Disadvantages of Life in Great Cities
- A loner of the country complains of —
(a) Want of fresh air.
(b) Glare of the sun on houses and pavements.
(c) Danger of being run over in the streets
(d) Ugly prospect of roofs and factory, chimneys.
(e) Noises of carts and steam-rollers.
- Some of these evils not imaginary.
- Smoke and want of fresh air unhealthy.
- Smoke a greater nuisance in Europe than in the East.
- Sanitation better in European cities.
6 Want of fresh air felt most in tropical cities.
- Modern cities better planned and better supplied with water and therefore less unhappy.
- Moral dangers.
Nothing is more distressing to a lover of the country than to be condemned by circumstances to live in a great city. He misses the breezes of pure air that blow over hill and plain in the country, and feels that he can hardly breathe in the stifling atmosphere of the crowded streets. The glare of the sun on the pavement arid on the interminable rows of white-washed houses is painful to his eyes, and he sighs for the green grass and leafy trees of the country. Among the multitudes of busy people who throng the thoroughfares he is half dazed, and fears to be knocked down by the carriages of rich men that rattle recklessly along the streets, as if the running over of one or two poor pedestrians were a matter of no importance. He climbs to the top of a hill or the tower of a high building to admire the view, and, instead of looking down upon the varied scenery of mountain, valley, and forest, he sees nothing but the roofs of houses, from among which rise numberless tall factory chimneys, belching their smoke into the vitiated atmosphere. All through the day the noises of the city appeal him. The rumbling of carriages, carts, and tramcars over the stony streets never ceases from earliest dawn to long after sunset. Sometimes he has to endure the additional infliction of a great steam-roller crunching the stones under the windows of the room where he has to work, as best he can, in spite of the noises that assail his ear and shatter his nerves.
Such are some of the principal annoyances that afflict our lover of the country when he lives in a great city. They will no Doubt be looked upon as imaginary and unreal by the permanent residents of cities, whose eyes and ears have become reconciled by custom to the sights and sounds that are so distracting and unpleasant to country people. But it must be admitted that some of the drawbacks of city life are far from being merely imaginary.
There can be no doubt that the smoke and smells and want of fresh air are inimical to health. The evil of smoke is not so great in the East as in the West. In small towns most of the smoke is produced by a limited number of factory chimneys, a few railway trains, and the fires necessary for cooking. In the great manufacturing cities the number of factories is far greater, and in addition, through the colder months of the year, coal fires are kept burning in every house to keep. the inmates from perishing of cold. In consequence of all these fires the grimness of great European cities is much worse than can well be imagined by anyone who has not visited them.
In the matter of smells, owing to superior sanitation and a colder climate, European cities have the advantage over the cities of the East. All over the world the inhabitants of cities suffer from the want of fresh air, but the want is more severely felt in hot climates. In the North the poor are inclined to look upon a fresh breeze rather as an enemy than a friend. Yet it may be regarded as certain that, even in the coldest country, the general health of a city is benefited by any change that allows the air to percolate more freely through the crowded streets. This fact is generally recognised in the present day. New cities and new quarters of Old cities are therefore now built with wider streets and broader squares and attempts are being made to replace the narrow slums that are permanent hot-beds of disease, by streets and houses constructed on better sanitary principles Much is also being done by the formation of parks and by improvement of the water-supply to make cities healthier; but in spite of all the good effected by such measures, it can never be reasonably expected that life in a great City can be as favourable to health as life in the country.
Finally there are far more temptations to extravagance, waste of time in foolish pleasure and to vice in towns than in the country; and a young man has to have firm principles and moral strength to escape being led away by vicious company into bad habits that may prove his moral and physical ruin.