TIIE CONSTRUCTION OF HOUSES, especially of dwdling-places for the poor, and public lodging-houses, next claims our notice. There can be no doubt that the fre quency and fatality of the epidemics of the middle ages were in a great measure due to unhealthy habitations. The houses were Usually closely packed in crowded streets, and were often built for the purpose of defense, at a sacrifice of ventilation, lighting, drain ing, etc. ' At the present day, with all our boasted civilization, the dwellings of the poor, loth in our large towns and in our country villages, are too often a disgrace to humanity. Any che may readily satisfy himself on this point by reading the various government reports referred to in an early part of this article, the annual reports of the medical officer of the privy council, and the reports which are annually uublished by many of our officers of health.
An article on the sanitary state of Manchester, which appeared in the Quarterly Journal ff &knee for April, 1867, reveals a condition of the dwellings of the poor which seems almost incredible to those who have not previously studied this important but uninviting subject. In many parts of Ireland, as we learn from Dr. Mnpother, the dwelling-places of even the small farmers are hardly fit for a healthy existence. Dr. Tucker of Sligo draws the following picture of "the homely hovel of a small farmer, which may be taken as the prototype of many. It was about 12 ft. wide and 24 ft. long. The domestic circle that dwelt therein consisted of a sick man, his wife, four daughters, one son, three cows, one horse, two calves, two pigs, and poultry—all in one common undivided house, without a partition. Generally the pigs dwelt beneath the beds, the people in them, and the poultry overhead." On the evils, physical and moral, arising out of such a system it is unnecessary to dwell.
Inch has of late years been done in London (by the benevolence of baroness Courts, Mr. Peabody, alderman Waterlow. and others)and in many other large towns to improve the dwellings of the poor, and to give them, on moderate terms, a far more healthy and commodious house-accomodation than they could otherwise cbtain. :Ninny of these improved dwellings seem fever-proof, and the death rate has been found much lower than in adjacent places. Even without the aid of private benevolence the erection of blocks of improved dwellings for the working-classes has proved remunerative. Five conditions are requisite in order to insure healthy habitations, on whatever scale they may he constructed; (1) A site dry and not malarious, and an aspect which gives and cheerfulness; (2) a ventilation sufficient to carry off all respiratory contaminations of the air; (3) a system of immediate and perfect sewage removal; (4) a doe supply and proper removal of water; and (5) a construction of the house such that perfect dryness of its foundation, walls, and roof is insured. For further information on this inmor tent topic, the reader is referred, inter rain, to the various works of Mr. Godwin, espe cially his Another Blow for btfe; to Mr. ]dole's interesting book entitled,The Ilinnesof tiro liTorking-elasses; and to Dr. Mapother's Lectures on Public Health (2d ed. pp. 297-326).
SF.w,tof: is sufficiently considered in the special article devoted to that subject (see also SEwAmA: Emern-CLosET); and we pass OD to another subject closely connected with hygiene—viz., the DISPOSAL OF TUE DEAD. To see the importance of this subject the reader must know something of the changes which the body undergoes after death. A. body that has been buried gradually breaks up into a large number of comparatively simple compounds, such as carbonic acid, ammonia, sulphureted and citrbu:eted hydrogen. nitrous and nitric acid, and certain more complicated gaseous matters with a very fetid odor, which finally undergo oxidation; while the non-volatile substances usually enter into the soil, and either pass into plants or are carried away by the water percolating the soil. These changes are accelerated by the worms and other low forms
of life that usually swarm in decomposing bodies; and the character of the soil inateri. ally influences the degree of rapidity of destruction. The bones remain almost un changed for ages. if a body is burned, decomposition is incomparably more rapid, and different volatile combinations may arise; the mineral salts and a, little cerhou ,alon3 remaining. The question for our consideration is, what is the best method of disposing of our dead, so that the living may suffer the least? Putting aside thevisLape try scheme/. for turning the dead to commercial account, there areehree methods fr.c consideration— via., burial in land or in water, or ineremation. At present, as Dr. Putes observes, this question is not an urgent one;•but it may become so in a century or t.v.o, if the popnla. tion goes on inere tsing at the present rate. Even in our own time a g•ear amp has taken place. and the objectionable habit of interments in and round cdmrches in towns has been given up, cemeteries in the country being now commonl) employed, except ip the case of country villages. The air over cemeteries is, however, ,Iways contaminated. and water percolating through them is unfit for drinking purpos.:.; and there is a gen eral and very decided opinion that the vicinity of graveyards is unhealthy. The evils are lessene I by makin; the grave as deep as possible, and by not more than OL16 body in one grave. Plants should be freely introduced into every cemetery, for the abserp tion of organic in ttters an I of carbonic cell; and the must rapidly-growing trees and shrubs should be select() I, in preference to the, slowly-growi.rs cypress and yew. Wis may add that the impertieial space which should be allotted t., each grave varies in dif• fereat countries from 3J to 93 ft., and that the depth shall be at least 6 feet. It is revived by law that the grave spaces for persons above 12 years of age shall be at least 9 ft. by 4, and those for children under 12 years, 6 ft. by a. It is likewise reinired that not less than 4 ft. of earth she pace the codue of. an adult, an 1 3 ft. above that of a child. The time which shetild elapse before a grave is disturbed for a new tenant varies with the. soil and the, dist:I:tn.:of the bo:ly from the surface. ITaler favor able eircueastanees, a calla containing an at1:11t will disappear with its conte•ts in shout 10 years; while in a clayey or petty soil it will rem tit, a century. It is generally asslimed that a period of 11 ye trs ms sulleient for the d neay of an adult, bit• long before this time all will have disappeared bat the skeleton. If tine coestioa should in coarse of time arise bet tveen burying in the sea and burnin;, it will be decided. Dr. Parkas believes, in favor of the former, on the following g:o mad.: " It is true that the impurities in burning eau be well diffused into the atmop!rere at large, and would not add to it any perceptible impurity. Hit if the ba•nia2; is not complete, fetid organic mitte:s are given off, which hang cloed-like in the air, aul may be perceptible an:l even hurtful. As a matter of expense, too, the system of inerem lama would In greater than the burl ii at sea. La the burial at sea the both woultl go at 0123 to support other forms of life ns rapidly than in the C.1S3 of land burial, ae.1 without the danger of evolution of hurtful products." 03 this subject the reader nary further consult the report drawn up by Mr. Chadwick on the state of cemeteries; Vie report of the general board of health, 1858 (of which Mr. Chad•iek and Dr. Southwood Smith were members). on the same subject; Dr. Map idler's 14th lecture " on the burial of the dead;" and a work published by M. Favrot, entitled IlisNire des Inhurn•tion•, 1807.