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THE PEN AND THE PICKAXE

I AM a dirty town, on the banks of the
Thames. I have no connexion with any of
the great works of the Metropolitan
Commissioners of Sewers, nor even with
any of their plans and projects. My name is
Fulham. My sewers and drainsthe few I
haveare in a filthy condition, and have their
outfall into the river. I grieve to say so, but I
cannot help it. My sister Putney, just over
the way, and my cousin Hammersmith, a
little higher up, are both in a similar state;
and lying above me, they give me a "benefit"
every ebb-tide, which I do not find at all
conducive to my health, nor to the processes
of washing and cooking. All I can doand
those below me on the river must excuse my
freedomis to "pass it on;" and in this
necessity I am greatly aided and abetted by
my Eel-Brook sewermy principal and most
offensive outfallso called, I presume, from
the number of odious impostors of all sizes,
trying to wriggle themselves into the likeness
of eels, who inhabit this well-known outlet.
At Sand's End may be seen and smelt the
works of the Imperial Gas Company, which
drain all their refuse, either directly into the
Thames, or through the medium of my Eel-
Brook, I can't swear whichthe whole process
being a dark and mysterious transaction.

I have said that I am a dirty town. How
inadequate are words to paint and convey to
the senses the full extent of what I mean by
that confession! Besides, decency in many
respects restrains me. Even the pen of the
Metropolitan Commissioners of Sewers would
fail to describe me. Nothing short of the
pickaxe (in the use of which they are so very
sparing) could rend open, and lay bare to the
acquaintance of eyes, nose, and mouth, the
actual condition of neglect in which I carry
on my populous existence. But let me present
the curious reader with a brief outline of one
locality.

My principal street, or thoroughfare, is like
a specimen of one of the most squalid villages
in the poorest districts of Ireland. The
majority of my inhabitants are the poorest Irish.
Along the broken line of the entire street, at
different periods of the day, but more
especially towards evening, on Saturday, or
other market days, the number of dirty ragged
children, trotting up and down, scampering
round about, or collected together in groups,
is extraordinary. In the doorways, or on the
steps, men stand, sit, or lounge about, with
their short pipes, while the women squat in
parties of three or four against the walls, or
down upon the stones; many of them with
children at the breast. Young girls nurse,
and play with other children just learning
to walk,—and all in the most dirty condition,
both in dress and person, their clothes being
often insufficient for decency, and their hair
blowing about their ears. Amidst these
groups, and family parties of men, women,
and children, the pigs belonging to each
domestic circle wander and rout about, winding
their devious way, each according to "his
own sweet will." In like manner of association
with the houses and hovels, stand the
pig-sties. Gutters and uncovered drains run
in all directions, and cesspools, only covered
over with loose planks, are at hand on all
sides, tending to generate cholera and fevers;
while high above all, in paternal proximity,
the palace of the Bishop of London rears its
majestic walls, to enable his lordship to over-
look his "flock," and nose the bouquet of the
surrounding scene.

For many years the Metropolitan Commissioners
of Sewers, one batch after another, have
sat in their places at the Board, pen in hand;
and, during that time they have, with great
industry, held interminable discussions, made
speeches innumerable, and issued from time
to time elaborate reports on the shocking
condition of all sorts of parishes and localities;
with proposals, plans, and estimates, bearing
reference to various extensive worksbut no
order for a corresponding use of the pickaxe.
Pens, ink, printing and paper, as much as you
pleaseand morebut no extensive handling
of the pickaxe, the spade, and the materials
of construction. Their appeal last year to the
inventive talent of the country on the question
of a Plan for the drainage of the Metropolis,
with the great number of plans sent in, and
the bad treatment of all the competitors
(especially the best), is in the memory of
everybody who paid the least attention to the
subject. Now comes the sequel. About a
twelvemonth ago, a distinguished mining
engineer, who, however, had little practical
experience in this special department of

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