AMERICAN WOMAN'S HOME: OR, PRINCIPLES OF DOMESTIC SCIENCE;
BEING A GUIDE TO THE FORMATION AND MAINTENANCE OF ECONOMICAL, HEALTHFUL, BEAUTIFUL, AND CHRISTIAN HOMES.
BY CATHERINE E. BEECHER AND HARRIET BEECHER STOWE
TO THE WOMEN OF AMERICA, IN WHOSE HANDS REST THE REAL DESTINIES OF THE REPUBLIC, AS MOULDED BY THE EARLY TRAINING AND PRESERVED AMID THE MATURER INFLUENCES OF HOME, THIS VOLUME IS AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
The chief cause of woman's disabilities and sufferings, that women are not trained, as men are, for their peculiar duties—Aim of this volume to elevate the honor and remuneration of domestic employment—Woman's duties, and her utter lack of training for them—Qualifications of the writers of this volume to teach the matters proposed—Experience and study of woman's work—Conviction of the dignity and importance of it—The great social and moral power in her keeping—The principles and teachings of Jesus Christ the true basis of woman's rights and duties.
THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY.
Object of the Family State—Duty of the elder and stronger to raise the younger, weaker, and more ignorant to an equality of advantages—Discipline of the family—The example of Christ one of self-sacrifice as man's elder brother—His assumption of a low estate—His manual labor—His trade—Woman the chief minister of the family estate—Man the out-door laborer and provider—Labor and self-denial in the mutual relations of home-life, honorable, healthful, economical, enjoyable, and Christian.
A CHRISTIAN HOUSE.
True wisdom in building a home—Necessity of economizing time, labor, and expense, by the close packing of conveniences—Plan of a model cottage—Proportions—Piazzas—Entry—Stairs and landings—Large room—Movable Screen—Convenient bedsteads—A good mattress—A cheap and convenient ottoman—Kitchen and stove-room—The stove-room and its arrangements—Second or attic story—Closets, corner dressing-tables, windows, balconies, water and earth-closets, shoe-bag, piece-bag—Basement, closets, refrigerator, washtubs, etc.—Laundry—General wood-work—Conservatories-Average estimate of cost.
A HEALTHFUL HOME.
Household murder—Poisoning and starvation the inevitable result of bad air in public halls and private homes—Good air as needful as good food—Structure and operations of the lungs and their capillaries and air-cells—How people in a confined room will deprive the air of oxygen and overload it with refuse carbonic acid-Starvation of the living body deprived of oxygen—The skin and its twenty-eight miles of perspiratory tubes—Reciprocal action of plants and animals—Historical examples of foul-air poisoning—Outward effects of habitual breathing of bad air—Quotations from scientific authorities.
SCIENTIFIC DOMESTIC VENTILATION.
An open fireplace secures due ventilation—Evils of substituting air-tight stoves and furnace heating—Tendency of warm air to rise and of cool air to sink—Ventilation of mines—Ignorance of architects—Poor ventilation in most houses—Mode of ventilating laboratories—Creation of a current of warm air in a flue open at top and bottom of the room—Flue to be built into chimney: method of utilizing it.
V. STOVES, FURNACES, AND CHIMNEYS.
The general properties of heat, conduction, convection, radiation, reflection—Cooking done by radiation the simplest but most wasteful mode: by convection (as in stoves and furnaces) the cheapest—The range—The model cooking-stove—Interior arrangements and principles—Contrivances for economizing heat, labor, time, fuel, trouble, and expense—Its durability, simplicity, etc.—Chimneys: why they smoke and how to cure them—Furnaces: the dryness of their heat—Necessity of moisture in warm air—How to obtain and regulate it.
Significance of beauty in making home attractive and useful in education—Exemplification of economical and tasteful furniture—The carpet, lounge, lambrequins, curtains, ottomans, easy-chair, centre-table—Money left for pictures—Chromes—Pretty frames— Engravings—Statuettes—Educatory influence of works of art—Natural adornments—Materials in the woods and fields—Parlor-gardens—Hanging baskets—Fern-shields—Ivy, its beauty and tractableness—Window, with flowers, vines, and pretty plants—Rustic stand for flowers—Ward's case—How to make it economically—Bowls and vases of rustic work for growing plants—Ferns, how and when to gather them—General remarks.
THE CARE OF HEALTH.
Importance of some knowledge of the body and its needs—Fearful responsibility of entering upon domestic duties in ignorance—The fundamental vital principle—Cell-life—Wonders of the microscope —Cell-multiplication—Constant interplay of decay and growth necessary to life—The red and white cells of the blood—Secreting and converting power—The nervous system—The brain and the nerves—Structural arrangement and functions—The ganglionic system—The nervous fluid—Necessity of properly apportioned exercise to nerves of sensation and of motion—Evils of excessive or insufficient exercise—Equal development of the whole.
Connection of muscles and nerves—Microscopic cellular muscular fibre—Its mode of action—Dependence on the nerves of voluntary and involuntary motion—How exercise of muscles quickens circulation of the blood which maintains all the processes of life—Dependence of equilibrium upon proper muscular activity—Importance of securing exercise that will interest the mind.
Apportionment of elements in food: carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, iron, silicon, etc.—Large proportion of water in the human body—Dr. Holmes on the interchange of death and life—Constituent parts of a kernel of wheat—Comparison of different kinds of food—General directions for diet—Hunger the proper guide and guard of appetite—Evils of over-eating—Structure and operations of the stomach—Times and quantity for eating—Stimulating and nourishing food—Americans eat too much meat—Wholesome effects of Lenten fasting—Matter and manner of eating—Causes of debilitation from misuse of food.
Stimulating drinks not necessary—Their immediate evil effects upon the human body and tendency to grow into habitual desires—The arguments for and against stimulus—Microscopic revelations of the effects of alcohol on the cellular tissue of the brain—Opinions of high scientific authorities against its use—No need of resorting to stimulants either for refreshment, nourishment, or pleasure—Tea and coffee an extensive cause of much nervous debility and suffering—Tend to wasteful use in the kitchen—Are seldom agreeable at first to children—Are dangerous to sensitive, nervous organizations, and should be at least regulated—Hot drinks unwholesome, debilitating, and destructive to teeth, throat, and stomach—Warm drinks agreeable and not unhealthful—Cold drinks not to be too freely used during meals—Drinking while eating always injurious to digestion.
Health and comfort depend on cleanliness—Scientific treatment of the skin, the most complicated organ of the body—Structure and arrangement of the skin, its layers, cells, nerves, capillaries, absorbents, oil-tubes, perspiration-tubes, etc.—The mucous membrane—Phlegm—The secreting organs—The liver, kidney, pancreas, salivary and lachrymal glands—Sympathetic connection of all the bodily organs—Intimate connection of the skin with all the other organs—Proper mode of treating the skin—Experiment showing happy effects of good treatment.
Fashion attacks the very foundation of the body, the bones—Bones composed of animal and mineral elements—General construction and arrangement—Health of bones dependent on nourishment and exercise of body—Spine—Distortions produced by tight dressing—Pressure of interior organs upon each other and upon the bones—Displacement of stomach, diaphragm, heart, intestines, and pelvic or lower organs—Women liable to peculiar distresses—A well-fitted jacket to replace stiff corsets, supporting the bust above and the under skirts below—Dressing of young children—Safe for a healthy child to wear as little clothing as will make it thoroughly comfortable—Nature the guide—The very young and the very old need the most clothing.
Bad cooking prevalent in America-Abundance of excellent material— General management of food here very wasteful and extravagant—Five great departments of Cookery—Bread-What it should be, how to spoil and how to make it—Different modes of aeration—Baking—Evils of hot bread.—Butter-Contrast between the butter of America and of European countries-How to make good butter.—Meat-Generally used too newly killed—Lack of nicety in butcher's work—Economy of French butchery, curving, and trimming—Modes of cooking meats—The frying-pan—True way of using it—The French art of making delicious soups and stews—Vegetables—Their number and variety in America—The potato—How to cook it, a simple yet difficult operation—Roasted, boiled, fried.—Tea—Warm table drinks generally—Coffee—Tea— Chocolate.—Confectionery—Ornamental cookery—Pastry, ices, jellies.
EARLY RISING. A virtue peculiarly American and democratic—In aristocratic countries, labor considered degrading—The hours of sunlight generally devoted to labor by the working classes and to sleep by the indolent and wealthy—Sunlight necessary to health and growth whether of vegetables or animals—Particularly needful for the sick—Substitution of artificial light and heat, by night, a great waste of money—Eight hours' sleep enough—Excessive sleep debilitating—Early rising necessary to a well-regulated family, to the amount of work to be done, to the community, to schools, and to all classes in American society.
Good manners the expression of benevolence in personal intercourse—Serious defects in manners of the Americans-Causes of abrupt manners to be found in American life—Want of clear discrimination between men—Necessity for distinctions of superiority: and subordination—Importance that young mothers should seriously endeavor to remedy this defect, while educating their children—Democratic principal of equal rights to be applied, not to our own interests but to those of others—The same courtesy to be extended to all classes—Necessary distinctions arising from mutual relations to be observed—The strong to defer to the weak—Precedence yielded by men to women in America—Good manners must be cultivated in early life—Mutual relations of husband and wife—Parents and children—The rearing of children to courtesy—De Tocqueville on American manners.
GOOD TEMPER IN THE HOUSEKEEPER.
Easier for a household under the guidance of an equable temper in the mistress—-Dissatisfied looks and sharp tones destroy the comfort of system, neatness, and economy—Considerations to aid the housekeeper—Importance and dignity of her duties—Difficulties to be overcome—Good policy to calculate beforehand upon the derangement of well-arranged plans—Object of housekeeping, the comfort and well-being of the family—The end should not be sacrificed to secure the means—Possible to refrain from angry tones—Mild speech most effective—Exemplification—Allowances to be made for servants and children—Power of religion to impart dignity and importance to the ordinary and petty details of domestic life.
HABITS OF SYSTEM AND ORDER.
Relative importance and difficulty of the duties a woman is called to perform—Her duties not trivial—A habit of system and order necessary—Right apportionment of time—General principles— Christianity to be the foundation—Intellectual and social interests to be preferred to gratification of taste or appetite—Neglect of health a sin in the sight of God—Regular season of rest appointed by the Creator—Divisions of time—Systematic arrangement of house articles and other conveniences—Regular employment for each member of a family—Children—Family work—Forming habits of system—Early rising a very great aid—Due apportionment of time to the several duties.
GIVING IN CHARITY.
No point of duty more difficult to fix by rule than charity—First consideration—Object for which we are placed in this world—Self- denying Benevolence.—Second consideration—Natural principles not to be exterminated, but regulated and controlled.—Third consideration—Superfluities sometimes proper, and sometimes not—Fourth consideration—No rule of duty right for one and not for all—The opposite of this principle tested—Some use of superfluities necessary—Plan for keeping an account of necessities and superfluities—Untoward results of our actions do not always prove that we deserve blame—General principles to guide in deciding upon objects of charity—Who are our neighbors—The most in need to be first relieved—Not much need of charity for physical wants in this country—Associated charities—Indiscriminate charity—Impropriety of judging the charities of others.
ECONOMY OF TIME AND EXPENSES
Economy, value, and right apportionment of time—Laws appointed by God for the Jews—Christianity removes the restrictions laid on the Jews, but demands all our time to be devoted to our own best interests and the good of our fellow-men—Enjoyment connected with every duty—Various modes of economizing time—System and order—Uniting several objects in one employment—Odd intervals of time—Aiding others in economizing time—Economy in expenses—Contradictory notions—General principles in which all agree—Knowledge of income and expenses—Evils of want of system and forethought—Young ladies should early learn to be systematic and economical.
HEALTH OF MIND.
Intimate connection between the body and mind—Brain excited by improper stimulants taken into the stomach—Mental faculties then affected—Causes of mental disease—Want of oxygenized blood—Fresh air absolutely necessary—Excessive exercise of the intellect or feelings—Such attention to religion as prevents the performance of other duties, wrong—Unusual precocity in children usually the result of a diseased brain—Idiocy often the result, or the precocious child sinks below the average of mankind—This evil yet prevalent in colleges and other seminaries—A medical man necessary in every seminary—Some pupils always needing restraint in regard to study—A third cause of mental disease, the want of appropriate exercise of the various faculties of the mind—Extract from Dr. Combe—Beneficial results of active intellectual employments—Indications of a diseased mind.
THE CARE OF INFANTS.
Herbert Spencer on the treatment of offspring—Absurdity of undertaking to rear children without any knowledge of how to do it—Foolish management of parents generally the cause of evils ascribed to Providence—Errors of management during the first two years—Food of child and of mother—Warning as to use of too much medicine—Fresh air— Care of the skin—Dress—Sleep—Bathing—Change of air—Habits—Dangers of the teething period—Constipation—Diarrhea—Teething—How to relieve its dangers—Feverishness—Use of water.
THE MANAGEMENT OF YOUNG CHILDREN.
Physical education of children—Animal diet to be avoided for the very young—Result of treatment at Albany Orphan Asylum—Good ventilation of nurseries and schools—Moral training to consist in forming habits of submission, self-denial, and benevolence-General suggestions—Extremes of sternness and laxity to be avoided—Appreciation of childish desires and feelings—Sympathy—Partaking in games and employments—Inculcation of principles preferable to multiplication of commands—Rewards rather than penalties—Severe tones of voice—Children to be kept happy—Sensitive children—Self-denial—Deceit and honesty—Immodesty and delicacy—Dreadful penalties consequent upon youthful impurities—Religious training.
DOMESTIC AMUSEMENTS AND SOCIAL DUTIES.
Children need more amusement than older persons—Its object, to afford rest and recreation to the mind and body—Example of Christ—No amusements to be introduced that will tempt the weak or over-excite the young—Puritan customs—Work followed by play—Dramatic exercises, dancing, and festivity wholesomely enjoyed—The nine o'clock bell—The drama and the dance—Card-playing—Novel-reading—Taste for solid reading—Cultivation of fruits and flowers—Music—Collecting of shells, plants, and minerals—Games—Exercise of mechanical skill for boys—Sewing, cutting, and fitting—General suggestions—Social and domestic duties—Family attachments—Hospitality.
CARE OF THE AGED.
Preservation of the aged, designed to give opportunity for self-denial and loving care—Patience, sympathy, and labor for them to be regarded as privileges in a family—The young should respect and minister unto the aged—Treating them as valued members of the family—Engaging them in domestic Games and sports—Reading aloud-Courteous attention to their opinions—Assistance in retarding decay of faculties by helping them to exercise—Keeping up interest of the infirm in domestic affairs—Great care to preserve animal heat—Ingratitude to the aged, its baseness—Chinese regard for old age.
THE CARE OF SERVANTS.
Origin of the Yankee term "help"—Days of good health and intelligent house-keeping—Growth of wealth tends to multiply hired service— American young women should be trained in housekeeping for the guidance of ignorant and shiftless servants—Difficulty of teaching servants—Reaction of society in favor of women's intellectuality, in danger of causing a new reaction—American girls should do more work—Social estimate of domestic service—Dearth of intelligent domestic help—Proper mode of treating servants—General rules and special suggestions—Hints from experience—Woman's first "right," liberty to do what she can—Domestic duties not to be neglected for operations in other spheres—Servants to be treated with respect—Errors of heartless and of too indulgent employers—Mistresses of American families necessarily missionaries and instructors.
CARE Of THE SICK.
Prominence given to care and cure of the sick by our Saviour—Every woman should know what to do in the case of illness—Simple remedies best—Fasting and perspiration—Evils of constipation—Modes of relieving it—Remedies for colds—Unwise to tempt the appetite of the sick—Suggestion for the sick-room—Ventilation—Needful articles—The room, bed, and person of the patient to be kept neat—Care to preserve animal warmth—The sick, the delicate, the aged—Food always to be carefully prepared and neatly served—Little modes of refreshment— Implicit obedience to the physician—Care in purchasing medicines— Exhibition of cheerfulness, gentleness, and sympathy—Knowledge and experience of mind—Lack of competent nurses—Failings of nurses— Sensitiveness of the sick—"Sisters of Charity," the reason why they are such excellent nurses—Illness in the family a providential opportunity of training children to love and usefulness.
ACCIDENTS AND ANTIDOTES.
Mode of treating cuts, wounds, severed arteries—Bad bruises to be bathed In hot water—Sprains treated with hot fomentation and rest—Burns cured by creosote, wood-soot, or flour—Drowning; most approved mode of treatment—Poisons and their antidotes—Soda, saleratus, potash, sulphuric or oxalic acid, lime or baryta, iodine or iodide of potassium, prussic acid, antimony, arsenic, lead, nitrate of silver, phosphorus, alcohol, tobacco, opium, strychnia—Bleeding at the lungs, stomach, throat, nose—Accidents from lightning— Stupefaction, from coal-gas or foul air—Fire—Fainting—Coolness and presence of mind.
SEWING, CUTTING, AND MENDING.
Different kinds of Stitch—Overstitch—Hems—Tucks—Fells—Gores— Buttonholes—Whipping—Gathering—Darning—Basting—Sewing—Work- baskets—To make a frock—Patterns—Fitting—Lining—Thin Silks— Fitted and plain silks—Plaids—Stripes—Linen and Cotton—How to buy—Shirts—Chemises—Night-gowns—Under-skirts—Mending—Silk dresses—Broadcloth—Hose—Shoes, etc.—Bedding—Mattresses— Sheeting—Bed-linen.
FIRES AND LIGHTS.
Wood fires—Shallow fireplaces—Utensils—The best wood for fires —How to measure a load—Splitting and piling—Ashes—Cleaning up— Stoves and grates—Ventilation—Moisture—Stove-pipe thimbles— Anthracite coal—Bituminous coal—Care to be used in erecting stoves and pipes—Lights—Poor economy to use bad light—Gas—Oil—Kerosene— Points to be considered: Steadiness, Color, Heat—Argand burners— Dangers of kerosene—Tests of its safety and light-giving qualities— Care of lamps—Utensils needed—Shades—Night-lamps—How to make candles—Moulded—Dipped—Rush-lights.
THE CARE OF ROOMS.
Parlors—Cleansing—Furniture—Pictures—Hearths and jambs—Stains in marble—Carpets—Chambers and bedrooms—Ventilation—How to make a bed properly—Servants should have single beds and comfortable rooms—Kitchens—Light—Air—Cleanliness—How to make a cheap oil-cloth—The sink—Washing dishes—Kitchen furniture—Crockery— Ironware—Tinware—Basketware—Other articles—Closets—Cellars—Dryness and cleanliness imperative necessities—Store-rooms—Modes of destroying insects and vermin.
THE CARE OF YARDS AND GARDENS.
Preparation of soil for pot-plants—For hot-beds—For planting flower seeds—For garden seeds—Transplanting—To re-pot house plants—The laying out of yards and gardens—Transplanting trees—The care of house plants.
THE PROPAGATION OF PLANTS.
Propagation of bulbous roots—Propagation of plants by shoots—By layers-Budding and grafting—The outer and inner bark—Detailed description of operations—Seed-fruit—Stone-fruit—Rose hushes— Ingrafting—Stock grafting—Pruning—Perpendicular shoots to be taken out, horizontal or curved shoots retained—All fruit-buds coming out after midsummer to be rubbed off—Suckers—Pruning to be done after sap is in circulation.—Thinning—Leaves to be removed when they shade fruit near maturity—Fruit to be removed when too abundant for good quality—How to judge.
THE CULTIVATION OF FRUIT.
A pleasant, easy, and profitable occupation—Soil for a nursery— Planting of seeds—Transplanting—Pruning—Filberts—Figs—Currants— Gooseberries—Raspberries—Strawberries—Grapes—Modes of preserving fruit trees—The yellows—Moths—Caterpillars—Brulure-Curculio—Canker- worm.
THE CARE OF DOMESTIC ANIMALS.
Interesting association of animals with man, from childhood to age—Domestic animals apt to catch the spirit of their masters— Important necessities—Good feeding—Shelter—Cleanliness—Destruction of parasitic vermin—Salt and water—Light—Exercise—Rule for breeding—Care of Horses: feeding, grooming, special treatment—Cows: stabling, feed, calving, milking, tethering—Swine: naturally cleanly, breeding, fresh water, charcoal, feeding—Sheep: winter treatment—Diet —Sorting—Use of sheep in clearing land-Pasture—Hedges and fences—Poultry—Turkeys—Geese—Ducks—Fowls—Dairy work generally—Bees—Care of domestic animals, occupation for women.
Deodorization and preservation of excrementitious matter—The earth-closet—Waring's pamphlet—The agricultural argument—Necessity of returning to the soil the elements taken from it—Earth-closet based on power of clay and inorganic matter to absorb and retain odors and fertilizing matter—Its construction—Mode of use—The ordinary privy—The commode or portable house-privy—Especial directions: things to be observed—Repeated use of earth—Other advantages—Sick-rooms—House-labor—Cleanliness—Economy.
WARMING AND VENTILATION.
Open fireplace nearest to natural mode by which earth is warmed and ventilated—Origin of diseases—Necessity of pure air to life —Statistics—General principles of ventilation—Mode of Lewis Leeds—Ventilation of buildings planned in this work—The pure-air conductor—The foul-air exhausting-flue—Stoves—Detailed arrangements—Warming—Economy of time, labor, and expense in the cottage plan—After all schemes, the open fireplace the best.
CARE OF THE HOMELESS, THE HELPLESS, AND THE VICIOUS.
Recommendations of the Massachusetts Board of State Charities—Pauper and criminal classes should be scattered in Christian homes instead of gathered into large institutions—Facts recently published concerning the poor of New-York—Sufferings of the poor, deterioration of the rich—Christian principles of benevolence—Plan for a Christian city house—Suggestions to wealthy and unoccupied women—Roman Catholic works—Protestant duties—The highest mission of woman. XXXVIII.
THE CHRISTIAN NEIGHBORHOOD.
Spirit of Christian Missions—Present organizations under church direction too mechanical—Christian family influence the true instrument of Gospel propagation—Practical suggestions for gathering a Christian family in neglected neighborhoods—Plan of church, school-house, and family-dwelling in one building—Mode of use for various purposes—Nucleus and gathering of a family—Christian work for Christian women—Children—Orphans—Servants—Neglected ones—Household training—Roman Catholic Nuns—The South—The West—The neglected interior of older States—Power of such examples—Rapid spread of their influence—Anticipation of the glorious consummation to be hoped for—Prophecy in the Scriptures—Cowper's noble vision of the millennial glory.
APPEAL TO AMERICAN WOMEN.
GLOSSARY OF WORDS AND REFERENCES
The authors of this volume, while they sympathize with every honest effort to relieve the disabilities and sufferings of their sex, are confident that the chief cause of these evils is the fact that the honor and duties of the family state are not duly appreciated, that women are not trained for these duties as men are trained for their trades and professions, and that, as the consequence, family labor is poorly done, poorly paid, and regarded as menial and disgraceful.
To be the nurse of young children, a cook, or a housemaid, is regarded as the lowest and last resort of poverty, and one which no woman of culture and position can assume without loss of caste and respectability.
It is the aim of this volume to elevate both the honor and the remuneration of all the employments that sustain the many difficult and sacred duties of the family state, and thus to render each department of woman's true profession as much desired and respected as are the most honored professions of men.
When the other sex are to be instructed in law, medicine, or divinity, they are favored with numerous institutions richly endowed, with teachers of the highest talents and acquirements, with extensive libraries, and abundant and costly apparatus. With such advantages they devote nearly ten of the best years of life to preparing themselves for their profession; and to secure the public from unqualified members of these professions, none can enter them until examined by a competent body, who certify to their due preparation for their duties.
Woman's profession embraces the care and nursing of the body in the critical periods of infancy and sickness, the training of the human mind in the most impressible period of childhood, the instruction and control of servants, and most of the government and economies of the family state. These duties of woman are as sacred and important as any ordained to man; and yet no such advantages for preparation have been accorded to her, nor is there any qualified body to certify the public that a woman is duly prepared to give proper instruction in her profession.
This unfortunate want, and also the questions frequently asked concerning the domestic qualifications of both the authors of this work, who have formerly written upon such topics, make it needful to give some account of the advantages they have enjoyed in preparation for the important office assumed as teachers of woman's domestic duties.
The sister whose name is subscribed is the eldest of nine children by her own mother, and of four by her step-mother; and having a natural love for children, she found it a pleasure as well as a duty to aid in the care of infancy and childhood. At sixteen, she was deprived of a mother, who was remarkable not only for intelligence and culture, but for a natural taste and skill in domestic handicraft. Her place was awhile filled by an aunt remarkable for her habits of neatness and order, and especially for her economy. She was, in the course of time, replaced by a stepmother, who had been accustomed to a superior style of housekeeping, and was an expert in all departments of domestic administration.
Under these successive housekeepers, the writer learned not only to perform in the most approved manner all the manual employments of domestic life, but to honor and enjoy these duties.
At twenty-three, she commenced the institution which ever since has flourished as "The Hartford Female Seminary," where, at the age of twelve, the sister now united with her in the authorship of this work became her pupil, and, after a few years, her associate. The removal of the family to the West, and failure of health, ended a connection with the Hartford Seminary, and originated a similar one in Cincinnati, of which the younger authoress of this work was associate principal till her marriage.
At this time, the work on Domestic Economy, of which this volume may be called an enlarged edition, although a great portion of it is entirely new, embodying the latest results of science, was prepared by the writer as a part of the Massachusetts School Library, and has since been extensively introduced as a text-book into public schools and higher female seminaries. It was followed by its sequel, The Domestic Receipt-Book, widely circulated by the Harpers in every State of the Union.
These two works have been entirely remodeled, former topics rewritten, and many new ones introduced, so as to include all that is properly embraced in a complete Encyclopedia of Domestic Economy.
In addition to the opportunities mentioned, the elder sister, for many years, has been studying the causes and the remedies for the decay of constitution and loss of health so increasingly prevalent among American women, aiming to promote the establishment of endowed institutions, in which women shall be properly trained for their profession, as both housekeepers and health-keepers. What advantages have thus been received and the results thus obtained will appear in succeeding pages.
During the upward progress of the age, and the advance of a more enlightened Christianity, the writers of this volume have gained more elevated views of the true mission of woman—of the dignity and importance of her distinctive duties, and of the true happiness which will be the reward of a right appreciation of this mission, and a proper performance of these duties.
There is at the present time an increasing agitation of the public mind, evolving many theories and some crude speculations as to woman's rights and duties. That there is a great social and moral power in her keeping, which is now seeking expression by organization, is manifest, and that resulting plans and efforts will involve some mistakes, some collisions, and some failures, all must expect.
But to intelligent, reflecting, and benevolent women—whose faith rests on the character and teachings of Jesus Christ—there are great principles revealed by Him, which in the end will secure the grand result which He taught and suffered to achieve. It is hoped that in the following pages these principles will be so exhibited and illustrated as to aid in securing those rights and advantages which Christ's religion aims to provide for all, and especially for the most weak and defenseless of His children.
CATHARINE E. BEECHER.
THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY.
It is the aim of this volume to elevate both the honor and the remuneration of all employments that sustain the many difficult and varied duties of the family state, and thus to render each department of woman's profession as much desired and respected as are the most honored professions of men.
What, then, is the end designed by the family state which Jesus Christ came into this world to secure?
It is to provide for the training of our race to the highest possible intelligence, virtue, and happiness, by means of the self-sacrificing labors of the wise and good, and this with chief reference to a future immortal existence. The distinctive feature of the family is self-sacrificing labor of the stronger and wiser members to raise the weaker and more ignorant to equal advantages. The father undergoes toil and self-denial to provide a home, and then the mother becomes a self-sacrificing laborer to train its inmates. The useless, troublesome infant is served in the humblest offices; while both parents unite in training it to an equality with themselves in every advantage. Soon the older children become helpers to raise the younger to a level with their own. When any are sick, those who are well become self-sacrificing ministers. When the parents are old and useless, the children become their self-sacrificing servants.
Thus the discipline of the family state is one of daily self-devotion of the stronger and wiser to elevate and support the weaker members. Nothing could be more contrary to its first principles than for the older and more capable children to combine to secure to themselves the highest advantages, enforcing the drudgeries on the younger, at the sacrifice of their equal culture.
Jesus Christ came to teach the fatherhood of God and consequent brotherhood of man. He came as the "first-born Son" of God and the Elder Brother of man, to teach by example the self-sacrifice by which the great family of man is to be raised to equality of advantages as children of God. For this end, he "humbled himself" from the highest to the lowest place. He chose for his birthplace the most despised village; for his parents the lowest in rank; for his trade, to labor with his hands as a carpenter, being "subject to his parents" thirty years. And, what is very significant, his trade was that which prepares the family home, as if he would teach that the great duty of man is labor—to provide for and train weak and ignorant creatures. Jesus Christ worked with his hands nearly thirty years, and preached less than three. And he taught that his kingdom is exactly opposite to that of the world, where all are striving for the highest positions. "Whoso will be great shall be your minister, and whoso will be chiefest shall be servant of all."
The family state then, is the aptest earthly illustration of the heavenly kingdom, and in it woman is its chief minister. Her great mission is self-denial, in training its members to self-sacrificing labors for the ignorant and weak: if not her own children, then the neglected children of her Father in heaven. She is to rear all under her care to lay up treasures, not on earth, but in heaven. All the pleasures of this life end here; but those who train immortal minds are to reap the fruit of their labor through eternal ages.
To man is appointed the out-door labor—to till the earth, dig the mines, toil in the foundries, traverse the ocean, transport merchandise, labor in manufactories, construct houses, conduct civil, municipal, and state affairs, and all the heavy work, which, most of the day, excludes him from the comforts of a home. But the great stimulus to all these toils, implanted in the heart of every true man, is the desire for a home of his own, and the hopes of paternity. Every man who truly lives for immortality responds to the beatitude, "Children are a heritage from the Lord: blessed is the man that hath his quiver full of them!" The more a father and mother live under the influence of that "immortality which Christ hath brought to light," the more is the blessedness of rearing a family understood and appreciated. Every child trained aright is to dwell forever in exalted bliss with those that gave it life and trained it for heaven.
The blessed privileges of the family state are not confined to those who rear children of their own. Any woman who can earn a livelihood, as every woman should be trained to do, can take a properly qualified female associate, and institute a family of her own, receiving to its heavenly influences the orphan, the sick, the homeless, and the sinful, and by motherly devotion train them to follow the self-denying example of Christ, in educating his earthly children for true happiness in this life and for his eternal home.
And such is the blessedness of aiding to sustain a truly Christian home, that no one comes so near the pattern of the All-perfect One as those who might hold what men call a higher place, and yet humble themselves to the lowest in order to aid in training the young, "not as men-pleasers, but as servants to Christ, with good-will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men." Such are preparing for high places in the kingdom of heaven. "Whosoever will be chiefest among you, let him be your servant."
It is often the case that the true humility of Christ is not understood. It was not in having a low opinion of his own character and claims, but it was in taking a low place in order to raise others to a higher. The worldling seeks to raise himself and family to an equality with others, or, if possible, a superiority to them. The true follower of Christ comes down in order to elevate others.
The maxims and institutions of this world have ever been antagonistic to the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Men toil for wealth, honor, and power, not as means for raising others to an equality with themselves, but mainly for earthly, selfish advantages. Although the experience of this life shows that children brought up to labor have the fairest chance for a virtuous and prosperous life, and for hope of future eternal blessedness, yet it is the aim of most parents who can do so, to lay up wealth that their children need not labor with the hands as Christ did. And although exhorted by our Lord not to lay up treasure on earth, but rather the imperishable riches which are gained in toiling to train the ignorant and reform the sinful, as yet a large portion of the professed followers of Christ, like his first disciples, are "slow of heart to believe."
Not less have the sacred ministries of the family state been undervalued and warred upon in other directions; for example, the Romish Church has made celibacy a prime virtue, and given its highest honors to those who forsake the family state as ordained by God. Thus came great communities of monks and nuns, shut out from the love and labors of a Christian home; thus, also, came the monkish systems of education, collecting the young in great establishments away from the watch and care of parents, and the healthful and self-sacrificing labors of a home. Thus both religion and education have conspired to degrade the family state.
Still more have civil laws and social customs been opposed to the principles of Jesus Christ. It has ever been assumed that the learned, the rich, and the powerful are not to labor with the hands, as Christ did, and as Paul did when he would "not eat any man's bread for naught, but wrought with labor, not because we have not power "[to live without hand-work,]" but to make ourselves an example."(2 Thess. 3.)
Instead of this, manual labor has been made dishonorable and unrefined by being forced on the ignorant and poor. Especially has the most important of all hand-labor, that which sustains the family, been thus disgraced; so that to nurse young children, and provide the food of a family by labor, is deemed the lowest of all positions in honor and profit, and the last resort of poverty. And so our Lord, who himself took the form of a servant, teaches, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter the kingdom of heaven!"—that kingdom in which all are toiling to raise the weak, ignorant, and sinful to such equality with themselves as the children of a loving family enjoy. One mode in which riches have led to antagonism with the true end of the family state is in the style of living, by which the hand-labor, most important to health, comfort, and beauty, is confined to the most ignorant and neglected members of society, without any effort being made to raise them to equal advantages with the wise and cultivated.
And, the higher civilization has advanced, the more have children been trained to feel that to labor, as did Christ and Paul, is disgraceful, and to be made the portion of a degraded class. Children, of the rich grow up with the feeling that servants are to work for them, and they themselves are not to work. To the minds of most children and servants, "to be a lady," is almost synonymous with "to be waited on, and do no work," It is the earnest desire of the authors of this volume to make plain the falsity of this growing popular feeling, and to show how much happier and more efficient family life will become when it is strengthened, sustained, and adorned by family work.
A CHRISTIAN HOUSE.
In the Divine Word it is written, "The wise woman buildeth her house." To be "wise," is "to choose the best means for accomplishing the best end." It has been shown that the best end for a woman to seek is the training of God's children for their eternal home, by guiding them to intelligence, virtue, and true happiness. When, therefore, the wise woman seeks a home in which to exercise this ministry, she will aim to secure a house so planned that it will provide in the best manner for health, industry, and economy, those cardinal requisites of domestic enjoyment and success. To aid in this, is the object of the following drawings and descriptions, which will illustrate a style of living more conformed to the great design for which the family is instituted than that which ordinarily prevails among those classes which take the lead in forming the customs of society. The aim will be to exhibit modes of economizing labor, time, and expenses, so as to secure health, thrift, and domestic happiness to persons of limited means, in a measure rarely attained even by those who possess wealth.
At the head of this chapter is a sketch of what may be properly called a Christian house; that is, a house contrived for the express purpose of enabling every member of a family to labor with the hands for the common good, and by modes at once healthful, economical, and tasteful. Of course, much of the instruction conveyed in the following pages is chiefly applicable to the wants and habits of those living either in the country or in such suburban vicinities as give space of ground for healthful outdoor occupation in the family service, although the general principles of house-building and house-keeping are of necessity universal in their application—as true in the busy confines of the city as in the freer and purer quietude of the country. So far as circumstances can be made to yield the opportunity, it will be assumed that the family state demands some outdoor labor for all. The cultivation of flowers to ornament the table and house, of fruits and vegetables for food, of silk and cotton for clothing, and the care of horse, cow, and dairy, can be so divided that each and all of the family, some part of the day, can take exercise in the pure air, under the magnetic and healthful rays of the sun. Every head of a family should seek a soil and climate which will afford such opportunities. Railroads, enabling men toiling in cities to rear families in the country, are on this account a special blessing. So, also, is the opening of the South to free labor, where, in the pure and mild climate of the uplands, open-air labor can proceed most of the year, and women and children labor out of doors as well as within.
In the following drawings are presented modes of economizing time, labor, and expense by the close packing of conveniences. By such methods, small and economical houses can be made to secure most of the comforts and many of the refinements of large and expensive ones. The cottage at the head of this chapter is projected on a plan which can be adapted to a warm or cold climate with little change. By adding another story, it would serve a large family.
Fig. 1 shows the ground-plan of the first floor. On the inside it is forty-three feet long and twenty-five wide, excluding conservatories and front and back projections. Its inside height from floor to ceiling is ten feet. The piazzas each side of the front projection have sliding-windows to the floor, and can, by glazed sashes, be made green-houses in winter. In a warm climate, piazzas can be made at the back side also.
In the description and arrangement, the leading aim is to show how time, labor, and expense are saved, not only in the building but in furniture and its arrangement. With this aim, the ground-floor and its furniture will first be shown, then the second story and its furniture, and then the basement and its conveniences. The conservatories are appendages not necessary to housekeeping, but useful in many ways pointed out more at large in other chapters.
The entry has arched recesses behind the front doors, (Fig. 2,) furnished with hooks for over-clothes in both—a box for over-shoes in one, and a stand for umbrellas in the other. The roof of the recess is for statuettes, busts, or flowers. The stairs turn twice with broad steps, making a recess at the lower landing, whore a table is set with a vase of flowers, (Fig. 3.) On one side of the recess is a closet, arched to correspond with the arch over the stairs. A bracket over the first broad stair, with flowers or statuettes, is visible from the entrance, and pictures can be hung as in the illustration.
The large room on the left can be made to serve the purpose of several rooms by means of a movable screen. By shifting this rolling screen from one part of the room to another, two apartments are always available, of any desired size within the limits of the large room. One side of the screen fronts what may be used as the parlor or sitting-room; the other side is arranged for bedroom conveniences. Of this, Fig. 4 shows the front side;—covered first with strong canvas, stretched and nailed on. Over this is pasted panel-paper, and the upper part is made to resemble an ornamental cornice by fresco-paper. Pictures can be hung in the panels, or be pasted on and varnished with white varnish. To prevent the absorption of the varnish, a wash of gum isinglass (fish-glue) must be applied twice.
Fig. 5 shows the back or inside of the movable screen toward the part of the room used as the bedroom. On one side, and at the top and bottom, it has shelves with shelf-boxes, which are cheaper and better than drawers, and much preferred by those using them. Handles are cut in the front and back side, as seen in Fig. 6. Half an inch space must be between the box and the shelf over it, and as much each side, so that it can be taken out and put in easily. The central part of the screen's interior is a wardrobe.
[Image: Panel screens]
This screen must be so high as nearly to reach the ceiling, in order to prevent it from overturning. It is to fill the width of the room, except two feet on each side. A projecting cleat or strip, reaching nearly to the top of the screen, three inches wide, is to be screwed to the front sides, on which light frame doors are to be hung, covered with canvas and panel-paper like the front of the screen. The inside of these doors is furnished with hooks for clothing, for which the projection makes room. The whole screen is to be eighteen inches deep at the top and two feet deep at the base, giving a solid foundation. It is moved on four wooden rollers, one foot long and four inches in diameter. The pivots of the rollers and the parts where there is friction must be rubbed with hard soap, and then a child can move the whole easily.
A curtain is to be hung across the whole interior of the screen by rings, on a strong wire. The curtain should be in three parts, with lead or large nails in the hems to keep it in place. The wood-work must be put together with screws, as the screen is too large to pass through a, door.
At the end of the room, behind the screen, are two couches, to be run one under the other, as in Fig. 7. The upper one is made with four posts, each three feet high and three inches square, set on casters two inches high. The frame is to be fourteen inches from the floor, seven feet long, two feet four inches wide, and three inches in thickness. At the head, and at the foot, is to be screwed a notched two-inch board, three inches wide, as in Fig. 8. The mortises are to be one inch wide and deep, and one inch apart, to revive slats made of ash, oak, or spruce, one inch square, placed lengthwise of the couch. The slats being small, and so near together, and running lengthwise, make a better spring frame than wire coils. If they warp, they can be turned. They must not be fastened at the ends, except by insertion in the notches. Across the posts, and of equal height with them, are to be screwed head and foot-boards.
The under couch is like the upper, except these dimensions: posts, nine inches high, including castors; frame, six feet two inches long, two feet four inches wide. The frame should be as near the floor as possible, resting on the casters.
The most healthful and comfortable mattress is made by a case, open in the centre and fastened together with buttons, as in Fig. 9; to be filled with oat straw, which is softer than wheat or rye. This can be adjusted to the figure, and often renewed.
Fig. 10 represents the upper couch when covered, with the under couch put beneath it. The coverlid should match the curtain of the screen; and the pillows, by day, should have a case of the same.
Fig. 11 is an ottoman, made as a box, with a lid on hinges. A cushion is fastened to this lid by strings at each corner, passing through holes in the box lid and tied inside. The cushion to be cut square, with side pieces; stuffed with hair, and stitched through like a mattress. Side handles are made by cords fastened inside with knots. The box must be two inches larger at the bottom than at the top, and the lid and cushion the same size as the bottom, to give it a tasteful shape. This ottoman is set on casters, and is a great convenience for holding articles, while serving also as a seat.
The expense of the screen, where lumber averages $4 a hundred, and carpenter labor $3 a day, would be about $30, and the two couches about $6. The material for covering might be cheap and yet pretty. A woman with these directions, and a son or husband who would use plane and saw, could thus secure much additional room, and also what amounts to two bureaus, two large trunks, one large wardrobe, and a wash-stand, for less than $20—the mere cost of materials. The screen and couches can be so arranged as to have one room serve first as a large and airy sleeping-room; then, in the morning, it may be used as sitting-room one side of the screen, and breakfast-room the other; and lastly, through the day it can be made a large parlor on the front side, and a sewing or retiring-room the other side. The needless spaces usually devoted to kitchen, entries, halls, back-stairs, pantries, store-rooms, and closets, by this method would be used in adding to the size of the large room, so variously used by day and by night.
Fig. 12 is an enlarged plan of the kitchen and stove-room. The chimney and stove-room are contrived to ventilate the whole house, by a mode exhibited in another chapter.
Between the two rooms glazed sliding-doors, passing each other, serve to shut out heat and smells from the kitchen. The sides of the stove-room must be lined with shelves; those on the side by the cellar stairs, to be one foot wide, and eighteen inches apart; on the other side, shelves may be narrower, eight inches wide and nine inches apart. Boxes with lids, to receive stove utensils, must be placed near the stove.
On these shelves, and in the closet and boxes, can be placed every material used for cooking, all the table and cooking utensils, and all the articles used in house work, and yet much spare room will be left. The cook's galley in a steamship has every article and utensil used in cooking for two hundred persons, in a space not larger than this stove-room, and so arranged that with one or two steps the cook can reach all he uses.
In contrast to this, in most large houses, the table furniture, the cooking materials and utensils, the sink, and the eating-room, are at such distances apart, that half the time and strength is employed in walking back and forth to collect and return the articles used.
Fig. 13 is an enlarged plan of the sink and cooking-form. Two windows make a better circulation of air in warm weather, by having one open at top and the other at the bottom, while the light is better adjusted for working, in case of weak eyes.
The flour-barrel just fills the closet, which has a door for admission, and a lid to raise when used. Beside it, is the form for cooking, with a moulding-board laid on it; one side used for preparing vegetables and meat, and the other for moulding bread. The sink has two pumps, for well and for rain-water—one having a forcing power to throw water into the reservoir in the garret, which supplies the water-closet and bath-room. On the other side of the sink is the dish-drainer, with a ledge on the edge next the sink, to hold the dishes, and grooves cut to let the water drain into the sink. It has hinges, so that it can either rest on the cook-form or be turned over and cover the sink. Under the sink are shelf-boxes placed on two shelves run into grooves, with other grooves above and below, so that one may move the shelves and increase or diminish the spaces between. The shelf-boxes can be used for scouring-materials, dish-towels, and dish-cloths; also to hold bowls for bits of butter, fats, etc. Under these two shelves is room for two pails, and a jar for soap-grease.
Under the cook-form are shelves and shelf-boxes for unbolted wheat, corn-meal, rye, etc. Beneath these, for white and brown sugar, are wooden can-pails, which are the best articles in which to keep these constant necessities. Beside them is the tin molasses-can with a tight, movable cover, and a cork in the spout. This is much better than a jug for molasses, and also for vinegar and oil, being easier to clean and to handle. Other articles and implements for cooking can be arranged on or under the shelves at the side and front. A small cooking-tray, holding pepper, salt, dredging-box, knife and spoon, should stand close at hand by the stove, (Fig. 14.)
The articles used for setting tables are to be placed on the shelves at the front and side of the sink. Two tumbler-trays, made of pasteboard, covered with varnished fancy papers and divided by wires, (as shown in Fig. 15,) save many steps in setting and clearing table. Similar trays, (Fig. 16,) for knives and forks and spoons, serve the same purpose.
The sink should be three feet long and three inches deep, its width matching the cook-form.
Fig. 17 is the second or attic story. The main objection to attic rooms is their warmth in summer, owing to the heated roof. This is prevented by so enlarging the closets each side that their walls meet the ceiling under the garret floor, thus excluding all the roof. In the bed-chambers, corner dressing-tables, as Fig. 18, instead of projecting bureaus, save much space for use, and give a handsome form and finish to the room. In the bath-room must be the opening to the garret, and a step-ladder to reach it. A reservoir in the garret, supplied by a forcing-pump in the cellar or at the sink, must be well supported by timbers, and the plumbing must be well done, or much annoyance will ensue.
The large chambers are to be lighted by large windows or glazed sliding-doors, opening upon the balcony. A roof can be put over the balcony and its sides inclosed by windows, and the chamber extend into it, and be thus much enlarged.
The water-closets must have the latest improvements for safe discharge, and there will be no trouble. They cost no more than an out-door building, and save from the most disagreeable house-labor. A great improvement, called earth-closets, will probably take the place of water-closets to some extent; though at present the water is the more convenient. A description of the earth-closet will be given in another chapter relating to tenement-houses for the poor in large cities.
The method of ventilating all the chambers, and also the cellar, will be described in another chapter.
Fig. 19 represents a shoe-bag, that can be fastened to the side of a closet or closet-door.
Fig. 20 represents a piece-bag, and is a very great labor and space-saving invention. It is made of calico, and fastened to the side of a closet or a door, to hold all the bundles that are usually stowed in trunks and drawers. India-rubber or elastic tape drawn into hems to hold the contents of the bag is better than tape-strings. Each bag should be labeled with the name of its contents, written with indelible ink on white tape sewed on to the bag. Such systematic arrangement saves much time and annoyance. Drawers or trunks to hold these articles can not be kept so easily in good order, and moreover, occupy spaces saved by this contrivance.
Fig. 21 is the basement. It has the floor and sides plastered, and is lighted with glazed doors. A form is raised close by the cellar stairs, for baskets, pails, and tubs. Here, also, the refrigerator can be placed, or, what is better, an ice-closet can be made, as designated in the illustration. The floor of the basement must be an inclined plane toward a drain, and be plastered with water-lime. The wash-tubs have plugs in the bottom to let off water, and cocks and pipes over them bringing cold water from the reservoir in the garret and hot water from the laundry stove. This saves much heavy labor of emptying tubs and carrying water.
The laundry closet has a stove for heating irons, and also a kettle on top for heating water. Slides or clothes-frames are made to draw out to receive wet clothes, and then run into the closet to dry. This saves health as well as time and money, and the clothes are as white as when dried outdoors.
The wood-work of the house, for doors, windows, etc., should be oiled chestnut, butternut, white-wood, and pine. This is cheaper, handsomer, and more easy to keep clean than painted wood.
In Fig. 21 are planned two conservatories, and few understand their value in the training of the young. They provide soil, in which children, through the winter months, can be starting seeds and plants for their gardens find raising valuable, tender plants. Every child should cultivate flowers and fruits to sell and to give away, and thus be taught to learn the value of money and to practice both economy and benevolence.
According to the calculation of a house-carpenter, in a place where the average price of lumber is $4 a hundred, and carpenter work $3 a day, such a house can be built for $1600. For those practicing the closest economy, two small families could occupy it, by dividing the kitchen, and yet have room enough. Or one large room and the chamber over it can be left till increase of family and means require enlargement.
A strong horse and carryall, with a cow, garden, vineyard, and orchard, on a few acres, would secure all the substantial comforts found in great establishments, without the trouble of ill-qualified servants.
And if the parents and children were united in the daily labors of the house, garden, and fruit culture; such thrift, health, and happiness would be secured as is but rarely found among the rich.
Let us suppose a colony of cultivated and Christian people, having abundant wealth, who now are living as the wealthy usually do, emigrating to some of the beautiful Southern uplands, where are rocks, hills, valleys, and mountains as picturesque as those of New England, where the thermometer but rarely reaches 90 degrees in summer, and in winter as rarely sinks below freezing-point, so that outdoor labor goes on all the year, where the fertile soil is easily worked, where rich tropical fruits and flowers abound, where cotton and silk can be raised by children around their home, where the produce of vineyards and orchards finds steady markets by railroads ready made; suppose such a colony, with a central church and school-room, library, hall for sports, and a common laundry, (taking the most trying part of domestic labor from each house,)—suppose each family to train the children to labor with the hands as a healthful and honorable duty; suppose all this, which is perfectly practicable, would not the enjoyment of this life be increased, and also abundant treasures be laid up in heaven, by using the wealth thus economized in diffusing similar enjoyments and culture among the poor, ignorant, and neglected ones in desolated sections where many now are perishing for want of such Christian example and influences?
A HEALTHFUL HOME.
When "the wise woman buildeth her house," the first consideration will be the health of the inmates. The first and most indispensable requisite for health is pure air, both by day and night.
If the parents of a family should daily withhold from their children a large portion of food needful to growth and health, and every night should administer to each a small dose of poison, it would be called murder of the most hideous character. But it is probable that more than one half of this nation are doing that very thing. The murderous operation is perpetrated daily and nightly, in our parlors, our bed-rooms, our kitchens, our schoolrooms; and even our churches are no asylum from the barbarity. Nor can we escape by our railroads, for even there the same dreadful work is going on.
The only palliating circumstance is the ignorance of those who commit these wholesale murders. As saith the Scripture, "The people do perish for lack of knowledge." And it is this lack of knowledge which it is woman's special business to supply, in first training her household to intelligence as the indispensable road to virtue and happiness.
The above statements will be illustrated by some account of the manner in which the body is supplied with healthful nutriment. There are two modes of nourishing the body, one is by food and the other by air. In the stomach the food is dissolved, and the nutritious portion is absorbed by the blood, and then is earned by blood-vessels to the lungs, where it receives oxygen from the air we breathe. This oxygen is as necessary to the nourishment of the body as the food for the stomach. In a full-grown man weighing one hundred and fifty-four pounds, one hundred and eleven pounds consists of oxygen, obtained chiefly from the air we breathe. Thus the lungs feed the body with oxygen, as really as the stomach supplies the other food required.
The lungs occupy the upper portion of the body from the collar-bone to the lower ribs, and between their two lobes is placed the heart.
Fig. 22 shows the position of the lungs, though not the exact shape. On the right hand is the exterior of one of the lobes, and on the left hand are seen the branching tubes of the interior, through which the air we breathe passes to the exceedingly minute air-cells of which the lungs chiefly consist. Fig. 23 shows the outside of a cluster of these air-cells, and Fig. 24 is the inside view. The lining membrane of each air-cell is covered by a network of minute blood-vessels called capillaries which, magnified several hundred times, appear in the microscope as at Fig. 25. Every air-cell has a blood-vessel that brings blood from the heart, which meanders through its capillaries till it reaches another blood-vessel that carries it back to the heart, as seen in Fig. 26. In this passage of the blood through these capillaries, the air in the air-cell imparts its oxygen to the blood, and receives in exchange carbonic acid and watery vapor. These latter are expired at every breath into the atmosphere.
By calculating the number of air cells in a small portion of the lungs, under a microscope, it is ascertained that there are no less than eighteen million of these wonderful little purifiers and feeders of the body. By their ceaseless ministries, every grown person receives, each day, thirty-three hogsheads of air into the lungs to nourish and vitalize every part of the body, and also to carry off its impurities.
But the heart has a most important agency in this operation. Fig. 27 is a diagram of the heart, which is placed between the two lobes of the lungs. The right side of the heart receives the dark and impure blood, which is loaded with carbonic acid. It is brought from every point of the body by branching veins that unite in the upper and the lower vena cava, which discharge into the right side of the heart. This impure blood passes to the capillaries of the air-cells in the lungs, where it gives off carbonic acid, and, taking oxygen from the air, then returns to the left side of the heart, from whence it is sent out through the aorta and its myriad branching arteries to every part of the body. When the upper portion of the heart contracts, it forces both the pure blood from the lungs, and the impure blood from the body, through the valves marked V, V, into the lower part. When the lower portion contracts, it closes the valves and forces the impure blood into the lungs on one side, and also on the other side forces the purified blood through the aorta and arteries to all parts of the body.
As before stated, the lungs consist chiefly of air-cells, the walls of which are lined with minute blood-vessels; and we know that in every man these air-cells number eighteen millions.
Now every beat of the heart sends two ounces of blood into the minute, hair-like blood-vessels, called capillaries, that line these air-cells, where the air in the air-cells gives its oxygen to the blood, and in its place receives carbonic acid. This gas is then expired by the lungs into the surrounding atmosphere.
Thus, by this powerful little organ, the heart, no less than twenty-eight pounds of blood, in a common-sized man, is sent three times every hour through the lungs, giving out carbonic acid and watery vapor, and receiving the life-inspiring oxygen.
Whether all this blood shall convey the nourishing and invigorating oxygen to every part of the body, or return unrelieved of carbonic acid, depends entirely on the pureness of the atmosphere that is breathed.
Every time we think or feel, this mental action dissolves some particles of the brain and nerves, which pass into the blood to be thrown out of the body through the lungs and skin. In like manner, whenever we move any muscle, some of its particles decay and pass away. It is in the capillaries, which are all over the body, that this change takes place. The blood-vessels that convey the pure blood from the heart, divide into myriads of little branches that terminate in capillary vessels like those lining the air-cells of the lungs. The blood meanders through these minute capillaries, depositing the oxygen taken from the lungs and the food of the stomach, and receiving in return the decayed matter, which is chiefly carbonic acid.
This carbonic acid is formed by the union of oxygen with carbon or charcoal, which forms a large portion of the body. Watery vapor is also formed in the capillaries by the union of oxygen with the hydrogen contained in the food and drink that nourish the body.
During this process in the capillaries, the bright red blood of the arteries changes to the purple blood of the veins, which is carried back to the heart, to be sent to the lungs as before described. A portion of the oxygen received in the lungs unites with the dissolved food sent from the stomach into the blood, and no food can nourish the body till it has received a proper supply of oxygen in the lungs. At every breath a half-pint of blood receives its needed oxygen in the lungs, and at the same time gives out an equal amount of carbonic acid and water.
Now, this carbonic acid, if received into the lungs, undiluted by sufficient air, is a fatal poison, causing certain death. When it is mixed with only a small portion of air, it is a slow poison, which imperceptibly undermines the constitution.
We now can understand how it is that all who live in houses where the breathing of inmates has deprived the air of oxygen, and loaded it with carbonic acid, may truly be said to be poisoned and starved; poisoned with carbonic acid, and starved for want of oxygen.
Whenever oxygen unites with carbon to form carbonic acid, or with hydrogen to form water, heat is generated Thus it is that a land of combustion is constantly going on in the capillaries all over the body. It is this burning of the decaying portions of the body that causes animal heat. It is a process similar to that which takes place when lamps and candles are burning. The oil and tallows which are chiefly carbon and hydrogen, unite with the oxygen of the air and form carbonic acid and watery vapor, producing heat during the process. So in the capillaries all over the body, the carbon and hydrogen supplied to the blood by the stomach, unite with the oxygen gained in the lungs, and cause the heat which is diffused all over the body.
The skin also performs an office, similar to that of the lungs. In the skin of every adult there are no less than seven million minute perspirating tubes, each one fourth of an inch long. If all these were united in one length, they would extend twenty-eight miles. These minute tubes are lined with capillary blood-vessels, which are constantly sending out not only carbonic acid, but other gases and particles of decayed matter. The skin and lungs together, in one day and night, throw out three quarters of a pound of charcoal as carbonic acid, beside other gases and water.
While the bodies of men and animals are filling the air with the poisonous carbonic acid, and using up the life-giving oxygen, the trees and plants are performing an exactly contrary process; for they are absorbing carbonic acid and giving out oxygen. Thus, by a wonderful arrangement of the beneficent Creator, a constant equilibrium is preserved. What animals use is provided by vegetables, and what vegetables require is furnished by animals; and all goes on, day and night, without care or thought of man.
The human race in its infancy was placed in a mild and genial clime, where each separate family dwelt in tents, and breathed, both day and night, the pure air of heaven. And when they became scattered abroad to colder climes, the open fire-place secured a full supply of pure air. But civilization has increased economies and conveniences far ahead of the knowledge needed by the common people for their healthful use. Tight sleeping-rooms, and close, air-tight stoves, are now starving and poisoning more than one half of this nation. It seems impossible to make people know their danger. And the remedy for this is the light of knowledge and intelligence which it is woman's special mission to bestow, as she controls and regulates the ministries of a home.
The poisoning process is thus exhibited in Mrs. Stowe's "House and Home Papers," and can not be recalled too often:
"No other gift of God, so precious, so inspiring, is treated with such utter irreverence and contempt in the calculations of us mortals as this same air of heaven. A sermon on oxygen, if we had a preacher who understood the subject, might do more to repress sin than the most orthodox discourse to show when and how and why sin came. A minister gets up in a crowded lecture-room, where the mephitic air almost makes the candles burn blue, and bewails the deadness of the church—the church the while, drugged by the poisoned air, growing sleepier and sleepier, though they feel dreadfully wicked for being so.
"Little Jim, who, fresh from his afternoon's ramble in the fields, last evening said his prayers dutifully, and lay down to sleep in a most Christian frame, this morning sits up in bed with his hair bristling with crossness, strikes at his nurse, and declares he won't say his prayers—that he don't want to be good. The simple difference is, that the child, having slept in a close box of a room, his brain all night fed by poison, is in a mild state of moral insanity. Delicate women remark that it takes them till eleven or twelve o'clock to get up their strength in the morning. Query, Do they sleep with closed windows and doors, and with heavy bed-curtains?
"The houses built by our ancestors were better ventilated in certain respects than modern ones, with all their improvements. The great central chimney, with its open fire-places in the different rooms, created a constant current which carried off foul and vitiated air. In these days, how common is it to provide rooms with only a flue for a stove! This flue is kept shut in summer, and in winter opened only to admit a close stove, which burns away the vital portion of the air quite as fast as the occupants breathe it away. The sealing up of fire-places and introduction of air-tight stoves may, doubtless, be a saving of fuel; it saves, too, more than that; in thousands and thousands of cases it has saved people from all further human wants, and put an end forever to any needs short of the six feet of narrow earth which are man's only inalienable property. In other words, since the invention of air-tight stoves, thousands have died of slow poison.
"It is a terrible thing to reflect upon, that our northern winters last from November to May, six long months, in which many families confine themselves to one room, of which every window-crack has been carefully calked to make it air-tight, where an air-tight stove keeps the atmosphere at a temperature between eighty and ninety; and the inmates, sitting there with all their winter clothes on, become enervated both by the heat and by the poisoned air, for which there is no escape but the occasional opening of a door.
"It is no wonder that the first result of all this is such a delicacy of skin and lungs that about half the inmates are obliged to give up going into the open air during the six cold months, because they invariably catch cold if they do so. It is no wonder that the cold caught about the first of December has by the first of March become a fixed consumption, and that the opening of the spring, which ought to bring life and health, in so many cases brings death.
"We hear of the lean condition in which the poor bears emerge from their six months' wintering, during which they subsist on the fat which they have acquired the previous summer. Even so, in our long winters, multitudes of delicate people subsist on the daily waning strength which they acquired in the season when windows and doors were open, and fresh air was a constant luxury. No wonder we hear of spring fever and spring biliousness, and have thousands of nostrums for clearing the blood in the spring. All these things are the pantings and palpitations of a system run down under slow poison, unable to get a step further.
"Better, far better, the old houses of the olden time, with their great roaring fires, and their bed-rooms where the snow came in and the wintry winds whistled. Then, to be sure, you froze your back while you burned your face, your water froze nightly in your pitcher, your breath congealed in ice-wreaths on the blankets, and you could write your name on the pretty snow-wreath that had sifted in through the window-cracks. But you woke full of life and vigor, you looked out into the whirling snow-storms without a shiver, and thought nothing of plunging through drifts as high as your head on your daily way to school. You jingled in sleighs, you snow-balled, you lived in snow like a snow-bird, and your blood coursed and tingled, in full tide of good, merry, real life, through your veins—none of the slow-creeping, black blood which clogs the brain and lies like a weight on the vital wheels!"
To illustrate the effects of this poison, the horrors of "the Black Hole of Calcutta" are often referred to, where one hundred and forty-six men were crowded into a room only eighteen feet square with but two small windows, and in a hot climate. After a night of such horrible torments as chill the blood to read, the morning showed a pile of one hundred and twenty-three dead men and twenty-three half dead that were finally recovered only to a life of weakness and suffering.
In another case, a captain of the steamer Londonderry, in 1848, from sheer ignorance of the consequences, in a storm, shut up his passengers in a tight room without windows. The agonies, groans, curses, and shrieks that followed were horrible. The struggling mass finally burst the door, and the captain found seventy-two of the two hundred already dead; while others, with blood starting from their eyes and ears, and their bodies in convulsions, were restored, many only to a life of sickness and debility.
It is ascertained by experiments that breathing bad air tends so to reduce all the processes of the body, that less oxygen is demanded and less carbonic acid sent out. This, of course, lessens the vitality and weakens the constitution; and it accounts for the fact that a person of full health, accustomed to pure air, suffers from bad air far more than those who are accustomed to it. The body of strong and healthy persons demands more oxygen, and throws off more carbonic acid, and is distressed when the supply fails. But the one reduced by bad air feels little inconvenience, because all the functions of life are so slow that less oxygen is needed, and less carbonic acid thrown out. And the sensibilities being deadened, the evil is not felt. This provision of nature prolongs many lives, though it turns vigorous constitutions into feeble ones. Were it not for this change in the constitution, thousands in badly ventilated rooms and houses would come to a speedy death.
One of the results of unventilated rooms is scrofula, A distinguished French physician, M. Baudeloque, states that:
"The repeated respiration of the same atmosphere is the cause of scrofula. If there be entirely pure air, there may be bad food, bad clothing, and want of personal cleanliness, but scrofulous disease can not exist. This disease never attacks persons who pass their lives in the open air, and always manifests itself when they abide in air which is unrenewed. Invariably it will be found that a truly scrofulous disease is caused by vitiated air; and it is not necessary that there should be a prolonged stay in such an atmosphere. Often, several hours each day is sufficient. Thus persons may live in the most healthy country, pass most of the day in the open air, and yet become scrofulous by sleeping in a close room where the air is not renewed. This is the case with many shepherds who pass their nights in small huts with no opening but a door closed tight at night."
The same writer illustrates this, by the history of a French village where the inhabitants all slept in close, unventilated houses. Nearly all were seized with scrofula, and many families became wholly extinct, their last members dying "rotten with scrofula." A fire destroyed a large part of this village. Houses were then built to secure pure air, and scrofula disappeared from the part thus rebuilt.
We are informed by medical writers that defective ventilation is one great cause of diseased joints, as well as of diseases of the eyes, ears, and skin.
Foul air is the leading cause of tubercular and scrofulous consumption, so very common in our country. Dr, Guy, in his examination before public health commissioners in Great Britain, says: "Deficient ventilation I believe to be more fatal than all other causes put together." He states that consumption is twice as common among tradesmen as among the gentry, owing to the bad ventilation of their stores and dwellings.
Dr. Griscom, in his work on Uses and Abuses of Air, says:
"Food carried from the stomach to the blood can not become nutritive till it is properly oxygenated in the lungs; so that a small quantity of food, even if less wholesome, may be made nutritive by pure air as it passes through the lungs. But the best of food can not be changed into nutritive blood till it is vitalized by pure air in the lungs."
"To those who have the care and instruction of the rising generation—the future fathers and mothers of men—this subject of ventilation commends itself with an interest surpassing every other. Nothing can more convincingly establish the belief in the existence of something vitally wrong in the habits and circumstances of civilized life than the appalling fact that one fourth of all who are born die before reaching the fifth year, and one half the deaths of mankind occur under the twentieth year. Let those who have these things in charge answer to their own consciences how they discharge their duty in supplying to the young a pure atmosphere, which is the first requisite for healthy bodies and sound minds."
On the subject of infant mortality the experience of savages should teach the more civilized. Professor Brewer, who traveled extensively among the Indians of our western territories, states: "I have rarely seen a sick boy among the Indians." Catlin, the painter, who resided and traveled so much among these people, states that infant mortality is very small among them, the reason, of course, being abundant exercise and pure air.
Dr. Dio Lewis, whose labors in the cause of health are well known, in his very useful work, Weak Lungs and How to Make them Strong, says:
"As a medical man I have visited thousands of sickrooms, and have not found in one in a hundred of them a pure atmosphere. I have often returned from church doubting whether I had not committed a sin in exposing myself so long to its poisonous air. There are in our great cities churches costing $50,000, in the construction of which, not fifty cents were expended in providing means for ventilation. Ten thousand dollars for ornament, but not ten cents for pure air!
"Unventilated parlors, with gas-burners, (each consuming as much oxygen as several men,) made as tight as possible, and a party of ladies and gentlemen spending half the night in them! In 1861, I visited a legislative hall, the legislature being in session. I remained half an hour in the most impure air I ever breathed. Our school-houses are, some of them, so vile in this respect, that I would prefer to have my son remain in utter ignorance of books rather than to breathe, six hours every day, such a poisonous atmosphere. Theatres and concert-rooms are so foul that only reckless people continue to visit them. Twelve hours in a railway-car exhausts one, not by the journeying, but because of the devitalized air. While crossing the ocean in a Cunard steamer, I was amazed that men who knew enough to construct such ships did not know enough to furnish air to the passengers. The distress of sea-sickness is greatly intensified by the sickening air of the ship. Were carbonic acid only black, what a contrast there would be between our hotels in their elaborate ornament!"