Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/157

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JUNE, 1881.



"No better traveling habit than hardy habits.Sir Samuel Baker.

THE capacity of our ancestors to accommodate themselves to every climate depended not only on their physiological faculty of adaptation, but also on their skill in protecting themselves by artificial means from the inclemency of the higher latitudes. Houses and clothes are a blessing if they answer this purpose by a close imitation of Nature's own plan in sheltering her children from atmospheric vicissitudes; but in degree as they deviate from that plan their hygienic disadvantages balance, or even outweigh, the gain in other respects. A swallow's nest protects her brood from cold and rain without debarring them from the fresh air; a human domicile, too, should combine comfort with the advantage of perfect ventilation; and our clothes, like the fur of a squirrel or the feather-mantle of a hawk, should keep us warm and dry without interfering with the cutaneous excretions and the free movement of our limbs.

Measured by these standards, the winter dress of an American schoolboy is nearly the best, the summer dress of the average American, French, and German nursling about the worst that could possibly be devised. At an age when the rapid development of the whole organism requires the utmost freedom of movement, our children are kept in the fetters of garments that check the activity of the body in every way: swaddling-clothes, undershirts, overshirts, neck-wrappers, trailing gowns, garnitures, flounces, and shawls reduce the helpless homunculus to a bundle of dry-goods, unable to move or turn, incapable of relieving or intimating its uneasiness in any way save by the