Health and Education
by Charles Kingsley
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But how little of all this is open to the masses, all should know but too well. How little opportunity the average hand-worker, or his wife, has of eating of any tree of knowledge, save of the very basest kind, is but too palpable. We are mending, thank God, in this respect. Free libraries and museums have sprung up of late in other cities beside London. God's blessing rest upon them all. And the Crystal Palace, and still later, the Bethnal Green Museum, have been, I believe, of far more use than many average sermons and lectures from many average orators.

But are we not still far behind the old Greeks, and the Romans of the Empire likewise, in the amount of amusement and instruction, and even of shelter, which we provide for the people? Recollect the—to me—disgraceful fact; that there is not, as far as I am aware, throughout the whole of London, a single portico or other covered place, in which the people can take refuge during a shower: and this in the climate of England! Where they do take refuge on a wet day the publican knows but too well; as he knows also where thousands of the lower classes, simply for want of any other place to be in, save their own sordid dwellings, spend as much as they are permitted of the Sabbath day. Let us put down "Sunday drinking" by all means, if we can. But let us remember that by closing the public-house on Sunday, we prevent no man or woman from carrying home as much poison as they choose on Saturday night, to brutalise themselves therewith, perhaps for eight-and-forty hours. And let us see—in the name of Him who said that He had made the Sabbath for man, and not man for the Sabbath—let us see, I say, if we cannot do something to prevent the townsman's Sabbath being, not a day of rest, but a day of mere idleness; the day of most temptation, because of most dulness, of the whole seven.

And here, perhaps, some sweet soul may look up reprovingly and say—He talks of rest. Does he forget, and would he have the working man forget, that all these outward palliatives will never touch the seat of the disease, the unrest of the soul within? Does he forget, and would he have the working man forget, who it was who said—who only has the right to say—"Come unto Me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest"? Ah no, sweet soul. I know your words are true. I know that what we all want is inward rest; rest of heart and brain; the calm, strong, self-contained, self-denying character; which needs no stimulants, for it has no fits of depression; which needs no narcotics, for it has no fits of excitement; which needs no ascetic restraints, for it is strong enough to use God's gifts without abusing them; the character, in a word, which is truly temperate, not in drink or food merely, but in all desires, thoughts, and actions; freed from the wild lusts and ambitions to which that old Adam yielded, and, seeking for light and life by means forbidden, found thereby disease and death. Yes; I know that; and know, too, that that rest is found, only where you have already found it.

And yet: in such a world as this; governed by a Being who has made sunshine, and flowers, and green grass, and the song of birds, and happy human smiles; and who would educate by them—if we would let Him—His human children from the cradle to the grave; in such a world as this, will you grudge any particle of that education, even any harmless substitute for it, to those spirits in prison, whose surroundings too often tempt them, from the cradle to the grave, to fancy that the world is composed of bricks and iron, and governed by inspectors and policemen? Preach to those spirits in prison, as you know far better than we parsons how to preach: but let them have besides some glimpses of the splendid fact, that outside their prison-house is a world which God, not man, has made; wherein grows everywhere that tree of knowledge which is likewise the tree of life; and that they have a right to some small share of its beauty, and its wonder, and its rest, for their own health of soul and body, and for the health of their children after them.


Fresh from the Marbles of the British Museum, I went my way through London streets. My brain was still full of fair and grand forms; the forms of men and women whose every limb and attitude betokened perfect health, and grace, and power, and a self-possession and self-restraint so habitual and complete that it had become unconscious, and undistinguishable from the native freedom of the savage. For I had been up and down the corridors of those Greek sculptures, which remain as a perpetual sermon to rich and poor, amid our artificial, unwholesome, and it may be decaying pseudo-civilisation; saying with looks more expressive than all words—Such men and women can be; for such they have been; and such you may be yet, if you will use that science of which you too often only boast. Above all, I had been pondering over the awful and yet tender beauty of the maiden figures from the Parthenon and its kindred temples. And these, or such as these, I thought to myself, were the sisters of the men who fought at Marathon and Salamis; the mothers of many a man among the ten thousand whom Xenophon led back from Babylon to the Black Sea shore; the ancestresses of many a man who conquered the East in Alexander's host, and fought with Porus in the far Punjab. And were these women mere dolls? These men mere gladiators? Were they not the parents of philosophy, science, poetry, the plastic arts? We talk of education now. Are we more educated than were the ancient Greeks? Do we know anything about education, physical, intellectual, or aesthetic, and I may say moral likewise—religious education, of course, in our sense of the word, they had none—but do we know anything about education of which they have not taught us at least the rudiments? Are there not some branches of education which they perfected, once and for ever; leaving us northern barbarians to follow, or else not to follow, their example? To produce health, that is, harmony and sympathy, proportion and grace, in every faculty of mind and body—that was their notion of education. To produce that, the text-book of their childhood was the poetry of Homer, and not of—But I am treading on dangerous ground. It was for this that the seafaring Greek lad was taught to find his ideal in Ulysses; while his sister at home found hers, it may be, in Nausicaa. It was for this, that when perhaps the most complete and exquisite of all the Greeks, Sophocles the good, beloved by gods and men, represented on the Athenian stage his drama of Nausicaa, and, as usual, could not—for he had no voice—himself take a speaking part, he was content to do one thing in which he specially excelled; and dressed and masked as a girl, to play at ball amid the chorus of Nausicaa's maidens.

That drama of Nausicaa is lost; and if I dare say so of any play of Sophocles', I scarce regret it. It is well, perhaps, that we have no second conception of the scene, to interfere with the simplicity, so grand, and yet so tender, of Homer's idyllic episode.

Nausicaa, it must be remembered, is the daughter of a king. But not of a king in the exclusive modern European or old Eastern sense. Her father, Alcinous, is simply "primus inter pares" among a community of merchants, who are called "kings" likewise; and Mayor for life—so to speak—of a new trading city, a nascent Genoa or Venice, on the shore of the Mediterranean. But the girl Nausicaa, as she sleeps in her "carved chamber," is "like the immortals in form and face;" and two handmaidens who sleep on each side of the polished door "have beauty from the Graces."

To her there enters, in the shape of some maiden friend, none less than Pallas Athene herself, intent on saving worthily her favourite, the shipwrecked Ulysses; and bids her in a dream go forth—and wash the clothes. {72}

"Nausicaa, wherefore doth thy mother bear Child so forgetful? This long time doth rest, Like lumber in the house, much raiment fair. Soon must thou wed, and be thyself well-drest, And find thy bridegroom raiment of the best. These are the things whence good repute is born, And praises that make glad a parent's breast. Come, let us both go washing with the morn; So shalt thou have clothes becoming to be worn.

"Know that thy maidenhood is not for long, Whom the Phoeacian chiefs already woo, Lords of the land whence thou thyself art sprung. Soon as the shining dawn comes forth anew, For wain and mules thy noble father sue, Which to the place of washing shall convey Girdles and shawls and rugs of splendid hue. This for thyself were better than essay Thither to walk: the place is distant a long way."

Startled by her dream, Nausicaa awakes, and goes to find her parents—

"One by the hearth sat, with the maids around, And on the skeins of yarn, sea-purpled, spent Her morning toil. Him to the council bound, Called by the honoured kings, just going forth she found."

And calling him, as she might now, "Pappa phile," Dear Papa, asks for the mule waggon: but it is her father's and her five brothers' clothes she fain would wash,—

"Ashamed to name her marriage to her father dear."

But he understood all—and she goes forth in the mule waggon, with the clothes, after her mother has put in "a chest of all kinds of delicate food, and meat, and wine in a goatskin;" and last but not least, the indispensable cruse of oil for anointing after the bath, to which both Jews, Greeks, and Romans owed so much health and beauty. And then we read in the simple verse of a poet too refined, like the rest of his race, to see anything mean or ridiculous in that which was not ugly and unnatural, how she and her maids got into the "polished waggon," "with good wheels," and she "took the whip and the studded reins," and "beat them till they started;" and how the mules "rattled" away, and "pulled against each other," till

"When they came to the fair flowing river Which feeds good lavatories all the year, Fitted to cleanse all sullied robes soever, They from the wain the mules unharnessed there, And chased them free, to crop their juicy fare By the swift river, on the margin green; Then to the waters dashed the clothes they bare And in the stream-filled trenches stamped them clean.

"Which, having washed and cleansed, they spread before The sunbeams, on the beach, where most did lie Thick pebbles, by the sea-wave washed ashore. So, having left them in the heat to dry, They to the bath went down, and by-and-by, Rubbed with rich oil, their midday meal essay, Couched in green turf, the river rolling nigh. Then, throwing off their veils, at ball they play, While the white-armed Nausicaa leads the choral lay."

The mere beauty of this scene all will feel, who have the sense of beauty in them. Yet it is not on that aspect which I wish to dwell, but on its healthfulness. Exercise is taken, in measured time, to the sound of song, as a duty almost, as well as an amusement. For this game of ball, which is here mentioned for the first time in human literature, nearly three thousand years ago, was held by the Greeks and by the Romans after them, to be an almost necessary part of a liberal education; principally, doubtless, from the development which it produced in the upper half of the body, not merely to the arms, but to the chest, by raising and expanding the ribs, and to all the muscles of the torso, whether perpendicular or oblique. The elasticity and grace which it was believed to give were so much prized, that a room for ball-play, and a teacher of the art, were integral parts of every gymnasium; and the Athenians went so far as to bestow on one famous ballplayer, Aristonicus of Carystia, a statue and the rights of citizenship. The rough and hardy young Spartans, when passing from boyhood into manhood, received the title of ball-players, seemingly from the game which it was then their special duty to learn. In the case of Nausicaa and her maidens, the game would just bring into their right places all that is liable to be contracted and weakened in women, so many of whose occupations must needs be sedentary and stooping; while the song which accompanied the game at once filled the lungs regularly and rhythmically, and prevented violent motion, or unseemly attitude. We, the civilised, need physiologists to remind us of these simple facts, and even then do not act on them. Those old half-barbarous Greeks had found them out for themselves, and, moreover, acted on them.

But fair Nausicaa must have been—some will say—surely a mere child of nature, and an uncultivated person?

So far from it, that her whole demeanour and speech show culture of the very highest sort, full of "sweetness and light."—Intelligent and fearless, quick to perceive the bearings of her strange and sudden adventure, quick to perceive the character of Ulysses, quick to answer his lofty and refined pleading by words as lofty and refined, and pious withal;—for it is she who speaks to her handmaids the once so famous words:

"Strangers and poor men all are sent from Zeus; And alms, though small, are sweet"

Clear of intellect, prompt of action, modest of demeanour, shrinking from the slightest breath of scandal; while she is not ashamed, when Ulysses, bathed and dressed, looks himself again, to whisper to her maidens her wish that the Gods might send her such a spouse.—This is Nausicaa as Homer draws her; and as many a scholar and poet since Homer has accepted her for the ideal of noble maidenhood. I ask my readers to study for themselves her interview with Ulysses, in Mr. Worsley's translation, or rather in the grand simplicity of the original Greek, {76} and judge whether Nausicaa is not as perfect a lady as the poet who imagined her—or, it may be, drew her from life—must have been a perfect gentleman; both complete in those "manners" which, says the old proverb, "make the man:" but which are the woman herself; because with her—who acts more by emotion than by calculation—manners are the outward and visible tokens of her inward and spiritual grace, or disgrace; and flow instinctively, whether good or bad, from the instincts of her inner nature.

True, Nausicaa could neither read nor write. No more, most probably, could the author of the Odyssey. No more, for that matter, could Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though they were plainly, both in mind and manners, most highly-cultivated men. Reading and writing, of course, have now become necessaries of humanity; and are to be given to every human being, that he may start fair in the race of life. But I am not aware that Greek women improved much, either in manners, morals, or happiness, by acquiring them in after centuries. A wise man would sooner see his daughter a Nausicaa than a Sappho, an Aspasia, a Cleopatra, or even an Hypatia.

Full of such thoughts, I went through London streets, among the Nausicaas of the present day; the girls of the period; the daughters and hereafter mothers of our future rulers, the great Demos or commercial middle class of the greatest mercantile city in the world: and noted what I had noted with fear and sorrow, many a day, for many a year; a type, and an increasing type, of young women who certainly had not had the "advantages," "educational" and other, of that Greek Nausicaa of old.

Of course, in such a city as London, to which the best of everything, physical and other, gravitates, I could not but pass, now and then, beautiful persons, who made me proud of those "grandes Anglaises aux joues rouges," whom the Parisiennes ridicule—and envy. But I could not help suspecting that their looks showed them to be either country-bred, or born of country parents; and this suspicion was strengthened by the fact, that when compared with their mothers, the mother's physique was, in the majority of cases, superior to the daughters'. Painful it was, to one accustomed to the ruddy well-grown peasant girl, stalwart, even when, as often, squat and plain, to remark the exceedingly small size of the average young woman; by which I do not mean mere want of height—that is a little matter—but want of breadth likewise; a general want of those large frames, which indicate usually a power of keeping strong and healthy not merely the muscles, but the brain itself.

Poor little things. I passed hundreds—I pass hundreds every day—trying to hide their littleness by the nasty mass of false hair—or what does duty for it; and by the ugly and useless hat which is stuck upon it, making the head thereby look ridiculously large and heavy; and by the high heels on which they totter onward, having forgotten, or never learnt, the simple art of walking; their bodies tilted forward in that ungraceful attitude which is called—why that name of all others?—a "Grecian bend;" seemingly kept on their feet, and kept together at all, in that strange attitude, by tight stays which prevented all graceful and healthy motion of the hips or sides; their raiment, meanwhile, being purposely misshapen in this direction and in that, to hide—it must be presumed—deficiencies of form. If that chignon and those heels had been taken off, the figure which would have remained would have been that too often of a puny girl of sixteen. And yet there was no doubt that these women were not only full grown, but some of them, alas! wives and mothers.

Poor little things.—And this they have gained by so-called civilisation: the power of aping the "fashions" by which the worn-out Parisienne hides her own personal defects; and of making themselves, by innate want of that taste which the Parisienne possesses, only the cause of something like a sneer from many a cultivated man; and of something like a sneer, too, from yonder gipsy woman who passes by, with bold bright face, and swinging hip, and footstep stately and elastic; far better dressed, according to all true canons of taste, than most town-girls; and thanking her fate that she and her "Rom" are no house-dwellers and gaslight-sightseers, but fatten on free air upon the open moor.

But the face which is beneath that chignon and that hat? Well—it is sometimes pretty: but how seldom handsome, which is a higher quality by far. It is not, strange to say, a well-fed face. Plenty of money, and perhaps too much, is spent on those fine clothes. It had been better, to judge from the complexion, if some of that money had been spent in solid wholesome food. She looks as if she lived—as she too often does, I hear—on tea and bread-and-butter, or rather on bread with the minimum of butter. For as the want of bone indicates a deficiency of phosphatic food, so does the want of flesh about the cheeks indicate a deficiency of hydrocarbon. Poor little Nausicaa:—that is not her fault. Our boasted civilisation has not even taught her what to eat, as it certainly has not increased her appetite; and she knows not—what every country fellow knows—that without plenty of butter and other fatty matters, she is not likely to keep even warm. Better to eat nasty fat bacon now, than to supply the want of it some few years hence by nastier cod-liver oil. But there is no one yet to tell her that, and a dozen other equally simple facts, for her own sake, and for the sake of that coming Demos which she is to bring into the world; a Demos which, if we can only keep it healthy in body and brain, has before it so splendid a future: but which, if body and brain degrade beneath the influence of modern barbarism, is but too likely to follow the Demos of ancient Byzantium, or of modern Paris.

Ay, but her intellect. She is so clever, and she reads so much, and she is going to be taught to read so much more.

Ah, well—there was once a science called physiognomy. The Greeks, from what I can learn, knew more of it than any people since: though the Italian painters and sculptors must have known much; far more than we. In a more scientific civilisation there will be such a science once more: but its laws, though still in the empiric stage, are not altogether forgotten by some. Little children have often a fine and clear instinct of them. Many cultivated and experienced women have a fine and clear instinct of them likewise. And some such would tell us that there is intellect in plenty in the modern Nausicaa: but not of the quality which they desire for their country's future good. Self-consciousness, eagerness, volubility, petulance, in countenance, in gesture, and in voice—which last is too often most harsh and artificial, the breath being sent forth through the closed teeth, and almost entirely at the corners of the mouth—and, with all this, a weariness often about the wrinkling forehead and the drooping lids;—all these, which are growing too common, not among the Demos only, nor only in the towns, are signs, they think, of the unrest of unhealth, physical, intellectual, spiritual. At least they are as different as two types of physiognomy in the same race can be, from the expression both of face and gesture, in those old Greek sculptures, and in the old Italian painters; and, it must be said, in the portraits of Reynolds, and Gainsborough, Copley, and Romney. Not such, one thinks, must have been the mothers of Britain during the latter half of the last century and the beginning of the present; when their sons, at times, were holding half the world at bay.

And if Nausicaa has become such in town: what is she when she goes to the seaside, not to wash the clothes in fresh-water, but herself in salt—the very salt-water, laden with decaying organisms, from which, though not polluted further by a dozen sewers, Ulysses had to cleanse himself, anointing, too, with oil, ere he was fit to appear in the company of Nausicaa of Greece? She dirties herself with the dirty salt-water; and probably chills and tires herself by walking thither and back, and staying in too long; and then flaunts on the pier, bedizened in garments which, for monstrosity of form and disharmony of colours, would have set that Greek Nausicaa's teeth on edge, or those of any average Hindoo woman now. Or, even sadder still, she sits on chairs and benches all the weary afternoon, her head drooped on her chest, over some novel from the "Library;" and then returns to tea and shrimps, and lodgings of which the fragrance is not unsuggestive, sometimes not unproductive, of typhoid fever. Ah, poor Nausicaa of England! That is a sad sight to some who think about the present, and have read about the past. It is not a sad sight to see your old father—tradesman, or clerk, or what not—who has done good work in his day, and hopes to do some more, sitting by your old mother, who has done good work in her day—among the rest, that heaviest work of all, the bringing you into the world and keeping you in it till now—honest, kindly, cheerful folk enough, and not inefficient in their own calling; though an average Northumbrian, or Highlander, or Irish Easterling, beside carrying a brain of five times the intellectual force, could drive five such men over the cliff with his bare hands. It is not a sad sight, I say, to see them sitting about upon those seaside benches, looking out listlessly at the water, and the ships, and the sunlight, and enjoying, like so many flies upon a wall, the novel act of doing nothing. It is not the old for whom wise men are sad: but for you. Where is your vitality? Where is your "Lebensgluckseligkeit," your enjoyment of superfluous life and power? Why can you not even dance and sing, till now and then, at night, perhaps, when you ought to be safe in bed, but when the weak brain, after receiving the day's nourishment, has roused itself a second time into a false excitement of gaslight pleasure? What there is left of it is all going into that foolish book, which the womanly element in you, still healthy and alive, delights in; because it places you in fancy in situations in which you will never stand, and inspires you with emotions, some of which, it may be, you had better never feel. Poor Nausicaa—old, some men think, before you have been ever young.

And now they are going to "develop" you; and let you have your share in "the higher education of women," by making you read more books, and do more sums, and pass examinations, and stoop over desks at night after stooping over some other employment all day; and to teach you Latin, and even Greek.

Well, we will gladly teach you Greek, if you learn thereby to read the history of Nausicaa of old, and what manner of maiden she was, and what was her education. You will admire her, doubtless. But do not let your admiration limit itself to drawing a meagre half-mediaevalized design of her—as she never looked. Copy in your own person; and even if you do not descend as low—or rise as high—as washing the household clothes, at least learn to play at ball; and sing, in the open air and sunshine, not in theatres and concert-rooms by gaslight; and take decent care of your own health; and dress not like a "Parisienne"—nor, of course, like Nausicaa of old, for that is to ask too much:—but somewhat more like an average Highland lassie; and try to look like her, and be like her, of whom Wordsworth sang—

"A mien and face In which full plainly I can trace Benignity and home-bred sense, Ripening in perfect innocence. Here scattered, like a random seed, Remote from men, thou dost not need The embarrassed look of shy distress And maidenly shamefacedness. Thou wear'st upon thy forehead clear The freedom of a mountaineer. A face with gladness overspread, Soft smiles, by human kindness bred, And seemliness complete, that sways Thy courtesies, about thee plays. With no restraint, save such as springs From quick and eager visitings Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach Of thy few words of English speech. A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife That gives thy gestures grace and life."

Ah, yet unspoilt Nausicaa of the North; descendant of the dark tender- hearted Celtic girl, and the fair deep-hearted Scandinavian Viking, thank God for thy heather and fresh air, and the kine thou tendest, and the wool thou spinnest; and come not to seek thy fortune, child, in wicked London town; nor import, as they tell me thou art doing fast, the ugly fashions of that London town, clumsy copies of Parisian cockneydom, into thy Highland home; nor give up the healthful and graceful, free and modest dress of thy mother and thy mother's mother, to disfigure the little kirk on Sabbath days with crinoline and corset, high-heeled boots, and other women's hair.

It is proposed, just now, to assimilate the education of girls more and more to that of boys. If that means that girls are merely to learn more lessons, and to study what their brothers are taught, in addition to what their mothers were taught; then it is to be hoped, at least by physiologists and patriots, that the scheme will sink into that limbo whither, in a free and tolerably rational country, all imperfect and ill- considered schemes are sure to gravitate. But if the proposal be a bona fide one: then it must be borne in mind that in the public schools of England, and in all private schools, I presume, which take their tone from them, cricket and football are more or less compulsory, being considered integral parts of an Englishman's education; and that they are likely to remain so, in spite of all reclamations: because masters and boys alike know that games do not, in the long run, interfere with a boy's work; that the same boy will very often excel in both; that the games keep him in health for his work; that the spirit with which he takes to his games when in the lower school, is a fair test of the spirit with which he will take to his work when he rises into the higher school; and that nothing is worse for a boy than to fall into that loafing, tuck- shop-haunting set, who neither play hard nor work hard, and are usually extravagant, and often vicious. Moreover, they know well that games conduce, not merely to physical, but to moral health; that in the playing- field boys acquire virtues which no books can give them; not merely daring and endurance, but, better still, temper, self-restraint, fairness, honour, unenvious approbation of another's success, and all that "give and take" of life which stand a man in such good stead when he goes forth into the world, and without which, indeed, his success is always maimed and partial.

Now: if the promoters of higher education for women will compel girls to any training analogous to our public school games; if, for instance, they will insist on that most natural and wholesome of all exercises, dancing, in order to develop the lower half of the body; on singing, to expand the lungs and regulate the breath; and on some games—ball or what not—which will ensure that raised chest, and upright carriage, and general strength of the upper torso, without which full oxygenation of the blood, and therefore general health, is impossible; if they will sternly forbid tight stays, high heels, and all which interferes with free growth and free motion; if they will consider carefully all which has been written on the "half-time system" by Mr. Chadwick and others; and accept the certain physical law that, in order to renovate the brain day by day, the growing creature must have plenty of fresh air and play, and that the child who learns for four hours and plays for four hours, will learn more, and learn it more easily, than the child who learns for the whole eight hours; if, in short, they will teach girls not merely to understand the Greek tongue, but to copy somewhat of the Greek physical training, of that "music and gymnastic" which helped to make the cleverest race of the old world the ablest race likewise: then they will earn the gratitude of the patriot and the physiologist, by doing their best to stay the downward tendencies of the physique, and therefore ultimately of the morale, in the coming generation of English women.

I am sorry to say that, as yet, I hear of but one movement in this direction among the promoters of the "higher education of women." {88} I trust that the subject will be taken up methodically by those gifted ladies; who have acquainted themselves, and are labouring to acquaint other women, with the first principles of health; and that they may avail to prevent the coming generations, under the unwholesome stimulant of competitive examinations, and so forth, from "developing" into so many Chinese-dwarfs—or idiots.


"Die Natur ist die Bewegung."

Who are these who follow us softly over the moor in the autumn eve? Their wings brush and rustle in the fir-boughs, and they whisper before us and behind, as if they called gently to each other, like birds flocking homeward to their nests.

The woodpecker on the pine-stems knows them, and laughs aloud for joy as they pass. The rooks above the pasture know them, and wheel round and tumble in their play. The brown leaves on the oak trees know them, and flutter faintly, and beckon as they pass. And in the chattering of the dry leaves there is a meaning, and a cry of weary things which long for rest.

"Take us home, take us home, you soft air-mothers, now our fathers the sunbeams are grown dull. Our green summer beauty is all draggled, and our faces are grown wan and wan; and the buds, the children whom we nourished, thrust us off, ungrateful, from our seats. Waft us down, you soft air-mothers, upon your wings to the quiet earth, that we may go to our home, as all things go, and become air and sunlight once again."

And the bold young fir-seeds know them, and rattle impatient in their cones. "Blow stronger, blow fiercer, slow air-mothers, and shake us from our prisons of dead wood, that we may fly and spin away north-eastward, each on his horny wing. Help us but to touch the moorland yonder, and we will take good care of ourselves henceforth; we will dive like arrows through the heather, and drive our sharp beaks into the soil, and rise again as green trees toward the sunlight, and spread out lusty boughs."

They never think, bold fools, of what is coming, to bring them low in the midst of their pride; of the reckless axe which will fell them, and the saw which will shape them into logs; and the trains which will roar and rattle over them, as they lie buried in the gravel of the way, till they are ground and rotted into powder, and dug up and flung upon the fire, that they too may return home, like all things, and become air and sunlight once again.

And the air-mothers hear their prayers, and do their bidding: but faintly; for they themselves are tired and sad.

Tired and sad are the air-mothers, and their garments rent and wan. Look at them as they stream over the black forest, before the dim south-western sun; long lines and wreaths of melancholy grey, stained with dull yellow or dead dun. They have come far across the seas, and done many a wild deed upon their way; and now that they have reached the land, like shipwrecked sailors, they will lie down and weep till they can weep no more.

Ah, how different were those soft air-mothers when, invisible to mortal eyes, they started on their long sky-journey, five thousand miles across the sea! Out of the blazing caldron which lies between the two New Worlds, they leapt up when the great sun called them, in whirls and spouts of clear hot steam; and rushed of their own passion to the northward, while the whirling earth-ball whirled them east. So north- eastward they rushed aloft, across the gay West Indian isles, leaving below the glitter of the flying-fish, and the sidelong eyes of cruel sharks; above the cane-fields and the plaintain-gardens, and the cocoa- groves which fringe the shores; above the rocks which throbbed with earthquakes, and the peaks of old volcanoes, cinder-strewn; while, far beneath, the ghosts of their dead sisters hurried home upon the north- east breeze.

Wild deeds they did as they rushed onward, and struggled and fought among themselves, up and down, and round and backward, in the fury of their blind hot youth. They heeded not the tree as they snapped it, nor the ship as they whelmed it in the waves; nor the cry of the sinking sailor, nor the need of his little ones on shore; hasty and selfish even as children, and, like children, tamed by their own rage. For they tired themselves by struggling with each other, and by tearing the heavy water into waves; and their wings grew clogged with sea-spray, and soaked more and more with steam. But at last the sea grew cold beneath them, and their clear steam shrank to mist; and they saw themselves and each other wrapped in dull rain-laden clouds. They then drew their white cloud-garments round them, and veiled themselves for very shame; and said, "We have been wild and wayward: and, alas! our pure bright youth is gone. But we will do one good deed yet ere we die, and so we shall not have lived in vain. We will glide onward to the land, and weep there; and refresh all things with soft warm rain; and make the grass grow, the buds burst; quench the thirst of man and beast, and wash the soiled world clean."

So they are wandering past us, the air-mothers, to weep the leaves into their graves; to weep the seeds into their seed-beds, and weep the soil into the plains; to get the rich earth ready for the winter, and then creep northward to the ice-world, and there die.

Weary, and still more weary, slowly, and more slowly still, they will journey on far northward, across fast-chilling seas. For a doom is laid upon them, never to be still again, till they rest at the North Pole itself, the still axle of the spinning world; and sink in death around it, and become white snow-clad ghosts.

But will they live again, those chilled air-mothers? Yes, they must live again. For all things move for ever; and not even ghosts can rest. So the corpses of their sisters, piling on them from above, press them outward, press them southward toward the sun once more; across the floes and round the icebergs, weeping tears of snow and sleet, while men hate their wild harsh voices, and shrink before their bitter breath. They know not that the cold bleak snow-storms, as they hurtle from the black north-east, bear back the ghosts of the soft air-mothers, as penitents, to their father, the great sun.

But as they fly southwards, warm life thrills them, and they drop their loads of sleet and snow; and meet their young live sisters from the south, and greet them with flash and thunder-peal. And, please God, before many weeks are over, as we run Westward Ho, we shall overtake the ghosts of these air-mothers, hurrying back toward their father, the great sun. Fresh and bright under the fresh bright heaven, they will race with us toward our home, to gain new heat, new life, new power, and set forth about their work once more. Men call them the south-west wind, those air- mothers; and their ghosts the north-east trade; and value them, and rightly, because they bear the traders out and home across the sea. But wise men, and little children, should look on them with more seeing eyes; and say, "May not these winds be living creatures? They, too, are thoughts of God, to whom all live."

For is not our life like their life? Do we not come and go as they? Out of God's boundless bosom, the fount of life, we came; through selfish, stormy youth, and contrite tears—just not too late; through manhood not altogether useless; through slow and chill old age, we return from Whence we came; to the Bosom of God once more—to go forth again, it may be, with fresh knowledge, and fresh powers, to nobler work. Amen.

* * * * *

Such was the prophecy which I learnt, or seemed to learn, from the south- western wind off the Atlantic, on a certain delectable evening. And it was fulfilled at night, as far as the gentle air-mothers could fulfil it, for foolish man.

"There was a roaring in the woods all night; The rain came heavily and fell in floods; But now the sun is rising calm and bright, The birds are singing in the distant woods; Over his own sweet voice the stock-dove broods, The jay makes answer as the magpie chatters, And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters"

But was I a gloomy and distempered man, if, upon such a morn as that, I stood on the little bridge across a certain brook, and watched the water run, with something of a sigh? Or if, when the schoolboy beside me lamented that the floods would surely be out, and his day's fishing spoiled, I said to him—"Ah, my boy, that is a little matter. Look at what you are seeing now, and understand what barbarism and waste mean. Look at all that beautiful water which God has sent us hither off the Atlantic, without trouble or expense to us. Thousands, and tens of thousands, of gallons will run under this bridge to-day; and what shall we do with it? Nothing. And yet: think only of the mills which that water would have turned. Think how it might have kept up health and cleanliness in poor creatures packed away in the back streets of the nearest town, or even in London itself. Think even how country folk, in many parts of England, in three months' time, may be crying out for rain, and afraid of short crops, and fever, and scarlatina, and cattle-plague, for want of the very water which we are now letting run back, wasted, into the sea from whence it came. And yet we call ourselves a civilised people."

It is not wise, I know, to preach to boys. And yet, sometimes, a man must speak his heart; even, like Midas' slave, to the reeds by the river side. And I had so often, fishing up and down full many a stream, whispered my story to those same river-reeds; and told them that my Lord the Sovereign Demos had, like old Midas, asses' ears in spite of all his gold, that I thought I might for once tell it the boy likewise, in hope that he might help his generation to mend that which my own generation does not seem like to mend.

I might have said more to him: but did not. For it is not well to destroy too early the child's illusion, that people must be wise because they are grown up, and have votes, and rule—or think they rule—the world. The child will find out how true that is soon enough for himself. If the truth be forced on him by the hot words of those with whom he lives, it is apt to breed in him that contempt, stormful and therefore barren, which makes revolutions; and not that pity, calm and therefore helpful, which makes reforms.

So I might have said to him, but did not—

And then men pray for rain:

My boy, did you ever hear the old Eastern legend about the Gipsies? How they were such good musicians, that some great Indian Sultan sent for the whole tribe, and planted them near his palace, and gave them land, and ploughs to break it up, and seed to sow it, that they might dwell there, and play and sing to him.

But when the winter arrived, the Gipsies all came to the Sultan, and cried that they were starving. "But what have you done with the seed- corn which I gave you?" "O Light of the Age, we ate it in the summer." "And what have you done with the ploughs which I gave you?" "O Glory of the Universe, we burnt them to bake the corn withal."

Then said that great Sultan—"Like the butterflies you have lived; and like the butterflies you shall wander." So he drove them out. And that is how the Gipsies came hither from the East.

Now suppose that the Sultan of all Sultans, who sends the rain, should make a like answer to us foolish human beings, when we prayed for rain: "But what have you done with the rain which I gave you six months since?" "We have let it run into the sea." "Then, ere you ask for more rain, make places wherein you can keep it when you have it." "But that would be, in most cases, too expensive. We can employ our capital more profitably in other directions."

It is not for me to say what answer might be made to such an excuse. I think a child's still unsophisticated sense of right and wrong would soon supply one; and probably one—considering the complexity, and difficulty, and novelty, of the whole question—somewhat too harsh; as children's judgments are wont to be.

But would it not be well if our children, without being taught to blame anyone for what is past, were taught something about what ought to be done now, what must be done soon, with the rainfall of these islands; and about other and kindred health-questions, on the solution of which depends, and will depend more and more, the life of millions? One would have thought that those public schools and colleges which desire to monopolise the education of the owners of the soil; of the great employers of labour; of the clergy; and of all, indeed, who ought to be acquainted with the duties of property, the conditions of public health, and, in a word, with the general laws of what is now called Social Science—one would have thought, I say, that these public schools and colleges would have taught their scholars somewhat at least about such matters, that they might go forth into life with at least some rough notions of the causes which make people healthy or unhealthy, rich or poor, comfortable or wretched, useful or dangerous to the State. But as long as our great educational institutions, safe, or fancying themselves safe, in some enchanted castle, shut out by ancient magic from the living world, put a premium on Latin and Greek verses: a wise father will, during the holidays, talk now and then, I hope, somewhat after this fashion:—

You must understand, my boy, that all the water in the country comes out of the sky, and from nowhere else; and that, therefore, to save and store the water when it falls is a question of life and death to crops, and man, and beast; for with or without water is life or death. If I took, for instance, the water from the moors above and turned it over yonder field, I could double, and more than double, the crops in that field henceforth.

Then why do I not do it?

Only because the field lies higher than the house; and if—now here is one thing which you and every civilised man should know—if you have water-meadows, or any "irrigated" land, as it is called, above a house, or even on a level with it, it is certain to breed not merely cold and damp, but fever or ague. Our forefathers did not understand this; and they built their houses, as this is built, in the lowest places they could find: sometimes because they wished to be near ponds, from whence they could get fish in Lent; but more often, I think, because they wanted to be sheltered from the wind. They had no glass, as we have, in their windows; or, at least, only latticed casements, which let in the wind and cold; and they shrank from high and exposed, and therefore really healthy, spots. But now that we have good glass, and sash windows, and doors that will shut tight, we can build warm houses where we like. And if you ever have to do with the building of cottages, remember that it is your duty to the people who will live in them, and therefore to the State, to see that they stand high and dry, where no water can drain down into their foundations, and where fog, and the poisonous gases which are given out by rotting vegetables, cannot drain down either. You will learn more about all that when you learn, as every civilised lad should in these days, something about chemistry, and the laws of fluids and gases. But you know already that flowers are cut off by frost in the low grounds sooner than in the high; and that the fog at night always lies along the brooks; and that the sour moor-smell which warns us to shut our windows at sunset, comes down from the hill, and not up from the valley. Now all these things are caused by one and the same law; that cold air is heavier than warm; and, therefore, like so much water, must run down hill.

But what about the rainfall?

Well, I have wandered a little from the rainfall: though not as far as you fancy; for fever and ague and rheumatism usually mean—rain in the wrong place. But if you knew how much illness, and torturing pain, and death, and sorrow arise, even to this very day, from ignorance of these simple laws, then you would bear them carefully in mind, and wish to know more about them. But now for water being life to the beasts. Do you remember—though you are hardly old enough—the cattle-plague? How the beasts died, or had to be killed and buried, by tens of thousands; and how misery and ruin fell on hundreds of honest men and women over many of the richest counties of England: but how we in this vale had no cattle- plague; and how there was none—as far as I recollect—in the uplands of Devon and Cornwall, nor of Wales, nor of the Scotch Highlands? Now, do you know why that was? Simply because we here, like those other uplanders, are in such a country as Palestine was before the foolish Jews cut down all their timber, and so destroyed their own rainfall—a "land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills." There is hardly a field here that has not, thank God, its running brook, or its sweet spring, from which our cattle were drinking their health and life, while in the clay-lands of Cheshire, and in the Cambridgeshire fens—which were drained utterly dry—the poor things drank no water, too often, save that of the very same putrid ponds in which they had been standing all day long, to cool themselves, and to keep off the flies. I do not say, of course, that bad water caused the cattle-plague. It came by infection from the East of Europe. But I say that bad water made the cattle ready to take it, and made it spread over the country; and when you are old enough I will give you plenty of proof—some from the herds of your own kinsmen—that what I say is true.

And as for pure water being life to human beings: why have we never fever here, and scarcely ever diseases like fever—zymotics, as the doctors call them? Or, if a case comes into our parish from outside, why does the fever never spread? For the very same reason that we had no cattle- plague. Because we have more pure water close to every cottage than we need. And this I tell you: that the only two outbreaks of deadly disease which we have had here for thirty years, were both of them, as far as I could see, to be traced to filthy water having got into the poor folk's wells. Water, you must remember, just as it is life when pure, is death when foul. For it can carry, unseen to the eye, and even when it looks clear and sparkling, and tastes soft and sweet, poisons which have perhaps killed more human beings than ever were killed in battle. You have read, perhaps, how the Athenians, when they were dying of the plague, accused the Lacedaemonians outside the walls of poisoning their wells; or how, in some of the pestilences of the middle ages, the common people used to accuse the poor harmless Jews of poisoning the wells, and set upon them and murdered them horribly. They were right, I do not doubt, in their notion that the well-water was giving them the pestilence: but they had not sense to see that they were poisoning the wells themselves by their dirt and carelessness; or, in the case of poor besieged Athens, probably by mere overcrowding, which has cost many a life ere now, and will cost more. And I am sorry to tell you, my little man, that even now too many people have no more sense than they had, and die in consequence. If you could see a battle-field, and men shot down, writhing and dying in hundreds by shell and bullet, would not that seem to you a horrid sight? Then—I do not wish to make you sad too early, but this is a fact which everyone should know—that more people, and not strong men only, but women and little children too, are killed and wounded in Great Britain every year by bad water and want of water together, than were killed and wounded in any battle which has been fought since you were born. Medical men know this well. And when you are older, you may see it for yourself in the Registrar-General's reports, blue-books, pamphlets, and so on, without end.

But why do not people stop such a horrible loss of life?

Well, my dear boy, the true causes of it have only been known for the last thirty or forty years; and we English are, as good King Alfred found us to his sorrow a thousand years ago, very slow to move, even when we see a thing ought to be done. Let us hope that in this matter—we have been so in most matters as yet—we shall be like the tortoise in the fable, and not the hare; and by moving slowly, but surely, win the race at last. But now think for yourself: and see what you would do to save these people from being poisoned by bad water. Remember that the plain question is this—The rainwater comes down from heaven as water, and nothing but water. Rainwater is the only pure water, after all. How would you save that for the poor people who have none? There; run away and hunt rabbits on the moor: but look, meanwhile, how you would save some of this beautiful and precious water which is roaring away into the sea.

* * * * *

Well? What would you do? Make ponds, you say, like the old monks' ponds, now all broken down. Dam all the glens across their mouths, and turn them into reservoirs.

"Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings"—Well, that will have to be done. That is being done more and more, more or less well. The good people of Glasgow did it first, I think; and now the good people of Manchester, and of other northern towns, have done it, and have saved many a human life thereby already. But it must be done, some day, all over England and Wales, and great part of Scotland. For the mountain tops and moors, my boy, by a beautiful law of nature, compensate for their own poverty by yielding a wealth which the rich lowlands cannot yield. You do not understand? Then see. Yon moor above can grow neither corn nor grass. But one thing it can grow, and does grow, without which we should have no corn nor grass, and that is—water. Not only does far more rain fall up there than falls here down below, but even in drought the high moors condense the moisture into dew, and so yield some water, even when the lowlands are burnt up with drought. The reason of that you must learn hereafter. That it is so, you should know yourself. For on the high chalk downs, you know, where farmers make a sheep-pond, they never, if they are wise, make it in a valley or on a hill-side, but on the bleakest top of the very highest down; and there, if they can once get it filled with snow and rain in winter, the blessed dews of night will keep some water in it all the summer through, while the ponds below are utterly dried up. And even so it is, as I know, with this very moor. Corn and grass it will not grow, because there is too little "staple," that is, soluble minerals, in the sandy soil. But how much water it might grow, you may judge roughly for yourself, by remembering how many brooks like this are running off it now to carry mere dirt into the river, and then into the sea.

But why should we not make dams at once; and save the water?

Because we cannot afford it. No one would buy the water when we had stored it. The rich in town and country will always take care—and quite right they are—to have water enough for themselves, and for their servants too, whatever it may cost them. But the poorer people are—and therefore usually, alas! the more ignorant—the less water they get; and the less they care to have water; and the less they are inclined to pay for it; and the more, I am sorry to say, they waste what little they do get; and I am still more sorry to say, spoil, and even steal and sell—in London at least—the stop-cocks and lead-pipes which bring the water into their houses. So that keeping a water-shop is a very troublesome and uncertain business; and one which is not likely to pay us or any one round here.

But why not let some company manage it, as they manage railways, and gas, and other things?

Ah—you have been overhearing a good deal about companies of late, I see. But this I will tell you; that when you grow up, and have a vote and influence, it will be your duty, if you intend to be a good citizen, not only not to put the water-supply of England into the hands of fresh companies, but to help to take out of their hands what water-supply they manage already, especially in London; and likewise the gas-supply; and the railroads; and everything else, in a word, which everybody uses, and must use. For you must understand—at least as soon as you can—that though the men who make up companies are no worse than other men, and some of them, as you ought to know, very good men; yet what they have to look to is their profits; and the less water they supply, and the worse it is, the more profit they make. For most water, I am sorry to say, is fouled before the water companies can get to it, as this water which runs past us will be, and as the Thames water above London is. Therefore it has to be cleansed, or partly cleansed, at a very great expense. So water companies have to be inspected—in plain English, watched—at a very heavy expense to the nation, by government officers; and compelled to do their best, and take their utmost care. And so it has come to pass that the London water is not now nearly as bad as some of it was thirty years ago, when it was no more fit to drink than that in the cattle yard tank. But still we must have more water, and better, in London; for it is growing year by year. There are more than three millions of people already in what we call London; and ere you are an old man there may be between four and five millions. Now to supply all these people with water is a duty which we must not leave to any private companies. It must be done by a public authority, as is fit and proper in a free self- governing country. In this matter, as in all others, we will try to do what the Royal Commission told us four years ago we ought to do. I hope that you will see, though I may not, the day when what we call London, but which is really, nine-tenths of it, only a great nest of separate villages huddled together, will be divided into three great self-governing cities, London, Westminster, and Southwark; each with its own corporation, like that of the venerable and well-governed City of London; each managing its own water-supply, gas-supply, and sewage, and other matters besides; and managing them, like Dublin, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, and other great northern towns, far more cheaply and far better than any companies can do it for them.

But where shall we get water enough for all these millions of people? There are no mountains near London. But we might give them the water off our moors.

No, no, my boy.

"He that will not when he may, When he will, he shall have nay."

Some fifteen years ago the Londoners might have had water from us; and I was one of those who did my best to get it for them: but the water companies did not choose to take it; and now this part of England is growing so populous and so valuable that it wants all its little rainfall for itself. So there is another leaf torn out of the Sibylline books for the poor old water companies. You do not understand: you will some day. But you may comfort yourself about London. For it happens to be, I think, the luckiest city in the world; and if it had not been, we should have had pestilence on pestilence in it, as terrible as the great plague of Charles II.'s time. The old Britons, without knowing in the least what they were doing, settled old London city in the very centre of the most wonderful natural reservoir in this island, or perhaps in all Europe; which reaches from Kent into Wiltshire, and round again into Suffolk; and that is, the dear old chalk downs.

Why, they are always dry.

Yes. But the turf on them never burns up, and the streams which flow through them never run dry, and seldom or never flood either. Do you not know, from Winchester, that that is true? Then where is all the rain and snow gone, which falls on them year by year, but into the chalk itself, and into the greensands, too, below the chalk? There it is, soaked up as by a sponge, in quantity incalculable; enough, some think, to supply London, let it grow as huge as it may. I wish I too were sure of that. But the Commission has shown itself so wise and fair, and brave likewise—too brave, I am sorry to say, for some who might have supported them—that it is not for me to gainsay their opinion.

But if there was not water enough in the chalk, are not the Londoners rich enough to bring it from any distance?

My boy, in this also we will agree with the Commission—that we ought not to rob Peter to pay Paul, and take water to a distance which other people close at hand may want. Look at the map of England and southern Scotland; and see for yourself what is just, according to geography and nature. There are four mountain-ranges; four great water-fields. First, the hills of the Border. Their rainfall ought to be stored for the Lothians and the extreme north of England. Then the Yorkshire and Derbyshire hills—the central chine of England. Their rainfall is being stored already, to the honour of the shrewd northern men, for the manufacturing counties east and west of the hills. Then come the lake mountains—the finest water-field of all, because more rain by far falls there than in any place in England. But they will be wanted to supply Lancashire, and some day Liverpool itself; for Liverpool is now using rain which belongs more justly to other towns; and besides, there are plenty of counties and towns, down into Cheshire, which would be glad of what water Lancashire does not want. And last come the Snowdon mountains, a noble water-field, which I know well; for an old dream of mine has been, that ere I died I should see all the rain of the Carnedds, and the Glyders, and Siabod, and Snowdon itself, carried across the Conway river to feed the mining districts of North Wales, where the streams are now all foul with oil and lead; and then on into the western coal and iron fields, to Wolverhampton and Birmingham itself: and if I were the engineer who got that done, I should be happier—prouder I dare not say—than if I had painted nobler pictures than Raffaelle, or written nobler plays than Shakespeare. I say that, boy, in most deliberate earnest. But meanwhile, do you not see that in districts where coal and iron may be found, and fresh manufactures may spring up any day in any place, each district has a right to claim the nearest rainfall for itself? And now, when we have got the water into its proper place, let us see what we shall do with it.

But why do you say we? Can you and I do all this?

My boy, are not you and I free citizens; part of the people, the Commons—as the good old word runs—of this country? And are we not—or ought we not to be in time—beside that, educated men? By the people, remember, I mean, not only the hand-working man who has just got a vote; I mean the clergy of all denominations; and the gentlemen of the press; and last, but not least, the scientific men. If those four classes together were to tell every government—"Free water we will have, and as much as we reasonably choose;" and tell every candidate for the House of Commons,—"Unless you promise to get us as much free water as we reasonably choose, we will not return you to Parliament:" then, I think, we four should put such a "pressure" on government as no water companies, or other vested interests, could long resist. And if any of those four classes should hang back, and waste their time and influence over matters far less important and less pressing, the other three must laugh at them, and more than laugh at them; and ask them—"Why have you education, why have you influence, why have you votes, why are you freemen and not slaves, if not to preserve the comfort, the decency, the health, the lives of men, women, and children—most of those latter your own wives and your own children?"

But what shall we do with the water?

Well, after all, that is a more practical matter than speculations grounded on the supposition that all classes will do their duty. But the first thing we will do will be to give to the very poorest houses a constant supply, at high pressure; so that everybody may take as much water as he likes, instead of having to keep the water in little cisterns, where it gets foul and putrid only too often.

But will they not waste it then?

So far from it, wherever the water has been laid on at high pressure, the waste, which is terrible now—some say that in London one-third of the water is wasted—begins to lessen; and both water and expense are saved. If you will only think, you will see one reason why. If a woman leaves a high-pressure tap running, she will flood her place and her neighbour's too. She will be like the magician's servant, who called up the demon to draw water for him; and so he did: but when he had begun he would not stop, and if the magician had not come home, man and house would have been washed away.

But if it saves money, why do not the water companies do it?

Because—and really here there are many excuses for the poor old water companies, when so many of them swerve and gib at the very mention of constant water-supply, like a poor horse set to draw a load which he feels is too heavy for him—because, to keep everything in order among dirty, careless, and often drunken people, there must be officers with lawful authority—water-policemen we will call them—who can enter people's houses when they will, and if they find anything wrong with the water, set it to rights with a high hand, and even summon the people who have set it wrong. And that is a power which, in a free country, must never be given to the servants of any private company, but only to the officers of a corporation or of the government.

And what shall we do with the rest of the water?

Well, we shall have, I believe, so much to spare that we may at least do this—In each district of each city, and the centre of each town, we may build public baths and lavatories, where poor men and women may get their warm baths when they will; for now they usually never bathe at all, because they will not—and ought not, if they be hard-worked folk—bathe in cold water during nine months of the year. And there they shall wash their clothes, and dry them by steam; instead of washing them as now, at home, either under back sheds, where they catch cold and rheumatism, or too often, alas! in their own living rooms, in an atmosphere of foul vapour, which drives the father to the public-house and the children into the streets; and which not only prevents the clothes from being thoroughly dried again, but is, my dear boy, as you will know when you are older, a very hot-bed of disease. And they shall have other comforts, and even luxuries, these public lavatories; and be made, in time, graceful and refining, as well as merely useful. Nay, we will even, I think, have in front of each of them a real fountain; not like the drinking-fountains—though they are great and needful boons—which you see here and there about the streets, with a tiny dribble of water to a great deal of expensive stone: but real fountains, which shall leap, and sparkle, and plash, and gurgle; and fill the place with life, and light, and coolness; and sing in the people's ears the sweetest of all earthly songs—save the song of a mother over her child—the song of "The Laughing Water."

But will not that be a waste?

Yes, my boy. And for that very reason, I think we, the people, will have our fountains; if it be but to make our governments, and corporations, and all public bodies and officers, remember that they all—save Her Majesty the Queen—are our servants; and not we theirs; and that we choose to have water, not only to wash with, but to play with, if we like. And I believe—for the world, as you will find, is full not only of just but of generous souls—that if the water-supply were set really right, there would be found, in many a city, many a generous man who, over and above his compulsory water-rate, would give his poor fellow-townsmen such a real fountain as those which ennoble the great square at Carcasonne and the great square at Nismes; to be "a thing of beauty and a joy for ever."

And now, if you want to go back to your Latin and Greek, you shall translate for me into Latin—I do not expect you to do it into Greek, though it would turn very well into Greek, for the Greeks knew all about the matter long before the Romans—what follows here; and you shall verify the facts and the names, &c., in it from your dictionaries of antiquity and biography, that you may remember all the better what it says. And by that time, I think, you will have learnt something more useful to yourself, and, I hope, to your country hereafter, than if you had learnt to patch together the neatest Greek and Latin verses which have appeared since the days of Mr. Canning.

* * * * *

I have often amused myself, by fancying one question which an old Roman emperor would ask, were he to rise from his grave and visit the sights of London under the guidance of some minister of state. The august shade would, doubtless, admire, our railroads and bridges, our cathedrals and our public parks, and much more of which we need not be ashamed. But after a while, I think, he would look round, whether in London or in most of our great cities, inquiringly and in vain, for one class of buildings, which in his empire were wont to be almost as conspicuous and as splendid, because, in public opinion, almost as necessary, as the basilicas and temples—"And where," he would ask, "are your public baths?" And if the minister of state who was his guide should answer—"O great Caesar, I really do not know. I believe there are some somewhere at the back of that ugly building which we call the National Gallery; and I think there have been some meetings lately in the East End, and an amateur concert at the Albert Hall, for restoring, by private subscriptions, some baths and wash-houses in Bethnal Green, which had fallen to decay. And there may be two or three more about the metropolis; for parish vestries have powers by Act of Parliament to establish such places, if they think fit, and choose to pay for them out of the rates:"—Then, I think, the august shade might well make answer—"We used to call you, in old Rome, northern barbarians. It seems that you have not lost all your barbarian habits. Are you aware that, in every city in the Roman empire, there were, as a matter of course, public baths open, not only to the poorest freeman, but to the slave, usually for the payment of the smallest current coin, and often gratuitously? Are you aware that in Rome itself, millionaire after millionaire, emperor after emperor, from Menenius Agrippa and Nero down to Diocletian and Constantine, built baths, and yet more baths; and connected with them gymnasia for exercise, lecture-rooms, libraries, and porticos, wherein the people might have shade and shelter, and rest?—I remark, by-the-by, that I have not seen in all your London a single covered place in which the people may take shelter during a shower—Are you aware that these baths were of the most magnificent architecture, decorated with marbles, paintings, sculptures, fountains, what not? And yet I had heard, in Hades down below, that you prided yourselves here on the study of the learned languages; and, indeed, taught little but Greek and Latin at your public schools?"

Then, if the minister should make reply—"Oh yes, we know all this. Even since the revival of letters in the end of the fifteenth century a whole literature has been written—a great deal of it, I fear, by pedants who seldom washed even their hands and faces—about your Greek and Roman baths. We visit their colossal ruins in Italy and elsewhere with awe and admiration; and the discovery of a new Roman bath in any old city of our isles sets all our antiquaries buzzing with interest."

"Then why," the shade might ask, "do you not copy an example which you so much admire? Surely England must be much in want, either of water, or of fuel to heat it with?"

"On the contrary, our rainfall is almost too great; our soil so damp that we have had to invent a whole art of subsoil drainage unknown to you; while, as for fuel, our coal-mines make us the great fuel-exporting people of the world."

What a quiet sneer might curl the lip of a Constantine as he replied—"Not in vain, as I said, did we call you, some fifteen hundred years ago, the barbarians of the north. But tell me, good barbarian, whom I know to be both brave and wise—for the fame of your young British empire has reached us even in the realms below, and we recognise in you, with all respect, a people more like us Romans than any which has appeared on earth for many centuries—how is it you have forgotten that sacred duty of keeping the people clean, which you surely at one time learnt from us? When your ancestors entered our armies, and rose, some of them, to be great generals, and even emperors, like those two Teuton peasants, Justin and Justinian, who, long after my days, reigned in my own Constantinople: then, at least, you saw baths, and used them; and felt, after the bath, that you were civilised men, and not 'sordidi ac foetentes,' as we used to call you when fresh out of your bullock-waggons and cattle-pens. How is it that you have forgotten that lesson?"

The minister, I fear, would have to answer that our ancestors were barbarous enough, not only to destroy the Roman cities, and temples, and basilicas, and statues, but the Roman baths likewise; and then retired, each man to his own freehold in the country, to live a life not much more cleanly or more graceful than that of the swine which were his favourite food. But he would have a right to plead, as an excuse, that not only in England, but throughout the whole of the conquered Latin empire, the Latin priesthood, who, in some respects, were—to their honour—the representatives of Roman civilisation and the protectors of its remnants, were the determined enemies of its cleanliness; that they looked on personal dirt—like the old hermits of the Thebaid—as a sign of sanctity; and discouraged—as they are said to do still in some of the Romance countries of Europe—the use of the bath, as not only luxurious, but also indecent.

At which answer, it seems to me, another sneer might curl the lip of the august shade, as he said to himself—"This, at least, I did not expect, when I made Christianity the state religion of my empire. But you, good barbarian, look clean enough. You do not look on dirt as a sign of sanctity?"

"On the contrary, sire, the upper classes of our empire boast of being the cleanliest—perhaps the only perfectly cleanly—people in the world: except, of course, the savages of the South Seas. And dirt is so far from being a thing which we admire, that our scientific men—than whom the world has never seen wiser—have proved to us, for a whole generation past, that dirt is the fertile cause of disease and drunkenness, misery and recklessness."

"And, therefore," replies the shade, ere he disappears, "of discontent and revolution; followed by a tyranny endured, as in Rome and many another place, by men once free; because tyranny will at least do for them what they are too lazy, and cowardly, and greedy to do for themselves. Farewell, and prosper; as you seem likely to prosper, on the whole. But if you wish me to consider you a civilised nation: let me hear that you have brought a great river from the depths of the earth, be they a thousand fathoms deep, or from your nearest mountains, be they five hundred miles away; and have washed out London's dirt—and your own shame. Till then, abstain from judging too harshly a Constantine, or even a Caracalla; for they, whatever were their sins, built baths, and kept their people clean. But do your gymnasia—your schools and universities, teach your youth nought about all this?"


Ladies,—I have chosen for the title of this lecture a practical and prosaic word, because I intend the lecture itself to be as practical and prosaic as I can make it, without becoming altogether dull.

The question of the better or worse education of women is one far too important for vague sentiment, wild aspirations, or Utopian dreams.

It is a practical question, on which depends not merely money or comfort, but too often health and life, as the consequences of a good education, or disease and death—I know too well of what I speak—as the consequences of a bad one.

I beg you, therefore, to put out of your minds at the outset any fancy that I wish for a social revolution in the position of women; or that I wish to see them educated by exactly the same methods, and in exactly the same subjects, as men. British lads, on an average, are far too ill-taught still, in spite of all recent improvements, for me to wish that British girls should be taught in the same way.

Moreover, whatever defects there may have been—and defects there must be in all things human—in the past education of British women, it has been most certainly a splendid moral success. It has made, by the grace of God, British women the best wives, mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters, that the world, as far as I can discover, has yet seen.

Let those who will sneer at the women of England. We who have to do the work and to fight the battle of life know the inspiration which we derive from their virtue, their counsel, their tenderness, and—but too often—from their compassion and their forgiveness. There is, I doubt not, still left in England many a man with chivalry and patriotism enough to challenge the world to show so perfect a specimen of humanity as a cultivated British woman.

But just because a cultivated British woman is so perfect a personage; therefore I wish to see all British women cultivated. Because the womanhood of England is so precious a treasure; I wish to see none of it wasted. It is an invaluable capital, or material, out of which the greatest possible profit to the nation must be made. And that can only be done by thrift; and that, again, can only be attained by knowledge.

Consider that word thrift. If you will look at Dr. Johnson's Dictionary, or if you know your Shakespeare, you will see that thrift signified originally profits, gain, riches gotten—in a word, the marks of a man's thriving.

How, then, did the word thrift get to mean parsimony, frugality, the opposite of waste? Just in the same way as economy—which first, of course, meant the management of a household—got to mean also the opposite of waste.

It was found that in commerce, in husbandry, in any process, in fact, men throve in proportion as they saved their capital, their material, their force.

Now this is a great law which runs through life; one of those laws of nature—call them, rather, laws of God—which apply not merely to political economy, to commerce, and to mechanics; but to physiology, to society; to the intellect, to the heart, of every person in this room.

The secret of thriving is thrift; saving of force; to get as much work as possible done with the least expenditure of power, the least jar and obstruction, the least wear and tear.

And the secret of thrift is knowledge. In proportion as you know the laws and nature of a subject, you will be able to work at it easily, surely, rapidly, successfully; instead of wasting your money or your energies in mistaken schemes, irregular efforts, which end in disappointment and exhaustion.

The secret of thrift, I say, is knowledge. The more you know, the more you can save yourself and that which belongs to you; and can do more work with less effort.

A knowledge of the laws of commercial credit, we all know, saves capital, enabling a less capital to do the work of a greater. Knowledge of the electric telegraph saves time; knowledge of writing saves human speech and locomotion; knowledge of domestic economy saves income; knowledge of sanitary laws saves health and life; knowledge of the laws of the intellect saves wear and tear of brain; and knowledge of the laws of the spirit—what does it not save?

A well-educated moral sense, a well-regulated character, saves from idleness and ennui, alternating with sentimentality and excitement, those tenderer emotions, those deeper passions, those nobler aspirations of humanity, which are the heritage of the woman far more than of the man; and which are potent in her, for evil or for good, in proportion as they are left to run wild and undisciplined, or are trained and developed into graceful, harmonious, self-restraining strength, beautiful in themselves, and a blessing to all who come under their influence.

What, therefore, I recommend to ladies in this lecture is thrift; thrift of themselves and of their own powers: and knowledge as the parent of thrift.

And because it is well to begin with the lower applications of thrift, and to work up to the higher, I am much pleased to hear that the first course of the proposed lectures to women in this place will be one on domestic economy.

I presume that the learned gentleman who will deliver these lectures will be the last to mean by that term the mere saving of money; that he will tell you, as—being a German—he will have good reason to know, that the young lady who learns thrift in domestic economy is also learning thrift of the very highest faculties of her immortal spirit. He will tell you, I doubt not—for he must know—how you may see in Germany young ladies living in what we more luxurious British would consider something like poverty; cooking, waiting at table, and performing many a household office which would be here considered menial; and yet finding time for a cultivation of the intellect, which is, unfortunately, too rare in Great Britain.

The truth is, that we British are too wealthy. We make money, if not too rapidly for the good of the nation at large, yet too rapidly, I fear, for the good of the daughters of those who make it. Their temptation—I do not, of course, say they all yield to it—but their temptation is, to waste of the very simplest—I had almost said, if I may be pardoned the expression, of the most barbaric—kind; to an oriental waste of money, and waste of time; to a fondness for mere finery, pardonable enough, but still a waste; and to the mistaken fancy that it is the mark of a lady to sit idle and let servants do everything for her.

Such women may well take a lesson by contrast from the pure and noble, useful and cultivated thrift of an average German young lady—for ladies these German women are, in every possible sense of the word.

But it is not of this sort of waste of which I wish to speak to-day. I only mention the matter in passing, to show that high intellectual culture is not incompatible with the performance of homely household duties, and that the moral success of which I spoke just now need not be injured, any more than it is in Germany, by intellectual success likewise. I trust that these words may reassure those parents, if any such there be here, who may fear that these lectures will withdraw women from their existing sphere of interest and activity. That they should entertain such a fear is not surprising, after the extravagant opinions and schemes which have been lately broached in various quarters.

The programme to these lectures expressly disclaims any such intentions; and I, as a husband and a father, expressly disclaim any such intention likewise.

"To fit women for the more enlightened performance of their special duties;" to help them towards learning how to do better what we doubt not they are already doing well; is, I honestly believe, the only object of the promoters of this scheme.

Let us see now how some of these special duties can be better performed by help of a little enlightenment as to the laws which regulate them.

Now, no man will deny—certainly no man who is past forty-five, and whose digestion is beginning to quail before the lumps of beef and mutton which are the boast of a British kitchen, and to prefer, with Justice Shallow, and, I presume, Sir John Falstaff also, "any pretty little tiny kickshaws"—no man, I say, who has reached that age, but will feel it a practical comfort to him to know that the young ladies of his family are at all events good cooks; and understand, as the French do, thrift in the matter of food.

Neither will any parent who wishes, naturally enough, that his daughters should cost him as little as possible; and wishes, naturally enough also, that they should be as well dressed as possible, deny that it would be a good thing for them to be practical milliners and mantua-makers; and, by making their own clothes gracefully and well, exercise thrift in clothing.

But, beside this thrift in clothing, I am not alone, I believe, in wishing for some thrift in the energy which produces it. Labour misapplied, you will agree, is labour wasted; and as dress, I presume, is intended to adorn the person of the wearer, the making a dress which only disfigures her may be considered as a plain case of waste. It would be impertinent in me to go into any details: but it is impossible to walk about the streets now without passing young people who must be under a deep delusion as to the success of their own toilette. Instead of graceful and noble simplicity of form, instead of combinations of colour at once rich and delicate, because in accordance with the chromatic laws of nature, one meets with phenomena more and more painful to the eye, and startling to common sense, till one would be hardly more astonished, and certainly hardly more shocked, if in a year or two one should pass some one going about like a Chinese lady, with pinched feet, or like a savage of the Amazons, with a wooden bung through her lower lip. It is easy to complain of these monstrosities: but impossible to cure them, it seems to me, without an education of the taste, an education in those laws of nature which produce beauty in form and beauty in colour. For that the cause of these failures lies in want of education is patent. They are most common in—I had almost said they are confined to—those classes of well-to-do persons who are the least educated; who have no standard of taste of their own; and who do not acquire any from cultivated friends and relations: who, in consequence, dress themselves blindly according to what they conceive to be the Paris fashions, conveyed at third-hand through an equally uneducated dressmaker; in innocent ignorance of the fact—for fact I believe it to be—that Paris fashions are invented now not in the least for the sake of beauty, but for the sake of producing, through variety, increased expenditure, and thereby increased employment; according to the strange system which now prevails in France of compelling, if not prosperity, at least the signs of it; and like schoolboys before a holiday, nailing up the head of the weather glass to insure fine weather.

Let British ladies educate themselves in those laws of beauty which are as eternal as any other of nature's laws; which may be seen fulfilled, as Mr. Ruskin tells us, so eloquently in every flower and every leaf, in every sweeping down and rippling wave: and they will be able to invent graceful and economical dresses for themselves, without importing tawdry and expensive ugliness from France.

Let me now go a step further, and ask you to consider this.—There are in England now a vast number, and an increasing number, of young women who, from various circumstances which we all know, must in after life be either the mistresses of their own fortunes, or the earners of their own bread. And, to do that wisely and well, they must be more or less women of business; and to be women of business, they must know something of the meaning of the words capital, profit, price, value, labour, wages, and of the relation between those two last. In a word, they must know a little political economy. Nay, I sometimes think that the mistress of every household might find, not only thrift of money, but thrift of brain; freedom from mistakes, anxieties, worries of many kinds, all of which eat out the health as well as the heart, by a little sound knowledge of the principles of political economy.

When we consider that every mistress of a household is continually buying, if not selling; that she is continually hiring and employing labour in the form of servants; and very often, into the bargain, keeping her husband's accounts: I cannot but think that her hard-worked brain might be clearer, and her hard-tried desire to do her duty by every subject in her little kingdom, might be more easily satisfied, had she read something of what Mr. John Stuart Mill has written, especially on the duties of employer and employed. A capitalist, a commercialist, an employer of labour, and an accountant—every mistress of a household is all these, whether she likes it or not; and it would be surely well for her, in so very complicated a state of society as this, not to trust merely to that mother-wit, that intuitive sagacity and innate power of ruling her fellow-creatures, which carries women so nobly through their work in simpler and less civilised societies.

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