Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

must come, when the people will open their eyes to this scene of .corruption, veiled and concealed as it is by iron tubes and stone pavements.”

Dr. KM says, “ That he saw (fancy that!) the foul and black stream from the Ranelagh sewer, passing between the Company's steam-engine and the Dolphin, loaded with no small portion of undivided, floating filth " We must refer for the remainder of the sentence to Robins, p. 3; the stomach cannot dwell on these reflections with composure.

Dr. S- a physician to Chelsea Hospital-near to which Dr.K saw what we have just mentioned-Dr. S- says, “ The tide stirs up the mass of impurity (produced by all that is corruptible in the animal and vegetable world, together with the noxious filch of gas and other manufactories,) that constantly flows into the Thames from Battersea down to Gravesend."--Robins, p. 4. There is something grand in the idea of this stirring-up, this mighty turbulence and conceit of the tide, and of all the animal and vegetable world between Battersea Bridge and the Three Tuns at Gravesend; but the mind, absorbed in the im mensity of the danger, refuses to be romantic. Dr. S- , it appears, fled from Hanover-square, as Dr.

J f rom Spring-gardens, both being literally washed out.

Another highly-respectable physician, Dr. P , well known as the author of an excellent book upon diet, is equally distressed. He even goes so far as to say that the water positively stinks! He does not say merely that it is rather unpleasant--that it is disagreeable that it is offensive that it is “rather high,” but plain out, that it stinks, The Company (some most unreasonable company surely) send in mud with the water, and then complain that the cisterns are not kept clean." We never heard of such impudence. Nay, Dr. P- goes on to affirm, that he “ cannot find terms sufficiently expressive of the awful effects it may be likely to produce upon the health, and even lives, of the inhabitants of the metropolis.” And we learn (Robins, p. 4,) that in the last edition of his work, he goes still farther, and asserts, “ that if a remedy bę not applied to the evil, the ravages of some epidemic may be fairly anticipated." This is quite enough for us. No more contributions will flow from our pen; no more magazines will enliven and enlighten the first day of the month. Every periodical will become an obituary. No wonder town is emptying so fast. There they fly, at this moment, for their lives, with horses four, and postilions in nervous haste- that stout lady and gentleman, all those seven children peeping out of the coach-window, the footman and the lady'smaid in the blue spencer and green veil—there they go; they have drunk of the waters of bitterness; they have had pains in the bowels-; they have been to Battersea, and they fly lest they should die! We will not be long after them; our part is taken, and our place too, in the Edinburgh mail; we will leave this city of the watery plague, and refuge take where no water is, but most excellent whisky. From thence, about two years hence, we may return, and write reflections in a solitary valley where was once the famous city of London. We shall sit and muse by the side of a stream, which was once the ditch of Fleet, or perchance the sewer of Chelsea : there, amidst ruins, we shall behold but one solitary figure-a female wildly clad, her garments flickering in the breeze, and her looks unearthly; some ancient woman, who, when the city was in its pride, was accustomed to sell gin

to the sailors at Blackwall, and who kept them in spirits until the gin became too largely diluted.

Yet may we not have been too easily frightened? Are the doctors to be believed ? Alas! another page of Robins settles that matter for ever! Here we see, page the 5th, Mr. Mills, “the engineer,” deposes that the Thames is the common sewer of London; that it receives the contents of all the other sewers; forty-six on the south side, and ninetynine on the north side; and ninety-nine and forty-six make one hundred and forty-five, so all the witnesses agree: there is no hope for us..!

Listen to Mr. Goodhugh, “ the fishmonger.” “ Put," says Mr. Goodhugh, “ fresh fish into the water of the Thames, and in six hours they die:” and they not only die, which is bad enough for them, but they turn a yellow colour, which is worse for us. They are disgusted into a fit of the jaundice, and so die. Then, Mr. Butcher,—not a butcher, but a very humane “ fish-salesman,” says, "he has known three-parts of a cargo of eels to die by the gas-water passing the vessel.” The eels cannot stand it. His evidence is corroborated by the melancholy master of a Dutch skipper, who says that the eels become affected with low spirits as soon as they reach the Thames water; change countenance, that is to say colour, become spotted like snakes, and quit this world of frying and stewing in numbers without number: at least, out of twenty-six-thousand pounds of eels, (it is not the etiquette to mention the eels individually, but as collected into pounds —twenty-six-thousand pounds,) only nine thousand pounds survived the shock; or, in the master's words, translated from the Dutch, were “marketed alive.The rest, we hope and trust, were not marketed at all.

So it seems that physicians, young ladies, the heads of families, and the heads and tails of the finny inhabitants of the deep, are equally affected. Neither fish nor flesh can escape; and there is much reason to fear that the fish do not get out of life before they suffer some of those peculiar twinges in the bowels which have made a desert place of the Spring Gardens. To conclude, another captain says, if the water gets worse, (we do not see how the deuce it can,)." they must give up the business.” So that we shall not only be half-poisoned in a few months, but have no fish to eat; and all the people employed in the fish trade will flock in fearful multitudes to the shore, and overstock the different professions, mingling their wonted cries with the din of Westminster Hall, or disturbing the repose of the College of Physicians itself.

“ Such is the picture, the faithful and frightful picture, of the condition of the water of the Thames, as supplied by the Companies to their customers.”_Robins, page 5. • Is there no remedy? we are asked on all sides. There is a remedy. In heaven's name what is it? Our friends flock about'us as if we were of the faculty of physic, and the remedy, the remedy, resounds from many lips. Is it that we can roll back the black and fatal stream of the Thames, and by sacrificing Chelsea, and a few other places of no consequence, save London ? Can the sewers be annihilated, or the river dried up? Or shall Alderman Atkins and the Corporation of London be petitioned to set the Thames on fire? By no means. None of these things are required. The people of Chelsea may sleep on dry land, and the sewers flow on for ever, and the Corporation be spared the exertion of talent implied in the supposed combustion of the water, and all may be well. The remedy is simple, and consists of " a general system of filtration ; a system not limited to the fifty-three thousand families daily drinking the filthy fluid of which we have been speaking, but extending itself to the hundred and seventy-six thousand tenants of the New River and other Companies, consuming the twenty-nine millions of gallons daily supplied to the metropolis.” It belongs to the subject to observe, that this is “ as clear as mud” to all who have any head for figures. Here, then, is a remedy for you ; a ray of hope illumining the valley of the angel of death." The Royal Filter for Cisterns will be found superior to all filters hitherto invented.” (Robins, page 6.) You suppose, perhaps, that it only keeps back the thicker portions of the fluid, leaving much that is unpleasant to the eye, offensive to the nose, and so forth, or even productive of pains after breakfast. No such thing. Be the water ever so foul, turbid, stagnant, black, heterogeneous, pass it through the Royal Filter, and out it comes of a crystalline brilliancy.” (Robins, p. 6.) You doubt this, perhaps; you suspect that Dr. Robins has an interest in recommending it. But you have no apology for doubting. Go to Long Acre, and ask Mr. Hume,—not Mr. Joseph Hume, but a man who has analyzed water as much as Mr. Joseph has accounts, and been no less successful with this filter in making that clear which was confused and turbid before. Ask him to have the goodness to filter a gallon of water, Imperial measure, before your eyes. Take the most emetic-looking gallon you can find ; and when passed through the filter, you will behold it purity itself; no mountain-stream by dreamy poet haunted, or by naiad, ever made a more respectable appearance. Before being filtered, it held nearly fifty grains of solid matter,-(do you suppose we know nothing of chemistry ?), most part of it deadly poison to the bowels. Now it bas only sixteen grains of solid matter. What can you say to that? You remark, perhaps, with your usual acuteness, that if " sixteen grains" of solid matter are left, the water is not pure. This arises from the little attention you have paid to chemistry. If you attended regularly at the Royal Institution, you would know that all water which has not been distilled, or boiled, or broiled, or bedeviled in some way, contains exactly sixteen grains of solid stuff in every gallon, and is thus actually meat and drink, though not clothing. And this solid stuff is not deleterious, and for that reason the Royal Filter allows it to pass through. Mr. B- , a distinguished surgeon, says, he procured some of the “ foulest water his house afforded ;” and (that being too agreeable,) mixed it with water pleasantly impregnated with gas from coals; and yet this horrible compound passed rapidly through the major filter, so changed as to make a very reputable presence in a decanter at the dinner-table; and a young gentleman, with rings on his fingers, delicately lifted a beautifully cut tumbler, inverted on it, from its top, poured about half a glass of the water in, and drank it in a very ineffable manner in the face of the whole company; little knowing what tricks had been played with it. So you see your argument about the sixteen grains cuts a very poor figure.

It is evident that there is one branch of this interesting question on which we have not touched. We refer to the possibility of devising remedial means for the fish. But this is too important a subject to be spoken of at the end of a paper.

TRAVELLING MANNERS. AND SOCIETY, NO. V. It is often beautiful to see the spirit of affectation, and the passion for foreign residence, warring constantly and unsuccessfully with habits long acquired and inveterately rooted. In the valley of Hasli was settled for a whole season a small English family, who had come from their residence in one of the midland counties to enjoy the exquisite attractions of Swiss scenery. They could not have selected a finer situation; they had heard so much, in fact, in its praise from travellers of their acquaintance who had returned from their tour, that they had come already decided on their place of residence, and prepared to be delighted with it. They consisted of three persons; the parents, somewhat advanced in life, and an only daughter; then there was their family carriage, and domestics male and female. Expecting to be able to surround themselves with most of the comforts they had enjoyed at home, provision had been made accordingly, and never did the remote and calm valley of Hasli receive more of the resources for this life's consolation than it did on this occasion. ,

It was not long ere a dwelling was procured, although single travellers having chiefly resided here before, it was not so easy to find a suitable residence for a luxurious family. The floors were uncarpeted, the beds uncurtained ; but, as a contrast, the foot almost lost its steady hold on the finely polished and glistening wood-floors ; and though Mr. regretted they had not brought their own feather-beds from Wiltshire with them, the inconvenience was soon in part forgotten, as the fatigue and worry of their excursions made them sleep as soundly as it was possible. The absence of grates could not be felt, as the summer was drawing on when they arrived, so that the darkness and emptiness of the chimneys only offended the eye. Into this abode, then, were conveyed the various articles of comfort that had been transported from their distant home : cordials and pickles of the finest quality, several dozen of excellent old brandy, as they had heard the place was subject to frequent and heavy damps and fogs from the river and numerous waterfalls ; flannels, in no small quantity, were not forgotten, and a goodly stock of old Port and Madeira, that had been at least twenty years in the cellar at home. How could ennui or despondency possibly enter a dwelling so provided and fortified ? The sejour then began under the fairest and most promising auspices, and the exulting family congratulated themselves that the enterprise so long contemplated at their own fireside, had been at last successfully accomplished. Often had they conversed with unwearied interest on the joys of such a tour, and lisa tened to the rich descriptions of those who had just made it; till expectation grew high, and long-confirmed habits and advancing years gave way before the view. Yet, for several summers, something had always prevented their indulging their desire; some obstacle had come in the way: the week of their departure had even once been fixed, but a near relative happening to die in the mean time, had compelled them to defer it. Here, however, at last, they found themselves, after a tedious journey, the inconveniences of which had more than once made them impatiently look to the hour of their arrival. The great contrast between the French cookery, and the living to which the Wiltshire squire and his lady had been so long habituated, was startling at first; the

wines were often, in spite of their approved excellence, too sharp and racy, with few of the mellow and soothing qualities of the fine and aged tenants that his own cellar contained. The novelties of the way scarcely could recompense many of these attendants on a first continental journey; and when the Alps first appeared in view, the rapture of the soldiers of Hannibal at sight of the plains of Italy, or of the forlorn band of buccaneers that first beheld, after long famine and the wilderness, the yast western ocean open at their feet, could scarcely be warmer. The sun was resting in glory on the snowy summits of the noble mountains, and ardently and long did the enraptured family fix their eyes on them, deeming justly that Wiltshire contained nothing so fine, and regretting, in the feeling of the moment, that they had not sooner begun their tour. Slowly rolled the heavy-laden carriage over the Brunig mountain, and descended on the other side still more cautiously and slow; and as the party walked down the winding and romantic descent, at every moment they paused to gaze through the opening foliage at gleams of exquisite scenery far beneath. All was new and delightful; long tall waterfalls slid down the steep face of the dark rocks before them, presenting an astonishing contrast to the short bubbling cascade that had murmured at the foot of their own garden ; and the gentle river that had supplied trout and eel in abundance from its clear pebbly stream, bore no comparison with the blue torrent of the Aar, that rushed along at their feet. A long tract of level ground, richly cultivated, now received them, and lasted the whole of the way to the village of Meyringen, where they put up at the inn, and in a few days removed to their own Alpine residence. It stood not far from the church, that lifts its elegant spire above the thick cluster of neat dwellings; a garden stood before the door, kept in the nicest order, and full of flowers and peach-trees, which were now in their fullest blossom. The river ran before the windows, always beautiful and blue; and lower down, a neat bridge led to the opposite bank, on the way to the most interesting objects in the neighbourhood. About half a mile distant, the light spray was seen to rise incessantly from the cataract of the Reichenbach, and to creep up the dark face of the precipice; eternal forests rose above, of pine, and fir, and elm trees, that had lived on in those summits for a thousand years. With such an assemblage of objects beside and around, what could the eye or heart of man desire more? So thought and felt the wanderers from Wiltshire, and pitied, during the first few weeks, their unhappy fellow-creatures who were confined within the white cliffs of their own isle, and either could not, or would not, ever roam beyond them. They resolved to adopt regular and systematic habits; seeing their time was all at their own disposal, and there were few to visit or disturb them. They rose early, and after a substantial breakfast, sallied forth in search of the picturesque; they had not far to go, having chosen one of the most central and luxuriant spots in Switzerland for fine views and excursions. With a stout staff in his hand, and a substantial morning coat on, with a pair of thick walking-shoes, made for the purpose at home with due foresight, the father walked stoutly on, mastering the inequalities of the way, the brooks, the frequent and rocky ascents, with determined pace. Behind came the wife and daughter, and the footman brought up the rear. When the excursion happened to be somewhat distant, he was

« ElőzőTovább »