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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/407

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jects is evidently one of Nature's weapons of defense. In some animals it is developed in a wonderful manner. Wherever it is found it becomes to the animal possessing it a powerful means of defense by rendering it inconspicuous, and in some instances wholly unnoticeable.



THE biographer[1] Carlyle relates that the father of Frederick the Great scandalized the conventionalism of his day by removing all upholstery from the electoral mansion; an object-lesson in personal cleanliness no doubt so little appreciated by his contemporaries that, if the sturdy elector escaped the nickname of "crank," it was because the word had not then been invented, at least in Brandenburg. Even six generations later it may be doubted whether Friedrich Wilhelm's antipathy to germ-haunts has been realized outside a few modernly equipped infirmary wards. To the sanitarist, however, even such merely tentative application is a hopeful one, because he has learned to accept with equanimity the impossibility of any other than a gradual adoption of ideas greatly in advance of the average public sense, and to recognize the fact that even conservatism has its uses: the keel and the ballast which hold the ship to its course and, perchance, prevent a capsize—nay, sometimes even an anchor cast to windward—may be as necessary as the guiding rudder or the propelling sail. He has, therefore, no controversy with the slowness of the change-drift if mainly in the direction of better conformity with hygienic requirements; he even looks forward to a time when factories, dwellings, lecture rooms, stores, and every other kind of edifice, public and private, will be as well ventilated and be made as absolutely fire, vermin, and dust proof as the best hospital wards.

Public indifference to hygienic requirements was significantly

  1. "Nothing could exceed his Majesty's simplicity of habitudes; but one loves especially in him his scrupulous attention to cleanliness of person and environment. He washed like a very Mussulman five times a day; loved cleanliness in all things to a superstitious extent, which trait is pleasant in the rugged man, and, indeed, of a piece with the rest of his character. He is gradually changing all his silk and other cloth room-furniture. In his hatred of dust he will not suffer a floor-carpet, even a stuffed chair, but insists on having all of wood, where the dust may be prosecuted to destruction. Wife and womankind, and those that take after them—let such have stuffing and sofas; he, for his part, sits on mere wooden chairs—sits and also thinks and acts, after the manner of a hyperborean Spartan, which he was."—History of Frederick the Second, called the Great, edition 1858, p. 320, by Thomas Carlyle.