Punch,  47 (1864), 223.

The Great Sewage Question



Poetry, Drollery


Pollution, Sanitation, Commerce, Politics, Government, Public Health, Engineering, Controversy

    Discusses the 'movements at work in the City' which have 'rudely upset' the author's 'favourite notions'. These include the fact that the Metropolitan Board of Works has 'of late giv'n up words, / And really taken to working', and that the famous giants of London, Gog and Magog, who lie about in the 'Metropolitan Sewage', are 'getting all by the ears with Thwaites and his peers' for not calculating the value of the sewage. Recalls the time when 'Town Boards' rejected the idea of sewers, but observes how 'London's beginning to think gold of winning / From her drains'. Anticipates that 'With our iron and coal fields, we'll boast of our gold-fields, / Irrigated by streams (od) auriferous' and expects sewage to yield guano and that its spreading will 'make the world wiser'. Observes the number of recent battles, including those of 'styles, schools, and gauges', but adds that the 'quarrel that well fits this new age / Which defines Dirt as "matter left in the wrong place"—/ The battle of schemes for sewage'. The conclusion reveals that the battle is being fought between 'Thwaites, Napier & Co.', and Thomas Ellis, John Brady, and Robert Montague, and hopes that the best will win.

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