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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/547

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EXPENDITURE OF THE WORKING CLASSES.

achieved in this direction. Dissociated from industrial enterprise it might easily become popular in England. Some of its collective economies are certainly deserving of imitation, and the experience not only of the Continent, but also of America, may soon bring us face to face with the question whether the preparation of dinners, in large towns, should not—at least for the working classes—be left to the outside specialist like the old-home industries of baking and brewing. An excellent example of scientific observation is 'Les Maisons types,' by M. de Foville, the well-known master of the French Mint. He describes in detail the various forms of huts, cottages and houses scattered over France in such a fashion that it is said the traveler in a railway train may tell, by reading the book, through what part of the country he is passing; and he gives the reasons, founded upon history or local circumstances, for the peculiarities in architecture to be observed. The book is a useful warning against rash generalizations as to the best type of house for a working man.

A well-informed writer shows, in a recent article in the 'Times/ that not less than about fifty million gallons of water a day might be saved in London, "without withdrawing a drop from any legitimate purpose, public or private, including the watering of plants." He says: "The detection of waste is carried out by means of meters placed on the mains, which record automatically the quantity of water passing hour by hour throughout the day and night. The whole area served by a given water supply is mapped out into small districts, each of which is controlled by one of these detective meters. The chart traced by the apparatus shows precisely how much water is used in each of the twenty-four hours. It records in a graphic form and with singular fidelity the daily life of the people. It shows when they get up in the morning, when they go to bed at night, when they wash the tea-things, the children and the clothes; it shows in a suburban district when the head of the household comes from the city and starts watering his flowers; it shows when the watering-cart goes round; but, above all, it shows when the water is running away to waste, and how much."

I quote this not to multiply examples of the waste of wealth, but to illustrate the insight which a few figures, such as those recorded by this meter, give us into the lives of the people. How much more does the account-book, a detective meter of every economic action, give us an animated photograph of the family life. Nothing is so calculated to stimulate social sympathy or to suggest questions for consideration. Like a doctor's notes of his patients the facts are not for publication in any form which will reveal the identity of the subject; but when we have enough of them they will be of the highest scientific value. We have at present too few to offer any useful generalizations. All that