London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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St George (Southwark) 1869

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Southwark, The Vestry of the Parish of St. George the Martyr]

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Parish of St. George the Martyr, Southwark.
degrees above the average of many years—whilst there was a great scarcity of rain, even
to the deficiency of 252 tons an acre. Nevertheless the health of London continued remarkably
good. And this was doubtless owing to the constant care and watchfulness of
Vestries over their various districts. For some weeks during the hottest period, the streets
and roads of this district were watered with a weak solution of carbolic acid. Under less
favourable sanitary condition, I have no hesitation in saying, that wo should have had some
epidemic or other destroying the people.

TABLE No. 6.

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Constitutional diseases embrace two orders; to the second of which I shall only require
your attention, inasmuch as this includes the most fatal of diseases incident to childhood,
youth, manhood, and even old age: the names of which are mesenteric disease and
Consumption is the great scourge not only of our country, but that of all others so far
as our knowledge extends. "One in every eight persons you meet with in the street is
destined to die of it." Its chief victims are the young, the beautiful, and the intellectual.
Many of the causes that bring about this disease are outside of our control; and like our proceedings
in general, to get rid of these we shall unceasingly struggle, whilst the causes which
with a little effort we might readily abolish, we shall continue tamely to submit to. I shall
only refer to one now, and that is ventilation. It has lately been discovered that consumption
can bo produced by inoculation, and that air saturated with the breath of a consumptive
patient is fraught with danger; and what kind of air but this, can be present in a close,
ill-ventilated room, which a consumptive patient occupies? The lungs are a broad and open
highway for the entrance of many diseases, and to this amongst the rest. The poison may
bo so far diluted as to bo innocuous, but this can only be done by allowing the free entrance
of fresh air. In-door life is rendered more prejudicial than it would otherwise be, by
breathing air which has been breathed before; still there are other evil influences resulting
from such a state of life, which would not be obviated by fresh air alone. I was very much
surprised to find in reading one of the reports of the papers and discussions thereupon of
the "National Association for the Promotion of Social Science," which met at Birmingham,
to sec it stated, that nothing effectual could be carried out to stay the diseases arising from
want of ventilation owing to the ignorance of the poor. And that it had boon so far almost
useless building cottages and lodging houses with good windows, if those who use them
would not open them. The poor are not the only class that considers pure air as an
enemy. No division present in our social scale but looks upon it as such. There is first
??? of draughts; then, there is the fear of blacks which plentifully float in the atmosthirty-???
and fouling everything upon which they drop, and the dust that oftentimes

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