chapter  7
CLEANING
Pages 17

Lord Palmerston struck a deep chord when he defined "dirt" as "the right thing in the wrong place." Disorder was clearly what concerned the framers of the Michael Angelo Taylor's Act of 1817; they forbade the dumping into the street of "Slop, Mud, Dirt, Dust, Rubbish, Ashes, Filth" or "Offal, Dung, Soil, Blood," and warned carters not to cast out "any Soap Lees, Night Soil, Ammoniacal Liquor" while hauling their loads.' Thirty years later another current of street reform began to run strongly, directing attention to the street as a major source of contagion. To a large extent this alteration in direction was a result of the sanitary movement which began after the 1832 visitation of cholera, then gathered momentum with the typhus epidemic of 1837-8, to become a major political force when it became obvious by 1846 that another cholera attack, the one that finally arrived in 1848, was on its way. A less dramatic reason for concern about dirty streets was the accumulation from the 1830s onward of muck, as the number of vehicles and horses greatly multiplied. Early Victorian Londoners grew to fear dirt at the same time that they and the animals they used were producing it in ever larger quantities. As F.M.L. Thompson has observed, "the horse struck her blow at the quality of urban life long before the waste products of modern technology began to cause trouble.'?