+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

each house into the street; the pipes run
into a larger tube of earthenware that is to
be laid at the backs of all the houses; these
tubes run into larger ones, but none of them
very monstrous; and so that there is a
constant flow, like circulation of the blood; and
all the pipes are to run at last into one
large conduit, which is to run out of town
with all the sewage matter and discharge so
tar down the Thames, that no return tide ever
can bring it back to London. Some is to go
branching off' into the fields to be manure."

"Humph! " said Nephelo. "You profess to
be very clever. How do you know all this?"

"Know? Bless you, I 'm a regular old
Thames Drop. I've been in the cisterns, in
the tumblers, down the sewers, in the river,
up the pipes, in the reservoirs, in the cisterns,
in the teapots, down the sewers, in the river,
up the pipes, in the reservoirs, in the cisterns,
in the saucepans, down the sewers, in the

"Hold! Stop there now!" said Nephelo.
"Well, so you have heard a great deal in
your lifetime. You've  had some adventures,

"I believe you," said the Cockney-Drop.
"The worst was when I was pumped once as
fresh water into Rotherhithe. That place is
below high-water mark; so are Bermondsey
and St. George's, Southwark. Newington,
St. Olave's, Westminster, and Lambeth, are
but little better. Well, you know, drains of
the old sort always leak, and there's a great
deal more water poured into London than
the Londoners have stowage room for, so the
water in low districts can't pass off at high
water, and there's a precious flood. We
sopped the ground at Rotherhithe, but I
thought I never should escape again."

"Will the new pipes make any difference
to that?"

"Yes; so I am led to understand. They
are to be laid with a regular fall, to pass the
water off, which, being constant, will be never
in excess. The fall will be to a point of
course below the water level, and at a
convenient place the contents of these drains are
to be pumped up into the main sewer.
Horrible deal of death caused, Sir, by the damp
in those low districts. One man in thirty-
seven died of cholera in Rotherhithe last
year, when in Clerkenwell, at sixty-three feet
above high water, there died but one in five
hundred and thirty. The proportion held

"Ah, by the bye, you have heard, of course,
complainings of the quality of water. Will
the Londoners sink wells for themselves?"

"Wells! What a child you are! Just
from the clouds, I see. Wells in a large
town get horribly polluted. They propose to
consolidate and improve two of the best
Thames Water Companies, the Grand
Junction and Vauxhall, for the supply of
London, until their great scheme can be
introduced; and to maintain them afterwards
as a reserve guard in case their great scheme
shouldn't prove so triumphant as they think
it will be."

"What is this great scheme, I should like
to know?"

"Why, they talk of fetching rain-water
from a tract of heath between Bagshot and
Farnham. The rain there soaks through a
thin crust of growing herbage, which is the
only perfect filter, chemical as well as
mechanicalthe living rootlets extract more
than we can, where impurity exists. Then,
Sir, the rain runs into a large bed of siliceous
sand, placed over marl; below the marl there
is siliceous sand againAh, I perceive you
are not geological."

"Go on."

"The sand, washed by the rains of ages,
holds the water without soiling it more than
a glass tumbler would, and the Londoners
say that in this way, by making artificial
channels and a big reservoir, they can collect
twenty-eight thousand gallons a day of water
nearly pure. They require forty thousand
gallons, and propose to get the rest in the
same neighbourhood from tributaries of the
River Wey, not quite so pure, but only half as
hard, as Thames water, and unpolluted."

"How is it to get to London?"

"Through a covered aqueduct. Covered
for coolness' sake, and cleanliness. Then it
is to be distributed through earthenware
pipes, laid rather deep, again for coolness'
sake in the first instance, but for cleanliness
as well. The water is to come in at high
pressure, and run in iron or lead pipes up
every house, scale every wall. There is to be
a tap in every room, and under every tap
there is to be the entrance to a drain-pipe.
Where water supply ends, drainage begins.
They are to be the two halves of a single
system. Furthermore, there are to be
numbers of plugs opening in every street, and
streets and courts are to be washed out every
morning, or every other morning, as the
traffic may require, with hose and jet. The
Great Metropolis mustn't be dirty, or be
content with rubbing a finger here and there
over its dirt. It is to have its face washed
every morning, just before the hours of
business. The water at high pressure is to
set people's invention at work upon the
introduction of hydraulic apparatus for cranes,
et cætera, which now cause much hand labour
and are scarcely worth steam-power.

"My dear friend," cried Nephelo, "you
are too clever. More than half of what you
say is unintelligible to me,"

"But the grand point," continued the
garrulous Thames drop, "is the expense.
The saving of cisterns, ball-cocks, plumbers'
bills, expansive sewer-works, constant repairs,
hand labour, street sweeping, soap, tea, linen,
fuel, steam-boilers now damaged by incrustation,
boards, salaries, doctors' bills, time,
parish rates—"