These essentials are: a wholesome situation, good ventilation, good drainage, and a dry cellar. Rich or poor, high or low, if one of these be disregarded, the result will tell, either on your own health or on that of your family. Whether palace or hut, brown-stone front or simple wooden cottage, the law is the same. As a rule, the ordinary town or village is built upon low land, because it is easier to obtain a water-supply from wells and springs. In such a case, even where the climate itself may be tolerably healthy, the drainage from the hills at hand, or the nearness of swamps and marshes produced by the same cause, makes a dry cellar an impossibility; and this shut-in and poisonous moisture makes malaria inevitable. The dwellers on low lands are the pill and patent-medicine takers; and no civilized country swallows the amount of tonics and bitters consumed by our own.
If possible, let the house be on a hill, or at least a rise of ground, to secure the thorough draining-away of all sewage and waste water. Even in a swampy and malarious country, such a location will insure all the health possible in such a region, if the other conditions mentioned are faithfully attended to.
Let the living-rooms and bedrooms, as far as may be, have full sunshine during a part of each day; and reserve the north side of the house for store-rooms, refrigerator, and the rooms seldom occupied. Do not allow trees to stand so near as to shut out air or sunlight; but see that, while near enough for beauty and for shade, they do not constantly shed moisture, and make twilight in your rooms even at mid-day. Sunshine is the enemy of disease, which thrives in darkness and shadow. Consumption or scrofulous disease is almost inevitable in the house shut in by trees, whose blinds are tightly closed lest some ray of sunshine fade the carpets; and over and over again it has been proved that the first conditions of health are, abundant supply of pure air, and free admission of sunlight to every nook and cranny. Even with imperfect or improper food, these two allies are strong enough to carry the day for health; and, when the three work in harmony, the best life is at once assured.
If the house must be on the lowlands, seek a sandy or gravelly soil; and avoid those built over clay beds, or even where clay bottom is found under the sand or loam. In the last case, if drainage is understood, pipes may be so arranged as to secure against any standing water; but, unless this is done, the clammy moisture on walls, and the chill in every closed room, are sufficient indication that the conditions for disease are ripe or ripening. The only course in such case, after seeking proper drainage, is, first, abundant sunlight, and, second, open fires, which will act not only as drying agents, but as ventilators and purifiers. Aim to have at least one open fire in the house. It is not an extravagance, but an essential, and economy may better come in at some other place.