Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/24

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Engineer," that they have more scientific knowledge than they are given credit for.

We ought, I think, to regard this mutual distrust and lack of confidence among these various classes as only another evidence of the overwhelming difficulties of the situation, and of the fact, so apparent to all, that we have been defeated in every direction. As, when an army of disciplined soldiers has been signally routed, the people begin to lose confidence in their officers, and the officers fall to charging each other with incompetency, neglect, and treason—so, also, in this case, these murmurs of complaint and of wide-spread dissatisfaction, these mutual criminations and recriminations, imply only a great failure, and not necessarily a dereliction on the part of any one concerned. The odds were against us; and this is what everybody will, sooner or later, come to understand.

The public need not lose confidence in either of these classes. Notwithstanding our present seeming antagonism, which may be due in part to a mutual misunderstanding, we are, as will be seen hereafter, converging steadily and rapidly to the same point. It will be found that we are practically united in our demand that plumbers, architects, sanitary engineers, and physicians, shall acquire more knowledge and skill than they now possess; and that where their united knowledge and skill fail to accomplish the end to which our efforts are at present directed, namely, the exclusion of sewer-gases from our houses, the people shall be urged at once to "to lop off superfluous luxuries"; instructing them also that, in exact proportion as their luxurious distribution of plumbing is diminished, their safety will be increased. They should be informed, at the same time, that, if they are compelled to submit to the presence of plumbing fixtures near their living apartments, they should follow the advice of Professor Doremus, and employ constantly and freely proper disinfectants, of which it is unscientific to say that they merely "disguise the bad odors"; for, if it be true that they do not cause directly the death of all germs, it is nevertheless true that they prevent putrefaction of organic matters, and thus destroy the aliment upon which the germs subsist, and by which they are enabled to multiply.

It would be unjust to say that plumbers, being interested in having the amount of plumbing extended, will be the last to limit its extension. So also, in a pecuniary point of view, are sanitary engineers and physicians interested. But no one, I am certain, will charge either of us with being influenced by such considerations.

Under the present system all that can be said is, that the united skill of the specialists has not, according to their own often-repeated declarations, and as every one knows, succeeded in rendering our houses safe against sewer-gas. We have, indeed, from one source and another, assurances that it can be done; but there is no proof, such as alone can be furnished by a sufficiently prolonged trial, that