In America we are now suffering from filthy habits normal to savages. By reason of the tenuity of population, we formerly adopted methods of disposal of our sewage, which are wholly inadmissible in crowded communities, that is, we simply poured it into the water supply. A man turned his sewage into the creek, because there was no one below him who used the water. Hence, when we increased, we found all the rivers polluted. The result is dreadful, for there is scarcely a city in the eastern part of the United States which has any drinking water. We all use diluted sewage, and every now and then we hear of a dreadful epidemic from infected water.

We must change all the sewer systems or else buy up immense tracts of land as water collectors for each city. Poor, silly Philadelphia spends millions doctoring up some dirty sewage trying to make it fit to drink, instead of doing something cheaper and more sensible when they had the chance - buying pure water at a distance and bringing it to the city. We cannot violate the law of density of population without suffering, and a man must have 150 gallons of pure water daily, whether he is in a country and uses a creek, or in a city and uses a spigot. This one problem will seriously limit the density of our population until we forbid stream pollution.

In London they are waking up to the same question of overpopulation in regard to sanitation. "What is bound to become one of the greatest problems of the twentieth century has suddenly confronted that city in a rather peculiar form. It consists of one of Nature's warnings that the limit has been reached, beyond which it is impossible to crowd a greater population than is now comprised in the world's metropolis [unless better sanitary arrangements are made]. Doctor Colingridge, the chief medical officer of London, has issued a report in which he announces that all of the Thames fisheries, including the estuary, are contaminated with the bacilli of typhoid fever. His condemnation includes the famous Whitstable oysterbeds, where twenty per cent, of the oysters examined were found to be infected. A ban has also been pronounced against whitebait, shrimps, smelts and cockles. Contamination by sewage was found fifty miles away from London in the drainage outfall, while an even worse state of affairs existed at other points on the English coast from which shellfish are supplied to the markets. The infection in these cases was due altogether to local sewage. This, however, is a secondary problem to the more serious one of the London water supply. It is now admitted that the Thames valley with its contributing streams, including artesian wells, is inadequate for London's vast population, and even ordinary drought produces serious inconvenience, as well as sanitary and fire perils. A great aqueduct to Wales at fabulous expense is the only radical solution suggested, but this, however, would render the drainage problem still more serious. Meantime, London continues to grow. Nature has already begun to inflict her penalties, and it will be one of the most interesting features of human history in the next few decades to watch on the banks of the Thames one of the greatest struggles that civilization has ever undertaken-"

New York City has the same problem as London, but in the American metropolis, it is a question of the actual loss of the harbor which is being filled up with sewage deposits. Of course, the harbor will be preserved and made better, but unless immense sums are spent on the modern destruction of sewage, epidemics will limit the density of population. Even now the loss of life is deplorable from the spread of diseases from sewer outlets through the agency of flies.

The trend of civilization, then, is to make crowding safe, and every new sanitary invention permits more people to herd into a limited area. Supersaturation is greater every decade. New York City, for instance, by bringing in water and removing wastes, is able to house a hundredfold more souls than a century ago, and with a constantly diminishing death rate. If her sewers were suddenly discontinued, pestilences would thin out the population to a safe tenuity. Yet even with all which modern science does to remove evils of overcrowdings, we are still herded together too closely. The death rates in Glasgow for those who have homes of four rooms is eleven and two-tenths per 1,000; for three rooms it is thirteen and seven-tenths; two rooms, twenty-one and three-tenths, and thirty-two and seven-tenths for one roomers - lung diseases predominating, of course. Similar differences are found in every city.

War, Famine And Plagues

As famines are usually followed by pestilence, the relation of the two is common knowledge, as those enfeebled by starvation are easily killed by infections. But the relation of both famine and plagues to overpopulation is not generally recognized. They are "twin brothers, monsters of human misery," children of the same parents, overpopulation and filth. War necessarily checks food production, and therefore we invariably see the three go hand in hand,, war, famine and pestilence.

Death rates of the general population from disease, during war, are always higher than in peace, even in the absence of famines and epidemics, for the unsettled and severe conditions increase the endemic diseases and increase the struggle for existence for some time. This is well shown in the death rates in Manila, 1900-1903, for the months of January, February and March:

Annual Death Rate Per 1,000






January .............





February ............



30. 81







In our ignorance of the cause of this phenomena, we supposed it to be due to the excellence of American sanitation, and congratulated ourselves upon saving so many lives. Indeed, all civilized cities in the world have essentially the same death rates in peace, with a few exceptions, for it is one of the phenomena of civilization. Rarely is the rate less than seventeen or more than twenty-seven, and it generally hovers around twenty. This rate increases in the cities of the world under savage or barbarous conditions of filth, and where the birth rate is high, as in China. In the latter cities the death rate is probably larger than the birth rate, as it used to be in medieval European cities.

Formerly, cities were all called consumers of population, which poured into them in a constant stream from rural districts, only to melt away in two or three generations. Modern sanitation is ending this loss of life, and it is now safer to live in some cities than in the country. Yet there are other unavoidable, unwholesome factors, which will always melt city families. The breeding place for humanity is the country - after all is said.