Thursday, 1 March 2012

Edwin Chadwick - Interviews (1843)

Detail: Ashill
Parish Church
The following testimony of a lady, respecting the miasma which escaped from one burial-ground at Manchester, is adduced as an example of the more specific testimony as to the perception of its effects. This testimony also brings to view the circumstance that in the towns it is not only in surface emanations from the grave-yards alone that the morbific matter escapes.

You resided formerly in the house immediately contiguous to the burying-ground of chapel, did you not ?

Yes I did, but I was obliged to leave it.

Why were. you so obliged?

When the wind was west, the smell was dreadful. There is a main sewer runs through the burying-ground, and the smell of the dead bodies came through this sewer up our drain, and until we got that trapped, it was quite unbearable.

Do you not think the smell arose from the emanations of the sewer, and not from the burying-ground?

I am sure they came from the burying ground; the smell coming from the drain was exactly the same as that which reached us when the wind was west, and blew upon us from the burying-ground. The smell was very peculiar ; it exactly resembled the smell which clothes have when they are removed from a dead body. My servants would not remain in the house on account of it, and I had several cooks who removed on this account.

Did you observe any effects on your health when the smells were bad ?

Yes, I am liable to head-aches, and these were always bad when the smells were so also. They were often accompanied by diarrhrea in this house. Before I went there, and since I left, my head-aches have been very trifling.

Were any of the other inmates of the house afflicted with illness ?

I had often to send for the surgeon to my servants, who were liable to ulcerated sore throats.

And your children, were they also affected ?

My youngest child was very delicate, and we thought he could not have survived; since he came here he has become quite strong and healthy, but I have no right to say the burying-ground had any connexion with his health.


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