until he arrives at the carbolic sheet
protecting the door of the room containing the case of infectious
illness he has possibly come to see. Such houses are almost always let
in lodgings, and contain several families; and if air-borne contagia
ever gain admission to them, it can be no matter for surprise that they
are difficult to dislodge.

The same defect of construction is seen in a very large number of
London houses, even the smartest. The defect may be shortly spoken of
as this:—'_that the internal channels of communication, instead of
serving for the supply of fresh air, merely facilitate the exchange of
foul air_.' This defect of construction is dangerous in proportion to
the size of the building and the number of persons it contains.

The shafts for lifts necessarily require independent ventilation
as much as the staircases. The monster hotels or towers of flats,
from inattention to these details, are liable to be most unwholesome
residences, and to be really dangerous if air-borne contagia gain
access to them.


Let us look at the ordinary London house of the better class. I have
borrowed the plans which were given in the 'Lancet' for July 4, 1896.
Figs. 1 and 2 show the plans of all the floors of the same house before
(1) and after (2) certain alterations in the plumbing arrangements.
Fig. 3 is a section of the same house, kindly made for me by Mr. Thomas
W. Cutler, F.R.I.B.A.

I have taken these plans for the sake of showing what are the common
defects of the average better-class London house.

[Illustration: Typical London House.

  Fig. 1.      Fig. 2.]

I do not wish to be understood as saying that these defects are, in
London at least, remediable. That unfortunately is not the case. That
they are defects which ought to be avoided in places where land is
less costly than in London is very evident.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.—Typical London House.]

1. The main defect is due to the fact that the cubic capacity of the
house is far too great for the area upon which it is built. The house
is, in fact, a tower of five storeys, 60 feet high from basement to
roof, and containing 37,000 cubic feet, standing on an area of 1,512
square feet. A house of this shape entails enormous labour upon
servants. It has been said, that in raising the body vertically we do
an amount of work equal to moving the body twenty times the distance
horizontally. The climb from basement to the top storey is therefore
equal to walking 1,000 or 1,200 feet along the level, and when a
footman weighing 11 stone, and carrying 28 pounds weight of coals,
climbs from the coal-cellar to one of the top rooms, the work done is
rather more than _four foot-tons_. I do not know when high-service
water supplies became general in London houses, but it is evident that
when the only water-supply was in the basement, the inconvenience
of these high houses must have been very great. Gas-pipes, hydraulic
lifts, electric wires, speaking-tubes, and high water supply have so
lessened the personal service required in these domestic towers, that
they have become popular, and by increasing the overcrowding in our
cities they now constitute a very serious sanitary danger. In America
the houses with steel frames have been run up to a height of 250 feet
and over, and have converted the streets into sunless, draughty cañons,
in which locomotion is a matter of great difficulty, because the width
of the street bears no due proportion to the cubic contents (and
population) of the houses flanking it.

2. The house being flanked on either side by other houses, the front
and back walls are alone available for admitting light and air, and
the depth of the house is unduly great in proportion to its width. The
noise of the neighbours is not always a trivial drawback.

3. One storey, and the largest, is below the street level, an
arrangement which, from a sanitary point of view, is unjustifiable, and
ought never to be imitated in the country.

4. There is no back door, which is a very serious defect in a house.
The result is that the coals have to be got in, and the ashes and
garbage to be got out, under the dining-room windows, and that while
these tedious processes are in doing the traffic in the main street is
very much impeded.

It is said that eels get used to skinning, and so the Londoner becomes
very blind to the failings of the house which he inhabits.

The house of which the plan and sections are shown in the figures is
not, be it observed, one of the dwellings of the poor, of which we hear
so much, but one of the dwellings of the well-to-do, or even rich,
fetching probably 350_l._ a year rent. It would need four servants,
one of whom would sleep below ground level in the pantry; and in
addition to the servants, eight persons might squeeze into such a house.

The basement below ground level is really a cellar dwelling, against
which we inveigh, when we find it in Whitechapel. It is very dark,
and requires artificial light nearly every day in the year. A butler
sleeps in a dingy 'pantry' among the tea-cups and other gear, which
he possibly sorts upon his unmade bed before he lays the cloth for

This basement (Fig. 2) contains four sinks and two closets, each with
its trap, and in each of the three areas are trapped gullies so placed
that any gases which escape from them are more likely than not to find
their way into the house.

The only way into the kitchen is through the scullery. The scullery
sink is turned away from the window, and the smell of cooking and
of cabbage water must inevitably find its way into the basement. A
water-closet has been wedged into the back area between the windows of
the kitchen and the servants' hall; and the larder, while it is without
adequate light or ventilation, has a trapped gully at its door to serve
as a seed-bed for mould fungi which will infect the food.

There is only one staircase, and this must serve as a shaft for the
culinary and other fumes of the basement to rise in. It is entirely
without independent ventilation until the half-landing above the
drawing-room is reached. In fig. 1 there is another staircase window
on the second floor, but this, be it observed, has been blocked by a
water-closet in the house, as altered by the plumbers. This is a very
serious thing to have done, and, in my judgment, is not in any way
compensated by the changes recommended. The staircase has a skylight
at the top, but skylights, being never opened in London because of 'the
blacks,' are of very little use for ventilation. On the ground floor
a water-closet abuts on the morning-room windows, while in the area
beneath these windows is another water-closet, previously mentioned.

The first floor contains two fine drawing-rooms and a staircase window,
and being without 'sanitary apparatus' is wholesome, except for the
fumes which may ascend or descend the well-staircase. On this floor
the light and decoration will render one oblivious of the basement. On
the second floor the staircase window has been blocked, and there is
an impossible bath-room, without adequate light or ventilation, which
nothing can make wholesome, and which ought to be abolished absolutely.
On the top floor the staircase ends in an unventilated _cul-de-sac_
formed by four bedrooms, a dark 'box-room,' and a water-closet which is
wedged in between two bedrooms.

This house has, if one may say so, been over-plumbered. There are five
closets, five sinks, and a bath-waste (eleven trapped waste-pipes) for
a maximum of twelve people. The closet on the second floor, and the
one in the basement between the servants' hall and kitchen, should be
abolished, and the fixed bath on the second floor should be removed. A
bath-room wants light and air, and should always be against an outside
wall. Persons should never take houses with extemporised bath-rooms
poked in 'anywhere.'

In order to be fairly wholesome this house wants a fan-light over, or a
glazed panel in, the front door, to serve the purpose of a window and
ventilator, and a window over W.C between the morning-room and study.
In this way there will be the possibility of a through draught at the
foot of the stairs. The staircase window on the second floor should be
re-opened, and a window put above the W.C on the top floor (the W.C.
need not be more than 7 feet 6 inches in height). In this way the main
channel of internal communication will be ventilated, and should any
of the sanitary fittings 'go wrong,' the emanations will be diluted,
perhaps to safety point.

Now we may assume that the house we have been considering, with three
rooms on the ground floor, would let for about 350_l._ per annum, and
would be rated at 300_l._ The alterations in the plumbing arrangements,
as shown in fig. 2, are estimated by the 'Lancet' experts to cost
618_l._, or, let us say, a sum equal to twice the rateable value, and
which adds (calculating 10 per cent, for wear and tear) at least 60_l._
per annum to the cost of the house. The local rates for this house
would amount to over 90_l._ per annum, and if we assume that one-third
of this is for sewerage, we may say that the sanitation of the house
costs 90_l._ per annum, a sum sufficient to pay for the transmission
by Parcel Post of 1,800 packets, weighing 11 lbs. each. Leaving the
question of the waste of fertilising material out of consideration, it
is clear that sanitation by water is as extravagant as it is dangerous.


In the suggestions which the Medical Committee has drawn up for the
guidance of the architect in making plans for the extension and
ultimate complete rebuilding of University College Hospital, the
thorough ventilation of the staircases and corridors is insisted upon;
and the building is to be so constructed that it will be impossible for
air to drift from one floor to another, or from one ward to another,
without first mixing with the outside air. Builders of mansions and
hotels would do well to keep the same principles of construction in

[Illustration: Fig. 4.]

Another suggestion which has been made is to place the secondary
staircases _between the wards and the sanitary offices_, so that the
staircase-well forms a cut-off, with cross-ventilation between the ward
on one side and the various sinks, closets, and baths on the other
side. These secondary staircases are absolutely necessary in case
of fire; and, by making them serve a double purpose, a considerable
saving of space is effected. This arrangement is shown both in plan and
section in figs. 4 and 5. It is very usual to place some of the ward
offices on either side of the ward-approach, and others at the end of
the ward. This is, in fact, the common arrangement; but, when adopted,
it has the effect of making the ward-approach dark and gloomy, and
of placing the ward between a double set of sanitary pipes, with the
dangers inseparable from them. It is, I believe, a sound principle of
construction for private houses, as well as for hospitals, to place
the sanitary and culinary offices of all kinds on one side of the
staircase, and the living rooms on the other. If the staircase-well be
properly ventilated, the risk of living and sleeping in an atmosphere
of sewer air is thereby diminished.

Fig. 6 is a ground plan of an ordinary country or suburban dwelling
house which offers a suggestion in this direction. It is the principle
only which I wish to illustrate. If the principle be sound, the method
of carrying it out will certainly be improved by the experience and
cunning of the trained architect.

[Illustration: Fig. 5.]

This figure shows the 'offices' to the left and the living-rooms to
the right of the staircase. The staircase has through-and-through
ventilation of its own. The passage leading to the sitting-rooms has
also illumination and ventilation independent of the sitting-rooms. The
W.C. has a lobby with independent ventilation, and the door leading to
this lobby from the hall should be a spring door. It will be observed
that the 'pantry' (the workroom of the man or maid whose duty it is
to answer the door) is placed as near the door as possible, and that
this pantry intervenes, so to say, between the kitchen and the entrance
hall. If the door between the pantry and hall, and the door between
kitchen and pantry, be made to open in opposite directions and close
with springs, no smell of cooking will be likely at any time to pervade
the living-rooms.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.]

Only the ground floor of this house is shown, so that it may be as well
to state that, as regards the upper floor, _all_ the bedrooms would be
to the right of the staircase, while to the left, above the kitchen,
&c., would be a second W.C., bath-room, housemaid's closet, and
box-room. The principle of construction which it is wished to inculcate
is this—that the culinary and sanitary offices should be quite
distinct from the living-rooms, and be placed in an annex which should
be separated from the living-house by a well-ventilated staircase. The
living-house itself should not under any circumstances contain either
water-tap or waste-pipe of any kind.


In building a house, the point which requires more attention than any
other is the aspect. This is too often neglected. In a climate like
ours one may say that a house should receive its maximum amount of
sun. If a house be well exposed to the sun there can be no doubt that
the expense of keeping it warm will be considerably lessened. The best
aspect for a house is generally conceded to be that which allows its
chief rooms to look to the south-east. In this way the morning sun is
enjoyed, and the rooms do not get the glare of the afternoon sun, which
in July is apt to be intolerable. It may be advisable to build a house
in the form of a veritable sun-trap. And it is quite possible so to
build a modest residence that those who live in it may enjoy a maximum
amount of sunshine and fresh air without exposure to cold winds.

The ground plan for such a house would have to be that of a
right-angled triangle, with the apex pointing to the north (see fig.
7). The sun, even on the shortest day, would, if visible, shine into
the angle for over seven hours continuously. In this re-entrant angle
there would be complete protection from northerly and easterly winds;
and if provided with a glass-covered verandah, it would be possible
for even the most delicate invalids to enjoy in it a maximum amount of
fresh air.

As only the truncated apex of the triangle faces due north, it is
obvious that every side of this house would be bathed in sunlight for a
considerable time every day.

The problem in such a house would be, not how to keep warm in the
winter, but rather how to keep cool in July.

There are a few points in the ground plan of this 'bungalow facing
south' which may be alluded to. Such a bungalow, if placed on the south
side of a public road running east and west, would require no long
carriage-drive of its own. The front door might be quite close to the
road (and there are many advantages on the score of economy, safety,
and convenience, of such a position) without the privacy of the south
side being lessened in any appreciable degree.

[Illustration: Fig. 7.]

The absence of stairs means less fatigue for invalids and old people,
and less danger for children. Provided the cost of land be reasonable,
is there any advantage in having more than one storey to a house? The
sanitary advantage of a large area for a house is very great indeed. In
hospitals we now recognise that infinitely the most important element
of the 'cubic space per bed' is the floor area, and that a deficient
floor space is not to be compensated by giving great height to the
wards. The same reasoning is applicable to a house; and there is this
further advantage in giving a large area to a country house, that the
greater the area of the roof, the greater is the amount of rain-water
which can be collected. Such a bungalow in our climate would certainly
provide enough rain-water for all the needs of the inmates.

The shape of this house, with a minimum exposure to the north, is such
that every room in it would receive a very thorough exposure to the sun.

A reference to the ground plan will show that on either side of the
front door is a window, and that at the end of both the long passages
is a big window, so that the channels of internal communication receive
an ample supply of light and air, and can be swept by a through
draught. The closets (and these should be 'dry-closets,' and not
water-closets) are cut off from the main structure by a lobby having
cross ventilation.

The pantry, the occupant of which usually does duty as hall-porter, is
placed immediately between the front door and the side door, so that
both doors can be guarded, so to say, at the same time and by the same

The kitchen is shut off by two doors, and both of these should be
spring-doors, in order to make perfectly sure that the house shall not
be invaded by a smell of cooking. The kitchen, nevertheless, is quite
close to the dining-room.

The triangular space enclosed by the two sides would, there can be no
doubt, need planting with a few deciduous trees and creepers, in order
that the shade afforded may undergo a progressive increase as the heat
of summer reaches its maximum.

The disposition of the rooms shown is not intended to be more than
tentative, and in practice it would certainly be found advisable to
have at least one sitting-room with a northerly aspect.

The verandah, it is observed, is big and serviceable, the object of
it being, not merely ornament, but to enable even a delicate person
to live practically in the open air. The rooms opening on to such a
verandah must have big casement windows with low bottom sills, in order
that chairs and tables may be lifted in and out with ease.

The size of the bungalow is greater than most families would require,
but as the plan is merely intended to illustrate a principle this is of
no consequence.

[Illustration: Fig. 8.]

Fig. 8 shows an adaptation of the above plan, by Mr. Thomas W. Cutler,
for a Convalescent Home in Epping Forest.


Fig. 9 represents an economical and wholesome way of warming the
passages of a house. It is intended to represent a stove (any
slow-combustion stove) with a fresh-air pipe of large calibre opening
immediately beneath it. When the stove is lighted there is necessarily
a large influx of fresh air, and the result is that the air in the
passage is never 'close' or 'burnt.' It is important that the fresh-air
pipe should be big, and that its gratings should be easily removable
for cleaning.

[Illustration: Fig. 9.—Stove with Air-inlet underneath.]

If the hall and passages be warmed in this way it becomes possible to
ventilate the rooms _from the passages_ in the depth of winter. Fig.
10 represents one of the top panels of a door converted into a louvre
ventilator, with the object of ventilating a room from the passages.
A ventilator of this kind, if provided with side-pieces, delivers its
air nearly vertically, and admits a large volume of air without causing

[Illustration: Fig. 10.—Ventilating Panel in Door.]

Draughts may be defined as currents of air rushing in at the wrong
place through channels which have insufficient area. The only way
to cure draughts is to place inlets of sufficient area in proper
positions. When building a house one might, of course, place louvre
ventilators in the walls between room and passage at a height of 6 ft.
6 in. above the floor. The alteration of a door panel into a ventilator
costs only a shilling or two. In the writer's experience it is a most
excellent way of ventilating a room, _always provided that the air of
the passages be wholesome_.


A few words may be said as to living-rooms. Most living-rooms in
better-class houses are too high. This is probably due to the bad
example of London. In London the height of a house is the only
dimension in which there is, so to say, the least elasticity, and
London architects have attempted to compensate by height for absolutely
inadequate area.

The rooms of some of the learned societies at Burlington House, with a
space of several feet between the top of the window and the ceiling,
afford excellent illustrations of the point which is to be avoided.
_Windows should extend to within a few inches of the ceiling, and
should open at the top._ This is universally admitted. If the room
be 12 feet or 13 feet high, and the windows go to the top, then the
window becomes unmanageable from its weight, and the opening of the
top, although theoretically possible, is seldom put in practice. The
wholesomeness of a room depends very much upon the rapidity with which
the air in it can be renewed—the facility, in short, with which one
can give it a blow out. This depends upon the relation of window area
to cubic capacity. Windows, again, should be so constructed that they
can be easily manipulated by a child. The louvre window ventilator,
such as is common in churches, will be found very valuable for the
admission of a constant but relatively small supply of air. These
ventilators were introduced by the late Professor John Marshall into
his wards at University College Hospital, and with the very best

Relatively low rooms, with big mullioned windows going to within a
few inches of the ceiling, are far more wholesome than lofty rooms in
which the tops of the walls are inaccessible to the housemaid, and the
window sashes too weighty for her to move without difficulty.

For wholesomeness and comfort I believe a height of 10 feet is
sufficient for any domestic living-room, and 9 feet for a bedroom.
Provided the windows go to the top, and can be easily opened, it is
very doubtful if there is any object, from the purely sanitary point
of view, in having rooms more than 9 feet high. In rooms of such a
height the cornice of the ceiling can be easily reached by a housemaid
standing on a set of hand-steps, and the practical advantage of this is
very great.

Our health is more in the hands of the housemaid than most of us are
aware. Facility for cleaning should be ever in the mind of both builder
and furnisher. The modern boudoir, hung with dabs of mediæval rags, and
stuffed with furniture and nicknacks till it looks like a transplanted
bit of Wardour Street, is often not very cleanly; and when the daylight
is excluded to a maximum extent, lest fading should take place, and the
sun's rays never have a chance of disinfecting the dust upon and behind
the curios, it cannot be wholesome.

It may be remarked that some of the curtain hangings and chintzes
which are now, or were lately, in vogue are dressed or printed with
a material which gives them a peculiar 'fusty' smell, something like
inferior hay. No room in which they are used can ever smell 'fresh,'
and it must be remembered that the smell of 'freshness' due to the
free admission of light and air is the best practical criterion of


For discomfort and unwholesomeness the average hotel bedroom is hard to
beat. I have occupied, in a very smart hotel, a bedroom which was 18
feet long, 13 feet high, and had a varying width from 10 feet at the
window end to 8 feet at the door end (the room was wedge-shaped, owing
to its being at the turn of a building which had a fine circular front
facing towards two thoroughfares). The top of the window was at least 3
feet from the ceiling. The window was huge and unmanageable, and access
to it blocked by a big dressing-table carrying a large looking-glass,
which, in company with a once white (but now dingy yellow) roller-blind
(which would not stop up) and absurdly heavy and costly (and dusty)
valance and curtains, succeeded in keeping out most of the light
which might otherwise have succeeded in getting through the murky
atmosphere of a manufacturing town. The cubic capacity of this room
was considerable (2,080 feet), but the 160 feet of floor-space was so
occupied by bed, dressing-table, writing-table, wardrobe, chest of
drawers, sponge-bath, fender, portmanteau stand, besides pedestal, two
chairs and armchair, bidet, coal-scuttle, and boot-jack, that after
having extinguished the light, which was at the farthest point from the
bed, it was no easy matter to thread one's way back.

The planning and fitting of a room to serve in the best way possible
the purpose for which it is intended is a problem to which architects
have paid as yet but little attention. The house-builder might very
well take a few hints from the ship-builder. On board ship space is
economised to the utmost, and it is a matter of interest and wonder to
observe how many luxuries one can have on board a well-planned ship,
mainly by reason of the cleverly-designed fittings which economise
space; and it is, further, a matter of interest to observe how the
principle of 'a place for everything and everything in its place' lends
itself to cleanliness and wholesomeness. The besetting sin of modern
hospital architects is the giving of an extravagant excess of space in
places where it is not needed. Because one gives, let us say, 120 feet
of floor-space to every patient, it does not follow that any sanitary
object is gained by giving a single square inch more than is absolutely
necessary for ward offices. On the contrary, ward offices should be
kept as small as possible, so that the 'place for everything' doctrine
must necessarily be followed. I have seen 'ward kitchens' for twenty
patients, in which the only cooking done is the heating of a little
milk or beef-tea over a gas-jet, which have been about three times as
big as a P. & O. galley, in which a succession of banquets are daily
prepared for one or two hundred persons. If ward offices be carefully
planned, and be merely 'big enough,' with no excess of cubic capacity,
not only will initial cost in construction be saved, but cleanliness
will be facilitated and cost of maintenance and repair lessened.

So it is with hotel bedrooms. One lives in hopes of some day seeing a
competition among hotels in making the rooms occupied by travellers
as convenient and wholesome as possible. There can be no doubt that
a 'single' bedroom 12 feet square and 9 feet high, containing 1,296
cubic feet, if properly planned, fitted, lighted, and ventilated,
would be far more wholesome and convenient than the wedge-shaped
apartment containing 2,080 cubic feet to which allusion has been made.
Without entering into the whole question of bedroom fittings, one may
say a few words as to that very necessary article of daily use, the
looking-glass. The swing looking-glass, which continues to hold its
own, and which, in spite of 'curses not loud but deep,' refuses to
stop at any angle, surely ought to be abandoned now that looking-glass
plate has become so inexpensive. Fig. 11 represents a bedroom window
comprising a thoroughly illuminated long mirror, so that for toilet
purposes the face and figure are easily inspected. The looking-glass
is surrounded by window, and the window itself is easily accessible,
and is opened and shut with ease. All bedroom windows in tourists'
hotels ought to have a balcony, in order that dusty clothing may be
shaken in the open air. In hotels all heavy draperies, hangings,
and carpets should be tabooed, and every effort should be made to
give an appearance of elegance and luxury with a minimum amount of
dust-retaining decoration. Hotels are like hospitals in this respect,
that guests know nothing of the previous occupants of their room,
and it must often be that such ignorance is blissful. Convenience for
the guests and facility in cleaning are the objects to be attained by
designers and fitters of hotels.

[Illustration: Fig. 11.]


Although I do not propose to enter into the details of the plumbing
and sewerage arrangements, it is nevertheless necessary to touch upon
certain broad questions. Wherever organic refuse is mixed with water
putrefaction results, and certain gases are given off from putrefying
liquids which are poisonous and hurtful to mankind. Every cook and
housemaid is familiar with the fact that all vessels which serve as
receptacles for putrescible liquids require the most careful cleansing,
and need to be scrubbed and scoured, washed with hot water and soap
and soda, and _wiped dry_. If this is not done they become foul, and
rapidly cause the decomposition of any liquid containing organic matter
which may be subsequently added.

The modern house drains into a sewer, which is necessarily always
foul and filled with the gases of putrefaction. These gases are the
result of microbial action. The sewage water is full of microbes,
the gases of putrefaction are the gaseous 'toxins' (CO₂, H₂S,
CH₄, NH₃, &c.) which result from their growth. The air of the
sewer is necessarily harmful in itself, and the presence or absence of
microbes in the sewer air is a matter of practically small importance.
The house drains are necessarily foul as well as the sewers. We hear
a great deal about 'self-cleansing' sewers, which shows how ignorant
are the surveyors and others who use such terms. A glazed pipe, with a
good gradient, may be less foul than a rough sewer with insufficient
gradient, but you can no more have a 'self-cleansing' sewer than you
can have a self-cleansing saucepan or chamber-vessel.

The foulest place in a house is the kitchen sink, with its vegetable
and animal _débris_, such as cabbage-water, grease, &c. Sanitary
engineers are trying to cleanse these places by automatic flushing with
cold water, which, to say the least, is enterprising. A few years ago
'fat traps' were fashionable, but were soon found to be intolerable
from their inexpressible foulness.

It must be remembered that wherever along a line of drainage you get
stagnation there must be putrefaction, and it must be borne in mind
that every 'trap' which is a contrivance for ensuring stagnation is
necessarily a place where putrefaction is liable to take place. Traps
may keep back the smell of the street sewer in house pipes, but it must
never be forgotten that they are undesirable evils in themselves.

The efforts of modern sanitary engineers are directed towards ensuring
that the gases which inevitably result from putrefaction in sewers and
house-drains should be as much as possible diluted with external air
before we breathe them. The sewer gratings in the streets give off foul
gases at the pavement level, especially in the summer. The ventilating
pipes give off foul gases at the roof level, close to the water
cisterns. The traps beneath every W.C. and sink are all spots where
putrefaction may and often does take place. The gullies in the front
and back areas of the house are also liable to be foul. Here I would
insist that every gully on the ground level should, when possible, be
freely exposed to the air, so that the wind may blow over it. This, in
London, is impossible, as these gullies are necessarily surrounded by
the walls of the area, and in still, muggy weather these areas must
contain a large amount of gaseous toxins.

I insist upon this point because I see the town architect making the
mistake in the country of enclosing the kitchen and pantry gullies by
walls (to form a kitchen yard), so that any emanations which arise from
them are liable to be drawn into the house through the open windows.
Such an arrangement ought, when possible, to be carefully avoided.

Traps and trapped gullies are evils which are only to be tolerated for
the prevention of greater evils. I visited not long ago a convalescent
home built on the slopes of a decidedly steep hill. The building was a
fine one, and (why I do not know) was three storeys high. The builder
had brought the rain-water pipes from the roof, and had made them
terminate in trapped gullies close to the front wall of the house. In
these collections of stagnant water, dead leaves, &c., would certainly
decay, and every trap would inevitably become a cultivating chamber
for the growth of mildew and moulds of various kinds. These trapped
gullies communicated with an underground drain, where the same growth
of mildew, &c., would inevitably go forward. In such a situation the
rain-water, without the interference of the builder and architect,
would have got clean away into the valley below, and have left the
house perfectly dry. All that was needed was an open gutter. Great
expense had been incurred to make the walls of this building dry, and
still greater expense had been incurred to ensure precisely those evils
which come from damp walls, viz., the growth of mildew.

In the autumn of 1896 I was stopping in an hotel which had no less
than 42 trapped gullies touching its walls; there was one beneath
almost every window and by the side of almost every door. Here, again,
a little contrivance and common sense would have obviated all this
mischievous expense.

The constant inhalation of the gases of putrefaction is a great danger
to health, otherwise sanitarians would not lead us to imply that we
ought to spend enormous sums to ensure their dilution before we inhale
them. If these gases be concentrated, they are capable of killing
strong men in a few minutes. The constant inhalation of these gases
in a more diluted form leads to malnutrition, and one must suppose
that the pasty-faced and undersized Cockney is made in this way. We
have little certain knowledge of the diseases caused by sewer air.
Personally, I should say that anæmia and malnutrition are the chief
resulting evils, and that these conditions make us very vulnerable
to infections. Sore-throat is certainly a drain disease, and thus a
vulnerability to diphtheria is probably engendered. Puerperal disease
of various kinds and rheumatic fever are among the diseases which
have been attributed to sewer air, and it is probable that chronic
enlargement of the tonsils and the surprising increase of adenoid
growths in the pharynx and naso-pharynx are not without similar

Dr. Letheby and Dr. Haldane, who both investigated cases of acute
poisoning by air in sewers, came to the conclusion that sulphuretted
hydrogen was the fatal ingredient.

Dr. Haldane is of opinion that the source of the sulphuretted hydrogen
is the kitchen refuse in the fat traps and grease boxes. He states that
·07 per cent. (or a mixture containing 7 parts of sulphuretted hydrogen
with 9,993 parts of air) is poisonous.

It is probable that the constant inhalation of very small quantities
indeed would be prejudicial to health.


There is a very general consensus of opinion that damp houses are

Why are they unwholesome? It is very doubtful if the constant
inhalation of watery vapour is prejudicial to health. I am not aware
that sailors and millers, and boatmen who spend their lives on the
water, are a short-lived class, or that they are liable to diseases
which are special to them as a class.

The probable cause of the unwholesomeness of a damp house is its
liability to grow moulds and mildews and allied organisms. The growth
of putrefactive and pathogenic organisms is checked by dryness
and encouraged by dampness, and it is probable that it is in this
direction that we are to look for the causes of the unwholesomeness
of damp houses. A friend built a house some eighteen months since on
an eminence in a park having a stiff clay soil. His architect advised
him to have cellars under the house 'for the sake of dryness,' and
such advice is very general. Let us look at the question a little more
closely. Suppose you build a house having an area of 50 feet by 50
feet = 2,500 square feet. If you have no cellar this 2,500 square feet
of your house rests upon the soil, and six inches of concrete will
effectually stop back the moisture. Suppose you have a cellar beneath
the house, say 8 feet high, then you have to excavate 2,500 feet by 8 =
20,000 cubic feet of earth; and in addition to the floor of your cellar
you have four sides, each 50 feet by 8 = 400 square feet, or 1,600
extra square feet in all, in contact with the damp earth. With a cellar
you have 4,100 square feet ready to imbibe moisture from the soil, and
without it you have 2,500 feet only.

A big cellarage used for pantries, larders, beer, wine, coals, &c.,
&c., which is not artificially warmed, makes a house very cold; and
if the cellarage communicate directly with the ground floor, there
is a constant draught of cold air from the vaults beneath to the
living-rooms above.

Supposing such a cellarage to have walls and floor impermeable to
moisture, it is inevitable that whenever the wind shifts from a
cold dry quarter to a warm muggy quarter (say from N.E. to S.W.),
condensation will take place, and the walls of your 'dry cellar' will
stream with moisture.

A cold damp cellar, which comes only occasionally under the
surveillance of the master and mistress, and in which all sorts of odds
and ends are poked away to accumulate dust and mildew, is an undoubted
disadvantage to a house.

Such a cellar should never be 'drained,' _i.e._, it must on no account
have a gully in it for the purpose of 'swilling down.' When such a
cellar is cleansed, it must be scrubbed and _wiped dry_ precisely like
a living-room. The trap of a gully is sure to grow moulds and mildews,
and if, as is not unlikely, it becomes unsealed by evaporation, then
the gases from the sewer or cesspool will inevitably find their way
into the cellarage and the house above it.

An inhabited basement, such as is universal in London, regarded in
relation to the house above it, is a very different thing from an
uninhabited cellarage.

A place where food is stored, be it larder or dairy, must be cool, and
clean, and _dry_, and must on no account have a gully either in it or
near it. Food, and milk, and cream are cultivating media for organisms
of all kinds, and food, especially cold gelatinous food, may become
most dangerously poisonous if stored in an unwholesome place.

I will invite attention to fig. 12, which represents a cellarage window
constructed quite recently. The window is entirely below the level of
the ground, and is surrounded by an 'area' for giving light and air
to the window. The area is protected by a horizontal grating on the
ground level, securely and permanently fastened down, and the area is
drained through a gully, this being necessary because of the rain
which falls into it. The gully leads to an underground drain, which,
in this particular case, did not run directly to a cesspool, but to an
open gutter on the side of a hill at a lower level. Into this area dead
leaves are blown, and worms and slugs and snails inevitably find their
way, and are washed by the rain into the stagnant gully, which becomes
a place for putrefaction and the cultivation of mildew, the spores of
which are necessarily blown into the house to infect the food which is
stored there. Not only is the area closed by a fixed grating above, but
the window is securely and permanently barred, so that this dry area
(?), with its mildew trap, cannot possibly be cleaned without pulling
the house to pieces.

[Illustration: Fig. 12.

Fig. 13.]

Fig. 13 is a suggestion for the improvement of this area. A glazed
shutter has been placed (to prevent the access of rain) over a fixed
grating, which admits air at the sides. The gully has been removed, the
front wall of the area has (at the suggestion of Mr. William White,
F.S.A.) been sloped forward so as to reflect the light into the room,
and the window bars have been taken away, in order that this area may
be cleaned as thoroughly as the room which it serves.


In view of recent discoveries as to the liability of food to become
poisonous when stored in an unwholesome place, the construction of the
larder is an important matter.

The place where cooked and uncooked food is stored—the larder—must be
wholesome, and to this end great care must be used in its construction.
The following appear to me to be the points which demand attention in
the larder, an apartment which may influence the health of a household
to a very great extent:—

 1. The larder must be _dry_. Both walls and floor should be above
 suspicion as to dampness. Any mould or mildew growing on the floor or
 walls is very apt to infect the food. The floor should be of concrete,
 without seams or joints. The walls should be limewashed every
 year, and the shelves (if expense be no object) should be of some
 non-absorbent material, such as marble, slate, glazed earthenware, or
 glass. It is better to have a larder above the ground level than below
 it, because in the latter situation dampness is very difficult to

 2. A larder must be _cool_. If it have no rooms above it, the roof
 must be so constructed as to keep out the heat of the sun. It is
 essential that its windows and ventilators should face the north. The
 temperature which is most favourable for the growth of microbes is one
 which approaches to blood-heat, and, speaking generally, one may say
 that the higher the temperature, the more likely is the 'cultivation'
 of microbes to go forward. It is important that the flue of the
 kitchen fire, or any other flue, should not touch the wall of the

 3. Good ventilation is essential. The windows should be big, and
 should be protected on the outside with wire gauze, so as to prevent
 the access of flies or other insects.

 4. On no account must there be a gully communicating with any
 underground drain or sewer either inside or, indeed, near to any
 place where food is stored. In short, we must bear in mind that
 sewer-poisoning may be indirect through the food, as well as direct
 from the sewer itself. When the shelves and floor of a larder are
 washed, they should be wiped dry, and such washing should be carried
 out in dry weather, so that the drying process may be complete.

We all know how sensitive food is to unwholesome contaminations, and
one may well have a doubt as to the sanitary condition of show dairies,
where a cool, plashing fountain plays in the centre, because such
fountain must have a waste-pipe, and one must fear that such waste-pipe
communicates with a drain. A dairy, equally with a larder, should be
kept cool and dry, and should offer no facilities for the ingress of
putrefactive products from a sewer.

I have already pointed out that it is no protection to have waste-pipes
trapped, because in every form of trap one must have stagnation, and
wherever stagnation occurs there must be putrefaction. A very small
quantity of food-refuse or milk is enough to set up putrefaction in
a trap. If any outlet for water is thought desirable in a larder,
it should be in the form of an open gutter which can be thoroughly
cleaned and dried, and which should pass directly through the wall on
the floor-level, the opening in the wall to be closed by a sliding
trap-door when the gutter is not being used. No bacteriologist needs to
be reminded that a water-trap is necessarily a cultivating chamber.



We are now in a position to consider the sanitation of the isolated
dwelling. Having dwelt upon the evils of putrefaction, it is to
be expected that methods which involve no putrefaction will be
recommended. Further, it must be remembered that there are many
situations which are otherwise suitable for a dwelling, but are
rendered unsuitable by the lack of water; and in these days we have
become so absolutely dependent upon water, that no site for a dwelling
where water is scarce is acceptable.


We have come to think that there can be no cleanliness without soap
and water, and it may be necessary to remind the reader that the nomad
Arab cleanses himself with the sand of the desert; that polished floors
redolent of beeswax and turpentine are at least as wholesome as those
that are scrubbed and have their crevices filled with a soapy slime;
and that one of the best ways of washing a flannel shirt is said to be
to hang it in the sun and beat it thoroughly with a stick. Necessity
is the mother of invention, and were there a water-famine to-morrow, I
have no doubt that those who were minded to be cleanly would somehow
manage to be so.

There is no denying that dry methods of sanitation are in this country,
where water is plentiful, far from popular. Dwellers in cities want to
be rid of matters which have no value for _them_ as individuals, and
the luxury of having a scavenger 'laid on,' who can be set at work by
merely turning a tap, and who, albeit that we pay handsomely for his
services, does not hang about to be 'tipped,' are undeniable. Then,
again, our scavenger is a very strict teetotaller and never strikes,
although occasionally he is 'frozen out.' Many of us during a severe
frost have, so to say, been the victims of dry methods and of 'water'
closets, so called, on the principle of _Lucus a non lucendo_.

If dry methods of sanitation are to be successfully carried out, it is
necessary to bear in mind the principles which underlie them.


The change which is produced in excrement when mixed with earth whereby
the excrement is humified—_i.e._, changed to something which is
indistinguishable by our senses from ordinary garden mould, or humus,
is due to the action of fungoid organisms. Some of these belong to the
'mould' fungi, such as penicillium and saccharomyces, while others are
allied to the schizomycetes, otherwise known as bacteria, bacilli, and

A very important organism, or class of organisms, in this connection
are those which bring about the nitrification of nitrogenous matters,
whereby they are oxidised and made soluble, so as to be readily
absorbed by the roots of growing plants. I prefer, however, to use the
word _humification_ in place of nitrification, because it is not likely
that nitrification is the sole change which takes place, and it is at
least highly probable that many of the fungi which grow in nitrogenous
matter play a very important part in producing fertility and in
feeding higher plants. The intestines of animals swarm with bacteria
and allied bodies, and it may be assumed, in the absence of evidence
to the contrary, that excrements carry with them, so to say, in the
form of moulds and bacteria, bodies which help in their subsequent

Which of us has not noticed the excrement of a dog, evenly covered with
exquisitely graceful stalks of fungus as with a crop of erect white
hairs. The greatest of all human observers must have seen this, for he
makes the Queen say to Hamlet:

    'Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
    Starts up and stands on end.'

Ordinary humus contains such organisms in countless numbers, and it
is probable that when excreta are mixed with sterile bodies, such as
ashes, the necessary organisms are in part supplied by the excreta
themselves, or possibly gain access from the air around.

In order that humification may take place two things are necessary:—

  1. The matter must be tolerably dry—absolute dryness
  checks the process, so does excess of moisture. It is stated
  that about 33 per cent. of moisture is the amount with
  which the humifying change is most rapid.

  2. The access of air is necessary, because the organisms
  which produce humification are aërobic, and, as much of the
  change consists of oxidation, it is evident that the free
  access of air is essential.


It may be well to refer here to what is actually done in my garden at
Andover, in Hampshire.

It should be stated that the garden is close to the centre of the
town of Andover, the chief town in West Hants (a purely agricultural
district), with about 6,000 inhabitants.

The garden abuts on a street and lies very low, being only two or three
feet at most above the average level of the river Anton, which forms
one of its boundaries.

The interest of the garden lies in the fact that it has been manured
for the last ten years with the excreta and other refuse of some
twenty cottages, the only stable dung which has been used having been
sufficient to make a hotbed in the spring, and no more.

[Illustration: Fig. 14.

A, cottages; B, house and garden (let for a girls' school); C, C,
garden ground used for sanitary purposes, measuring (exclusive of grass
and paths) about 1¼ acre; W, well, D, D, D, D, D, small stream,
supplied partly by springs and partly from river.]

The plan (fig. 14) shows the position of the cottages, which form
a _cul-de-sac_ running from the street to the river, and also the
position of the garden ground. This ground, which is on both sides of
the cottages, measures, exclusive of paths and turf, about one and a
quarter acre. Nearly an acre of the ground has, together with a house,
been let for a girls' school, and in the cultivation of this piece the
writer has no authority.

The cottages are fitted with 'pail closets,' with the exception of
one only, which has a 'dry catch,' which is much superior from every
point of view to a pail closet, and in course of time it is hoped that
all the closets will be converted into 'dry catches,' of which more
will be said hereafter. The contents of the pails are removed every
morning, and are _superficially_ buried in a furrow such as a gardener
makes when turning up the ground with a spade. One must insist that the
covering of the excreta cannot be too light, as it is essential for
the due humification of the organic refuse that the air have access
to the pores of the soil; and one may add that when the pores of the
soil are sealed up by drenching rains, as was the case in the autumn
of 1894, the process of humification is delayed, and certainly the
excreta are not (owing to their sticky, glutinous nature) washed out of
the soil by the heaviest rains experienced in this country. The method
of superficial burial has this further advantage, that the tillage of
the soil and the burying of the excreta are carried on by a single
operation. As the cottages are close to the garden, the process of
removing and burying the contents of the pails is done in less than an
hour. Directly this has been accomplished, in the early hours of the
morning, there is an end of anything which can offend either the eyes
or the nose.

After the excreta have been superficially buried plants of the cabbage
tribe are dibbled in as soon as may be. This is often done within three
days, and the cabbages are sure to flourish. Seeds do not flourish
with any certainty, and, although I have seen fair crops of turnips,
peas, onions, &c., when the weather has been favourable, such crops
are liable to fail, while cabbage as a first crop is practically sure
to succeed. I can call to mind a spot in the Andover garden which had
been sown with turnips and radishes as a first crop after manuring.
The produce was Brobdingnagian, but worthless except to dig into the
ground. The development of green head was very great, the roots were
huge and woolly. When the plan of operations which has been described
(daily superficial burial followed by cabbage planting) was commenced,
some ten years ago, many were the prophecies of failure. The practical
men shook their heads and said I never should succeed that way, but
that I was 'bound to store the stuff in a heap to allow it to ripen
before being put on the land.' As a sanitarian one was naturally
anxious to get the excreta below the surface of the ground as soon as
possible, and I now feel confident in stating that the plan I recommend
is the best from the sanitary, agricultural, and financial points of
view. Sanitarily it is the best because there is no delay in the safe
bestowal of the excreta; agriculturally it is best because no ammonia
or other volatile body is given to the air, but all goes to enrich the
land; and financially it is best because it involves moving the dung
once only instead of twice; the same operation that tills the land
serves to cover the dung, and while the excreta are 'ripening' for
other crops the farmer gets a crop of cabbage. After the cabbage crop
the ground is still very rich and will grow everything or anything, to
which the soil and situation are suited, in high perfection.

The garden is in great contrast to an ordinary sewage farm. It is
used as a pleasaunce, and its luxurious herbage and bright colouring
are very beautiful. The ordinary garden crops show great exuberance
of growth, and the summer fruit trees (apples, pears, peaches, and
nectarines) are usually hung with a very bountiful crop of fruit.

[Illustration: Fig. 15.—Garden at Andover.]

The illustration (fig. 15) shows the central green path of the garden,
and although the rich colouring of the tritomas, gladioli, stocks,
phloxes, asters, lobelias, calceolarias, roses, and dahlias, cannot
be reproduced, the illustration will serve to give some idea of the
general luxuriance. The writer claims to have proved (all chemical
analyses to the contrary notwithstanding) that human excreta have a
very high manurial value, and this will be borne out by the picture.


Seeing that moderate dryness and free access of air are essential for
humification, it becomes necessary so to construct our receptacle that
these ends may be attained.

This end is not attained in an ordinary pail, because all the urine
is retained; there is an excess of moisture, and the mixture becomes
putrid and sloppy, unmanageable and offensive.

The best method of treating excreta is to allow them to be deposited in
the 'dry catch,' suggested by Mr. Richardson, of Clifton (see fig. 16).
In this arrangement the seat is raised on two or three steps, and the
excreta are caught on a slightly sloping concrete floor; the excreta
are freely exposed to the air, and the urine flows away down the slight
slope and is caught by an absorbent material, of which the best is
garden humus.

With this arrangement no putrefaction takes place. It is not a matter
of much practical moment whether or not earth be thrown into the
dry catch after the excreta, because the arrangement ensures that
offensiveness is reduced to a minimum.

If earth be used this humification will go on in the catch itself, and
the longer such a catch is used the better it will act, always provided
that moderate dryness and free access of air are ensured.

I speak with great confidence as to the success of this arrangement,
and with an experience of some years' standing. With a dry catch of
this kind used, let us suppose, for the lowest class of property and
with daily removal of the excreta, the bulk and weight of the excreta
are reduced to a minimum; there is no sloppiness or putrefaction.
Collection and transport are easy, and the work is, with suitable
tools, not repulsive. If we adopt the estimate of Parkes, that the
solid excreta average for both sexes and all ages not more than 2½
ounces per diem, then the household of five persons would provide
considerably less than 1 lb. weight per diem.

[Illustration: Fig. 16.—Section of 'Dry-Catch' Privy, with Gutter
filled with Absorbent Material to absorb Excess of Urine.]

Now a dry catch may in country places be used with the addition of dry
earth, and where the householder has a garden he can have no difficulty
in managing everything for himself, and must be little better than an
idiot if he allows any sanitary authority to rob him of the finest
manure the world produces, the excreta of the 'paragon of animals,' and
withal the most highly fed.

Where the sanitary authority is responsible for the disposal of
excrement, I believe it will be found more economical to carry the
excreta to the earth than to take the earth to the excreta.

If there be cultivable land at hand, and the nearer such land is to the
houses the better, I believe the best course to pursue is to bury the
excreta daily in superficial furrows, as recommended above.

If there be no cultivable land at hand, then the excreta would have
to be taken to a rough shed (sufficient to keep off the rain) and
mixed with earth. The process of humification would be completed in
three months, and the humus thus formed might be used over and over
and over again _ad infinitum_. The great advantage which follows from
the scientific use of 'dry methods' is the continuity of the process.
Nature turns all the excrement to humus, and humus is acknowledged
to be the very best purifier of offensive nitrogenous matter which
the world affords. The dark humus which is found everywhere, and
which provides for all our needs, is nothing but excrement which has
suffered a natural transformation brought about by a process which
is purely biological. The oftener such humus is used the better it
acts, and, further, it slowly increases in bulk. There can be no doubt
as to its horticultural value, and if the authority cannot use it,
the neighbouring farmers and gardeners will gladly do so. One of the
difficulties connected with the dry-earth system is the procuring of
earth, but from what I have said it is evident that an initial store
of earth sufficient for six months' use, if judiciously, carefully,
and scientifically used, would for ever take away the necessity of
providing a fresh store.

This continuity of action is a most important matter, and one which
has been hitherto almost wholly unappreciated. This arises from the
fact that those who have not carefully studied these dry methods are
unable to believe that what I have stated is really true. That it is
absolutely true I have no doubt whatever. Every sanitary authority
should have a garden of its own for the purpose of practically
demonstrating the excellent results obtained by using this 'dry'
material as a manure. Such a garden, if properly cultivated, could
not fail to be both beautiful and productive, and, if managed on the
profit-sharing principle, would yield at least enough to pay wages.
Such a garden should not have the customary notice, 'No admittance
except on business,' but it should be the business of everybody to walk
by it or through it while going to and from their daily work, and in
so doing receive an object-lesson which would do more to enhance the
health and prosperity of the country than any number of Board Schools
and Free Libraries. In the last edition of 'Rural Hygiene' I have given
some statements as to the financial results of my garden at Andover,
which, I think, will be regarded as satisfactory. My experiments point
to the fact that 600 square yards are enough for the disposal of the
excreta of about 100 persons per annum.


The causes of the ill-success of the pail system appear to me to be in
large measure due to the great weight of the pails, and, in consequence
of the exceeding foulness of the material, the great distances which
they have to be carried.

By the adoption of the 'dry catch' the weight of material would
be enormously decreased and its daily transference by means of a
proper shovel and travelling receptacle would be found both easy and

If the material removed be buried superficially every day with a view
to cultivation and production, the land to which it is removed _cannot
be too near to the houses_. This may seem a strong assertion, but I
make it without any hesitation whatever. Should the necessity ever
arise, I feel sure that all the parks and square gardens might be used
in the manner I have indicated for sanitary purposes, not only without
offence, but with a certain great increase in the productiveness of the
ground, always provided that the atmosphere be not too foul (as is the
case in central London) to permit of horticulture or agriculture in any

If the dry catch be used the material is not sloppy and liable to
spill, and thus the great hindrance to its transport is removed.

Finally, the initial expenses and repairs of pails would no longer fall
on the sanitary authority, and the huge cost of lugging about these
absurdly clumsy putrefaction boxes would be at an end.

We have three specimens of municipal pails in the Parkes Museum, and
these vary in weight from 40 lbs. to 50 lbs. The 50-lb. pail, which
is 18 inches in diameter and 15 inches deep, weighs, when filled with
water, 187¼ lbs.

If, by the help of two men, a horse, and a lorry, one has to take, in
addition to the excreta, fifty pounds weight of galvanised iron, or
wood and iron, a mile each way, the expense becomes huge, and anything
like a daily removal is impracticable; but if one has to transport a
pound of solid excrement a few hundred yards only, then the problem is
a very different one.

Any sanitary authority which adopts 'dry method' should endeavour to
arrange for a daily removal. I am no advocate of 'conservancy,' but
would rather see the immediate utilisation of the excreta. It is only
by immediate burial that one gets the full manurial value of them.

The burial must be done with a view to the cultivation of the land.
_It must be superficial._ The excreta must be merely covered with the
earth, no more. Furrows half a spit deep are ample. It is in this way
only that one insures the oxidation of the excrement and the protection
of the wells.

It is the almost universal custom to bury night soil deeply, and I
could quote many instances in which excreta have been buried three or
four feet deep, and have been exhumed some months later unchanged and
still foul. If they be buried deeply, the farmer or gardener gets no
benefit and the wells are endangered. The farmer, be it remembered,
spreads his dung on the surface of the ground, with a maximum exposure
to light and air and then ploughs it in; nothing could be more truly

We hear that in India, in spite of the earth system, typhoid is rife,
and the opinion is very general there that typhoid spreads through the
air. I have never been in India, and am not competent to express any
opinion, but I have heard that in some places in India the excreta are
_deeply_ buried, and if this be the case, it appears to me that if the
ground gets deeply fissured during drought, the torrential rains which
follow may very well wash this too deeply buried and unchanged excreta
into the water sources.

If excreta are to be used for agricultural purposes, no chemical
antiseptics must on any account whatever be mixed with them.
Antiseptics are a source of serious danger to the agriculturist. The
best antiseptic for such a purpose is earth.


It has been supposed that the method of excrement disposal which I
advocate necessitates the compelling of delicate persons to go out
of doors in all weathers. I do not believe that it is necessary to
ask delicate persons to run the risk of exposure in houses where dry
methods of excrement disposal are employed. If a very small amount of
the ingenuity which has been lavished upon water carriage had been
devoted to overcoming the difficulties which attend the safe and decent
management of dry methods, these difficulties would, I believe, have
long since disappeared. If architects and builders can be impressed
with the _necessity_, on scientific, moral, sanitary, and economic
grounds, of overcoming these difficulties, the thing is done.

The house which I own at Andover (see fig. 14, B) becoming vacant, I
tried the experiment of giving it a dry privy, which should be of such
a kind that no lady would object to use it.

Now I hold that every closet, whether a dry closet or a water closet,
should be sequestered from the main structure of a house, and should
be approached by a lobby having cross ventilation. Those who in the
present day put closets and waste-pipes within the four walls which
enclose the living-rooms are not abreast of modern civilisation. The
simplest plan for effecting my object in the present case seemed to be
to throw an arch across the entrance to the stable yard, to place the
ventilated passage on the top of the arch, and the closet on the far
side of it, on a level with the first floor, and with a capacious vault
or 'catch' beneath it. (See figs. 17 and 18.) The catch, though larger,
is exactly on the same principle as that which has been described, and
it has been provided with eight large air bricks, three of which are
just below the level of the closet seat, three near the ground level,
and two intermediate in position. The bottom of the door of the catch
is about an inch above the ground level, and in addition there is an
opening for a dust-shoot, protected by a fine grating, so as to insure
that only dust and ashes and not cinders or clinkers are thrown into
it. There can be no doubt that plenty of fresh air will get access to
this receptacle.

Without special precautions such a closet would be cold and draughty,
and I have endeavoured to overcome this difficulty by a specially
constructed pan, closed at the bottom by a hinged flap, which opens and
shuts automatically by means of a counterpoise. (See fig. 19.)

[Illustration: Fig. 17.—E.C. with Ventilated Lobby.]

By means of this specially-devised pan all up-draught is prevented;
the stuff drops out of sight, and the urine, owing to the obliquity of
the bottom of the pan, runs away instantly. When the closet has been
used, some earth is thrown in, and this has the effect of carrying away
any paper which may lodge, and of deodorising any soiling of the pan
which may have taken place. There are some points connected with this
closet-pan and seat which require to be mentioned:—

1. The seat and accessories are made of the best polished mahogany,
because I am very strongly of opinion that smartness leads to

[Illustration: Fig. 18.—Section through Chamber Floor E.C. and Dry

2. The seat is only 14 inches above the ground, which is some 4 inches
less than is customary. Closet seats are, as a rule, too high, and the
low seat, with the position it necessitates, has certain physiological
advantages, among which may be mentioned the fact that the dejecta
fall vertically downwards. It has one disadvantage, viz., that elderly
people find a difficulty in rising; but this objection is easily
overcome by fixing a handle in the wall, so that the arms may assist
the feeble legs in the act of resuming the erect position.

[Illustration: Fig. 19.—Section of Pan for Dry Closets.]

It will be observed that the back part of the pan is 3 inches beyond
the rim of the seat and is nearly vertical, while the front part is set
only 1 inch beyond the rim of the seat, and runs obliquely from above
down and from before back. The object of this is to still further
lessen the chance of the soiling of the back of the pan. The lower
opening is slightly oblique, so that urine shall flow away instantly.

The supply of earth for this closet is kept in a box alongside the
seat, and this box is filled from the outside by means of a hopper so
arranged that the man who brings a fresh supply of earth cannot see
or be seen by any chance occupant of the closet. The supply of earth
is very large, being sufficient for a month or more, and there is no
traffic through the house either with earth or excrement. This, again,
is an important trifle.

The pans hitherto constructed on this pattern have been made of
japanned iron. They have not to bear any weight or strain, and may be
made very light. Enamelled iron or copper seem to me to be the best
materials, but I have no doubt they could be effectually contrived in
earthenware. The pans have been made for me by Messrs. Righton, 376
Euston Road. The pattern is registered.


Most of us must have remarked, either in London or some other centre of
population, how little annoyance arises from cabstands. One must know
of cab ranks where dozens of horses stand for hours daily from year's
end to year's end, and where tons of dung and thousands of gallons of
urine are spilled upon the same spot and practically without annoyance.
I do not mean to say that occasionally one may not get a strongly
ammoniacal whiff from such a spot when the weather is hot and muggy,
but it is notorious that they are seldom foul, and that on passing them
we are never prompted to hold the nose and quicken our pace.

The condition of a cabstand is in strong contrast with the average
urinal with an ordinary water supply. Such places are always pervaded
with a sickening odour, and the mere addition of practically an
unlimited amount of water is insufficient to keep this smell of
decomposing urine (than which nothing is more offensive) in abeyance.

It is hardly too much to say that water urinals are always offensive,
and that even in clubs and similar smart places the tablet of camphor,
which is intended to assert itself over the head of the other smells,
is not always successful.

It may, I think, be said that water urinals are never sweet except in
those rare instances in which they are constantly wiped perfectly clean
by an attendant. The decomposition of urine is due to micro-organisms,
and it is well-known that if urine be passed into an impure vessel,
its decomposition takes place with great rapidity, especially if the
temperature be moderately high. All vessels intended for the reception
of urine require a thorough washing and cleansing every day. The form
of 'bottle' which is habitually used for bed-ridden patients is most
difficult to clean, and is a very undesirable apparatus. If water
urinals be provided with 'traps' in which urine, or urine and water, is
allowed to stagnate, such traps must be permanently foul and become a
source of annoyance if not of danger.

If urine be allowed to filter through absorbent material, the effect
produced upon it is as remarkable as it is interesting. I have
experimented with a variety of absorbent materials during the last six
years, and now propose to shortly set forth the results, some of which
have been previously published in 'Essays on Rural Hygiene' (2nd ed.:
Longmans, 1894). The vessels used have been of conical form, tapering
from one foot in diameter at the upper and wider end to an opening
large enough to admit a big quill at the lower end (fig. 20.) The
length of these vessels is 30 inches, and they are supported on a metal

Some of the vessels have been made of metal—galvanised iron—and
others have been made of flannel.

[Illustration: Fig. 20.—Urine Filter.]

The first experiments were made with ordinary garden earth, and they
were conducted for me by Dr. Wells, of Brondesbury. These, and nearly
all the subsequent experiments, were made in the same way, viz.,
by adding day by day what may be called a natural chance quantity
of urine, varying in amount from about a quarter of a pint to two
pints in the day. In these experiments, when fresh earth was used,
the filtrate was always of _lower specific gravity_ than the urine
added, notwithstanding the considerable evaporation which must have
taken place from the surface of the filter. The total solids of the
urine averaged 4·44 per cent., of which 3·45 were organic and 0·99
inorganic, while the total solids of the filtrate were 1·78 per cent.,
of which 1·07 were organic and 0·71 inorganic. How much of the organic
and inorganic matters in the filtrate came from the mould it is not
possible to say. The urea was probably all reduced, as the hypobromite
method gave a percentage of only 0·15 in the filtrate, a quantity
which may be disregarded in the face of the fact that the hypobromite
method acts upon nitrogenous bodies other than urea. The filtrate was
rather deeply pigmented, but the pigment was submitted to spectroscopic
examination by Dr. McMunn, of Wolverhampton, and pronounced by him to
be not of urinary origin. Further—and this is most important—the
filtrate could be evaporated to dryness without offensive odour, and
showed no tendency whatever to putrefy when left for months in an
ordinary bottle.

In short, the filtrate, although derived from urine, had none of
the qualities of that fluid. The earth in the filter when stirred
was distinctly ammoniacal, so that the presence of ammonia could be
detected by the nose when held quite close to it, but at no time was
there any foulness.

When the same earth, after some months of rest, was used a second time
for the filtration of urine, the same results were obtained, with the
exception that the filtrate was of higher specific gravity than the
urine added, and the mineral residue of the filtrate was double that
of the urine. This was caused by the solution of nitrates and other
soluble salts which were formed in the earth from the residue of the
first instalment of urine, but the filtrate had not the properties of
urine. It contained no urea, could be evaporated to dryness without
offence, and showed no tendency to putrefy.

In the same way, I have used deal sawdust instead of earth, and the
following is the result of an analysis made for me by Dr. Kenwood in
the Hygienic Laboratory at University College.

  July 25, 1895.

_Parts per 1,000._

 |   Reaction    |S.G.  | Solids|       Urea      |SO₃   |P₂O₅       |  Cl |
 |[1]Faintly acid|1·020 | 44·20 |       23·8      | 1·38 |   2·39   | 4·08|
 |               |      |       |                 |      |          |     |
 |[2]Alkaline    |1·034 | 127·9 |Nil (all reduced)| 8·30 |  13·41   |38·00|


[1] (1) Fresh urine.

[2] (2) Urine after filtration through sawdust.

'_Physical Characters._—(1) Pale yellow, clear, with a slight opaque
zone from mucus, normal urine odour.

'(2) Dark mahogany-brown colour—markedly opaque and somewhat turbid. A
peculiar woody (resinous) odour, faintly ammoniacal.

'The "two ammonias" cannot be estimated by Wanklyn's process in the
fresh urine, where there is so much urea, but in the filtrate they
amount to—

  0·032  Free and saline } per 1,000
  0·0016 Organic         }

I have kept two test-tubes half filled with (1) and (2), tightly
corked, in the warm cupboard of the laboratory for the past three
weeks; the sample of fresh urine has become offensive, but that of the
filtered urine is perfectly sweet, and rather pleasant to smell.'

The filtrates from sawdust were a very dark brown colour, like 'stout'
or 'porter,' and these have been evaporated to dryness without offence,
and have shown no tendency to putrefy.

Experiments conducted in the same way with peat have yielded a filtrate
almost identical in appearance to the sawdust filtrate, inoffensive on
evaporation and not putrescible. The filtrates from peat and sawdust
were always of _higher specific gravity_ than the urine added.

In order to ascertain how much urine could be got rid of by
evaporation, I tried the experiment of using a flannel bag filled
with sawdust or peat, and I found that with regard to one of these
experiments (the bag being hung under a shed in the open between June
15 and July 20, 1895), only 81 ounces of filtrate having the qualities
above given were obtained from 729 ounces of urine added to the filter.
In this case 648 ounces of urine (over 40 lbs. weight) disappeared. In
another experiment carried on in my room at University College I added
(between May 9 and July 26) 626 ounces of urine, and obtained only 54
ounces of filtrate, so that in this case 572 ounces (nearly 36 lbs.
weight) of urine had disappeared.

As far as my experiments have as yet gone, I have not discovered the
limit of sawdust for dealing satisfactorily with urine. Thus in 1894 I
filtered during May, June, and July, 39 lbs. weight of urine through
6 lbs. of sawdust in a flannel bag, and neither filtrate nor sawdust
was in the least offensive. In the same months in 1895 I passed an
additional 41 lbs. weight of urine through the same sawdust in the
same bag, and practically with the same result. In 1896 I added over
30 lbs. weight of urine to the same sawdust, but as the flannel bag
had become too rotten to hold together, I was obliged to have recourse
to the metal filter-vessel. The early filtrate obtained in 1896 had
a specific gravity of 1·061, but, like its predecessors, could be
evaporated to dryness without offence, and the sawdust was not in the
least malodorous, although it was distinctly (as it always has been in
these experiments) ammoniacal.

One of the most interesting experiments was that in which the filtering
material consisted of crumpled paper in a flannel bag. The paper
used was such as is familiar to every one, and was derived from old
Bradshaw's Guides, the leaves of which were torn out and crumpled up
in the hand before being put into the bag. This paper, like most paper
used for printing, is sized and not very absorbent. At the end of a
week a considerable quantity of filtrate had been obtained, and both
filter and filtrate became excessively foul and malodorous, so that
it was unpleasantly obtrusive, even when one stood several yards from
it. The foul filtrate was returned to the filter, and no fresh urine
was added for a time. This was done on October 15, and on October
21 all had become sweet, and four ounces of a perfectly sweet and
_faintly acid_ filtrate were obtained! The filter never became foul
after this date. Between October 21 and November 25, 1894, 434 ounces
of urine were added, and 54¼ ounces of filtrate were obtained.
Between November 25, 1894, and January 6, 1895, the filter rested;
then, between January 6 and March 31 urine was added only occasionally,
so that the total only amounted to 560 ounces (35 lbs. weight). Three
and a half pounds weight of filtrate were obtained. The filtrate was
more ammoniacal than that obtained from sawdust, earth, or peat, but
it never has shown any tendency to putrefy. The paper became blackish,
and was riddled with fungi, and ultimately was scarcely distinguishable
from garden mould.

Thus I have shown that these absorbent materials exercise a strangely
purifying power upon urine, and its behaviour with these bodies is very
different to what is observed when urine is mixed with water.

Now for the practical application. I am not going to advocate that all
houses in cities should be fitted with absorbent urinals, but it will
occur to many that there are circumstances when such urinals may be
very useful.

They are admirably suited for use on race-courses, cricket and football
grounds, and other places where people congregate occasionally. On
my advice they have been placed on two cricket grounds near London,
and have given great satisfaction; they have been used also in the
engineers' yard attached to the Twickenham Station of the London and
South-Western Railway, which is visited by a large number of men
(averaging perhaps 150) every day, and the South-Western Railway have
fitted them up at one of their country stations.

Again, in country houses a urinal for gentlemen placed in some
accessible but secluded spot, and formed of a basket or barrel of
convenient height, filled with peat or sawdust, will be found both
economical and inoffensive. In the garden of a little cottage I have
such a urinal, consisting of a small barrel filled with peat, which
has been in use for nearly eighteen months, and which has never been
changed, and is yet perfectly free from offensive odour. It is only
when the top layers are removed that the nose perceives an ammoniacal
odour, and then only when placed almost in contact with the peat.

I am accustomed to advise that such urinals for public use should be
in the form of troughs made of basket-work or hurdling, or of wood
panelled with perforated zinc, the trough to be triangular in section,
with apex downwards, 3 feet 6 inches wide at the upper part, and 2 feet
4 inches in depth.

The shape of the trough and the material of which it is made facilitate
evaporation. Such a trough should be under cover to prevent the access
of rain, and it is obvious that with a width of 3 feet 6 inches it
might be used from either side, provided a match-board screen were
placed vertically along the centre (see fig. 21).

Allowing 2 feet of length for every 'place,' it follows, there being a
'place' on either side, that each foot of length would afford one place.

It might be necessary to allow the wicker-work trough to have an open
gutter beneath it, but it is only exceptionally that any effluent would
be afforded.

If such a trough is in constant use the sawdust must be turned over and
stirred occasionally, and if this be done it will never be foul, and
the sawdust can be used for surprisingly long periods of time without

If sufficient sawdust, or peat, or dry earth be provided for a double
charge, so that one charge may be drying in a shed while the other is
in use, my belief is that this might be used for indefinite periods.

A final question, and one of very great importance, is the ultimate
destination of the absorbent material.

Sawdust has a very bad reputation with agriculturists, who assert that
when used in large quantities it grows fungi and poisons the land.
If fresh sawdust be used, and if it be employed in relatively large
quantities, and especially if it be buried too deeply, I can well
understand that it would prove prejudicial to crops.

[Illustration: Fig. 21.—Dry Urinal.]

I can positively assert, however, that deal sawdust or peat, after
being soaked with urine, shows no disposition whatever to become
mouldy. I have never seen mould upon deal sawdust, but I have seen it
upon oak sawdust.

My experiments further show that when sawdust or peat has been used as
a top-dressing good crops have followed, whether on grass or garden
ground. The cricket clubs which have, in accordance with my advice,
put up dry catch closets and dry urinals have used the products as a
top-dressing at the end of the season, and with the result that their
wicket pitches have been the envy of their neighbours.

Chemists tell us that urine is of high manurial value because of the
large amount of nitrogen which it contains. This is doubtless true,
but we all know that the immediate effect of pure urine is fatal to
herbage. Whether this be due to the heat of the fresh urine or the
salts, I do not know, but I fancy the latter. In the same way we know
that a sprinkling of salt, or salt and water, kills weeds; but we are
told that salt is a bad weed killer, because it ultimately acts as a
manure, and causes increased growth. Now urine does the same thing.

The farmer who uses the urine and dung of his animals mixed with
absorbent material (generally straw), and ultimately places it on the
land as a top-dressing, gets nothing but good from it.

The practices I advocate are exactly analogous to those which have been
used by agriculturists in every age, and with the best results. I am
merely advocating a return to customs which have been tried again and
again and have never been found wanting.

In the 'Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society' (vol. vii., part
iv., December 1896) I find a statement (p. 631), that in the delta of
the Nile a compost of earth and cattle urine is generally used as a

'Owing to the lack of wood, the people are compelled, as in India, to
use the solid droppings of their cattle as fuel, but they conserve the
urine on a very ingenious system. Loose earth, shifted and renewed from
time to time, is used as a covering for the stable floor, and earth is
so much in demand for this purpose that the irrigation officers can
hardly prevent the people from carrying away the canal banks.' Analyses
show from 1·25 to 2·5 per cent. in equivalent of nitrate of soda. It is
obvious, however, that a chemical analysis gives but a poor idea of
the value of the compost. It is applied at the rate of eight tons to
the acre for growing sugar and maize.


In country places and in connection with country houses provision has
to be made for the proper housing of animals.

Speaking broadly, there can be no doubt that the more fresh air we give
our animals (the more they are in the open and the less they are under
cover) the better.

Sheep are rarely housed, unless it be with a view to their getting
prizes for being in a condition of diseased obesity.

On Mr. Stephens's farm at Cholderton one may see not only sheep, but
herds of cattle and numerous brood mares and foals, all in the rudest
health, notwithstanding that they never go within doors from year's end
to year's end.

It is the same with poultry. If they are to be kept healthy they must
be confined indoors as little as possible. 'Who,' says Cobbett, 'can
get up as early as the birds?' and it must be remembered that birds are
out nearly an hour before sunrise all the year round. If poultry be
locked up, with a view to forcing egg-production by keeping them warm,
it is probable that they will become tuberculous.

Sir Frederick Fitzwygram, in his exhaustive treatise on the Horse, is
very careful to insist on the perfect ventilation of stables, and tells
us of certain London cab stables where the health of the horses became
excellent after the doors and windows were removed.

In the construction of stables, Sir Frederick Fitzwygram insists on
the danger of underground drains, and advises that the drainage of a
stable shall be by open gutters only, and that these gutters shall lead
to gullies removed many yards from the stable door. This is rational
common sense, and must be applied not only to stables, but to human
habitations also.

Trapped gullies are only miniature cesspools, and the presence of such
contrivances within stables or cow-houses means that the animals are
breathing the gases of putrefaction whenever they are within doors.

It is a question whether, in such places, we do not often go to a huge
expense in order to do things wrongly.

I call to mind three cow-houses which I visited in the autumn of 1895.
One was at a very old-fashioned manor-house near Alresford, Hants, and
was a high-pitched, thatched, barn-like building, which had been used
for cows 'time out of mind.' There was an open door at either end;
the floor of the stalls was of beaten earth, and the middle passage
between the stalls was of flint pitching. The stalls had a very slight
slope from head to tail, and there was no drain of any kind, and no
water-tap for the adulteration of the milk or the 'swilling down' of
the building. The dung was removed every morning with shovel and besom,
and, if necessary, some earth was thrown upon the floor of the stalls.
This house was fragrant, and filled with the sweet breath of kine and
the aroma of good upland hay. There was no suggestion or suspicion
of foulness. The urine in this case must have soaked away to a great
extent into the earth and between the pitching, and had done so in this
place, perhaps, for centuries.

The other two cow-houses were of a different order. One was at an
establishment devoted to giving technical instruction in dairying, and
the other belonged to a milkman in a country town. Both had cost much
money, with impermeable bricked floors, water-taps for swilling down,
and drains within the building for carrying away the valuable dung
and urine. They both were damp, with water lying between and in the
grooves of the bricks, and both had a sickening smell of putrefaction.
Neither of these two last cow-houses were desirable places in which to
collect milk. I have little doubt that the Bacterium coli, which lives
in water, was very abundant in both of them.

Water (unless it be boiling hot and used with abundance of soap and a
scrubbing-brush) is entirely out of place in cow-houses, dairies, and
butchers' shops.

Putrefaction is easily attained by swilling with cold water. Real
cleanliness is unattainable in this way.

The dung and urine of all domestic animals is invaluable for the farm
and garden, and it all ought to be carefully preserved. I feel that
the best way of doing so would be to allow the stalls of stables,
cow-houses, piggeries, &c., to have a very gentle slope to a gutter or
trough filled with absorbent material, such as earth or peat moss, and
protected by a grating. This trough would be cleaned out whenever it
became in the least offensive, and thus the whole of the urine would be
saved for the farm.

I have not given a special figure, but a reference to figs. 29 and 30,
on pp. 87, 88, will show the reader what is meant.

It needs hardly to be said that all animal houses must be kept
scrupulously clean. There must be no accumulations of dung, and all
such ordure must be removed daily. The besom and shovel and wheelbarrow
are the only proper tools for doing this.

If 'water-carried sewage' be introduced on the farm the ruin of the
farmer is more certain than it is at present.


It is admitted that humus is one of the best filtering materials for
water, and that water from a river full of living organisms is to a
large extent freed from them by filtering through a few feet of the
humus on its banks. In the past few years Professor E. Frankland has
shown that water of singular microbial purity has been obtained from
the gravel beds which in places flank the Thames. Such water, one must
suppose, is obtained from ground water which has fallen upon the earth,
has filtered through it, and is slowly flowing towards the river. The
purifying agent in these cases is mainly the living humus which lies
upon the surface, although the subsoil cannot be without some effect.
These facts must alter our attitude towards surface wells, and must
teach us what to a great extent has been admitted—that the purity of
surface wells must depend more upon the mode of construction and the
surroundings of the well than upon its depth. Wells are polluted by
foulness which has reached the subsoil without being subjected to the
purifying influence of the humus; and there are many facts which go to
show that if foul water gets to the under side of the humus without
going through it its purification in the subsoil is far from certain.
The Lausen epidemic, the Worthing epidemic, and the pollution of the
deep well sunk in the sandstone at Liverpool, seem to show us that
percolation through a mile of underground strata entails no certain
purification, and that wells 80 ft. or 400 ft. deep are not safe if
fissures allow the contents of cesspools, leaking under pressure,
to trickle into them. The almost universal condemnation of surface
wells and their frequent pollution are mainly due to the fact that
we take our filthy and dangerous liquids through the humus in pipes,
and thus ensure at great expense that they cannot be subjected to
purification by it. If these underground pipes leak, the mischief
caused by pollution of wells may be very far-reaching. It is very
probable that foul water continuously thrown on the same spot of
ground may in time work its way to a well and thus pollute it. Such
ground, which is constantly soaked, be it remembered, is never
tilled, because tillage is impossible. For ground to be tillable it
is essential that reasonable breathing-time should be allowed. I am
not altogether sure (although I hardly dare utter such a heresy) that
a properly constructed surface well in a selected situation may not
prove to be one of the safest sources for water, because it can be
inspected with perfect ease, and the fact of accidental leakage into it
would become apparent. In this connection it may be well to describe
in full detail the well which I have sunk in my garden at Andover,
a garden which is rather handsomely manured with human excreta. The
well is placed in the very centre of the garden (see fig. 14, p. 35,
W) at the intersection of two paths—a broad green path and a narrow
asphalted path. This situation was chosen for two reasons: (1) that
it was as far as possible removed from any accidental pollution from
the sewer in the street; and (2) that in the centre of the garden it
would theoretically run the greatest chance of fæcal contamination
from the manure used. As the well was sunk solely for experimental
purposes this was essential. The garden is on a river-bank and very
slightly raised above the level of the water. The well is only some 5
ft. deep, and the water stands at a level (which varies very slightly)
of about 3 ft. 6 in. from the bottom. The well is lined throughout
from the very bottom to a point some 15 in. above the ground with
large concrete sewer-pipes 2 ft. 3 in. in diameter, and these pipes
have been carefully cemented at their junctions. Outside the pipes a
circle of cement concrete about 4 in. thick has been run in. It will
thus be evident, the sides being perfectly protected, that no water can
possibly enter this well except through the bottom, all contamination
by lateral soakage through the walls being rendered impossible. The
well is surrounded by an asphalte path about 3 ft. wide and slightly
sloping away from it, and it is encircled by a clipped privet hedge
about 5 ft. high, except at those points where the circle of privet
is cut by the paths. There is a closely fitting cover of oak, which
has an outer casing of lead, and thus all contamination from above is
prevented. The water is drawn off through a 2-in. leaden pipe which
passes through the outer concrete and the concrete lining pipe, the
cut passage for the pipe being carefully closed with cement. The pump
is behind the privet hedge, and is provided with a sink and waste pipe
which takes the overflow some twenty or thirty yards to a neighbouring
stream. In this way the constant dripping of water in the neighbourhood
of the well is prevented; for I am very much alive to the dangers
attending a constant water-drip, which might be able in time to worm
its way through soil and concrete into the well itself. I regard this
question of the overflow as one of great importance which is too often
neglected. Figs. 22 and 23 show this well in section and plan. The
nearest point to the well upon which any manurial deposit of excreta
is likely to be made is on the far side of the privet hedge, and the
distance of this point from the bottom of the well is 7 ft. All water
which finds its way into the well must have passed through at least 6
ft. or 7 ft. of earth, and, of course, the great bulk of the water has
passed through a far greater length. Three chemical analyses of this
water, one by Professor Frankland and two by Dr. Kenwood, testify to
its organic purity, and three bacteriological investigations have given
similar indications of purity. A bacteriological examination of the
water from the river Anton and the well water, made on April 11, 1895,
gave 1,133 growths per cubic centimetre for the river and only 7·5 for
the well. Of course there may be a dangerous microbe among this small
number, but, on the whole, I think the best guarantee of the purity of
the water is the condition of the well, which after four years is as
clean on the bottom and sides as it was the day it was made. There has
been no appreciable increase of sediment on the bottom, and the pebbles
are as plainly visible as they ever were. The well is for experimental
purposes mainly, but water for garden use is drawn from it, and during
the severe frost of 1895-6 my gardener and some of his neighbours
were entirely dependent upon it for household purposes. I seldom go
into my garden without drinking some of the water, which is clear and
delicious, and my visitors seldom escape without drinking some also. I
think the well is a very safe one. It must be mentioned, however, that
after very excessive amounts of rain, such as occur occasionally, when
the water comes down in a perfect deluge and lies for hours in big
pools upon the ground, the water in the well becomes turbid. My belief
is that under these circumstances the fine sediment on the bottom is
driven upwards by the suddenly increased pressure of the water outside;
and I have no reason to think that after these storms there has been
any actual increase of sediment, the stones at the bottom remaining
as visible as ever. I have never been able to make a bacteriological
examination after one of these floods, but hope to be able to do so.

[Illustration: Fig. 22.—Plan of Well, showing its Relation to Paths
and Hedge.]

[Illustration: Fig. 23.—Section of Well, showing Concrete Lining and
Position of Pump.]

The question whether such a very shallow well becomes dangerous after
a flood is a most important one. It is clearly understood that with
my well there is no possibility of flood water entering at any point
except through the bottom. It must be recognised that in times of flood
with a drowned humus the power of purification may be lessened. On the
other hand, my experience leads me to say that it is very difficult
(if it be possible at all) to wash fæces out of well-tilled humus by
any rain which we get in this country. In the autumn of 1894, in the
south of England, we had very severe floods, and I was able to note
that the humification of fæces in my garden was, as a consequence,
very much delayed. Fæcal matter was visible on turning up the soil for
nearly three months after it had been deposited, and the masses of
fæcal matter were enclosed in crusts of humus which had been rendered
airless and clay-like by the excessive amount of water. This naked-eye
test seemed to show that the well had not been endangered, for there
were the fæces, and most certainly they had not been washed downwards.
When the pores of the soil had been opened by frost the humification
of the fæcal matter went forward as usual. This experience seems to
enforce what I have said before—that a drowned humus cannot deal with
dung. That floods may be dangerous to surface wells we all know, but
it will be recognised that the conditions and circumstances of my well
at Andover are distinctly different from those of the wells mentioned
in the following extract, which were filled with flood water by leakage
through their tops and sides.

In the Twenty-third Annual Report of the Local Government Board
(1893-94) reference is made by Dr. Thorne Thorne to certain
investigations on outbreaks of typhoid fever in certain riverside
populations in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. These investigations by Dr.
Bruce Low seem to prove conclusively that the fæcally polluted water
of the Rye and the Trent had infected with typhoid fever a certain
proportion of the inhabitants who consumed the raw river water. Dr.
Thorne Thorne goes on to say: 'Incidentally it transpired during the
course of this inquiry that the town of Malton had an altogether
exceptional history in so far as enteric fever and diarrhœa in
fatal form are concerned. Situated on the Derwent, four miles below
the confluence of the Rye with that river, Malton was found to derive
its water-supply from the Lady Well, sunk to a depth of 14 feet in the
middle oolite rock, and occupying some low-lying land close to the
river bank. Into this well river-water gained access as soon as the
Derwent rose above a given point, the amount of river-water reaching
the well varying from mere leakage through holes and crevices in the
banks to complete submersion of the Lady Well by the swollen stream.
Gradually it had come to be noted that the outbreaks of fever and of
diarrhoea followed on seasons of flood in the Derwent, a river which
was referred to locally in 1890 as containing "the sewage of all the
towns and villages situated near the Rye and its numerous tributaries.'"

In country places where surface wells are the only available source of
water, I strongly recommend that they be made on the pattern which I
have been describing.

It is the top of the soil which can break up and assimilate organic
matter; the subsoil has no such power. It is a common mistake to
bury deeply any organic matter which seems to us to be particularly
offensive. In this way we ensure its preservation and endanger the
wells. The safety of our wells is directly proportionate to the
thickness of the humus, and to place organic matter below the humus is
like throwing the dog's bone beneath the kennel instead of into it. The
inefficiency of deep burial hardly requires to be mentioned. Bodies
buried deep in the subsoil last for years, while those which are placed
in the living humus are rapidly destroyed.

I should like to mention that when my well was dug there was found
beneath a turf path and about three feet below the surface a large
quantity of dead leaves which had probably been deposited in a
pit at some long antecedent date. They had undergone scarcely any
decomposition although they had been in that position very many years.
Again, when engaged in pulling down a cottage my man unearthed an old
privy some four feet below the surface. In this privy unmistakable
fæcal matter was recognisable. Neither he nor I nor any of the
neighbours had any knowledge of any such privy having been in use of
late years, and my belief is that these recognisable excreta had been
deposited at least half a century ago. Who shall say that these excreta
did not still contain spores of all the ills that flesh is heir to?
Under natural conditions all dead organic matter falls upon the surface
of the ground, and nature is a very sure guide.



It is often stated that to deal with excremental matters separately
from the slop-water is no advantage either from a pecuniary or sanitary
point of view, because:

  1. Slop-water is as foul as sewage composed of excrement
  and slops.

  2. A system of sewers is necessary for the slop-water,
  and it is not easier to treat slop-water alone than
  it is to treat a mixture of slops and excrement.

The following tables, from the 'Report of the Royal Commission on
Rivers Pollution in 1868,' are given by most sanitarians to show that
the difference in degrees of impurity between a water-closeted town and
a non-water-closeted town is very slight.


_In Parts per 100,000_

 |            | Total  |       |        |       |        |        |  Suspended Matters  |
 |            | Solid  |Organic|Organic |       | Total  |        +-------+-------+-----+
 |Description |Matters |Carbon |Nitrogen|Ammonia|Combined|Chlorine|       |       |     |
 |            |  in    |       |        |       |Nitrogen|        |Mineral|Organic|Total|
 |            |Solution|       |        |       |        |        |       |       |     |
 |Midden Towns|  82·4  | 4·181 | 1·975  | 5·435 | 6·451  | 11·54  | 17·81 | 21·30 |39·11|
 |            |        |       |        |       |        |        |       |       |     |
 |Water-Closet|        |       |        |       |        |        |       |       |     |
 |  Towns     |  72·2  | 4·696 | 2·205  | 6·703 | 7·728  | 10·66  | 24·18 | 20·51 |44·69|
 |                                                                                      |
 |                 _In Grains per Gallon_                                               |
 |                                                                                      |
 |Midden Towns|  57·68 | 2·926 | 1·382  | 3·804 | 4·515  |  8·078 | 12·467|14·910|27·377|
 |            |        |       |        |       |        |        |       |      |      |
 |Water-Closet|        |       |        |       |        |        |       |      |      |
 |  Towns     |  50·54 | 3·287 | 1·543  | 4·692 | 5·410  |  7·462 | 16·926|14·357|31·283|

This table being not unfrequently quoted in support of the contention
that slops alone = slops + excrement, I may be excused if I examine it
somewhat critically.

I will take the table in grains per gallon and simplify it somewhat.

_Grains per Gallon_

 Table headings:
 Col A: Total Solids in Solution
 Col B: Suspended Matter
 Col C: Mineral
 Col D: Organic
 Col E: Total Solids in Solution and Suspension
 Col F: Organic Carbon
 Col G: Ammonia
 Col H: Total Combined Nitrogen
 Col I: Chlorine

 |             |     |        B        |        |       |       |       |      |
 |Description  | A   +--------+--------+   E    |   F   |   G   |   H   |  I   |
 |             |     |   C    |   D    |        |       |       |       |      |
 |Midden Towns  57·68| 12·467 | 14·910 | 85·057 | 2·926 | 3·804 | 4·515 | 8·078|
 |                   |        |        |        |       |       |       |      |
 |Water-Closet       |        |        |        |       |       |       |      |
 |Towns         50·54| 16·936 | 14·357 | 81·823 | 3·287 | 4·692 | 5·410 | 7·462|

We shall all of us be ready to grant that the addition of excremental
matters must be something _extra_ added to the sewage, and that such
extra matter must be either in suspension or solution. The fact,
therefore, that the total solid and suspended matters is less by 3½
grains in the water-closet towns than in the midden towns can only be
accounted for by the enormous dilutions of the excremental matters in
the sewage. Notwithstanding this dilution we find that the water-closet
town sewage contains 20 per cent. more combined nitrogen than midden
town sewage, 23 per cent. more ammonia, and, what is very remarkable,
35 per cent. more suspended mineral matter.

This excess of mineral matter in suspension could only be caused by
the precipitation of mineral matters by the ammonia and sulphuretted
hydrogen formed by decomposition of the albuminous and other organic
matter. This excess of mineral matter in suspension must therefore
be taken as a measure of the enormously increased putrefaction in
water-closet sewage, a putrefaction probably to a great extent brought
about by the millions of microbes which are provided from the human
intestines with the excrement, and we must therefore assume that the
increase of mineral matter in suspension is an indication that a large
quantity of foul putrefactive gases has been given off into the streets
and houses of water-closet towns.

This table, therefore, seems to me to conclusively demonstrate that the
sewage of water-closet towns is far more bulky and far more filthy and
dangerous than the sewage of midden towns.

Sewage is not to be regarded too absolutely from its chemical side.
We must use our senses, inclusive of our common sense, in coming to a
conclusion, and we must not pin our faith on analyses alone. When I am
told that it is of little use to deal with solid excreta, because the
liquid household slops alone are as foul and difficult to treat as the
complete mixture, I confess I am incredulous.

When I see the housemaid's pail filled with three gallons of soapy
water and perhaps a pint of urine, am I to believe that the addition
thereto of five ounces of solid excrement, a second half pint of urine,
and a square foot of paper, will make no difference to its foulness and
cause no increase of difficulty in its purification? _Credat Judæus
Apella!_ Such a statement is manifestly absurd.

Again, we must remember that it is the solid excreta which constitute
not only the foulest but the most dangerous ingredient of sewage, the
only one which has caused widespread epidemics again and again, the one
which has hung a load of debt round the neck of every municipality in
the country.

The other ingredients of household slops, unlike the fæces, are little
liable to contain pathogenic microbes. The urine of a healthy man
is, as we all know, sterile when passed. In diseased conditions it
may occasionally possess infective power, but this is a speculation
rather than a practical fact acknowledged by the sanitarian. A
large proportion of cooking-water has been boiled, and is therefore
sterile, and the same may be said of the water in which our linen has
been washed. Household slops, therefore, are not liable to be really

They are nitrogenous, and consequently, if allowed to stagnate by
mismanagement, they become very foul from decomposition, but that they
are capable of producing epidemics has not yet been proved. Between
excrement and slop-water there is this difference, that solid excreta
are foul-smelling _ab initio_, but slop-water (if we except the smell
of water in which cabbage has been boiled) only becomes foul if it is

In places which are not overcrowded a great deal has been done when the
wholesome treatment of the solid excreta has been arranged for, and
I feel that to neglect the doctrine that 'half a loaf is better than
no bread,' and to discourage people from dealing with solid excreta,
because they do not see their way quite clearly for the disposal of
slops, is most dangerous.

One thing is certain, viz., that if the solid excreta are dealt with
by dry methods the liquid sewage will be 25 per cent. less bulky than
otherwise would be the case.

I feel sure that if, in our anxiety to prevent the pollution of rivers,
we fail to appreciate the biological differences between excrement and
slop-water we shall make a mistake, which in the end will be no real
advantage to the streams. If, therefore, villages and places where the
population is sparse make serious efforts to deal with excreta, they
should have at least some breathing-time allowed before the fish in
their streams are deprived of the luxuries which they doubtless obtain
from kitchen slops.

When fæcal matters are mixed with the slops, the mixture is so
offensive that we are compelled to place it at once beyond the
reach of the nose or eye, and the presence of sticky fæces and large
quantities of paper makes any attempt at filtration practically
impossible. Domestic slop-water when fresh is not offensive, and is
very rarely dangerous; and by attention to certain details it can be
easily dealt with.

Domestic slop-water consists of:

  1. The waste from kitchen and pantry sinks, which
  often contains dissolved albuminous matter, food particles,
  dissolved and suspended fat, a considerable amount of
  coffee grounds and tea leaves, and sundry odds and ends,
  the result of house-cleaning, such as fluff, bits of string,
  little scraps of paper and rags, fibres from brooms and
  brushes, &c. These materials are very apt to accumulate,
  and to block drains; and if this form of slop-water is to
  be effectually dealt with, it is essential that the suspended
  matter be strained out. The purposes which the kitchen
  and pantry sinks subserve require, according to Notter
  and Firth, about 3·75 gallons of water per head per diem;
  and allowing for evaporation, the slop-water must be less
  in quantity, so that if we say that these slops average 24
  gallons per diem for a household of 7 persons, we shall be
  not far from right.

  2. Bedroom slops, consisting of soapy water and urine.
  Allowing for a daily sponge bath, these amount to about
  five gallons per head per diem, or thirty-five gallons for a
  household of seven persons. The suspended matters in
  these slops (soapsuds chiefly) are in such a fine state of
  division that they easily filter. They may contain waste
  matches, a few hairs, a small amount of fluff from towels,
  and an occasional bit of paper.

  3. The water from fixed baths amounts to about thirty
  gallons per bath per diem, and in a household of seven
  would not probably amount to more than sixty gallons a
  day. It is so clean that it ought not to occasion any

Assuming the clothes-washing is not done at home we should have
fifty-nine gallons per household of seven per diem without fixed baths,
and 119 gallons with fixed baths; and if the washing be done at home,
then three gallons per head per diem must be added, or twenty-one
gallons for a household of seven, giving a maximum of 140 gallons per
diem for a household of seven.

Fifty-nine gallons per diem would put upon an acre of land the
equivalent of an inch of rain (22,624 gallons) in 384 days, and the
equivalent of an inch of rain on a quarter of an acre in 96 days.

One hundred and forty gallons per diem would be the equivalent of an
extra inch of rain on an acre in 162 days.

These amounts are trivial, and if the water be supplied from a private
well in the grounds it is evident that, allowing for evaporation,
_we should pump from the subsoil rather more than we return to the
surface_. Again, it must be remembered that the house with the greatest
amount of slops has, as a rule, the largest curtilage. A mansion
containing twenty persons with unlimited baths, laundry, and stables
would not probably give more than 40 gallons per head, or 800 gallons
a day, which is a trivial amount when considered in connection with a
park of 20 or perhaps 200 and more acres.

It is necessary to insist that the amount of slop-water to be dealt
with in isolated houses is usually trivial in proportion to the land
available for its purification. Tidy was of opinion that, employing
intermittent downward filtration for the purification of previously
precipitated crude sewage, an acre might be sufficient for 7,000
persons. This would give 1/1000 acre, or about 44 square feet, for a
household of seven. At this rate my consulting room in London, which
measures 24 × 18 = 432 square feet, would be an area large enough for
nearly 70 persons. I think the estimate is too small; but even if one
multiplies it by ten it is evident that the amount of land necessary
for treating the domestic slop-water of a house is much smaller than
might be supposed.

In places where unlimited water is obtained by merely turning a tap
these estimates are very liable to be exceeded, especially when those
who turn a tap _on_ are too forgetful or lazy to turn it _off_.

I feel certain that anyone who experiments on this matter as I have
done will be simply astounded at the small amount of ground which is

Critics of the plans which I have advocated, and am now about to
advocate, sometimes hint that the whole curtilage of one's house must
be unwholesomely sloppy.

Such a statement shows a complete ignorance of the whole subject.

Few, if any, of the writers of hygienic text-books seem to have really
studied the life-history of slop-water, and it is matter for regret
that in some of these books the chapters devoted to domestic hygiene
deal more with patents than with principles, and are illustrated more
by woodcuts culled from tradesmen's catalogues than by any practical
knowledge possessed by the writer.


If domestic slop water is to be dealt with successfully it is

 _1. That all waste pipes terminate well above the level of the ground._

This is a point too much neglected by architects, who are very prone
to carefully put all waste pipes below ground level, so that any
purification of slops without pumping is impossible.

Allowing a fall of, say, 1 in 10, it is evident that for every foot
above ground at which a waste pipe terminates it is possible to deliver
the waste on to the surface of the ground at 10 feet from the house.
Thus the bedroom sink waste at a height of 10 feet above ground level
might be made, if so desired, to deliver its waste 100 feet from the
house. It is often necessary to take the waste pipes from the first
floor over the path surrounding the house. This is easily accomplished
without causing any unsightliness by placing an arch over the path.
Such arches may be of galvanised iron for a cottage, or of masonry for
a mansion, and are soon hidden by creepers.

Figs. 24 and 25 illustrate how this principle may be carried out; in
the one case by a rustic arch costing a few shillings, and in the other
case by a porch and arcading of a more ambitious description. Fig.
24 is from a photograph of an arch in actual use. Fig. 25 has been
furnished by Mr. Cutler.

[Illustration: Fig. 24.—Rustic Arch.]

[Illustration: Fig. 25.—Use of Arch for getting Waste Water clear of

When pipes are provided with a rapid fall there is little tendency for
water to freeze in them, but in severe climates it might be necessary
to pack the pipes.

The waste pipes of kitchen and pantry sinks are, in London, almost
always below ground level, it being the custom to place the kitchen and
offices in an underground basement; and I have known London architects
who have provided country houses with similar abominations, so that
the sewage of a basement has to be lifted before it can be properly
treated. If this evil is to be avoided, it is essential that the waste
pipes of kitchen and pantry sinks terminate at least two feet above
ground level. This is a minimum, and if a greater fall can be obtained,
so much the better. Kitchen and pantry waste is full of dissolved and
suspended matter, and a careless cook will throw down the sink enough
food to keep a pig or a dozen fowls. This waste is very prone to become
offensive, and it is advisable that it be thoroughly strained before
flowing away. Not only should the waste pipe have a fixed and immovable
strainer below the plug, but a sink basket should be used, and the
waste should be still further strained in a manner to be presently

 _2. No stagnation must anywhere be permitted along the line of

Experimenting upon this point, I have found that stagnant slops become,
as a rule, offensive within 24 hours, even when exposed to the air.
Thus I tried the experiment of filtering bedroom slops through a trough
filled with stones and provided in the middle of its length with a
diaphragm reaching from the top to within an inch of the bottom, and
having the outlet only an inch or so below the level of the inlet. This
caused stagnation and great foulness, which disappeared immediately
the outlet was placed at the lowest level, and stagnation became
impossible. Soapy water mixed with urine soon becomes foul if allowed
to stagnate in traps, but it has never in my experience been foul if
poured upon the earth and allowed to soak away. With a good fall and
with the outlets of pipes freely exposed to the air, traps are not
necessary, and as all forms of traps are but miniature cesspools,
this is a great gain. A trap is never possible in an outside metal
pipe because of the fear of frost. The abolition of traps is not only
necessary, but a very great gain indeed.

 _3. Slop-water should run in open gutters, and when it has reached a
 certain distance from the house it should be allowed to soak away as
 it runs, and take the line of natural drainage of the locality._

This may be effected by means of


The gutters which I have used, and which have been found to answer in
a manner which has far exceeded my expectations, are constructed as

A trench 2 feet deep and 18 inches wide, and of a length varying with
the circumstances, is dug, and filled up with porous material, such as
builders' rubbish, old crockery, and tins, stones, &c., &c., to within
a few inches of the surface, and upon this rubbish, previously rammed,
walls of concrete or honeycomb brickwork are formed, provided with a
ledge sufficiently wide to support a perforated tile, the perforations
being big enough to admit a large sized knitting-needle, say ⅛ in.
in diameter. The porous rubbish reaches to within an inch of the under
surface of the tile, and the sides are planted. The gutter may, if
necessary, be protected by a grating.

[Illustration: Fig. 26.—Filtration Gutter.]

Or the gutter may with great advantage be placed upon a bank with
gradually sloping sides.

In both cases the sides of the gutter should be planted with
quick-growing shrubs, and it will soon become ornamental. Such a
slop-gutter on a raised and planted bank would form a most excellent
boundary fence. These gutters are shown in figs. 26 and 27. The
perforated tile which forms the floor of this gutter is a most
important part of it, because it allows the gutter to be cleared of
dead leaves and other rubbish, which inevitably fall into it, and it
protects the porous material from getting clogged. It breaks the force
of the water and prevents the downpour from the pipes from ploughing
up the rubble, which is a most important matter. I have used various
things for forming the floors of these gutters, and have found nothing
better than the perforated tiles which are used for forming the floors
of malt kilns. I have no doubt that the gutter could be made perfectly
well in galvanised iron. What lengths of such gutters should be
provided? To answer this question I can only give my own experiences.

Two years ago I constructed such a gutter for a girls' school where
there are between 30 and 40 day scholars and boarders. I dug out my
trench leading into a natural rivulet, and I formed a gutter 40 feet
long. I do not think the slops in this case have ever travelled as
much as six feet, and there is no evidence that a drop of slop-water
has ever touched the rivulet. The privets have grown, but the gutter
has never been foul, and when the tiles have been taken up the porous
rubbish beneath has been found perfectly sweet, and there has been no
sloppiness at the sides.

[Illustration: Fig. 27.—Filtration Gutter on Bank.]

A similar gutter on a bank was provided for a six-roomed house, and
the slop-water has never travelled to the end, or anywhere near it,
notwithstanding a considerable fall.

The water of a fixed bath has run for nine years into a gutter 20 feet
long, and at times as much as 120 gallons a day has flowed into it, but
the water is never visible two minutes after the waste has ceased to
flow; there has been no foulness of any kind, and the only effect has
been to make the shrubs grow.

The bedroom slops of a country mansion with twenty-three inhabitants
were taken, eighteen months ago, into a plantation, and the only result
has been that the limes have thrown up suckers, but there has been
neither sloppiness nor foulness.

The bedroom slops of a cottage with five inhabitants have run for five
or six years along a gutter 12 feet long, at the foot of a privet
hedge, and there has been neither sloppiness nor foulness, except when,
as stated above, I produced stagnation.

 _4. When it is feasible, it is advisable to allow different varieties
 of slops to flow in separate gutters._

The waste of fixed baths is almost clean, containing nothing but a
little soap at most; bedroom waste contains soap and urine, but no
solid particles of any size to give trouble, except a stray bit of
paper, or an old match, or a few hairs, and some fluff from towels,
which will all be caught upon the perforated tiles, and can be swept up

[Illustration: Fig. 28.—Kitchen Sink with Duplicated Outside Filter.]

The waste from kitchen and pantry sinks needs careful straining and
filtering before it is allowed to flow into an open gutter. I have
mentioned the necessity of providing strainers and a sink-basket, and
I now proceed to describe the slop-filter which is advisable for the
kitchen sink (fig. 28). The waste-pipe of the sink must terminate
2 feet or 2 feet 6 inches above the ground level, and be provided
with a reversible nozzle delivering over a filtering vessel made of
concrete or iron. This filter is in duplicate, and is provided with
a diaphragm reaching to within an inch of the bottom. Each half of
the vessel measures 1 foot by 1 foot 6 inches, and is 2 feet 6 inches
deep, and has a capacity of 3·75 cubic feet. The outflow is immediately
beneath the diaphragm, and empties into the open gutter. Each half of
the filter is filled with stones varying in size from a hazel-nut to
a walnut, and the waste is allowed to flow through one half of the
filter, and then, when that half gets foul, the nozzle is reversed, and
the second half is brought into use, and the half first used can be
cleaned out. The filter must be provided with a fine copper strainer,
and if the slops be carefully strained the filter will not get foul for
months; but if lumps of fat and slabs of cabbage-leaves be allowed to
get into the filter, it soon gets foul, as does the abomination known
as a fat-trap.

The method of purifying sewage by 'intermittent downward filtration'
is well understood, and the methods advocated here are merely
modifications of what has been done in this country, and also by the
Massachusetts Board of Health.

What is meant by 'intermittent downward filtration'? How frequent are
the intermissions?

The intermissions usually recommended are 'sewage for six hours and
rest for twenty-four hours,' but my belief is that the purifying
action of the filter-bed ceases directly the filter is filled and
water-logged. The intermissions must be perpetual. The supply of
slop-water in a private house is essentially intermittent, and this
perpetual intermission is the secret of the success of the methods I
have indicated. Between nine at night and seven in the morning—ten
hours out of every twenty-four—the flow of slop-water is usually nil.
Between 8 A.M. and 11 A.M. is the time of the bulkiest flow, but even
this intermits. A housemaid's pail with its three or four gallons will
come once in ten or fifteen minutes, so that the filter is always being
emptied, and as the water drains off the fresh air follows it. The
water of a fixed bath is practically clean, and gives the filtration
gutter a vigorous stir, which does nothing but good. The domestic
intermissions are invaluable. When sewage is collected in a tank and is
then allowed to flow _without intermission_ for six hours at a stretch,
it is doubtful if the greatest purifying power is obtained from the


Another point of great importance is the bestowal of rain-water. The
usual method is to conduct the rain-water from the eaves by means of
pipes which open directly into an underground sewer or empty over a
gully which runs into an underground sewer. This underground sewer
conducts the rain-water either to a main sewer or cesspool, and the
important fact to be borne in mind is that the length of underground
pipes, whose main function is to conduct rain-water, are nothing
but prolongations of sewers or cesspools which conduct the gases of
putrefaction to many points round the dwelling, either at the ground
level or the roof level.

There can be no reason why rain-water pipes should not end in a
'shoe,' and discharge over open gutters which might flow to a gully,
if absolutely necessary, at a _distance_ from the house. The practice
of taking rain-water direct into underground drains is a great cause
of damp walls. A year or so ago the rain-water pipes of a country
house well known to the author, which ran direct apparently into the
underground drain, were examined. In every case the underground drain
was broken and leaky, and in some places completely choked by the roots
of plants and trees, while the rain-water got away as it could, and
kept the foundations of the walls perpetually soaked.

In the London house, with its cave-dwelling basement and narrow area,
it is inevitable that the rain-water must flow to an underground
sewer more or less directly, but there is no reason why this Cockney
necessity should be adopted in the country. It is obviously advisable
to conduct rain-water clear of the walls and foundations. The mediæval
gargoyle was useful in this way, and I think I am right in stating that
the 'flying buttress' was occasionally made to serve the purpose of a
water-gutter with the same object.


It has been said that classification is the basis of all science, and
it most certainly is the basis of the scientific disposal of refuse.
Refuse matter is most varied in its nature, and the items of which it
is composed—excrement, rags, bones, paper, straw, sawdust, and other
packing materials, cinders and ashes, old crockery, broken glass, old
metal, &c.—all demand a different method of treatment.

When I see the grimy gentlemen in fan-tailed hats engaged in the
marvellous operation of climbing over spiked railings with the object
of filling a huge lumbering cart with a _mixture_ of some or all
of the things mentioned above, I feel that they are occupied in a
bit of wilful mischief, and are merely increasing the dangers and
difficulties of that sorting which is inevitable. In cities house
refuse should be collected every day, and the sorting should be done
at once by the collector, with the intelligent co-operation of the
householder. Things dissimilar in nature should never be mixed. The
first division is into putrescible and non-putrescible, and the former
should be sent forthwith to the farmer to be dug into the ground.
The non-putrescible refuse—glass, crockery, cinder, ash, metal—if
sorted and temporarily stored in bins, would probably pay the cost of
its collection and removal, and might perhaps yield a slight return.
A great deal of the non-putrescible refuse might be of use to the
sanitary authority on the spot for making foundations for paths and
roads, or for scattering on the streets in slippery or frosty weather.
Ash (not cinder) beneath the gravel on a garden path gives in time a
firmness and stability which are remarkable. Whether it would work in
with the macadam in road-making, and cause a similar improvement in
the road, I do not know. It is difficult to understand why it should
not do so. Non-putrescible refuse is not a danger to health, and it is
certain that a great deal of it might be used for various purposes by
the sanitary authority.

This immediate sorting is only possible when such materials are
collected every day and the bulk is small.

It seems to me that much of our municipal scavenging is too
magnificent, and that it is often inefficient in proportion to its
magnificence. The nimble boys who collect the street droppings
and store them in bins which contain nothing but the valuable and
marketable manure are the type of what is good. The showy Clydesdale
slowly dragging the most lumbering cart conceivable filled with an
unmarketable mixture is the type of what is bad.

Farmers are shy of taking London sweepings, because, as one told me,
'they send such stuff.' All organic refuse is good for the land, but
the farmer wants it in a form which does not hinder tillage. Pieces of
oil-cloth, hamper lids, dead dogs and cats, and old tin canisters, are
a nuisance to the farmer, and a very slight admixture of such things
spoils the practical value (a different thing to theoretical value) of
the manure which is mixed with them.

The sanitarian who loses sight of classification, and who, in his
eagerness for a big scheme, is neglectful of details, has not mastered
the elements of his trade.

The only rational treatment for excremental matters is immediate
superficial burial, with a view to the production of crops, as detailed
in 'Rural Hygiene.' It is to be hoped that, with this object in view,
some municipality will purchase a tract of land and endeavour to give
the poor an object-lesson on the right use of refuse. If convenient
access to such a farm by means of canal, river, or railway siding
could be obtained, it would make little difference whether it was
two or twenty miles from the town, but the nearer the land is to the
houses the better. Such a farm must be hand-tilled, and, if skilfully
hand-tilled, would certainly produce as much food as a market-garden.
It would employ an enormous amount of labour, and would at least pay
its labour bill. I am not advocating that such a farm should be used
as a playground for the semi-criminal, semi-imbecile, and generally
incompetent class who go to form the 'unemployed'; for the trade
of agriculture, to be successful, demands both skill and energy.
The 'unemployed' should be set to stone-breaking, street sweeping,
dung-collecting, road picking and ramming, and scavenging generally,
under the eye of foremen in town, and then, if found worthy, they might
be exported to the farm.

[Illustration: Fig. 29.—Arrangement for Small Tenements.]

[Illustration: Fig. 30.—Section A-A.]

Figs. 29 and 30 are intended to show the plan and section of a group
of the smallest town tenements, with a scavenger's alley between them
and the three gutters, two closed at both ends, to be filled with
absorbent material to collect the urine, and one to be filled with
non-absorbent material to filter and aërate the slop-water, which
should always flow in open channels when practicable. The 'scavenger's
alley' should be protected by gates. It is thought that the excrement
would be primarily collected in comparatively small vessels, like
garden water-tanks upon wheels. The excrement having been allowed to
drain before collection, and being in a semi-dry, sticky condition,
would have no tendency to slop about during a journey, and in a covered
vessel such as I have described might be sent any distance without
danger or offence. Arrived at the farm the tank would be transferred
to a second pair of wheels, and by being tilted would easily deposit
its contents in a furrow previously made in the ground with a spade.
The tank should be dried and lime-whitened and returned to the town,
and three days after the deposit of the excrement in the ground, plants
of the cabbage order should be dibbled in. Cabbages and their allies
are the only plants which really flourish in the fresh material; but
after the cabbage crop has been harvested any garden crop may be grown,
and it will be found that the fertility of ground treated as I have
suggested is very great and very persistent.

The best method of treating kitchen waste and putrescible refuse, such
as cabbage leaves and the trimmings of vegetables, &c., is to throw
all together into a heap enclosed by a circle of wire netting. In the
course of a few months complete humification will take place.



I have been at some pains to demonstrate the dangers and inconveniences
which are inseparable from houses built, as are the majority of town
houses, upon an area which is wholly insufficient when considered in
relation to their cubic contents.

Feeling, as I do, that the question of space round the dwelling is
of the greatest importance—so important that every other sanitary
regulation sinks into insignificance when compared with it—I have
endeavoured to show how detached houses may, to their great advantage,
be independent of the public sewers, and equally independent, if their
owner choose, of public water supplies; and this I have done in the
hope that in country places, and places which are developing, the
precious boon of living in a detached house may be recognised.

While I am not slow to admit that water under pressure is a great
advantage if it be wisely used, I have pointed out persistently for
some years that our present system of water-carried sewage gives a
'fatal facility' to the overcrowding of houses, and has made life, of a
sort, physically possible under conditions of overcrowding which have
never been equalled in the history of the world.

In China and the East generally, be it remembered, the large population
lives upon one plane. It has been left to Europe and America to try
the experiment of piling the city populations in heaps, of housing them
in many-storeyed buildings, some of which (in America) are fifty times
the height of a man.

The facilities for overcrowding which are afforded by big schemes of
water-supply and sewerage are now well understood, and have caused
the formation of 'Building Societies' throughout the country. A large
number of these societies during the past few years have been proved to
have been dishonestly managed, and have involved widespread financial
disaster amongst the poor and thrifty.

The mode of proceeding of these societies is to buy up, on the
outskirts of towns having a system of sewers and a common water-supply,
plots of land abutting on roads which have been sewered at the expense
of the ratepayers.

These plots are then sold to purchasers who pay 10 per cent. deposit
for possession, and pay the rest of the purchase money in monthly or
quarterly instalments for a term of years, 10 or 15, as the case may
be, with 5 per cent. interest. Thus the artisan, having paid a most
exorbitant price for a plot of ground, starts in life with a mortgage
round his neck, and probably finds, should anything interfere with the
regular payment of instalments, that he has a hard-faced usurer to deal
with, who merely concealed his identity behind the title of 'Company,

The accompanying diagram (fig. 31) gives a good idea of the development
of a district subsequent to sewering. It has been copied from the
prospectus of a Building Society. A A A is an old road having houses
on the north side only; B B B is an old road with houses on the south
side only, _i.e._, seven dwelling houses in a course of more than half
a mile.

The space between A A A and B B B was, until a few months ago, a
market garden full of fruit trees, and about nine acres in extent.

A few years ago A A A and B B B were sewered at the expense of the
ratepayers, and very soon afterwards this market garden was bought by a
'Building Society' and converted into a 'building estate.'

[Illustration: Fig. 31.]

It is obviously a very 'eligible' estate, for there is a Railway (R.),
with a Station (S.), a Post and Telegraph Office (P.O.), a Church
(Ch.), and two Public Houses (P.H.). None of the elements of modern
civilisation are wanting. After the sewering of roads A A A and B B B,
the District Council, in a fit of zealous extravagance, destroyed the
gravel paths at the side of B, and put a 12 by 6 inch kerb, and laid
half a mile of granolithic pavement for the benefit of the aforesaid
seven houses.

When the Building Society issued its prospectus the plots abutting on
the old roads A A A and B B B were sold at once, and the reason is
obvious, viz., that the roads are ready made and sewered; and a note
with regard to road B B B says, 'This road is a highway maintainable
by the local authorities, who will provide a proper footway in front
of the plots in due course.' The ratepayers as a whole are to provide
pavements for the speculative builder in this particular instance,
and it is evident that the owners of the plot and the Local Council
had come to an agreement in the matter. The houses abutting on the
new roads, Z Z Z, will, in addition to the purchase money for the
land, be charged 3_s._ per foot frontage for sewers, and 'also such a
proportion as their surveyor shall assess of the expense of repairing
and maintaining the road or roads, until the same shall be handed over
to the local authorities.' On an adjoining property the cost of 'making
up' a private road was estimated at 12_s._ per foot run, so that the
cost would amount to between 10_l._ and 11_l._ for a plot having a
frontage of 18 feet, and might form a ruinous charge on some of the
corner plots.

The ground will accommodate 177 plots, and the plots facing the old
roads fetched 3_l._ a foot. Of these there is room for fifty-nine,
having a frontage of 20 feet each, so that the price paid for these at
60_l._ per plot would be over 3,500_l._; and if the remaining 118 plots
fetched 40_l._ each (4,720_l._), the total price realised for this 9
acres would be over 8,000_l._, in addition to the charge for sewerage
and road-making.

When, moreover, it is remembered that the society may possibly hold a
mortgage on every plot and every house, for which they get 5 per cent.
and excellent security, it will be admitted that running a 'Building
Society' is a tolerably profitable business.

If all these plots are sold there will be a population of over 1,200
persons on 9 acres of ground, and the ratepayers will be at the charge
not only of educating the children, but of providing hospitals for the
segregation of infectious diseases, allotments, free libraries, open
spaces, and additions to the sewerage works for dealing with the sewage
of 1,200 persons.

When a 'progressive' municipality sets to work to 'develop' its
district (a speculative and hazardous process, which it should leave
to private enterprise), the ratepayer soon begins to see that a great
diversity of interests has to be served.

The little shopkeeper (and it is of this class that Boards and Councils
are largely composed) wants the greatest number of people on the
smallest space; and he sees that in proportion as the dwelling has an
insufficient curtilage, so are its inhabitants wholly and entirely
dependent on the shop.

The person with a fixed income who settles in a district wishes the
district to remain picturesque, rural, and quiet, and, above all, he
desires that the 'rates' may be kept down. He naturally objects to be
taxed for the sewering of country roads in order that the fields may be
covered with courts and alleys of jerry-built houses, and equally he
objects to be taxed in order that every railway station in the country
may display a large invitation to trippers to invade his solitude and
make his life a burden.

All sanitarians are agreed that mortality and density of populations
are directly proportional. The following figures, taken from Table
R (p. xlvii.) of the decennial supplement of the Registrar-General
(1895), show this very clearly, as does also the diagram of the
mortality figures for London (p. 144).

  Persons to a square mile     Death-rate (corrected)
               138                    12·70
               187                    14·48
               307                    16·47
               662                    18·55
             1,803                    20·43
             3,299                    22·30
             4,295                    24·51
            19,584                    33·00

The corrected death-rate for 'Urban England,' as given by the same
authority, is 22·32, as against 16·95 for 'Rural England.'

To form a just estimate of the comparative healthiness or unhealthiness
of a great city like London is no easy matter. The composition of the
population is, especially in the central parts, so abnormal in regard
to age and sex that unless corrections be made for this abnormality any
comparison of London with other places is futile. Such corrections are
now made by the Registrar-General.

It is probable that in no city are the annual variations of population
greater than in London. The population of June (the height of the
season) and the population of September (when 'everybody is out of
town') must be very different. In September the rich go to the country,
the shopkeepers go to the seaside, and the poorest of the poor go
hop-picking. The School Board attendances for the first week of
September show a deficit of 80,700 children, or 11·1 per cent., figures
which clearly demonstrate that the autumn exodus is not limited to the
wealthy classes.

It is at this season that we see paragraphs in the paper to the effect
that the death-rate of some London parish for the Michaelmas quarter
reached an incredibly low figure, and we are asked to infer that the
population, thanks to the wise policy pursued by the vestry, is fast
making for immortality. Of course such statements are not worth the
paper they are written on, because there are no data as to population,
and the period chosen is so short as to be valueless.

In estimating the death-rates of different sanitary areas of London
it has been customary for the last six years to distribute the deaths
occurring in institutions to the districts to which the deceased
'belonged,' and to exclude entirely the deaths of persons belonging
to districts outside registration London; in this way about 1·5 per
cent. of the deaths occurring in registration London may be excluded.
This manœuvre helps to diminish the London death-rate, but, as no
account is taken of sick people who leave London to die elsewhere, it
is manifestly an unjustifiable thing to do.

If the strangers who die in London institutions are to be excluded, it
is a question whether all strangers merely sojourning in London ought
not to be excluded from the estimate of population. Again, a man comes
from the country and is knocked down by a vehicle in the street and
dies in a London hospital; or during a sojourn in London he gets caught
in a London fog and dies of bronchitis; or he 'catches' influenza, or
pneumonia, or diphtheria in London and dies. Surely the deaths of these
three ought to be credited to London in all fairness. It is a very
dangerous thing to 'cook' statistics, and we do not get much nearer the
truth by doing so.

The best indication, probably, as to whether the conditions of life in
any locality are healthy or the reverse is the infant mortality; in
this way we exclude the fallacies due to abnormal age distribution,
because we compare identical age periods; and the proportion of the
sexes among children is practically the same everywhere. We exclude
also the influences of occupation. By studying the mortality of
children under five we are studying the influence of the home and home
surroundings on the incidence of disease, which is particularly what we
wish to do.

In the decennial supplement of the Registrar-General published in
1896, Dr. Tatham gives a table (Table II. p. lxxxii. _et seq._) of
the 'annual death-rate per million living among children under five
years of age, from all causes and from several causes, 1881-90.' This
valuable table ought to be most widely studied. Being based upon
statistics of ten years intervening between the censuses of 1881 and
1891, the estimates of population have a maximum of reliability,
because we are relieved of the errors inseparable from statistics
referring only to short periods of time.

It is constantly stated that London is the healthiest city in the
world, a statement which, if true, must make us very sorry for the
other cities. In Dr. Tatham's table, alluded to above, he first deals
with counties.

We find that the death-rate of children under five from all causes
in England was 56,825 per million; that the highest death-rate among
children was in Lancashire (72,795), and the next highest was in the
county of London (68,164). The lowest death-rate was in the county of
Dorset (35,651).

  Table Legend:

  A = Smallpox
  B = Measles
  C = Scarlet fever
  D = Diphtheria
  E = Whooping cough
  F = Fever
  G = Diarrhœa
  H = Tuberculosis Disease
  I = Respiratory Disease

             | All  |   |     |     |     |     |    |     |     |
             |Causes| A |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F |  G  |  H  |  I
  Lancashire |72,795| 37|5,053|2,454|  706|3,805|285 |6,461|5,364|17,037
  London     |68,164|240|4,743|1,780|1,371|5,342|165 |5,444|6,581|16,021
  Hampshire  |42,222| 10|2,005|  505|  939|2,508|280 |2,783|3,299| 9,011
  Dorsetshire|35,651|  4|1,748|  488|  493|1,815| 62 |1,305|2,401| 9,390

I have also thrown in Hampshire, because not only is it my own county,
but it is a mixed county, largely rural, but also containing the big
towns of Southampton and Portsmouth.

Looking at these four in tabular form, we see that in Lancashire
the mortality from measles, scarlet fever, fever, diarrhœa, and
respiratory disease was greater than in London; and in London the
mortality from small-pox, diphtheria, whooping cough, and tuberculous
disease was greater than in Lancashire.

In Hampshire and Dorsetshire the mortality was very much less from
every cause than in either Lancashire or London.

It is important to point out that the deaths of children from
tuberculous disease are greater in London than in any other county, and
that the deaths from tuberculous and respiratory diseases combined are
greater in London than in Lancashire.

We have seen that the mortality of children under five averaged for the
whole of London 68,164 in the decennium 1881-90, while that for England
and Wales was 56,825, or, omitting the last three figures, let us say
they were 68 and 57.

Examining the various registration districts more closely, we find
that the child mortality was less than the average for England and
Wales in four London districts only, viz., Lewisham (44), Hampstead
(48), Woolwich (51), and Wandsworth (56), districts which are all on
the outskirts of the place we call London. Certain other districts
had a child mortality less than the average of London as a whole,
viz., Camberwell (59), Hackney (60), Islington (61), Paddington and
Kensington (63), Greenwich (63), St. Pancras (66), Fulham, Poplar, and
Lambeth (67).

All the other districts had a child mortality greater than the average
of London, viz., Mile End (69), St. George's, Hanover Square (71),
Westminster (72), Chelsea and St. Olave's (73), Marylebone (75),
Bethnal Green (76), Shoreditch (78), St. Saviour's (79), St. Giles's
(80), Holborn (82), Whitechapel (85), St. George's in the East (87),
the City (90), Stepney (99) and the Strand (109).

With the exception of the City, Stepney, and the Strand, there are
only two registration districts in the whole country which have a
child mortality over 90, viz., Manchester (93) and Liverpool (114).
To Liverpool therefore belongs the distinction of being the most
unwholesome place for little children in the whole country, and the
'Strand,' which constitutes the very centre of London, comes next.

Let us examine these figures more closely, and let us throw the child
mortality of Liverpool and the Strand into tabular form, and contrast
them with the registration district of Andover, in Hampshire, a
district which I select for reasons which will appear later.

 Table Legend:

 A = Smallpox
 B = Measles
 C = Scarlet fever
 D = Diphtheria
 E = Whooping cough
 F = Fever
 G = Diarrhœa
 H = Tuberculosis Disease
 I = Respiratory Disease

           | All   |    |     |     |     |     |    |     |      |      |
           |Causes | A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F |  G  |  H   |  I   |
 Liverpool |114,253|  29|9,492|2,966|  852|5,894| 483|9,818| 7,138|26,080|
 Strand    |109,596|  38|6,626|1,828|4,760|6,359|  76|7,692|11,881|30,122|
 Andover   | 32,260|   0|1,227|  307|  225|2,505| 153|1,074| 2,096| 7,209|

From this table it appears that the mortality from measles,
scarlet-fever, and diarrhœa was greater in Liverpool than in the
Strand; but that the other diseases scheduled were more fatal in the
Strand than in Liverpool.

We have previously pointed out that the deaths of children from
tuberculous and respiratory diseases are greater in London than in any
other county, and now we find that the death-rate of children from
these two classes of diseases amounted in the 'Strand' to 42,003, far
and away the highest figure in the country, Liverpool coming second
with 33,218. The death-rate of children from the same causes in
Andover was only 9,305, considerably less than a quarter of the Strand

Thanks to vaccination and the purity of the water-supply the mortality
in the Strand from small-pox and fever is very small, but the mortality
of children from the acute air-borne contagia (measles, whooping
cough, scarlet-fever, and diphtheria), and still more from the chronic
air-borne contagia, is fearful to contemplate.

The big mortality from tuberculous disease forces upon us the
reflection that a large number of children who become tuberculous
in the 'Strand' do not die within the age limits with which we are
concerned, but drop off later in life after years of invalidism and
suffering. We have seen that children under five are decimated yearly
in the Strand. How many more are crippled for life?

The deaths of children under one year of age per 1,000 births is a
safe criterion of the health conditions of a locality. This figure for
the ten years 1881-90 was, for the whole of England and Wales, 142. In
London, we find that in five districts (Hampstead 117, Lewisham 121,
Woolwich 124, Hackney 137, and Wandsworth 141) this mortality was below
the average of the whole country, while in the remaining twenty-five
districts it was above the average.

In Paddington, Islington, Camberwell, Lambeth, Greenwich, Mile End,
Poplar, and Marylebone, it was above 142 and under 150. In St.
Pancras, Kensington, St. George's (Hanover Square), St. Giles's,
Bethnal Green, and St. Olave's, it was above 150 and under 160; in
Chelsea, Fulham, Westminster, Holborn, Shoreditch, and St. Saviour's,
it was over 160 and under 170. The City was 171, Whitechapel 173, St.
George's-in-the-East 182, Stepney 196, the Strand 226.

To show what this figure of 226—the infant mortality of the
Strand—means, I will give the infant mortality of some of the worst
towns in Lancashire: in Liverpool 219, Wigan 161, Bolton 163, Salford
183, Manchester 193, Ashton-under-Lyne 173, Oldham 169, Rochdale 145,
Burnley 184, Blackburn 178, Preston 203. On the other hand, one may
say that the infant mortality of Andover, which has just adopted a
great part of the London Building Act, with the approval of the Local
Government Board, was (for the ten years 1881-90) 91, or 23 per cent.
less than the best of the London districts, and nearly 60 per cent.
better than the Strand.

Glancing at the other Hampshire districts, one may note that in the
New Forest the infant mortality was as low as 80, and that it was
only in Portsea Island (139), Alverstoke (123), and Southampton (135)
that even the lowest of the metropolitan figures were approached. It
is interesting to note that even the worst districts in Hampshire
are below the average of the whole kingdom in the matter of infant


I have previously alluded to the high mortality of the Strand
registration district, and my remarks on one occasion were
contemptuously dismissed, with the criticism that it was unfair to
judge of the state of London by the health of the slums.

It becomes necessary therefore to say that the Strand registration
district includes the Temple, St. Clement Danes, the Precinct of the
Savoy, St. Mary-le-Strand, St. Paul, Covent Garden, and St. Martin's in
the Fields.

Its southern boundary extends from the Temple Stairs to Whitehall
Court, along the Thames Embankment. From Whitehall Court, the western
boundary runs through the 'Horse Guards' and through the middle of
Buckingham Palace to the top of Constitution Hill. It includes the
whole of the Green Park, but none of the houses abutting on it, with
the exception, I believe, of Stafford House. From Stafford House the
northern boundary runs south of Pall Mall, and includes Clarence House,
St. James's Palace, the War Office, Marlborough House, and Carlton
House Terrace. Thence the boundary runs up the Haymarket, along the
north side of Leicester Square and Long Acre to Drury Lane and by
Sardinia Street and the south side of Lincoln's Inn Fields to Chancery
Lane, the south end of which constitutes its eastern boundary.

This district includes parts of four royal palaces and also Somerset
House, Horse Guards, Admiralty, War Office, National Gallery, and
National Portrait Gallery. In it are to be found five churches (Temple,
St. Clement, St. Mary, St. Martin, St. Paul, Covent Garden), Exeter
Hall, and more than twenty of the largest and best known theatres and
music-halls. The Constitutional and National Liberal Clubs are within
its boundaries, and its numerous huge hotels are famous throughout the

The worst parts of the district are in the north-east, but one must
mention that it does _not_ include the Seven Dials or the north half of
Drury Lane. Clare Market, the south end of Drury Lane, Drury Court and
Bedfordbury, are the slums of the Strand registration district. It is
not a poor district. The percentage of persons 'in poverty' in London
as a whole is given by Mr. Charles Booth as 30·7, while that for the
Strand is only 23·9.

Many of the labourers employed in Covent Garden Market and in the
theatres earn very good wages, but Mr. Booth specially mentions the
fact that in some of the lowest districts house rent is very dear.
Wages is a relative term, and the potential prosperity of a person is
only to be determined by subtracting from the earnings the cost of the
necessaries of life, inclusive of house rent.

It is obvious, however, that the prime necessary of life (fresh air) is
not to be had in the Strand at any price.

It may be well to add that the Strand _sanitary area_ is not
co-terminous with the Strand _registration district_, which we have
been considering. The chief difference is that the former includes St.
Anne's, Soho, and excludes St. Martin's in the Fields.

This district of the 'Strand,' which I have chosen because it is the
most unhealthy district in London, and in some respects the worst in
the whole country, is, so to say, the pulpit from which the British
have preached sanitation to the whole world. In it we find the offices
of the Registrar-General and the London County Council; the Temple,
where Sanitary Bills are drafted, and the Law Courts, where the
sanitary law is administered; the Royal College of Physicians; the
Examination Hall where candidates for diplomas of Public Health and
Medicine are examined, and also the offices of the 'Lancet' and the
'British Medical Journal.' The Royal College of Surgeons, the Local
Government Board and Imperial Parliament, if not within, are only just
outside its limits.

It is doubtful if any district in London or any other city is better
provided with open spaces than the Strand. St. James's Park and the
Green Park are both partly within its limits. It has the Embankment
and the Thames to the south, the Temple Gardens to the east, Lincoln's
Inn Fields to the north-east, and Trafalgar Square in the centre. It
is wonderfully provided with what are miscalled 'lungs,' but it is
evident that lungs are of little good if the blood only circulates in
them occasionally on a Sunday. It is well to bear this fact in mind,
because our municipal governors sometimes talk as if the provision of
'open spaces' at exorbitant and extravagant cost could compensate for
overcrowding in the dwelling, with a lack of light and air therein.

It is in the Strand, more than in any other district, that houses
have been built of great height and enormous cubic capacity without
any curtilage whatever. I have attended 'banquets' at more than one
hostelry in this district where 150 or 200 persons have been fed in
a room having no outside windows of any kind, and where, late in the
evening, the guests have been provided with a little fresh (!) air by
opening glass partitions communicating with a huge 'coffee-room' or
table d'hôte room. These rooms are made by enclosing what ought to be
open courts in the centre of these huge hotels, and their utilisation
is only possible because of the perfection to which the science of
artificial illumination has been brought. There can be no health
without daylight, and sunlight, and fresh air, but the electric light
is good enough to make money by.

To a greater or less extent, throughout London the height of the houses
has been gradually raised, and the available curtilage has been built
upon. This is seen in the dwellings of the rich, and there is no doubt
that the conditions which lead to overcrowding are all intensified in
the poorer quarters.


Part V. of the London Building Act, 1894, provides for open spaces
about buildings and height of building.

It provides, in the case of new houses in new streets, for an open
space in the rear, exclusively belonging to such building, of at least
150 square feet, free from erections except W.C. and ashpit. Where the
ground storey is not inhabited, this open space may be provided at a
height of 16 feet above the level of the pavement. The open space must
extend the entire width of the building and have a depth of 10 feet at

A diagonal line drawn from the rear of the open space on the pavement
level, and inclining towards the building at an angle of 63°·5, shall
clear the top of such building save chimneys, dormers, gables, &c. This
means that the house may be at all levels twice as high as the space is

When a house abuts at the rear on a street or permanent 'open space,'
then no private open space or curtilage need be provided.

'Nothing in this section shall apply to houses abutting in the rear on
the river Thames, or on a public park, or on an 'open space' of not
less than 80 feet in depth which is dedicated to the public, or the
maintenance of which as an open space is secured permanently or to the
satisfaction of the Council by covenant or otherwise.'

In new streets less than 50 feet wide no house may be erected having a
height greater than the width of the street.

No house may be more than 80 feet high without the special permission
of the Council.

These regulations, from the point of view of health, are as bad as can
be, because they put a premium, so to say, on buildings of enormous
cubic capacity. We have seen that the provisions as to private
curtilage are limited to a back yard 10 feet deep, but in the case of
houses abutting on two streets, front and back, or abutting on a street
and 'open space' 80 feet deep, these restrictions are dispensed with.

If an open space, acquired and maintained at enormous cost, is to be
an excuse for surrounding it with huge blocks of 'flats' 80 feet high,
it is not difficult to see that their effect on the public health
will be mischievous rather than beneficial. There is no advantage in
looking out on an open space through a closed window, and the great
problem in London is how to manage that young children under school
age are to breathe the external air which is essential to their
proper development. In the country the perambulator is pushed into
the garden, and through the open door the mother at her work can have
an eye upon her children. But for a family occupying a set of rooms
in a 'model dwelling,' when the father is gone to work, the elder
children at school, and the mother busy, there is nothing for it but
to allow the children to breathe the air of the living-rooms, fouled
from many sources. These children seldom breathe external air, and
never breathe really fresh air. When they are a little older, they
fluctuate between crowded two-storeyed schools, a fetid home, and an
'open space' (perhaps 80 feet wide and surrounded by houses 80 feet
high!). Is it to be wondered at that the even tenor of their way is
interrupted by diphtheria and scarlet fever, or that 22 per cent. die
without ever keeping a birthday, and that children under five are more
than decimated annually?

One must rejoice to think that in new houses (mostly) on the outskirts
the little child will have a back yard to play in, having an area of at
least 150 square feet (with deductions for the permitted erections).

The little child in the 'Strand' will enjoy no such luxury, and how
it is to get any fresh air before it is old enough to play in the
fearfully crowded and dangerous streets is a mystery.

    'Thou art so full of misery
    Were it not better not to be?'

These regulations of the London Building Act seem to point to the fact
that 'betterment' really means overcrowding in houses of enormous cubic

I shall be told, and rightly, that the horrible overcrowding of houses
in the centre of London is caused by the high price of building land,
and that it cannot be prevented. Further, I shall be told that, in
spite of the overcrowding and general unsanitary conditions, rents
are increasing. This is also true as regards some districts, but,
as I have said before, there is no relation between hygiene and
money-getting. But there is no reason why we should deceive ourselves
as to the results of overcrowding. They are set forth with absolute
plainness by the Registrar-General, and we must be thankful that we
have an official statistician who is above local considerations, and
who does not feel himself called upon to keep unpleasant facts in the
background. There is yet one Balaam among the prophets.

I have for years combated the oft-repeated statements as to the
'healthiness' of London, not because I expect that London will alter
its way, but because rural places and the Colonies should not blindly
follow the lead of London, in the belief that they are following a good
sanitary model, and that disastrous consequences will not inevitably
follow upon a reckless overcrowding of houses.

The prime object of overcrowding was for safety. Cities were originally
walled fortresses, and people crowded into them for protection, and
were killed by epidemics instead of by their enemies. Modern sanitation
favours overcrowding, and this it is which makes it so popular, for
overcrowding favours money-getting.

When sewer pipes and water pipes are laid throughout a district it
becomes possible (but not till then) to build houses without curtilage,
except a 10-foot back yard.

If, therefore, rural places are reckless enough to perpetrate a 'sewage
scheme,' it becomes very necessary to check the overcrowding of houses.


I am sorry to say that the Local Government Board does not appear to be
sensible of this necessity.

My reason for this statement is (to quote an example within my own
knowledge) that the Local Government Board a little more than a year
ago sanctioned the adoption of 'model' (!) by-laws by the borough of
Andover, and on examining these by-laws, which cover 69 closely printed
large octavo pages, and comprise hundreds of sections and sub-sections,
the bulk of which must be quite incomprehensible to the Town Council,
I find that as regards buildings many of the clauses are practically
identical with those of the London Building Act.

The Local Government Board does not seem to recognise that
circumstances alter cases, and that the regulations which may be
beneficial in the crowded and filthy slums of a great city, may he
mischievous in a village or country town. Andover is an exceedingly
healthy little town, as the table on p. 99 will show, and in it there
must be very few, if any, houses more than 50 feet high, and the great
majority of the houses and cottages have large yards or gardens.

And yet the Local Government Board sanctions regulations for this town
which permit the erection of dwelling houses a _hundred feet high_!
_with a backyard 25 feet deep_!! and it further allows the adoption of
the minimum of 150 square feet of back yard for dwelling houses.

In illustration of this, reference may be made to figs. 32, 33, 34,
which are borrowed from Knight's 'Model By-laws,' published under the
authority of the Local Government Board. Fig. 32 shows the 'model' open
space for a cottage, fig. 33 for a house up to 25 feet high, and fig.
34 the maximum which is necessary, even though the house be 100 feet
high or more.

These regulations may be good in London, but when such regulations are
printed in the by-laws of rural places they become dangerous and wicked
suggestions, which one fears the local builders will not be slow to
adopt, especially if the town be sewered throughout, which happily as
yet is not the case.

[Illustration: Fig. 32.]

[Illustration: Fig. 33.]

[Illustration: Fig. 34.]

These elaborate building regulations as applied to country places are
absurd. I do not say that in the case of houses abutting on the streets
and which touch other houses some control by the local authority is not
necessary, or that the local authority is not to exercise supervision
as to the manner of making connections of houses with sewers, water
pipes, and gas pipes.

But it is clear that all harassing regulations are out of place when
they are applied to isolated dwellings which are wholly detached and
separated by a moderate interval (say a distance equal to the height)
from the boundaries of other premises. The man who builds a detached
house ought to be encouraged, and not worried, and the insurance
offices and the owner may be left to see that the construction of the
house is good enough.

These by-laws contain a prohibition of overhanging storeys (in the old
English fashion), which may be reasonable enough in crowded streets,
but are unreasonable and silly when applied to isolated dwellings. A
friend of mine had a fancy to build a house of this kind in the middle
of three acres of land which he bought in Hertfordshire, and after he
had been at the expense of getting out his plans, &c., he found that
such a building was _against the by-laws_. However, he discovered means
to 'square' the local jacks-in-office, and his very pretty house was
built, and is a decided ornament to the district.

These by-laws are an expense to ratepayers, and they increase the cost
of buildings. Elaborate plans and descriptions have to be furnished,
and the buildings have to be inspected at various periods of their
construction, and, of course, all variations of plan which may appear
necessary in the course of construction must also be submitted and
'passed' by the local authority. It may happen that there are members
of the local council who understand the technicalities of the building
trade; but even if this be the case, it is manifestly unjust that the
plans of a builder who is outside the council should be submitted to
and judged by a competitor who happens to be inside. As a rule, the
council is completely in the hands of the local surveyor, and the local
surveyor exercises despotic power over all building operations.

This leads us to ask the question, 'What is a surveyor?' Lawyers and
doctors have to be 'legally qualified,' and the ratepayers have some
guarantee that the town clerk and medical officer of health know
something of their business. But it is difficult to get a similar
guarantee with regard to that terrible despot, the surveyor to the
local board.

Whether the surveyor be learned or ignorant in the matters which he
undertakes to survey must always be a matter of doubt, but it is
evident that a person who exercises such arbitrary power ought on
no account to be allowed to practise his profession for his private
gain. _Humanum est errare._ We must not expect an impossible standard
of morality in any man, and no surveyor ought to be placed in the
invidious position of sitting in judgment on his own plans.

These arbitrary by-laws must tend to check building operations, and to
hinder the development of the art of the architect and the science of
the builder. The restrictions are another instance of

      'Art made tongue-tied by authority,
    And Folly, doctor-like, controlling skill;'

and I feel certain that, in the interests of the public health,
builders of isolated dwellings ought to be allowed to escape from the
despotism which is so dear to modern democracy.

Everything which tends to encourage the provision of adequate space
round dwellings is a great gain.

Such by-laws as I have quoted, when applied to country places, and
when no exceptions such as I have indicated are made, are a downright
incentive to overcrowding, and mischievous in the highest degree.


Everything which increases the cost of the dwelling must tend to
increase overcrowding.

The London rents are enormous; the artisan pays 7_s._ or 8_s._ for
accommodation which he could get in a village for 1_s._ 6_d._, and in a
country town for 2_s._ 6_d._

The rich man pays his 200_l._, 300_l._, or more for a house (without
a square inch of curtilage) which out of London would fetch 40_l._ or
50_l._ at most.

In London it happens, probably, more often than elsewhere that people
pay in house-rent a sum which is an excessive proportion of their
income, and their finances feel the strain of slight increments to the
cost of the dwelling, and they are often driven to take lodgers or
'paying-guests'; or people apparently well off give up their houses and
take a 'flat,' in which the crowding is excessive.

This kind of thing goes on among the well-to-do classes, and certainly
to a greater extent among the poor.

When we consider the charges, other than rent, in London as compared
with country houses, we must never forget that, rents being three or
more times as high in London as elsewhere, the rating in the pound
ought to be multiplied by three or four before we can compare London
rates with country rates.

Or we must take some other basis of comparison, such as the area
occupied or the cubic contents. A house which I lived in in London for
twenty-five years occupies an area of 18 by 72 feet, or 1,296 square
feet, or 144 square yards.

The rent was originally 180_l._, which was raised to 200_l._ when the
lease was renewed in 1892; _i.e._ the rent was originally 1_l._ 5_s._
per square yard, and is now 1_l._ 8_s._ per square yard. 'The rateable
value' has been gradually pushed up from 150_l._ to 184_l._, and the
gross value has lately been set down at 220_l._, or 10 per cent. more
than the rent (because the tenant undertakes to do the repairs).

The changes other than rent have been as follows:—

  |                      |    1873    |    1896    |
  |                      | £ _s._ _d._| £ _s._ _d._|
  |Income Tax          } |            |            |
  |Inhabited House Duty} | 9  15   0  |14  18   4  |
  |Parochial Rates       |30   0   0  |55  19   4  |
  |Water                 | 6   8   0  | 7  10   6  |
  |                      +------------+------------+
  |    Total             | 46  3   0  | 78  8   2  |
  |Rent                  |180  0   0  |200  0   0  |
  |                      +------------+------------+
  |    Grand total       |226  3   0  |278  8   2  |

Thus it will be seen that the cost of this house (which has not been
enlarged in any way) has been increased by 23 per cent. The rent has
increased 11 per cent., or 20_l._ a year. The rates have increased by
nearly 87 per cent., or very nearly 26_l._ a year.

The imperial taxes have increased nearly 53 per cent., or 5_l._ 3_s._
4_d._ per year, and the water by nearly 18 per cent., or 1_l._ 2_s._
6_d._ per year. It will be noted that while the tenant in this case
submitted to an increase of 11 per cent., the charges over which the
tenant has practically no control have increased in a much higher
ratio, and now amount to 78_l._ 8_s._ 2_d._, or more than 10_s._ 6_d._
per square yard of occupied land, the total cost of the house being
1_l._ 18_s._ 6_d._ per square yard, or, including repairs, more than
2_l._ per square yard.

The total obligatory charges (rent, rates, taxes, and water), which in
1873 were 226_l._, had risen in 1896 to 278_l._ In the same time the
interest on 100_l._ invested in Consols has fallen from 3_l._ 5_s._ to
2_l._ 10_s._

In 1893 a sum of 7,000_l._ invested in Consols would have paid the
obligatory charges on this house. In 1896 these charges could only be
met by a sum of 11,000_l._ invested in Consols.

Looked at in this way, the cost of the dwelling has risen 57 per cent.
in 23 years, the size of the dwelling remaining constant.

The charge for water has been included because no house is habitable
without it, and in this case the tenant cannot sink a well, because
the house is totally without curtilage of any kind, and the rain-water
having fallen through the London air is so foully dirty as to be

The householders of London rightly view with alarm the rapid increase
of the sum levied for rates. This sum has increased at the rate of
more than 3 per cent. per annum during the twenty-five years I lived
in the house I have been describing, and now amounts to rather more
than 7_s._ 6_d._ per square yard occupied. The average householder is
naturally nervous and apprehensive; he is getting unwilling to take a
house for a long term, and is squeezing his household into 'flats,' in
which (as the landlord pays the rates) the yearly expenditure on house
accommodation is fairly calculable. The attractiveness of the flat
is further enhanced by short-term leases, so that, should illness or
a financial mishap befall him, he will be less heavily weighted than
would be the case if he were the owner of a long, unmarketable lease.

I think we may take it for granted that if the well-to-do classes are
showing a tendency to overcrowd, this tendency will be found to get
progressively more intense as we descend in the social scale. The
well-to-do occupiers of flats have to be content with what may be
called 'rather close quarters,' but their servants are often squeezed
into rooms scarcely bigger than cupboards. It is not conceivable that
those who are in a dependent position will have better accommodation
than those whom they serve.


The final question is, What can be done to prevent overcrowding of
houses and of persons in the house?

I freely admit that very little can be done in big towns, and people
must be left to judge for themselves as to whether they will allow
their children to run the extra risk of death, crippling disease, or
defective development, inseparable from life in a crowded city. The
statistics of the Registrar-General (_i.e._ the Annual Summary and the
Decennial Supplement) show clearly what these risks are, but it is
necessary to add that some of the local statistics manifest at times an
undue desire to minimise the mortality of the district from which they

A great metropolitan city like London, concerning which we are educated
from our cradles to utter big boasts, exercises an enormous influence
on public opinion, but it is perfectly clear that she is a dangerous
model to follow in the matter of house-construction.

I call to mind the case of a great London builder who bought a country
mansion in a park. He was a very able man, but when he carried out
some alterations and additions to his new house he found it impossible
to cast away his town-bred ideas, and accordingly built underground
kitchens and coal cellars, and had the coals put into his cellar
through a plate in the pavement just outside the drawing-room window.
He had been so long accustomed to build houses with a minimum of area,
that when he had an unlimited space at his disposal he failed to
utilise or appreciate the advantages of such a boon.

Country places should be careful to avoid the adoption, as by-laws,
of regulations originally framed with the idea of mitigating the
horrors of the London slums. With regard to these regulations, it
must be remembered that 'the trail of the Cockney is over them all,'
and it has been shown that regulations, especially as to space
round dwellings, which may be beneficial in the Seven Dials become
mischievous suggestions when printed and circulated as the by-laws of a
country district. It seems almost incredible that the Local Government
Board should sanction the adoption of some of these by-laws by country

The exigencies of space in London have led to the construction of
underground offices, with the result that at least a tenth of the
inhabitants of modern London are cave-dwellers; and in the by-laws from
which I have quoted I find no attempt to penalise, or in any way to
restrict, the perpetration of similar barbarities in the country.

If there be underground 'offices,' the drains of the house will leave
it at a level of some 10 feet below the ground level, and the public
sewer must be at least 11 feet underground, and the laying of sewers at
such a depth is relatively expensive. As there are extra charges for
high level water service, ought there not to be similar extra charges
for low level drain service?

The great blot on modern sanitary legislation is the entire absence of
any encouragement for the sanitary well-doers.

Sanitary legislation is founded on a basis of mischievous lop-sided
socialism, in which the sanitary well doer is heavily taxed for the
support of the jerry-builder, and is called upon to pay for all the
shortcomings of the negligent and filthy.

Encouragement ought to be given to the man who builds a house with
ample curtilage; and if such house be removed from all other dwellings
by a distance equal to its height, he ought to be freed from the
restrictions of harassing by-laws, and the despotic control of district
surveyors whose credentials are often of the flimsiest, and whose ideas
are stereotyped.

The idea which was prevalent a few years ago, that open spaces should
be taxed at 'site value' is, one must hope, dead. Its obviously
mischievous tendency needs no comment.

The only equitable basis for calculating the rateable value of a house
for sanitary purposes is the cubic capacity, because, as a broad rule,
the bigger the house the greater is the amount of work which it throws
upon streets and sewers. The 'grounds' or 'curtilage' of a house ought
to be very leniently taxed, although one must admit that streets and
pavements ought to be paid for in proportion to house and ground

If a man spend money in beautifying his house without enlarging it,
this ought not to entail an increase in rateable value for sanitary
purposes. Such beautifyings are good for trade in a proper sense, and
ought not in the interests of the community to be checked.

The rich man who has a fancy for a fine house has already had his
income handsomely taxed, and it seems scarcely just or wise that he
should be further directly taxed for spending his income.

Horses if of similar dimensions used to be equally taxed, and no
distinction was made between the 'Thoroughbred' and the 'Screw,' which
was quite equitable, because the owner of the former had already paid
income tax.

I have been at some pains to point out that in country or semi-rural
districts, where it is possible to give a house a decent curtilage or
small garden, it is easy for a householder to make the sanitation of
his dwelling quite independent of the local authority. In fact, the
householder is able if he be so minded to make his sanitation complete,
and to finish, on his own premises and to his own profit, that
'circulation of organic matter' which is a law of Nature, and the only
true basis upon which the science of sanitation can possibly stand firm.

The householder can do piecemeal what no public authority has ever
succeeded in doing wholesale, albeit that millions of money have been
wasted in silly attempts.

Why should not the householder be encouraged? One method of
encouragement would be to allow him to pay for water by meter, if he
be so minded, exactly as he pays for gas. Such a measure as this would
effectually solve the water difficulty everywhere.

On referring to p. 113 it will be seen that in 1873 I paid 6_l._ 8_s._
per annum for water. As there were no fixed baths and washing was
not done at home, I reckon the water consumption was not more than
seventeen gallons per head per diem.

In 1873 my household averaged nine persons, so that the yearly
consumption of water was not more than 9 × 17 × 365 = 55,845 gallons
(say 56,000), which, at 6_l._ 8_s._, means about 2_s._ 3_d._ per 1,000

In 1896 I reckon that my household averaged four and a half persons,
and that the yearly consumption of water was 28,000 gallons, which, at
7_l._ 10_s._ 6_d._, means very nearly 5_s._ 6_d._ per 1,000. Suppose
that this house stood in the country, and that it were possible
to adopt dry methods of sanitation, this would reduce the water
consumption by about one-third, say to 12 gallons per head, or 19,000
gallons a year for the household of 1896. At a shilling per 1,000
gallons, which I believe is a fair price, the water bill would fall to

At a shilling per 1,000 gallons, twelve gallons per diem, or 4,380
gallons per year, would cost 4_s._ 4_d._ per head, or a penny per head
per week. If in a country place the rain-water were stored the annual
cost for water would be still less.

It may be well to add the twelve gallons per diem allows for a daily
sponge bath, and that on this quantity of water absolute domestic
and personal cleanliness can be maintained. An excess of water is a
pure luxury, and it should be remembered that sewage difficulties are
largely proportionate to the amount of water which has to be dealt with.

The supply of water by meter would effectually check waste, which no
by-laws and regulations can effect; and if the water mains were frozen,
the water companies, very properly, would be the chief losers, and the
householder would not be called upon to pay for that which he had never
been supplied with.

In the matter of water 'enough is as good as a feast,' and it is idle
to imagine that the public health will be improved by a reckless
extravagance in this or any other direction.

Finally, is it not possible to consider the sanitary well-doer in
the matter of sewerage rates? As it is, the householder who perfects
and completes the sanitation of his house on his own premises, very
possibly pays more than he who throws the whole of the trouble and
expense on the public authority.

He who takes trouble in this matter is regarded as a fool by the
majority, who say, 'He has got to pay rates; why should he bother.'

That the burden of public authorities and the pollution of rivers would
be very much lessened by the recognition of the well-doer, there can be
no doubt.

In considering the rating of a house for sewerage works it is clear
that every sink, W.C., bath or gully discharging its contents into
a public sewer ought to be charged, and such charge should be
progressive; thus, if 5_s._ were paid for one such discharge hole,
7_s._ 6_d._ should be paid for the second, 10_s._ for the third, 12_s._
6_d._ for the fourth, and so on. In this way a cottage with one kitchen
sink only would pay 5_s._, but a mansion with, say, 10 sinks, baths,
and W.C., would pay 8_l._ 2_s._ 6_d._ Such charges are analogous to
the charges made by water companies, which are higher for the better
class of house. If this or something like this were done, the fixed
charges on the house would produce a considerable sum, which would go
far towards paying the municipal bills for scavenging and sewering.
The balance would have to be raised by a rate on the buildings
themselves, which rate should be in proportion to the cubic contents
of the buildings, without reference to their curtilage, because large
curtilage tends to improve the public health more than all the clauses
of all the sanitary Acts that ever were devised.

The cubic contents should alone be considered in making assessments for
rates. If a man spend money in making his house more wholesome without
increasing its size, and thereby increases its value, it is clearly not
in the interests of the public health that he should be fined by the
sanitary authority for so doing. Nevertheless this is done daily.

That a man should pay for so much water as he uses and for no more, and
that he should pay the municipality for personal services directly in
proportion to those services, seem to be two propositions so simple and
so equitable, and so absolutely fundamental for all just dealing, that
one cannot be surprised at the trouble which follows the neglect of

Great as are the sanitary evils connected with overcrowding, it is
probable that the moral and social harm which results from it is
infinitely more important; and yet we find that our modern socialistic
legislation does everything to encourage and nothing to discourage this
greatest of sanitary and social ills.

It is strange that the cubic contents of a building should be a
factor which is rigorously excluded from consideration when rating
and building regulations are being considered. It seems to the writer
to be obvious that it is by far the most important factor, and one
which cannot be neglected if our municipal regulations are to have any
permanence. The Metropolitan Building Act we have seen puts a premium
on large buildings, by abolishing all restrictions as to curtilage,
provided the building runs from street to street or from street to
'open space,' and never considers the enormous dangers of these large
buildings in relation to epidemic disease and fire.

Every country place would do well to enact that—

  (1) The height of a house shall in no case be greater than
  the width of the street upon which it abuts.

  (2) Every house shall have a minimum private curtilage
  upon the ground level, and entirely free from buildings
  which shall equal the cubic contents of the house divided
  by 50.

In the second paragraph I have chosen 50 for my divisor, because the
average width of a street and the average height of the four-storeyed
house are not far from 50 feet.

Let us take the case of an ordinary four-storeyed house (with no
basement) having an area of 20 × 50 and 50 feet high. Then the
curtilage would be (20 × 50 × 50)/50 = 1,000; _i.e._, the house must
have a curtilage exactly equal to the area occupied by the building—a
back yard probably, 50 feet deep and 20 feet wide. If in addition to
the four storeys there be a basement of 12,500 cubic feet, then an
additional 250 square feet of curtilage would be required, and the
builder who is tempted to overcrowd would be constantly checked by the
price he has to pay for his obligatory curtilage.

The high price of building land is largely due to there being
practically no restriction as to the cubic contents permissible on a
certain area.

If we take the smaller two-storeyed cottages, having a width of 15
feet, a depth of 25, and a height of 20 feet, then the curtilage
would be (15 × 25 × 20)/50 = 150, which is the minimum of the 'model'
by-laws. If the builder put a basement to this cottage of 3,750 cubic
feet, he would have to provide additional 75 square feet of curtilage,
and thus a check would be put upon underground dwellings and high
buildings which obstruct the light and air. On the other hand, there
need be no restrictions on the height or cubic contents of any building
provided its curtilage be ample.

If it were possible for the first house considered to have a height of
100 feet in addition to its basement, then, the cubic contents being
112,500 feet, the curtilage would have to be 2,250 square feet, and the
house and curtilage combined would occupy some 3,250 square feet, or
rather less than ¹⁄₁₃ of an acre.

It is probable that a comprehensive rule of this kind would
satisfactorily keep builder and site speculator in order, while it
placed a minimum of restriction on the originality and fancy of
architect and builder.

Builders of houses wholly detached from other houses or boundaries by a
distance equal to the height of the house should be allowed to escape
altogether from the harassing 'model' by-laws and the tyranny of the

I would say finally—

1. That overcrowding is the greatest of all sanitary evils, and far and
away the greatest of all moral evils.

2. That whatever increases the cost of the dwelling inevitably
increases overcrowding.

3. That overcrowding is facilitated by modern methods of sanitation.

4. That, unless the crowding of houses be prevented, great schemes of
sewerage and water-supply will eventually make the health of a district
worse instead of better.

5. That 'open spaces' and public gardens do not compensate for the lack
of light and air in the dwelling or of curtilage around it.

What one may call municipal luxuries are not permissible if they
permanently increase the cost of the dwelling.

If such luxuries be self-supporting they may be permissible, but it is
clear to my mind that, as a rule, they should be left to be provided by
private munificence or voluntary public subscription. They ought never
to be paid for out of the rates.

The avowed policy of many municipalities is to practise a maximum of
extravagance, in the belief that such extravagance benefits the poor,
and these vicarious philanthropists receive a willing support from
those who are directly interested in such schemes.

6. That if great schemes for sewerage, or water supply, or the
provision of open spaces, be effected by loans which increase the rates
for long terms, and thereby permanently increase the cost of the
dwelling, they will inevitably lead to a deterioration in the public
health and morals. Some of these schemes _facilitate_ overcrowding,
while _increased rates_, by raising the cost of the dwelling, _compel_

7. Municipal ostentation is wholly indefensible. To build palatial
offices costing a million and more of money, and thereby saddle the
ratepayers with another loan, is indefensible. To buy a cocked hat for
the mayor out of the rates (as did a less ambitious municipality) is
equally indefensible, and serves no useful purpose except to raise a

We have been long accustomed to hear that our chief sanitary necessity
in this world is pure water. This would be quite true if we were fish.
But it is obvious that the purity of the air we breathe is of far
greater importance than the purity of the water we drink, seeing that
we must take a draught of air about twenty times a minute, while many
of us do not take a draught of raw water from week's end to week's end.

If the huge death-rate of the Strand were due to impure water, we may
be sure that there would be no lack of discussion thereupon; but as it
is due to overcrowding, and the filthiness of the air consequent upon
overcrowding, we hear nothing about it. To make any serious attempt
to check overcrowding would interfere with trade, and therefore it
is considered silly and futile to discuss such a matter. Any man who
supposes that considerations of hygiene will be allowed to interfere
with trade, is, I think, deceived. At all events, I have no such belief.

My sole object in discussing these matters is to warn country places
against blindly following the lead of London in sanitary matters.



It is quite impossible to define 'organic matter,' or to indicate the
line, if there be any, between organic and inorganic.

Organic matter is the material of which living things are made. When
a chemist analyses anything which is the product of life, whether
vegetable or animal, he often speaks of his incombustible residue or
ash as 'inorganic matter,' but this is clearly an arbitrary use of the
term, for this incombustible residue has formed an indispensable part
of one living thing, and may in due time be incorporated with other
living things as something which they cannot do without.

It may well be that everything of which we have knowledge (even
including the igneous rocks) has at one time or another formed part of
a living organism, and it is certain that a large proportion of the
commoner chemical elements may form a part, more or less indispensable,
of the bodies and framework of plants or animals.

Oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, chlorine, sulphur, phosphorus,
iron, sodium, potassium and calcium seem to be indispensable to almost
every living thing. Many more of the elements are constantly found in
some organisms, while others, such as lead, mercury, silver, &c., may
be temporarily incorporated with living bodies.

We shall deal mainly with those elements which are pre-eminently
mobile, which are constantly changing and exchanging, combining and
separating, and which are readily combustible. For practical purposes
one might, indeed, use the terms 'organic' and 'combustible' to signify
the same thing.

With regard to solid matter, the power of readily circulating implies
a readiness of combustibility, but it must be remembered that there is
no hard line between combustible and incombustible. This is a matter of
temperature, and many things which are incombustible here are said to
be blazing in the sun.

The combustion of organic matter may take place slowly, or with
moderate rapidity, or with explosive violence.

When we burn coal, which is a vegetable product, we find that the
carbon and hydrogen escape as carbonic acid and water, accompanied
by nitrogen, sulphuric acid, and volatile hydrocarbons. The residue
consists mainly of silica and alumina, which are removed from the
furnace in the form of clinker and ash. The water ultimately returns to
the earth in the form of rain or dew; the carbonic acid is ultimately
absorbed by green plants, and, by stimulating the growth of these,
helps to furnish us with more combustible material; while the residue
is almost a waste product. Thus, in this example we find that the
carbon and watery vapour readily 'circulate,' while the residue can
only do so after a long interval of time, and is practically lost. The
volatile hydrocarbons and sulphuric acid, being poisonous to herbage,
are a source of practical loss rather than gain.

Let us take next the case of an animal, which is really a living
furnace, browsing in a field; as it browses we may often see the
breath, which is the smoke of this furnace, laden with carbonic acid
and water, escaping from its mouth and nostrils, and it is probable
that the green leaves of the herbage absorb this carbonic acid almost
as soon as it escapes, and, appropriating the carbon, return oxygen
to the animal to help its respiration and combustion. The animal as
it eats continues to grow and increase in bulk and value, whereas the
artificial furnace in which the coal is burnt tends steadily to wear
out and decrease in value. As it browses and grows, the droppings of
the animal nourish the herbage which here and there, by patches of more
vigorous growth and deeper green, afford sure evidence of the value of
these waste products.

In this arrangement there is no waste, for both the animal and the
herbage, by a process of mutual exchange and the circulation of organic
matter, increase in value.

Not only is there no waste, but, strange as it may seem, there is a
positive gain, with no loss whatever. The furnace and the fuel are both
increased! This increase can only be apparent, and not real, for it is
well known that although we may alter the form of matter, we can add
nothing to and subtract nothing from the sum total of the world.

One would say that this apparent increase is due to the stimulating
effect of the excreta upon the soil, which enables us to draw something
extra from that inexhaustible storehouse of plant-food and water, and
enables the animal to use these materials, instead of allowing them to
drain to the springs, and so find their way to the sea. We know that a
far greater proportion of the rainfall percolates through barren soil
than through soil bearing crops. If this be so, there is a practical
increase of the land at the expense of the water.

Again, we must remember that our knowledge of the sources of the gases
of the atmosphere is not complete. It may be that all the oxygen of the
air is furnished by the green leaves of plants, and all the carbonic
acid by processes of respiration and combustion, but we are by no
means sure of this. Of the sources of the atmospheric nitrogen we know
nothing. Now it is certain that much of the carbon of the atmosphere
is appropriated by the plants, and much of the oxygen by the animals.
If among the herbage there be plants of clover, it is now certain that
much of the atmospheric nitrogen will be drawn into the soil to nourish
these plants and generally to increase their fertility. Whether the
return of oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen is, in the long run, equal to
the intake we cannot tell.

When, however, we ponder upon the gradual increase of vegetable soil
or humus with which the bare rocks have been clothed in the course of
ages, it is almost impossible not to come to the conclusion that the
humus, and with it the fertility of the soil, has steadily increased
at the expense of the sea on the one hand, and, possibly, of the
atmosphere on the other. To put the matter in the form of question and
in other terms, 'Does the _Lithosphere_ increase at the expense of the
_Atmosphere_ and the _Hydrosphere_?' Does the land increase at the
expense of sea and air? Be this as it may, it seems certain that by
scrupulous return to the soil of all that comes out of it the resources
of Nature are made increasingly available for the benefit of man.

When organic matter is mixed with water, a process of putrefaction and
fermentation is started, and the organic matter, instead of undergoing
oxidation, is reduced, and among the commoner products of this process
are ammonia with sulphuretted hydrogen and marsh-gas, which are both
combustible. These processes furnish us with other combustible
matters, among the commonest of which are the alcohols, the familiar
products of fermentation.

It is interesting to note the tendency of organic matter, when mixed
with water, to give rise to explosive and combustible products.
Explosions in cesspools and sewers have occurred many times. When wet
hay is stored in stack it catches fire. When we stir the mud at the
bottom of a pond or river, bubbles of combustible marsh-gas rise to
the surface. The coal measures are due to the storing under water of
semi-aquatic plants which have been preserved by being silted up, and
we know that coal is full of olefiant gas, marsh-gas, sulphuretted
hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which are all combustible, and that
the carbonaceous residue, charged with volatile and combustible
hydrocarbons, forms the chief fuel of the civilised world. Peat is
formed in ways analogous to that of coal, and the so-called mineral
oils are certainly the products of organic matter which has been silted

These subterranean stores of combustibles, all of organic origin,
are, as we know, prodigious in quantity. Nobody can predict the time
which it will take to exhaust the coal measures of the world, and we
know for a fact that the sacred fires of Baku on the Caspian, fed by
subterranean reservoirs of naphtha, have been burning for centuries.

When we see the end of a tin of 'preserved meat' bulged, we know that
the gas-forming organisms have been at work within, and when the bed
of the lower reaches of the Mississippi rises as a small mud mountain,
spluttering with carburetted hydrogen, we know that analogous forces
have been in operation. It seems, indeed, to be a law of Nature that
the ultimate destiny of organic matter is to 'circulate,' and that if
it does not do so quietly, as in the ordinary processes of nutrition in
plants and animals, it merely bides its time, and ultimately attains
its end with more or less destructive violence.

Nitre (nitrate of potash or nitrate of soda) is an organic product, and
sulphur is an essential constituent of all or nearly all organisms. Of
the three ingredients of gunpowder, two (charcoal and saltpetre) are,
it is certain, of exclusively organic origin, and the third, sulphur,
may be so also.

All the common combustibles with which we are familiar are certainly
of organic origin, and one is almost forced to the conclusion that in
this world life must have preceded combustion. If we are to explain
what _has been_ by what _is_, such a conclusion is irresistible. Are
we quite sure that volcanoes, which are seldom far from the sea, are
not fed by old deposits of organic matter which has collected in the
primeval ocean, and, like the more recent coal measures, have been
silted up?

What has been the destiny of the protoplasm of the countless animals
and plants which are found in geologic strata? What part have ancient
microbes had in the formation and disruption of the successive layers
of which this earth is formed? These are questions which force
themselves upon the mind, but which I will not attempt to answer. This
biological view of the cosmogony which subjects the world, equally with
all that is upon it, to the laws of development, evolution, and decay,
does not, I believe, present so many difficulties as might at first
sight appear.

_Omne vivum ex vivo_ is a law of Nature, and all organic bodies spring
from organic antecedents. Organic matter is our capital in this world,
and the more frequently we can turn it over, and the more quickly and
efficiently we can make it circulate, the more frequent will be our
dividends. If we burn organic matter we may get a good dividend of
energy, but nothing further is to be expected. The construction of the
furnace involves an outlay of capital, which steadily diminishes as the
furnace wears out by frequent use. If we burn organic matter merely to
be rid of it, we spend our money for the sole purpose of dissipating
our capital. The function of fire is to destroy and sterilise.

If we mix organic matter with large quantities of water, we have to
encounter all the evils and annoyance of putrefaction, and if, when so
mixed, we send it to the sea, we have no material gain of any kind. We
spend our money for the purpose of dissipating our capital.

We may place the water containing the organic matter upon the land,
and in tropical countries this is done, with excellent effect, for the
production of rice, a semi-aquatic plant, which, according to Professor
Georgeson, Professor of Agriculture in the Imperial University of
Tokio, is said to prefer its nitrogen in the form of ammonia. The same
authority states that nitrification does not take place under water,
and careful experiments carried out at Tokio show that sulphate of
ammonia is a much better manure for irrigated rice than nitrate of soda.

In our damp climate sewage farming has proved a dismal failure, and
the difficulties seem to increase with the quantity of water which has
to be dealt with. Excess of water drowns the humus, and nitrification
cannot go on in a soil the pores of which are closed by excess of

The living earth, teeming with aërobic microbes, must be allowed to
breathe. It needs for this purpose a certain amount (about 30 per
cent.) of moisture; but it stands drowning no better than a man does,
and if it be drowned, agricultural failure is inevitable.

If we carefully return to the upper layers of the humus, in which air
and microbes exist in plenty, the residue of everything which we
extract from it, we inevitably increase the thickness of the humus and
its fertility. Our capital increases, and our dividends increase and
recur with a frequency which depends upon the climate.

With thrifty and high cultivation it may, indeed, prove profitable to
compensate defects of climate by the use of glass and artificial heat.

The part played in the economy of Nature by fungi and bacteria—the new
learning of the last half-century—is an addition to human knowledge
which is destined to revolutionise our views of many natural phenomena.
It has already exercised enormous propulsive power on human thought,
and has stimulated our imagination scarcely less than when, to use the
words of Froude, 'the firm earth itself, unfixed from its foundations,
was seen to be but a small atom in the awful vastness of the universe.'

This knowledge has provided us with a new world, peopled with organisms
in numbers which, like the distances of the astronomers and the periods
of the geologists, are really unthinkable by the human mind. Their
variety also, both in form and function, is, for practical purposes,

When, with the help of the many inventions of the optician and the
dyer, we catch a glimpse of things which a few years back were
'undreamt of in our philosophy,' and when we reflect that these
organisms are certainly the offspring of 'necessity,' and are probably
mere indications of infinities beyond, we cannot be too thankful for
the flood of light which these discoveries have shed upon the enormity
of human ignorance.

The lower animals and the lower vegetable organisms (fungi and
bacteria) co-operate in a remarkable way in the circulation of organic

In the autumn the gardener, with a view to what is called 'leaf
mould,' sweeps the dead leaves into a heap, where they are exposed to
air and rain. This heap when thus treated gets hot, and last autumn I
found that the temperature of such a heap had risen in the course of a
week or so to 104° F., and remained at a temperature considerably above
that of the surrounding air during the whole winter. On turning it over
after a month or so one found in it a large number of earthworms and
endless fungoid growths visible to the naked eye, and one felt sure
that it was swarming with countless millions of bacteria, invisible
except to the highest powers of the microscope. In the beginning of
March this heap, much reduced in size, was spread loosely over a
patch of ground which was previously dug. If one examined that ground
to-day one would scarcely recognise the structure of leaves, and in a
few weeks more it will have become nothing but ordinary garden mould,
and anything planted in it will grow with vigour. This is a familiar
everyday fact.

We know also that noisome filth spread over a field by the farmer in
the autumn or winter loses its offensiveness in a few days, and by
the spring neither our eyes nor noses give us any clue to the cause
of the fertility of the field which is covered with ordinary 'mould.'
This process of 'humification' is largely due to earthworms and other
earth dwellers, which pass the earth repeatedly through their bodies,
and in doing so reduce it to a very fine powder. I have examined worm
castings picked off a lawn, and which, after being slowly dried, have
been gently sifted through muslin. Those who have never examined a worm
casting in this way will be interested to know of what an impalpable
dust the greater part is composed, and will also note the considerable
size of the pieces of flint and grit which the animal has used in its
living mill, and which have been separated by the muslin sieve.

These castings are full of microbes, and those who will take the
trouble to scatter the smallest conceivable pinch of this impalpable
dust upon a sterilised potato, after the manner and with all the
precautions familiar to bacteriologists, will obtain an abundant and
varied growth of bacteria and moulds, which will completely baffle
their powers of enumeration and discrimination.

The greatest hindrance in the bacterial examination of the soil is this
_embarras de richesses_, which makes the isolation of different species
a matter of extreme difficulty.

The bacteria exist in the soil in countless millions, but it must be
remembered that they get fewer as we go deeper. The first few inches
of the soil are, in the matter of bacterial richness, worth all the
rest, and at a depth of five or six feet they appear to be almost
non-existent. The practical lesson which we have to lay to heart in
applying this knowledge is that the upper layers of the soil are the
potent layers in bringing about the circulation of organic matters,
and that if we wish to hasten this process we must be careful to place
our organic refuse near the surface, and not to bury it deeply, a
process by which the circulation is inevitably delayed or practically
prevented. If we bury it deeply we not only get no good, but we may get
harm by poisoning our wells and springs.

It is the same with organic liquids. If these be poured on the surface,
the 'living earth' (_i.e._ the humus stuffed with animal and microbial
life) purges them of their organic matter, and transmits a relatively
pure liquid to the deeper layers. If they be taken to the barren
subsoil direct, as in underground sewers and cesspools, they escape the
purifying action of air and aërobic organisms, and inevitably poison
the water. Filthy liquids accumulating in cesspools and leaking _under
pressure_ to our wells have cost us health and money incalculable.

Liquids poured upon the surface cannot, owing to the crumby nature of
the humus, exert any appreciable hydraulic pressure. This is a fact of
huge importance in the practical management of organic refuse.

All effete organic matter instantly becomes the prey of animals and
plants. The dead body of an animal teems with life—_Le roi est mort,
vive le roi_. M. Mégnin, a skilled entomologist and a member of the
French Academy of Medicine, has made a study, which is full of gruesome
interest, of the living machinery which makes away with the bodies of
animals not buried but exposed to the air and protected from beasts of

M. Mégnin shows that the destruction of the animal is accomplished in
no haphazard fashion, but that successive squadrons of insects are
attracted by the successive stages of putrefaction.

The first squadron which arrives, sometimes before death and always
before putrefaction, consists entirely of dipterous insects,
house-flies and their relative, the blow-fly.

The next squadron are also diptera, and are said to be attracted by the
commencing odour of decomposition. These squadrons use the carcase as a
procreant cradle, and thus ensure the nourishment of the larvæ so soon
as they are hatched. Amongst these flesh-seeking flies there are said
to be specialists which prefer the flesh of particular animals.

The third squadron is attracted when the fat begins to undergo an acid
fermentation. These consist of coleoptera and lepidoptera, beetles and
butterflies, and among them is _Dermestes Lardarius_, the Bacon Beetle.

When the fats become cheesy the diptera reappear, and among them is
_Pyophila Casei_, the fly which breeds jumpers in cheese, which is
accompanied by a beetle, whose larvæ are connoisseurs in rancidity.

When the carcase becomes ammoniacal, black, and slimy, it is visited by
a fifth squadron of flies and beetles.

And these are succeeded by the sixth squadron, consisting of acari
or mites, whose function it is to dry up the moisture and reduce the
carcase to a mummy-like condition.

The dried carcase proves attractive to the seventh squadron, consisting
of beetles and moths, some of which are the familiar pests of the
housewife, the furrier, and the keepers of museums. These animals gnaw
the softer parts, such as ligaments, and leave nothing but a fine
powder behind them, which is in fact their dung.

The last and eighth squadron consists solely of beetles, which clean up
the débris, in the shape of dung, shells, pupa cases, &c., of the seven
squadrons which have preceded them.

M. Mégnin, being an entomologist and not a bacteriologist, deals
exclusively with the insects concerned in making away with a carcase,
but it is evident that bacteria work hand in hand with them.

There are many other instances which may be quoted of the co-operation
of fungi with other organisms, and it is only of late years that we
have appreciated the fact of _symbiosis_, or the living together of two
organisms for the mutual benefit of each. This fact was first pointed
out in so-called lichens, which are now shown to be complex bodies
consisting of a fungus and an alga, living in symbiotic community for
the mutual benefit of each.

It was next shown that the papilionaceous leguminosæ are unable to
flourish without certain bacterial nodules which grow upon their roots,
and by the instrumentality of which they can appropriate the nitrogen
of the air, and thus the fact, familiar for centuries, that the
leguminosæ leave the ground in a state of great fertility, while they
are singularly independent of nitrogenous manures, has been explained.

But if the plants themselves are independent of dung, it is not so,
apparently, with the symbiotic nodules, which seem to flourish far more
vigorously in rich garden ground than they do in comparatively poor
farm land. Thus Sir John Lawes has grown clover in a rich old garden
for forty-two years, and has had luxuriant crops every year.

According to my own observation on the scarlet runner bean these
nodules are more plentiful upon the roots which grow superficially than
upon those which run deeply.

Symbiosis is observable in many plants other than the leguminosæ,
and it is certain that many of our big forest trees depend for their
nourishment upon fungi which grow upon their roots.

All animals appear to be symbiotic, for we all carry about millions
of microbes, which must fairly be regarded as junior partners in our
economy, and which we cannot do without. The microbe which has been
chiefly studied—the _Bacterium Coli commune_—appears to be essential
for certain digestive processes which go on in the intestines while
we live; and when we die, this microbe is active in starting the dead
body upon that cycle of events which is one form of the 'Circulation of
Organic Matter.'

Now it is certain that the dung of all animals swarms with bacteria and
allied organisms when it leaves the intestines, and it seems highly
probable that excrement carries with it the biological machinery which
is necessary for its dissolution and ultimate humification.

My friend, Mr. George Murray, F.R.S., the keeper of the Botanical
Department of the British Museum, whose learning in fungology is well
known, has kindly furnished me with an elaborate list of 139 genera of
fungi which flourish on excrement.

Of these 139 genera, Mr. Murray has tabulated no less than 628 species
which are known to flourish on excrement.

Of the 628 species, 226 have been found on the dung of more than one
genus of animals, but no less than 402 species of fungi are peculiar to
the excrement of only one genus of animals.

Of these 402 species of fungi, 91 are peculiar to the dung of the ox;
78 to the horse; 68 to the hare and rabbit; 30 to the dog; 25 to the
sheep; 28 to birds; 21 to man; 16 to the mouse; 9 to the deer; 7 to the
pig; 7 to the wolf; and 22 to other animals.

This search for fungi in excrement is necessarily incomplete. In
Mr. Murray's list it is evident that the greatest number of species
has been found in the dung of animals which are domesticated and
common, and which offer facilities to the fungologist. The numbers
are startling, but when we consider that the dung of every living
thing which crawls or burrows, or swims or flies, has properties which
are peculiar to it, and which fit it to become the nidus of some
peculiar fungoid or bacterial growth, the part played by fungi in the
distribution and circulation of organic matter cannot be over-estimated.

The facts which have been recounted, and which seem to show that
fungi and bacteria are necessary for the growth and development of
even the highest plants and animals, and that fungi and animals are
equally necessary for the dissolution of organic matter, point to the
conclusion that the correlation of the biological forces in this world
is no less exact than the correlation of the physical forces. The
uniform composition of the atmosphere, except under special and local
conditions, is a fact which tends in the same direction.

While it is impossible to over-estimate the debt which agriculture
owes to chemistry, we have, nevertheless, learnt from the
bacteriologist that there are biological problems underlying the
question of fertility, and that a mere chemical estimation of the
constituents of organic manure is insufficient, by itself, to fix its
manurial value. It is by the agency of bacteria that organic matter is
changed into nitrates and other soluble salts, which are absorbed by
the roots of plants and serve to nourish them. This change only takes
place provided the temperature and moisture are suitable and the ground
be properly tilled. Drought and frost arrest the change, and excess of
moisture, by closing the pores of the soil, does the same thing.

Organic manures are economical in the long run, because if the weather
is adverse they bide their time until the advent of 'fine growing
weather.' If one season prove unfavourable, a large amount of the
organic matter remains in the soil to nourish the next crop. This is
not the case when soluble chemical manures are used.

That it is necessary to put dung upon the ground if we are to maintain
the fertility of the soil has been the experience of all peoples in
every age.

[Illustration: Fig. 35.]

I will now allude to a diagram (fig. 35) which represents by a curve
the yearly produce of barley, in bushels per acre, grown continuously
on the same plots of ground for forty years, but with this difference,
that one plot (represented by the upper curve) received 14 tons per
annum per acre of farmyard manure, while the other, represented by
the lower curve, has been unmanured continuously. This diagram has
been constructed from figures given by Sir John Lawes and Sir Henry
Gilbert in the 'Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society
of Scotland' for 1895. I have replaced fractions by the nearest whole
figure. The fluctuations of both these curves are very great, and it
will be noticed that they are exactly parallel to each other. This
teaches us that weather is the most important factor in agricultural
success, and shows the extreme danger to the farmer of 'placing all
his eggs in one basket,' as has been done by the so-called farmers of
the Far West, who have attempted to grow wheat _only_ by the process
of scratching the prairie, without returning any dung to the soil, and
many of whom have been financially swamped by the first bad season.

Taking the average of the forty years, it will be found that the
produce of the manured land averaged 49 bushels per acre per annum,
while the unmanured land gave only 16½ bushels.

I might have added to the diagram a third curve showing the produce of
that plot of ground which, of all those manured with artificials, gave
the highest yield. The yield of this plot for the whole forty years
averaged 46 bushels, or only 3 bushels short of the average yield of
the plot treated with farmyard manure. If, however, we take the average
yield of the three plots for each of the four decades comprising the
forty years, the value of the organic matter becomes very manifest.
Thus the yield for each decade was with

  Farmyard dung          44·9   51·5   50·0   51·6
  Artificial manure      48·7   49·4   42·8   41·5
  Unmanured              22·2   17·5   13·7   12·6

It will be observed that the yield from artificial manuring only
exceeded the yield from the farmyard plot in the first decade, when
it showed an excess of 3·8 bushels. In the other three decades it was
deficient by 2·1, 7·2, and 10·1 bushels.

The deficiency of the unmanured plot in each decade, as compared with
the farmyard plot, was 22·7, 34·0, 37·3, and 39·0.

These figures are very convincing, and as practical agriculturists seem
to be now agreed that farming is hopeless without an adequate amount of
live-stock to furnish dung, no more need be said upon this head.

But is there no danger in using organic refuse, which may be infective
and dangerous, as an application to the land? To this I should say
emphatically 'No,' provided it be put in the upper layers of the soil,
and the soil be tilled. Our organic refuse, when allowed to putrefy
in water, and to trickle _under pressure_ to our wells, or run direct
into our sources of drinking-water, has turned millions of pounds into
the pockets of members of my profession, but when rationally used as a
top-dressing for the well-tilled soil it has never, that I am aware of,
produced any harm.

I have tried to investigate this matter. Some five years ago I
constructed a well five feet deep in the middle of a garden which is
plentifully manured with all that is most loathsome to our senses. This
well is lined to the very bottom with concrete pipes, further protected
by an external coating of concrete; the junctions of the pipes are
securely closed by cement, and there is a good parapet and efficient
cover (see page 65 and figs. 22 and 23).

Now no water can possibly enter the well, except through the bottom.
The water in it is clear and bright, and since its construction no
mud has collected on the bottom. The sides of the pipes also remain
absolutely clean, so much so that when, in 1895, I showed this well to
a party of scientific friends, some of them dropped a hint that it had
possibly been scrubbed in honour of their visit. This, however, was not
the case.

The water from this well has been examined three times chemically, with
the result that it has been pronounced free from organic impurities,
and three bacteriological examinations have been made, with the result
of showing a bacterial purity which is quite exceptional. The last
examination was made by Dr. Cartwright Wood in November 1895, and
showed a very high degree of bacterial purity. The water was specially
examined by Dr. Wood for the presence of _Bacterium Coli commune_, but
with negative results. Dr. Wood writes: 'The results are exceedingly
satisfactory, and I must admit surprised me very much.' A surface-well
on this pattern has lately been constructed in a village near Andover,
and the results, as far as the appearance of the well and water is
concerned, seem to be entirely satisfactory.

When people live crowded together in cities, the difficulties connected
with the cleaning of the houses are very great. After the invention of
the steam-engine it was found possible to supply even the top floors
of the highest houses with an ample supply of water. We accordingly
abolished the scavenger, and adopted a complete system of water-carried
sewage. In this way our houses have been cleansed, and our rivers and
surface-wells have been fouled, and it is difficult to say whether at
present there be a balance of advantage or disadvantage. We have had
epidemics of cholera and of typhoid, and it is almost certain that
there is no one here present but has suffered in some way or other from
the 'drains.'

The greatest drawback of this system is the fact that it encourages
overcrowding of houses on inadequate areas, and, unfortunately, it
is this fact which has rendered the system so popular. With water
under pressure there is no need to provide houses with any back-door
or back-yard, and there is no inconvenience in having excessively
high buildings. The speculative builder, who has been relieved of
all responsibilities in connection with sewage and water supply, has
abundantly used his opportunities, and the happy ground-landlord has
sold his land at large prices per square foot. We are shutting out the
light and air more and more from our cities, and the crowding in the
streets is making locomotion in them difficult. This overcrowding is
a serious matter, and I will show what it means in London by means of
a table and diagrammatic plan of the sanitary areas of London, with
the mortality figures in the years 1892 and 1893, as calculated by Mr.
Shirley Murphy, after due correction for abnormalities of age and sex

This table and plan (p. 144) shows at a glance that the mortality
of London as a whole (taken as 1,000) is 14 or 15 per cent. higher
than that of England and Wales, and that while some of the outlying
districts, such as Hampstead, Lewisham, and Plumstead, have a mortality
below that of England and Wales, the areas near the centre of London
are all considerably above it; and some, such as the Strand, Holborn,
St. George's-in-the-East, and Whitechapel, have a mortality as high as
that of the worst manufacturing towns.

The danger of overcrowding is well shown by the explosive outburst of
small-pox in Marylebone in 1894.


(Figures in small type show the population of the Sanitary Areas)

    England and Wales=~860~                        ~1893~                                               London (entire)=~1000~
    |               Hampstead                                                                                      Hackney       |
    |                73,380                                                                                        240,584       |
    |                ~673~                                                                                          ~892~        |
 +--+                                                                                                                            |
 |     Paddington           Marylebone   St. Pancras   Islington                                                                 |
 |       120,421             139,726      233,936       327,919                                                                  |
 |        ~762~               ~1103~       ~1054~        ~942~                                                                   |
 |                                                                                                                               |
 | Hammersmith                                       Shoreditch                                                                  |
 |   103,044                                           123,440                                                                   |
 |    ~865~                                             ~1193~                                                                   +-----------------+
 |                     +-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+                               |
 |    St. George's W.  |St. James     St. Giles   Holborn   Clerkenwell     St. Luke     Bethnal Green   Mile End  | Poplar                        |
 |       76,043        | 24,000        38,641      32,690    65,589         41,577          129,620       108,041  | 169,141                       |
 |        ~803~        |  ~991~        ~1193~      ~1327~    ~1327~         ~1498~           ~1175~        ~1045~  |  ~1072~                       |
 |                     |                                                                                           |                               |
 |     Kensington      |Westminster   St. Martin   Strand   City of London  Whitechapel  St. George's E.  Limehouse|          Woolwich   Plumstead |
 |      167,029        |  54,829        14,034      23,788   35,870           75,178        45,493         57,115  |           41,854     94,596   |
 |       ~874~         |  ~1197~        ~1161~      ~1592~   ~1215~           ~1238~        ~1439~         ~1381~  |           ~1022~     ~762~    |
 |                     |                                                                                           |                               |
 |Fulham   Chelsea     |               Newington  St. Saviour  St. George's S.  St. Olave  Bermondsey   Rotherhithe|       Greenwich               |
 |104,735  98,182      |                117,672      26,854       59,953          12,903     84,246        40,020  |        171,120                |
 | ~910~   ~955~       |                 ~1139~      ~1135~       ~1404~          ~1130~     ~1135~        ~1076~  |         ~951~                 |
 |                     +-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+                               |
 |                                                                Lambeth                                                        Lewisham          |
 |                                                                280,284                                                         98,258           |
 |                                                                 ~969~                                                           ~704~           |
 |                                                                                                                                                 |
 |          Wandsworth              Battersea                                  Camberwell                                                          |
 |            172,143                158,105                                    245,143                                                            |
 |             ~726~                  ~910~                                      ~915~                                                             |

DR=Corrected Death Rate ~1892~ MF=Mortality Figures

                              DR     MF

  Hampstead                  14·2    657
  Lewisham                 }
  Plumstead                } 15·7    727
  Wandsworth                 16·8    778
  Hackney                    18·1    838
  ~England and Wales~       ~19·0~  ~880~
  Paddington               }
  St. George's, Hanover    } 19·3    894
  Square                   }
  Battersea                }
  Kensington               } 19·4    898
  Greenwich                  19·7    912
  Camberwell                 19·9    921
  Islington                  20·1    931
  St. James's, W.            20·2    935
  Lambeth                    20·7    958
  Hammersmith                20·8    963
  Fulham                     20·9    968
  ~London (entire)~         ~21·6~ ~1000~
  Chelsea                    22·0   1019
  Rotherhithe                22·2   1028
  Woolwich                   22·8   1056
  Poplar                     23·2   1074
  St. Marylebone             23·4   1083
  St. Pancras                23·5   1088
  Mile End                   23·8   1102
  Shoreditch                 23·9   1106
  Bethnal Green              24·1   1115
  Bermondsey                 24·3   1125
  City of London             25·3   1171
  Newington                  25·5   1181
  St. Giles                  26·2   1213
  Westminster                26·6   1231
  St. Saviour, Southwark     26·7   1236
  Whitechapel                26·8   1241
  Clerkenwell              }
  St. George's, Southwark  } 27·5   1273
  Limehouse                  27·8   1287
  St. Martin's in the Fields 27·9   1292
  St. Olave's                28·1   1301
  St. Luke's                 28·2   1306
  St. George's East          28·8   1333
  Holborn                    29·7   1375
  Strand                     33·4   1546

Fig. 36 represents part of the Asylums Board Map, in which each case of
notified small-pox is shown by a black dot. This map shows that the
outbreak was limited to two spots, one in Portland Town and one round
Nightingale Street, Edgware Road, where the density of population,
according to Mr. Charles Booth, is over 300 persons to the acre.

[Illustration: Fig. 36.]

Other maps published by the Asylums Board show that whereas the
air-borne contagium, diphtheria, was confined more or less to the
crowded districts, enteric fever, which is a water-borne contagium, was
evenly spread over the whole parish. It need hardly be said that the
enforcement of vaccination, notification, and isolation, is important
in proportion to the density of population. The working of the sanitary
laws is a great expense to the ratepayers. I find it stated, for
instance, in the report of the Asylums Board, that for the removal of
the 260 small-pox patients from Marylebone the ambulances travelled
nearly twenty miles for each patient, and collectively 5,200 miles, or
about the distance from here to Bombay. Overcrowding is not cheap, and
I find, by a reference to the report of St. Marylebone, that whereas
in 1871 that parish, of about 1,500 acres, and with a diminishing
population, could be 'run' for about 660_l._ a day, it now costs about
1,100_l._ per day. It is right to add that the parish has no control
over a great part of the expenditure, but, nevertheless, 440_l._ per
diem is a fair sum to place upon the shrine of progressive municipalism.

If infectious disease occurs in our houses we have only to notify, and
the parish does the rest. We have put a premium on fever, and the lucky
man whose house is visited by a mild scarlatina is rewarded by having
his family maintained for six weeks at the public expense, and his
whitewashing done by the parish. If, on the return of a child from the
hospital, another child catches the disease, he can recover damages.

The Asylums Board is probably the most pauperising institution ever
conceived, but we are such cowards in the presence of disease that
financial and moral considerations have but little weight, provided the
unclean be removed.

Another great drawback to the water-carriage system of sewage is the
increasing difficulty with regard to water supply. Our needs per head
per diem in the matter of water have gradually increased to something
like forty gallons, which many experts consider to be none too much.
In London the air is so foul that rain-water is valueless for domestic
use, and the water of the surface wells is too poisonous to drink,
because we have neglected what I believe to be the most important of
the principles of sanitation, viz. the keeping of organic refuse,
whether solid or liquid, on the surface. The humus is the most perfect
purifier and the best of filters, in virtue of its physical conditions
and the life that is in it. We deliberately take our filth to the
under side of the filter, and then complain because our surface wells
are foul. The water companies are masters of the situation. Water is
not paid for, as a rule, in proportion to the quantity used, because
Parliament in its wisdom has decided that thriftiness in the use of
water is wicked. The grossly overburdened ratepayer is now pricking
up his ears to listen to the prattle about Welsh water schemes at the
cost of 38,000,000_l._, and is congratulating himself that he is only a
leaseholder, and that his bondage is terminable in seven, fourteen, or
twenty-one years at most. Water carriage, in which the carrier is some
sixty times more heavy and twenty times more bulky than the thing to be
carried, is economically ridiculous (except in places where Nature has
provided enormous quantities of water), and involves everyplace where
it is tried in ruinous debt. Let us take an illustration.

A suburban district having 27,000 persons on 7,000 acres of land, or
a population of less than four to the acre, mainly engaged in market
gardening, has in the last ten years borrowed 106,442_l._ for sewerage
works. The only visible result to the inhabitants is that even country
roads, with houses at ¼-mile or ½-mile intervals, have been dotted
with foul-smelling manholes.

In 1894-5 the sum of 18,534_l._ 14_s._ 1_d._ was raised from rates,
and of this there was spent 6,518_l._ 13_s._ 10_d._ for interest and
repayment of sewerage loans, and 2,542_l._ 3_s._ 11_d._ for current
expenses in connection with sewage. If to this be added one-third of
the establishment charges (say 700_l._), we reach a total of 9,860_l._,
or more than half the sum received from rates.

The provision and maintenance of all the patent domestic gimcracks
which water carriage involves, together with the necessarily increased
bills for water paid by the householder, would probably double that
sum, and we shall not be far wrong in saying that these 27,000 persons
are spending 20,000_l._ a year for the purpose of throwing their
capital into the Thames.

This doubling of rates has most seriously crippled the chief industry
of the district, and the market gardeners feel severely the heavy extra
charges which they are called upon to pay. These gentlemen, by putting
much of the offal of great towns to its proper use, and converting it
into food and wages for the poor, are doing a great work, but they are
in a fair way of being ruined by the silly recklessness of our local

On December 8, 1895, a writer in _The Times_ pointed out that in
1895, as compared with 1890, 633,000 acres of land were either out of
cultivation or had been converted into 'permanent pasture,' a term
which implies a minimum cultivation. Of these lands there were in Essex
over 31,000 acres, in Kent nearly 30,000, in Surrey 15,000, in Sussex
29,000, in Berks 20,000, in Bucks 11,500, Herts 7,600, Middlesex 5,500.

It is a noteworthy fact that in the eight counties nearest London,
which provides for them an insatiable market, nearly 150,000 acres of
land should have glided out of cultivation in the last five years. It
is impossible not to believe that the local rates in places near London
are the last straw upon the back of the agriculturist, who is ruinously
taxed in order that his land may be starved. To show what suburban
agriculturists have to bear in the way of local taxation I will quote
from my little book, 'Essays on Rural Hygiene,'[4] a few figures
showing what is paid by a gentleman who farms 200 acres of land, of
which 15 are grass:

                             £  _s._ _d._
  Income Tax (at 6_d._)     47    4    9
  Land Tax                  24   16    8½
  Poor Rate                123    0    5
  Burial Rate               19   13    8
  District Rate             83    1   11
  Tithe (considered low)    15   11    4
                          £313    8    9½

The social problems of the present day are many and complicated, and
all of us have heard of 'Distressed Agriculture,' 'Pauperism,' 'The
Aged Poor,' and the 'Unemployed.'

The agriculturist, who is being burdensomely taxed in order that his
land may be starved, now has part of his rates paid for him out of the
Imperial Exchequer. No one who knows the straits he is in will grudge
him this relief. But the paying of local charges out of Imperial taxes
has the inevitable result of making our 'Local Boards' more and more
extravagant, because they have the spending without the trouble of
raising money.

The reform most needed in the interest of agriculturists and others is
to put an effectual check upon the extravagance and ostentation of
Local Boards and District Councils, and to see that they spend no more
money in any one year than they can raise in their districts. These
bodies are now obliged to submit their accounts to a proper audit and
to publish them, and it is hoped that the ratepayer will subject them
to close criticism.

The policy of allowing persons who are elected for three years to raise
loans and plunge a district into debt for a period of thirty years
without one iota of personal responsibility is obviously dangerous.
To allow reckless borrowing for the construction of works which are
a source of expense and waste, and never of profit, would be called
madness in private life.

Doubtless a seat on a Council which borrows money in lots of
100,000_l._ at a time affords a delightful amusement to the idle man,
the busybody, the faddist, the philanthropist with a mission for
fumbling in other persons' pockets, and the prophet who is ever anxious
to borrow in order to provide for the future of which he is ignorant.
Your prophet is the most dangerous of these persons, and instances will
occur to the minds of most of us of municipalities which have been half
ruined by over-sanguine persons endowed with speculative minds and
persuasive tongues. The risk run by these persons is so small, be it
remembered, that if an aggrieved ratepayer makes them defendants in an
action, they enjoy the unique privilege of paying part of their costs
and damages out of the successful plaintiff's pockets.

Most of the local borrowing in this country has been for works of
sewerage, and although such works are financially ruinous, we are
told that we get a dividend of 'Health.' This, however, is not true,
and nobody could expect health to emerge from a system of which
putrefaction and overcrowding are the chief characteristics.

The application of organic matter to well-tilled soil leads to positive
gain and definite increase. The soil is the only permanent source of
wealth in this world. And we are all of us absolutely dependent upon
it for existence and happiness. The soil, if properly tilled, provides
health as well as wealth, and be it remembered that in proportion
to its productiveness so is the need of labour; and further, be it
remembered that long after the eye is too dim and the hand too slow
to keep time with steam machinery, the physical powers are amply
sufficient for the cultivation of the land.

Many of our pressing social problems are inextricably linked with our
duty to the soil, and any country in which the fertility of the soil
does not increase cannot be rightly regarded as really in the van of
civilisation and scientific progress. We are probably the wealthiest
country on the globe, because for some time past we have been the hub
of the entire financial world. Our success in one direction is no
excuse for neglecting the more certain sources of wealth, and it is to
be hoped that it will soon be regarded as evidence of neglect of our
moral obligations to allow the land to drift out of cultivation.



In dealing with the relation of the earth to disease it behoves us to
move with caution, and we shall do well at the outset to admit that
there is very little knowledge of the subject which can be regarded as
certain. We are in the land of conjectures, surmises, and plausible
hypotheses, which perhaps are leading on to certain knowledge, but it
will be necessary to check the dicta of the laboratories by experience
gained outside of them. Such has always been the admirable custom in
this country, where the labours of the pure scientist have been checked
by that truly excellent staff of workers, the medical inspectors of
the Local Government Board, to whom the world at large is more deeply
indebted that perhaps it is aware. Before we blame the earth for
causing us harm we must be sure that the facts, or alleged facts, of
the bacteriologist are supported by the experience of the practical
epidemiologist. Science unchecked by practice will certainly lead
us astray in the future, as it has done in the past, and just as a
'lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies,' so a new
scientific fact imperfectly understood has potentialities for evil
which are unbounded.

If we set aside for the present the question of malaria, which is
undoubtedly primarily connected with certain soils, we have very little
evidence that any other disease of practical importance is primarily
connected with the soil. There appear to be two microbes which are
present with tolerable constancy in the upper layers of the soil, and
which, when applied to a raw surface or injected hypodermically, may
cause tetanus and malignant œdema; but as yet we are without any
evidence that either of these diseases can be caused by drinking water
which has percolated through the soil, or can rise as a miasm from the
soil. They concern the surgeon mainly, and from the point of view of
epidemiology are unimportant.

Phthisis, or rather death from phthisis, which is not quite the same
thing, is said to be more prevalent on damp soils than on dry ones, and
it has further been said that the death-rate from this disease has been
reduced in certain towns by sewerage. This statement is not universally
accepted, and even if it be true it does not necessarily inculpate
the soil because damp soils are cold, and patients with phthisis or
any chronic lung trouble are very intolerant of cold and damp. It is
very generally recognised that phthisis is prevalent in proportion to
overcrowding, and that it is conveyed by tuberculous milk or meat seems
to be certain as the result of recent experimental work. Any charge
against the soil itself is as yet not proven.

Diphtheria has been said to be prevalent on certain soils, but this
assertion is now discredited, and we recognise that the great cause of
its spread is overcrowding. Its habitat, if it has any, outside the
animal body is not yet known.

Anthrax, which is due to a spore-bearing organism, can certainly be
conveyed to animals browsing on grass soiled by the dung or blood of
infected animals. The bacilli seem to die in the carcase of a dead
animal within three days after death; and as, for spore formation, the
free access of air and a temperature of 70° F. are necessary, it is not
likely that this goes on in the earth. Pasteur's assertion that anthrax
spores may be brought to the surface by earthworms is discredited by
Koch and others. Man, I believe, has never been infected with anthrax
except by direct inoculation or, as in the wool-sorter, by inhaling
spores from infected wool or hides. Clearly, animals should not be
allowed to browse in an infected field, and such fields should, where
possible, be ploughed up and converted from pasture into arable land.
The danger of burying animals dead of anthrax is considered unworthy
of credence by those eminent veterinary authorities, Professor Brown
and Professor McFadyean, and the latter has shown that the process
of putrefaction is fatal to the virulence of the tissues of the dead
animal when these are inoculated into other animals or administered by
the mouth.

Enteric fever and cholera bear a close resemblance to each other in
their mode of spread, and they are both recognised in this country
as mainly, if not entirely, water-borne diseases. Whether this be
absolutely the case in the tropics I will not pause to discuss, because
I am ignorant of the conditions of tropical life; but it is known that
at present the water-borne theory, as against the air-borne theory,
is receiving more and more support in India. That these diseases are
produced in most cases by the direct infection of water by the excreta
of infected patients is in Europe very generally acknowledged. The
cholera epidemics of 1848, 1854, and 1866, and the more recent epidemic
at Hamburg, strongly support the water-borne theory of cholera, and
the enteric fever epidemics which afford similar evidence in this
country have been so numerous that it is unnecessary to particularise.
The spread of both these diseases seems to be favoured by conditions
of filth and overcrowding, and the existence of a filthy and sodden
condition of the soil has been often spoken of in connection with them.
Nevertheless, there have been very few outbreaks of enteric fever in
which the fact that cesspools, sewers, or underground middens have
been in direct communication with the sources of water has not been
detected. If, as seems highly probable, typhoid fever may be conveyed
by sewer air, there is nothing improbable in the suggestion that it can
be conveyed by the air of privies or middens in which fæces are allowed
to putrefy. That typhoid fever poison can lurk in properly-tilled
ground seems very unlikely, and I am not aware that such a thing
has ever been suggested. Pettenkofer's statement, that epidemics of
typhoid fever and cholera follow depressions of the ground water may
be true for Munich, but it has not been materially supported in this
country; and, in Budapest, Fodor has found that these diseases are
more prevalent when the ground water is high. The variations of level
in the ground water depend upon such a number of meteorological and
other conditions, and give rise to so many and different effects, that
even if Pettenkofer's statement be accepted it would not necessarily
point to the earth as the natural habitat of the typhoid fever poison.
Professor Lane Notter, in his summing up of this ground-water question,
says[6]: 'It must, however, be borne in mind that it is not the ground
itself which is the cause of the disease, but the impurities in the
soil which the varying level of the ground water helps to set in
action.' Now, no organic impurity can possibly reach the soil from
the subsoil, which is purely inorganic. Any organic impurity which
reaches the ground water must, therefore, come from above, and is due
in the vast majority of cases to our mismanagement of organic refuse.
Dr. Sims Woodhead[7] says that '_the deeper layers_ of the earth are
frequently almost entirely free from micro-organisms, _just as is the
ground water_.' Of course if the soil of a city be porous, and if there
be a subterranean network of sewers interspersed with cesspools, this
would (in the high probability that an average proportion of these
contrivances leak) constitute a very great danger, but we must not
blame the earth because we mismanage it. The earth, be it remembered,
is our sole permanent source of wealth, and we must not needlessly
quarrel with our bread-and-butter.

This world would not be habitable were it not for the humus with which
its bare rocks are clothed. The humus is the living covering of the
skeleton, and its formation has taken ages. The primitive bare rock
which has been 'weathered' by the changing seasons gets clothed with
a growth of lichen. This thin but rough covering entangles stray
particles, and thus by its own decay affords a nidus for a stronger
growth. This stronger growth, by chemical action and physical force,
works further into the rock, on which the soaking rains and rending
frosts have an increasing effect, and thus, partly by the disruption
of the inorganic rock, and partly by the increase in ever-growing
quantities of vegetable decay, the humus rises, as it were, 'on
stepping-stones of its dead self' until it is able to afford footing
and nourishment for the stately forest tree, and its fertility finally
becomes sufficient to attract the attention of the husbandman. This
humus, the loose, mainly organic covering of the rocks, is formed,
as we have seen, by crumbling rocks from below and by the constant
additions of dead organic matter which are deposited upon the surface.
These additions of organic matter, be they in the form of dead animals,
dead leaves, dung, or what not, become humified, and thus the stock
of humus tends steadily to increase. The greater the stock of humus
the greater the fertility, and the greater the fertility the greater
will be the amount of dead organic matter to increase the stock of
humus. The conversion of the dead organic matter into humus is a
biological process, and is caused by the animals which live in the
humus, and is perfected by the growth of fungi. On this account I
ventured some years ago to speak of the humus as the 'Living Earth,'
and I take it that no more important addition has ever been made to
the stock of human knowledge than the recognition that the humus teems
with life, and that its fertility and healthiness depend entirely upon
biological processes. If the humus be sterilised, either by heat or
antiseptics, it becomes absolutely barren. It was at one time supposed
that the fertility of the soil depended mainly upon the process of
nitrification, whereby nitrogenous organic matter is converted into
soluble nitrates which are absorbed by the roots of plants, and there
can be no doubt that these nitrifying organisms are most important. The
causes of the fertility of the soil are probably far more complex than
we suppose, and I think it may be said that we are as yet only upon the
threshold of our knowledge with regard to them.

The phenomenon of 'symbiosis,' or the living together of
chlorophyll-bearing plants with those which have no chlorophyll in
so-called symbiotic community, where each partner works for its
fellow's good as well as its own, is far more common than was supposed.
Originally demonstrated in so-called lichens, which really consist of
symbioses of fungi and algæ, it was next shown in the papilionaceous
leguminosæ, whose nourishment appears to be largely dependent upon
so-called bacterial nodules which grow upon their roots, and, according
to my observations, more upon the superficial roots than those which
run more deeply. In Oliver's edition of Kerner's 'Natural History of
Plants'[8] will be found an account of symbioses between fungi and
big flowering plants in which 'the division of labour consists in
the fungus mycelium providing the green-leaved phanerogam with water
and food-stuffs from the ground, whilst receiving in return from its
partner such organic compounds as have been produced in the green
leaves.' 'The union of two partners always takes place underground, the
absorbent roots of the phanerogam being woven over by the filaments of
a mycelium.... As the root grows onward the mycelium grows with it,
accompanying it like a shadow.... The ultimate ramifications of roots
of trees 100 years old and the suction roots of year-old seedlings
are woven by the mycelial filaments in precisely the same manner.' It
is stated that many plants only flourish in symbiotic community, and
in this fact lies the explanation of the readiness of some plants to
grow and flourish from cuttings put in sand, or from seedlings grown
in nutritive solutions, while others, in the absence of the necessary
fungi encircling their roots, cannot be made to strike root or flourish
in this way. When it is stated that to the latter class belong oaks,
beeches, firs, willows, poplars, rhododendrons, and heaths, the
importance of symbiosis in this world will be readily understood. Now
we know why it is that the gardener prizes leaf-mould in spite of its
being comparatively poor in nitrogen as compared with guano. Leaf-mould
is full of fungi, and in it the plant readily establishes its requisite

This great and astounding fact of symbiosis, of which we have only
recently had cognisance, will serve to enforce the steadily growing
opinion that the sphere of the chemist is in all living processes
strictly limited. In estimating the value of artificial manures the
chemist's dictum is of the greatest value, but his analysis when used
to gauge the value of the living humus may be entirely misleading. The
chemist has told us again and again that the quantity of nitrogen in
humus and in earth-closet soil is, as compared with many artificial
manures, comparatively small, and therefore the mistake has been made
of regarding human fæces and the product of earth closets as of small
manurial value. I believe that such a statement is most misleading,
and on this point I claim to speak with no inconsiderable experience.
For the past ten years I have cultivated a garden of about an acre
and a quarter in extent in which the only manure used has been the
excremental and other refuse of some twenty cottages with about 100
inhabitants. In August 1895 I invited a party of the British Medical
Association to view that garden, and I think that none of my guests
on that occasion will refuse to admit that the garden was as full of
crops of one kind and another as a garden could well be. Dr. Voelcker,
the chemist of the Royal Agricultural Society, whom I had the honour
of numbering among my guests on that occasion, told me that he had
never seen a piece of ground more fully stocked, and he very kindly
went carefully round the garden with me to see if his experienced eye
could detect any sign of sickness in the soil. I have never detected
any such signs, and neither could he. The garden affords no evidence of
being overdone with manure, and my belief is that it would take a great
deal more. This ten years' experience has convinced me that human fæces
constitute a manure of the greatest value, all analyses to the contrary
notwithstanding. The probable explanation lies in the fact that the
microbes extruded with the fæces are of great value in developing the
fertility of the humus.

Many recent experiences in sanitation and in medicine force upon
us the conclusion that the value of chemical analysis in biological
questions is not final. Water which has been found to contain the
bacillus of typhoid fever has passed the tests of the chemist, and
there can be little doubt that in the past many samples of wholesome
water have been condemned for containing the products, in the form of
nitrates, of oxidised organic matter. Again, the action of toxins and
antitoxins is quite beyond the reach of the chemist, and the marvellous
results which have been obtained by administering thyroid extract
teach us that in dietetics there is something which the chemist cannot
gauge. Raw thyroid and cooked thyroid would give the same results on
analysis, but how different is the physiological result! How different
is the action of the carefully dried stomach of the calf in the form
of rennet or pepsin as compared with a dish of tripe! These facts must
force upon us the speculation that the same thing may produce very
different effects according to the temperature to which it may have
been artificially raised by drying under a vacuum or by cooking, and
must drive us to the conclusion that although it may be advisable under
certain circumstances to boil our milk or our water, it is possible
that the act of cooking may change, we know not to what degree, the
physiological action of the milk or water which has been thus treated.
My experience tells me that the chemists are wrong when they say that
human excreta are of small manurial value. Their analyses are doubtless
right, but their conclusions are erroneous and very dangerously
misleading. In this statement I should be supported by the whole of the
'Far Eastern' nations.

The ultimate manurial value of urine is doubtless very great, although
when pure or nearly pure it is very deadly to herbage. The only
satisfactory way of using urine as a manure is to imitate the farmer,
by mixing it with an absorbent material, such as straw, sawdust,
peat, earth, paper, cotton waste, wool waste, &c., placing it upon the
surface of the ground and digging or ploughing it in.

The best evidence that the humus is alive is the fact that it breathes.
The fungi which are destitute of chlorophyll absorb oxygen and give off
carbonic acid, in this respect resembling animals and differing from
the chlorophyll-bearing plants. The most easily obtained evidence of
this is the fact that decaying refuse generates heat, a fact which is
easily ascertained by using a thermometer. Thus I have at present in
the garden of my cottage in the Thames Valley a heap of privet leaves
intermixed with a quantity of fine twigs which give it great porosity
and serve to admit a large quantity of air. On the morning of October
21 the temperature of the air was 39° F., and the temperature of the
heap of leaves was 57° (18° more than the air). On October 22 there
was a heavy cold rain with a cold easterly wind. On the morning of
October 23 the temperature of the air was 40° and the temperature of
the heap of leaves was 56°. On the night of October 23-24 there was
(for the time of year) a very severe frost. My heap of leaves on the
morning of the 24th was solidified on the surface by the frost, but
the temperature of the interior was 53° while that of the air was 30°
(an increase of 23° over the air). This heap, it should be stated, is
only a small heap, and would all go into a big wheelbarrow. On the
morning of October 24, after taking the temperature of this heap, I
turned it over with a fork, putting the frozen top in the centre and
altering the position of the constituents of the heap. A quarter of
an hour later the temperature of the heap was found to be 32°, and
at seven in the evening it was still at freezing-point, or only just
above it. The night of October 24-25 was again very frosty, as many
as 12° of frost having been registered at a house close by. At eight
in the morning of the 25th, however, my heap of leaves showed a
temperature of 40°, having risen 8° during this very cold night, and
being 20° above the minimum cold recorded in the night. At 7 P.M. on
the 25th the temperature of the heap was 42°, and the next morning,
after a third very cold and frosty night, it had risen to 45°. The
rise of temperature here was clearly due to the respiration of living
things, and could not have been in any degree caused by absorption of
sun heat. (Since the above was written autumn has come upon us, and
the fallen leaves have been collected into a big heap. On November 15
the temperature of this heap was found to be 62° F., and a week later
(November 22) had risen to 104° F.!) The fact that the humification of
organic matter generates heat is a fact which is of enormous practical
value to the gardener and farmer. The market gardens round London,
which produce astounding crops and assimilate an enormous quantity of
dung, are in a sense extended and mild hotbeds. One hopes that those
who are advocating the burning of organic refuse will pause to think,
however necessary such a process may be under certain circumstances,
how great is the dispersion of energy which such a process involves and
how much heat is lost which might otherwise be used for the stimulation
of germination and growth in seeds and plants. One hopes also that
those who would condemn as foul the humus which contains a large amount
of carbonic acid will remember that this gas may only be an evidence
of perfectly healthy and vigorous action. The important fact that the
tillers of the soil are the most long-lived of all the laboring classes
is one which must never be lost sight of.

That the humus breathes and generates an enormous quantity of carbonic
acid precisely as an animal does is a fact which the agriculturist must
ever bear in mind. Many of the operations of the farm have for their
object the loosening of the soil and the admission of air to enable
the respiratory processes to go on. Every farmer will tell you that
the earlier he can get upon the ground to hoe his turnips the better
will be the crop (other things being equal), and every farmer knows the
advantage of thorough tillage. If the respiration of the humus is an
important fact, it becomes very important indeed not to drown it. It
stands drowning no better than a man does, but, like a man, it requires
a requisite amount, but not too much, to drink. There can be no doubt
that the failure, which is almost general, of so-called sewage farming
arises through the drowning of the humus; and it must be borne in mind
that sewage water consists to a very considerable extent of water which
has been boiled, or is hard, deep well water, and has not the valuable
quality of rain-water of containing some 2·5 volumes per cent. of
atmospheric air dissolved in it. There can be little doubt that the
great trouble to the sewage farmer is the excess of water which drowns
the humus. When three or four ounces of excrement are mixed with 1,200
times their weight of water they run small chance of humification, and
one must fear that the difficulties of the sewage farmer (financial
or agricultural, or both) must increase with the magnificence and
extravagance of the water-supply of the town the sanitary interests of
which the sewage farm is intended to subserve. The evil effects of too
much water have come before me lately in two very striking examples.
While going over the experimental farm belonging to Mr. H. C. Stephens,
M.P., at Cholderton, on Salisbury Plain, this autumn (which I did in
company with a large number of practical agriculturists), there were
here and there noticeable in the middle of fields having a uniform
quality of soil, and which had been treated in identical fashions,
certain large patches over which the growth of turnips, as compared
with the rest of the fields was very defective. The explanation
offered was that on these patches the animals had been folded in wet
weather, that the dung had been trodden into the ground, and the soil
had been hardened and consolidated by the trampling of the beasts.
Under such conditions (air not being adequately admitted to the pores
of the soil) the humification of the dung had been hindered and the
crops stunted in consequence. This was a fact new to me, who am only
an amateur agriculturist; but I may state that it was unanimously and
unreservedly accepted as an adequate explanation by all the farmers
present, who seemed to be perfectly familiar with the consequences
of folding cattle in the wet. On the other hand, the most fertile
patch of the whole farm was where the cattle had been folded for a
fortnight continuously on the same spot during the severe frost of last
winter, and had been fed upon food which was necessarily brought to
them on that spot. The ground being as hard as iron could not be more
consolidated by trampling, and with the advent of the thaw there was a
general disruption of soil and dung, and humification went on rapidly
in earth of which the pores had been opened by the beneficent effects
of a deep frost, and which had received an amount of dung which was
exceptionally great.

Another experience was a visit to a sewage farm belonging to a town in
which brewing is the staple industry. This farm was large (nearly twice
as big as at one time was considered necessary) and was composed of a
very porous, gravelly soil in a high situation. The manager was an able
man, and one felt that if success was to be obtained it was here. But
the amount of water pumped on to this ground was exceptionally great,
amounting at times to as much as 150 gallons per head of population
per diem. The result can be imagined. The humus was drowned, and large
tracts of the farm were as wet as a marsh, bore no crops, and never
could be made to bear any under such conditions. As soon as it had been
saturated it was ploughed up and saturated again, there being no time
(let alone other considerations) to grow crops in face of the huge
volumes of water which had to be dealt with. Those parts of the farm
which were under cultivation grew enormous quantities of water-grass,
a noxious weed, and altogether the agricultural aspects of this estate
were as gloomy as could well be. As for the effluent, it was thick and
turbid, and stunk like a dirty brewery. It was impossible to believe
that the effluent had been rendered safe for discharge into a river,
and its cost must have approached that of the beer which was sold in
the adjoining town. The amount of water seemed to be the trouble here,
and clearly the first duty of the municipality would be to divert
directly into the river all the storm water and all the water which
was used in enormous quantities for refrigerating purposes, and which,
being perfectly wholesome, might go into the stream direct. A visit to
the pumping-station of this municipality was most unpleasant for the
nostrils, and left upon me the impression that the Local Government
Board would do well to insist that all sewage committees should have
a board-room at the pumping-station and another at the farm, and
should be allowed to deliberate in no other place. The humification
of excrement in the presence of such an overpowering amount of water
is impossible, and I believe that municipalities which are now busy
diverting storm water will have to go further and deal with excreta,
domestic slop-water, and manufacturers' effluents on different and
separate systems. I confess I should like to see water-closets dealt
with on an independent system by a vacuum principle such as is
advocated by Shone and Liernur. Manufacturers' refuse, which is liable
to contain chemicals and antiseptics, is so likely to kill the humus
by poison as well as by drowning that it seems impossible to deal
with it on any one system, and it is to be hoped that with the advance
of chemistry it may be increasingly possible to turn manufacturing
effluents to profitable account.

It is now more than ten years ago since I first deliberately drew
attention to the shortcomings of modern sanitary methods, and pointed
out that the safe disposal of organic refuse was a question of which
the biologist, rather than the engineer or chemist, would give us the
solution. It is a hopeful sign of the times that engineers are now
recognising this fact, thanks mainly to the teaching of the Board of
Health in Massachusetts. The purification of sewage is wrought by the
presence of living organisms on the filters; and for the due filtration
of drinking-water it is now admitted that the filtering material must
have a coating of living slime. These are facts which are now all but
universally admitted.

Our go-ahead municipalities, formed on democratic lines, are more
ostentatious than the worst of Roman emperors. The London County
Council wished at one time to give 750,000_l._ for a _site_ for its
house! The central ideas of modern municipalism are the raising of
loans and the sweating of the ratepayer. It must be remembered that
there is no relation between magnificence and real efficiency. For
example, in a town which I sometimes visit I am always interested by a
stately pageant consisting of a huge conveyance weighing at least half
a ton and looking like a cross between a railway truck and a hearse.
This is drawn by a horse weighing 15 or 16 cwt., and this horse is
guarded by two men weighing, perhaps, 12 st. apiece. Inside the hearse
are eighteen huge pails weighing 40 lb. each, and inside the pails are
the weekly excreta of ninety people, which should, if properly managed,
certainly not weigh more than 200 lb. or 300 lb. In short, there are
about 30 cwt. of gear for the removal of at most 3 cwt. of material.
This cumbrous array works, it need hardly be said, at a funereal pace,
and there can be no doubt that a lad with a hand-truck coming every day
would do the work far more rapidly, efficiently, and cheaply.

It must be borne in mind that the fertility of the soil should bear
a certain proportion to the density of population, and that the
ability of land to support its population ought steadily to increase,
especially if the population enjoys the blessings of free trade. I
may perhaps best illustrate my meaning by referring again to the
visit which I paid to the farm of Mr. H. C. Stephens, M.P. The down
lands which comprise this district consist of a very few inches of
humus overlying chalk, the herbage is scanty, and the population of
animals (in relation to acreage) necessarily very small. One of the
difficulties which the farmer has had to encounter in this district is
the obtaining of sufficient water for his stock, and perhaps the most
important work which Mr. Stephens has done is to sink a deep well in
the chalk. This well, worked by a wind engine and provided with storage
reservoirs, gives a supply of water which may be regarded as unlimited.
With good water-supply, ample area, and the possibility of importing
food which the neighbouring railway affords, it became possible to
maintain a very large number of sheep, oxen, and horses for farm and
breeding purposes. The animals are all folded, and the whole of their
dung is returned to the soil, and the effect produced by this large
addition of organic matter cannot fail to strike the visitor, who
finds in spots where the herbage was previously so thin as to approach
barrenness that he now has to wade knee-deep through a thick felt of
grass. All over the farm the effect of adding this organic matter to
the soil is everywhere apparent, and it is certain that the need of
imported food-stuffs for the animals must diminish in proportion
to the increase of fertility of the farm. This estate on Salisbury
Plain realises, in fact, the utopia of which I have spoken in 'Rural
Hygiene'[9]—_i.e._, a place where there are water-pipes but no sewer
pipes. The indispensable water has by skilful but comparatively simple
engineering been brought within easy reach of the human and animal
population, but the organic excrements and other refuse, instead of
being washed away into a neighbouring valley to poison the inhabitants
there, are retained upon the soil to provide extra herbage, extra meat,
extra work, and extra wages, with increased contentment and no loss of
health. The increased fertility of the soil must have the effect of
counteracting poverty and diminishing that charge upon the land known
as the Poor-rate, and as for sanitary rates, the very essence of the
progress I have been describing consists in the fact that there are
none to pay. When the members of the local council in this utopia have
mended the roads and paid for the school they may return with a clear
conscience to their own business, instead of meddling with that of
other people.

The fact that the potential increase of the fertility of the soil is
to a certain extent proportioned to the increase of population is a
political and economical fact of fundamental importance. The fertility
of the soil of a country which imports millions of tons of food
ought steadily to increase, and I believe that but for counteracting
circumstances free trade ought to have benefited the farmer equally
with all other classes of the community. If the enormous quantity of
excremental and refuse matters due to free trade had been placed upon
the land to increase the national stock of humus the fertility of the
soil must have increased proportionately, and the fall in prices due
to the competition of imported food would have been proportionately
counteracted. If on the farm at Cholderton which I have been describing
the well water had been used for washing all the excrement of the
animals into the nearest river there could have been no increase of
fertility of the soil, and the animals must have been dependent upon
imported cake and other food-stuffs to a degree which would never
vary, instead of, as at present, tending steadily to get less. Among
the nostrums which have been suggested for the relief of agricultural
distress are 'light railways,' but as imports and exports are apt to
balance themselves, one would fear that the light railway, for every
truss of hay or sack of corn which it conveys to the nearest junction,
will bring back a frozen carcase of meat or its equivalent. If,
however, these light railways (and the existing railways) can bring
the refuse of the towns on to the land to increase the agricultural
capital in the form of humus, the farmers will certainly have more to
sell and our need of imported food (per head of population) will tend
steadily to get less. Until—if I may use the expression—we make some
serious effort to leave our imported 'cake' upon the land in a form in
which it can be advantageously utilised, our needs for importation will
never get less, and our state of scare as to the sufficiency of our
Navy will get steadily worse as the population increases. It is very
bad policy for railways to charge exorbitant rates for the conveyance
of dung, because the less dung they import the less will be the export
of produce on the return journey. It is impossible to doubt that the
man who increases the fertility of the soil of a country deserves
well of that country and should be encouraged by the State and his
fellow-countrymen. Professor Otis Mason of Washington has gone so far
as to say: 'The form of law which does not _decrease_ the amount of
taxation proportionally to the yield per acre is not in the line of
progress.' And again: 'Any law which punishes a man with taxation for
preventing waste, recuperating worn acres, or developing the latent
resources of nature, is wicked.' There can be no doubt that taxation
presses very hardly upon agriculturists, especially those whose land
happens to be within the boundary of a 'progressive' corporation. I
have mentioned (p. 149) a friend who farms 200 acres of land (of which
fifteen are grass) in the Thames Valley who pays more than 300_l._ a
year in imperial and local taxes. This is due to the fact that he is
under the heel of a 'progressive' board, which, finding it can borrow
money at 3 per cent., is making full use of its powers and is fast
converting a pretty village into something scarcely distinguishable
from Houndsditch.

We may now profitably turn to the consideration of Malaria, a disease
which is undoubtedly connected with the soil and which has its habitat
in the soil of certain places. Malaria requires for its development
decaying organic matter, a high or moderately high temperature, and
usually an excess of moisture. Tropical marshes are the elected seats
of malaria, but not the exclusive seats, for it is known that certain
rocks and arid plains, as well as the sandy estuaries of rivers,
are liable to be malarious. The one thing which all, or almost all,
malarious districts have in common is the fact that they are barren,
or nearly so, uncultivated, and in many cases uncultivable. Malaria is
rare in England, but once it was common, and we must not forget that
James I. and Cromwell are both of them said to have been victims of
this disease, which was rife in London in their time, especially in the
Essex marshes and on the south side of the Thames, in Lambeth Marsh
and the adjoining districts. An undrained country is uncultivable,
and it has been found that drainage followed by cultivation has in
this country enormously lessened the amount of malarious disease.
Cultivation of land finishes the work begun by artificial drainage.
The soil is dried and aërated by tillage, and the organic matter, when
the humus is no longer drowned, is oxidised, and goes to nourish plants
and trees, which effect an upward drainage no less important than
the downward drainage, while the oxygen exhaled by the green leaves
cannot but benefit the air of the locality. If we wish to keep clear of
malaria in this country we must till the soil and so nourish the humus
that its produce may be sufficiently valuable to bear the expense of
any artificial drainage which it may be necessary to maintain. If the
land of this country goes out of cultivation, as in places it seems to
be doing, I see no reason why we or our successors should not witness
a recrudescence of malarious disease in localities which are prone to
develop it.

It will not be unprofitable in this connection to consider the history
of the Roman Campagna. It is generally admitted that the Roman Campagna
was not always the desolate waste which it ultimately became. It was
prone to malaria, doubtless, but this was kept in check by the large
farming population. It is not conceivable that in days when locomotion
was slow a city could have attained the proportions and importance of
Rome if it had been situated in the middle of a sterile and malarious
plain. The neglect of agriculture began in the Augustan age, when Rome
was at the zenith of her power, and it is worthy of note that Mæcenas
is credited with having incited Virgil to write the 'Georgics' in order
to direct, by this fascinating method, the attention of the Roman
people to the neglected joys of agriculture. With the acquisition of
fertile districts in Africa and elsewhere, not only did the need for
home-grown commodities decrease, but it is probable that the profits of
home farming decreased also. Corn was imported in enormous quantities,
while the expenses connected with the defence of the Empire led to
such a merciless taxation of the landholder that in self-defence he was
obliged to allow his land to go out of cultivation, and thus escape
from the brutal exactions of the tax-gatherer. According to Gibbon,
within sixty years of the death of Constantine 320,000 acres of the
district of Campania had become barren. Further, there can be no doubt
that the Cloaca Maxima and other cloacæ sent to the Tiber much, if not
all, of the organic refuse which should have been returned to the land.
Finally, there can be little doubt that the extravagant water supply
of ancient Rome must have had the effect of causing neglect of local
wells, and as the water of the aqueducts was supplied to places in
the Campagna as well as to Rome itself, the discontinuance of pumping
must have helped to leave moisture in the soil at the same time that
an extra supply from a distance was giving an additional quantity to
it. As these great works of engineering did away with the necessity of
manual labour, and as the barren land stood in no need of husbandmen,
it is not to be wondered at that the problem of the unemployed grew
urgent in Rome. We hear that in the later days of the Empire the
masses congregated at the baths or waited whole days at the doors
of the amphitheatre while they were fed with doles of bread or corn
supplied from the public granaries. With a dense idle population and
with barren and unwholesome surroundings the amenities of Rome as an
imperial residence declined, and on this account it was probably that
Diocletian seldom visited it; and one cannot but think that the social
and sanitary conditions of the capital were among the causes which led
Constantine to abandon it in favour of his new city on the Bosphorus.
Finally, one is not surprised to hear that when Alaric took the city in
the beginning of the fifth century he did so, not by direct assault,
but by seizing the huge granaries and magazines at the Port of Ostia,
and then offering to the unhappy Romans the choice of surrender or
starvation. We are often asked to admire the Roman aqueducts, and Rome
is not infrequently held up to us as a model to be copied. I fear we
are copying her only too exactly, and I fear that equally with Rome we
shall find out the futility of a brutal and reckless expenditure mainly
directed towards the starvation of the soil and a senseless struggle
with conditions imposed on us by Nature. I have heard it suggested
that the cultivation of the soil of England is of no importance, that
our islands are destined for residential and manufacturing purposes
only, and that our sustenance is to depend entirely upon 'big-bellied
argosies' bearing all the treasures of more fertile climes. But the
cultivation of the soil and the nurturing of the humus have important
bearings upon questions other than food supply, and if we continue to
starve the humus and to convey our filth beneath it instead of upon it,
I fear that the cost of living in this country is likely to increase,
while the pleasures of existence will diminish.

The moral of all that I have been saying is to the effect that to
nourish the humus and to till it are the inexorable duty of the
sanitarian. This simple duty is the key to plentiful food and a good
supply of wholesome water. Nature is relentless, and will sooner or
later destroy those who neglect to follow her inexorable laws. We
used to say that 'the weakest' (morally, physically, and mentally)
'must go to the wall.' Now we use the expression 'survival of the
fittest' to express the same idea. Nature does not relent, but man, in
his commendable efforts towards philanthropy, endeavours to relent,
and hence the principle underlying much modern sanitary work is the
attempt to bring about the survival of the unfittest. If I may judge
from the criticisms to which at one time and another the ideas which
I have put forward have been subjected, I may conclude that the
principles advocated are considered right, but that the lowest classes
of our population are not to be trusted to safeguard to any extent
the wholesomeness of their homes. Therefore we are all asked to come
down to the level of the dirtiest and most careless, and our sanitary
methods (in which there is too much of Hercules and too little of
Minerva) do not admit of any encouragement being given to those living
within a municipal boundary who may be so circumstanced that they can
adopt the principles I have advocated. No! we must all be tarred with
the same brush, and no quarter is given to those who refuse to allow
the municipality to be put to the trouble and expense of robbing them
of stuff which they find invaluable on their own land. In Hampshire
I have spent a considerable sum of money in freeing the river from
some pollution and saving trouble to the town. Incidentally, I have
improved the value of a house, and, of course, the rates of that house
have been raised. Such a fact is a most effectual check upon the vast
majority of those who might wish to imitate what they may approve of
in principle, and I feel assured that no real advance in sanitation
will be made until there is an equitable adjustment of sanitary rates
and we have the right, if we desire it, to pay for water by meter.
That water should be paid for according to rateable value, and that
the rating authority and the water authority should be identical,
seems to me to be an arrangement which the ratepayer will possibly
find irksome. The greatest of sanitary troubles in the present day is
overcrowding, and this trouble is greatly fostered by our methods of
sanitation. And yet we find responsible persons suggesting that open
spaces should be taxed at 'site value,' while at the same time they are
willing to spend any amount of millions in bringing water from Wales
because they think that eventually their dangerously dense population
will have a density twice as great. We shall some day recognise the
futility of fighting against Nature. It is the engineer's business to
overcome natural obstacles, and we of the medical profession cannot
but have the greatest admiration for the many distinguished members of
that sister profession which, by its skill and daring, has in countless
ways assisted the development of our commerce and manufactures. They
have, indeed, 'expelled Nature with a pitchfork,' but it behoves us to
remember the rest of the quotation. We must distinguish also between
brilliancy of achievement and the end attained. We all of us admire the
brilliant men who made the Thames Tunnel, built the 'Great Eastern'
steamship, and gave us the luxury of the broad-gauge railway; but it
is doubtful if the original shareholders in those enterprises would
participate in our enthusiasm. Money will accomplish nearly anything
in the engineering way, and it is not the engineer's business to
consider the financial side of the question. I have always had a shrewd
suspicion that Archimedes was possibly less admired by the Syracusan
ratepayer than by the rest of the world, and I have often pondered
whether, had he lived in these days, and had made his famous request of
δὸς ποῦ στῶ, the Local Government Board would have sanctioned
the issuing of a Syracusan 3 per cent. stock to provide the fulcrum for
which he asked.

I frequently meet friends who say, 'I've been reading that article
of yours about the earth,' and so forth, and then, after patting one
on the back and being charmingly complimentary, they generally end
by asserting that, after all, the convenience of the water-closet
more than counteracts its disadvantages. The fascinations of this
winsome apparatus seem unconquerable, and one is bound to confess
that—provided the machine be of a good pattern and well made;
provided the plumber who sets it has knowledge and a conscience;
provided those who use it do not try its constitution with brickbats
and old boots; provided there is not a frost; and provided there is not
a drought—it does sweep out of the Cockney's house material of the
use of which he is ignorant, and for which he has no market. All the
difficulties and dangers of the water-closet are on the far side of the
trap, and do not trouble the householder. I feel inclined to paraphrase
the words which King Lear used to something equally fascinating and, as
he found, equally treacherous:—

    'But to the syphon do the gods inherit,
    Beneath is all the fiends'....
    Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary,
    To sweeten my imagination.'

As a champion of individual liberty, I would say that those who in
country places wish for water-closets should pay for them, and those
who, for conscience' sake, do not pollute the rivers or starve the soil
should not be taxed to pay for the misdeeds of those who do.


[3] Discourse delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain,
Friday, April 24, 1896.

[4] _Essays on Rural Hygiene_, 2nd ed. 1894. Longmans.

[5] Delivered before the Nottingham Medico-Chirurgical Society on Oct.
30, 1895.

[6] Parkes' _Hygiene_, 8th edition, p. 10.

[7] _Bacteria and their Products_, p. 394. Walter Scott, 1891.

[8] Vol. i., p. 249.

[9] _Essays on Rural Hygiene_, 2nd edition. Longmans, 1894.


  Andover, garden at, 37, 159

  — well at, 63

  Animals, housing of, 59

  Anthrax, 153

  Aspect of dwelling, 13

  Bacterium coli commune, 142

  Bedroom windows, 21

  Building regulations, 104

  — societies, 91

  Bungalow facing south, 13

  Cellarage window, 28

  Cellars, 27

  Cholderton experimental farm, 163, 167

  Cholera, 154

  Circulation of organic matter, the, 125

  Classification of refuse, 84

  Construction of wells, 61

  Corridors, the ventilation of, 9

  Cost of the dwelling, the, 112

  Defects in planning, 1

  Diphtheria, 153

  Dry catch privy, 39

  — method of treating urine, 49

  — methods, 32, 49

  — refuse, 89

  — urinals, 55

  Earth-closets, indoor, 44

  Enteric fever, 154

  Fauna of death, the, 135

  Filtration gutters, 78

  —, intermittent, 83

  Flora of excrements, the, 137

  Garden at Andover, 37, 159

  Generation of heat by decaying refuse, 161

  Hospital construction, 9, 10

  Hotel bedrooms, 19

  House, the typical London, 3

  Houses, damp, 26

  Housing of animals, 59

  Humification, 33

  Indoor earth-closets, 44

  Isolated dwelling, sanitation of the, 32, 41

  Larders, 30

  Local taxation, 147

  London house, the typical, 3

  — mortality, 144

  Malaria, 170

  Marylebone small-pox outbreak, the, 143

  'Model' by-laws, 107

  Mortality, London, 144

  Overcrowding, 90

  — final conclusions, 123

  — remedies for, 115

  Pail system, the, 42

  Phthisis, 153

  Planning, defects in, 1

  Practical sanitation, 34

  Principles of slop-drainage, 75

  Putrescible fluids, 23

  Rates, cubic contents in relation to, 120

  Rating, 119

  Refuse, classification of, 84

  — dry, 89

  Roman Campagna, 171

  Rome, ancient, 171

  Rooms, living, 18

  Sanitation, practical, 34

  — of the isolated dwelling, the, 32, 41

  Sewage farms, 164

  Slop-drainage, principles of, 75

  Slop-water, 69

  Soil, the, in relation to disease and sanitation, 153

  Strand, the, 101

  Symbiosis, 136, 157

  Taxation, local, 147

  Town dwellings, 87

  Urinals, dry, 55

  Urine, dry method of treating, 49

  Ventilation of corridors, the, 9

  Warming, 16

  Water by meter, 118

  Wells, construction of, 61, 141

  Window, bedroom, 21

  — cellarage, 28




       *       *       *       *       *


Minor punctuation and printer errors repaired.

Italic text is denoted by _underscores_ and bold text by ~tildes~.

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