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bled, the oxygen is being continually drawn away from the air, and carbonic acid poured into it; the atmosphere is becoming every moment more and more unfitted for the process we have described, and much of the blood that is presented to it cannot undergo the changes which must be made in it before it can enter into the composition of the living substance of our bodies. The consequence is, that in such cases as we have referred to, a great deal of food is wasted after its conversion into blood, because that blood does not receive oxygen, or give out carbonic acid, and therefore remains in a state in which it is not only unprofitable to the system, but absolutely injurious to it. A good deal has been done of late years to remedy this by improvements in the ventilation of houses, factories, and other places in which great numbers of people are collected together; but do what we will, our ventilation will always be very imperfect, as will sufficiently appear when I mention that our senators, commanding as they do the public purse, and having all the sanitary science in the kingdom at their disposal, have not been able to ventilate thoroughly and properly the hall in which they hold their meetings. But in our case we have a special difficulty in the way of ventilation. Our factories must be maintained at a certain heat, and the consequence is that our factory operatives are so habituated to that degree of heat, that they cannot endure much less. But when we introduce fresh air into our rooms, we necessarily cool them down below the point which is necessary to their comfort and perhaps even to their health. Thus we have them
congregated together in rooms where there is a large fire draining away the oxygen and giving out carbonic acid, and they, too, all drawing oxygen out of the air, and pouring forth carbonic acid into it. In such a case it must become, to a great extent, robbed of its oxy
gen, and saturated with carbon, and so the conversion of the innutritious into nutritious blood is becoming less and less. The nutritious principles are present in the blood, but they cannot obtain the final process which is necessary to prepare them to supply the waste of the body. What then is the remedy? The remedy clearly is, that they who are obliged to pass a great portion of their time in crowded or ill-ventilated rooms, should pass as much as possible of the remainder of it in public parks, or in other places where they would obtain a plentiful supply of pure oxygen, and get rid of the superfluous carbon, without taking severe exercise, which would very much increase the waste of the system. To a man who has a plentiful supply of food, and not much bodily labour, a long walk is an excellent thing, and a great benefit to his health. But to a man who has a good deal of bodily labour to go through, or who has not an abundance of nutritious food, it is very injurious. What he wants is gentle exercise, combined with recreation, in the freshest air he can meet with near at hand. But let him avoid standing at the corners of the streets. In the first place, he runs the risk of catching a cold, which might prove serious or even fatal to men who are suffering from want of sufficient nourishment; and in the next place, even if the physical atmosphere of such places be pure, the moral atmosphere is often deeply tainted.
And here let me remark, that in many of our adult schools we are sinning against this plain law of health. Any one entering these schools after you have been in them some time, is at once struck not only with the intense heat that prevails, but also with the stifling atmosphere which they contain. They who are in the room do not perceive this, because they have become habituated to it; for it is a curious fact that we possess the power, to a very
considerable extent, of adapting ourselves to a gradual change in the air, so that they who have been breathing it can bear it better than they who have had a full supply of fresh air. Nay, if you were shut
up in a room, and allowed to breathe it nearly as long as oxygen could be extracted from it by the human lungs, you might still go on breathing it; while a person who was introduced suddenly into it from the fresh air outside, would drop down dead almost immediately, and you who had all along been exposed to it might go out, and be apparently little the worse afterwards. But it must be remembered that very serious injury is done to us by breathing impure air, though we inay not perceive its impurity; and, therefore, the proper ventilation of the rooms in which we assemble, is a matter of first-rate importance in an economical point of view, as well as in many other
ways to which our present subject does not lead us to refer.
There is yet another thing to be attended to if we would produce the greatest quantity of good, nutritious blood, from a given quantity of food. Our life has been compared
to a combustion--a burning of fuel; and though our modern physiologists have with reason objected to the statement, as not quite correctly describing what takes place, they will admit it to be sufficiently exact for our present purpose. The properly prepared and duly aerated blood is the fuel ; but the veins and arteries not only carry this blood, but they also carry along with it the blood which has already been burnt. But, if we throw into the furnace of one of our steam boilers all the ashes, cinders, clinkers, and other refuse matters which come from it, together with the coals, we shall not be able to keep up the steam. And if we are to keep up the steam in our own bodies, the ashes must be got rid of, and must not be allowed to keep accumulating in our veins and arteries. Now,
there has been special provision made in the body for the carrying off of what we have called the ashes. And one very important part of this provision is, that the body is pierced in almost every part, by an innumerable number of small tubes or pipes, through which they pass out of the system in the form of sensible or insensible perspiration. And when you take violent exercise, or work very hard, you find that it comes out very fast, because then the fuel is being consumed very rapidly, and is producing a great quantity of ashes. This perspiration becomes mixed with dirt and other matters, and dries on the skin, so that the body becomes glazed over with it, the pores through which the ashes should escape are choked
and a great deal of waste matter which ought to pass out of the body is retained in it, and not only does mischief in other ways, but prevents the nutritious blood from ministering as effectually as it otherwise might do to the nourishment of the body. Now, a rich man may have at his own house his sponge bath, or his shower bath, or his vapour bath, or any other kind of bath that he may devise; but the working man often has his house so crowded with different members of his family, that he cannot with decency give his body that thorough cleansing which is so necessary.
The Turkish bath, which our Rochdale working men have established for themselves, is perhaps the best conceivable means of thoroughly cleansing the skin and opening the pores; and I rejoice to find that men who are all the week working at machineshops, smithies, steam-boilers, collieries, and other places where there is a good deal of dirt flying about that is likely to stick to the skin and choke up the pores, are in the habit of going regularly every week to the Turkish bath, and obtaining there a thorough purification. But still I cannot, in reference to our present subject, recommend the Turkish bath to my
working friends as an aid to the economy of food. When we are considering the case of persons who are rather short of food, and who want to make it go as far as possible in maintaining health, and preventing the waste of the living substance of their bodies, the Turkish bath is one of the last places to which we should think of recommending them. The process is so long, and requires so much labour, that it always must be very costly; and it takes a great deal out of the system—that is, it renders more rapid the waste of the living substance of our bodies, which it is my object to teach you to repair or diminish. What is wanting for this purpose is a public bath, at which the working man may obtain, at a small rate and in a short time, sufficient purification to maintain his health ; and this purpose is best answered by cheap public tepid or cold baths.
We now come to the other portion of our subject, which relates to the means of preventing, as far as possible, the waste of the living substance of our bodies, so as to admit of their being maintained in health and strength by a smaller amount of food. Writers on physiology say that tea, coffee, and alcohol possess the property of making the waste go on more slowly. It may be so; but we really know so little about the way in which these articles operate, and the effects which we cannot trace are so powerful, that until we have a more accurate knowledge of the manner in which they act on the human system, and the nature of the disturbances they produce in it, I should not feel myself warranted in recommending their use as economisers of the living substance of our bodies. I can only say with regard to the two former articles, that my own experience is decidedly unfavourable to them. I find that the use of them is followed by a failure of nervous force, which has caused me, though I have been in the habit of taking them for many years, and have a