Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/546

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furnishing of the house. By finishing I mean such processes as papering, painting, glazing, and varnishing. Furnishing would embrace the origin and manufacture of cotton thread, flax, linen, hemp, canvas, cane, wool, carpets, oilcloth, cocoanut fiber, mirrors, German silver, silver; the processes of lacquering, plating, and the manufacture of pottery, porcelain, and earthenware.

The next division would concern the person, and would include chapters on clothing, food, washing, writing, and reading.

In clothing would have to be described the textile fabrics, skins, tanning, with such adjuncts as pins, needles, combs, and brushes.

Concerning food I should be inclined to confine the instruction to such things as the five B's of food—bread, butter, beef, beer, and bacon—and such as milk, cheese, eggs.

The description of the manufacture of bread should be in a manner an intellectual epic poem. The growing of the wheat, its thrashing, winnowing, grinding, bolting; the nature and effect of yeast; the effect of baking; the relationship between the constituents of the wheat and the body. All this, I say, constitutes an epic of infinitely greater beauty, strength, and significance than can be furnished by the sulks of Achilles, the wanderings of the pious Æneas (I wish he had been drowned), the tortures of the Inferno, the ravings of Orlando, the childish imagery of Milton, or the dreary paraphrase of Klopstock.

The epic of bread is, and must be, as far above the epic of the poet as is the mere external beauty of a living flower above that of the most elaborate and gorgeous design on the back of a playing card. And I suppose the study of the construction and life of the flower is more elevating than the most subtle game of whist which was ever played.

In the matter of food, again, we have to guard carefully against the dogmatism of the smatterers who talk so glibly of flesh-formers, fat-formers, bone-formers, and so on, as though you had only to eat fat in order to become fat; bone, to become bony; flesh, to become muscular. There are people whom one may, without offense, call the "prigs" of this particular branch of science, who fancy that Liebig's extract of meat, for instance, is concentrated meat, and that a few grains of it are of the same nutritive value as an ounce of meat. This, I need scarcely say, was not the view of the illustrious author of the extract. He justly looked upon it as a condiment or stimulant. There are those who, by quoting chemical formulæ, would fondly persuade us that there is as much nourishment in an egg as in a chop. I need scarcely say I do not believe them, for I don't suppose you do. Such people compare the analysis of grain with that of the human body, and tell us to eat pumpernickel, or rye bread, or brown bread, or whole-meal bread, or white bread, according to