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Dr. Duncan doubts whether there is a single court in Liverpool which communicates with the street by an underground drain : having observed that sixty-three cases of fever had occurred in one year in Union Court, containing twelve houses, he visited it, and found the whole court inundated with fluid filth which had oozed through the walls from two adjacent cesspools. In one cellar, a well four feet deep, into which this stinking fluid was allowed to drain, was discovered below the bed where the family slept. It
be observed that there are 8000 inhabited cellars in Liverpool, containing from 35,000 to 40,000 inmates ; and that of 2398 courts which were examined, 1705 were closed at one end so as to prevent ventilation.
• Until very lately,' says Mr. Burton, in his report on · Edina, Scotia's darling seat,'
the Cowgate, a long street running along the lowest level of a narrow valley, had only surface drains. The various alleys from the High Street and other elevated ground open into this street. In rainy weather they carried with them each its respective stream of filth, and thus the Cowgate bore the aspect of a gigantic sewer receiving its tributary drains. A committee of private gentlemen had the merit of making a spacious sewer 830 yards long in this street at a cost of 20001., collected by subscription. The utmost extent to which they received assistance from the police consisted in being vested with the authority of the Act as a protection from the interruption of private parties. During the operation they were nevertheless harassed by claims of damage for obstructing the causeway, and their minutes show that they experienced a series of interruptions from the neighbouring occupants, likely to discourage others froin following their example.'
In a medical report on romantic Stirling, it is stated that the drains or sewers, Scotticé 'sivers,' are all open; a few old men sweep the public streets from time to time, but sometimes the sweepings remain on the pavement many days; the refuse from the gaol, which contains on an average sixty-five persons, is floated down the . sivers' every second or third day, emitting, during the whole of its progress, the most offensive odour; the slaughter-house being situated near the top of the town, the blood from it is also allowed to flow down the main street; and the sewers from the castle issue into an open field, polluting the atmosphere to a dreadful degree.
As a contrast to this wholesale account, the examination of Mr. T. Thomson, of Clitheroe, affords a striking proof how sinall, even in solitary houses, may exist the removable cause of disease. In the summer of 1839 some bad cases of fever occurring among a cluster of houses at Littlemoor, which had always been considered healthy, attention was drawn to the spot. An old halfchoked drain was discovered, which was the cause of a shallow
stagnant fetid pool of a most disgusting nature. Measures were immediately taken to carry off this nuisance by a sewerage, and from the hour of the removal of the filth,' says Mr. Thomson, no fresh case of fever occurred.'
Portsmouth, which is built on a low portion of the marshy island of Portsea, was formerly extremely subject to intermittent fever: the town was paved in 1769, and, according to Sir Gilbert Blane, from that date this disorder no longer prevailed, whilst Kilsea, and the other parts of the island, retained their aguish disposition till 1793, when a drainage was made, which subdued its force there also..
In the same chapter we have many very instructive details as to the pecuniary results of removing the refuse of towns.
It appears from the evidence of Mr. Dark, of Paddington, a person of respectable character, who for many years has been a considerable contractor for scavengering, &c., that with the exception of coal-ashes (used for brick-making), lees, and a few other inconsiderable items, no refuse in London pays half the expense of removal by cartage beyond a radius of about six miles. I have given away,
' says Mr. Dark, thousands of loads of night-soil we know not what to do with it!'
When Mr. Chadwick visited Edinburgh with Dr. Arnott, they were both, without metaphor, · led by the nose’ to a certain stream properly enough called the Foul Burn,' from having been the aged receptacle of most of the sinks, drains, sivers, &c., of Auld Reekie. For a 'considerable time the character of this burn was repellent—and, accordingly avoided by poor as well as by rich, by young as well as by old, its contents flowed in mysterious solitude into the sea.
Several years ago, however, some of the occupiers of the land in the immediate vicinity, instigated by self-interest, took the liberty of tapping this stream, in order to collect a portion of its contents into tanks for manure. The next step in the march of intellect was, by means of water, to irrigate the meadows from this source, in order to save the expense of cartage; and thus, by degrees, 300 acres of meadow land, chiefly in the neighbourhood of the Palace of Holyrood, were fertilized from the contents of this common sewer: the result of which has been that some of these meadows are let at from 201. to 301. per acre ; indeed, in the year 1838, some were let at 381. per acre, and in 1826 at 571. Her Majesty's Government, however, being justly of opinion that this process is prejudicial to the healthiness of Holyrood House, and having accordingly directed legal process for the trial of the right of irrigation, the defendants now plead that the invalidation of their claim would deprive the city of the milk and butter of VOL. LXXI. NO. CXLII.
3000 cows, and estimate the compensation which would be due to themselves at 150,0001.
About a quarter of a century ago we ourselves remember to have witnessed the process of a matrimonial alliance, such as we have described, between two parties, who from the beginning of time had always been shy enough of each other, namely, the very Foul Burn alluded to, and the Links or sand-hills on the seashore between Leith and Porto Bello. These hillocks, upon which nothing but a few stunted tufts of coarse grass had ever been seen to grow, and which for ages had been blown by the wind into a variety of fantastic forms, were one morning suddenly attacked by a band of workmen, who with spades and shovels were seen busily scattering the sand about them in all directions, while "Are ye daft ?' was the repeated exclamation of the Mussulburgh fishwives, who, one after another, striding by with outstretched heads, swinging arms, and a creel full of cod on their inclined backs, could not contain their astonishment at seeing the dry region, which all their lives had been sterile, suddenly subjected to spade-husbandry. Indeed, when the mass was levelled, it was as barren and lifeless as the shingle of the sea ; and continued so during the formation of a network of arteries and veins which in the form of drains were imprinted over its surface. However, no sooner was this latter operation concluded, than"Oh whistle, and I'll come to ye, my lad !'—the produce of the Foul Burn, like Birnham wood coming to Dunsinane, majestically made its appearance; in a few days the sand was verdant; and before the summer was over, it bore a dark-coloured, rank, luxuriant crop.
Our readers will probably have anticipated that the inference which Mr. Chadwick has drawn from this result, and from Mr. Dark's statement that he can find no sale for the refuse of London is, that the sewers of London, like those of Edinburgh, might be made to fertilize the land in their vicinity.
Mr. Chadwick states that, according to the scale of the value of that portion of the refuse of Edinburgh which has been appropriated to irrigation in the way described, the whole refuse of that city would produce an income of from 15,0001. to 20,0001. a year; while, according to the same scale of value, it appears that, in the city of London, refuse to the enormous value of nearly double what is now paid for the water of the metropolis is thrown away, principally into the Thames, and partly into receptacles in the districts of the poor, where it accumulates until it is removed at a great expense.
Where the levels are not convenient, Captain Vetch, of the Engineers, and other competent authorities recommend that the contents of the sewers should
be lifted by steam-power, as water is lifted in the drainage of the fens, and then be distributed in iron-pipes, in the same way as water is injected into the metropolis by the water-companies. Mr. Chadwick adds, that the estimated expense of this mode of cleansing and removal, as in the case of the conveyance of water into London, would not amount to a tenth part of the cost of cartage—and to show the practicability of the principle of removing refuse by water, he cites the following case :- The West Middlesex Water Company had almost concluded a contract for removing in the ordinary way about an acre of silt four feet deep, which in the course of eight or ten years had accumulated in their reservoir at Kensington, and accordingly 4001. was to be paid for this operation, which was to occupy three or four weeks. The bargain was all but sealed, when it was proposed by one of the officers that the silt should be mixed with water, stirred up, and in this liquid state washed away; and this operation was successfully effected in three or four days, at an expense of only 401, or 501.
In small, moderate-sized, or even in large towns, where the levels are favourable, we are much inclined to believe that Mr. Chadwick's project of removing refuse by means of water inight, to a limited extent, be successfully adopted for the purpose of irrigation. It is evident, however, that many previous arrangements would be necessary, and that, after all, many serious difficulties would be likely to occur—for it must always be recollected that, in the case at Edinburgh, the burn being a safety-valve communicating with the sea, no accident or explosion can possibly occur— the farmer may therefore approach it or recede from it, may inject or reject its contents, at any hour, or for any period he may desire: whereas a covered sewer blindly administers all it possesses — without consideration, judgment, reflection, or mercy-its motto being Time and tide can wait for no inan.' The supply of the manure and the demand for it might not therefore agree together for any length of time. Still, however, we can conceive arrangements which need not be described, by which this evil might be compensated, in which case there can be no doubt that an immense saving, especially that of cartage, would be effected—that the health of the town (in whose drains, constantly flushed clean by water, no refuse could remain) would be materially benefited—and that the produce of the land irrigated would abundantly increase.
But, although we are willing thus far to give Mr. Chadwick credit for his suggestion, and think it ought to be most seriously attended to in the case of our smaller towns, especially such as have considerable streams running through or near them, we 2 a 2
must say we consider his attempt to extend the theory to London by the application of the power of steam is preposterous in principle as well as in detail.
The first idea that naturally occurs is the enormous expense and incalculable inconvenience that would be attendant upon
the condemnation of nearly the whole of the existing sewers of London, which at present run downwards into the Thames. We acknowledge it may not unfairly be replied, that the very same objection might have been raised against macadamizing our oldfashioned bumping pavement—against substituting wood for both
-or against ruining our high-roads by the creation of railways. But admitting this first grave objection to be overruled : supposing for a moment that the old sewerage was destroyed, and that new subterranean works on completely different levels were constructed, there remain to be encountered difficulties above ground which we consider to be insurmountable.
It appears, from a parliamentary return lying before us, that the water pumped into London by the New River, Chelsea, West Middlesex, Grand Junction, East London, South London, Lambeth, and Southwark Water-Companies amounts to 4222 cubic feet per minute, day and night, throughout the year ; of which quantity, considerably more than (say) one-half flows through waste-pipes, &c., into the sewers: and if, according to Mr. Chadwick's project, the refuse of the streets of London, instead of being swept up and carted away, as hitherto, were daily to be washed into the gulley-drains by a water-hose, the amount of water which the companies would be required to supply must be very considerably enlarged. To this menaced flood of water, if there be added the usual contents of the sewers, it at once appears how enormous would be the amount of the mixture to be daily ejected from the metropolis via the sewers; and if, from any accident to the engines, the listing-power, pumps, or bucketedwheels should suddenly be disabled, it is evident that a constipation of the sewerage must forth with take place.
But there remains to be provided for a contingency infinitely more alarming. The area of London is, we believe, nearly 60 square miles: but, taking it only at 40 square miles, and estimating that during a thunder-storm and continued rain there might fall in the space of six hours* one inch of water: that quantity, on the surface last mentioned, would amount to 92,928,000 cubic feet of water, of which the greater portion would immediately go into the sewers. Now, when it is considered that the natural flow of the Coln river amounts only to about 6000 cubic feet per
* It appears, from the rain-gauge at Somerset House, that on Tuesday, the 30th of August last, nearly two inches of rain fell in two hours.