Version classiqueVersion mobile

Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

Christian Auer

Living Conditions

66. The Epidemic of Cholera, 1848-1849

Texte intégral

1See introductions to texts 63 and 65.

2Adams James Maxwell, Observations on the Epidemic Cholera of 1848-1849, Chiefly as it Prevailed in the 13th Medical District of the City Parish, Glasgow, Edinburgh: Sutherland and Knox, 1849, p. 3-4.

During the late epidemic of cholera in the City parish, Glasgow, I had favourable opportunities of observing the disease, having had the charge of one of the seventeen medical districts, into which the parish is divided. The following observations refer chiefly to the disease as it appeared in that district; but include, also, the results of cases treated in private practice, and which occurred in various localities throughout the city.


  • 18 The entry to a tenement house, the open passage-way giving access to the common stairs and the flo (...)
  • 19 A narrow street or alley.

The condition of the great mass of the inhabitant, and the general sanitary state of this portion of the district, are probably as bad as can well be conceived. The locality consists chiefly of five or six narrow streets, and about a dozen of the dirty “closes”18 or “wynds”19 for which Glasgow has acquired a discreditable notoriety. There are very few sewers, or gratings which conduct to sewers, and the greatest amount of drainage consequently takes place on the surface. The receptacles for filth consist of large open dungsteads placed either in the centre of the closes, or of the lower flats of inhabited tenements, with an open window through which the refuse is cast, and in these places of deposit, the filth accumulates till it is in such quantity as to necessitate the removal of a portion from want of space for further deposit. The cases are exceptional in which regular arrangements are made for this purpose, and in all they are miserably inefficient. Thus, in three of the worst closes of the district, I occasionally observe a frail old pauper paddling about the principal dungstead with a broom or shovel, and the entire sanitary operations of these localities are due to his solitary exertions, in return for which, he receives the shelter, rent free, of a wretched cellar in the neighbourhood.

The supply of the water is very scanty; a single pipe or fountain is made to suffice for one or more of these closes, and the trouble of going such a distance as is required in order to procure a supply, seems to be sufficient excuse for the people to limit the use of this essential element to the narrowest limit compatible with necessity.

The houses are of a wretched character, excessively over-crowded and filthy. They generally consist of one apartment, but occasionally of two, of from eight to twelve feet square, seldom containing less than four, and very commonly as many as twelve, inmates for each apartment. A great portion of the population is migratory, and only lodge with the party who rents the premises, paying a small pittance nightly or weekly. Beds are rarely seen–the inmates lying on the floor, often without doffing the clothes worn during the day.


18 The entry to a tenement house, the open passage-way giving access to the common stairs and the floors above.

19 A narrow street or alley.

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2013

Conditions d’utilisation :

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search