carried up into the hospital. And in the hospital what did they find?
Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate1): the delusive doors bore no such inscription; and yet behind them Heil yawned. Want, neglect, confusion, misery — in every shape and in every degree of intensity — filled the endless corridors and the vast apartments of the gigantic barrack-house, which, without forethought or preparation, had been hurriedly set aside as the chief shelter for the vict'ms of the war. The very building itself was radically detective. Huge sewers2) underlay it, and cess-pools3) loaded with filth wafted their poison into the upper rooms. The floors were in so rotten a condition that many of them could not be scrubbed; the walls were thick with dirt; incredible multitudes of vermin swarmed everywhere. And, enormous as the building was, it was yet too small. It contained four miles of beds, crushed together so close that there was but just room to pass between them. Under such conditions, the most elaborate system of ventilation might well have been at fault; but here there was no ventilation. The stench was indescribable. "I have been acquainted," said Miss Nightingale, "with the dwellings of the worst parts of most of the great cities in Europe, but have never been in any atmosphere which I could compare with that of the Barrack Hospital at night". The structural defects were equalled by the deficiencies in the commonest objects of hospital use. There were not enough bedsteads; the sheets were of canvas, and so coarse that the wounded men recoiled from them, begging to be left
1. Dante tells in the Inferno (Canto Terzo 111-9) that the doors of Heil had an inscription of which these were the last words: Give up all hope, you that enter here.
2. sewer: Dutch riool.
3. cess-pool: Dutch zinkput.