Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/164

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respondent of Virchow's "Jahresberichte," constitute the summer dress of the average girl of the period. The blind submission to such demands of fashion can be explained only by a long subjection of human reason to authority, together with that ridiculous dread of nudity which forms a characteristic feature of all anti-natural religions. According to the ethics of the Hebrew-Buddhistic moralists, all naturalia sunt turpia; the body is the arch-enemy of the soul, and must be hidden, lest the children of the Church might be reminded of their relationship to the despised children of Nature. Boys and girls have no vote in such matters, or they would consent to turn night into day for the sake of getting a little exercise without the dire alternative of sweating to death or awakening the anathemas of Mrs. Grundy. The misery reaches its climax in June, when the warm weather begins before the vacations; and in midsummer a person with humane instincts would rather make a wide détour than pass a town school or a cotton-factory and witness the triumph of our pious civilization—the daily and intolerable torture of thousands of helpless children to please an Old Hypocrites' Christian Association of priests and prudes!

As houses have been called exterior garments, a heavy suit of clothes might be called a portable house—a protective barrier between the skin and the cold air; but in warm weather the most effectual device for diminishing the benefit of out-door exercise. Between May and October man has to wear clothes enough to keep the flies and gnats from troubling him: a pair of linen trowsers, a shirt, and a light neckerchief—whatsoever is more than these is of evil. The best headdress for summer is our natural hair; the next best a light straw hat, with a perforated crown. Hats and caps, as a protection from the vicissitudes of the atmosphere, are a comparatively recent invention. The Syrians, Greeks, Romans, Normans, and Visigoths wore helmets in war, but went uncovered in time of peace, in the coldest and most stormy seasons; the Gauls and Egyptians always went bareheaded, even into battle, and, a hundred years after the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses (b. c. 525), the sands of Pelusium still covered the well-preserved skulls of the native warriors, while those of the turbaned Persians had crumbled to the jawbones. The Emperor Hadrian traveled bareheaded from the icy Alps to the borders of Mesopotamia; the founders of several monastic orders interdicted all coverings for the head; during the reign of Henry VIII, boys and young men generally went with the head bare, and to the preservation of this old Saxon custom Sir John Sinclair[1] ascribes the remarkable health of the orphans of Queen's Hospital. The human skull is naturally better protected than that of any other warm-blooded animal, so that there seems little need of adding an artificial covering; and, as Dr. Adair observes, the most neglected children, street Arabs and young gypsies, are least

  1. "Code of Health and Longevity," p. 298.