Punch,  59 (1870), 19.

Sewage-Farming in Both Sorts



Extract, Reportage; Poetry

Publications extracted:

Daily Telegraph Standard


Pollution, Crime, Human Development, Class, Disease, Sanitation, Hygiene, Public Health, Utilitarianism, Morality, Analogy

    Begins with two recent extracts from the Daily Telegraph and the Standard. The former describes how the Chichester Training Ship, moored off Greenhithe, is being used to train 'destitute boys picked up in the streets of London' in the arts of seamanship; the latter extract describes William Hope's demonstration to Parliament of the virtues of irrigating the soil with sewage, using specimens of wheat. The poem picks up on the theme of dirt that appears in the two extracts, both human dirt and sewage. Proceeds to reflect on the varieties of dirt in society, including the 'dirt of uncared-for bodies' with which 'we sap life's strength and spring', and 'The dirt of uncared-for dwellings' with which 'we as plague-seed broadcast fling', and the 'human dirt [...] that festers in our streets, as the filth in our sewers seethes'. Laments the way in which we 'dispose of' human dirt 'small and early, where the baby farmer delves', but notes that 'the life in human dirt is tough' and leads it to grow into the street 'rough' and eventually 'the load of the prison-van'. However, blesses those with 'strong stomachs and kindly hearts' who have not avoided the 'foul and festering stream' of real and human dirt, but have sought to put this 'misplaced matter' into its right place. Accordingly, praises sewage farmers for turning filth into food and others for training the 'Street-Arab' to 'useful toil'.

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