The President of our Board of Health is reported to have said that "there has been a similar increase, during the last two years, all over the world." It would be impossible to determine this fact, for the reason that a large portion of the world makes no record of death. Probably he said, or intended to say, that such was the fact in the large cities of the most civilized portions of the world; and inasmuch as this has not been a season of general epidemics, and there have been no marked meteorological conditions to which it might be ascribed, and in the absence of any other plausible explanation, it would be quite as fair to attribute it to an extension of "modern improvements" in plumbing as to anything else.
A system of sewerage for the city of Memphis, Tennessee, was commenced January 20, 1880, and completed July 1, 1881. When completed it was found that thirty-three miles of sewer-pipes had been laid, and three thousand five hundred and seventy-nine water closets had been connected with the sewers. On comparing the mortuary records of the year preceding the completion of the work, and before the houses were connected with the sewers, with the year succeeding the completion, it appears that the mortality of the city has materially increased—although neither of these years was a year of epidemic. The deaths from typhoid fever were the same each year; but the deaths from dysentery were nearly doubled, and the deaths from diphtheria nearly quadrupled.
The "system" adopted is approved by many of our best sanitarians; but it was not carried out, in all respects, as recommended and agreed upon, and therefore may not be regarded as a fair test of the value of the peculiar system adopted. But we have the authority of the gentleman who claims to be its inventory, to the effect that "the drainage of houses and their connection with the sewers has been admirably carried out under strict regulations, faithfully executed," and that the system, so far as completed, is "an entire engineering success."
In view of the facts as above stated, there is a sort of grim humor in the letter of a "citizen of Memphis," who says, in confirmation of the value of the work already done, "Memphis is a redeemed city, and we are thinking of putting on airs, and advertising it as a summer resort."
It has already been intimated that those to whom the public has been accustomed to look for counsel upon this and allied subjects do not differ so widely as some have supposed, but that there is actually a very strong convergence of opinion as to what needs to be done.
Professor Willard Parker, one of our most distinguished physicians, after listening to the discussions of the Academy, said: "If I were to build a house, I would not have it connected in any way with a sewer. I would construct a sort of annex." Into which, Professor Parker was understood to say, he would gather all the pipes and fixtures,