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Chambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) online

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garments to the air will materially assist in dispelling the offen-
sive odours. It should be known, too, that dark-coloured cloth
imbibes effluvia much more readily, and retains it longer, than
cloth of a light or white hue.

3. The best kind of outer garments for workmen of any class
are such as will easily wash ; indeed all their daily work-clothes
should be of materials that can be readily washed and dried.
The neatest and most economical kind of cloth for jackets and
trousers is strong white fustian. A tidy workman desirous of
feeling" comfortable and of looking respectable, may very easily
have two suits, one to use while another is being* washed and
dried. How much a good wife may do to insure this health-
giving cleanhness, need not be insisted on.

In France and Germany, workmen of every class wear a blue
linen or cotton blouse over their clothes while at work, which
keeps everything" clean, and looks neat. The wearing of such
blouses would certainly be an improvement on the use of dirty
and never-washed coats or jackets. They would also be advisable
on the score of economy, as protecting from tear and wear the
more expensive coat and waistcoat, which in warm weather or
in in-door emj)loyments might be dispensed with altogether.
Blouses are also easily cleaned, and when well-shaped and neatly
stitched, are anything but inelegant. By being fastened round
the waist by a belt of the same material, they will not be incom-

Washing. — The hands, face, neck, and arms, should be washed
at least twice daily, so as to remove eveiy vestige of impurity
from the skin. These ablutions should be in the morning* on
rising and in the evening after labour. If the labour be of a
dirty kind, as, for instance, that of painters, plumbers, black-
smiths, engineers, &c. the washing should be not only morning
and evening, but at breakfast and dinner — before, not after, these
meals. At the same time, the hair should be brushed, which,
by the way, ought to be protected in all dusty employments by a
light linen or paper cap. There cannot be the least doubt that,
by such ablutions alone — nothing else being used than soap and
water — the health of workmen would be very essentially pro-
moted. Almost every gentleman washes his hands five or six
times a-day ; how much more desirable is it for artisans engaged
in dusty or dirty professions to clean and refresh themselves as
frequently !

Sponging. — This is the next step towards personal cleanliness.
In cases where bathing by entire immersion of the body cannot
be conveniently obtained, it may answer eveiy desirable end to



sponge the body all over with water every morning' on getting
out of bed. In doing so, begin by wetting the head and shoulders,
and then proceed to the rest of the body. To save a slop on the
floor, the person may stand in a broad shallow tub or pan, or
even on a square of oilcloth, which is cheap, and can be easily
removed. After sponging, rub and dry the body with a rough
towel, and then immediately dress.

This process is so simple, so inexpensive, and will occupy so
little time, that no one need neglect it on any common pretence.
When a sponge cannot be conveniently obtained, a wet towel
will answer the purpose. The small amount of trouble incurred
by this kind of ablution will in general be amply repaid by an
increase of health and comfort.

Opinions differ as to the temperature of the water to be em-
ployed in sponging the body : some advocate cold, others tepid,
or partially warm water. The regulation of this may be gene-
rally left to the feelings. If the skin feel comfortable and warm
after sponging with cold water and drying with the rough
towel, cold water may be used with safety ; if the skin, however,
feel chilly, the water ought to be warmed, or the skin may be
rubbed with the dry towel Avithout any previous sponging. A
main object in the operation is to keep up a healthy action in the
skin, and this may in many instances be effected by dry friction,
either with a brush, hair-glove, or rough towel.

The Shoioer-Bath.- — The use of the cold shower-bath or the
douche is more required as the means of giving a shock to the
system, for the purpose of recovering the constitution from some
kind of morbid affection, than merely for preserving health. As
it should not be applied without the recommendation of a medical
attendant, we do not require to give any directions as to this
mode of bathing.

Bathing. — Here we arrive at the great and almost universally-
recognised engine of personal purification. Entire immersion of
the body in a bath of tepid or warm water is unquestionably the
most effectual means of cleansing the skin from its natural or
artificial impurities. For purification, however, the bath must
be of soft and fresh water ; sea water, cold or tepid, may refresh
and invigorate, but it cleanses much less effectually than fresh
water. The temperature of the tepid bath is from 85 to 90
degrees of heat, and that of the warm bath from 90 to 100
degrees. As an extreme heat may prove injurious to many con-
stitutions, the safest temperature for most persons is about 90
degrees, Avhich is an agreeable warmth below the heat of the
blood, and suitable for ordinary bathing. With respect to the
best time for bathing, a person in good health may take a bath
at any time, except immediately after meals. The length of
time spent in the bath may vary from fifteen to twenty minutes ;
a longer time, particularly if the bath be hot, is too relaxing, and
far from safe or beneficial. The tepid or warm bath should not


be taken oftener than twice a week ; though once a week wiH
suffice. On coming* out of the bath, the body should be well
rubbed all over with a cloth.

According to the Jewish dispensation, certain observances to in-
sure personal cleanliness were the subject of religious injunction ;
and for a similar reason Mahommedans in eastern countries have
been enjoined to perform ablutions at stated times and seasons.
In these Oriental countries, and also in Russia, the use of the
warm bath is universal among the richer classes, and the public
establishments for bathing are in some places on a scale of great
splendour. Inattention to cleanliness of apparel seems to render
these ablutions indispensable for personal comfort.

Although, from the greater habitual cleanliness of the people
of Great Britain, as well as from the colder climate, they do not
require to be subjected to the same kind of bathing's and scrub-

bings which are deemed ne-

^^ ' ^!il'lil^*l""'i P' I I' 'l I 'M' > j,S) cessary among the Oriental

' nations, it is allowed by all

medical w^riters that the use
of the bath is of great value
in preserving health, and in
giving a buoyancy to the
feelings. Every man who can afford the means, and possesses
the conveniency, should have a private bath fitted up in his
dwelling-house, in connexion with pipes of warm and cold water.
Where fixed baths cannot be attained, a moveable bath of the
form given in the annexed cut may be employed.

Public Baths. — The mass of the people having neither the
means to purchase nor the convenience for using private baths^
must of com'se resort to public ones ; and for their accommodation,
therefore, every town ought to possess one or more establishments
fitted up with all proper conveniences for bathing.* In this re-
spect, notv/ithstanding- our wealth, our boasted civilisation and
mechanical skill, we fall infinitely short of the Greeks and
Romans, who had not only their domestic, but their public baths,

* Eminent physicians have endeavoured to draw the attention of the
British government to the importance of public baths, and of countenanc-
ing their use by every aid of example and encouragement. While we
wonder at their prevalence among all the eastern and northern nations,
may we not lament that they are so little used in our own country ? We
might, perhaps, find reason to allow that erysipelas, surfeit, rheumatism,
colds, and a hundred other evils, particularly all sorts of cutaneous and
nervous disorders, might be alleviated, if not prevented, by a proper atten-
tion to bathing. The inhabitants of countries in which the bath is con-
stantly used, anxiously seek it, in full confidence of getting rid of all such
complaints; and they are rarely disappointed. I may add my testimony
to theirs, having not only upon the occasion which gave rise to these
remarks, but in cases of obstructed perspiration much more alarming,
diu-ing my travels, experienced their good effect. I hardly know any act
of benevolence more essential to the comfort of the community, than that



in which, the poorest citizen might lave. These we consider
luxuries ; to them they were necessaries, which they carried into
their most distant provinces ; and thus it is that in Britain the
ruin of the Roman bath is as frequent as the ruin of the Roman
temple. A better state of things, however, seems to be approach-
ing ; and for some years past, the institution of baths has much
engaged the public attention. In organising such establishments,
the following points require consideration : —

1. An abundant supply of soft fresh water. The quantity de-
sirable for a single bath is from forty to fifty gallons. Whether
for single or public plunge-baths, the number of bathers per day
may be multiplied by forty, and the quantity of water to be con-
sumed wiU thus be ascertained.

2. The water should flow into a large tank, from the tank to
the boiler, and the boiler to the baths, the waste escaping by a
conduit. If the tank is placed in a lower situation than the boiler,
a steam power will be required to pump it. In most situations
it is desirable to be as economical of space as possible, and for this
purpose it is generally contrived to have the reservoirs under-
ground; the plunge-bath, shower, and douche baths, heating"
apparatus, and waiting'-room on the ground floor ; and the private
baths in the upper storey.

of establishing, by public benefaction, the use of batlis for the poor in all
our cities and manufacturing towns. The lives of many might be saved
by them. In England they are considered only as articles of luxury ; yet
throughout the vast empire of Russia, through all Finland, Lapland,
Sweden, and Norway, there is no cottage so poor, no hut so destitute, but
it possesses its vapour bath, in vi'hich all its inhabitants, every Saturday at
least, and every day in eases of sickness, experience cornfort and salubrity.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, in spite of all the prejudices which prevailed
in England against inoculation, introduced it from Turkey. If another per-
son of equal influence would endeavour to establish throughout Great Bri-
tain the use of warm and vapour baths, the inconveniences of our climate
would be done away. Perhaps at some future period they may become
general ; and statues may perpetuate the memory of the patriot, the
statesman, or the sovereign, to whom society will be indebted for their
institution. When we are told that the illustrious Bacon lamented in
vain the disuse of baths among the Europeans, we have little reason to
indulge the expectation. At the same time, an additional testimony to
their salutary effects, in affording longevity and vigorous health to a
people otherwise liable to mortal diseases fi-om a rigorous climate and an
unwholesome diet, may contribute to their establishment. Among the
ancients, baths were public edifices, under the immediate inspection of
the government. They were considered as institutions which owed their
origin to absolute necessity, as well as to decency and cleanliness. Under
her emperors, Rome had nearly a thousand such buildings, which, besides
their utility, were regarded as masterpieces of architectural skill and
sumptuous decoration. In Russia, they have only vapour baths, and these
are, for the most part, in viTctched wooden hovels. If wood is wanting,
they are formed of mud, or scooped in the banks of rivers and lakes ; but
in the palaces of the nobles, however they may vary in convenience or
splendour of materials, the plan of construction is always the same. —
Travels in Russia, by Edward Samuel Clarhe, LL.D*


3. Tlie establisliment should possess washing-rooms, single
private bath-rooms, a large plunge bath-room, and a waiting-
room ; also a separate apartment for the washing and properly
drying of the towels and hand-cloths.

4. In the washing-room or rooms there should be basins, at
which all persons proposing to use the plung-e-bath ought in the
first place to wash their hands, face, arms, and neck. If a regu-
lation of this kind is not enforced, the plunge-bath will very
shortly be unendurable.

5. The plunge-bath may be made of a circular or oblong form.
That generally recommended is oblong, measuring 40 feet in
length by 30 feet in breadth ; the depth, by means of a sloping
bottom, to be from 4 to 6 feet. Within the bath there may be
a step to assist in descending and ascending. At one end, near
the surface of the water, there should be several inlets, to be kept
constantly running, and at the opposite extremity outlets for
escape. By the careful adjustment of these orifices, the water
may be kept in a state of considerable purity, notwithstanding
its continual use. Besides this, the whole volume of water should
be discharged twice a-week, and the bottom of the bath weU
scrubbed. The number of persons admitted at one time will
require to be regulated according to circumstances. Over the
bath there should be the means of ventilation.

6. Where possible, the whole suite of baths should be lighted
from above ; and each room should be furnished with hot water
pipes, so as to raise its atmosphere to any desired temperature.
We have spoken of a boiler, but this is only one means of
heating that may be adopted. Steam-pipes, or a circulation of
hot water, may be employed to keep the swimming-bath at the
proper temperature ; and the hot-water tank may also be heated
by steam. These, as well as other matters of detail, ought to be
intrusted to the architect and plumber.

7. Another important requisite is, that the situation be as
central as possible for the great body of those for whose use
it is intended. A short walk one would suppose to be rather
agreeable than otherwise to the working -classes ; but expe-
rience has found that, unless a bathing establishment be in
their immediate vicinity, and be continually before their eyes,
they are apt to seize every trifling accident — as a little unusual
fatigue, a wet night, or the like — as an excuse for abandoning
the ablution.

Where steam-engines of large power are employed in con-
nexion with cotton factories or other works, there is usually a
certain quantity of waste steam or waste hot water at disposal,
which could at an insignificant cost be directed into baths for
the use of the workmen of the establishment ; and we hope this
will be done wherever it is practicable. The improved health
and cheerfulness of the parties benefited will be more than com-
pensatory for the necessary outlay.




The lung's, as already stated, inhale and use up pure air, and
expel only that which is vitiated. It is calculated that every
human being- consumes on an average two and a half hogsheads
of pure air per hour. That may be called the allowance required
by nature for the due action of the lungs, the purification of the
blood, and the j^reservation of health. Dwellings, work-rooms,
and other enclosed places, would require to afford that quantity
of fresh air for each inmate ; and not only so, but something more
to supply the consumption of air by fires and artificial lights.
In a room having" a number of lig'hts, at least as much as four
hogsheads per hour for each individual should be admitted.

By neglecting to aftbrd such supplies by means of channels
for ventilating, almost every dwelling-house, work-room, school,
church, theatre, &c. becomes filled with an impure air, to breathe
which is most injurious to health. In many dwellings of the
humbler classes, the confinement of air is considerably ag'g*ravated
by the number of individuals who sleep in one apartment, the
want of certain precautions as to cleanliness, and also in some
cases the want of daylight. The well known result of these
accumulated evils is an immense amount of fever and other
diseases, terminating* in death.

This subject has for a number of years engaged the considera-
tion of parliament and men of science, and numerous reports
have been published, showing", by the most conclusive evidence,
that the want of ventilation is daily producing diseases most
fatal to the general population. A perusal of the following*
passages from these sanitary reports cannot but prove useful
to those who are inclined to think lightly of ventilation.

" Of defective ventilation, until very lately, little had been ob-
served or understood, even by professional men or men of science ;
and that it is only when the public health is made a matter of
public care by a responsible public agency, that what is understood
can be expected to be generally and effectually applied for the
public protection. Vitiated air not being seen, and air which is
pure in winter being* cold, the cold is felt, and the air is excluded
by the workmen. The great desideratum hitherto has been, to
obtain a circulation of air which was warm as well as fresh. This
desideratum has been obtained, after much trial, in the House of
Commons ; but there is reason to believe that, by various means,
at an expense within the reach of large places of work, a venti-
lation equally good might be secured with mutual advantage."

One of the parties examined observes — " I have collected the
evidence of several master tailors in London on the effects of
work in crowded or badly-ventilated rooms. Some are inclined
to ascribe more of the ill health to the habits of the journeymen
in drinking at public-houses, and to the state of their private



dwellings, but in the main results the loss of daily power —
that is, the loss of at least one-third the industrial capabilities
enjoyed by men working under advantageous circumstances :
the nervous exhaustion attendant on work in crowds, and the
consequent temptation to resort continually to stimulants, which
in their turn increase the exhaustion, are fully proved, and in-
deed generally admitted. I have caused the mortuary registers
to be examined, but find that they do not distinguish the
masters from the journeymen, and that there are no ready means
of distinguishing' those of the deceased who have been employed
in the larger shops. It is also stated that many who come to
work in town, and become diseased, return and die in the vil-
lages. But in the registered causes of death, of 233 persons
entered during the year 1839, in the eastern and western Unions
of the metropolis, under the general head Hailor,' no less than
123 are registered as having died of disease of the respiratory
organs, of whom 92 died of consumption ; 16 of diseases of the
nervous system, of whom 8 died of apoplexy ; 16 of epidemic or
contagious diseases, of whom 1 1 died of typhus : 23 are regis-
tered as having died of diseases of ' uncertain seat,' of whom 13
fell victims of dropsy ; 8 died of diseases of the digestive organs,
and 6 of ' heart disease ; ' and of the whole number of 233, only
29 of old age ; and of these, if they could be traced, we may
pronounce confidently that the greater proportion of them would
be found to be not journeymen — of whom not two or three per
cent, attain old age — but masters. On comparing* the mortuary
registers in the metropolis with the registers in the north-western
and south-western parts of England, where we may expect a
larger proportion of men working separately, I find that whilst
53 per cent, of the men die of diseases of the respiratory organs
in the metropolis, only 39 per cent, die of these diseases in the
remote districts ; that whilst five per cent, die of typhus in Lon-
don, only one per cent, fall victims to it in the country ; that
whilst in London only 12 in the hundred attain old age, 25 in
the hundred are registered as having' attained it in the remote
districts. I have been informed that some tailors' workshops at
Glasgow have been carefully ventilated, and that the immediate
results are as satisfactory as were anticipated, but the change
has been too recent to permit any estimate of the effects on the
general habits of the workmen.

The preceding case may serve as a general instance of the
practical difference of the effects in the saving of suffering as well
as of expense, by active benevolence exerted with foresight in
measures of prevention, as compared with benevolence exerted in
measures of alleviation of disease after it has occurred.

The subscriptions to the benevolent institution for the relief of
the aged and infirm tailors by individual masters in the metro-
polis, appear to be large and liberal, and amount to upwards of
£11,0065 J^^ it is ^^ b^ observed, that if they or the men had



been aware of the effects of vitiated atmospheres on the constitu-
tion and general strength, and of the means of ventilation, the
practicable gain of money from the gain of labour by that sani-
tary measure could not have been less in one large shop, employ-
ing 200 men, than £100,000. Independently of subscriptions of
the whole trade, it would, during their working period of life,
have been sufficient, with the enjoyment of greater health and
comfort by every workman during* the time of work, to have
purchased him an annuity of £l per week for comfortable and
respectable self-support during a period of superannuation, com-
mencing soon Bitevjifty years of age.

If we thus find the crowding of unventilated places of work
injurious — in which persons rarely pass more than twelve out of
the twenty-four hours, being free during the remaining time to
breathe what air they please — how much worse should we expect
the consequences to be of the same fault in workhouses, hospitals,
schools, and prisons, in which individuals often pass both day
and night in the same apartments, or if in different apartments,
still in the same crowd. Accordingly, since the attention of
medical men has been sufficiently directed to the subject, the ex-
planation has become complete of many deplorable cases of general
ill health and mortality in such places, attributed at first to defi-
ciency or bad quality of food, or to any cause but the true one —
want of ventilation.* A striking illustration of this was afforded
in the case of a large school for children during the years 183G
and 1837, as recorded in the second volume of the Poor Law
Reports. Such general failure of health and such mortality had
occurred among the children as to attract public notice, and the
animadversions of many medical men and others who visited the
schools; but by most the evil was attributed chiefly to faulty
nourishment ; and it was only after the more complete examina-
tion made by direction of the board, and of which the report is
published, as above stated, that the diet was found to be unusually
good, but the ventilation very imperfect. Suitable changes were
then made ; and now, in the same space where 700 children were,
by illness, awakening extensive sympathy, 1100 now enjoy excel-
lent health. The defective state of information on the subject of
ventilation is frequently shown in reports, which assume that
apartments containing given cubic feet of space are all that is
requisite for life and health, whereas if a spacious drawing-room
be completely closed against the admission of air, an inhabitant
confined to it would in time be stifled, whilst by active ventilation
or change of air, men working in connexion with diving-machines
live in the space of a helmet, which merely confines the head.

*"In the space of four years, ending in 1784, in a badly-ventilated
house, the Lying-in Hospital in Dublin, there died 2944 children out of
7650 ; but after freer ventilation, the deaths in the same period of time, and
in a like number of children, amounted only to 279." — Gen. Rep. p. 107.


In the majority of instances of -the defective ventilation of

Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 33 of 59)