Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/595
By FELIX L. OSWALD, M.D.
"What is to the mind a healthy body,
— Fabio Colonna,
Next to our dietetic sins, the abuses connected with our habits of domestic life have contributed the largest share to the great sum of human misery. Yet few evils might be more easily avoided. There are diseases which may be considered as visitations of national iniquities whose consequences are almost beyond the control of individuals; but for the sufferings caused by scrofula and pulmonary disorders we are indebted chiefly to our own prejudices. Prejudice and ignorance have filled more consumptives' graves than poverty. Even in large manufacturing towns air is free. If our artisans could realize the consequences of breathing miasma, they would prefer the life-air of the wildest wilderness to the lung-poison of their slums; like a caged bird, the tenement prisoner would refuse to pair rather than people the earth with cachectic wretches. The exodus of their workmen would soon induce manufacturers to imitate the founder of Saltaire; building speculators would find it to their advantage to adopt the Philadelphia plan, adding suburb to suburb rather than loft to loft; cities would grow outward instead of upward. A reform of that sort would imply various modifications of our present labor system; but before the enlightenment of public opinion such difficulties vanish like mist before the rising sun. There was a time when it was actually proposed to abolish the summer vacations of the French town schools "in order to enlarge their curriculum in proportion to the advance of modern