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Another projector, more fanciful than any of his
competitors, proposed to carry the sewage
through the air by vast atmospheric tubes on both
of the river, beginning somewhere about
Putney, and terminating, as usual, in a great
deodorising reservoir on the sea-coast. Another
projector proposed to construct two great sewers
under the river Thamesa favourite but costly
plan;—and another gentleman thought he could
deodorise sewage and ventilate the sewers, by
passing all the smoke of London into them.
Another projector suggested that sewage should
be first deodorised and then totally consumed
by burning, and asked for government aid to
commence experiments on the power of fire to
consume solid sewage. He suggested that Erith
should be the locality favoured with these
terrific experiments. Another projector proposed
that the Thames should be purified by throwing
into it about two thousand tons of chloride of
sodium a week, which would cost about
thirty-nine thousand pounds sterling per annum;
another gentleman proposed to boil the sewage
slightly, by way of deodorisation, before it
reached the sewers; another projector
suggested that the ordinary course of things should
be reversed, and that instead of the Thames
being flushed by the sewers, the sewers should
be so altered that they should be flushed by the

Most of these plans, with a hundred others,
are based upon an idea that the Thames would
be converted into a crystal stream, if the sewage
now flowing into it from nearly two hundred
downward main sewers could only be diverted.
The plan which Mr. Bazalgette is now carrying
out, as the engineer of the Metropolitan Board
of Works, is certainly framed to divert this
sewage by a system ot intercepting and outfall
sewers; but Mr. Bazalgette, Mr. Haywood, the
eminent engineer of the City Commissioners of
Sewers, and even their government opponents,
never looked forward to such a purification of
our noble river. There was a time, within the
memory of our fathers, and not more remote
than forty years ago, when dozens of fishing
punts were moored between the London bridges,
and the fishermen, mostly amateurs, had no
reason to be discontented with their hauls. In
those days, if business were slack at the office,
the warehouse, or the shop, or if the morning
postman brought no letters that took more than
an hour to answer, the old gentlemen used to
take their hats, wink at their clerks as they
passed out under the shallow pretence of keeping
appointments, and slink down the winding
alleys towards the river. At one of those little,
brown shops, a few of which are still left as
vestiges of a decayed trade, where a tapering
rod hung out like a barber's pole, and a glistening
stuffed fish over the low doorway spun round
like a doll at a marine-store with every breeze
of wind, they called for the tackle which they
had not the courage to carry through Cheapside
or Cornhill, and were soon pushed off by
sympathising watermen into the middle of the stream.
Those were the days of Gravesend hoys; of a
belief in long distances; of five-shilling rowing
fares to Chelsea; but with all this peace
and quietness, it is doubtful if the river were
without stain and without reproach. It had
nothing to do then, with the refuse of the one
million of people on its banks; for the cesspool
system was strictly applied to houses, and the
sewers conveyed nothing but rain and waste
water. For all this, however, competent
authorities decline to believe in its crystal clearness,
and Messrs. Bidder, Hawksley, aud Bazalgette,
have said as much in their great report of 1858,
on Metropolitan Main Drainage. "Within the
metropolis," they say, "the Thames never could
have been a 'silvery' stream. There can,
indeed, be no doubt that if every particle of sewage
were removed from the river, the Thames, as it
now exists, with its rapid tide and its enormous
traffic, must still remain a muddy water, differing
but little in appearance from its present
condition, The referees* themselves admit that
they do not anticipate that the Thames will
present the appearance of a clear stream until the
projecting headlands at the termination of every
Reach shall have been protected from being
washed away bit by bit.

* Messrs. Galton, Simpson, and Blackwell,
Government Referees on the Metropolitan Main Drainage
Scheme. 1857.

"Several causes have contributed to the
present condition of the river and its banks. The
removal of Old London-bridge has greatly
augmented the tidal scour; the improved drainage
of the land has brought down the upland waters
with increased expedition after rainfall; thereby
diminishing the quantity of water in the river in
hot weather, and adding to the quantity of
earthy matter conveyed by the floods. The
agitation of the water by the action of steam-
boats, and the augmented velocity of the
current induced by the removal of obstacles to the
tidal flow. These operate to retain the niud in
a state of suspension.

"The scour, the floods, and the agitation, are
the most influential contributors to the existing
appearance of the river, and these will remain
in operation, and continue to produce like effects,
after the sewage shall have been withdrawn.
We may therefore at once state, that the
production of a clear or sensibly purified stream in
or near the metropolis, will prove a hopeless
task, unless some powerful ruler shall in a
future age determine to improve the appearance
of the river at the expense of its commerce, by
damming back the tide at Greenwich or Woolwich.
Were there no population whatever
existing on the Thames, the banks of the river,
from its mouth to above the western limits of
the metropolitan area, would, in the present
condition of things, be covered with mud
deposits, in consequence of tidal action alone, and
the water would remain almost as turbid as it is
now." This is rather a rude blow given to a
thousand of those splendid dreams which are fed
even by such muddy food as London sewage,
Turning our backs, to a great extent, upon sewer