Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/694

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of our clothing and of the fitness of different materials for special purposes. But, to say the truth, Science has not yet done much in this direction.

There is still one of our garments to be considered which generally is not regarded as such. I mean the bed—that piece of clothing in which we spend such a great part of our time. It is equally indispensable to the sick and to the healthy, and at all times it was considered as a sign of bitterest want if a man had no place to lay his head.

The bed is not only a place of rest, it is especially our sleeping-garment, and has often to make up for privations endured during the day and the day's work, and to give us strength for to-morrow. You know all the different substances and materials used for it. They are the same as our garments are made from. Like them, the bed must be airy and warm at the same time. We warm the bed by our body just as we warm our clothes, and the bed warms the air which is continually flowing through it from below upward. The regulating strata must be more powerful in their action than in our day clothes, because during rest and sleep the metamorphosis of our tissues and resulting heat become less, and because in an horizontal position we lose more heat by an ascending current of air than in a vertical position, where the warm ascending current is in more complete and longer contact with our upright body.

The warmth of the bed sustains the circulation in our surface to a certain degree for the benefit of our internal organs at a time when our production of heat is at the lowest ebb. Hence the importance of the bed for our heat and blood economy. Several days without rest in a bed not only make us sensible of a deficiency in the recruiting of our strength, but very often produce quite noticeable perturbations in our bodily economy which the bed would have protected us from.

I wish, therefore, to impress upon you that your charitable exertions for the poor may become extended to the bed, that kind of garment which can make up to a great degree for other lamentable deficiencies, as in food, dwellings, clothing, toward which you are in the habit of directing your efforts.

I am quite aware that I have anything but exhausted the subject of the functions of our clothes, but still I believe that I have directed your attention to such essential points as to convince you of the importance which a scientific consideration of the subject possesses in the interest of the heat-economy of the human body.

As our health is so intimately connected with this economy, a better insight into the laws and proceedings of the same must in the end turn out profitable to health in general.

Thus we have learned in our last glorious war how important it is to provide well for the soldiers' clothing, and that a few days' want