In the original course of these lectures before the North End Union a number of very striking illustrations from Dr. Teale's "Dangers to Health"* were reproduced upon the screen for the purpose of presenting effective warnings against certain forms of improper work, as well as to call attention to the very marked change of feeling in regard to "sewer gas" which has developed within the last few years. At the time this book was written sewer air was supposed to swarm with disease germs, Dr. Teale writing in his introduction: "Moreover, the conviction struck deeply into my mind that probably one-third at least of the incidental illness of the Kingdom, including perhaps much of childbirth illness and some of the fatal results of surgical operations in hospitals and private nouses (surgical calamities, Sir James Paget would call them), are the results of drainage defects, and therefore can be and ought to be prevented."

Fig. 5S9. Drain under house with fall wrong way. Broken pipe at the junction with  soil pipe.

Fig. 5S9. Drain under house with fall wrong way. Broken pipe at the junction with "soil pipe."

* "Dangers to Health. A Pictorial Guide to Domestic Sanitary Defects." By T. Pridgin Teale, M. A., Surgeon to the General Infirmary at Leeds. Published by J. & J. Churchill. London, 1878.

The world had not at the time of the publication of this book had the advantage of the discoveries in bacteriology recently made as to the freedom of sewer air from pathogenic germs, and hence Dr. Teale makes the breathing of sewer air the direct rather than a possible occasional indirect cause of many of the fatalities described.

Fig. 590. Pipes laid with the flange down hill.

Fig. 590. Pipes laid with the flange down hill.

Nevertheless the warnings he utters are most interesting and serviceable, although the exact form of danger was not so clearly understood as it is today, and I have grouped his pictures together in one chapter, where I could better contrast the more modern interpretation of the defects he illustrates with his own view of them, and that of leaders of the medical profession of his day.

The initial cut, Fig. 589, illustrates a case of sickness recorded by Dr. Teale from a leaky drain, due to very poor grading, and Fig. 590 another similar case. In the first a broken joint at the foot of the soil pipe, probably caused by the settlement of the masonry wall down which the soil pipe ran. Breathing the sewer air had the same effect upon the patient above that breathing any bad air would have caused. It diminished the vital forces and lessened the chances of victory of the white corpuscles, so that when she drank the milk from the dairy, as shown in Fig. 591, they were unable to resist the disease germs conveyed by it.

Fig. 591. Drain leaking into a well. Water leaking into the milk

Fig. 591. Drain leaking into a well. Water leaking into the milk cans.

In this picture, Fig. 591, the drain pipe from the pigsty and cowshed actually passed through the well, the settlement of which, or some other accident, broke the pipe, and the result was that all the milk from that farm contained sewage germs, either from the direct admixture with it of this well water, or else by rinsing the cans and other dairy implements with this water.

These pictures hint to us that a public milk supply is at least as important as a public sewerage system.

Fig. 592. Cesspool leaking into a well.

Fig. 592. Cesspool leaking into a well.

Fig. 593. New Vicarage Cesspool overflowing into a Tank.

Fig. 593. New Vicarage Cesspool overflowing into a Tank.

It seems astonishing that anyone should have ever made a pipe connection between cistern and cesspool, but it has frequently been done, and this picture, Fig. 592, may serve as a useful warning, for there seems to be no folly which human beings will not sometimes commit.

Dr. Teale reports that typhoid fever broke out at this house, and here illustrates what was believed to be the cause.

Fig. 593 shows another accident, explaining how diseases spread in country towns and villages and how unnecessary it is to assume that sewer air itself contains the disease germs when faulty plumbing conducts it into the house. This picture shows the case of a newly built vicarage for which the rainwater tank served also as an overflow tank for the cesspool, instead of the reverse, as was intended.

Fig. 594. How people drink sewage. Drain leaking into a well.

Fig. 594. How people drink sewage. Drain leaking into a well.

Fig. 594 shows a most painful occupation more frequently seen in nearly all country towns than is generally supposed.

Fig. 595 shows a remarkably undesirable condition of things, four cesspools connected by a leaky drain, all ventilated through the rooms of the house. Nevertheless the occupants managed to live. If disease germs abounded in the air of sewers, as is supposed by some even today, not a soul would be living in such a house and town as this, nor, indeed, anywhere in England or elsewhere, so universal are leaky drains. We know now that, had the cesspools been omitted and the sewers been well built and jointed and ventilated through the soil pipes of every house, neither odor nor danger of any kind to health could have resulted.

Fig. 595. Plenty of  deadly sewer gas, but occupants still live.