"Some time since I visited an establishment where one hundred and fifty girls, in a single room, were engaged in needle-work. Pale-faced, and with low vitality and feeble circulation, they were unconscious that they were breathing air that at once produced in me dizziness and a sense of suffocation. If I had remained a week with, them, I should, by reduced vitality, have become unconscious of the vileness of the air!"
There is a prevailing prejudice against night air as unhealthful to be admitted into sleeping-rooms, which is owing wholly to sheer ignorance. In the night every body necessarily breathes night air and no other. When admitted from without into a sleeping-room it is colder, and therefore heavier, than the air within, so it sinks to the bottom of the room and forces out an equal quantity of the impure air, warmed and vitiated by passing through the lungs of inmates. Thus the question is, Shall we shut up a chamber and breathe night air vitiated with carbonic acid or night air that is pure? The only real difficulty about night air is, that usually it is damper, and therefore colder and more likely to chill. This is easily prevented by sufficient bed-clothing.
One other very prevalent mistake is found even in books written by learned men. It is often thought that carbonic acid, being heavier than common air, sinks to the floor of sleeping-rooms, so that the low trundle-beds for children should not be used. This is all a mistake; for, as a fact, in close sleeping-rooms the purest air is below and the most impure above. It is true that carbonic acid is heavier than common air, when pure; but this it rarely is except in chemical experiments. It is the property of all gases, as well as of the two (oxygen and nitrogen) composing the atmosphere, that when brought together they always are entirely mixed, each being equally diffused exactly as it would be if alone. Thus the carbonic acid from the skin and lungs, being warmed in the body, rises as does the common air, with which it mixes, toward the top of a room; so that usually there is more carbonic acid at the top than at the bottom of a room. [Footnote: Prof. Brewer, of the Tale Scientific School, says: "As a fact, often demonstrated by analysis, there is generally more carbonic acid near the ceiling than near the floor."] Both common air and carbonic acid expand and become lighter in the same proportions; that is, for every degree of added heat they expand at the rate of 1/480 of their bulk.
Here, let it be remembered, that in ill-ventilated rooms the carbonic acid is not the only cause of disease. Experiments seem to prove that other matter thrown out of the body, through the lungs and skin, is as truly excrement and in a state of decay as that ejected from the bowels, and as poisonous to the animal system. Carbonic acid has no odor; but we are warned by the disagreeable effluvia of close sleeping-rooms of the other poison thus thrown into the air from the skin and lungs. There is one provision of nature that is little understood, which saves the lives of thousands living in unventilated houses; and that is, the passage of pure air inward and impure air outward through the pores of bricks, wood, stone, and mortar. Were such dwellings changed to tin, which is not thus porous, in less than a week thousands and tens of thousands would be in danger of perishing by suffocation.
These statements give some idea of the evils to be remedied. But the most difficult point is how to secure the remedy. For often the attempt to secure pure air by one class of persons brings chills, colds, and disease on another class, from mere ignorance or mismanagement.
To illustrate this, it must be borne in mind that those who live in warm, close, and unventilated rooms are much more liable to take cold from exposure to draughts and cold air than those of vigorous vitality accustomed to breathe pure air.
Thus the strong and healthy husband, feeling the want of pure air in the night, and knowing its importance, keeps windows open and makes such draughts that the wife, who lives all day in a close room and thus is low in vitality, can not bear the change, has colds, and sometimes perishes a victim to wrong modes of ventilation.
So, even in health-establishments, the patients will pass most of their days and nights in badly-ventilated rooms. But at times the physician, or some earnest patient, insists on a mode of ventilation that brings more evil than good to the delicate inmates.
The grand art of ventilating houses is by some method that will empty rooms of the vitiated air and bring in a supply of pure air by small and imperceptible currents.
But this important duty of a Christian woman is one that demands more science, care, and attention than almost any other; and yet, to prepare her for this duty has never been any part of female education. Young women are taught to draw mathematical diagrams and to solve astronomical problems; but few, if any, of them are taught to solve the problem of a house constructed to secure pure and moist air by day and night for all its inmates.
The heating and management of the air we breathe is one of the most complicated problems of domestic economy, as will be farther illustrated in the succeeding chapter; and yet it is one of which, most American women are profoundly ignorant.
SCIENTIFIC DOMESTIC VENTILATION.
We have seen in the preceding pages the process through which the air is rendered unhealthful by close rooms and want of ventilation. Every person inspires air about twenty times each minute, using half a pint each time. At this rate, every pair of lungs vitiates one hogshead of air every hour. The membrane that lines the multitudinous air-cells of the lungs in which the capillaries are, should it be united in one sheet, would cover the floor of a room twelve feet square. Every breath brings a surface of air in contact with this extent of capillaries, by which the air inspired gives up most of its oxygen and receives carbonic acid in its stead. These facts furnish a guide for the proper ventilation of rooms. Just in proportion to the number of persons in a room or a house, should be the amount of air brought in and carried out by arrangements for ventilation. But how rarely is this rule regarded in building houses or in the care of families by housekeepers!
The evils resulting from the substitution of stoves instead of the open fireplace, have led scientific and benevolent men to contrive various modes of supplying pure air to both public and private houses. But as yet little has been accomplished, except for a few of the more intelligent and wealthy. The great majority of the American people, owing to sheer ignorance, are, for want of pure air, being poisoned and starved; the result being weakened constitutions, frequent disease, and shortened life.
Whenever a family-room is heated by an open fire, it is duly ventilated, as the impure air is constantly passing off through the chimney, while, to supply the vacated space, the pure air presses in through the cracks of doors, windows, and floors. No such supply is gained for rooms warmed by stoves. And yet, from mistaken motives of economy, as well as from ignorance of the resulting evils, multitudes of householders are thus destroying health and shortening life, especially in regard to women and children who spend most of their time within-doors.
The most successful modes of making "a healthful home" by a full supply of pure air to every inmate, will now be described and illustrated.
It is the common property of both air and water to expand, become lighter and rise, just in proportion as they are heated; and therefore it is the invariable law that cool air sinks, thus replacing the warmer air below. Thus, whenever cool air enters a warm room, it sinks downward and takes the place of an equal amount of the warmer air, which is constantly tending upward and outward. This principle of all fluids is illustrated by the following experiment:
Take a glass jar about a foot high and three inches in diameter, and with a wire to aid in placing it aright, sink a small bit of lighted candle so as to stand in the centre at the bottom. (Fig. 28.) The candle will heat the air of the jar, which will rise a little on one side, while the colder air without will begin falling on the other side. These two currents will so conflict as finally to cease, and then the candle, having no supply of oxygen from fresh air, will begin to go out. Insert a bit of stiff paper so as to divide the mouth of the jar, and instantly the cold and warm air are not in conflict as before, because a current is formed each side of the paper; the cold air descending on one aide and the warm air ascending the other side, as indicated by the arrows. As long as the paper remains, the candle will burn, and as soon as it is removed, it will begin to go out, and can be restored by again inserting the paper.
This illustrates the mode by which coal-mines are ventilated when filled with carbonic acid. A shaft divided into two passages, (Fig. 29,) is let down into the mine, where the air is warmer than the outside air. Immediately the colder air outside presses down into the mine, through the passage which is highest, being admitted by the escape of an equal quantity of the warmer air, which rises through the lower passage of the shaft, this being the first available opening for it to rise through. A current is thus created, which continues as long as the inside air is warmer than that without the mine, and no longer. Sometimes a fire is kindled in the mine, in order to continue or increase the warmth, and consequent upward current of its air.
This illustrates one of the cases where a "wise woman that buildeth her house" is greatly needed. For, owing to the ignorance of architects, house-builders, and men in general, they have been building school-houses, dwelling-houses, churches, and colleges, with the most absurd and senseless contrivances for ventilation, and all from not applying this simple principle of science. On this point, Prof. Brewer, of the Scientific School of Yale College, writes thus:
"I have been in public buildings, (I have one in mind now, filled with dormitories,) which cost half a million, where they attempted to ventilate every room by a flue, long and narrow, built into partition walls, and extending up into the capacious garret of the fifth story. Every room in the building had one such flue, with an opening into it at the floor and at the ceiling. It is needless to say that the whole concern was entirely useless. Had these flues been of proper proportions, and properly divided, the desired ventilation would have been secured."
And this piece of ignorant folly was perpetrated in the midst of learned professors, teaching the laws of fluids and the laws of health.
A learned physician also thus wrote to the author of this chapter: "The subject of the ventilation of our dwelling-houses is one of the most important questions of our times. How many thousands are victims to a slow suicide and murder, the chief instrument of which is want of ventilation! How few are aware of the fact that every person, every day, vitiates thirty-three hogsheads of the air, and that each inspiration takes one fifth of the oxygen, and returns as much carbonic acid, from every pair of lungs in a room! How few understand that after air has received ten per cent of this fatal gas, if drawn into the lungs, it can no longer take carbonic acid from the capillaries! No wonder there is so much impaired nervous and muscular energy, so much scrofula, tubercles, catarrhs, dyspepsia, and typhoid diseases. I hope you can do much to remedy the poisonous air of thousands and thousands of stove-heated rooms."
In a cold climate and wintry weather, the grand impediment to ventilating rooms by opening doors or windows is the dangerous currents thus produced, which are so injurious to the delicate ones that for their sake it can not be done. Then, also, as a matter of economy, the poor can not afford to practice a method which carries off the heat generated by their stinted store of fuel. Even in a warm season and climate, there are frequent periods when the air without is damp and chilly, and yet at nearly the same temperature as that in the house. At such times, the opening of windows often has little effect in emptying a room of vitiated air. The ventilating-flues, such as are used in mines, have, in such cases, but little influence; for it is only when outside air is colder that a current can be produced within by this method.
The most successful mode of ventilating a house is by creating a current of warm air in a flue, into which an opening is made at both the top and the bottom of a room, while a similar opening for outside air is made at the opposite side of the room. This is the mode employed in chemical laboratories for removing smells and injurious gases.
The laboratory-closet is closed with glazed doors, and has an opening to receive pure air through a conductor from without. The stove or furnace within has a pipe which joins a larger cast-iron chimney-pipe, which is warmed by the smoke it receives from this and other fires. This cast-iron pipe is surrounded by a brick flue, through which air passes from below to be warmed by the pipe, and thus an upward current of warm air is created. Openings are then made at the top and bottom of the laboratory-closet into the warm-air flue, and the gases and smells are pressed by the colder air into this flue, and are carried off in the current of warm air.
The same method is employed in the dwelling-house shown in a preceding chapter. A cast-iron pipe is made in sections, which are to be united, and the whole fastened at top and bottom in the centre of the warm-air flue by ears extending to the bricks, and fastened when the flue is in process of building. Projecting openings to receive the pipes of the furnace, the laundry stove, and two stoves in each story, should be provided, which must be closed when not in use. A large opening is to be made into the warm-air fine, and through this the kitchen stove-pipe is to pass, and be joined to the cast-iron chimney-pipe. Thus the smoke of the kitchen stove will warm the iron chimney-pipe, and this will warm the air of the flue, causing a current upward, and this current will draw the heat and smells of cooking out of the kitchen into the opening of the warm-air flue. Every room surrounding the chimney has an opening at the top and bottom into the warm-air Hue for ventilation, as also have the bathroom and water-closets.
The writer has examined the methods most employed at the present time, which are all modifications of the two modes here described. One is that of Robinson, patented by a Boston company, which is a modification of the mining mode. It consists of the two ventilating tubes, such as are employed in mines, united in one shaft with a roof to keep out rain, and a valve to regulate the entrance and exit of air, as illustrated in Fig. 30. This method works well in certain circumstances, but fails so often as to prove very unreliable. Another mode is that of Ruttan, which is effected by heating air. This also has certain advantages and disadvantages. But the mode adopted for the preceding cottage plan is free from the difficulties of both the above methods, while it will surely ventilate every room in the house, both by day and night, and at all seasons, without any risk to health, and requiring no attention or care from the family.
By means of a very small amount of fuel in the kitchen stove, to be described hereafter, the whole house can be ventilated, and all the cooking done both in warm and cold weather. This stove will also warm the whole house, in the Northern States, eight or nine months in the year. Two Franklin stoves, in addition, will warm the whole house during the three or four remaining coldest months.
In a warm climate or season, by means of the non-conducting castings, the stove will ventilate the house and do all the cooking, without imparting heat or smells to any part of the house except the stove-closet.
At the close of this volume, drawings, prepared by Mr. Lewis Leeds, are given, more fully to illustrate this mode of warming and ventilation, and in so plain and simple a form that any intelligent woman who has read this work can see that the plan is properly executed, even with workmen so entirely ignorant on this important subject as are most house-builders, especially in the newer territories. In the same article, directions are given as to the best modes of ventilating houses that are already built without any arrangements for ventilation.
V. THE CONSTRUCTION AND CARE OF STOVES, FURNACES, AND CHIMNEYS.
If all American housekeepers could be taught how to select and manage the most economical and convenient apparatus for cooking and for warming a house, many millions now wasted by ignorance and neglect would be saved. Every woman should be taught the scientific principles in regard to heat, and then their application to practical purposes, for her own benefit, and also to enable her to train her children and servants in this important duty of home life on which health and comfort so much depend.
The laws that regulate the generation, diffusion, and preservation of heat as yet are a sealed mystery to thousands of young women who imagine they are completing a suitable education in courses of instruction from which most that is practical in future domestic life is wholly excluded. We therefore give a brief outline of some of the leading scientific principles which every housekeeper should understand and employ, in order to perform successfully one of her most important duties.
Concerning the essential nature of heat, and its intimate relations with the other great natural forces, light, electricity, etc., we shall not attempt to treat, but shall, for practical purposes, assume it to be a separate and independent force. Heat or caloric, then, has certain powers or principles. Let us consider them:
First, we find Conduction, by which heat passes from one particle to another next to it; as when one end of a poker is warmed by placing the other end in the fire. The bodies which allow this power free course are called conductors, and those which do not are named non-conductors, Metals are good conductors; feathers, wool, and furs are poor conductors; and water, air, and gases are non-conductors.
Another principle of heat is Convection, by which water, air, and gases are warmed. This is, literally, the process of conveying heat from one portion of a fluid body to another by currents resulting from changes of temperature. It is secured by bringing one portion of a liquid or gas into contact with a heated surface, whereby it becomes lighter and expanded in volume. In consequence, the cooler and heavier particles above pressing downward, the lighter ones rise upward, when the former, being heated, rise in their turn, and give place to others again descending from above. Thus a constant motion of currents and interchange of particles is produced until, as in a vessel of water, the whole body comes to an equal temperature. Air is heated in the same way. In case of a hot stove, the air that touches it is heated, becomes lighter, and rises, giving place to cooler and heavier particles, which, when heated, also ascend. It is owing to this process that the air of a room is warmest at the top and coolest at the bottom. It is owing to this principle, also, that water and air can not be heated by fire from above. For the particles of these bodies, being non-conductors, do not impart heat to each other; and when the warmest are at the top, they can not take the place of cooler and heavier ones below.
Another principle of heat (which it shares with light) is Radiation, by which all things send out heat to surrounding cooler bodies. Some bodies will absorb radiated heat, others will reflect it, and others allow it to pass through them without either absorbing or reflecting Thus, black and rough substances absorb heat, (or light,) colored and smooth articles reflect it, while air allows it to pass through without either absorbing or reflecting. It is owing to this, that rough and black vessels boil water sooner than smooth and light-colored ones.
Another principle is Reflection, by which heat radiated to a surface is turned back from it when not absorbed or allowed to pass through; just as a ball rebounds from a wall; just as sound is thrown back from a hill, making echo; just as rays of light are reflected from a mirror. And, as with light, the rays of heat are always reflected from a surface in an angle exactly corresponding to the direction in which it strikes that surface. Thus, if heated are comes to an object perpendicularly—that is, at right angles, it will be reflected back in the same line. If it strikes obliquely, it is reflected obliquely, at an angle with the surface precisely the same as the angle with which it first struck. And, of course, if it moves toward the surface and comes upon it in a line having so small an angle with it as to be almost parallel with it, the heated air is spread wide and diffused through a larger space than when the angles are greater and the width of reflection less.
The simplest mode of warming a house and cooking food is by radiated heat from fires; but this is the most wasteful method, as respects time, labor, and expense. The most convenient, economical, and labor-saving mode of employing heat is by convection, as applied in stoves and furnaces. But for want of proper care and scientific knowledge this method has proved very destructive to health. When warming and cooking were done by open fires, houses were well supplied with pure air, as is rarely the case in rooms heated by stoves. For such is the prevailing ignorance on this subject that, as long as stoves save labor and warm the air, the great majority of people, especially among the poor, will use them in ways that involve debilitated constitutions and frequent disease.
The most common modes of cooking, where open fires are relinquished, are by the range and the cooking-stove. The range is inferior to the stove in these respects: it is less economical, demanding much more fuel; it endangers the dress of the cook while standing near for various operations; it requires more stooping than the stove while cooking; it will not keep a fire all night, as do the best stoves; it will not burn wood and coal equally well; and lastly, if it warms the kitchen sufficiently in winter, it is too warm for summer. Some prefer it because the fumes of cooking can be carried off; but stoves properly arranged accomplish this equally well.
After extensive inquiry and many personal experiments, the author has found a cooking-stove constructed on true scientific principles, which unites convenience, comfort, and economy in a remarkable manner. Of this stove, drawings and descriptions will now be given, as the best mode of illustrating the practical applications of these principles to the art of cooking, and to show how much American women have suffered and how much they have been imposed upon for want of proper knowledge in this branch of their profession. And every woman can understand what follows with much less effort than young girls at high-schools give to the first problems of Geometry—for which they will never have any practical use, while attention to this problem of home affairs will cultivate the intellect quite as much as the abstract reasonings of Algebra and Geometry.,
Fig. 34 represents a portion of the interior of this cooking-stove. First, notice the fire-box, which has corrugated (literally, wrinkled) sides, by which space is economized, so that as much heating surface is secured as if they were one third larger; as the heat radiates from every part of the undulating surface, which is one third greater in superficial extent than if it were plane. The shape of the fire-box also secures more heat by having oblique sides—which radiate more effectively into the oven beneath than if they were perpendicular, as illustrated below—while also it is sunk into the oven, so as to radiate from three instead of from two sides, as in most other stoves, the front of whose fire-boxes with their grates are built so as to be the front of the stove itself.
The oven is the space under and around the back and front sides of the fire-box. The oven-bottom is not introduced in the diagram, but it is a horizontal plate between the fire-box and what is represented as the "flue-plate," which separates the oven from the bottom of the stove. The top of the oven is the horizontal corrugated plate passing from the rear edge of the fire-box to the back flues. These are three in number—the back centre-flue, which is closed to the heat and smoke coming over the oven from the fire-box by a damper—and the two back corner-flues. Down these two corner-flues passes the current of hot air and smoke, having first drawn across the corrugated oven-top. The arrows show its descent through these flues, from which it obliquely strikes and passes over the flue-plate, then under it, and then out through the centre back-flue, which is open at the bottom, up into the smoke-pipe.
The flue-plate is placed obliquely, to accumulate heat by forcing and compression; for the back space where the smoke enters from the corner-flues is largest, and decreases toward the front, so that the hot current is compressed in a narrow space, between the oven-bottom and the flue-plate at the place where the bent arrows are seen. Here again it enters a wider space, under the flue-plate, and proceeds to another narrow one, between the flue-plate and the bottom of the stove, and thus is compressed and retained longer than if not impeded by these various contrivances. The heat and smoke also strike the plate obliquely, and thus, by reflection from its surface, impart more heat than if the passage was a horizontal one.
The external radiation is regulated by the use of nonconducting plaster applied to the flue-plate and to the sides of the corner-flues, so that the heat is prevented from radiating in any direction except toward the oven. The doors, sides, and bottom of the stove are lined with tin casings, which hold a stratum of air, also a non-conductor. These are so arranged as to be removed whenever the weather becomes cold, so that the heat may then radiate into the kitchen. The outer edges of the oven are also similarly protected from loss of heat by tin casings and air-spaces, and the oven-doors opening at the front of the store are provided with the same economical savers of heat. High tin covers placed on the top prevent the heat from radiating above the stove. These are exceedingly useful, as the space under them is well heated and arranged for baking, for heating irons, and many other incidental necessities. Cake and pies can be baked on the top, while the oven is used for bread or for meats. When all the casings and covers are on, almost all the heat is confined within the stove, and whenever heat for the room is wanted, opening the front oven-doors turns it out into the kitchen.
Another contrivance is that of ventilating-holes in the front doors, through which fresh air is brought into the oven. This secures several purposes: it carries off the fumes of cooking meats, and prevents the mixing of flavors when different articles are cooked in the oven; it drives the heat that accumulates between the fire-box and front doors down around the oven, and equalizes its heat, so that articles need not be moved while baking; and lastly, as the air passes through the holes of the fire-box, it causes the burning of gases in the smoke, and thus increases heat. When wood or bituminous coal is used, perforated metal linings are put in the fire-box, and the result is the burning of smoke and gases that otherwise would pass into the chimney. This is a great discovery in the economy of fuel, which can be applied in many ways.
Heretofore, most cooking-stoves have had dumping-grates, which are inconvenient from the dust produced, are uneconomical in the use of fuel, and disadvantageous from too many or too loose joints. But recently this stove has been provided with a dumping-grate which also will sift ashes, and can be cleaned without dust and the other objectionable features of dumping-grates. A further account of this stove, and the mode of purchasing and using it, will be given at the close of the book.
Those who are taught to manage the stove properly keep the fire going all night, and equally well with wood or coal, thus saving the expense of kindling and the trouble of starting a new fire. When the fuel is of good quality, all that is needed in the morning is to draw the back-damper, snake the grate, and add more fuel.
Another remarkable feature of this store is the extension-top, on which is placed a water reservoir, constantly heated by the smoke as it passes from the stove, through one or two uniting passages, to the smoke-pipe. Under this is placed a closet for warming and keeping hot the dishes, vegetables, meats, etc., while preparing for dinner. It is also very useful in drying fruit; and when large baking is required, a small appended pot for charcoal turns it into a fine large oven, that bakes as nicely as a brick oven.
Another useful appendage is a common tin oven, in which roasting can be done in front of the stove, the oven-doors being removed for the purpose. The roast will be done as perfectly as by an open fire.
This stove is furnished with pipes for heating water, like the water-back of ranges, and these can be taken or left out at pleasure. So also the top covers, the baking-stool and pot, and the summer-back, bottom, and side-casings can be used or omitted as preferred.
Fig. 37 exhibits the stove completed, with all its appendages, as they might be employed in cooking for a large number.
Its capacity, convenience, and economy as a stove may be estimated by the following fact: With proper management of dampers, one ordinary-sized coal-hod of anthracite coal will, for twenty-four hours, keep the stove running, keep seventeen gallons of water hot at all hours, bake pies and puddings in the warm closet, heat flat-irons under the back cover, boil tea-kettle and one pot under the front cover, bake bread in the oven, and cook a turkey in the tin roaster in front. The author has numerous friends, who, after trying the best ranges, have dismissed them for this stove, and in two or three years cleared the whole expense by the saving of fuel.
The remarkable durability of this stove is another economic feature. For in addition to its fine castings and nice-fitting workmanship, all the parts liable to burn out are so protected by linings, and other contrivances easily renewed, that the stove itself may pass from one generation to another, as do ordinary chimneys. The writer has visited in families where this stove had been in constant use for eighteen and twenty years, and was still as good as new. In most other families the stoves are broken, burnt-out, or thrown aside for improved patterns every four, five, or six years, and sometimes, to the knowledge of the writer, still oftener.
Another excellent point is that, although it is so complicated in its various contrivances as to demand intelligent management in order to secure all its advantages, it also can be used satisfactorily even when the mistress and maid are equally careless and ignorant of its distinctive merits. To such it offers all the advantages of ordinary good stoves, and is extensively used by those who take no pains to understand and apply its peculiar advantages.
But the writer has managed the stove herself in all the details of cooking, and is confident that any housekeeper of common sense, who is instructed properly, and who also aims to have her kitchen affairs managed with strict economy, can easily train any servant who is willing to learn, so as to gain the full advantages offered. And even without any instructions at all, except the printed directions sent with the stove, an intelligent woman can, by due attention, though not without, both manage it, and teach her children and servants to do likewise. And whenever this stove has failed to give the highest satisfaction, it has been, either because the housekeeper was not apprized of its peculiarities, or because she did not give sufficient attention to the matter, or was not able or willing to superintend and direct its management.
The consequence has been that, in families where this stove has been understood and managed aright, it has saved nearly one half of the fuel that would be used in ordinary stoves, constructed with the usual disregard of scientific and economic laws. And it is because we know this particular stove to be convenient, reliable, and economically efficient beyond ordinary experience, in the important housekeeping element of kitchen labor, that we devote to it so much space and pains to describe its advantageous points.
One of the most serious evils in domestic life is often found in chimneys that will not properly draw the smoke of a fire or stove. Although chimneys have been building for a thousand years, the artisans of the present day seem strangely ignorant of the true method of constructing them so as always to carry smoke upward instead of downward. It is rarely the case that a large house is built in which there is not some flue or chimney which "will not draw." One of the reasons why the stove described as excelling all others is sometimes cast aside for a poorer one is, that it requires a properly constructed chimney, and multitudes of women do not know how to secure it. The writer in early life shed many a bitter tear, drawn forth by smoke from an ill-constructed kitchen-chimney, and thousands all over the land can report the same experience.
The following are some of the causes and the remedies for this evil.
The most common cause of poor chimney draughts is too large an opening for the fireplace, either too wide or too high in front, or having too large a throat for the smoke. In a lower story, the fireplace should not be larger than thirty inches wide, twenty-five inches high, and fifteen deep. In the story above, it should be eighteen inches square and fifteen inches deep.
Another cause is too short a flue, and the remedy is to lengthen it. As a general rule, the longer the flue the stronger the draught. But in calculating the length of a flue, reference must be had to side-flues, if any open into it. Where this is the case, the length of the main flue is to be considered as extending only from the bottom to the point where the upper flue joins it, and where the lower will receive air from the upper flue. If a smoky flue can not be increased in length, either by closing an upper flue or lengthening the chimney, the fireplace must be contracted so that all the air near the fire will be heated and thus pressed upward.
If a flue has more than one opening, in some cases it is impossible to secure a good draught. Sometimes it will work well and sometimes it will not. The only safe rule is to have a separate flue to each fire.
Another cause of poor draughts is too tight a room, so that the cold air from without can not enter to press the warm air up the chimney. The remedy is to admit a small current of air from without.
Another cause is two chimneys in one room, or in rooms opening together, in which the draught in one is much stronger than in the other. In this case, the stronger draught will draw away from the weaker. The remedy is, for each room to have a proper supply of outside air; or, in a single room, to stop one of the chimneys.
Another cause is the too close vicinity of a hill or buildings higher than the top of the chimney, and the remedy for this is to raise the chimney.
Another cause is the descent, into unused fireplaces, of smoke from other chimneys near. The remedy is to close the throat of the unused chimney.
Another cause is a door opening toward the fireplace, on the same side of the room, so that its draught passes along the wall and makes a current that draws out the smoke. The remedy is to change the hanging of the door so as to open another way.
Another cause is strong winds. The remedy is a turn-cap on top of the chimney.
Another cause is the roughness of the inside of a chimney, or projections which impede the passage of the smoke. Every chimney should be built of equal dimensions from bottom to top, with no projections into it, with as few bends as possible, and with the surface of the inside as smooth as possible.
Another cause of poor draughts is openings into the chimney of chambers for stove-pipes. The remedy is to close them, or insert stove-pipes that are in use.
Another cause is the falling out of brick in some part of the chimney so that outer air is admitted. The remedy is to close the opening.
The draught of a stove may be affected by most of these causes. It also demands that the fireplace have a tight fire-board, or that the throat he carefully filled. For neglecting this, many a good stove has been thrown aside and a poor one taken in its place.
If all young women had committed to memory these causes of evil and their remedies, many a badly-built chimney might have been cured, and many smoke-drawn tears, sighs, ill-tempers, and irritating words avoided.
But there are dangers in this direction which demand special attention. Where one flue has two stoves or fireplaces, in rooms one above the other, in certain states of the atmosphere, the lower room, being the warmer, the colder air and carbonic acid in the room above will pass down into the lower room through the opening for the stove or the fireplace.
This occurred not long since in a boarding-school, when the gas in a room above flowed into a lower one, and suffocated several to death. This room had no mode of ventilation, and several persons slept in it, and were thus stifled. Professor Brewer states a similar case in the family of a relative. An anthracite stove was used in the upper room; and on one still, close night, the gas from this stove descended through the flue and the opening into a room below, and stifled two persons to insensibility, though, by proper efforts, their lives were saved. Many such cases have occurred where rooms have been thus filled with poisonous gases, and servants and children destroyed, or their constitutions injured, simply because housekeepers are not properly instructed in this important branch of their profession.
There is no improved mechanism in the economy of domestic life requiring more intelligent management than furnaces. Let us then consider some of the principles involved.
The earth is heated by radiation from the sun. The air is not warmed by the passage of the sun's heat through it, but by convection from the earth, in the same way that it is warmed by the surfaces of stoves. The lower stratum of air is warmed by the earth and by objects which have been warmed by radiated heat from the sun. The particles of air thus heated expand, become lighter, and rise, being replaced by the descent of the cooler and heavier particles from above, which, on being warmed also rise, and give place to others. Owing to this process, the air is warmest nearest the earth, and grows cooler as height increases.
The air has a strong attraction for water, and always holds a certain quantity as invisible vapor. The warmer the air, the more moisture it demands, and it will draw it from all objects within reach. The air holds water according to its temperature. Thus, at fifty-two degrees, Fahrenheit's thermometer, it holds half the moisture it can sustain; but at thirty-six degrees, it will hold only one eighty-sixth part. The earth and all plants and trees are constantly sending out moisture; and when the air has received all it can hold, without depositing it as dew, it is said to be saturated, and the point of temperature at which dew begins to form, by condensation, upon the surface of the earth and its vegetation, is called the dew-point. When air, at a given temperature, has only forty per cent of the moisture it requires for saturation, it is said to be dry. In a hot summer day, the air will hold far more moisture than in cool days. In summer, out-door air rarely holds less than half its volume of water. In 1838, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, and New-Haven, Connecticut, at seventy degrees, Fahrenheit, the air held eighty per cent of moisture.
In New Orleans, the air often retains ninety per cent of the moisture it is capable of holding; and in cool days at the North, in foggy weather, the air is sometimes wholly saturated.
When air holds all the moisture it can, without depositing dew, its moisture is called 100. When it holds three fourths of this, it is said to be at seventy-five per cent. When it holds only one half, it is at fifty per cent. When it holds only one fourth, it is at twenty-five per cent, etc.
Sanitary observers teach that the proper amount of moisture in the air ranges from forty to seventy per cent of saturation.
Now, furnaces, which are of course used only in winter, receive outside air at a low temperature, holding little moisture; This it sucks up, like a sponge, from the walls and furniture of a house. If it is taken into the human lungs, it draws much of its required moisture from the body, often causing dryness of lips and throat, and painfully affecting the lungs. Prof. Brewer, of the Scientific School of New-Haven, who has experimented extensively on this subject, states that, while forty per cent of moisture is needed in air to make it healthful, most stoves and furnaces do not, by any contrivances, supply one half of this, or not twenty per cent. He says most furnace-heated air is dryer than is ever breathed in the hottest deserts of Sahara.
Thus, for want of proper instruction, most American housekeepers not only poison their families with carbonic acid and starve them for want of oxygen, but also diminish health and comfort for want of a due supply of moisture in the air. And often when a remedy is sought, by evaporating water in the furnace, it is without knowing that the amount evaporated depends, not on the quantity of water in the vessel, but on the extent of evaporating surface exposed to the air. A quart of water in a wide shallow pan will give more moisture than two gallons with a small surface exposed to heat.
There is also no little wise economy in expense attained by keeping a proper supply of moisture in the air. For it is found that the body radiates its heat less in moist than in dry air, so that a person feels as warm at a lower temperature when the air has a proper supply of moisture, as in a much higher temperature of dry air. Of course, less fuel is needed to warm a house when water is evaporated in stove and furnace-heated rooms. It is said by those who have experimented, that the saving in fuel is twenty per cent when the air is duly supplied with moisture.
There is a very ingenious instrument, called the hygrodeik, which indicates the exact amount of moisture in the air. It consists of two thermometers side by side, one of which has its bulb surrounded by floss-silk wrapping, which is kept constantly wet by communication with a cup of water near it. The water around the bulb evaporates just in proportion to the heat of the air around it. The changing of water to vapor draws heat from the nearest object, and this being the bulb of the thermometer, the mercury is cooled and sinks. Then the difference between the two thermometers shows the amount of moisture in the air by a pointer on a dial-plate constructed by simple mechanism for this purpose.
There is one very important matter in regard to the use of furnaces, which is thus stated by Professor Brewer:
"I think it is a well-established fact that carbonic oxide will pass through iron. It is always formed in great abundance in any anthracite fire, but especially in anthracite stoves and furnaces. Moreover, furnaces always leak, more or less; how much they leak depending on the care and skill with which they are managed. Carbonic oxide is much more poisonous than carbonic acid. Doubtless some carbonic oxide finds its way into all furnace-heated houses, especially where anthracite is used; the amount varying with the kind of furnace and its management. As to how much escapes into a room, and its specific effect upon the health of its occupants, we have no accurate data, no analysis to show the quantity, and no observations to show the relation between the quantity inhaled and the health of those exposed; all is mere conjecture upon this point; but the inference is very strong that it has a very injurious effect, producing headaches, weariness, and other similar symptoms.
"Recent pamphlets lay the blame of all the bad effects of anthracite furnaces and stoves to the carbonic oxide mingled in the air. I think these pamphlets have a bad influence. Excessive dryness also has bad effects. So also the excessive heat in the evenings and coolness in the mornings has a share in these evils. But how much in addition is owing to carbonic oxide, we can not know, until we know something of the actual amount of this gas in rooms, and as yet we know absolutely nothing definite. In fact, it will be a difficult thing to prove."
There are other difficulties connected with furnaces which should be considered. It is necessary to perfect health that an equal circulation of the blood be preserved. The greatest impediment to this is keeping the head warmer than the feet. This is especially to be avoided in a nation where the brain is by constant activity drawing the blood from the extremities. And nowhere is this more important than in schools, churches, colleges, lecture and recitation-rooms, where the brain is called into active exercise. And yet, furnace-heated rooms always keep the feet in the coldest air, on cool floors, while the head is in the warmest air.
Another difficulty is the fact that all bodies tend to radiate their heat to each other, till an equal temperature exists. Thus, the human body is constantly radiating its heat to the walls, floors, and cooler bodies around. At the same time, a thermometer is affected in the same way, radiating its heat to cooler bodies around, so that it always marks a lower degree of heat than actually exists in the warm air around it. Owing to these facts, the injected air of a furnace is always warmer than is good for the lungs, and much warmer than is ever needed in rooms warmed by radiation from fires or heated surfaces. The cooler the air we inspire, the more oxygen is received, the faster the blood circulates, and the greater is the vigor imparted to brain, nerves, and muscles.
Scientific men have been contriving various modes of meeting these difficulties, and at the close of this volume some results will be given to aid a woman in selecting and managing the most healthful and economical furnace, or in providing some better method of warming a house. Some account will also be given of the danger involved in gas-stoves, and some other recent inventions for cooking and heating.
Having duly arranged for the physical necessities of a healthful and comfortable home, we next approach the important subject of beauty in reference to the decoration of houses. For while the aesthetic element must be subordinate to the requirements of physical existence, and, as a matter of expense, should be held of inferior consequence to means of higher moral growth; it yet holds a place of great significance among the influences which make home happy and attractive, which give it a constant and wholesome power over the young, and contributes much to the education of the entire household in refinement, intellectual development, and moral sensibility.
Here we are met by those who tell us that of course they want their houses handsome, and that, when they get money enough, they intend to have them so, but at present they are too poor, and because they are poor they dismiss the subject altogether, and live without any regard to it.
We have often seen people who said that they could not afford to make their houses beautiful, who had spent upon them, outside or in, an amount of money which did not produce either beauty or comfort, and which, if judiciously applied, might have made the house quite charming.
For example, a man, in building his house, takes a plan of an architect. This plan includes, on the outside, a number of what Andrew Fairservice called "curlywurlies" and "whigmaliries," which make the house neither prettier nor more comfortable, and which take up a good deal of money. We would venture to say that we could buy the chromo of Bierstadt's "Sunset in the Yosemite Valley," and four others like it, for half the sum that we have sometimes seen laid out on a very ugly, narrow, awkward porch on the outside of a house. The only use of this porch was to cost money, and to cause every body who looked at it to exclaim as they went by, "What ever induced that man to put a thing like that on the outside of his house?"
Then, again, in the inside of houses, we have seen a dwelling looking very bald and bare, when a sufficient sum of money had been expended on one article to have made the whole very pretty: and it has come about in this way.
We will suppose the couple who own the house to be in the condition in which people generally are after they have built a house—having spent more than they could afford on the building itself, and yet feeling themselves under the necessity of getting some furniture. "Now," says the housewife, "I must at least have a parlor-carpet. We must get that to begin with, and other things as we go on." She goes to a store to look at carpets. The clerks are smiling and obliging, and sweetly complacent. The storekeeper, perhaps, is a neighbor or a friend, and after exhibiting various patterns, he tells her of a Brussels carpet he is selling wonderfully cheap—actually a dollar and a quarter less a yard than the usual price of Brussels, and the reason is that it is an unfashionable pattern, and he has a good deal of it, and wishes to close it off.
She looks at it and thinks it is not at all the kind of carpet she meant to buy, but then it is Brussels, and so cheap! And as she hesitates, her friend tells her that she will find it "cheapest in the end—that one Brussels carpet will outlast three or four ingrains," etc., etc.
The result of all this is, that she buys the Brussels carpet, which, with all its reduction in price, is one third dearer than the ingrain would have been, and not half so pretty. When she comes home, she will find that she has spent, we will say eighty dollars, for a very homely carpet whose greatest merit it is an affliction to remember—namely, that it will outlast three ordinary carpets. And because she has bought this carpet she can not afford to paper the walls or put up any window-curtains, and can not even begin to think of buying any pictures.
Now let us see what eighty dollars could have done for that room. We will suppose, in the first place, she invests in thirteen rolls of wall-paper of a lovely shade of buff, which will make the room look sunshiny in the day-time, and light up brilliantly in the evening. Thirteen rolls of good satin paper, at thirty-seven cents a roll, expends four dollars and eighty-one cents. A maroon bordering, made in imitation of the choicest French style, which can not at a distance be told from it, can be bought for six cents a yard. This will bring the paper to about five dollars and a half; and our friends will give a day of their time to putting it on. The room already begins to look furnished.
Then, let us cover the floor with, say, thirty yards of good matting, at fifty cents a yard. This gives us a carpet for fifteen dollars. We are here stopped by the prejudice that matting is not good economy, because it wears out so soon. We humbly submit that it is precisely the thing for a parlor, which is reserved for the reception-room of friends, and for our own dressed leisure hours. Matting is not good economy in a dining-room or a hard-worn sitting-room; but such a parlor as we are describing is precisely the place where it answers to the very best advantage.
We have in mind one very attractive parlor which has been, both for summer and winter, the daily sitting-room for the leisure hours of a husband and wife, and family of children, where a plain straw matting has done service for seven years. That parlor is in a city, and these friends are in the habit of receiving visits from people who live upon velvet and Brussels; but they prefer to spend the money which such carpets would cost on other modes of embellishment; and this parlor has often been cited to us as a very attractive room.
And now our friends, having got thus far, are requested to select some one tint or color which shall be the prevailing one in the furniture of the room. Shall it be green? Shall it be blue? Shall it be crimson? To carry on our illustration, we will choose green, and we proceed with it to create furniture for our room. Let us imagine that on one side of the fireplace there be, as there is often, a recess about six feet long and three feet deep. Fill this recess with a rough frame with four stout legs, one foot high, and upon the top of the frame have an elastic rack of slats. Make a mattress for this, or, if you wish to avoid that trouble, you can get a nice mattress for the sum of two dollars, made of cane-shavings or husks. Cover this with a green English furniture print. The glazed English comes at about twenty-five cents a yard, the glazed French at seventy-five cents a yard, and a nice article of yard-wide French twill (very strong) is from seventy-five to eighty cents a yard.
With any of these cover your lounge. Make two large, square pillows of the same substance as the mattress, and set up at the back. If you happen to have one or two feather pillows that you can spare for the purpose, shake them down into a square shape and cover them with the same print, and you will then have for pillows for your lounge—one at each end, and two at the back, and you will find it answers for all the purposes of a sofa.
It will be a very pretty thing, now, to cut out of the same material as your lounge, sets of lambrequins (or, as they are called, lamberkins,) a land of pendent curtain-top, as shown in the illustration, to put over the windows, which are to be embellished with white muslin curtains. The cornices to your windows can be simply strips of wood covered with paper to match the bordering of your room, and the lambrequins, made of chintz like the lounge, can be trimmed with fringe or gimp of the same color. The patterns of these can be varied according to fancy, but simple designs are usually the prettiest. A tassel at the lowest point improves the appearance.
The curtains can be made of plain white muslin, or some of the many styles that come for this purpose. If plain muslin is used, you can ornament them with hems an inch in width, in which insert a strip of gingham or chambray of the same color as your chintz. This will wash with the curtains without losing its color, or should it fade, it can easily be drawn out and replaced.
The influence of white-muslin curtains in giving an air of grace and elegance to a room is astonishing. White curtains really create a room out of nothing. No matter how coarse the muslin, so it be white and hang in graceful folds, there is a charm in it that supplies the want of multitudes of other things.
Very pretty curtain-muslin can be bought at thirty-seven cents a yard. It requires six yards for a window.
Let your men-folk knock up for you, out of rough, unplaned boards, some ottoman frames, as described in Chapter II; stuff the tops with just the same material as the lounge, and cover them with the self-same chintz.
Now you have, suppose your selected color to be green, a green lounge in the corner and two green ottomans; you have white muslin curtains, with green lambrequins and borders, and your room already looks furnished. If you have in the house any broken-down arm-chair, reposing in the oblivion of the garret, draw it out—drive a nail here and there to hold it firm—stuff and pad, and stitch the padding through with a long upholsterer's needle, and cover it with the chintz like your other furniture. Presto—you create an easy-chair.
Thus can broken and disgraced furniture reappear, and, being put into uniform with the general suit of your room, take a new lease of life.
If you want a centre-table, consider this—that any kind of table, well concealed beneath the folds of handsome drapery of a color corresponding to the general hue of the room, will look well. Instead of going to the cabinet-maker and paying from thirty to forty dollars upon a little, narrow, cold, marble-topped stand, that gives just room enough to hold a lamp and a book or two, reflect within yourself what a centre-table is made for. If you have in your house a good, broad, generous-topped table, take it, cover it with an ample cloth of green broadcloth. Such a cover, two and a half yards square, of fine green broadcloth, figured with black and with a pattern-border of grape-leaves, has been bought for ten dollars. In a room we wot of, it covers a cheap pine table, such as you may buy for four or five dollars any day; but you will be astonished to see how handsome an object this table makes under its green drapery. Probably you could make the cover more cheaply by getting the cloth and trimming its edge with a handsome border, selected for the purpose; but either way, it will be an economical and useful ornament. We set down our centre-table, therefore, as consisting mainly of a nice broadcloth cover, matching our curtains and lounge.
We are sure that any one with "a heart that is humble" may command such a centre-table and cloth for fifteen dollars or less, and a family of five or six may all sit and work, or read, or write around it, and it is capable of entertaining a generous allowance of books and knick-knacks.
You have now for your parlor the following figures:
Wall-paper and border,.................................... $5.50 Thirty yards matting,..................................... 15.00 Centre-table and cloth,................................... 15.00 Muslin for three windows,.................................. 6.75 Thirty yards green English chintz, at 25 cents,............ 7.50 Six chairs, at $2 each,................................... 12.00
Total,....................................................$61.75 Subtracted from eighty dollars, which we set down as the price of the cheap, ugly Brussels carpet, we have our whole room papered, carpeted, curtained, and furnished, and we have nearly twenty dollars remaining for pictures.
As a little suggestion in regard to the selection, you can got Miss Oakley's charming little cabinet picture of
"The Little Scrap-Book Maker" for........................ $7 50 Eastman Johnson's "Barefoot Boy,"................. (Prang) 5 00 Newman's "Blue-fringed Gentians,"..................(Prang) 6 00 Bierstadt's "Sunset in the Yo Semite Valley,"......(Prang)12 00
Here are thirty dollars' worth of really admirable pictures of some of our best American artists, from which you can choose at your leisure. By sending to any leading picture-dealer, lists of pictures and prices will be forwarded to you. These chromos, being all varnished, can wait for frames until you can afford them. Or, what is better, because it is at once cheaper and a means of educating the ingenuity and the taste, you can make for yourselves pretty rustic frames in various modes. Take a very thin board, of the right size and shape, for the foundation or "mat;" saw out the inner oval or rectangular form to suit the picture. Nail on the edge a rustic frame made of branches of hard, seasoned wood, and garnish the corners with some pretty device; such, for instance, as a cluster of acorns; or, in place of the branches of trees, fasten on with glue small pine cones, with larger ones for corner ornaments. Or use the mosses of the wood or ocean shells for this purpose. It may be more convenient to get the mat or inner moulding from a framer, or have it made by your carpenter, with a groove behind to hold a glass. Here are also picture-frames of pretty effect, and very simply made. The one in Fig. 42 is made of either light or dark wood, neat, thin, and not very wide, with the ends simply broken, off, or cut so as to resoluble a rough break. The other is white pine, sawn into simple form, well smoothed, and marked with a delicate black tracery, as suggested in Fig. 43. This should also be varnished, then it will take a rich, yellow tinge, which harmonizes admirably with chromos, and lightens up engravings to singular advantage. Besides the American and the higher range of German and English chromos, there are very many pretty little French chromos, which can be had at prices from $1 to $5, including black walnut frames.
We have been through this calculation merely to show our readers how much beautiful effect may be produced by a wise disposition of color and skill in arrangement. If any of our friends should ever carry it out, they will find that the buff paper, with its dark, narrow border; the green chintz repeated in the lounge, the ottomans, and lambrequins; the flowing, white curtains; the broad, generous centre-table, draped with its ample green cloth, will, when arranged together, produce an effect of grace and beauty far beyond what any one piece or even half a dozen pieces of expensive cabinet furniture could. The great, simple principle of beauty illustrated in this room is harmony of color.
You can, in the same way, make a red room by using Turkey red for your draperies; or a blue room by using blue chintz. Let your chintz be of a small pattern, and one that is decided in color.
We have given the plan of a room with matting on the floor because that is absolutely the cheapest cover. The price of thirty yards plain, good ingrain carpet, at $1.50 per yard, would be forty-five dollars; the difference between forty-five and fifteen dollars would furnish a room with pictures such as we have instanced. However, the same programme can be even better carried out with a green ingrain carpet as the foundation of the color of the room.
Our friends, who lived seven years upon matting, contrived to give their parlor in winter an effect of warmth and color by laying down, in front of the fire, a large square of carpeting, say three breadths, four yards long. This covered the gathering-place around the fire where the winter circle generally sits, and gave an appearance of warmth to the room.
If we add this piece of carpeting to the estimates for our room, we still leave a margin for a picture, and make the programme equally adapted to summer and winter.
Besides the chromos, which, when well selected and of the best class, give the charm of color which belongs to expensive paintings, there are engravings which finely reproduce much of the real spirit and beauty of the celebrated pictures of the world. And even this does not exhaust the resources of economical art; for there are few of the renowned statues, whether of antiquity or of modern times, that have not been accurately copied in plaster casts; and a few statuettes, costing perhaps five or six dollars each, will give a really elegant finish to your rooms-providing always that they are selected with discrimination and taste.
The educating influence of these works of art can hardly be over- estimated. Surrounded by such suggestions of the beautiful, and such reminders of history and art, children are constantly trained to correctness of tote and refinement of thought, and stimulated—sometimes to efforts at artistic imitation, always to the eager and intelligent inquiry about the scenes, the places, the incidents represented. Just here, perhaps, we are met by some who grant all that we say on the subject of decoration by works of art, and who yet impatiently exclaim, "But I have no money to spare for any thing of this sort. I am condemned to an absolute bareness, and beauty in my case is not to be thought of."
Are you sure, my friend? If you live in the country, or can get into the country, and have your eyes opened and your wits about you, your house need not be condemned to an absolute bareness. Not so long as the woods are full of beautiful ferns and mosses, while every swamp shakes and nods with tremulous grasses, need you feel yourself an utterly disinherited child of nature, and deprived of its artistic use.
For example: Take an old tin pan condemned to the retired list by reason of holes in the bottom, get twenty-five cents' worth of green paint for this and other purposes, and paint it. The holes in the bottom are a recommendation for its new service. If there are no holes, you must drill two or three, as drainage is essential. Now put a layer one inch deep of broken charcoal and potsherds over the bottom, and then soil, in the following proportions:
Two fourths wood-soil, such as you find in forests, under trees.
One fourth clean sand.
One fourth meadow-soil, taken from under fresh turf. Mix with this some charcoal dust.
In this soil plant all sorts of ferns, together with some few swamp-grasses; and around the edge put a border of money-plant or periwinkle to hang over. This will need to be watered once or twice a week, and it will grow and thrive all summer long in a corner of your room. Should you prefer, you can suspend it by wires and make a hanging-basket.—Ferns and wood-grasses need not have sunshine—they grow well in shadowy places.
On this same principle you can convert a salt-box or an old drum of figs into a hanging-basket. Tack bark and pine-cones and moss upon the outside of it, drill holes and pass wires through it, and you have a woodland hanging-basket, which will hang and grow in any corner of your house.
We have been into rooms which, by the simple disposition of articles of this kind, have been made to have an air so poetical and attractive that they seemed more like a nymph's cave than any thing in the real world.
Another mode of disposing of ferns is this: Take a flat piece of board sawed out something like a shield, with a hole at the top for hanging it up. Upon the board nail a wire pocket made of an ox-muzzle flattened on one side; or make something of the kind with stiff wire. Line this with a sheet of close moss, which appears green behind the wire net-work. Then you fill it with loose, spongy moss, such as you find in swamps, and plant therein great plumes of fern and various swamp-grasses; they will continue to grow there, and hang gracefully over. When watering, set a pail under for it to drip into. It needs only to keep this moss always damp, and to sprinkle these ferns occasionally with a whisk-broom, to have a most lovely ornament for your room or hall.
The use of ivy in decorating a room is beginning to be generally acknowledged. It needs to be planted in the kind of soil we have described, in a well-drained pot or box, and to have its leaves thoroughly washed once or twice a year in strong suds made with soft-soap, to free it from dust and scale-bug; and an ivy will live and thrive and wind about in a room, year in and year out, will grow around pictures, and do almost any thing to oblige you that you can suggest to it. For instance, in a March number of Hearth and Home, [Footnote: A beautifully illustrated agricultural and family weekly paper, edited by Donald G. Mitchell(Ik Marvel) and Mrs. H. B. Stowe,] there is a picture of the most delightful library-window imaginable, whose chief charm consists in the running vines that start from a longitudinal box at the bottom of the window, and thence clamber up and about the casing and across the rustic frame-work erected for its convenience. On the opposite page we present another plain kind of window, ornamented with a variety of these rural economical adornings.
In the centre is a Ward's case. On one side is a pot of Fuchsia. On the other side is a Calla Lily. In the hanging-baskets and on the brackets are the ferns and flowers that flourish in the deep woods, and around the window is the ivy, running from two boxes; and, in case the window has some sun, a Nasturtium may spread its bright blossoms among the leaves. Then, in the winter, when there is less sun, the Striped Spider-wort, the Smilax and the Saxifraga. Samantosa (or Wandering Jew) may be substituted. Pretty brackets can be made of common pine, ornamented with odd-growing twigs or mosses or roots, scraped and varnished, or in their native state.
A beautiful ornament for a room with pictures is German ivy. Slips of this will start without roots in bottles of water. Slide the bottle behind the picture, and the ivy will seem to come from fairyland, and hang its verdure in all manner of pretty curves around the picture. It may then be trained to travel toward other ivy, and thus aid in forming green cornice along the ceiling. We have seen some rooms that had an ivy cornice around the whole, giving the air of a leafy bower.
There are some other odd devices to ornament a room. For example, a sponge, kept wet by daily immersion, can be filled with flax-seed and suspended by a cord, when it will ere long be covered with verdure and afterward with flowers.
A sweet potato, laid in a bowl of water on a bracket, or still better, suspended by a knitting-needle, run through or laid across the bowl half in the water, will, in due time, make a beautiful verdant ornament. A large carrot, with the smallest half cut off, scooped out to hold water and then suspended with cords, will send out graceful shoots in rich profusion.
Half a cocoa-nut shell, suspended, will hold earth or water for plants and make a pretty hanging-garden.
It may be a very proper thing to direct the ingenuity and activity of children into the making of hanging-baskets and vases of rustic work. The best foundations are the cheap wooden bowls, which are quite easy to get, and the walks of children in the woods can be made interesting by their bringing home material for this rustic work. Different colored twigs and sprays of trees, such as the bright scarlet of the dog-wood, the yellow of the willow, the black of the birch, and the silvery gray of the poplar, may be combined in fanciful net-work. For this sort of work, no other investment is needed than a hammer and an assortment of different-sized tacks, and beautiful results will be produced. Fig. 46 is a stand for flowers, made of roots, scraped and varnished. But the greatest and cheapest and most delightful fountain of beauty is a "Ward case."
Now, immediately all our economical friends give up in despair. Ward's cases sell all the way along from eighteen to fifty dollars, and are, like every thing else in this lower world, regarded as the sole perquisites of the rich.
Let us not be too sure. Plate-glass, and hot-house plants, and rare patterns, are the especial inheritance of the rich; but any family may command all the requisites of a Ward case for a very small sum. Such a case is a small glass closet over a well-drained box of soil. You make a Ward case on a small scale when you turn a tumbler over a plant. The glass keeps the temperature moist and equable, and preserves the plants from dust, and the soil being well drained, they live and thrive accordingly. The requisites of these are the glass top and the bed of well-drained soil.
Suppose you have a common cheap table, four feet long and two wide. Take off the top boards of your table, and with them board the bottom across tight and firm; then line it with zinc, and you will have a sort of box or sink on legs. Now make a top of common window-glass such as you would get for a cucumber-frame; let it be two and a half feet high, with a ridge-pole like a house, and a slanting roof of glass resting on this ridge-pole; on one end let there be a door two feet square.
We have seen a Ward case made in this way, in which the capabilities for producing ornamental effect were greatly beyond many of the most elaborate ones of the shops. It was large, and roomy, and cheap. Common window-sash and glass are not dear, and any man with moderate ingenuity could fashion such a glass closet for his wife; or a woman, not having such a husband, can do it herself.
The sink or box part must have in the middle of it a hole of good size for drainage. In preparing for the reception of plants, first turn a plant-saucer over this hole, which may otherwise become stopped. Then, as directed for the other basket, proceed with a layer of broken charcoal and pot-sherds for drainage, two inches deep, and prepare the soil as directed above, and add to it some pounded charcoal, or the scrapings of the charcoal-bin. In short, more or less charcoal and charcoal-dust is always in order in the treatment of these moist subjects, as it keeps them from fermenting and growing sour.
Now for filling the case.
Our own native forest-ferns have a period in the winter months when they cease to grow. They are very particular in asserting their right to this yearly nap, and will not, on any consideration, grow for you out of their appointed season.
Nevertheless, we shall tell you what we have tried ourselves, because greenhouse ferns are expensive, and often great cheats when you have bought them, and die on your hands in the most reckless and shameless manner. If you make a Ward case in the spring, your ferns will grow beautifully in it all summer; and in the autumn, though they stop growing, and cease to throw out leaves, yet the old leaves will remain fresh and green till the time for starting the new ones in the spring.
But, supposing you wish to start your case in the fall, out of such things as you can find in the forest; by searching carefully the rocks and clefts and recesses of the forest, you can find a quantity of beautiful ferns whose leaves the frost has not yet assailed. Gather them carefully, remembering that the time of the plant's sleep has come, and that you must make the most of the leaves it now has, as you will not have a leaf more from it till its waking-up time in February or March. But we have succeeded, and you will succeed, in making a very charming and picturesque collection. You can make in your Ward case lovely little grottoes with any bits of shells, and minerals, and rocks you may have; you can lay down, here and there, fragments of broken looking-glass for the floor of your grottoes, and the effect of them will be magical. A square of looking-glass introduced into the back side of your case will produce charming effects.
The trailing arbutus or May-flower, if cut up carefully in sods, and put into this Ward case, will come into bloom there a month sooner than it otherwise would, and gladden your eyes and heart.
In the fall, if you can find the tufts of eye-bright or houstonia cerulia, and mingle them in with your mosses, you will find them blooming before winter is well over.
But among the most beautiful things for such a case is the partridge-berry, with its red plums. The berries swell and increase in the moist atmosphere, and become intense in color, forming an admirable ornament.
Then the ground pine, the princess pine, and various nameless pretty things of the woods, all flourish in these little conservatories. In getting your sod of trailing arbutus, remember that this plant forms its buds in the fall. You must, therefore, examine your sod carefully, and see if the buds are there; otherwise you will find no blossoms in the spring.
There are one or two species of violets, also, that form their buds in the fall, and these too, will blossom early for you.
We have never tried the wild anemones, the crowfoot, etc.; but as they all do well in moist, shady places, we recommend hopefully the experiment of putting some of them in.
A Ward case has this recommendation over common house-plants, that it takes so little time and care. If well made in the outset, and thoroughly drenched with water when the plants are first put in, it will after that need only to be watered about once a month, and to be ventilated by occasionally leaving open the door for a half-hour or hour when the moisture obscures the glass and seems in excess.
To women embarrassed with the care of little children, yet longing for the refreshment of something growing and beautiful, this indoor garden will be an untold treasure. The glass defends the plant from the inexpedient intermeddling of little fingers; while the little eyes, just on a level with the panes of glass, can look through and learn to enjoy the beautiful, silent miracles of nature.
For an invalid's chamber, such a case would be an indescribable comfort. It is, in fact, a fragment of the green woods brought in and silently growing; it will refresh many a weary hour to watch it.
THE CARE OF HEALTH.
There is no point where a woman is more liable to suffer from a want of knowledge and experience than in reference to the health of a family committed to her care. Many a young lady who never had any charge of the sick; who never took any care of an infant; who never obtained information on these subjects from books, or from the experience of others; in short, with little or no preparation, has found herself the principal attendant in dangerous sickness, the chief nurse of a feeble infant, and the responsible guardian of the health of a whole family.
The care, the fear, the perplexity of a woman suddenly called to these unwonted duties, none can realize till they themselves feel it, or till they see some young and anxious novice first attempting to meet such responsibilities. To a woman of age and experience these duties often involve a measure of trial and difficulty at times deemed almost insupportable; how hard, then, must they press on the heart of the young and inexperienced!
There is no really efficacious mode of preparing a woman to take a rational care of the health of a family, except by communicating that knowledge in regard to the construction of the body and the laws of health which is the basis of the medical profession. Not that a woman should undertake the minute and extensive investigation requisite for a physician; but she should gain a general knowledge of first principles, as a guide to her judgment in emergencies when she can rely on no other aid.
With this end in view, in the preceding chapters some portions of the organs and functions of the human body have been presented, and others will now follow in connection with the practical duties which result from them.
On the general subject of health, one recent discovery of science may here be introduced as having an important relation to every organ and function of the body, and as being one to which frequent reference will be made; and that is, the nature and operation of cell-life.
By the aid of the microscope, we can examine the minute construction of plants and animals, in which we discover contrivances and operations, if not so sublime, yet more wonderful and interesting, than the vast systems of worlds revealed by the telescope.
By this instrument it is now seen that the first formation, as well as future changes and actions, of all plants and animals are accomplished by means of small cells or bags containing various kinds of liquids. These cells are so minute that, of the smallest, some hundreds would not cover the dot of a printed i on this page. They are of diverse shapes and contents, and perform various different operations.
The first formation of every animal is accomplished by the agency of cells, and may be illustrated by the egg of any bird or fowl. The exterior consists of a hard shell for protection, and this is lined with a tough skin, to which is fastened the yelk, (which means the yellow,) by fibrous strings, as seen at a, a, in the diagram. In the yelk floats the germ-cell, b, which is the point where the formation of the future animal commences. The yelk, being lighter than the white, rises upward, and the germ being still lighter, rises in the yelk. This is to bring both nearer to the vitalizing warmth of the brooding mother.
New cells are gradually formed from the nourishing yelk around the germ, each being at first roundish in shape, and having a spot near the centre, called the nucleus. The reason why cells increase must remain a mystery, until we can penetrate the secrets of vital force—probably forever. But the mode in which they multiply is as follows: The first change noticed in a cell, when warmed into vital activity, is the appearance of a second nucleus within it, while the cell gradually becomes oval in form, and then is drawn inward at the middle, like an hour-glass, till the two sides meet. The two portions then divide, and two cells appear, each containing its own germinal nucleus. These both divide again in the same manner, proceeding in the ratio of 2, 4, 8, 16, and so on, until most of the yelk becomes a mass of cells.
The central point of this mass, where the animal itself commences to appear, shows, first, a round-shaped figure, which soon assumes form like a pear, and then like a violin. Gradually the busy little cells arrange themselves to build up heart, lungs, brain, stomach, and limbs, for which the yelk and white furnish nutriment. There is a small bag of air fastened to one end inside of the shell; and when the animal is complete, this air is taken into its lungs, life begins, and out walks little chick, all its powers prepared, and ready to run, eat, and enjoy existence. Then, as soon as the animal uses its brain to think and feel, and its muscles to move, the cells which have been made up into these parts begin to decay, while new cells are formed from the blood to take their place. Time with life commences the constant process of decay and renewal all over the body.
The liquid portion of the blood consists of material formed from food, air, and water. From this material the cells of the blood are formed: first, the white cells, which are incomplete in formation; and then the red cells, which are completed by the addition of the oxygen received from air in the lungs. Fig. 49 represents part of a magnified blood-vessel, a, a, in which the round cells are the white, and the oblong the red cells, floating in the blood. Surrounding the blood- vessels are the cells forming the adjacent membrane, bb, each having a nucleus in its centre.
Cells have different powers of selecting and secreting diverse materials from the blood. Thus, some secrete bile to carry to the liver, others secrete saliva for the mouth, others take up the tears, and still others take material for the brain, muscles, and all other organs. Cells also have a converting power, of taking one kind of matter from the blood, and changing it to another kind. They are minute chemical laboratories all over the body, changing materials of one kind to another form in which they can be made useful.
Both animal and vegetable substances are formed of cells. But the vegetable cells take up and use unorganized or simple, natural matter; whereas the animal cell only takes substances already organized into vegetable or animal life, and then changes one compound into another of different proportions and nature.
These curious facts in regard to cell-life have important relations to the general subject of the care of health, and also to the cure of disease, as will be noticed in following chapters.
THE NERVOUS SYSTEM.
There is another portion of the body, which is so intimately connected with every other that it is placed in this chapter as also having reference to every department in the general subject of the care of health.
The body has no power to move itself, but is a collection of instruments to be used by the mind in securing various kinds of knowledge and enjoyment. The organs through which the mind thus operates are the brain and nerves. The drawing (Fig. 50) represents them.
The brain lies in the skull, and is divided into the large or upper brain, marked 1, and the small or lower brain, marked 2. From the brain runs the spinal marrow through the spine or backbone. From each side of the spine the large nerves run out into innumerable smaller branches to every portion of the body. The drawing shows only some of the larger branches. Those marked 3 run to the neck and organs of the chest; those marked 4 go to the arms; those below the arms, marked 3, go to the trunk; and those marked 5 go to the legs.
The brain and nerves consist of two kinds of nervous matter—the gray, which is supposed to be the portion that originates and controls a nervous fluid which imparts power of action; and the white, which seems to conduct this fluid to every part of the body.
The brain and nervous system are divided into distinct portions, each having different offices to perform, and each acting independently of the others; as, for example, one portion is employed by the mind in thinking, and in feeling pleasurable or painful mental emotions; another in moving the muscles; while the nerves that run to the nose, ears, eyes, tongue, hands, and surface generally, are employed in seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling all physical sensations.
The back portion of the spinal marrow and the nerves that run from it are employed in sensation, or the sense of feeling. These nerves extend over the whole body, but are largely developed in the network of nerves in the skin. The front portion of the spinal marrow and its branches are employed in moving those muscles in all parts of the body which are controlled by the will or choice of the mind. These are called the nerves of motion.
The nerves of sensation and nerves of motion, although they start from different portions of the spine, are united in the same sheath or cover, till they terminate in the muscles. Thus, every muscle is moved by nerves of motion; while alongside of this nerve, in the same sheath, is a nerve of sensation. All the nerves of motion and sensation are connected with those portions of the brain used when we think, feel, and choose. By this arrangement the mind knows what is wanted in all parts of the body by means of the nerves of sensation, and then it acts by means of the nerves of motion.
For example, when we feel the cold air on the skin, the nerves of sensation report to the brain, and thus to the mind, that the body is growing cold. The mind thus knows that more clothing is needed, and wills to have the eyes look for it, and the hands and feet move to get it. This is done by the nerves of sight and of motion.
Next are the nerves of involuntary motion, which move all those parts of the head, face, and body that are used in breathing, and in other operations connected with it. By these we continue to breathe when asleep, and whether we will to do so or not. There are also some of the nerves of voluntary motion that are mixed with these, which enable the mind to stop respiration, or to regulate it to a certain extent. But the mind has no power to stop it for any great length of time.
There is another large and important system of nerves called the sympathetic or ganglionic system. It consists of small masses of gray and white nervous matter, that seem to be small brains with nerves running from them. These are called ganglia, and are arranged on each side of the spine, while small nerves from the spinal marrow run into them, thus uniting the sympathetic system with the nerves of the spine. These ganglia are also distributed around in various parts of the interior of the body, especially in the intestines, and all the different ganglia are connected with each other by nerves, thus making one system. It is the ganglionic system that carries on the circulation of the blood, the action of the capillaries, lymphatics, arteries, and veins, together with the work of secretion, absorption, and most of the internal working of the body, which goes forward without any knowledge or control of the mind.
Every portion of the body has nerves of sensation coming from the spine, and also branches of the sympathetic or ganglionic system. The object of this is to form a sympathetic communication between the several parts of the body, and also to enable the mind to receive, through the brain, some general knowledge of the state of the whole system. It is owing to this that, when one portion of the body is affected, other portions sympathize. For example, if one part of the body is diseased, the stomach may so sympathize as to lose all appetite until the disease is removed.
All the operations of the nervous system are performed by the influence of the nervous fluid, which is generated in the gray portions of the brain and ganglia. Whenever a nerve is cut off from its connection with these nervous centres, its power is gone, and the part to which it ministered becomes lifeless and incapable of motion.
The brain and nerves can be overworked, and can also suffer for want of exercise, just as the muscles do. It is necessary for the perfect health of the brain and nerves that the several portions he exercised sufficiently, and that no part be exhausted by over-action. For example, the nerves of sensation may be very much exercised, and the nerves of motion have but little exercise. In this ease, one will be weakened by excess of work, and the other by the want of it.
It is found by experience that the proper exercise of the nerves of motion tends to reduce any extreme susceptibility of the nerves of sensation. On the contrary, the neglect of such exercise tends to produce an excessive sensibility in the nerves of sensation.
Whenever that part of the brain which is employed in thinking, feeling, and willing, is greatly exercised by hard study, or by excessive care or emotion, the blood tends to the brain to supply it with increased nourishment, just as it flows to the muscles when they are exercised. Over-exercise of this portion of the brain causes engorgement of the blood-vessels. This is sometimes indicated by pain, or by a sense of fullness in the head; but oftener the result is a debilitating drain on the nervous system, which depends for its supply on the healthful state of the brain.
The brain has, as it were, a fountain of supply for the nervous fluid, which flows to all the nerves, and stimulates them to action. Some brains have a larger, and some a smaller fountain; so that a degree of mental activity that would entirely exhaust one, would make only a small and healthful drain upon another.