The plague of India is a direct result of overcrowding of indescribably filthy people. In Calcutta, as many as 144,000 live in one square mile (London has 36,000 per square mile), 250 living where there are accommodations for only fifty, or less; huts seven feet square accommodate five or more. The germ has such ideal conditions for spreading from rats that it cannot be eradicated. The native is so dirty in his habits that he is not fit to live except in a very sparsely settled land, like our own equally filthy savages in pre-Columbian times. It is reported that the British have finally given up all hope of forcing sanitation upon the Hindu. Even when the reported deaths of plague amounted to nearly 30,000 a week, they were forced to allow the native to contract the disease. The strange new methods of cleanliness were repugnant to him and often ran counter to his religion.
According to a writer in L'Illustration (Paris), it is now generally admitted that there is overpopulation in India, and that the present mortality from plague is a beneficial blood-letting.
* "Recent Evolution of Man".
* "In the South Seas," p. 27.
The deaths in 1906 were so numerous that the Government stopped reporting them. In 1901 the number of victims was 275,000; in 1902, 580,000; in 1903,850,000; in 1904,1,025,000 - and the estimate for 1905 was over 2,000,000, and 1907 totaled even more.
It is the same overpopulation that has always existed, for the plague has certainly been known over 2,000 years. In the sixth century it "depopulated towns, turned the country into a desert and made the habitations of man to become the haunts of wild beasts." It remained in Europe over 1,000 years. In 1346, it devastated Crimea; 1347 Constantinople; in 1348, according to Boccaccio, it nearly wiped out Florence, where vast estates were left with no known heir, and in 1350 it spread over Europe, killing one-fourth of the people, or 25,000,000. In the eighteenth century Europe was clean enough, or thinly settled enough to keep it out, but Constantinople had eighteen severe epidemics. In one epidemic reported to Pope Clement, China lost 13,000,000; India was partly depopulated; in Caramania and Csesarea none were left alive; Cyprus lost nearly all; ships at sea were left without crews, and throughout Asia nearly 25,000,000 perished. There are many historical records of similar epidemics, with frightful mortality, but they could not have occurred unless communities were overcrowded for then primitive sanitation. Moreover, plague is really a disease of rats transmitted by fleas, and these ancient epidemics show bad sanitation of crowds, for rats never flourish except in such conditions.