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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/389

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383
STUFFY ROOMS

a shallow respiration, a disordered digestion and a slow rate of metabolism.

Many of the employments of modern days are detestable in their long hours of confinement and monotony. Men go up and down in a lift all day, and girls in the bloom of youth are set down in tobacco stalls in underground stations, and their health and beauty there fade while even the blow-flies are free to bask in the sun. In factories the operatives feed machines, or reproduce the same small piece of an article day after day. There is no art, or change, no pleasure in contrivance and accomplishment. The miner, the fisherman, even the sewerman, face difficulties, changing risks, and are developed as men of character and strength. Contrast the sailor with the steward on a steamer, the drayman outside with the clerk inside who checks the goods delivered at some city office, the butcher and the tailor, the seamstress and the market woman, and one sees the enormous difference which a confined occupation makes. Monotonous sedentary employment makes for unhappiness because the inherited functional needs of the human body are neglected, and education—when the outside field of interest is narrowed—intensifies the sensitivity to the bodily conditions. The sensations arising within the body—proprioceptive sensations—come to have too large a share in consciousness in comparison with exteroceptive. In place of considering the lilies how they grow or musing on the beauty and motions of the heavenly bodies, the sedentary worker in the smoke-befouled atmosphere, with the limited activity and horizon of an office and a disturbed digestion, tends to become confined to the inward consideration of his own viscera and their motions.

Many of the educated daughters of the well-to-do are no less confined at home; they are the flotsam and jetsam cast up from the tide in which all others struggle for existence—their lives are no less monotonous than the sweated seamstress or clerk. They become filled with "vapors" and some seek excitement not in the cannon's mouth, but in breaking windows, playing with fire, and hunger strikes. The dull monotony of idle social functions, shopping and amusement no less than that of sedentary work and an asexual life, impels to a simulated struggle—a theatrical performance, the parts of which are studied from the historical romances of revolution. Each man, woman and child in the world must find the wherewithal for living, food, raiment, warmth and housing, or must die or get some other to find it for him. It seems to me as if the world is conducted as if ten men were on an island—a microcosm—and five sought for the necessaries of life, hunted for food, built shelters and fires, made clothes of skins, while the other five strung necklaces of shells, made loin-cloths of butterfly wings, gambled with knuckle-bones, drew comic pictures