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517
BATHS

with modes of amusement that were condemned, led to their being to a considerable extent proscribed by the early Christians. The early Fathers wrote that bathing might be practised for the sake of cleanliness or of health, but not of pleasure; and Gregory the Great saw no objection to baths being used on Sunday. About the 5th century many of the large thermae in Rome fell into decay. The cutting off of the aqueducts by the Huns, and the gradual decrease of the population, contributed to this. Still it is doubtful whether bathing was ever disused to the extent that is usually represented. It was certainly kept up in the East in full vigour at Alexandria and at Brusa. Hot bathing, and especially hot air and vapour baths, were adopted by the Mahommedans; and the Arabs brought them with them into Spain. The Turks, at a later time, carried them high up the Danube, and the Mahommedans spread or, it may be more correct to say, revived their use in Persia and in Hindustan. The Crusaders also contributed to the spread of baths in Europe, and hot vapour baths were specially recommended for the leprosy so prevalent in those days. After the commencement of the 13th century there were few large cities in Europe without hot vapour baths. We have full accounts of their regulations—how the Jews were only allowed to visit them once a week, and how there were separate baths for lepers. In England they were called hothouses. Erasmus, at the date of the Reformation, spoke of them as common in France, Germany and Belgium; he gives a lively account of the mixture of all classes of people to be found in them, and would imply that they were a common adjunct to inns. They seem after a time to have become less common, though Montaigne mentions them as being still in Rome in his day. In England the next revival of baths was at the close of the 17th century, under the Eastern name of Hummums or the Italian name of Bagnios. These were avowedly on the principle of the Turkish baths described below. But there were several considerable epochs in the history of baths, one in the commencement of the 18th century, when Floyer and others recalled attention to cold bathing, of which the virtues had long been overlooked. In the middle of the century also, Russell and others revived sea-bathing in England, and were followed by others on the continent, until the value of sea-bathing became fully appreciated. Later in the same century the experiments of James Currie on the action of complete or of partial baths on the system in disease attracted attention; and though forgotten for a while, they bore abundant fruit in more recent times.

Modern Baths.—It is uncertain how far the Turkish and Egyptian and even the Russian baths are to be regarded merely as successors of the Roman baths, because the principle of vapour baths has been known to many nations in a very early period of civilization. Thus the Mexicans and Indians were found using small vapour baths. The ancient inhabitants of Ireland and of Scotland had some notion of their use, and the large vapour baths of Japan, now so extensively employed, are probably of independent origin.

The following accounts of Turkish and Russian baths illustrate the practices of the ancient Roman and also of modern Turkish baths. In Lane’s On the Modern Egyptians we read: “The building consists of several apartments, all of which are paved with marble, chiefly white. The inner apartments are covered with domes, which have a number of small glazed apertures for the admission of light. The bather, on entering, if he has a watch or purse, gives them in charge to the keeper of the bath. The servant of the bath takes off his shoes and supplies him with a pair of wooden clogs. The first apartment has generally three or four leewans (raised parts of the floor used as couches) cased with marble, and a fountain of cold water, which rises from an octagonal basement in the centre. One of the leewans, which is meant for the higher classes, is furnished with cushions or mats. In warm weather bathers usually undress in this room; in winter they undress in an inner room, called the beytowwal or first chamber, between which and the last apartment there is a passage often with two or three latrines off it. This is the first of the heated chambers. It generally has two raised seats. The bather receives a napkin in which to put his clothes and another to put round his waist—this reaches to the knees; a third, if he requires it, is brought him to wind round his head, leaving the top of it bare; a fourth to put over his chest; and a fifth to cover his back. When the bather has undressed, the attendant opens to him the door of the inner and principal apartment. This in general has four leewans, which gives it the form of a cross, and in the centre a fountain of hot water rises from a small shallow basin. The centre room, with the adjoining ones, forms almost a square. The beytowwal already mentioned is one of them. Two small chambers which adjoin each other, one containing a tank of hot water, the other containing a trough, over which are two taps, one of hot and one of cold water, occupy the two other angles; while the fourth angle of the square is occupied by the chamber which contains the fire, over which is the boiler. The bather having entered this apartment soon perspires profusely from the humid heat which is produced by the hot water of tanks and fountains, and by the steam of the boiler. The bather sits on one of the marble seats, or lies on the leewan or near one of the tanks, and the operator then commences his work. The operator first cracks aloud every joint in the body. He makes the vertebrae of the back and even of the neck crack. The limbs are twisted with apparent violence, but so skilfully, that no harm is ever done. The operator next kneads the patient’s flesh. After this he rubs the soles of the feet with a kind of rasp of baked clay. There are two kinds of rasps, one porous and rough, one of fine smooth clay. Those used by ladies are usually encased in thin embossed silver. The next operation is rubbing the bather’s flesh with a small coarse woollen bag, after which the bather dips himself in one of the tanks. He is next taken to one of the chambers in the corner, and the operator lathers the bather with fibres of the palm tree, soap and water. The soap is then washed off with water, when the bather having finished washing, and enveloped himself in dry towels, returns to the beytowwal and reclines. Here he generally remains an hour to an hour and a half, sipping coffee and smoking, while an attendant rubs the soles of the feet and kneads the body and limbs. The bather then dresses and goes out.”

The following description of a Russian bath is from Kohl’s Russia (1842): “The passage from the door is divided into two behind the check-taker’s post, one for the male, one for the female guests. We first enter an open space, in which a set of men are sitting in a state of nudity on benches, those who have already bathed dressing, while those who are going to undergo the process take off their clothes. Round this space or apartment are the doors leading to the vapour-rooms. The bather is ushered into them, and finds himself in a room full of vapour, which is surrounded by a wooden platform rising in steps to near the roof of the room. The bather is made to lie down on one of the lower benches, and gradually to ascend to the higher and hotter ones. The first sensation on entering the room amounts almost to a feeling of suffocation. After you have been subjected for some time to a temperature which may rise to 145° the transpiration reaches its full activity, and the sensation is very pleasant. The bath attendants come and flog you with birchen twigs, cover you with the lather of soap, afterwards rub it off, and then hold you over a jet of ice-cold water. The shock is great, but is followed by a pleasant feeling of great comfort and of alleviation of any rheumatic pains you may have had. In regular establishments you go after this and lie down on a bed for a time before issuing forth. But the Russians often dress in the open air, and instead of using the jet of cold water, go and roll themselves at once in the snow.”

Turkish baths have, with various modifications, become popular in Europe. The Russian baths were introduced into German towns about 1825. They had a certain limited amount of popularity, but did not take firm root. Another class practically owes its origin to Dr Barter and David Urquhart. It professed to be founded on the Turkish bath, but in reality it was much more of a hot air bath, i.e. more devoid of vapour than either Roman or Turkish baths ever were, for it is doubtful