If, as in many towns, the supply of drinking-water for many families comes from the town pump or pumps, the same principles must be attended to. A well in Golden Square, London, was noted for its especially bright and sparkling water, so much so that people sent from long distances to secure it. The cholera broke out; and all who drank from the well became its victims, though the square seemed a healthy location. Analysis showed it to be not only alive with a species of fungus growing in it, but also weighted with dead organic matter from a neighboring churchyard. Every tissue in the living bodies which had absorbed this water was inflamed, and ready to yield to the first epidemic; and cholera was the natural outcome of such conditions. Knowledge should guard against any such chances. See to it that no open cesspool poisons either air or water about your home. Sunk at a proper distance from the house, and connected with it by a drain so tightly put together that none of the contents can escape, the cesspool, which may be an elaborate, brick-lined cistern, or merely an old hogshead thoroughly tarred within and without, and sunk in the ground, becomes one of the most important adjuncts of a good garden. If, in addition to this, a pile of all the decaying vegetable matter—leaves, weeds, &c.—is made, all dead cats, hens, or puppies finding burial there; and the whole closely covered with earth to absorb, as fresh earth has the power to do, all foul gases and vapors; and if at intervals the pile is wet through with liquid from the cesspool, the richest form of fertilizer is secured, and one of the great agricultural duties of man fulfilled,—that of “returning to the soil, as fertilizers, all the salts produced by the combustion of food in the human body.”
Where the water-supply is brought into the house from a common reservoir, much the same rules hold good. We can not of course control the character of the general supply, but we can see to it that our own water and waste pipes are in the most perfect condition; that traps and all the best methods of preventing the escape of sewer-gas into our houses are provided; that stationary or “set” basins have the plug always in them; and that every water-closet is provided with a ventilating pipe sufficiently high and long to insure the full escape of all gases from the house. Simple disinfectants used from time to time—chloride of lime and carbolic acid—will be found useful, and the most absolute cleanliness is at all times the first essential.
With air and water at their best, the home has a reasonable chance of escaping many of the sorrows brought by disease or uncertain health; and, the power to work to the best advantage being secured, we may now pass to the forms that work must take.
THE DAY’S WORK.
It is safe to say that no class of women in the civilized world is subjected to such incessant trials of temper, and such temptation to be fretful, as the American housekeeper. The reasons for this state of things are legion; and, if in the beginning we take ground from which the whole field may be clearly surveyed, we may be able to secure a better understanding of what housekeeping means, and to guard against some of the dangers accompanying it.