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Munich As A Pest City by E.

1875

From a time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary, Munich has had the reputation of being an exceptionally unhealthy place. All ancient towns have their legends of desolating plagues, the record of an ignorant defiance of sanitary laws, but such stories are especially numerous in the traditions of Munich, and are connected with circumstances which show that epidemic diseases were formerly extremely frequent and virulent in that City.

The absurd festival of the "Metzger-Sprung" (Butchers' Leap), which takes place annually on the Monday before Ash-Wednesday, when butcher-boys attain to the second grade of their apprenticeship by dressing themselves in long robes trimmed with calves' tails, and springing into the old fountain in the Marien-Platz in the face of an admiring crowd, is held in commemoration of a similar frolic contrived several hundred years ago by lads of the same trade during the prevalence of a horrible epidemic, for the purpose of tempting the frightened citizens out of their gloomy houses into fresh air and merriment, which these sensible youths had concluded to be the best safeguards against disease. The grotesque procession of the "Schäffler-Tanz" (Coopers' Dance), which occurs once in every seven years, just before the Carnival, has a similar origin. One of the favorite myths of Munich is that of an enormous dragon which lived in the ground beneath the city and poisoned all the wells with his venomous breath, until, being at last lured to the surface by seeing his reflection in a mirror held above a certain spring, a brave knight slew him and saved the people from further destruction. The former imminence of danger from pestilence is shown also in the songs of the night-watchmen, who every hour exhorted to prayer for exemption from the plague, as well as from the terrors of fire, sword and famine.

And this evil fame still clings to Munich, in spite of all that has been done to improve its condition, and of all that has been written to purge it of its contempt. Efforts of the latter kind have indeed been prodigious, increasing with the growing importance of the place as a centre of education in science and art. Local medical authorities issue from time to time ingenious pamphlets on hygienic investigations, with particular application to the suspicion under which their city labors in this regard; the newspapers keep up the whitewashing process with diligence, not forgetting to hold up frequently before their readers the sanitary shortcomings of Vienna and Berlin; nay, the traveler is met at the very threshold of his hotel by a tiny tract containing not only a list of the principal sights, but also a comforting assurance that the climate is not so bad as has been represented, and that by wearing sufficient wrappings and avoiding the ordinary drinking water, strangers may hope to accomplish their visit and escape unharmed. Surely no other city takes such benevolent pains to reassure its inhabitants and instruct and warn its stranger-guests: perhaps it is because deeds have not kept pace with words that assertion and argument have hitherto failed of the desired effect. The protracted, repeated cholera epidemic of 1873-74 may well challenge a close observation of the situation, surroundings and sanitary condition of Munich as a means of ascertaining the causes of this exceptional visitation, as well as of the continual existence of an indigenous disease which, more than almost any other, is dependent upon circumstances within the power of man to control.

Instead, therefore, of constructing the cholera and the typhus out of our "inner consciousness," as certain of the physicians and hygienists of Munich, in true German fashion, appear disposed to do, let us look at some of the facts of the case—facts sufficiently obvious to be perceptible to any person of intelligence, and the nature of which is so well understood as to be accepted at once as bearing closely upon the subject in question.

And first, as to climate. Considering that the cholera, from which Munich suffers more at every visitation than almost any other European city, and typhus, which is always at home within its limits, are not, properly speaking, climatal diseases, it would seem at first sight unnecessary to consider the situation of Munich in this respect. But while the principal object of the present paper is to indicate the causes of the above-mentioned plagues, the fact should not be lost sight of that nearly all known diseases flourish in this unfortunate city, many of them owing to its exceptionally bad climate, while the sudden and extreme changes of temperature which occur in every season of the year have a tendency to aggravate those ills which find their sources in more preventable conditions.

Munich stands upon a high, barren plain, sixteen hundred feet above the level of the sea, exposed to the full power of the sun in summer, brooded over by chilly fogs in spring and autumn, and swept the whole year through by all the storms that accumulate upon the mountains filling the horizon to the south and east. The air is mountain-air, minus the aroma and stimulus of evergreen forests, and plus the miasma of miles of marsh and peat-land and the foulnesses of the city exhalations. It is the thin air of a high elevation, pleasantly bracing to persons so fortunate as to possess nerves of iron and lungs of leather, but extremely irritating to sensitive brains and delicate chests, and too exhausting, after a time, in its demands upon the most abundant vitality. It is the boast of certain physicians in Munich that consumption is rare in that city, but the weekly report of deaths would seem to contradict this assertion. Certain it is that diseases of the throat and lungs are very common, especially during the spring, and that all the rest of the year the whole population suffers more or less from catarrh. Perhaps if there be less of consumption than one would expect to find in such a climate, it is because those who would otherwise be its victims are carried off early by acute inflammation of the implicated organs. "Of course, if these die in the beginning, they cannot die at a later period," as a recent medical writer has wisely and wittily pointed out to certain amateur statisticians who would fain reduce the mortality of Munich by leaving out of view the immense percentage of infant deaths.

The evil effects of the harsh air are increased by the clouds of dust which the wind is continually raising in the broad graveled streets—dust the more irritating to eyes, nose and lungs because largely composed of lime, and which dries with marvelous rapidity after the frequent heavy showers and protracted rains for which this region is also remarkable. It is the last resort of the citizens of Munich, when driven out of every other defence of their climate, to say, "But it is a good climate for the nerves." One would like to know for what nerves and whose nerves, since strangers who reside here for any length of time generally find that any constitutional tendency to ailments in which the nerves are principally involved is increased, instead of lessened; and among the natives themselves brain diseases, strokes of all kinds, fits and cramps, are frequent and fatal, while the enemy which they fear the most, and which presses them the hardest, is known by them as "nervous fever," The air is too stimulating for any but the most robust constitutions; and the sudden blasts of fierce wind that continually interrupt the enjoyment of even the few days of otherwise pleasant weather, and the intolerable glare of the sun upon the dusty streets and squares and monotonous rows, of light-colored houses, unrelieved, for the most part, by trees or vines or any green thing, are perpetual irritants which must react unfavorably upon the general health. Indeed, one begins at last to find in the harshness of the climate some explanation, if not excuse, for the roughness of disposition and manner which have made the people of Munich a proverb among their countrymen and a terror to foreign residents.

Another cause of the unhealthiness of Munich is the nature of the soil. The ground upon which the city is built, as also the land for a considerable distance round about, was formerly the bed of a lake, and consists of a loose gravel to the depth of many feet, there being scarcely enough earth upon the top to furnish subsistence for the commonest grass and weeds, while trees, esculent vegetables and flowers can only be raised by preparing a new soil, which must be continually enriched by artificial means. A proverb says, "Scratch a Russian and the Tartar shows through;" so one has only to stir the soil of Munich to find just below the surface the coarse gravel, defying cultivation. Of course, all the fluid matter deposited upon the surface that does not exhale in the atmosphere percolates through this loose stratum until it reaches the rock, where it stagnates and corrupts, returning into the air in the form of poisonous gases, instead of undergoing the healthy transformation which is effected in all soils capable of sustaining vegetable life. If the fluid thus held in solution were only the rain from heaven, the result would not be so disastrous; but, unfortunately, there is scarcely any kind of filth that is not allowed to contribute constantly to the subterranean supply of moisture. It has been estimated that of the seventy-five thousand tons of refuse matter which Munich furnishes within a year, scarcely one-third is carried out of the city: the rest is suffered to go into the ground upon the spot. Nor can that third which is gathered up be considered as taken out of harm's way, since all of it that can be regarded as manure is spread at once upon the neighboring fields, whence it sends back its stenches upon every wind that blows.

The people of Munich, according to one of their most famous chroniclers, have always been noted for their piety ("Fromm waren die Münchner zu jeder Zeit"), but they have never been celebrated for that virtue of cleanliness which is said to be akin to godliness: indeed, they are known amongst other Bavarians as die dreckigen Münchner ("the filthy Munichers"); and certain it is that their city is far behind the times in all sanitary matters. The introduction of sewers is a very recent improvement. It will scarcely be believed that many of the broad, showy streets which came into existence under the patronage of Ludwig I. were laid out and built up without any reference to this first necessity of all thoroughfares. Even the Theresien Strasse has not long rejoiced in a "canal;" and the sewer was laid in that finest part of the Gabelsberger Strasse which runs past the Pinakothek and the Polytechnic School as late as the summer of 1873, while the upper end of the same street, which is notoriously unhealthy, is still unpaved and undrained. The Munich sewers, however, are not so great a boon as one might suppose: indeed, they may be considered as mere receptacles and condensers of the evil substances and odors that would be promiscuously diffused. Owing to a want of knowledge or of skill in their construction there is not sufficient fall to carry away their contents, nor is there any system of flushing to drive out the sediment and cleanse the pipes. Consequently, there is a horrible odor ascending at all times from the open gratings, and frequently the pipes become choked, so as to necessitate the uncovering of the receptacle at a junction, and the taking out and carting away of the hideous slime—an operation which, of course, adds temporary intensity to the usual stench.

Another source of polluted air is the cellars of a great proportion of the houses. Of course the families living in the several flats of each building are all dependent upon one cellar, which is divided off into compartments according to the number of stories in the house. These compartments, however, are in many instances separated from each other by a mere partition of laths or rough boards, so that any want of cleanliness on the part of an individual house-keeper is sure to disturb all her neighbors. Owing to the custom of allowing small shops to be kept in the ground-floor of dwelling-houses there is apt to be a mingling of articles for storage in the cellar such as is neither agreeable nor wholesome. Thus, for instance, a dairywoman will fill the shelves of her compartment with pans of milk: her next neighbor is perhaps a small dealer in wood, coal and turf, and raises a dust accordingly; the greengrocer opposite makes the air damp and bitter with his heaps of neglected vegetables; while the butcher not only has a right to hang up his newly-slaughtered animals and chop his sausage-meat inside of his particular compartment, but may allow a living pig or calf, whose death-hour has not yet arrived, to roam up and down the dark passages, to the increase of the general dirt and discomfort. In this connection it may be well to enter a protest against the Munich regulation, or absence of regulation, which allows every butcher to slaughter pigs, calves and sheep upon his own premises. To say nothing of the shocking sights and sounds which are thereby forced upon the attention of the dwellers in the neighborhood of such shops, it is impossible, considering the defective drainage and insufficient water supply, that the practice should not be of serious injury to the public health. There are also many cellars which are rented out entirely to fruiterers and green-grocers not living in the buildings as a place to store their goods for the winter. In such cases the cellars are apt to remain in a filthy condition, and the smells that pour from the windows are at once a nuisance to passers-by and a source of danger to the inhabitants of the houses. But it is not only the living inhabitants of Munich that are corrupting the heavens above, the earth beneath and the waters under the earth: the dead in their graves are busy at the same work. It is a pity that all thinking persons who still object to the practice of cremation as unnecessary and impious could not be compelled to take up their residence for a while in the neighborhood of the two great cemeteries of Munich: they would not be long in crying out for the adoption of purifying flames and the innoxious columbarium.

The Old (or Southern) Cemetery at the time of its first enclosure was a short distance outside of the city, though not so far as it ought to have been; but by degrees the streets have been extended to its very walls, and property-owners build without hesitation handsome dwelling houses whose windows look directly down upon that field of corruption, piously denominated "God's Acre." The New Cemetery, on the north side of the town, has been in use only five or six years, and was from the beginning but a block or two removed from the nearest houses. The air in the vicinity of the Old Cemetery is so laden with the smell of death that even the natives are aware of it, while strangers generally avoid a second visit. It is a rule that every seven years a portion of the ground occupied by rented graves shall be dug over for new tenants, the partially decayed remains found therein being brought together and buried again in an indiscriminate heap. This method is about as bad as it could be, but the graves that are left undisturbed are not much less harmful to the living. These can be leased for a period of seventy years, the lease to be renewed if desired, but never for a longer term than seventy years without renewal. Whole generations of families are thus buried together, each grave being dug deep enough to hold several coffins one above another, the last one coming to within a few feet of the surface. Now, when one considers the nature of the soil, the closeness of the cemetery to the abodes of the living, the frequency with which the earth is turned over, and the great number of corpses which in a city of the size of Munich must be interred every year, an idea can be formed of the disagreeableness and unhealthiness of the cemeteries. Moreover, bodies are not brought there to be buried at once, but are placed within twelve hours after death in the dead-house, where they are allowed to remain forty-eight hours before burial. This provision, which is in force in most of the cities of Germany, is a wise one in view of the number of families inhabiting a single house: it would seem also to offer additional securities against the horrible fate of being buried alive, though the time allowed is not sufficient to ensure certainty in suspicious cases, and is apt to be infringed upon in seasons of epidemic. But, be that as it may, the continual presence of scores of corpses lying in open coffins, and separated only by glass doors from the hundreds of spectators who come daily to gaze upon the ghastly sight, cannot be otherwise than injurious to the general health. Also, the practice of the citizens using the cemeteries as a favorite promenade, and of spending hours in wandering amongst the graves, is highly pernicious: it would seem as though the people of Munich had fed upon stenches so long that they could not be satisfied with the ordinary smells of the houses and streets, but must seek the fountain-head of corruption to still their morbid craving for the odors of decay. During the height of the cholera epidemic of the winter of 1873-74 an article appeared in one of the newspapers, written by a citizen who signed himself "A Constant Visitor of the Dead-houses;" and the article was answered by an opponent who signed himself "Another Constant Visitor of the Dead-houses;" as though no more worthy occupation could be imagined than this of prowling like ghouls among the victims of the pestilence!

It is now time to speak of another principal cause of the unhealthiness of Munich, perhaps the most important one of all—the water. As before stated, Munich is situated on what was formerly the bed of a lake: the ground, therefore, is full of springs, and from these the water-supply of the inhabitants has always been obtained. There is a well in the court of almost every house, in close proximity to the vault, the refuse-pit and the drain, and well impregnated also, doubtless, with that bugbear of Munich hygienists, "the ground-water." The most ignorant citizen knows that the well-water is not fit to drink, and avoids it as a beverage; still, its use necessarily enters largely into all domestic arrangements. Children are frequently thirsty, and cannot be kept from the pumps and fountains; the poor are not able to afford a constant supply of beer (and, for that matter, the beer itself is made with the same material); it is used in cooking and for washing and bathing; and though its impurities are lessened through boiling, it is so corrupt that nothing short of complete distillation could make it wholesome for either outward or inward application. Strangers are warned against drinking it, and in numerous instances among the citizens bowel complaints and typhus have been traced directly to its poison. It is true that a small portion of the inhabitants are more favored in respect to their water-supply. Within a few years the water of two springs rising a little way out of the city, at Brunnthal and Thalkirchen, has been introduced into a few streets and houses, and, though by no means pure, it is vastly better than that of the wells. But the whole yield from these sources is not sufficient for more than a third of the inhabitants; and the Thalkirchner water has recently been corrupted by the breaking in of the Isar, in consequence of an attempt to enlarge the spring.

But besides the unfavorable nature of the climate and soil of Munich—which cannot be helped—and the shameful condition of its sewerage and water-supply—for which the city government is mainly responsible—there are many accessory causes of disease to be found in the habits and customs of the people. The open-air gatherings of the Germans are, in many respects, a pleasant-and praiseworthy trait of their social life, but the practice needs to be held in judicious restraint to make it safe for the citizens of Munich. The changes of temperature in that region are so frequent and so severe, and the atmosphere at night is so heavily charged with moisture and malaria, that the mere tarrying late in public gardens is dangerous; but when to this source of danger are added the imbibing of copious draughts of ice-cold beer and the eating of suppers of heavy food, such as sausages, roast pork, radishes, etc., it is easy to see how a sudden check of perspiration might react upon a gorged stomach and produce the fevers and inflammation which abound.

Attention has been called to the peculiar soil of Munich as a disadvantageous characteristic of the locality. There is, however, a strip of land following the course of the Isar and bordering the city on the north-eastern side, which is an exception to the general barrenness, it having been gradually formed out of the soil and vegetation brought down the river from more fruitful regions during periods of inundation. It is a low, marshy, heavily-timbered tract, which has been partially drained and laid out as a public park, the so-called English Garden—spot beloved of the people for its welcome shades, where artificial waterfalls, from the "Isar rolling rapidly," add chill to the natural dampness; where unwilling streamlets creep slowly through tortuous channels toward a stagnant pond, and pestiferous miasma, rising like incense at the going down of the sun, broods over the meadows until his rising again. It was in one of the streets bordering this park that the cholera broke out in 1873, and there too, Kaulbach, one of its last victims, had his home. So notorious is the spot as a breeding-place of typhus that it is generally abandoned at sunset; but the same crowd that hurry out of its dripping shades at twilight return in the early summer mornings before the dew has dried on the grass or the poisonous damps have exhaled from the glens and thickets.

So long as the sun is in the sky it is fine weather to a Municher, no matter what wind may blow or what evil the earth may be bringing forth. Thus, on Christmas Day of 1873, when the weather, though unusually mild for the season, was still windy and chilly, and utterly unfit for any open-air enjoyment other than a brisk walk, every beer-garden in the city was filled with an eating and drinking multitude; and this, too, when a cold was especially to be deprecated, as the cholera was increasing every hour. And so on all Sundays and feast-days and fast-days and fairs there is a general pouring out of the population into places of amusement near and remote, no matter what may be the state of the weather or what the condition of the public health.

But, though the people of Munich are extremely fond of staying out of doors, they are by no means lovers of fresh air in their houses. With the dread of fever always before their eyes, they make all close when they go to bed, forgetting that "the only air at night is night air;" and, hardened by habit, they spend long winter evenings in concert-rooms and tavern beer-halls, made stifling with tobacco smoke and foul with accumulated breaths; while at home, especially among the poorer classes, the air is purposely unchanged in order to economize heat. Even the Odeon Music-Hail, the place where aristocratic concerts are given, is so badly constructed with respect to ventilation that when crowded, as it generally is, women frequently faint away, while many persons avoid going there entirely through dread of the discomfort and fear of its effects. So, too, the theatres show a shameful negligence of the health and comfort of the audiences as to this particular, the Royal Theatre especially becoming almost a "Black Hole of Calcutta" by the end of a six hours' Wagner opera. The close air of the crowded lecture-rooms of the Polytechnic School is a source of positive injury to the students, and the same may be said of the halls appropriated to pupils in the Academy of Art.

With respect to bathing, there is no danger of the people of Munich being mistaken for an amphibious race. The tiny bowls and pitchers that furnish an ordinary German washstand, and the absence of slop-pail and foot-bath, are sufficient proof that only partial ablutions are expected to be performed in the bed-chamber; while the lack of a bath-room in even genteel houses, and the smallness and rarity of bathing establishments, show that the practice is by no means frequent or general among the better classes. The fiercest radical who should find himself for a time in the midst of a crowd of the populace would scarcely hesitate (supposing him to be possessed of delicate olfactories) to bestow upon them the epithet of "The Great Unwashed." Indeed, it would be hardly reasonable to expect that people should indulge often in a full bath at home in a city where the water must be drawn from wells, and carried up long flights of stairs in pitchers and pails by women and children.

The notions of the lower classes with regard to dress have doubtless a good deal to do with their health. The same notions prevail in most parts of Germany, but are especially hurtful in a climate so severe and variable as that of Munich. Thus, it is considered improper for a servant-girl to wear a hat or a bonnet in the street when she is about the business of her calling. On Sundays and holidays, indeed, or when she has an outing in the afternoon, she may adorn herself with such an appendage; but to go to market or to the grocer's with her head covered would be a piece of presumption which would at once expose her to ridicule from all the members of her class. Hence, all day and every day women and girls may be seen in the streets without any covering on the head, though, by way of compensation, most of them are obliged to go about a good share of the time with their faces bound up on account of swelled jaws and tonsils, the natural result of such unnatural exposure. Occasionally, in the coldest weather some few, more prudent than the others, wear a hood or a small shawl over the head, but these cases are rare, and excepting in the depth of winter such a precaution is not thought of, although the gusty, chilly weather of spring and autumn and the frequent cold blasts that occur in summer are quite as dangerous, if not prepared for, as are the winter storms. As a general thing, a servant goes out on errands in precisely the same clothes that she wears in the kitchen, and paddles about in rain and snow in the thin, low house-shoes which, on account of their cheapness, are the favorite foot-gear of the ordinary Munich women.

Children, too, are sent to school in the same unprotected manner: one may meet them any day trooping through the streets, their bare heads shining in the sun or glistening in the rain, according as the fickle sky may smile or weep; and babies are drawn about in the open air, two, and sometimes three of them, crowded into a small carriage and sweltering under a feather bed which covers them to their chins, and yet with their bald pates exposed to all the winds that blow. The ignorant recklessness with which the changes of temperature are met is well exemplified in the attire of little girls and young maidens who participate in the religious processions which take place so frequently in Munich, especially during the spring and early summer. On such occasions, although the weather may be so chilly that the bystanders are wrapped up to their eyes in shawls and cloaks, these young creatures appear clad in thin white muslin dresses, with necks and arms bare, and with no covering upon the head more substantial than a wreath of flowers or a gauze veil: and in this condition they march through the wet and windy streets, and settle down finally to a prolonged service in a church as cold and damp as a cellar.

Another source of harm is the ordinary diet of the citizens. There is probably no large city of the Old World where the lower classes are able to obtain so much substantial food as in Munich. Indeed, there is, properly speaking, no abject poverty in that city, although the population, as a whole, possesses less wealth than is usually found in capitals; one reason of this being the fact that many families who are rich enough to choose their place of residence avoid Munich on account of its notorious sickliness, while their places are filled by tradesmen and artisans of all kinds, who must make a living at whatever risk of life. But, at any rate, no one dies there of starvation, and the great majority of the citizens are able to have meat for dinner every day. Unfortunately, veal—and very young veal at that—is the favorite dish of all classes, so that the benefit derived from animal juices is not so great as it might be. During the recent Franco-German war it was remarked that the Bavarian soldiers were able neither to resist nor to endure so well as the troops of North Germany; and by many this difference was ascribed to the habitual use by the former of veal as the chief article of diet. There is no doubt, too, that the immoderate drinking of beer tends to weaken instead of strengthen the inhabitants, especially as so many of them drink when they ought to eat, even beginning a day's work by chilling their stomachs with this cold beverage, and necessitating thereby a supplementary draught of "schnapps," thus creating excitement instead of nourishment, and superinducing a second bad habit upon a first. Pure Bavarian beer, taken in moderation, would be an excellent thing, for its stimulating and nutritive properties are a good counterpoise to the exhausting effects of the harsh climate; but, alas! this renowned specialty of Munich is losing its ancient fame: the beer is no longer under governmental inspection, and bitter is the general complaint against the brewers on account of its alleged adulteration through the use of foreign drugs and poisonous indigenous plants, to say nothing of its dilution by the retailers with Munich water, itself a poison sufficiently strong. For the rest, the amount of pork and sausages consumed is enormous: the favorite vegetable is the indigestible sauerkraut, and the bread in general use is uniformly bad. Nor can tobacco be considered as otherwise than an article of diet, since the men and boys are hardly ever seen without a pipe or cigar in their mouths, while the women and girls spend the greater part of their lives in an atmosphere blue and heavy with tobacco smoke.

Having now given many reasons why the citizens of Munich ought to be sick, it is time to see to what degree effects correspond to causes in the sanitary condition of the city. Munich is known all over the world as a nest for typhus fever; nor will it soon be forgotten that within a year it has suffered from two distinct outbreaks of cholera, besides being the only city in Europe where that epidemic continued to rage during the winter. The population is estimated at one hundred and eighty-eight thousand, but this number is generally considered as greater than the truth. Statistics show that between two and three thousand sicken annually of typhus, and that of these between two and three hundred die. Some idea of the special tendency to this disease may be obtained by comparing the statistics of Munich with those of Berlin, which is also an unfavorably situated and very unhealthy city. In Berlin, the regiment most exposed to fever loses annually three men: in Munich, the first regiment of artillery loses annually thirteen men. In Berlin, of the whole body of the soldiery—over eighteen thousand men—sixteen men die annually of typhus; in Munich, where the number of the soldiers is only twelve thousand, fifty men die annually of typhus. The disease, too, has been on the increase for the last three years. In 1872 four hundred and seven persons died of it, and during the first four months of 1873 one hundred and twenty-two died. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that many persons visiting Munich contract the fever there, but return home to sicken with it, and that this number has greatly increased since the recent facilities for travel have been extended in all directions from the capital. If all these cases were to be added to the list of victims—and they properly belong to it—the number would be appalling indeed. Even that small body, the Bavarian Parliament, loses one or more of its members every year from the same disease and yet these men are more favorably situated than almost any others as regards protective circumstances. So patent is the danger, and so many are the instances of disease contracted during a short stay in the capital and carried away to spread contagion in remote places, that frequently persons chosen to honorable and lucrative official positions refuse to accept because, in order to hold such situations, they must reside temporarily or entirely in Munich. Finally, the general unhealthiness of Munich cannot be questioned, since statistics show that nearly fifty per cent, of the children born there die in infancy, and that the death-rate for the whole population is nearly forty in a thousand.

But is there no help for this state of things? The foregoing account of the principal causes of disease suggests naturally the means of at least partial cure for the accumulated evils under which the benighted city is suffering. It is true that the climate must always be unfavorable to persons of a certain constitution, but its bracing air is a tonic to those who are able to bear it, and its fierce winds serve to sweep away many an impurity. It is true, also, that the soil must always be in some degree a manufactory of injurious effluvia, and that the vicinity of that long strip of marshy bottom known as the English Garden must continue to be a source of mischief; but if the dead had never been buried in the neighborhood of the town, and if the excreta of the living had not from the beginning until how been allowed to corrupt the air and the water, the occasional prevalence of vegetable miasma would give comparatively little trouble. In fact, the extreme backwardness of the people with regard to knowledge of, and obedience to, the simplest sanitary laws is a great aggravation of both their necessary and unnecessary ills. During the recent cholera epidemic the physicians complained that all rational means of abating the plague were continually thwarted by the ignorance and obstinacy of the lower classes. Very few families kept remedies in their houses, and yet in many cases medical aid was not applied for, lest the regulations concerning the disinfection of furniture and the burning of bedding, and other clothing should be enforced. There was the greatest dissatisfaction with the prohibition against the holding of public balls and other amusements wherein health would be particularly exposed; and the foolish citizens crowded all the more into the unventilated, tobacco-poisoned beer-cellars and concert-halls, and persisted in supping on heavy food and cold beer in the open air, as though on purpose to spite the over-anxious magistrates and doctors. Nor was the stupidity confined entirely to the lower classes. People who ought to have known better defied the cholera in excess of rioting, while those of another turn of mind gave way to superstitious fears, and as soon as they felt the first symptoms of the disease fled to the cold, damp churches and wasted in prayer upon their knees the few precious hours which, spent in a warm bed and under the influence of proper remedies, might have ensured them the salvation of at least their temporal life.

To go still higher. Although Munich had warning of the approach of the epidemic months before it broke out, no sufficient means were adopted by the authorities to fortify the city against its attack. All summer long the street-drains sent up their concentrated stenches and the undrained streets spread far and wide their promiscuous abominations. The general daily disinfection ordered by the city government was never thoroughly enforcedly the police, and as often as a lull occurred in the virulence of the pestilence it was almost totally neglected by the citizens. When the plague ceased for a few days in the autumn, the chief medical authorities announced that it was at an end; and when it broke out again, these wise ones comforted the public by assuring them that it was only a "Nach-epidemie"—an after epidemic—that is, a final effort of the mysterious poison, like the last flashing up of an expiring flame. And yet this "after epidemic" lasted more than five months, and was more virulent in its workings than had been the three months' visitation in the previous summer! The official reports and scientific discussions of the subject were unsatisfactory to the last degree. The principal object seemed to be, not to cleanse Munich and get rid of the pestilence, but to substantiate the proposition that the variations in the sanitary condition of the city are intimately connected with the rising and falling of the ground-water (grund-wasser)—a theory which, whether true or not, is of small practical value under existing circumstances, since the ground-water, so far as quality is concerned, is entirely beyond human control, while the drinking-water and the sewers are capable of improvement.

It is but justice to say that a few physicians—who, having recently come to Munich, are properly impressed with its sanitary deficiencies, and one, at least, who, long a resident, has a thorough knowledge of what is wanted, and sufficient common sense and courage to speak out—do not hesitate to declare that the bad water and bad drainage of that city are the principal causes of its everlasting typhus and its frequent epidemics. But these men are in bad odor with their colleagues, and are denounced on all sides as enemies of the fair fame and prosperity of Munich. Certain physicians of high standing there laugh at the fuss made about the water, and tell their patients, even foreigners, to drink all the water they want; while it may be doubted whether any, excepting the few referred to above, have any adequate idea of the injury constantly accruing from the unwashed drains and the crowded cemeteries.

And Munich will be visited with a succession of "after epidemics," and physicians will continue to talk nonsense and make blunders and be at their wits' end, so long as they persist in ignoring the true causes of these plagues and in delaying to apply the only remedy. Water is what Munich needs—pure water for the people to drink and to cook with; plenty of water for them to bathe in; water to wash out the vaults and drains; water for a daily flushing of the sewers. As long ago as 1822 a competent authority pointed out an inexhaustible source from which water might be obtained, with a fall sufficient to obviate the necessity of any hydraulic works for its elevation. There is in the Bavarian Mountains, not far away, a lake of remarkably pure water, situated at such a height that the level would be above the loftiest houses in Munich. The estimated cost of bringing the water into the city is only five millions of gulden (about two millions of dollars). It seems surprising that with this excellent opportunity at hand there should be any hesitation about accepting it. And yet, after having been possessed of the knowledge for more than fifty years, there was only one vote in favor of the enterprise when the subject was discussed in a meeting of the municipal and medical authorities a short time ago. The proverbial thriftiness of the German is apt to degenerate into stinginess when the object to be attained is of general rather than individual benefit; and though Munich claims a high place as an art-centre, it would take a long time to convince its citizens that three hundred millions of kreuzers are but as dust in the balance when weighed against the value to the world of Kaulbach.

One step, however, has been gained. The urgent need of an abundant supply of good water, which is so patent a fact to all strangers visiting Munich, is beginning to dawn upon the intelligence of the community. The connection between cause and effect was so evident during the cholera epidemic of last year that even Ignorance recognized the Law, while Superstition dared only whisper of "judgments," and refrained from attempting to propitiate the destroying angel by religious mummeries until it was certain that his wrath was nearly spent. But it is to be feared that, taking counsel of penuriousness, an attempt will be made to utilize certain sources which have recently been discovered near the city, and which are not only insufficient, but impure, instead of bringing, once for all, a full supply for every purpose from the neighboring mountain lake.

The dragon that haunted the soil of Munich in the old days is still poisoning the springs and the atmosphere with his pestilent breath, nor can he be tempted forth to his destruction until he shall see his reflection mirrored in fountains of pure water.