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W A A 

Entered according to Act of Congress, In the year 1868, by 


In the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern 
District of New York. 

Hakeii & Godwin, Prihtkbs. 
No. 1 Spruce St., N. Y. 

hi offering this pamphlet to the public, it is not neces- 
sary to accompany it by a word of explanation or apology. 

It is sufficiently understood, by all who have given the 
least thought to the subject, that the waste of the most vital 
elements of the soil's fertility, through our present practice 
of treating human excrement as a thing that is to be hurried 
into the sea, or buried in underground vaults, or in some 
other way put out of sight and out of reach, is full of dan- 
ger to our future prosperity. 

Our bodies have come out of our fertile fields ; our 
prosperity is based on the production and the exchange of 
the earth's fruits; and all our industry has i!s foundation 
in arts and interests connected with or dependent on a suc- 
cessful agriculture. 

Liebig asserts that (he greatness of Ihc Roman Empire 
was sapped by the Cloaca Maxima, through which the entire 
sewage of Rome was washed into the Tiber. The yearly 
decrease of productive power in the older grain regions of 
the West, and the increasing demand for manures in the 
Atlantic States, sufficiently prove that our own country is 
no exception to the rule that has established its sway over 

The large class who will fail to feel the force of the agri- 
cultural reasons in favor of the reform which this pamphlet 
is written to uphold, will realize, more clearly than farmers 
will, the impor'ancc of protecting dwellings against the 
gravest annoyance, the most fertile source of disease, and 
the most certain vehicle of contagion. 


Supported as they are, then, by the most imperative 
agricultural and sanitary considerations, it is hoped that the 
arguments of the following pages will commend themselves 
to the approval of all, in both town and country, who have 
the well-being of society at heart. 

Ogden Farm, Newport, R. I., 
September, 1868. 


The Earth-Closet is the invention of the Rev. Henry 
Moule, of Fording; on Vicarage, Dorsetshire, England. 

It is based on the power of clay and tho decomposed or- 
ganic matter found in the coil lo absorb and retain all 
offensive odors and all fertilizing matters ; and it consists, 
essentially, of a m; chanical contrivance, (attached to the 
ordinary scat,) for measuring out and discharging into the 
vault or pan below a sufficient quantity of sifted dry earth 
to entirely cover the solid ordure and to absorb the urine. 

The discharge of earth is effected by an ordinary pull- 
up similar to that used in the wa: cr-closct, or, (in the self- 
acting apparatus,) by the rising of the scat when the weight 
of the person is removed. 

The vault or pan, under the seat, is so arranged that 
the accumulation may be removed at pleasure. 

From the moment when the earth is discharged, and 
the evacuation is covered, all offensive exhalation entirely 
ceases. Under certain circumstances, there may be, a-t 
times, a slight odor aa of guano mixed with earth, but this 
is so trilling and so local, that a Commode arranged on thi3 
plan may, without the least annoyance, be kept in use 
in any room. 



This statement I make as the result of my own experi- 
ence. I have in constant use in a room in my house an 
Earth-Closet Commode, and even when the pan is entirely 
full, with the accumulation of a week's use, visitors examin- 
ing it invariably say, with some surprise, "You don't mean 
that this particular one has been used ! " 

At this point, the writing of this was interrupted for 
some weeks by the outbreak of typhoid fever in my family : 
every person sleeping on the second floor of the house being 
attacked with the symptoms of the fever, which happily was 
arrested, except in the case of one of my children, who has 
been very ill with a pronounced type of the disease. 

My house stands on one of the healthiest sites of this 
healthiest of all towns, and there is nothing in the soil or in 
the neighborhood to which any malarious influence can be 
ascribed; but, standing within ten feet of the house, on the 
side from which the wind usually blows, there was a common 
deep-vault privy, which had been also a receptacle for the 
slops of the house. On consultation with other members of 
the family, the fact was recalled, that on two successive even- 
ings a peculiarly offensive and unusual odor had filled the 
whole lower part of the house. I immediately caused the 
vault to be cleaned out and filled up with earth, and its con- 
tents to be composted with earth, the whole vicinity being 
covered with air-slaked lime. 

Attending this disinfection there has been a rapid conva- 
lescence on the part of the whole household — equal to the 
effect of a removal to the mountains. I have no question 
that the putrefying contents of this vault were the direct 
cause of the disease, and that the removal of the cause led 
to our speedy recovery. 



Having received a Commode from the Earth-Closet Com- 
pany, in London, I placed it in a small room between two 
rooms in which fever patients were lying, and it has been 
the greatest possible comfort to both patients and nurses. 
There has been absolutely no annoyance, and the attending 
physician has been enthusiastic in its praise. 

The experience has been a sad one, it is true, but nothing 
could have so thoroughly convinced me as this has of the 
inestimable value of the invention, and given so much zeal 
to my effort to make others realize as I do the necessity 
for its universal adoption. 


The principle on which the Earth-Closet is based is as free 
to all as is the earth itself, and any person may adopt his 
own method of applying it. All that is necessary is to have 
a supply of coarsely sifted sun-dried earth with which to 
cover the bottom of the vessel to be used, and after use to 
cover the deposit. A small box of earth, and a tin scoop 
are sufficient to prevent the gravest annoyance of the sick 
room. But, of course, for constant use, it is desirable to 
have a more convenient apparatus, — something which re- 
quires less care, and is less troublesome in many ways. 

To this end, the patented invention of Mr. Moule is ap- 
plicable. This comprises a tight receptacle under the seat, 
a reservoir for storing dry earth, and an apparatus to meas- 
ure out the requisite quantity and throw it upon the de- 

The arrangement of the mechanism is shown in Fig. 1. 
A hopper-shaped reservoir, made of galvanized iron, is 
supported by a framework at the back of the seat, which 
rests on the framework a, a. Connected with the handle at 



Fig. 1. 

the right-hand side, there is an iron lever, which operates a 
movable box at the bottom of the reservoir, and causes it to 
discharge its contents directly under the seat. When the 
handle is dropped, the box returns to its position and is 
immediately filled preparatory to another use. 

The hopper-shaped reservoir is supported by two pivots, 
and has a slight rocking or vibrating motion imparted to it 
by e^h lifting of the lever. This prevents the earth from 
becoming clogged, and insures its regular delivery. 



The construction is more clearly shown in Figs. 2 and 
3, the former being the " pull-up " style, and the latter the 
" self-acting." 


Fig. 2. 

Fig. 2. A, is the vibrating hopper for holding the earth. 
Its capacity may be increased to any desired extent by build- 
ing above it a straight-sided box of any height. It is not 
unusual, in fixed privies, to make this reservoir large enough 



to hold a supply for several months. As the earth is dry, 
there is no occasion for the use of anything better than com- 
mon pine boards in making this addition to the reservoir. 

B, is one side of the wooden frame by which the hopper 
is supported, and it may be made of one-inch pine or spruce. 

C, is a box of lacquered or galvanized iron, without either 
top or bottom. It moves on two pivots, one of which is 
shown on its exposed side. In its present position, its upper 
end opens into the hopper, and its lower end is closed by the 
stationary board over which it stands. When the handle 
is pulled up, the lever, which is connected with the box, 
jerks it rapidly up, so that its back side closes the opening 
of the reservoir, and its bottom opens to the front. In its 
movement it discharges its content of earth forward under 
the seat. When the handle is dropped, the box returns to 
its natural position, and is charged again. 

D, is one of the pivots, — a corresponding one being on 
the other side, — by which the hopper is supported, and on 
which it vibrates. 

a, a, a, a, a, a, are the parts of the framework, the di- 
mensions of which in feet and inches are given. 

The only essential part not shown is an earthen-ware 
pan without a bottom, similar to the pan of a water-closet, 
only not so deep and with a larger opening, which is at- 
tached to the under side of the seat and which, in a meas- 
ure, prevents the rising of dust, and conducts the urine to 
the point at which the most earth falls. This is the least im- 
portant part of the invention, but it has a certain advantage. 

Fig. 3 represents the " Self-Acting " apparatus. It differs 
from the "Pull-Up" mainly in the natural position of the 
box C, and in the manner in which this is operated. 

The seat is hinged at its rear edge, and its front edge is 




Fig. 3. 

slightly raised, being supported by the two square heads at 
the ends of the levers, — they being held in their position by 
weights such as are shown in the cut. When the weight of 
the person is placed on the seat, it is pressed down, the 
weights are raised, and the box C is thrown into the same 
position that it occupies in the Pull-Up variety when not in 
use. It is then filled with earth, and, on rising quickly from 
the seat, the weights bring it back to its natural position, (as 



shown in the cut,) with sufficient force to cause its contents 
to be discharged under the seat. 

The " Self-Acting " Closet is best adapted for schools, 
prisons, hotels, and public institutions generally, — where it 
is to be used by irresponsible persons, — but it is not so 
convenient for the use of a family of ordinary intelligence 
as is the " Pull-Up." 


In the Circular published by the Earth-Closet Company, 
the following directions are given : 

"An ordinary fixed closet requires the apparatus to be 
placed at the back of and in connection with the usual seat, 
the reservoir for containing the earth being placed above it. 
Under it there should be a chamber or vault about four feet 
by three wide, and of any convenient depth, with a paved 
or asphalted bottom, and the sides lined with cement. 
Should there be an existing cesspool, it may be altered to 
the above dimensions. Into this the deposit and earth fall, 
and may remain there three, six, or twelve months, and 
continue perfectly inodorous and innoxious, merely requiring 
to be occasionally levelled by a rake or hoe. If, however, it 
should be found impossible or inconvenient to have a vault 
underneath, a movable trough, of iron or tarred wood, on 
wheels, may be substituted. In this case it will be advisable 
to raise the seat somewhat above the floor, to allow the 
trough to be of sufficient size. 

" By one form of construction, (the " Pull-Up,") the 
pulling up a handle releases a sufficient quantity of the dry 
earth, which is thrown into the pit or vault, covering the 
deposit and completely preventing all smell. By another, 
(the " Self- Acting,") the same effect is produced by the 



action of the scat. The apparatus may be placed in and 
adapted to almost any existing closet or privy, and so ar- 
ranged that the supply and removal of earth may be carried 
on inside or outside as desired. 

" It is in most cases quite easy to arrange for the closet 
to be placed up stairt ; and for the contents of the pail to 
be emptied clown a shaft, either inside or outside the building." 

The following cuts (Figs. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9) show how 
the apparatus may be adapted to existing privies. Of 
course, variations from these plans may be made as circum- 
stances require : 

Fig. 5.—: 

•Back Elevation. 





Fig. 8. — Plan for Closets in a Set of Six — as for. Rail- 
way Stations. 

Fig. 9. — Section on Line. A. B. 




Fig. 10. — Commode, 3 ft. 3 in. High, 1 ft. 11 in. Wide, 2 ft. 2 in. Deep. 
The following is taken from the Company's Circular : 
" In the Commode (see Fig. 10) the apparatus and earth 
reservoir are self-contained, and a movable pail takes the 
place of the chamber or vault above described. This must 
be emptied as often as necessary, and the contents may be 
applied to the garden or field, or be allowed to accumulate 
in a heap under cover until wanted for use. This accumu- 



lation is inodorous, and rapidly becomes dry. The Com- 
mode can stand in any convenient place in or out of doors. 
For use in Bedrooms, Hospital Wards, Infirmaries, &c, the 
Commode is invaluable. It is entirely free from those faint, 
depressing odors common to portable water-closets and 
night-stools, and through its admission one of the gi*eatest 
miseries of human life, the foul smells of the sick room, and 
one of the most frequent means of communicating infection, 
may be entirely prevented. It is invariably found that if 
any failure takes place, it arises from the earth not being 
properly dry. Too much importance cannot be attached to 
this requirement. The Earth Commode will no more act 
properly without dry earth, than will a water-closet without 

"These Commodes are made in a variety of patterns, from 
the Cottage Commode to the more expensive ones in ma- 
hogany or oak, and vary in price accordingly. They are 
made to act either by a handle, as in the ordinary water- 
closet, or self-acting, on rising from the seat. The earth- 
reservoir is calculated to hold enough for about twenty-five 
times ; and where earth is scarce, or the manure required of 
extraordinary strength, the product may be dried as many 
as seven times, and without losing any of its deodorizing 

" If care be taken to cast one service of earth into the pail 
when first placed in the Commode, and to have the com- 
monest regard to cleanliness, not the least offensive smell 
will be perceptible, though the receptacle remain unemptied 
for weeks. Care must also be taken that no liquid but that 
which they are intended to receive be thrown into the pails." 

The pail used in the Commode is made of galvanized 
iron, and is shaped very much like an ordinary coal hod. It 



has a cover of the same material, and it may be carried from 
an upper floor with no more offensiveness than a hod full of 
common earth. 

Fig. 11. 



Fig. 11 represents a cross section of the Commode, and 
w ill enable the reader more clearly to understand the con- 
struction and operation of the apparatus. 

a, is the opening in the seat; b, the "pan;" c, the 
pail for receiving the deposit ; d, the hopper for containing 
the earth supply ; e, the box by which the earth is measured, 
and by which it is thrown into the pail when moved to the 
position e by the operation of the " pull-up ; " /, a door by 
which the pail is shut in ; g, the cover of the seat ; h, the 
cover of the hopper; i, a platform which prevents the 
escape of earth from e. 


The apparatus for the construction of Earth Privies and 
Commodes may be manufactured by any clever tinsmith 
or plumber, or they may be imported from " Moule's Pat- 
ent Earth-Closet Company," 29 Bedford Street, Strand, 
London, Thos. M. Evans, Manager. 

It is now in contemplation to form a company in this 
country, to manufacture the apparatus under Mr. Moule's 


Under this head, the Circular issued by the London 
Company contains the following: 

<: The first requirement for the proper working of the 
Earth-Closet is earth perfectly dry and sifted. 

" Earth aJone is proved to be the best deodorizer ; and 
far superior to any disinfectants ; but where it is difficult to 
obtain earth abundantly, sifted ashes, as before stated, may 



be mixed with it in proportion of two of earth to one of 

" As the first requirement is Dry Earth sifted, and as 
this is usually thought to be a great difficulty in the way of 
the adoption of the Dry Earth System, the following re- 
marks will at once remove such an impression. 

"The Earth Commode and Closet, if used by Six per- 
sons daily, will require on an average about one hundred 
weight of earth per week. This may be dried for family 
use in a drawer made to fit under the kitchen range, and 
which may be filled with earth one morning and left until 
the next. The drawer should reach to within two inches of 
the bottom bar of the grate. A frame with a handle, cov- 
ered with fine wire netting, forming a kind of shovel, should 
be placed on this drawer ; the finer ashes will fall through, 
mixing with the earth, whilst the cinders will remain on the 
top, to be from time to time thrown on the fire. If required 
for a larger number, or when two or three closets are in 
use, the small portable dryer will be found very useful ; 

Fio. 12. — Small Portable Dryer. 



and it has the advantage of being available for any of the 
ordinary purposes of a hot plate. 

" The consumption of earth for One Hundred people 
would, if used twice over, be less than a ton per week. In 
this case the same dryer will dry a sufficient quantity for 
the week, with three or four days' use. For Barracks, 

Fig. 13. — Fixed Dryer. 

Unions, Mills, Infirmaries, Hospitals, Asylums, Gaols, &c., 
a fixed dryer, made with brick work, — a plan for building 
which may be had on application at the office, — is better 
adapted. The necessary sifting is easily effected by means 
of a riddle, three feet square, and similar to those used in 
sifting wheat ; or when the consumption is small, a small 
sieve will be sufficient. It should always be remembered 
that the same earth, having been kept in a dry place for 
two or three weeks, may be dried and used four or five 
times if desired, with the same deodorizing effect, the prod- 
uct increasing in value. As the product is perfectly in- 
odorous, it may be removed at any time without offence to 
smell or sight. 



" Of course the most economical method is to provide 
in the summer time a winter store of dry earth, which may 
be kept in an out-house, shed) or other convenient place, just 
as we lay in a winter store of coals. 

"things to be observed. 

" Let one fall of Earth be in the Pail before using. 
" The Earth must be dry and sifted. 
" Sand must not be used. 
" No " Slops " must be thrown down. 
" The Handle must be pulled up with a jerk and let fall 

'* Rise from the Seat quickly .f 


" As in the case of Private Families, or of Larger 
Establishments, the first requirement is a supply of dry 
earth ; so in the application of the Earth System to Towns 
or Villages, this is the first thing to be considered. 

" Taking for granted that the earth will be used twice 
over, the quantity required for a population of 10,000 will be 
about thirteen tons per day. But if the earth be dried and 
used four times over, only half this quantity, or from six to 
seven tons, would be required, whilst the value of the ma- 
nure is increased in like proportion. 

" As the fixed dryer, figured on page 21, may be 
enlarged to any size there is no difficult) in providing any 
quantity of dried earth. It becomes simply a question of 

* In the Pull-Up Variety. 

f In the Self- Acting. 



outlay, in the first instance, for the necessary sheds and dry- 
ing apparatus ; and of horse and cart calculation afterwards. 
Just a.s the water-works must be adapted to the population, 
so must the earth-works. 

" In order to introduce the system into a town, a com- 
pany should be formed, which will be in fact a manure com- 
pany, and which will find it to its advantage to prepare and 
supply the earth, and remove it at least, without any ex- 
pense to the householders. For this company drying and 
store sheds will be requisite, and of course a staff of men 
with horses and carts. 

" To the rate-payers the advantages presented by this 
system are great indeed, for not only would they be saved 
from the sewage rate, but from all expenses arising from 
broken pipes, stopped-up drains, and all their attendant dis- 
comforts." — Circular of the London Company. 


There arc various devices by which the use of dry earth 

as an absorbent and deodorizer may be adapted to public 
or private Urinals, rendering what is now an intolerable 
nuisance and a great source of waste, entirely inoffensive, 
and an accumulator of the most valuable manure. 

For Railway Stations, Schools, Manufactories, Street 
Urinals, &c, the plan shown in Fig. 14 is well suited. 

The vault should be large enough to hold sufficient earth 
to completely absorb the whole day's urine, and at night it 
should be changed for a fresh supply. 



Fig. 14. 


To a very large class of those by -whom the Earth- 
Closet will be hailed as a blessing, the question of the value 
of the manure will have but little weight, beyond the con- 
sideration that it will enable them to have their closets at- 
tended to without cost to themselves. 

On this question, however, one of the strongest argu- 
ments in favor of the adoption of the system rests. 



The importance of any plan by which the excrement of 
our bodies may be returned to our fields, is in a measure 
shown in the following extract from an article that I fur- 
nished for the American Agricultural Annual for 1868. 

" The average population of New York city, — including 
its temporary visitors, — is probably not less than 1,000,000. 
This population consumes food equivalent to at least 
30,000,000 bushels of corn in a year ; excepting the small 
proportion that is stored up in the bodies of the growing 
young, which is fully offset by that contained in the bodies 
of the dead, the constituents of the food are returned to the 
air by the lungs and skin, or are voided as execrement. 
That which goes to the air was originally taken from the 
air by vegetation, and will be so taken again : — here is no 
waste. The excrement contains all that was furnished by 
the mineral elements of the soil on which the food was pro- 

" This all passes into the sewers and is washed into the 
. sea. Its loss to the present generation is complete 

* * * "30,000,000 bushels of corn contain, 
among other minerals, nearly 7,000 tons of phosphoric 
acid, and this amount is annually lost in the wasted night 
soil of New York city.* 

" Practically the human excrement of the whole country 

* Other mineral constituents of food, — important ones, too, — are 
washed away in even greater quantities through the same channels, 
but this element is the best for illustration, because its effect in manure 
is the most (striking. Even so sm?ll a dressing as twenty pounds per 
acre, producing a marked effect on all cereal crops. Ammonia, too, 
■which is so important that it is usual in England to estimate the value 
/ manure in exact proportion to its supply of this element, is largely 
yielded by human excrement. 




is nearly all so disposed of as to be lost to the soil. The 
present population of the United States is not far from 
35,000,000. On the basis of the above calculation, their 
annual food contains 200,000 tons of phosphoric acid, be- 
ing the amount contained in about 900,000 tons of bones, 
which, at the price of the best flour of bone, (for manure,) 
would be worth over $50,000,000. Jt would be a moderate 
estimate to say that the other constituents of food are of at 
least equal value with the other constituents of the bone, 
and to assume $50,000,000 as the money value of the 
wasted night soil of the United States. 

" In another view, the importance of this waste cannot be 
estimated in money. Money values apply, rather, to the 
products of labor and to the exchange of these products. 
The waste of fertilizing matter reaches farther than the de- 
struction or exchange of products : it lessens the ability to 

" If mill streams were failing year by year, and steam 
were yearly losing force, and the ability of men to labor 
were yearly growing less, the doom of our prosperity would 
not be more plainly written than if the slow but certain 
impoverishment of our soil were sure to continue. 

* * * * " But the good time is coming, when 
(as now in China and Japan) men must accept the fact that 
the soil is not a ware-house to be plundered, — only a factory 
to be worked. Then they will save their raw material, 
instead of wasting it, and, aided by nature's wonderful laws, 
will weave, over and over again, the fabric by which we live 
and prosper. Men will build up as fast as men destroy ; 
old matters will be reproduced in new forms, and, as the 
decaying forests feed the growing wood, so will all consumed 
food yield food again." 


It would be impossible to estimate accurately the money- 
value of a year's excrement of a full grown man. There is 
no well defined standard by which this can be done. But 
every one who has had an opportunity to observe the effect 
of night soil when properly used as manure, will at once 
agree to the proposition that any simple and inoffensive 
means for its preservation and adaptation to the needs of 
the farmer is of an importance that can hardly be over- 

Concerning the value and use of the product of the Earth- 
Closet, the following is copied from the London Company's 
Circular : — (It will be noticed that reference is made to the 
repealed me 'of same earth. When the ordure is completely 
dried and decomposed, it has not only lost its odor, but it has 
become, like all decomposed organic matter, an excellent dis- 
infectant, and the fifth or sixth time that the same earth is 
passed through the Closet it is fully as effective in destroying 
odors as it was when used for the first time, and of course each 
use adds to its value as manure, until it becomes as strong 
as Peruvian guano, which is now worth seventy-five dollars 
per ton. In fact, it may be made so rich that one hundred 
pounds will be a good dressing for an acre of land.) 

" If the Closet is over a water-tight cesspool or pit, it 
will require emptying at the end of three or six months. 
The produce, which will be quite inodorous, should be thrown 
together in a heap, sheltered from wet, and occasionally 
turned over. At the end of a few weeks it will be dry and 
fit for use. 

"If the receptacle be an iron trough or pail, the contents 
should be thrown together, re-dried, and used over again, 
four or five times. (See page 11.) In a few weeks they will 
be dry and fit for use ; the value being increased by re- 



peated action. The condition of the manure should be 
much the same as that of guano, and fit for drilling. 

" With regard to the money value of the manures, Mr. 
James, of Halton, has furnished us with the following par- 
ticulars. He says : 

" Mr. J. Gadsden, who holds upwards of 600 acres of 
land in this and an adjoining parish, has applied earth 
passed once through the Closet to a turnip crop, and has pro. 
duced some of the finest roots I ever saw, although it was 
sowed broadcast, and not as it should have been, by the 
drill. He has no hesitation at all in estimating its mini- 
mum value at £3 per ton. \ . , 

" Mr. Gamble, who holds land here to the^s^me extent, 
has arrived, by an independent trial and calculation, at the 
same conclusion. 

" Mr. Henry Taylor, manufacturer of agricultural imple- 
ments, at Dorchester, who is also a manure dealer, and 
holds a small farm, supplies the earth for the Closets and 
Urinals for the Dorset county school. The contents of the 
vault are removed by him once in three months. He has tried 
the manure so manufactured on various crops, and he has in- 
formed us that he considers the deposit of three months, 
after one use of the earth, to be worth when dry, from £2 
to £3 per ton. He has tried the repeated use of the same 
earth, and he considers the value of the manure to increase 
in proportion to the number of uses. 

" With regard to its practical value, the following facts 
may be relied on : 

"To a quarter of an acre of Swede turnips, one hundred 
weight of earth manure, which had been used five times, 
was applied. To three-cpuarters of the same acre, super- 
phosphate (at that time worth £7 10s. per ton) was used in 



the same proportion. On the quarter of an acre dressed 
with earth manure, the turnips weighed one-third more than 
those grown on the three-quarters of an acre. The whole 
crop was fed off ; no other manure was used ; and the fol- 
lowing year the barley crop was finer on the quarter of an 
acre, in the proportion of four to three. 

" The following year,'on another piece of land, earth which 
had passed seven times through an Earth-Closet, was substi- 
tuted for crushed bones, at the rate of one hundred weight 
per acre. The ground was poor, the crop white turnips, and 
several good judges expressed the opinion that a finer crop 
could scarcely have been grown. Mr. Dickinson, of New 
Park Farm, Hampshire, has asserted that such a mixture 
is equal to crushed bones in power, more immediate in its 
action, and that the benefit lasts three years in the ground. 

" In a garden near Erith, belonging to the Rev. H. Ber- 
nau, Belvedere, (about half an acre), for twelve or fourteen 
years an annual manuring of stable dung had failed to pro- 
duce anything like a crop. Peas would not grow. Cab- 
bages were dwarfed. Neither celery, nor rhubarb, nor 
parsnips, would grow at all. Last year, as an experiment, 
the stable dung was abandoned, and earth from a Closet 

" The first sowing of peas was destroyed by a too lib- 
eral use. Grown wiser by experience, the gardener used 
less, and his barren garden was changed into a fruitful field. 
His peas grew seven feet high, and were covered with pods; 
the white heads of his cabbages weighed four pounds and 
upwards, and the passers-by stopped with w r onder to ask 
what made his crops so much better than their own. 

" At the West Riding prison, a piece of ground was last 
year sown with onions, in the usual way ; the produce being 




nil. This year the same ground was dressed with earth 
manure, and again sown with onions. Twice again dressed 
whilst gi owing, the result has- been a very fine crop. At 
the same place, one-half of an acre of grass land was 
manured with rotten dung, valued at 48s. The other half 
acre was manured with half a ton of earth manure. The 
crops were both fine and equal in value. 

" If the manure be not drilled in, care should be taken 
to use it during rainy weather; otherwise, the valuable salts 
contained in it remain undissolved.* 

"It is believed on the ground of much observation and 
experiment, that as soon as the earth covers the deposit, 
some manurial property of that deposit begins to impreg- 
nate it; and that when the deposit is wholly absorbed, the 
earth has in fact digested it, or reduced it to a form or state 
in which it can afford nourishment to the plant. The 
sooner therefore, the root can reach it the better." 

Further evidence of the value of the manure is con- 
tained in the testimonials at the end of this pamphlet. 


In Vol. XXIV, of the Journal of the Royal Agricultural 
Society of England, there is a paper by Mr. Moule, entitled 
"Earth versus Water for the Removal and Utilization of 
Excrcmentitious Matter," from which the following extracts 
are made : 

" It may be of some service, especially to the agricul- 
tural interest, if I give a brief statement of the principles 
on which the system of earth sewage rests, some facts and 
testimonies explaining and recommending the suggested 
mode of working it, and facts and evidence illustrative of 

*This is not sound reasoning. W. 



the value of the manure manufactured after the plan pro- 
posed : for, thus, I think that it may now most satisfactorily 
be proved that the increased demand for fertilizing agents 
may be largely met ; the health of towns promoted by the 
entire removal of the sewage nuisance, instead of the present 
mere palliation ; and the pollution of our streams and rivers 
prevented, the evil being no longer shifted from one quarter 
to another. Moreover, all this good may be secured with- 
out any of those vast and extravagant works for public 

drainage which add so greatly to the burdens of the COUn- 
^y . * * * * ***** 

" This remedy is not restricted to towns, but is equally 
applicable to that great portion of our population which is 
scattered abroad in villages and detached houses, under cir- 
cumstances which call for special consideration, since such 
districts often exhibit a higher rate of mortality than that of 
the metropolis and other first-rate towns which have hitherto 
almost exclusively occupied the attention of sanitary re- 
formers. * * * ***** 

" It was to this point (the power of earth or clay to ab- 
sorb the products of the decomposition of manure), but par- 
ticularly to the repeated action, and consequently the repeated 
use of the same earth, that I first directed the attention of 
the public. I then pointed out : 1st. That a very small por- 
tion of dry and sifted earth (1^ pints) is sufficient by cover- 
ing the deposit, to prevent fermentation (which so soon sets 
in whenever water is used), and the consequent generation 
and emission of noxious gases. 2d. That if within a few 
hours, or even a few days, the mass that would be formed 
by the repeated layers of deposit, be intimately mixed by a 
coarse rake or spade, or by a mixer made for the purpose, 



then, in five or ten minutes, neither to the eye or sense of 
smell is anything perceptible but so much earth. * 
When about three cart-loads of sifted earth had thus been 
used for my family (which averaged fifteen persons) and 
left under a shed, I found that the material first employed 
was sufficiently dried to be used again. This process of 
alternate mixing and drying, was renewed five times, the 
earth still retaining its absorbent powers apparently unim- 
paired. Of the visitors taken to the spot, none could guess 
the nature of the compost, though in some cases the heap 
which they visited in the afternoon, had been turned over 
that same morning. ******* 
" It is only in towns, where the delivery, stowage, and re- 
moval of earth, is attended with cost and difficulty, that any 
artificial aid for drying the compost would be desirable. On 
premises not cramped for space, the atmosphere, especially 
with a glass roof to the shed, will act sufficiently fast. 
* * * * * * * * 

" In the present stage of the working of this system the 
difficulty of ascertaining the value of the manure thus manu- 
factured is very great. The variations in the earth used, and 
the want of exactness in observing the relative weights and 
proportions of the ' soil,' and of the absorbing earth, as well 
as in obtaining a thorough mixing of the two, combine to 
create this difficulty : I, therefore, prefer to give a few in. 
stances of the practical application of it to the garden and to 
the field, rather than to attempt to offer a scientific analysis 
of its composition. In planting cabbages, I have taken a 
handful or two of what has passed through the closets five 
times, and, putting it into a watering-pot, have used it in a 
liquid form, filling the holes in which the plants are to be 
set ; and I have found that if this liquid manure be made too 



strong it burns the root of the plant, even as guano would. 
A new gardener, not believing that there was much virtue in 
a heap of earth he found lying in a shed, thought if there 
was anything in it his celery plants should have enough of 
it. He threw over them a little more than a handful, and 
this burnt them up. With six pounds weight I planted in a 
piece of unmanured ground forty dozen broccoli and Savoy 
plants. No plants could be finer than they were. A cot- 
tager at Bradford Abbas commenced the system in his large 
cottage garden in the spring of 1862. He applied the 
manure to patches of mangolds and Swedes ; and the land 
steward who persuaded him to try it, states that he never 
saw such fine roots as were then grown. 
" Again, in the spring of 1862, Mr. R. Hayne, of Fording- 
ton, received from me four hundred weight of earth which had 
passed seven times through the closet, and had afterward lain 
for six months in the shed. This he used at the rate of one 
hundred weight to an acre, instead of crushed bones, on a 
piece of very poor land to be sown to turnips. Both he and 
Mr. R. Damen, of Dorchester, a well known agriculturist, 
consider the crop to have been remarkably good, and that 
crushed bones could not have answered better as a manure. 

" The economy of the system will not depend solely, or 
even chiefly, on the money value of the manure manu- 
factured, but in a great degree on dispensing with the large 
outlay which the w r ater system involves. 

" I will instance the national schools in a borough town 
w T hich is under the water system. There are 300 boys 
and girls attending these schools. It has cost £70 to 
connect them with the sewers. It would not have cost £20 



to provide them with self-acting Earth-Closets. In a country- 
jail it costs £50 a year to keep in order the water-closets by 
which the manure of 150 prisoners is wasted. Apply the 
earth system — the repairs of which would not be £5 a year — 
and thus nearly £200 a year will be saved to the country. 
In confirmation of this opinion the intelligent master of the 
Kingswood reformatory, who was sent to me by the com- 
mittee to inquire into the system, expressed his conviction 
that he would be able to make from 100 boys £200 a year, 
and at the same time prevent abominations in the way of 
offensiveness that can scarcely be told. 

***** *** 

" You may by means of it (the earth system) have a 
privy close to the house and a Closet up stairs, from neither 
of which shall proceed any offensive smell or any noxious 
gas. A projection from the back of the cottage, eight feet 
long and six feet wide, would be amply sufficient for this 
purpose. The nearer three or four feet down stairs, would 
be occupied by the privy, in which, by the side of the seat, 
would be a receptacle for dry earth. The ' soil ' and earth 
would fall into the further five or four feet, which would form 
the covered and closed shed for mixing and drying. Up 
stairs the arrangement would be much the same, the deposit 
being made to fall clear of every wall. Through this Closet 
the removal of noxious and offensive matters, in time of 
sickness, and of slop-buckets, would be immediate and easy ; 
and if the shed below be kept well supplied with earth, all 
effluvium would be almost immediately checked. As to the 
trouble which this will cause, a very little experience will 
convince the cottager that it is less instead of greater than 



the women generally go through at present, while the value 
of the manure will afford an inducement to exertion. 
" The truth is, that the machinery is more simple, much 
less expensive, and far less liable to injury than that of the 
water-closet. The supply of earth to the house, is as easy 
as that of coals. To the Closet it may be supplied more 
easily than water is supplied by a forcing-pump, and to the 
Commode it can be conveyed just as coal is carried to the 
chamber. After use, it can be removed in either case by the 
bucket or box placed under the seat, or from the fixed reser- 
voir, with less offence than that of the ordinary slop-bucket, 
— indeed, (I speak after four years experience), with as little 
offence as is found in the removal of coal ashes. So that, 
while servants and others will shrink from novelty and at 
first imagine difficulties, yet many, to my knowledge, would 
now vastly prefer the daily removal of the bucket or the 
soil to either the daily working of a forcing-pump or to 
being called upon once a year, or once in three years, to 
assist in emptying a vault or cesspool 
**** **** 

" In conclusion, I would remark, that let one-fifth of the 
population of Great Britain adopt and thoroughly carry out 
this system, and one million tons of manure, equal to guano, 
will every year be added to our supply of fertilizers." 

In a letter to the London Builder, of April 4, 1868, Mr 
Moule says : — 

" Some of my first and most trying experiments were 
on the horrible refuse of a slaughter house. The butcher 
from whom I obtained it, has told me that by what I taught 
him I saved him more than ten shillings a week, — such, at 
• least, he reckons the value of this stuff mixed with a load of 



earth. In the case both of the slaughter house and the 
knacker's yard, the refuse mixed with earth should be re- 
moved to a large fowl yard. For hospitals the system 
appears to me to be in every respect unexceptionable and 
perfect. Stables may be cleansed by the same means. 
**** **** 

" The value (of night soil) must be affected both by 
the necessity for its removal and by the offensiveness of the 
operation. The earth, after it has absorbed the excretions, is 
so perfectly inoffensive, that I have known some that had 
been mechanically mixed taken the same day to London in 
a box in his carpet bag, by a chemist ; and by two engineers' 
clerks, it was taken, wrapped in brown paper, in their side 

" The difficulties in the disposal of night soil afford no 
illustration, then, of the removal of mixed earth. To any 
one who knows those iron troughs at Aldershott, it can be 
no wonder that the War Office has to pay £500 or £600 a 
year for the removal of the contents, besides a vast sum for 
disinfectants. The wonder to me is, that when they could 
not only annihilate all smell, but with the manure saved turn 
scores of acres of that sandy desert into a rich sward, they 
can hesitate to change the system. Our barracks gen- 
erally, and our public schools of every description, are, in 
their uncleanliness and the indecency of their latrines, a dis- 
grace to civilized society." 





The following are some of the testimonials of the prac- 
ticability and efficiency of the Earth-Closet, and of the value 
of its product as a manure : 

But first let me call attention to the fact that all animals 
of the feline race, — whose excrement is especially offensive, — 
always turn and very carefully cover their droppings with 
earth ; and to the following evidence of the antiquity of the 
practice of disinfecting human manure by the aid of com- 
mon soil. 

In Deuteronomy, chap, xxiii, 12 and 13, we read : 

" Thou shall have a place also without the camp, whither 
thou shalt go forth abroad • and thou shall have a paddle 
upon thy weapon • and it shall be when thou will ease thy- 
self abroad, thou shall dig therewith, and shalt turn back and 
cover that which cometh from thee." 

Extract from a Letter addressed to the Rev. H. Moule, from 
the India Office in London, dated September 25, 1867. 

"I am directed by Sir Stafford Northcotc to forward for 
your information copies of Reports which have now been 
received from the Government of India, on the successful and 
general adoption of your dry earth sewage system in 
India. In consideration of the very satisfactory character 
of these Reports, and on the recommendation of the Gov- 



ernment of India, the Secretary of State for India in Council 
has much pleasure in authorizing the payment to you of the 
sum of £500." 

11, Craven Hill Gardens, Oct. 18, 1867. 

To the Editor of the " Standard." 

Sir : In an article on Mr. Moule's dry earth system of 
sewage, in your paper of to-day, you say that in England 
" the thing has not been tried on any scale." It has been tried, 
and the trial has been attended with success. In the villages of 
Halton, Buckland, Weston Turville, and Aston Clinton, on 
Baron Rothschild's estate in Buckinghamshire, with a popula- 
tion of about 800 persons, the system has been in use for eigh 
teen months. The overflowing and fever-breeding cesspools, 
ditches, and privies, have been cleared, and not a foul smell 
can anywhere now be found. Through the courtesy of Mr. 
James, I, this summer, examined the working of the system 
at Halton. The mechanism of the Closet worked simply and 
effectually, the dry earth falling on the soil, and completely 
and immediately deodorizing it : the only smell to be per- 
ceived being that of damp earth. I was shown about twenty 
tons of earth in one shed, that had been through the Closets 
four times, and it was intended to pass it through four times 
more, when it would become a most valuable manure. The 
paper mixed with the earth was all completely destroyed. 
A man and a boy, with a horse and cart, were sufficient to 
attend to this population of 800. Dry earth, when used 
in the sick room, immediately deodorizes the excretions and 
prevents all unpleasantness. 

Mr Moule's system is the only one that is adapted to re- 
move sewage and fever from the small towns and villages of 
the kingdom. And in the larger towns, or even in London 




there is no reason why it could not be adopted. Every pos- 
sessor of a cellar could take in sufficient dry earth to last 
for months. If the demand arose, the supply of dry earth 
would soon be at hand, and manure merchants would be 
ready to remove the soil at stated intervals, — once a month 
or oftener, according to the size of the receptacle. 


To the Editor of the " Standard." 

Sir : As the dry earth system of sewage has now been 
in operation in this village for more than eight months, I 
feel qualified to speak to the undoubted advantages both to 
health and purse to be gained by its adoption. Thirty-four 
Closets and Commodes have been in constant use for the 
time I have named, and not the least difficulty in supplying 
the dried earth and removing the excreta has been experi- 
enced. From the common objection to the adoption of any. 
thing ncAv we have been compelled in many instances to use 
Commodes, and have, therefore, not had the same facility of 
access as will be found at Ilalton, where the privies have 
been converted into Closets. Yet at Crawley we have not 
had one complaint of inconvenience from the occupiers of 
houses where the machines have been in use. We could 
place as many more conveniences had wc the means of pro- 
curing them, as thoir good reputation has been completely 
established hci i . Our method of drying the earth is so easy 
and simple, as arc our own arrangements for distribution 
and collection, that I am satisfied no difficulty would be 
found in applying the dry earth system of sewage to towns 
and villages ; though, as the cost of application would be so 
trifling in comparison to that of any other method, I am 



afraid it will find for some time to come, strong opponents 
in local surveyors and engineers. 

To any one interested in this great sanitary improve- 
ment, and who cares to make personal investigation, I shall 
be most happy to show the drying shed, the inodorous accu- 
mulation of many months, and both Commodes and Closets 
in action, as well as to give what information I can on the 
general advantages of the dry earth system. 


Crawley, Oct. 27, 1867. 

West Riding Prison, Wakefield, Feb. 4, 1867. 

Six months having expired since the Visiting J ustices of 
this prison granted authority for bringing " Moulc's Earth- 
Closets " into use, I have great pleasure in bearing testimony 
to the value of the earth system. We have 800 cells with- 
out water-closets, and we are about placing Earth-Closets in 
them. We have now 100 of the latter in use. I haA - e not 
had a single complaint from either warders or prisoners 
since we commenced using the Earth-Closets. The Earth- 
Closet cells are without the smell that commonly exists in 
the water-closet cells. 

The supply of dry earth is given weekly, or when re- 
quired, the Closet containing at the back (with care) a suffi- 
cient supply for fourteen days ; however, to be quite secure, 
the pans are emptied, and a fresh supply of earth given once 
a week without the slightest smell in the building during the 
time of removal. 

We have taken the precaution to make the Earth-Closets 
self-acting ; this leaves nothing to be done by the prisoners 
that can disarrange the apparatus. We have established a 
small kiln for drying the earth, and can always keep up a 


good supply. The earth, after being used in the Closets, is 
turned over, and pulverized or.ce a week during the first 
three weeks, when it is quite fit for the farmer or gardener. 
No smell arises from working the soil, and in time I antici- 
pate a profitable" return for the first outlay. I shall during 
the coming year be enabled to observe the effect of the ma- 
nure on the crops grown within the prison. 

Where the Closets are in use, we have been able to do 
without the deodorizing powder used formerly, and during 
the late hard frosts we were obliged to place the Earth- 
Closets in cells already supplied with water-closets, the pipes 
being frozen. Our plumber is much in favor of the Earth- 
Closets ; he strongly recommends that in future they should 
be placed in all parts of the prison in lieu of the water- 
closets. (An opinion certainly against his own interests.) 

G. ARMYTAGE, Captain, Governor. 

September 20, 1866. 

At this critical time, when we are in momentary danger 
of outbreaks of cholera at our doors, I thought it desirable 
not to lose a moment in accepting the challenge offered by 
Mr. James in his letter in the " Times " of yesterday, and 
I rode across the hills to Hal ton this morning for the pur- 
pose of investigating the truth of the assertion he had made. 

I inspected the earth sheds and saw the process in every 
stage. I put my nostrils in close contact with soil which 
had been taken from the Closets this morning, and I took up 
some which had been out no more than a fortnight without 
soiling my hands ; and lastly, I have come away with a 
small parcel of the dried soil in my pocket, having during 
the whole investigation met with nothing in the smallest 
degree disagreeable. I have no hesitation in saying that 




any gentleman who follows the example of Baron Roths- 
child in adapting this process to cottages will confer the 
greatest possible boon upon the poor, and I shall myself 
have no hesitation in recommending not only the process 
itself, but the little machine invented by Mr. Moule, to any 
one seeking my advice. 

In small towns, at least, it must be of easy and inex- 
pensive application, while the benefit to health will be great 
indeed. GEO. FAITHORN, 

Medical Officer of the Chesham District 
of the Amersham Union. 

Extract from Report by Dr. Mouat, Inspector- General of 
Gaols in India. 

It is, in my humble judgment, impossible to over-esti- 
mate the benefits that will result from the labors of the Rev. 
Mr. Moule in this important branch of hygiene — the dry 
earth system. It is without exception the greatest public 
benefit conferred by a private individual in a matter so es- 
sential to public health, that I am acquainted with. 

Wyke House, near Weymouth, Feb. 12, 1867. 
Mr. Moule having requested me to send you my opin- 
ion of the Patent Earth-Closet invented by him, I can safely 
say that it is a great improvement upon the old plan of out- 
of-door vaults, and in-door water-closets, there being no 
smell, no derangement of water pipes by frost, &c, and, 
moreover, the Earth-Closet furnishes the best manure of thq 

I lately used one of the Portable Earth Commodes for $ 
sick room. It was there for a week, in repeated daily use, 
and not emptied till the end of the week ; there was no 



smell during all the time. I so entirely approve of the plan, 
that I am now having the out-of-door places altered into 
Earth-Closets for my pupils. You can make what use you 
like of this note. J. W. NEAT. 

Hitchin, March 19, 1866. 
Gentlemen : — Your Earth-Closets have been in use for 
two years in the sick wards at the Hitchin Union house. 
As medical officer at that establishment, I can speak with 
the greatest confidence of the vast convenience and comfort 
they have been to the inmates — indeed, to all connected with 
the institution — as, since their introduction, the annoyance 
and evil of disgusting effluvia attendant upon the use of the 
old-fashioned Commodes have been avoided. The prejudice 
in the minds of many, not only among the poor, but the 
more educated, at the introduction of anything new is patent 
to most ; but I feel sure that any attempt to return to the 
old Commode would create great dissatisfaction amongst the 
occupants of our sick wards. 


Burleston Rectory, Dorchester, Jan. 29, 1866. 
Gentlemen : Some months ago, having constant trouble 
with my water-closet, which was very much out of repair, I 
determined to make a trial of the dry earth system in its place. 
I have now in constant use one of your self-acting Earth- 
Closets, and my purpose in writing is to express my perfect 
satisfaction with it in every respect. It occupies the place 
of the old closet up stairs, the soil falling into an enclosed 
space beneath, about five feet square, reaching to the ground 
floor, arid with a small door opening into the yard, from 
whence, about once a month, it is removed without the least 



offence. The trouble of carrying the dry earth up stairs, I 
consider to be about equal to the pumping water into the 
cistern under the old plan. I have used the same earth four 
or five times without the least inconvenience, and have now 
a quantity of valuable manure for my garden. I do not 
think we can estimate the immense advantage a general ap- 
plication of this system would prove, not only in our towns 
and cities, but in the country at large. 


February 11, 1867. 

Having been requested to give my opinion as to the 
working of the Patent Earth-Closets which have been in use 
for the last fifteen months in the county school, I beg leave 
to state the following particulars. 

We resolved to try the Earth-Closets in consequence of 
the water-closets getting continually out of order. As a 
matter of course, offensive smells as often arose, and we had 
reason to believe that a severe sickness which befell us was 
mainly to be attributed to this fact. I am thankful to state 
that since the introduction of these Earth-Closets we have been 
free from both offensive smells and sickness. One very 
great advantage in them is, that it is hardly possible for 
them to get out of repair ; at any rate ours have cost us 
nothing as yet, nor are they likely to do so, whilst on the 
other hand, under the old system, the cost for repairs for 
two years amounted to more than £4. 

It is, perhaps, well to add that there is nothing offensive to 
the sight or the smell in the removal of the earth from the 
premises. On one occasion, when some quantity was being 
removed in open day, three medical men of this town gave 
testimony that they could discover nothing offensive. 

R. G. WATSON, M. A. 



To the Editor of the " Standard." 

Sir : I am glad you think the discussion of the Earth- 
Closet system of sufficient public importance to occupy a 
portion of your columns. As I have adopted that system on 
a somewhat large scale for a private establishment, perhaps 
you will permit me to say I am quite satisfied with the re- 
sult. And here I will remark, that only those who have been 
connected with schools are aware how foul and overpower- 
ing is the stench which pervades the ordinary closets which 
children use at schools. I am a schoolmaster, and twelve 
months ago I was hardly able to enter the closets which my 
pupils used. An unsparing use of disinfectants only miti- 
gated the evil. Fortunately, I heard of the Earth-Closets ; I 
at once erected four, all communicating with a concrete pit, 
and this pit is emptied by a boy once a week. My first out- 
lay was inconsiderable, and what was a dangerous nuisance 
is now a source of profit. I procure dry earth without diffi- 
culty ; in fact, the ashes from the fire-grates are almost 
enough to supply my want ; and although they are not so 
good as earth, because they cause a little dust in the Closets, 
I find them very good as a disinfectant. I have no disagree- 
able smell in the Closets, which are used by twenty-six pu- 
pils and several adults. Managers of schools who are 
troubled with low fevers, &c, and who wish to change the 
expense attending the ordinary closets into a source of 
profit, will, I think, if they adopt Mr. Moule's plan, agree 
with me that schoolmasters owe to him a debt of gratitude. 
I remain, &c, 


Middleton Lodge, Bognor, Oct. 31.