I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.
Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights

donderdag 8 juli 2010

Benjamin Herschel Babbage

Haworth in the mid 1800’s was not the romantic village that one thinks of when reading all those books written by the Bronte sisters, but in reality was quite a grim place to live and had many social problems because of it’s poor water supply and virtual lack of sanitation. Over 40% of children died before attaining the age of six years, and the school records from this time are testament to the poor health of local children with smallpox, measles, whooping cough and scarlet fever frequently mentioned as the cause of death. The average age of death in the village was 25.8 [years], which was about the same as in Whitechapel, St.George-in-the-East, and St.Luke, three of the most unhealthy of the London districts.

The situation became so bad that Reverend Patrick Bronte took it upon himself in August 1849 to prepare a petition of 222 signatures to send to the General Board of Health in London, in an effort to improve sanitation in the village. No response was received to this so he sent a second petition in October of the same year, and then in February 1850 wrote to them again asking them to survey the water supply in Haworth. His persistence obviously stirred them into action and in April 1850 an Inspector, Benjamin Herschel Babbage, travelled to Haworth to conduct an investigation into the sanitary conditions in Haworth and the surrounding villages of Stanbury and Near and Far Oxenhope. His report found that the sanitary conditions were poor, with open sewers coursing down Haworth Main Street, and water leaching from the graveyard into the main source of drinking water. Here are some of his findings, which make grim reading:

“There are no water closets in the town, and only 69 privies, being little more than one privy to every four and a half houses….I found seven houses in the main street without a privy….I found twenty four houses lower down with only one privy amongst them….I believe that it would be found that there are no more than two dozen houses in the whole town that have a privy to themselves….two of the privies used by two dozen each, are in the public street, not only within view of the houses, but exposed to the gaze of passers by, whilst a third, as though even such a situation were too private, is perched upon an eminence commanding the whole length of the street. The cesspit of this privy lies below it, and opens by a small door into the main street; occasionally this door is burst open by the superincumbent weight of night soil and ashes, and they overflow into the public street, and at all times a disgusting effluvium escapes through this door into the street. Within two yards of this cesspit door there is a tap for the supply of water to the neighbouring houses….there are no sewers in Haworth;…..as a consequence of the want of sewerage there is a contiguous to each privy a receptacle for the night soil, in some cases walled round… into these midden-steads are thrown the household refuse and the offal from the slaughter-houses, where mixed with the night soil and occasionally with the drainage from pigsties, the whole lies exposed for months together, decomposition goes on and the offensive smells and putrid gases are given off in close proximity to dwelling-houses, making them much more injurious.”

Water Supply
“Bad as is this state of things, [the lack of a sewerage system] perhaps the most crying want of Haworth is water, of which there is an absolute dearth in the dry season…..very few of the inhabitants use the pump-water for cooking or drinking, as they do not fancy that the water is pure and when the soakage into the ground from the midden-stead, and the small depth of the pump-wells are considered, there appears every reason to suppose that the general opinion upon this subject is correct….the supply of water upon the Head Well is so scant in the summer time that in order to have water for the Monday’s washing, the poor people are in the habit of going there at 2 or 3 o,clock on Monday morning, in order to wait their turn to fill their cans and buckets from the slowly running stream. It is stated that the water at this well is very bad at this season, and it is sometimes so green and putrid that cattle, which have been driven there to drink, after tasting the water, have turned away and refused to touch it again”

Burial Grounds

“The churchyard is almost full of graves….it would appear that 1344 burials have taken place in the last ten years….the practice at Haworth is to cover the grave with a flat stone, and the churchyard presents one entire surface of flat stones, some of them simply reposing upon the mound of earth which covers the grave….this practice is a very bad one as it prevents that access of atmospheric air to the ground, which is necessary for promoting decomposition; and beside, the stones take the place of those grasses and shrubs which if planted, would tend to absorb the gases evolved during decomposition, and render the process less likely to contaminate the atmosphere….drains should be laid very deep, below the greatest depth to which the graves would be dug and the drainage should be carried away by airtight pipes into a main sewer… care being taken to lead into one which has no direct communication with any house-drain. I consider the speedy carrying away in covered channels of the water charged with this most dangerous and most subtle matter to be one of the most efficacious means of diminishing the evils, which there can be no doubt always take place from the vicinity of burial grounds to inhabited places.”

Babbage Recommendations

Babbage’s recommendations for improvements in Haworth were as follows:

He thought that water should be collecting from the surface of the nearby moorland, and also collecting from two springs, which had a wholesome supply, and this should then be piped to a reservoir created in one of the many abandoned stones quarries in the area. The water should then be supplied via a new main running down the main street.

A complete sewerage system should be installed in the village.

The costs of the sewerage system would be £863.10s and should be covered by a rates charge per house of 3/4d per week, and the cost of a water supply would be £1274.12s.6p and should be recovered by a rate of 1 1/4d per house per week

As far as the overcrowded graveyard was concerned, he recommended that no more burials should take place there, and a new burial ground should be found a short distance from the village which should be thoroughly drained to a depth of eight feet, and that a ‘code of regulations’ be established to prevent graves being dug too close to each other, and also that no more than one body be allowed to be interred in each grave.

He also recommended that a new small slaughterhouse be established for the use of the village, and that all slaughtering in other places should be prohibited.

Nothing much seemed to happen quickly after Mr Babbage’s visit to Haworth, other than his report and recommendations, so in August 1851 Patrick Bronte again wrote to the General Board of Heath saying

“ Yet after, tedious delay, they have as far as we know done almost nothing….We might have thought that this arose from a press of more urgent business, had it not been that we have learned from good authority that their salutatory rules have been adopted and enforced in various other places where there was less necessity for them”.

Eventually Patrick Bronte’s persistence was rewarded when a clean water supply was put into Haworth in 1856.

It is interesting to note that most pictures of Rev.Patrick Bronte show him with a scarf/muffler over his lower face and neck, and it is thought that he always wore this to try and protect himself from the noxious smells and diseases in Haworth. There still prevailed at this time something called “The Miasma Theory”, which lead people to believe that certain diseases, particularly cholera, were more prevalent in places where water was undrained and foul-smelling, and that the viruses were carried in the air. This theory was disproved in the late 1850’s, when it was found that these diseases were not airborne, but were carried in the water supply. Improvements in water supplies and sewerage systems reduced these illnesses dramatically.

Rev Bronte must however have been made of stern stuff because he lived to the grand old age of 84 years and outlived his wife and all six of his children, which was quite an achievement for anyone living in Haworth in those days!

read orignal on the weblog Bancrofts from Yorkshire

Geen opmerkingen:

Een reactie posten

The Parlour

The Parlour



Charlotte Bronte

Presently the door opened, and in came a superannuated mastiff, followed by an old gentleman very like Miss Bronte, who shook hands with us, and then went to call his daughter. A long interval, during which we coaxed the old dog, and looked at a picture of Miss Bronte, by Richmond, the solitary ornament of the room, looking strangely out of place on the bare walls, and at the books on the little shelves, most of them evidently the gift of the authors since Miss Bronte's celebrity. Presently she came in, and welcomed us very kindly, and took me upstairs to take off my bonnet, and herself brought me water and towels. The uncarpeted stone stairs and floors, the old drawers propped on wood, were all scrupulously clean and neat. When we went into the parlour again, we began talking very comfortably, when the door opened and Mr. Bronte looked in; seeing his daughter there, I suppose he thought it was all right, and he retreated to his study on the opposite side of the passage; presently emerging again to bring W---- a country newspaper. This was his last appearance till we went. Miss Bronte spoke with the greatest warmth of Miss Martineau, and of the good she had gained from her. Well! we talked about various things; the character of the people, - about her solitude, etc., till she left the room to help about dinner, I suppose, for she did not return for an age. The old dog had vanished; a fat curly-haired dog honoured us with his company for some time, but finally manifested a wish to get out, so we were left alone. At last she returned, followed by the maid and dinner, which made us all more comfortable; and we had some very pleasant conversation, in the midst of which time passed quicker than we supposed, for at last W---- found that it was half-past three, and we had fourteen or fifteen miles before us. So we hurried off, having obtained from her a promise to pay us a visit in the spring... ------------------- "She cannot see well, and does little beside knitting. The way she weakened her eyesight was this: When she was sixteen or seventeen, she wanted much to draw; and she copied nimini-pimini copper-plate engravings out of annuals, ('stippling,' don't the artists call it?) every little point put in, till at the end of six months she had produced an exquisitely faithful copy of the engraving. She wanted to learn to express her ideas by drawing. After she had tried to draw stories, and not succeeded, she took the better mode of writing; but in so small a hand, that it is almost impossible to decipher what she wrote at this time.

I asked her whether she had ever taken opium, as the description given of its effects in Villette was so exactly like what I had experienced, - vivid and exaggerated presence of objects, of which the outlines were indistinct, or lost in golden mist, etc. She replied, that she had never, to her knowledge, taken a grain of it in any shape, but that she had followed the process she always adopted when she had to describe anything which had not fallen within her own experience; she had thought intently on it for many and many a night before falling to sleep, - wondering what it was like, or how it would be, - till at length, sometimes after the progress of her story had been arrested at this one point for weeks, she wakened up in the morning with all clear before her, as if she had in reality gone through the experience, and then could describe it, word for word, as it had happened. I cannot account for this psychologically; I only am sure that it was so, because she said it. ----------------------She thought much of her duty, and had loftier and clearer notions of it than most people, and held fast to them with more success. It was done, it seems to me, with much more difficulty than people have of stronger nerves, and better fortunes. All her life was but labour and pain; and she never threw down the burden for the sake of present pleasure. I don't know what use you can make of all I have said. I have written it with the strong desire to obtain appreciation for her. Yet, what does it matter? She herself appealed to the world's judgement for her use of some of the faculties she had, - not the best, - but still the only ones she could turn to strangers' benefit. They heartily, greedily enjoyed the fruits of her labours, and then found out she was much to be blamed for possessing such faculties. Why ask for a judgement on her from such a world?" elizabeth gaskell/charlotte bronte

Poem: No coward soul is mine

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the worlds storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heavens glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

O God within my breast.
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life -- that in me has rest,
As I -- Undying Life -- have power in Thee!

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move mens hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast Rock of immortality.

With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.

Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou -- Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.

Emily Bronte

Family tree

The Bronte Family

Grandparents - paternal
Hugh Brunty was born 1755 and died circa 1808. He married Eleanor McClory, known as Alice in 1776.

Grandparents - maternal
Thomas Branwell (born 1746 died 5th April 1808) was married in 1768 to Anne Carne (baptised 27th April 1744 and died 19th December 1809).

Father was Patrick Bronte, the eldest of 10 children born to Hugh Brunty and Eleanor (Alice) McClory. He was born 17th March 1777 and died on 7th June 1861. Mother was Maria Branwell, who was born on 15th April 1783 and died on 15th September 1821.

Maria had a sister, Elizabeth who was known as Aunt Branwell. She was born in 1776 and died on 29th October 1842.

Patrick Bronte married Maria Branwell on 29th December 1812.

The Bronte Children
Patrick and Maria Bronte had six children.
The first child was Maria, who was born in 1814 and died on 6th June 1825.
The second daughter, Elizabeth was born on 8th February 1815 and died shortly after Maria on 15th June 1825. Charlotte was the third daughter, born on 21st April 1816.

Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls (born 1818) on 29th June 1854. Charlotte died on 31st March 1855. Arthur lived until 2nd December 1906.

The first and only son born to Patrick and Maria was Patrick Branwell, who was born on 26th June 1817 and died on 24th September 1848.

Emily Jane, the fourth daughter was born on 30th July 1818 and died on 19th December 1848.

The sixth and last child was Anne, born on 17th January 1820 who died on 28th May 1849.

Top Withens in the snow.

Top Withens in the snow.



Related Posts with Thumbnails