HomeThe house famine and how to relieve itPagina 4

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4
Many of the cottages have floors (of the old earthen kind) several
` inches below the level of the threshold. Living-rooms are frequently
less than live feet nine in height, and a great many of the bedrooms
are only in the nature of lofts, the floors beginning above the level
of the eaves, and having the sloping roof for walls. I went into a
number of cottage bedrooms where it was only possible for me to
_ stand upright just beneath the line where the two roofs converged.
The ventilation was a little overwhelming. It appears to have _
"growed," like Topsy. It is found indifferently between the boards
of the floors, somewhat broad chinks in the roofs, and still more at
moments when a high wind has overcome the resisting power of the
paper "panes."
It is not only that the cottages are in a horrible state of decay and ·
disrepair. That is bad enough in all conscience. But even worse is
the appalling manner in which they are so often overcrowded. Some
of the facts that I gleaned were positively revolting in themselves, and
Q much worse in their obvious suggestion of inevitable social and moral
i results. Insanitation and overcrowding and promiscuous occupation
of the same bedroom stand, as a great contributory cause, at the
beginning. Idiotcy and immorlity, in most repulsive forms, stand at
_ _ the end, as the fruit and penalty. A word to the wise is suflicient.
Let me give you some of the individual cases of overcrowding
which came to my notice, and which I veriiied for myself. In one
part of Wiltshire alone, during my necessarily brief enquiry, I came
{ across fifteen instances where more than five people are occupying
one small bedroom, ten cases where morethan six, eight more than
. seven, six more than eight, three more than nine, two more than
; ­ ten, and one where eleven people-mother, father, and nine children, '
g eldest a girl of fifteen-are sleeping in a single bedroom. .
. In a single district of Somersetshire, in one day, I was shown half
_ a dozen cottages with two little bedrooms, accommodating a couple
of lodgers-single laborers as a rule-in addition to the members of
. the family. In No. 1 the family consisted of husband and wife and
four children, the eldest or whom was a girl of fourteen. No. 2 was
i husband, wife, mother, and three children. No. 3, was husband, wife,
l sister (grown up), and three children. No. 4 was husband, wife, and
‘ five children­eldest a lad of twelve. No. 5 was husband, wife, and
· three children, eldest a girl of sixteen, mentally deiicient. N 0. 6 was
husband, wife, and two children-eldest a girl of eleven.
A number of the cottages contain two families.
A few of the cottages occupied by the better­to­do laborers A
boasted three bedrooms. `
This is regarded as a marvel for much comment among the
laborers. Probably a majority of the cottages I saw had two bed-
rooms. There are, however, a very great number with only a single p
I bedroom. j
*4 g In most cases, the cottages in the villages and hamlets struck me Q
as being situated in fairly healthy spots. But in a number of cases I
y . a snug corner appeared to have been selected at the expense of ,
I sanitation. Thus, in three or four cases, I found that from the road l
I .1