In eighteenth-century, London excremental horror was overlaid with a more
pragmatic sense of why women might dispose of a dead child in a bog-house.
As Sawney in the Bog House reveals, the visitor had not grasped the
cultural logic of a multi-seater privy. Although the spatial symbolism and
social situation of the privy in earlier centuries were very different, its
cultural resonance was no less far-reaching. In The Political Bog-House
Fox sits uncertainly, clad half in tartan and half in English clothes,
half in and half on the double privy. The privy, convenience,
necessary-house, bog-house, house of office belonged to the city's
'backstage'; it was a place to which one withdrew; it was emptied
by a lowly, often stigmatized group, the nightmen. Modern historiography
instinctively sees the privy as liable to mephitic malfunction. But the
London privy did more than veil metropolitan arses.