Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/695
AUDUBON'S LILY REDISCOVERED.
of provisions is less injurious to the health of the soldier than perturbations of heat-economy through want of suitable pieces of clothing. Our clothes are weapons with which civilized man fights against the atmosphere as far as it is inimical, the means by which he subjugates this his element. It lies in our nature, in our instinct, in our self-respect, to have good clothes, which ought to be also pleasing to the eye; but we ought to become more conscious of their purpose. Ornament must be the minor consideration, and the tailor ought not to hold his scissors as a sceptre over the hygienic purposes of all dress.
Our period strives after novelty in all directions, also after new forms and styles in dress, architecture, and so on; but nothing new will be created with our old points of view remaining. New points of view can only be gained by new and increased insight into the functions of the dress and the house. This function must determine the form, and will not be ascertained without theoretical study. It was not till we had mastered the theory of the overshot and undershot water-wheel that the turbine could be invented.
The influence of theory on practical development is much greater than is usually supposed and conceded. The discovery and settlement of the laws of mechanics had to precede their application to engines, railways, steamboats, and so on. There would be no difficulty in showing why the great inventions of Watt and Stephenson were not made at an earlier period, and that they were the fruit of seeds which were buried in the theoretical investigations of Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton.
Perhaps our future means for keeping our heat-household will be as different in style and appearance from our present ones as a turbine from an old mill-wheel, or a steam-engine from a horse-wheel.