Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/41

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PUBLIC BATHS

With tiles and bricks and well-cut stone bound together with durable mortar, they built, not for a day, but for eternity, and many of their weather-beaten walls have already stood the storm and stress of 1400 years. The towns were approached by gateways with rounded arches, inside which the streets were determined by the form of the Roman camp or of a British town. They had their public buildings like a miniature Rome: each had its temple, its theatre, its court of justice, and its public baths. With regard to the latter it may be instructive to remark that when the Roman civilisation was swept away in the fifth century, it took Englishmen 1400 years to re-learn the lesson that it is necessary to provide public baths for the inhabitants of our large cities. This, initiated in 1846, is but partially fulfilled now.

The construction of the Roman villa is too well known to need repetition here. How badly these foreigners from the sunny South felt the damp and cold of our island home is revealed by the elaborate warming apparatus in their houses as well as in their bath-rooms. The floors of their largest sitting-rooms were supported on rows of short thick pillars. This space was filled with heat issuing from a furnace without, which also