Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/547

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SCIENCE TEACHING

their schools. In order to be consistent they should recommend cannibalism, and preach that—

"The proper nourishment of man is man."

The people of whom I am speaking usually write to the papers. One shows how the condition of the workingman may be made one of affluence and comfort by living chiefly on dandelions, nettles, and sorrel (with perhaps a pinch of pepper). Another shows how the weight of a pound of steak may be doubled by cutting it up fine and stewing it with sixteen ounces of water. A third demonstrates how essential to the human frame is a certain amount of lime, and deplores the wastefulness of throwing away the shells of oysters, lobsters, and eggs. Yet another, of a more synthetic turn of mind, is familiar with heat-producers and flesh-formers, with carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus compounds. His knowledge of chemistry enables him to recommend a cheap dish consisting of charcoal, saltpeter, tallow, and glue, flavored with singed feathers and stirred up with a few matches.

I need not apologize for speaking at some length on this subject. Food is as important to the human being as fuel is to the steam engine. It was once made a subject of reproach or banter against our nation that we had a hundred religions and only one sauce, while the nation of our critic had only one religion and a hundred sauces. I suppose if this epigram were fairly analyzed it might be found to be based upon the fact that our meats had a hundred different flavors, and our hundred religions only one; while the one religion of our critic's countrymen had a hundred different flavors and their hundred meats a single one. For I need not remind you that when and where the cooking has become most elaborate the feeding is at its worst; for, instead of depending upon the exquisite flavors of the simply cooked constituents of a meal, a sort of "Ur-wurst," or universal sausage, containing a thousand flavors, and therefore none, is the result. As good wine needs no bush, so good food needs little cookery and less sauce.

In the next place should be considered materials used in cleaning, such as soap, soda, hearthstone, sponge, vitriol, emery. And finally the materials used in writing and in books—the manufacture of paper and of pens, of inks, of pencils, of type, and the rest.

I can not but think that some such system as I have laid before you will be—will have to be—introduced into elementary education, into the education of our school boards. Not only that the lads on leaving school may be more useful citizens, but that they may have that knowledge which alone gives happiness, and which never turns to bitterness, or proves to be vain, the knowledge of the ways and the beauties of almighty Nature.