Cholera, Chloroform, and the Science of Medicine: A Life of John Snow

By Peter Vinten-Johansen; Howard Brody et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 11
Broad Street

Monday, 28 August 1854

SARAH LEWIS'S FIVE-MONTH-OLD DAUGHTER had never been very healthy, nor had Mrs. Lewis herself, for that matter. Unable to suckle the child, she had to feed her from the bottle on boiled ground rice and milk. She had fed her son that way several years before, and he had been extremely sickly and had died at ten months. For a while it looked as if the little girl was going to do better, but then she had a bout of diarrhea in June. Dr. William R. Rogers of Berners Street treated her, and she was better after about five days. This morning Mrs. Lewis had to send for Dr. Rogers again. The same diarrhea was back, he said—pale or green, slimy, watery, offensive-smelling stools. Now the baby was also vomiting, unable to keep down food or medicine.1

The Lewis family lived in the back parlor at 40 Broad Street, an attached multistoried house of eleven rooms. They were relatively fortunate; nineteen or twenty people lived in the house, while elsewhere in the district four or five to a room was not uncommon. Even so, the back of the house was near the yard of the public house at 7 Cambridge Street, and the bad smells from the water closet there had been bothersome for a long time.2

A century earlier the streets around Golden Square, St. James's, Westminster, were part of fashionable London, and the houses had originally been erected as single-

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