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Title: Household Administration - Its Place in the Higher Education of Women
Author: Various
Language: English
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  At the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh


The object of this book is threefold. (1) It endeavours to define
the importance and scope of household administration in the twentieth
century, which, when analysed into its component parts, is found
intimately to concern the right conduct and domestic care of individual
human lives, from their inception to their close. (2) It seeks to
demonstrate the necessity of an adequate preparation for all who assume
the responsibility of such administration; particularly for those who,
in consequence of their parental responsibilities, their wealth, their
social status, or their professional duties, exercise far-reaching
influence through their standard of life and example. (3) Finally, it
gives prominence to the fact that the domestic arts are no collection
of empirical conventions, to be acquired by imitation or exercised
by instinct. It is clearly demonstrated that the group of sciences
upon which they rest is more comprehensive than most people suspect,
and that their contribution to the solution of pressing domestic
problems has so far been but partially realised. It is, therefore, of
considerable interest to observe the remarkable consensus of opinion on
each of these points among the recognised experts in their subjects,
to whom were entrusted the preparation of the various sections of this
book. The writers of the papers, untrammelled by editorial restrictions,
each writing from the fulness of her knowledge, tested by ripe
experience, reached independently conclusions conspicuous for their
unanimity. It will be evident to the most casual reader that, in the
opinion of these thoughtful women, blind instinct must yield place to
trained intelligence, if home life is to be preserved and modern
conditions of existence adequately adjusted to human requirements.

Progressive changes, social, commercial, industrial, and, last but not
least, educational, now require that this trained intelligence be
fostered by organised instruction outside the home, adapted to the
needs, present or prospective, of girls in every grade of society. Such
instruction, whether in the fundamental sciences or in the applied arts,
must be associated with individual practice in laboratory, studio,
workroom, and kitchen; the details to be varied as circumstances

If, however, consistent applications of such knowledge are to be made in
order that desirable saving in time, labour, money, health, or happiness
shall be effected, graduate women of high attainments are urgently
needed for the work. It is they only who can bring to bear upon the
problems of childhood and adolescence, of food, of clothing, of housing,
of domestic economics, of occupation, rest, and recreation, the patient
study and research in the interests of humanity, which men of similar
standing have lavished upon the advancement of commerce and industrial
processes. It is by their skilled labour in the almost untrodden field
of domestic science that the millions of homes will benefit which are
committed to the charge of women who possess neither time, opportunity,
nor ability to carry out these indispensable investigations, but who can
yet effectively fulfil their responsibilities, if they be supported by
systematic training and organised common sense, based on sound

It is in the hope of forwarding these objects that this book has been


  _Nov. 1910._


  WOMAN'S POSITION IN THE FAMILY                                  11

    By CATHERINE SCHIFF, Officier d'Académie



  SCIENCE IN THE HOUSEHOLD                                        71

    By Mrs. W. N. SHAW, formerly Lecturer of Newnham
    College, Cambridge. Author of "First Lessons in Observational

  THE ECONOMIC RELATIONS OF THE HOUSEHOLD                         121

    By MABEL ATKINSON, M.A. (Glasgow), Lecturer in
    Economics, King's College for Women (University of
    London), formerly Scott Scholar in the University
    of Glasgow; Research Student at the London School of
    Economics; and Fellow of Economics, Bryn Mawr
    College, U.S.A. Author of "Local Government in Scotland."

   AND INDIVIDUAL EFFICIENCY                                      207

    By ALICE RAVENHILL, late Lecturer in Hygiene,
    King's College for Women (University of London), &c.
    Author of "Practical Hygiene," "Some Characteristics
    and Requirements of Childhood," "Elements of Sanitary
    Law," "Household Foes."


    I. NEEDLEWORK AND DRESSMAKING                                 295

    By Mrs. R. W. EDDISON, Gen. Hon. Sec. Yorkshire
    Ladies' Council of Education, Added Member of Education
    Committee of County Council of West Riding of
    Yorkshire, &c.

    II. HOUSECRAFT                                                308

    By MAUD R. TAYLOR, Examiner in Domestic Science.



The home must always claim the first place in the large majority of
women's lives. It has done so in the past, it does so in the present, it
will continue to do so in the future. But woman's activities are no
longer to be merely confined to her own fireside, though that must
always hold a prominent place. The real problem of the day is the right
conduct of the home on scientific lines.

In some ways the management of the home has never been more difficult.
The servant problem has never been more acute than to-day; the cost of
living and the standard of comfort is going up by leaps and bounds, and
the old recipe of "Feed the brute," as far as the husband is concerned,
is no less inefficient. It is essential to-day to know something about
food values, the arrangement of meals, which avoid monotony, and provide
that requisite variety in nourishment, on which the good health and
ultimately the good temper of the household depend.

Again we are realising the great complexities of all questions dealing
with child-rearing and education. We have travelled far from the
self-complacency of the woman of thirty years ago, who based her claims
to a thorough knowledge of the up-bringing of children on the fact that
she had buried ten. This need for wider knowledge in all branches of
housekeeping is equally important to the unmarried woman, who is more
and more being called upon to act as a foster-mother, whether as a
teacher or in some other capacity, to the nation's children.

The care of the children is considered by all shades of opinion to be
the _clou_ of a woman's life, and every day more and more responsibility
is cast upon her in this respect. How can she, then, fulfil these duties
as they should be fulfilled if she is utterly ignorant of the laws of
health and of child-life, and how both are affected by environment and
all the other grave and fundamental truths which lie at the root of the
successful up-bringing and development of the child? It is now a
hackneyed saying "that the child of to-day is the man or woman of
to-morrow," but a whole world of truth lies enshrined in those words;
the children are the assets of the nation, and if their up-bringing is
not of the best they can never attain to that full heritage of
development which is the right of every soul born into the world.

Scientific training in Household Administration can alone save the
sorely taxed housewife of to-day from becoming more than a slave to her
domestic responsibilities. It is only by being a mistress of her craft,
"whether China fall or no," that she can make sufficient time to devote
herself to necessary self-culture and recreation as well as to those
ever-growing outside duties which the twentieth century is imposing upon
her in the shape of public and social work. If there is one thing which
is becoming increasingly obvious, it is that the help and advice of
scientifically trained women are absolutely necessary in the management
of hospitals, the administration of the Poor Law, and the general
solution of social problems.

At no other epoch in the history of mankind has woman stood on the same
high plane as she does to-day, and at no other period has so much been
demanded of her, intellectually, morally, and physically. It is only
within recent years that Science has attempted to come to the aid of
woman in helping her firstly to obtain, and then to maintain, the
position for which she was originally designed, as the complement of man
and as the chief element of preservation in human society.

If the history of mankind is traced back to primordial times, we find
that it was the female who possessed power over the emotional nature of
man, and it is becoming increasingly evident that the family owes
its origin as a social factor to the Mother, not to the Father.
Lippert is convinced "that the idea of an exclusively maternal kinship
at one time extended over the whole earth," and McLennan says, "We shall
endeavour to show that the most ancient system in which the idea of
blood-relationship was embodied was a system of kinship through the
females only."

Occupation seems to have been the main factor in determining that the
mother rather than the father should be the founder of the family.
Agriculture originally appears to have been entirely the woman's
industry, while the men were engaged in hunting or looking after the
cattle, and wherever agriculture was the predominant feature of life we
find that relationship is traced through the mother; while on the other
hand those tribes who were chiefly pastoral had a paternal system of
relationship--that is to say, that descent was counted through the

Drummond, in his book on the "Ascent of Man," places the Evolution of
Motherhood long before that of Fatherhood. "An early result, partly of
her sex, partly of her passive strain, is the founding through the
instrumentality of the first savage Mother of a new and beautiful social
state--Domesticity--while Man, restless, eager, and hungry, is a
wanderer on the Earth, Woman makes a Home!" And according to the same
authority we find "that to Man has been assigned the fulfilment of the
first great function--the Struggle for Life--Woman, whose higher
contribution has not yet been named, is the chosen instrument for
carrying on the Life of Others." Nature took many æons to make a mother,
whose gift to the world was Love and Sympathy; the evolution of the
Father came still later. "It was when man's mind first became capable of
making its own provision against the weather and the crops that the
possibility of Fatherhood, Motherhood and the Family were realised."
"The Mother-age, with its mother-right customs, was a civilisation, as I
have indicated, largely built up by woman's activity and developed by
her skill; it was an age within the small social unit of which there was
more community of interest, far more fellowship in labour and
partnership in property and sex, than we find in the larger social unit
of to-day."[1]

In connection with this theory of the "Mother-age" it is interesting to
note that the Etruscans traced their descent through the female line,
and it was from the Etruscans that the Romans derived nearly all their
institutions; thus many of the "initiative forces of civilisation" have
come down to us from women.

It is believed that the patriarchal system--where the man was the head
of the family, as amongst the Jews--which succeeded the Mother-age, grew
out of the custom of capturing women belonging to other tribes, this
being succeeded later on by purchase, and "as soon as the woman ceased
to be protected by the force of ideas, as soon, that is to say, as she
lost her position as head of the family, her downward path was certain."
But even among primitive people we find that it was an almost universal
custom that a woman should be provided with an independent property,
"Mitgift," though as time went on and the patriarchal system became more
firmly established, it appears that this Mitgift became the husband's
property, and that every bride was expected to bring a dowry to her
husband, whose property she became, thus losing all independence.

However, in Greece the position of woman, during the Heroic times was to
a certain extent an independent one, as is clear from the poems of Homer
and the treatment of Homeric and Heroic themes by the Athenian
dramatists. But one has only to compare the "Nausicäa" of Homer or the
"Electra" of the Tragedians with the women of the time of Pericles, to
see how much the status of the female sex had deteriorated. The Athenian
wife of that time was treated as a mere "Hausfrau," expected to spend
her whole time at home in the managing of the household, while the
husband satisfied his intellectual tastes by intercourse with the
"Stranger-women" attracted to Athens from other towns. "Thus arose a
most unnatural division of functions among the women of those days. The
citizen-women had to be mothers and housewives--nothing more; the
stranger-women had to discharge the duties of the companions, but remain
outside the pale of the privileged and marriageable class."[2] To this
artificial condition of domestic and social life may be partly
attributed the downfall of Athens, for it is impossible to divide the
functions of woman without serious risk to State and race.

In ancient Rome the patriarchal system was the prevailing custom. Under
the Roman law the husband was the only member of the family possessing
legal rights. "The family (_familia_) in its original and proper meaning
is the aggregate of members of a household under a common head; this
head was the paterfamilias, the only member of the household who
possesses legal rights."[3] It is true that there were many honoured
women under the Roman Republic, such as Cornelia and Portia, the
daughter of Cato, but the lot of the majority was not an enviable one.
Gradually, however, the tutelage of women became less severe, and
Justinian in revising the whole Roman code placed married and family
life on an altogether new basis, "the husband lost his absolute control
over his wife's dower, and in case of separation he had to restore it

Women had been for so long under such strict tutelage that they were
unfit to benefit by these new laws. Doubtless it will be remembered that
the corruption of the women of the period is practically unparalleled in
history, but it must be also borne in mind that the whole system of
Imperial government was so vicious that it was almost impossible for
women to escape from the widespread influence of vice and corruption.

Christianity as a force began to make itself felt while woman was yet in
this low moral state, and it is not therefore surprising that to the
leaders of Christianity the freedom which women then enjoyed and the
easy method of divorce obtainable were in a large measure responsible
for the vitiated state of Roman life. In their eyes the only means of
producing a more salutary state of affairs was to put a check on what
they considered a menace to a Christian society.

It is of interest to notice how the attitude of the Early Fathers
towards women differs from that of Our Lord as recorded in the Gospels.
There indeed are women highly honoured, and it is to a woman that Christ
often gives a message of the highest import. It was to Mary Magdalen
that the Risen Lord first appeared and bade her tell the others, and
again it was the woman of Samaria who became the instrument of salvation
to her people. But to the Early Fathers the ascetic ideal was the
predominant one, and in consequence thereof women were treated as the
chief source of temptation to man. "Woman was represented as the door of
Hell, as the mother of all human ills. She should be ashamed at the very
thought that she is a woman. She should live in continual penance on
account of the curses she has brought upon the world. She should be
ashamed of her dress, for it is the memorial of her fall. She should be
especially ashamed of her beauty, for it is the most potent instrument
of the demon."[4] In fact a decree of the Council of Auxerre (A.D. 578)
forbade women to receive the Eucharist in their naked hands owing to
their impurity.

Unfortunately "the bigotry of the Early Christian teachers gave the
first check to the tendency to freer institutions, the next was given by
the fall of the Empire."

With the influx of the Teutonic tribes we find a new code of ideas and
morals, but eventually a compromise was effected between the Germanic
and Roman laws. Thus from very early times we find that it was a German
custom to provide every bride with a dower, and this is remarked upon by
Tacitus. Afterwards the Church adopted this custom, which was strangely
enough both Roman and Teutonic in origin.

From the time when the Empire went down in a cataclysm which shook the
foundations of the world, until the beginning of the Middle Ages, we
hear but little of woman. It was the Sturm and Drang period in the
world's history, in which woman had no real position. The women of the
upper classes were of necessity confined either to the castle or the
convent, and woman's sphere was therefore a small one; man demanded
nothing more than that they should minister to his physical wants in the
short periods of peace he then enjoyed. Hallam says, "I am not sure that
we could trace very minutely the condition of women for the period
between the subversion of the Roman Empire and the First Crusade ...
there seems however to have been more roughness in that social
intercourse between the sexes than we find at a later period."[5]

With the end of this stormy period comes the dawn of the Age of
Chivalry, and from that time forward until the Reformation, woman
enjoyed a portion at least of her rightful position. It is said that
"Chivalry not only bestowed upon the woman perfect freedom in the
disposal of hand and heart, but required of the knight who should win
her, devoted and lengthened service"; this may be, however, a rather
idealised view of the situation; but there is no doubt that the Court
and the Cloister became the two centres of women's lives, and an
intimate connection was maintained between the two. Nearly all women of
gentle birth were educated in nunnery schools, and by the eighth century
we find that these schools had attained a high standard of learning,
which increased and developed in the succeeding centuries. The convent
afforded a shelter to the woman who did not marry and to whom the
marriage state did not appeal; there she was able to a certain extent to
follow the career she desired, at the same time her personal safety was
assured. "The scholar, the artist, the recluse, the farmer, each found a
career open to him; while men and women were prompted to undertake
duties within and without the religious settlement, which make their
activity comparable to that of the relieving officer, the poor law
guardian, and the district nurse of a later age."[6] It is perhaps of
interest to us to note that the first hospital for lepers in England was
founded by a woman, "good Queen Maud," in 1101 at S. Giles' on the

The rule of an abbey or a priory called for no mean business capacity on
the part of their heads, and as a rule the abbess and prioress were
women of great business and administrative ability. Before the Norman
Conquest nearly all the nunneries founded in England were abbacies,
subsequently priories were the most usual foundations, as according to
feudal law women were unable to hold property.

The latter half of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are renowned
throughout history for their women, who, occupying foremost positions in
the government, were clever, cultured, and liberal-minded. One has but
to mention the names of Margaret, Countess of Richmond, the "Lady
Margaret" of Oxford and Cambridge; of Leonore d'Este, the mother of
equally famous daughters, Isabella and Beatrice d'Este; Marguerite de
Valois, sister of Francis I., and Isabella of Castile, to conjure up
before one's eyes the whole procession of the proud and capable women of
these days.

"One and all have been fruitful as successive stages of growth, yet they
can never recur, and only the fanatic or visionary could wish that they
should recur, for each is narrow and insufficient from the standpoint of
a later age."

In England "the women who were the mothers of the men who created the
great Elizabethan epoch were almost without exception brought up in
nunnery schools"[7] and, alas, the destruction of the nunneries and the
rise of the Puritan spirit sounded the death-knell of women's education.
After the Reformation the position of woman was peculiarly degrading; in
the eyes of the law she possessed practically no status, and "the old
chivalrous feeling for woman seems to have faded out with the romance of
the Middle Ages--she now figured as the legal property of man, 'the
safeguard against sin,' the bearer of children _ad infinitum_."

So woman was left once more to sink back into a slough of despond, until
with the end of the eighteenth century there arose the humanitarian
movement and the gradual awakening of woman to the sense of her
responsibility, with the inevitable corollary of her rightful position
as the social equal of man.

If these ideals are to be realised, woman must recognise her
responsibilities and act accordingly. She has proved herself a more than
apt student in all the liberal studies, she has practically forced the
door of nearly all the professions, now she must realise that she must
apply her higher learning to what is probably the most difficult
profession of all, the management of the home, or in other words she
must see that the knowledge she has acquired be adapted and turned to
practical aims.

Up to the present time the conduct of the home has been regulated purely
by rule of thumb methods; if however in the future it can only be
administered with the same method and scientific exactitude as prevail
in other great business enterprises, the drudgery of housekeeping will
diminish and woman will cease to be a slave to household duties. She
will have more time to devote to the cultivation of her own mind, and
thus, while becoming a more real companion to man, she will be free to
take a more enlightened interest in the education and development of her

"Incidentally this may go to prove that a sound knowledge of the
household sciences and arts may serve, not to tie a woman more to the
storeroom and kitchen, but to enable her to get better results with the
expenditure of less time and energy, by enabling her to apply to
everything simple and complex within the household the master-mind,
instead of the mind of the uncertain amateur."

Her responsibilities are great not only as an individual but as a member
of the community to which she belongs; and if she is to fulfil these
responsibilities in respect to the home, she cannot do so without a
thorough scientific preparation.

The home is the "cradle of life," it was the birthplace of those
industries which to-day form the great centres and constitute the means
of livelihood for millions. In some of these there is reason to believe
that woman took her share as originator. With the process of time,
these primitive practices have grown into the great industries and arts
of to-day, yet it is still to the woman that the call comes to cultivate
and use her taste in these matters, so that when it falls to her to be
responsible for the decoration and furnishing of a house, she may be
able to choose in all departments of life what is _the best_, to the
everlasting benefit of herself and her family, both physically and

If man be the producer and distributer of wealth, woman is certainly the
director of consumption. On her rests the responsibility of expending
wisely and well the money entrusted to her for the nutrition and
clothing of her family, and how can this be adequately fulfilled if she
have no real knowledge of the subject beyond what she is able to pick up
as she goes along, a method detrimental to all concerned? Little would
be thought of any business house which entrusted its most delicate
operations to inexperienced buyers, or of any municipality which allowed
its affairs to be conducted by an amateur. Far less would be heard of
misery, poverty, and ill-health if the art of buying and preparing food,
for instance, were properly understood by those whom it most concerns.

Again, the chief racial responsibility falls on woman; it is just in the
most precious years of childhood that her influence is so potent, and it
is the mother, who besides helping to sow all the ethical and spiritual
seeds, should safeguard the perfect physical condition of her children,
in order that an unimpaired vitality and constitution be handed on from
generation to generation. No proverb is truer than "Mens sana in corpore
sano"; the two go hand in hand together, and their accomplishment is the
proud privilege of the woman.

From the family flows the life of the nation, and the power to guide it
aright lies largely in the hands of women, whether they be married or
single. With the married woman her own family comes first of all, and
then through it her duty as a citizen; the unmarried woman's duties as a
citizen are manifold, and each year they increase and expand. Nearly all
the activities of public life are open to her; for instance she may sit
on County Councils, Municipal Councils, District Councils, urban and
rural Parish Councils,[8] Boards of Guardians, &c.; in fact in the
growing field of social work, her services are being more and more
recognised as indispensable, and it is impossible in a few words to
enumerate all the possibilities of service which lie before her, both
professional and philanthropic.

Consequently if a healthy nation is desired, the women of a country must
be educated both academically and scientifically. "If women are to be
fit wives and mothers they must have all, perhaps more, of the
opportunities for personal development that men have. All the activities
hitherto reserved to men must be open to them, and many of these
activities, certain functions of citizenship, for example, must be
expected of them. Moreover, whatever the lines may be along which the
fitness of woman to labour will be experimentally determined, the
underlying position must be established that, for the sake of the
individual and race character, she must be a producer as well as a
consumer of social values."[9]

Now how is this most desirable end to be attained? The succeeding papers
will deal with the subject _in extenso_; here can only be briefly
indicated the scope and purpose of the majority.

An eminent authority tells us that "the objects of nature may be
designated as the objective point of view. It is the standpoint of
biology and affords the natural conditions for the successful
investigation of the laws of life, not only of the lower organisms but
of the human race as well."[10] This immediately demonstrates the vital
necessity that women should know something of these fundamental laws of
life, which biology alone can teach, in order that she may apply these
to her ordinary daily life and recognise them as operating in all her

The transition from this stage to the next is an easy one. Woman
having learnt the laws of life, will immediately view her economic
responsibilities with a clearer eye and fuller understanding. It is
true that throughout the ages woman has striven to acquit herself as
best she could, but until the present day it has mostly been a
groping in the dark, without the aid of any exterior agency. Now
light is beginning to be thrown on many points hitherto obscure.

Household economics has been well said "to rest on two chief
cornerstones, the economy of wealth and the economy of health, and
encloses the groundwork of human happiness and human aspirations ...
even all departments of science must contribute to its development."

But a mere knowledge of biology and economics is useless without bodily
efficiency, and true bodily efficiency is only possible where the
environment is favourable to growth and life. It cannot be expected that
full physical development can ever take place in ill-lighted, badly
ventilated, defectively drained or otherwise objectionable houses. And
it must never for a moment be forgotten that if the body be neglected,
then, as an inevitable consequence, the mind and spirit must also become
warped. It is not that we desire man to develop his physical nature at
the expense of his spiritual, but rather that we would see him placed in
such a condition that he is able to apply those great faculties, which
distinguish him from the brute creation, to their highest and best use.

The ancients recognised in very early times the need of sanitary
precautions to protect themselves from the onslaught of disease and the
consequent decimation of their race.

We find Mena, King of Egypt (5000 B.C.), mentioning in his Ordinances
that offences in diet were one of the things through which "the genius
of death becomes eager to destroy men."

The Levitical Laws contain many enactments of a sanitary character, they
are one of the oldest known sanitary codes, and have many wise and
necessary provisions for the health of the people.

Rules for the conduct of rural life were formulated so far back as
100-500 B.C. in Boeotia. Tarquinus Priscus began and Tarquinus Superbus
completed the great works for the drainage of Rome in the fourth and
fifth centuries B.C., of which the Cloaca Maxima was the most remarkable
feature; even to-day the ancient water-supply of Rome and her system of
baths are still a source of admiration to the modern world. And to
their credit be it said that the Romans carried this knowledge with them
to the countries which they conquered; we find aqueducts at Great
Chester and Lanchester, an arterial sewer at Lincoln, and the well-known
baths at Bath.

From the destruction of Rome until well-nigh ten centuries later was a
period in which no advance in sanitation was made; on the contrary,
retrogression was the keynote of the time. Warfare, religious
segregation, and the spread of asceticism were the chief reasons for
this; the ideals of both Christian and Pagan were opposed to personal
and public hygiene. "The ascetic violated all laws of personal hygiene,
the monastery's ideal was inconsistent with public hygiene, and both
glorified God by teaching submission to pestilence,"[11] which from time
to time swept over the country, devastating it from end to end.

But with the increase of trade it became necessary to adopt certain
measures for the preservation of human life, and in 1348 we hear of
the first street-cleaning and quarantine in those two great centres of
commerce, Venice and Cologne. It was in the same year that the most
terrible plague which the world has ever known attacked Britain and
practically depopulated it, finding its chief prey in the filthy
streets of the City. This led in 1379 to an Order in Common Council
for keeping the streets clean. But despite this, all through mediæval
times personal health was shamefully neglected and public health
practically unknown. The consequences are easy to trace; the country
was again and again swept by epidemics which were naturally followed
by severe famines, and thus on every side progress was checked. The Fire
of London at least cleansed London of its filth, and from that time
forward matters began to improve. All through the eighteenth century,
smallpox, typhus, scurvy, and ague were rampant, and it is not till
1834 that we find the beginning of sanitary legislation. In 1837 the
Act for the Registration of Births and Deaths was passed, which at
once provided the indispensable foundation for reliable statistics;
previous to that date all that there was to depend upon were the
Baptismal Registers and the more or less accurate Bills of Mortality.
This has been followed by a long series of Public Health enactments
concerned with practically every department of life. In fact during
the last fifty years the public conscience has been quickened to an
extraordinary degree. Much however has yet to be done which cannot
be touched by legislation, and it is to the woman, who has been trained
in the right conduct of life both private and public, that the world
looks for the preservation of healthy human life, much of which is now
needlessly sacrificed on the altar of ignorance. In many cases the
woman is the only person who can prevent this, therefore she must
equip herself for her high and noble duty with all that Science can
provide and Art can suggest, neither must she forget that her own
home must ever be the starting-point of every endeavour. For the
"Mrs. Jellabies" of this world are not those who help forward its
progress, rather are they the clogs on its wheels.

Not only charity, but all other virtues begin at home. "So long as the
first concern of a nation is for its homes, it matters little what it
seeks second or third."


    [1] Karl Pearson, "The Chances of Death," p. 3.

    [2] Donaldson, "Woman," p. 58. Longmans & Co.

    [3] Greenridge, "Roman Public Life," p. 18. Macmillan & Co.

    [4] Lecky, "History of European Morals," vol. ii. p. 358.

    [5] Hallam, "History of the Middle Ages."

    [6] Eckstenstein, "Woman under Monasticism," p. 106.

    [7] "The Mediæval Education of Women in England," _Journal of
        Education_, June 1909.

    [8] It is interesting, however, to note the following Electoral
        Disabilities for women in England and Wales, which, however, do
        not exist in Scotland or Ireland:--

        No married woman can vote in any Town Council election or in any
        County Council election outside London.

        No woman owner has any right, in virtue of her ownership, to
        vote in any local election. Until 1894 women owners, as such,
        were entitled to vote in Poor Law Guardian elections, but the
        Local Government Act of that year disfranchised them, while
        enlarging the voting rights of men owners.

        No woman lodger can vote in any local election, although men
        lodgers can vote in District and Parish Council and Guardian
        elections, and in the election of the London County and London
        Borough Councils.

        For women there is no service franchise--such as entitles men to
        vote in District and Parish Council and Guardian elections, and
        in the election of London Borough Councils--_i.e._ no occupation
        of a dwelling as an official or servant (for example, as matron
        or caretaker) entitles a woman to be placed on the Register.

        For neither men nor women is there any ownership franchise,
        lodger franchise, or service franchise for Town Council
        elections or for County Council elections outside London.

    [9] Parsons, "The Family," p. 346.

   [10] Lester Ward, "Dynamic Sociology," vol. ii, p. 120. D. Appleton and
        Co., New York.

   [11] _Sanitary Record and Journal_, Nov. 24, 1904.



In considering what is the best mental equipment for women in civilised
countries it is as well not to contemplate only the great general facts
of life, such as wifehood, motherhood, and the woman's position in the
household. It is necessary to take into account also the special
characteristics and circumstances of our own times and civilisation;
for, unless a woman is prepared to meet these successfully, she cannot
be deemed adequately equipped, even if from other points of view her
education be ideal. In the beautiful old-fashioned education of Japanese
women we have an instance of such ideal excellence, which is yet proving
unable to cope with the requirements of actual life in modern Japan.

The most striking, and also the most radical and pervasive,
characteristic of our time is, of course, the progress made in
scientific knowledge. Month by month enormous numbers of facts are, in
every department, added to the knowledge already acquired. To let one's
imagination range, even in a cursory way, over the work that is being
done in chemistry and physics merely as they concern biology--to
enumerate the subdivisions of these sciences, or to look down a list of
recent publications relating to research carried on in them, is enough
to make one's brain reel.

This ceaseless widening of the borders of knowledge is, we must gladly
allow, most inspiriting; and yet, seen from another side, it may well
give rise to fears. For it is fairly obvious that the progress of human
happiness goes by no means _pari passu_ with this progress of knowledge;
and, on looking more closely, we may even observe miseries and
degradations which can be traced up directly to the practical
application of some of those scientific discoveries.

To what must we ascribe this? It would seem to be the outcome of two
lines of tendency just now predominant.

The first of these is that very strong bent towards mere accumulation of
fresh facts which may be noted in the most able and active workers all
over the world. Just as, in other times, the best minds have flung
themselves with enthusiasm upon art or literature or philosophy or
statesmanship or war, so now they fling themselves eagerly upon the
discovery of more and more recondite truths in science--leaving the
ordinary government of affairs, on the whole, to minds of the second

The next is the reckless way in which isolated scientific
discoveries--more especially in physics and chemistry--are brought to a
practical application and introduced into the scheme of everyday human
life. This is done without consideration of anything beyond ensuring
some obvious superficial convenience, and--what is a principal
determinant--the opening up of new financial enterprises. Advantages of
a sort no doubt are won--but often only at a fearfully disproportionate
cost. The game--if we would but look at it unconventionally, from the
standpoint of true biological science--is not worth the candle; for it
involves a sacrifice of life itself to what can hardly be considered
even as the means of life.

Thus the chemicals used to preserve food impair its nutritive qualities;
while other chemicals, as well as a number of ingenious mechanical
processes, serve to facilitate adulteration. We all know how difficult
it is to obtain pure milk and butter, or pure bread from pure flour, or
jams made with sugar from fresh and good fruit. Bread may be made from
flour which has passed through no less than seven processes,--a sad
contrast this to the old home-made bread, the product of home-ground
meal, whole and sweet as nature made it. What is sold in enormous
quantities to the people as sugar, whether alone or as part of
preserves, turns out often to be glucose. Butter, so-called, is often
only skilfully-treated fats, the weight helped out by water. These three
articles of diet alone, when adulterated as they thus often are, mean
serious deterioration in the food--and therefore in the physique--of the
nation; and to them we have yet to add the effect of the chemicals used
for keeping fish and meat in place of the genuine, old-fashioned
pickling, salting, and smoking.

Machinery, again, growing ever more and more complicated, has destroyed
an incalculable wealth of traditional activity: and therewith,
generation by generation, it tends to destroy the finest capacities of
individual men and women, whether producers or consumers of the finished
product. The consumers suffer through the lack of opportunity to acquire
and exercise manual dexterity and resourcefulness--as well as through a
great lack of experimental knowledge. The producers suffer through the
monotony and narrowness of their labour.

We may take as other instances of recklessness our common use of
unprotected illuminants--electric light and incandescent
gas-mantles--which give off ultra-violet rays injurious to the eyes; the
use of portable electric lamps and switch lampholders, which is by no
means free from risk; and again the extreme recklessness of the
so-called "medical electrician," who will actually venture to give
electrical massage to a patient immediately after wet pack.[12]

As a last example we may take the rage for speed, and in particular
the use of electrically driven motor-cars. The exact effects upon the
human frame of the rapid motion, of the vibrations, of the presence
of the electric current and escaping gas have never been adequately
investigated--though sundry ill consequences of motor-driving have
been noted without any diminution of the practice.

A very cursory reflection may show us that, while the progress of
science is the great characteristic fact of modern life to which we all
have to adjust ourselves, we must be prepared not only to take advantage
of the good it offers, but also to discern and counteract the perils it
brings with it, when applied to human life in our present somewhat
random way.

The random nature of our proceedings may be illustrated from yet another
side. There are a number of facts and principles, long since agreed upon
as truly ascertained, which have never, or only very partially, been
brought to bear upon custom and daily life. We all know that plenty of
fresh air is a first condition of health and vigour; and are so far
convinced of this verity that open-air treatment is generally accepted
as the proper mode of attacking and mastering consumption. Yet we crowd
together into cities: our houses are often very imperfectly ventilated,
and our public buildings--churches, theatres, halls, schools and
institutions, as well as our railway-carriages and tram-cars--provide
only for the very minimum of change of air. Similar neglect of
definitely ascertained facts may be seen in dress, in food and drink, in
furniture, in occupations. Noise is well known to be injurious to the
brain, and destructive to thought: more than that, it has been
discovered that it is harmful to the viscera. We insist, more or less,
upon quiet for the sick: but no trouble is taken about quiet for those
who are well. Our thoroughfares echo with noises of all kinds, from the
roar of traffic to the howling and whistling of errand-boys; and the
authorities would be much surprised if they were accounted specially
negligent for not making some effort to suppress them. Yet to any
biologically trained person this noise must appear not disagreeable
merely, but a real handicap to the health and energy of the community.
Wherever faithfulness to scientific principle involves trouble without
prospect of money-making, it is likely to be shirked, however great the
benefits known to come from it.

This is not entirely due to laziness, nor yet to ignorance, it is due
quite as much to circumstance and to the pressure of our present social
institutions. It is closely bound up with the great social question of
the ownership of land, and with the husbandry and use of the resources
of the land, our rivers and our sea-shore. Wasting a great measure of
what these have to give us, polluting them in different ways by our
manufactures and by the refuse of our cities, we are constraining whole
masses of our population to look to the work and the products of other
countries for the first necessities of life. Whole masses of our
population are removed from direct contact with the soil, which is the
nursing-mother not only of the body, but also of the mind of man; the
people and the land being thus alike impoverished. Inquiring how so
dangerous an error can have arisen, we may find at least part of its
cause to lie in an ignorance of the fundamental principles of biology,
the science of life.

What, it may now be asked, is to be done to counteract these
disadvantages and dangers? And, again, how does all this bear on the
equipment of women?

Taking the latter question first: it is indisputable that an enormous
proportion of our commerce and manufactures is concerned with food and
with articles required for the home. But things for the home are made to
be dealt with and used by women. In so far as science comes in and
modifies this material it is imperative that women should be placed in a
position, not only to know what are the essentials for life, but also to
criticise and estimate accurately that which is offered to them as
scientific improvement. For we need, in this connection also, to
remember that science can only be fought by science--that is, by
knowledge belonging to the same plane.

We have now in part answered our former question. What we need is a
central or basal science to which--for practical purposes and in regard
to its practical application--the work done in other sciences can be
brought to be accepted, or rejected, or modified. This central science
can, in the very nature of things, be none other than biology: the
science, that is, which gives an account of the functions and
inter-relations and structure of all living things, and deduces
therefrom those principles which, in a rather loose way, we speak of as
the laws of life.

It would, we think, be a very happy turn of affairs if, not all, but
some of that genius, which is now spending itself in the research for
fresh facts, could be diverted to the work of correlating with one
another facts already known, and bringing all those that are appropriate
to be grouped as it were in order of service around biology.

But perhaps not less important than this is what we may call the
practical synthetic work of women in their households. There are,
indeed, two circumstances which would give the ordinary woman of average
intelligence, if she were but adequately instructed, some advantage, so
far as the service of mankind goes, over even the most brilliant man of
genius. The first is the vantage-ground of her position in the home--at
the very point, that is, where so many sciences thrust themselves up
together to the surface of actual life--where in some way or other,
however roughly, they have to be correlated, compared, their different
claims adjusted. The second is the natural inclination of the womanly
mind towards synthesis rather than analysis, towards practice rather
than theory.

We ought now to consider rather closely--exhaustively we cannot--what
is included under the term Biology. It stood for some time chiefly to
mean an account of the structures of animals and plants, structure
being pursued into ever further minuteness, down to the cell and the
constituents and parts of the cell. With this has gone insistent
inquiry into the process of reproduction and growth; and more lately,
in bio-chemistry and bio-physics, the conformity of living substance
to the order recognised in non-living matter has been, and is being,
most eagerly investigated. And now a school of biologists is arising
whose aim is the vindication of the claims of function as against
the too exclusive study of structure. Function, of course, involves
activity; and activity, in a complex, multicellular organism, involves
the interplay of parts. This interplay, again, cannot be studied
without reference to the environment, and to the relations between the
organism in question and others--whether of its own or of other species.
In this way it seems likely that biology--moving as it were in a
spiral--will by-and-by return, though at a much higher level, to the
standpoint of the older naturalists, whose interest in plants and
animals was focussed more upon their activities, habits of life and
special environment than upon their morphology--and even disdained
not to consider their possible uses for man. Also, more thoroughly and
extensively than before, the study of man himself is being caught up
into the great web of Biology. It is seen as an integral part of
Biology, and pursued in the biological spirit. Whether we look to
psychology on the one hand, or to anthropology and its associated
sciences on the other, the present is a most propitious moment for
drawing public attention to this vast science, as being the true
centre and foundation of that practical knowledge which is needed as
a guide, and also as a stimulus, for practical everyday life.

It will, of course, be instantly objected that the subject is indeed
vast--much too vast. But not too vast, surely, if, by means of a very
simple principle, we select out what is of immediate definite use, and
necessary for everybody, from what may be, by the majority, safely left
on one side. We shall then get, on this side, the highly specialised
Biology of the laboratory with its minute researches and nicely
calculated experiments, and, on that, what we may, for our present
purpose, call Common-sense Biology.

Just one word of explanation is perhaps needed at the outset.
Common-sense Biology does not mean anything like that slipshod dealing
with miscellaneous phenomena of nature which sometimes goes by the name
of Nature Study. It is a course of work systematic and strictly
scientific, conducted as truly as any other in the scientific spirit. It
presents, however, two points of contrast with special or analytical
Biology, in that, whereas, in analytical Biology, a beginning may be
made practically anywhere, with any series of facts one may prefer to
take first, in Common-sense Biology there is only one right mode of
starting, and that of the utmost importance; while, secondly,
Common-sense Biology combines some of the characteristics of an art with
the ordinary characteristics of a science.


It is this latter form of the science--this science, which is also an
art--that we would advocate as essential for the equipment of women.
With this view let us examine it further.

And first, what is its proper starting-point? Its proper starting-point
is accurate instruction concerning the living things with which the
student is, or can easily be, brought into immediate practical contact.
And, again, in the study of these living things--plants and animals
alike--attention is directed first towards the organism in its totality
and in its activities--towards function rather than towards structure;
and also towards mode of life, relations with environment, and, where
possible, towards its use or danger to mankind. Structure will, no
doubt, early have to be introduced, but only in its larger details as
explanatory of function, for the sake of a better knowledge of the
animal or plant as a whole.

What are to be the types and examples of organisms studied?

This is an important question, and the writer would most strongly urge
that the principle of selection should be that of locality; that the
student should start with those plants and animals--both wild and
domestic--which are to be found within a given radius of the place where
she is living and working. The first things to know about are habit,
activity, inter-relation and use to human beings. In respect to these,
the presence of one organism will react upon others, and therefore no
plant or animal within the area should be lightly overlooked.


We must not, however, confine attention to the higher multicellular
animals and plants. One of the most important factors in the environment
is the existence of bacteria; and it is of great importance that an
outline of bacteriology should be included in our course of Common-sense
Biology. This outline should be kept close to the common necessities of
everyday life. For the sake of making clear and real to the mind the
manner in which bacteria multiply and the extreme rapidity of the
process, a certain amount of microscopical work ought to be done, the
examples being few, but carefully chosen. This kind of work,
nevertheless, should be kept subordinate. The effects wrought by
bacteria in water, earth and air, in stored foodstuffs, and in the
tissues of the living body are the important subjects for study; and
naturally, connected with these, the conditions which permit the access
of bacteria or which, in the case of noxious bacteria, will best ensure

The rationale of toxins and anti-toxins, with the relations of these to
the blood-serum should also, in a general way, be known; and moreover
the student should be prepared to learn that many diseases, which are
at present very imperfectly understood--we may take, for instance, forms
of insanity--have their _vera causa_ in the action of toxins, and
require to be treated accordingly.

Perhaps, for those who cannot take more than the shorter courses of our
Common-sense Biology, it will be sufficient to consider only those forms
of inimical bacteria which we have to combat in our own islands. But the
writer would strongly urge that, at least among women of the leisured
classes, this instruction should be extended to cover the bacterial and
other minute parasitic forms of disease most prevalent in our colonies
and in our foreign possessions. The wives of officers, civil servants
and missionaries ought to know, in a clear, scientific way, the causes,
modes of attack, and methods of prevention of the principal tropical
diseases, so far as these have at present been made out.


What should be the method of this study?

The sketching out of a course would be far beyond the scope of this
paper. Here it may only be said that the work must, of necessity, fall
into two main parts. There must be, on the one hand, field-naturalist's
work, for the greater proportion of the animals and plants studied
ought--so far as is in any way practicable--to be observed in their
natural surroundings; and there must be, on the other hand, work allied
to that of the gardener and farmer, the rearing of selected plants and
animals for purposes of experiment and of closer examination. Nothing
worth mentioning can be done on either of these lines without some study
of the food and climatic conditions required by each creature; and this
will involve a study of soils, temperature, atmosphere, and so on--and
also a study of the nutrient properties of those organisms which furnish
forth the food of other organisms. From this knowledge, gained thus
through direct observation and experiment, would be deduced the general
principles which--so to express it--govern life; and upon it as
foundation would be reared the more specialised knowledge of all that
pertains strictly to the life of mankind. Throughout the aim should be
to use books mainly for reference.

It is not necessary--as it might have been a few years ago--to show that
a training on these lines is better, as a preparation for life, than
that offered by the ordinary school and university curriculum; but it
may be worth while to show how far and why it is superior to a
well-planned course in the analytical biology of the laboratory. The
superiority is surely twofold: in that the kind of knowledge acquired is
of greater practical utility; and, again, in that the development which
it ensures, to the powers, bodily and mental of the student, is more
varied, thorough, and effective.


As has been said, this Common-sense Biology partakes of the nature of an
art. Now it is characteristic of any art that, for its satisfactory
exercise, it demands not only knowledge, but also intuition;--not only
conscious volition, reflection, and endeavour, but also subconscious
nervous and muscular activity, and, together with that, a certain
emotional state--a trend, tendency, disposition of the whole being,
which likewise is chiefly subconscious.

Without such a disposition to begin with you cannot have an artist.
Neither will you get an artist, if, on the other hand, this disposition
is never given an opportunity for displaying itself and developing its
capacities. You cannot play an instrument properly if you have no music
in you, and the music in you will never come forth if you have no
instrument to play upon. When disposition and opportunity are happily
met, and the true artist arises, it is in the subconscious that the
chief riches, gained by her work and experience, are stored, and from
the subconscious that she draws her skill; while in the subconscious,
again, lie the mysterious sources of original inspiration. We all know
well how over-consciousness spoils art, as it spoils most kinds of
action. The happiest effects, the loveliest deeds spring, as it were,

What is true of such arts as music and poetry is at least equally true
of the art of living. The rich and well-harmonised subconsciousness is
the proximate source whence all that is strongest and most beautiful in
human activity is derived. The domestic arts, conversation, power of
rapid judgment at a crisis, the care of the sick, the care of children,
tactful daily dealing with one's fellows, all these, and so much else,
we recognise to be dependent for perfection upon practice; and that is
only another way of saying that they depend on the efficiency and the
character of the subconscious. But the character and efficiency of each
person's subconscious being depend in their turn--not solely, yet
principally--first, upon the knowledge she has acquired, and secondly,
upon the actions she has habitually performed. Action and being, as we
all know full well, are for ever acting and reacting upon one another.

Action is a more potent influence upon the subconscious even than
knowledge; and when to mere activity there is added emotion--such
emotion, for instance, as pleasure or love, or solicitude, or desire for
truth--we may feel assured we have brought into play the most powerful
of all the forces which, in an ordinary way, go to vivify and to form
human character.

The subconscious is even more important for women than for men, because
women have more calls upon their emotions, and more need for intuition,
and also more need for general resourcefulness and skill. It is because
the Common-sense Biology whose claims we are urging involves so much
activity, such care, quickness of observation, patience and ready wit,
that it makes a better preparation for life than the more highly
specialized work in the Biology of the laboratory alone could be.


Is there, it may now be asked, anywhere any definite evidence to bear
out this contention. There is: and in abundance. For it, however, we
must look away from civilised communities, especially from the educated
portion of their populations. Civilisation, no doubt, gives much; but it
also takes much away. It has taken away much of the traditional lore of
women, and more and more of their traditional activities. This does not
merely mean that the practical ability and knowledge of civilised women
is greatly restricted; it means also that the peculiar intuitive wisdom
of women--the fruit of a richly-stored subconsciousness--is much
diminished. In capacity for pure thought the educated woman of civilised
communities no doubt excels all the rest: in most other respects the
barbarian or savage woman will--with some few exceptions--probably be
found her superior, whether judged merely by her mastery of the
conditions amid which she has to work, or, more broadly, by the amount
of her real knowledge and the range of her effective capacities.

Take, as an example, the Eskimo woman, who is considered to represent
the woman of palæolithic times. As there is no Eskimo Board of
Education--no paraphernalia of Primary, Secondary, Technical, and other
Schools, with their red tape and officialism--she is free to carry on
the tradition of her ancestresses, and to rear, in the good old ways,
children who grow up to be sturdy men and women. The preparation she had
for her task was chiefly that of watching and imitating her own mother.
Thus, as a child, she followed all the processes of turning the dead
reindeer to account--learning thereby an economy and an unwillingness to
waste which were essentially scientific--learning, too, subconsciously.
She saw the flesh of the reindeer made into pemmican--cut into thin
slices, and dried in the sun or in the smoke of a slow fire, then
pounded between stones (the use of stones is worth noticing) and stored
under a cover of melted fat, poured over it in due proportion. She saw
the bones--after the marrow had been extracted from them--pounded down
and boiled to get out the residual fat; the horns set aside to make
fish-hooks, chisels, needles, and fishing-spears, work for the long
winter evenings; the skin carefully dressed with a split bone and cut
into shape to make clothing, and snow-shoes, thongs, bow-strings,
fishing-nets, and so on. The very tendons make threads for sewing: and
the garments thus fashioned are not only strong and serviceable, but
beautiful with that particular beauty, which may perhaps be called
barbaric, but which almost invariably denotes vigour and fulness of
subconscious life. The Eskimo women also make their own boats and their
own tools; they are good fishers and hunters. Their year's work
comprises an exercise of dexterity and quick wit of which the ordinary
Englishwoman can have no idea.

We might take as another example the North American Indian woman, with
her varied forest-lore; but, since space is limited, let us pass for one
further illustration to the despised Australian aboriginal. She too
knows and does things worthy of our admiration and imitation. For
instance the English housewife's preparation of the household food is
nothing like so conscientious as the Australian's, whose proceedings
have the keen disinterested concentration proper to a bit of scientific
research. Thus, to take but one example of the processes connected with
the preparation of one form of food--a seed of a species of eucalyptus:
"With a hooked stick she pulls down the terminal branches of the tree
and spreads them out to dry on a piece of ground cleared for the
purpose. After allowing them to lie there for a period determined by
temperature, she collects the distal ends of the branches, damps them
and brushes the seeds off into water. For a period of two or more hours
these seeds are kept soaking, but the water is repeatedly changed, so as
to remove all traces of the 'gum.' After this they are dried and ground
on a stone. Again, she builds their rough, but wisely devised home most
carefully according to ancient tradition. She takes her little girl,
armed with a miniature digging-stick, out to track the honey-ant with
her, and to learn by the way what are the birds and beasts and plants,
friendly or inimical, which surround their home-camp."

Alongside of this direct learning about nature goes the learning of the
legends and traditions of the tribe, together with the customary
dances, rituals, and religious practices. The activity of savage life is
everywhere such that no anomalies like our physical exercises are
needed,--for the physique of the young men and women is as graceful,
strong, and enduring as need be.

If we turn to savage or barbarian peoples higher in the scale we shall
find their knowledge, abilities, and accomplishments higher and also
more varied. But, on the whole, until we come to the average modern
woman of a civilised community, we shall find that the women--through
their happily developed subconsciousness--are equal to the best the
community requires of them. They do not call their training Common-sense
Biology, but that is what it practically is. They know all about their
surroundings, and what to do therein. And grace and beauty wait upon
what they do.

This ideal is not, however, quite without parallel among the more highly
civilised peoples. The Greeks conceived of Athene, the great goddess of
wisdom and of war, as also Athene Ergane, the Workwoman, the goddess of
handicrafts in the home. In our own country--to take examples near to us
and familiar--the names of Caroline Herschel, Jane Austen, the Brontës,
Mary Somerville, and George Eliot not only attest the fact that
exquisite skill in domestic arts is not, in a woman, incompatible with
learning and genius, but may also lead us to suspect that the exercise
of this skill actually aided and furthered their better-known

In our civilised communities--from the point of view of the
subconscious--women are in two ways at a disadvantage. First, excessive
division of labour, with our dependence upon machinery, has made the
life of the State far more complicated than in former days; and
secondly, the activity of the individual, from the same causes, is far
more monotonous, far less well-calculated to bring out all her powers
and train her being as a whole, than it used to be. Hence, as we said,
women have lost a good deal subconsciously--even though, in
consciousness, they may have gained.

There is nothing in which the character of the subconscious is more
clearly seen than in a person's attitude towards the great mysteries of
life: towards birth and marriage and death on the one hand--towards
religion on the other. It is, of course, matter of common knowledge that
in regard to marriage the customs of some savage tribes are what we
should describe as licentious. A truer understanding of the savage mind
has, however, mitigated many of the judgments passed even upon the worst
of these practices--at least in so far as they were taken to indicate
gross inward depravity on the part of the women. And among many peoples
there are found laws and customs of real beauty and noble significance,
witnessing to reverence, fine intuition, and real care for the highest
good of the tribe. And in general of all savage races it may be said
that whatever their laws and customs are--though perhaps born of
ignorance and selfishness--they feel seriously about them as about
sacred things, and observe them scrupulously.

The better side is exemplified chiefly by the women. When
anthropological work is more largely undertaken by women, and when,
through their sympathy, the jealously guarded secrets of the women's
tradition, now almost entirely unknown, are yielded up to us, it is
probable that our conceptions of savage life and thought will have to be
radically modified. However that may be, it is even now sufficiently
well known that the women do not leave the question of reproduction and
marriage to chance in the education of their girls. The girls are
definitely, carefully, and it would seem often tenderly, taught; and if,
among some peoples, they are made to undergo great sufferings, a closer
study usually reveals in these the effects of the long subjection of the
women to the cruelty and uncontrolled passions of the men. All this
should not blind us to the fact that the maternal instinct is here
actively grappling with the great realities of life: and we may contrast
this with the ways of the modern woman who, less developed in
subconsciousness, is not so forcibly impelled to make any such attempt,
and, for the most part, practically lets the whole thing slide. Here, as
in other directions, the fuller development of the subconscious would
compel and also enable us to correct a grave omission: while the
knowledge necessarily acquired concerning reproduction and birth in the
course of biological work would fill up that which has hitherto often
been wanting even in the best-inspired women who have dealt with this

It must by now have been made clear that our object in advocating this
Common-sense Biology is to recover what was excellent in the equipment
of the women of the past, and to unite it with what is most excellent,
and most germane to woman's life, in the methods and knowledge of the
present. Since modern household life is deficient in the requisite
opportunities we are obliged to have recourse to definite educational
schemes. But education of this sort will assuredly continue to be
necessary even after many improvements in the home have been brought to
pass; because it will always be necessary to keep the knowledge and
activities of women in correspondence with the advance of science. At
the same time it is worth while to remember that the earlier the child
begins to observe living things, to live with them, learn about them,
and take care of them, the better the final result will be; while the
ideally trained mother in the ideal home, herself practical and active,
will be able to do more for her children in this regard than most
people, perhaps, would now dream of.


Biological training of the order we have been considering is, we
believe, desirable for all women in the interests, first, of the home
and of the rearing of children. But it is equally desirable for the
women who are not destined to be wives and mothers, and particularly so
as a foundation for any kind of university work, even for the different
literary or philosophical schools.

Here it is, perhaps, worth while to urge upon women the claims of the
other great division of Biology, that of the laboratory. A considerable
number of women who go up to the universities have, indeed, intellectual
abilities deserving special cultivation, yet abilities which show no
very distinct inclination in any one direction. These have been very
commonly drafted into the study of history. It may be questioned whether
some branch of Biology would not be better for them, and more useful to
the community. Women working at Biology in the universities ought to
serve, and to aim at serving, as the channels by which each fresh
addition of scientific knowledge finds its way to, and its appropriate
place in, the schemes of Common-sense Biology generally obtaining.

In another field--the field of public work--it is to be hoped that ere
long a knowledge of biology will come to be considered a _sine quâ non_
for women. It would be superfluous to point out in how many kinds of
public work women are gradually coming to the fore--in those especially
which deal with education and with the care of the disabled. Already the
influence and the peculiar gifts of women have in some degree made
themselves felt; but these might operate much more powerfully if they
were more commonly associated with scientific knowledge--with a
knowledge of those branches of biology, more especially of bio-chemistry
and bio-physics, which bear most nearly upon humanity.

It would take up too much space to give an account of the many ways in
which biology is here of service: two great lines of utility may just be
indicated as examples.

First, biology would lead to certain modifications of
practice--particularly in our treatment of children, and of persons
deemed criminal or insane. The biologist, when anything was
amiss--before she pronounced any one to be mentally or morally unsound,
defective, or bad--would presume, to start with, that there was some
definite physical trouble to be set right, not necessarily anything
dangerous in itself or mysterious. In New York they now make it a rule
to examine for adenoids every young offender against the law, before
punishing him; and it is amazing how often adenoids are found, and when
removed carry the child's wickedness away with them. Adenoids and divers
glands are responsible for a great proportion of youthful wrongdoing;
and yet other physical troubles will account for a great proportion of
the rest. The writer herself once came across a young girl who was, in
intention and attempt, a murderess--yet was so only through the effect
of a common physical condition, easy enough to treat when once
ascertained. Until our general conception of a child--or indeed of a
human being--is a more truly biological one, framed more closely upon
the facts of its bodily life, we shall have but little effective
intuition into its state. And such a sound biological conception is not
to be had apart from some good measure of sound biological knowledge.

When, however, the most careful observation reveals no local or
definite mischief to be dealt with in the person under consideration,
the biologist will still not hastily set him down as bad--or even as
unsound or defective. He will next suspect that he is one whose physical
organisation is not fitted for its environment: if he can be placed in
a better environment perhaps he will grow better. If this change is,
from whatever circumstances, impossible, the biologist in treating
him, however troublesome he may be, will still never regard him as
wholly responsible for what he is, will still try to ascertain the
exact ways in which the environment presses injuriously upon him, and
to help him in those definite particulars. If we desire the work of
our reformatories and prisons and the disciplinary work of our
schools really to be and not merely to appear effective, it is only by
such nicely-calculated methods that we shall attain our object.

This brings us to our second point. Biology, when a knowledge of it is
more widely spread among us, will assuredly work a change in public
opinion. We have among us thousands of men and women whom we account
failures in life; whose existence constitutes our gravest social
problem. The drunkard, the wastrel, the thief, the prostitute--these are
characters whom society thrusts out. They have proved themselves
unfitted for their environment; they cannot act in it with any
regularity or seemliness: its laws are not their laws. And the
assumption most generally is that these are beings of a lower stamp than
the average, unhappily surviving in, or at war with, an environment
which postulates a nobler sort of men and women. Is it so?

The finer and more delicately poised a mechanism--whether it be chemical
balance, galvanometer, electroscope or what not--the more sensitive is
it to its surroundings. Thus the instruments once at Kew Observatory
have had to be transferred to the wilds of Scotland to ensure their
perfect working--rendered impossible at Kew by the noise and vibrations
of encroaching London. Thus, again, the mind of Darwin required for its
proper functioning the quiet of a study at Down, in the heart of the
country. A ray of light will spoil a delicate experiment: the presence
in an observatory of one steel key will hinder the work of the
instruments. A boy commits suicide because of the noise of the factory
in which he is compelled to work. A girl drowns herself because the
worries of her home are intolerable.

The point I would press is that these different examples belong
fundamentally to the same category. Whether it be the instrument devised
by man, or whether it be the human nervous system itself, that which we
are looking at is a mechanism too delicate for the cruel exigencies of
an unyielding gross environment. We have but to reflect on one organ
alone--on the exceeding fineness of structure, and nicety of adjustment,
and definiteness of sense-limit, of the eye--in order to realise that
the comparison between the human nervous system and the most delicate of
our delicate instruments is more than justifiable.

How do we know, when dealing with any given drunkard, that we have not
before us a fine, fine nature, to which the harsh and low conditions of
our Western civilisation have simply proved intolerable? How do we know
that, instead of blaming him and trying to adjust him to the world, we
ought not rather to blame the world, and try to make it a fit place for
him to live in?

This consideration--strictly scientific as it is--ought to have very
great weight in that new department of biological work which has been
named Eugenics. Before lightly saying of any stock that it is not good
to breed from, or that it is good to breed from, pains should surely be
taken to ascertain whether irregularities and disease evinced by members
of that stock do not in reality proceed from their superiority to their
environment and to the average men and women about them. Individually
they may be irreclaimable, yet, thrown out of gear, miserable and wasted
as they are, they may be the carriers of the finest hopes of humanity,
of a promise for the fulfilment of which we are not yet ready. Perhaps
there is a tendency to be a little over-hasty in our estimates of good
and bad stocks to breed from. Perhaps we have not yet fully learnt
either the significance of recessive characters or the importance of the
mere fact that the unit-characters of a human being are immensely
numerous, and their inter-relations therefore extremely intricate. And
yet, again, perhaps we are too intolerant of variety, too eager for

Here in England we have a mixed population, sprung from many diverse
origins. The differences between individuals are many and great. Yet the
majority of the population is thrust into the grooves of one educational
system, and thereafter compelled to settle down to occupations and modes
of life which are the same for thousands together. Any attempt to leave
the common rut is looked at askance. What wonder that there are rebels,
and that the rebels are unhappy! A society constructed in conformity to
true biological principles, instead of suppressing variety would give it
welcome as one of the most precious of national characteristics, and
would purposely adjust itself and its systems with more accuracy so as
to give every sort and type of person the best possible chance for
developing his or her peculiar gifts. In a society so constituted, very
rare indeed would be the occurrence of insanity.

These considerations should have weight in yet another direction: in
determining the counsel which ought to be given to girls as to the
choice of a mate.

The importance of soundness of stock has here too been well brought into
prominence by the workers in Eugenics; and perhaps it may not be amiss
to make one or two suggestions with a view to obviating a too narrow
application of the principle of the sound stock.

We must remember, first, that disease is not necessarily evidence of
unsoundness. Like some forms of moral obliquity, it may be merely
evidence of a quality in the stock which renders it unable to tolerate a
given environment. And this quality may be in itself an excellence of
the most precious kind. This would be the true account of many cases of
insanity, while others would be covered by the action of toxins on the
brain. Heredity, we are told in many instances of "insanity," is more
probably a heredity of "special liability to the production of toxins or
to the action of toxins on the brain," than heredity of insanity proper.
This view will naturally entail modifications in our methods of treating
the "insane," as well as a considerable change in public opinion with
regard to the significance of insanity.

And, secondly, we must remember the importance of the environment, more
especially of the human part of it. A man of sound stock is very
commonly brought up as a sportsman, whose first idea is to kill; or as
an idler, whose chief occupations are eating, drinking, and smoking,
with travel and some amount of gambling thrown in by way of variety. Or
he may easily be above all things a money-maker and a lover of money.
His habits of this sort will determine to a very great extent the
early--and that is the critical--environment of his children. The
tendency in his family will be towards uniformity, towards one level,
and that not a high level, of thought, activity, and character. His
example and influence will go very far to counteract the advantages
presumably ensured by the soundness of his stock.

On the other hand, a man whose ancestry is eugenically not flawless
may have such wide interests, so many and such fine powers, so much
skill in different activities, and so high and generous a personal
ideal, that the environment which his manner of life would make for his
children--the inspiration he would be to them--might well be expected
very largely, if not wholly, to counteract the disadvantages of defects
in the stock.

No doubt this principle should be applied with all reasonableness and
care, but it is extremely important for the highest welfare, for the
development of the best possibilities of the people, that it should be
definitely recognised.


A word must here be said as to the importance--more especially to the
biological student who aims at social work--of some knowledge of
Anthropology. Biology is, in fact, incomplete without anthropology; for
in its absence there is a danger of applying biological principles too
summarily, and therefore unscientifically, to humanity. Anthropology, of
course, goes behind art and history and the literary ideas current among
civilised peoples. It gives life and meaning to customs, legends,
handicrafts, details of dress, ornament, and furniture which otherwise
go unheeded or misunderstood. It helps to interpret for us the ways of
contemporary peoples and classes which are on a level different from our
own. It gives a unity in infinite diversity to our whole conception of
humanity. When more widely studied, there can be little doubt that it
will cause us to reconstruct many of our judgments, both concerning the
history of the past and concerning the civilisations of the present

We cannot but believe that a time will come when it will be assumed of
all women that they know the broad truths of biology, just as it is now
assumed that they know the alphabet. It will be taken for granted that
they have mastered the essential domestic arts with their own hands,
just as we now take for granted they can write with their own hands. We
shall have reached then the beginning of a new era--an era which we may
hope will unite the excellences, moral, æsthetic, and hygienic, of
earlier times, with the excellences, more purely intellectual and
scientific, of our own day.


The most effective instruments for bringing this about are the synthetic
powers of woman herself, combined with her practical skill and her ready
intuition. As we have tried to show, the best chance for the eliciting
and the disciplining of these powers of hers, so as best to fit them for
the struggle of modern life, is afforded by biology.

It must be clear how many reforms--impossible to the nominally educated
women of the present day--would flow easily from this better training of
women; for those so trained could certainly not endure the futility of
some of our educational ideals, nor that haphazard disregard of the
nature and needs of the child, which still characterises so much of our
educational method. They could not support the continuance of many of
the common evils of modern life--the noise and dirt, the brutality of
manners, the scamping of work, the rush for pleasure. These, however
they may or may not affect the adult, are plainly impairing the best
promise of the children; and that fact will be enough for the truly
educated woman.

Knowing, too, as she will, more accurately and scientifically than women
to-day generally know, how largely energy and depression, irritability
and calm strength are questions of right or wrong food, the educated
woman may be trusted to find a means to put an end to the crying
iniquity of adulteration. Directly or indirectly, by the pressure of her
determination that the race shall no longer be offered a sacrifice to
Mammon, she will assuredly find a way to put an end to all not
absolutely necessary dangerous trades.

The opposition of such women to what is wrong in social custom, in
government, in education, will be a very different thing from the
opposition of well-meaning but imperfectly instructed women on the one
hand; or, on the other, that of a few thoroughly trained and informed
ones working more or less in isolation, scattered over the country. It
would mean a body of sound, enlightened, disinterested public opinion,
so vast, so far-reaching, yet so intimately cognisant of all the little
daily details of life in the home, that it is difficult to see what
other body of opinion could be found mighty enough to resist it.

If, unhappily, this advance should not be made--if our present Western
civilisation be allowed to run unchecked down the groove into which it
has sunk--there seems nothing before it but destruction.


   [12] "The Electrical Resistance of the Human Body." Gee and Brotherton,
        Manchester Lit. and Phil. Soc., 1910.



The slow development of the demand for the training of girls of the
middle and upper classes in the details of household management has been
to a great extent due to the common observation that persons of
imperfect education are frequently proficient in the domestic arts, and
to the assumption that good housekeeping consists entirely in the
efficient exercise of those arts.

The fact that in the early Victorian period girls living much at home
learned, almost insensibly, from their mothers the routine of daily
duties in the house, has made elder women look askance on the lectures
dealing with domestic economy which appear to them so needless, and has
led them to foster the superstition that woman _qua_ woman should be
equal to any demand that may be made upon her as organiser of her own

That the housekeeping of to-day is more complex than that of half a
century ago is incredible to the older woman who remembers the baking
and brewing, and divers other matters, that demanded the attention of
the notable housewives of the forties and fifties of the nineteenth
century. That the horizon of women's lives has widened, and that other
interests than those appertaining to their immediate circle claim their
attention, is not acceptable to all; it is however the claims of these
outside interests that have awakened in the more thoughtful the desire
so to order their households that they may in some degree free
themselves from petty cares, and be able to help in the amelioration of
the lives of less fortunate persons; or to pursue other branches of
knowledge in which they have learned to take a keen intellectual

It is a paradox that one of the difficulties with which the modern
mistress has to contend is the fact that her house is "replete with
every modern convenience." Every labour-saving contrivance, every
mechanical convenience, calls for vigilance to ensure its proper use,
and for knowledge as to the ways in which it may fail, and of the method
of readjustment if it should happen to do so. No apparatus which is not
thoroughly understood by the mistress will be well used by the servants,
and servants will rarely if ever exercise any knowledge they possess to
prevent the expense of calling in a workman. If the mistress of a house
can use such ordinary tools as a hammer, a screwdriver, a gluepot, and a
soldering-iron, a great deal of expense may be saved in small repairs;
on the other hand, ignorant meddling with scientific apparatus may be
worse than useless. There can be no doubt that a course of instruction
in natural philosophy, combined with work in a well-equipped laboratory
and workshop, should find a place in the curriculum of every girls'
school, whether elementary or secondary, as this training lays the
surest foundation for a superstructure of experimental domestic science.
The argument against including the application of the physical sciences
to domestic methods in the ordinary educational course of every girl,
namely, that she may not be called upon to keep a house of her own,
cannot be sustained; there are no circumstances in which knowledge of
the laws which govern the health and well-being of human beings can be
useless. We all live in houses, either our own or other people's, and we
are all liable to disease and discomfort caused by the faulty
construction of the house or the unhealthy practices of the inmates.


The aim of education is to enable a person to act wisely in every
emergency of life whatever his particular calling may be, but it is
hardly possible to act wisely without some knowledge of the relation
between cause and effect. This is true whether we are engaged in the
practical affairs of life, in the pursuit of knowledge, or in the effort
to extend knowledge by research. It is sometimes argued that a woman of
trained intellect can easily acquire the art of housekeeping, and this
is no doubt the case if we limit the art to the choice and supervision
of competent domestics, but there can be no doubt that there are many
women of trained intellect who not only suffer themselves but entail
suffering on others from inability to discern good housekeeping, in our
sense of the word, from bad. It must be remembered that courses of
education should be framed for the training of unmethodical and
unpractical minds, which may and often do accompany the highest forms of
intellect, as well as for those of a naturally orderly and practical

We all consciously or unconsciously make use of the facts of science: we
do not send eggs by parcel post merely placed in a box, we do not even
send one egg in a box that exactly fits it, we are careful to surround
each egg with soft paper or some other elastic material in sufficient
quantity to distribute the effects of the blows that we know the box
will be subjected to in the post, so that the eggs may not be broken; if
we place a tray of china on a table, we are careful that it should not
project beyond the table so as to fall when we let it go; we do not pour
hot water into cut-glass tumblers, and we do not mix effervescing drinks
in wine-glasses. We should call a person ignorant who was unaware of the
probable results of doing the things enumerated above; but if the
accidents following want of knowledge were always so simple, ignorance
would not be a matter of much importance, and we might be willing to let
our girls learn by experience. Unfortunately, the neglect of a
scientific law has led in the past, and may lead in the future, to much
more serious, even fatal results, and Solomon has applied a not very
complimentary epithet to those who have wisdom forced upon them by
involuntary experience. It is to the publication of statistics which
show the alarming spread of such diseases as consumption and the
terrible waste of infant life, that we owe the awakening of the public
mind to the need for systematic training in science and scientific


Scientific method seeks to establish relations between isolated facts or
phenomena, and the relation generally takes the form of cause and
effect; so that persons with a scientific training are accustomed to
examine the grounds for considering this relation of cause and effect in
circumstances which are selected with a view to exhibiting the reality
of the relation. From that training it becomes possible for them, when
confronted with circumstances presenting some difficulty, to form a
better opinion as to what is the cause of the difficulty than they could
if they were confronted with the same difficulty without the previous
training. Any attentive observer of human nature will be struck by the
fact that every person is accustomed to refer every event to some cause;
if it is an illness, the occasion for contracting the illness is
defined; if it is any unforeseen event in the domestic economy, a reason
is nearly always forthcoming; the question which the housewife is called
upon to decide is whether the reason offered is a real and sufficient
one. Meteorologists tell a familiar story of an Indian nabob who found
that there was a deposit of moisture on the outside of his tumbler of
brandy and water, and tasting it with his finger, remarked it was very
curious that the water came through the glass but the brandy did not.
Plenty of reasons offered for domestic incidents have no better ground
of fact than the nabob's opinion that the water came through the glass.

A good deal of the comfort of a modern house turns upon a right judgment
as regards cause and effect, and therefore some preparation which will
fit the housewife to appreciate the rights and wrongs of domestic
reasoning is an indispensable qualification for success. It is not
always possible for the most profound student to offer offhand the true
explanation of various facts of domestic life, but it is possible to
approach the consideration of these questions with some hope of deciding
whether the explanation offered is a true or a fictitious one. The
ability for this is largely a question of habit of mind or training; and
for our purpose the training must include those departments of
knowledge, the laws of which find daily expression in the manifold
experiences of domestic life. The ultimate foundation for these laws is
to be found in the study of Physics, which deals with those changes in
the state of matter which stop short of the alteration of its
composition; of Chemistry, which deals with changes involving an
alteration of the composition of the substances under consideration; and
of Physiology, which is the identification of the processes which take
place in living animals and plants and their relation to the laws of
physics and chemistry. Without a knowledge of the fundamental principles
of these sciences and of the methods by which those principles are
established, it is not to be expected that any person can deal
adequately with the common experiences of life.

It is true that experience, if it is sufficiently extensive and
prolonged, may lead to the formulation of a set of practical rules that
will carry a housewife through the ordinary household round without
discredit, but the question which we have to put to ourselves is
whether, by organising and directing the experience, success may not be
made certain and more instructive. In these days domestic life is more
complicated than it used to be; at the same time experience is in a
sense more restricted. Many of the instructive processes, practical
experience in which conveyed valuable if unconscious scientific
training, are now conducted on a large scale, and are outside the range
of domestic duties, and the housewife has to supply, by special training
in scientific principles, the judgment that in days gone by was acquired
as a matter of habit.

It is impossible in the short space of a single article to set out the
details of a systematic course of training sufficient to fit the
housewife to use her judgment wisely in circumstances which require a
knowledge of the principles of the fundamental physical sciences. The
most that we can attempt is to give a few examples which illustrate the
application of the principles of physics and chemistry. Our purpose in
doing so is to suggest illustrations which appeal to every householder,
and may create a desire for fuller knowledge rather than to supply a
course of instruction. What we aim at is not to provide the equipment of
scientific training, but to show that the scientific habit of mind will
find opportunities for useful employment in many of the most ordinary
affairs of life. The problems that present themselves in the course of
experience are sometimes difficult and intricate; patience and careful
observation as well as knowledge are required for their solution.
Sometimes this solution is beyond the immediate resources of those
concerned, and it is a part of scientific training to recognise when
this is the case, so that effort and money may not be wasted in
endeavours which are foredoomed to failure. We may cite a case in point
where an extra bell was desired in a system of electric bells in a flat
at a time when electric installations in private houses were somewhat
rare, and workmen with any knowledge beyond that necessary for carrying
out instructions were not easily found. To the confusion of the tenant,
the introduction of this extra bell caused all the bells in the flat to
strike work. A mathematical lecturer living in the same building was
consulted, and opined that the battery of two somewhat small-looking
cells was insufficient, so he obtained and added a larger cell, but the
bells were obdurate and did not resume work. A lady with knowledge of
physics examined the installations and discovered that the wire
connections as altered were entirely wrong and did not connect the bells
to the battery. A plan of the correct connections was shown to the
workman, who a few days later reported that now all the bells rang at
once, and he had had to disconnect the battery! He produced a sketch of
the connections he had made, and on his error being pointed out he was
able to rectify it, and the bells answered to touch without the use of
the extra cell. Generally speaking, a failure on the part of electric
bells is corrected by filling up the cells which compose the battery
with water, an operation which any one may undertake.

It is not safe, however, for an inexperienced person to interfere with
electric light fittings further than to remove a worn-out lamp and place
a new one in the socket, and even this operation may be attended with
disaster. A young friend of ours who was taking part in some private
theatricals obtained the loan of a row of electric footlights. It did
not occur to any one concerned to ask the voltage of the lamps or of the
current to which they were to be applied. When the footlights were
turned up they blazed for a brief period, and then every light in the
house went out! Electrical science for the housewife has been resolved
into a knowledge of electric terms and of a few practical rules useful
and interesting in themselves, but not immediately suitable for our
purpose of showing how scientific study may aid the housewife in her
daily routine.


We may for this purpose examine some of the laws of common physical and
chemical phenomena, neglect of which has resulted in much needless
discomfort in daily life, and even more serious consequences. For
instance, the laws of expansion of gases and liquids with heat, and
their subsequent behaviour, are phenomena that are often imperfectly
realised. There is probably no person who is unacquainted with the law
of gravitation, but there are many persons who accept literally the
statements that smoke rises and that balloons ascend. A clear
understanding of what actually takes place when gases and material
masses appear to move in opposition to the law of gravitation is
essential to any scheme for warming and ventilating the house.

A very simple experiment will serve to reconcile the apparent
contradiction of the universal law by the observed fact. Suppose we have
two fluids, oil and water, of which oil is, bulk for bulk, lighter than
water. If the oil be poured into a glass beaker, it will be seen to rest
at the bottom of the beaker; if water be now poured into the same
beaker the water will go to the bottom of the beaker and will displace
the oil and lift it up so that the oil will float on the water; the oil
may be lifted to any height we please if sufficient water be poured in
to lift it to that height. If a single drop of oil be introduced into
the water by means of a pipette and be liberated at the bottom of the
beaker the water will close in under it, and lift it up to the surface.
In both cases the oil "rises" through the water. Oil, however, has no
tendency to "rise" by itself, and in this case it lay motionless until
it was lifted by the heavier fluid. We may use colloquial language when
describing phenomena if we bear in mind what is really taking place.

A balloon "rising" through the air is exactly analogous to the drop of
oil in the water. The balloon is, bulk for bulk, lighter than air; the
air therefore closes in under it and lifts it just as the water lifted
the bubble of oil.


Let us apply this to air. Air when warmed expands, and therefore warm
air is, bulk for bulk, lighter than cold air. Warm air behaves in the
presence of cold air as the balloon: it is displaced and lifted by the
cold air, the result being an ascending stream of warm air, which is
called a convection current.

The movement of ascending smoke is essentially the same as that of the
warmed air. Smoke is warm air made visible by the particles of soot with
which it is laden. The particles of soot would fall to the ground except
that they are carried upwards in the stream of warm air. Dr. W. N. Shaw
has called attention to the importance of these phenomena in his book on
"Air Currents and the Laws of Ventilation," in the Cambridge Series of
Physical Text-books. He there says: "The dominant physical law in the
ventilated space is the law of convection. It is at once the condition
of success and the cause of most failures. Without convection,
ventilation would be impossible; in consequence of convection, nearly
all schemes of ventilation fail.

"The law of convection is the law according to which warmed air rises
and cooled air sinks in the surrounding air. Its applications are truly
ubiquitous. Every surface, _e.g._ a warm wall, or a person warmer than
the air in the immediate neighbourhood, causes an upward current; every
surface colder than the air in contact with it causes a downward

"Ventilation would be much easier if warmed air or cooled air could be
carried along at any height required; but the law of convection is
inexorable: warmed air naturally finds the ceiling, cooled air the

It is true that the ventilation of a house is generally considered to be
the business of the builder and architect, yet there are many unpleasant
phenomena that come under the observation of the housewife which are
due to this law of convection, and it will be useful to consider a few
of them.

Let us take first the universal annoyance to housewives caused by the
sight of _dirt on the ceiling_. That all air is full of dust is seen
when a stream of sunlight crosses a room; the particles of dust are then
clearly perceived moving rapidly in all directions in the air. These
dust particles, when air is at rest, constantly fall to the ground under
the action of gravity, and are deposited on shelves and ledges, from
which they have to be removed daily by the housemaid. When air is warmed
and ascends it carries the dust particles with it, and these particles
striking against any cold surface with which they come into contact
stick to it. This is the cause of the necessity for the periodical
sweeping of chimneys. The walls of the chimney are colder than the smoke
that comes into contact with them, and the particles of soot in the
smoke striking against them are deposited on them. In the house the
effect of the bombardment of surfaces by dust-laden streams of air is
seen most conspicuously over burning gas-lights. Burning gas does not
itself produce all the dirt which is found on the ceiling above it, but
it causes upward streams of hot air, which carry up the dust and deposit
it on the ceiling. The practice of suspending a shade over the gas-light
does not lessen the amount of dust and smoke in the air, but the shade
serves to spread out the air over a larger surface, and thus to render
the dirt on the ceiling less apparent. That the shade itself remains
clean is due to the fact that it gets hot. A heated surface promotes the
activity of the motion of the air-particles in its neighbourhood, and by
this local activity the dust is repelled, so that a surface remains
clean or becomes coated according as it is more or less hot than the
invading current. The validity of this explanation may be tested by
holding a cold spoon over a lighted candle when it will be seen that the
spoon becomes blackened; if a hot spoon be substituted for the cold one
it will remain clean.

In order that the hot, vitiated air of a room may escape easily, it has
been in many cases the custom to place an exit opening for it in the
chimney over the room fireplace. The wall in the neighbourhood of this
ventilator invariably becomes black; but as this wall is warm it is not
probable that dust is deposited on it by the outgoing air, the
explanation given by the housewife that the smoke from the chimney gets
through the ventilator into the room is probably correct, though these
ventilators are supplied with mica flaps which should swing open when
air from the room strikes against them, and close when the air from the
chimney does so.

When a house is heated by hot-water pipes and radiators, the walls over
these pipes are another source of trouble (Fig. 1). A good deal of
scientific ingenuity is required if the walls are to be kept clean.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.]

That some ceilings appear striped with broad light and dark lines is
due to inequalities in the temperature of the ceiling. The light stripes
are under the joists, which prevent to some extent the escape of heat
from the ceiling, and the dark correspond to the unprotected parts of
the ceiling. The dust rising from the room is slightly repelled by the
currents from the warmer parts of the ceiling, and sticks more readily
to the colder parts.

Let us take for our second example the apparently trivial matter of
_smells in the house_. Smells may be of various kinds from various
causes. The best judge of the kind, and therefore of the cause, is the
nose. Suppose the smell to be the common one in houses of all
classes--the smell of cookery! The smell of cookery in the house is
generally a winter phenomenon. The air in an inhabited house is always
in a state of motion, induced by the inequalities of temperature caused
by the inhabitants themselves, and to a greater extent by the fires, of
which there will certainly be one in the kitchen. We must remember that
cold air will get into the house through all available openings, to take
the place of the air which supplies the fires. The most obvious
available openings in an ordinary dwelling-house are the casual ones of
the open chimneys of unused grates, and the loosely fitting doors and
windows. In cold weather fires are lighted in the sitting-room grates;
these fires when lighted should warm the air in the chimneys above them
and cause an upward draught in the chimney. Sometimes however the
chimney will be found to be occupied by a current of air coming down to
feed fires in other rooms, and so long as this goes on the smoke from
the newly lighted fire comes into the room. The down-draught can be
stopped by opening a window to supply sufficient cold air to counteract
it, otherwise we have to adopt special devices to make the smoke go up
the chimney in the first instance. Sometimes a newspaper is burnt in the
grate to give the necessary amount of warm air, but this is a dangerous
practice by which the chimney may be set on fire. Sometimes air is
supplied by the bellows. A newspaper is often held in front of the grate
so as to close the opening above the fire and cause the cold air to pass
through the fire, thus promoting combustion and the supply of hot air in
the chimney. In any case, the warm air of the fire is carried up the
chimney by the cold air of the room, and this cold air is drawn from the
casual openings already referred to. It has been demonstrated by
laboratory experiments that the amount of draught in any chimney depends
on the height of the chimney and the fire in its grate.

Smells are conveyed about a house by the flow of air to feed the fires,
and they nearly always find their way from all parts of the house to the
ground-floor sitting-rooms when the doors are left open and the fires
are burning. On their way they pass through passages and are therefore
nearly ubiquitous. The air of any room in the house is in communication
with that of every other room, and it is only by the nature of the smell
that we can tell its probable source. There are people who like when
they open the bedroom door in the morning to know that coffee and bacon
await them downstairs, or on coming into the house from a cold winter's
walk to meet a "delicious smell of Irish stew." To other people all
smell of cookery is abhorrent, and they feel a sense of irritation that
their guests should on entering the house be regaled with the odour of
the preparation of food. To many mistresses the only remedy that
suggests itself is a message to the cook, who is powerless in the matter
and returns an answer that she is sorry, but that she doesn't know why
there should be a smell of cooking upstairs as there is none in the
kitchen. A visit to the kitchen will generally confirm the cook's
statement as to that particular spot, but a considerable smell will be
encountered on the kitchen stairs. We may inquire into the cause of
this. The usual equipment of the kitchen includes a closed range,
supplemented in many cases by a gas stove. The kitchen fire draws a
plentiful supply of air from casual openings, and this air for the most
part passes with the smoke up such flues as are open. The oven is
provided with a ventilator, which carries off the odour of baked or
roasted meats. The odour in the hot air over the closed range has no
escape except into the kitchen--the cook says that ever so slight an
opening in the top of the range will prevent the oven from heating. This
odour-laden air therefore comes directly into the kitchen, and being hot
is directed to the ceiling, thus escaping the cook who is in the draught
of the fresh air supply. Travelling along the ceiling the hot air passes
through the opening at the top of the door and mingles with the fresh
air on its way upstairs. The same thing happens when the gas stove is
in use. The only remedy is to provide some exit for the hot air of the
kitchen which will be more easily accessible than that by way of the
door, for the hot air will travel by the easiest path. A considerable
knowledge of science is required to achieve this object.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.]

Closely allied with the smell of cookery is _the smell of the gas
stove_. Many persons consider that the use of a gas stove either in the
kitchen or in a bedroom is inseparable from the peculiar odour of
partially consumed gas. It may therefore be useful to consider how the
gas supplied to stoves and incandescent lights differs from that of an
open gas fire or that of an ordinary burner. Gas stoves and incandescent
lights get their supply of gas through what are known as Bunsen burners,
so called after the German chemist whose invention they are. In an
ordinary burner the gas mixes with atmospheric air at the opening at
which it burns; the supply of air obtained in this way is insufficient
for complete combustion until the outer layers are reached; the interior
part of the flame is bright and smoky. In the Bunsen burner the gas
issues from the main through a nozzle which opens inside a bulb. The
bulb is perforated to allow of the ingress of atmospheric air; the gas
and air mix in the tube which is a prolongation of the bulb, and the
mixture is lighted at the top of the tube. Fig. 2 shows a representation
of the Bunsen burner as applied to a gas stove. In this the gas escapes
from the main at the nozzle _n_, into a bulb of which the tube A is a
prolongation, air is admitted to the bulb at the openings _a a_, and
the mixed gas and air is burnt at the openings in the tube A. The amount
of air supplied is regulated by the size of the openings _a a_ and the
holes where the gas is lighted. The gas thus supplied with air is
completely consumed where combustion begins, and a clear, blue,
non-luminous flame is the result. If the holes through which the mixture
of gas and air issues are partially closed by rust or by accretions from
the "boiling over" of saucepans it is evident that, the gas supply being
unchanged, less air can be drawn through them; consequently the gas will
not be entirely consumed, and acetylene (C2H2, one of the products of
partially consumed coal gas) will pass into the atmosphere and will give
rise to the peculiar odour associated with gas stoves. This product of
partially consumed gas is very poisonous, and all gas stoves should be
furnished with chimneys to carry off the fumes to the open air. The
phenomenon known as "burning back," that is, the ignition of the gas at
the nozzle in the bulb, is caused by the pressure of gas being too small
for the supply of air. The gas should at once be turned out and
relighted till it burns at the proper places. The simple remedy for
smell from a gas stove is the cleansing of its burners, unless indeed
the kettle is too close to the holes from which the gas issues for
complete combustion to be possible.

There is another winter phenomenon which is very disagreeable--the
presence of _fog in the house_; and the perplexed housewife asks, Where
does the fog get in when all outside doors and windows are closed? We
have already pointed out that the sitting-room fires must have air, and
that that air will be drawn from casual openings. Among these openings
are the chimneys of fireless grates; the greater part of the fog in the
house comes down these chimneys. On a foggy day it is wise to close the
chimneys of fireless grates and provide some other opening for the
supply of air; but all air from the outside is full of fog. The problem
of how to let in air and keep out fog suggests the question, What is
fog? Fog consists of material particles (dust or smoke) on which vapour
has condensed; if these particles can be removed the air will be clear.
The problem for the housewife is how to free a sufficient quantity of
air from these particles.

_A smell of gas_ in any part of the house may be very dangerous if no
one on the premises has any scientific knowledge, for it may be premised
that the escape of gas is not where the smell is first perceived. Gas
being lighter than air is carried upwards, and the smell is at first
above the place of escape; it may even be in a room over where the gas
is escaping. The only safe detector of the source of mischief is the
nose; the mixture of coal gas and atmospheric air is explosive, and no
light must be struck. The upper sash of the window should be pulled down
to allow the gas to escape, and if the accident is at night time must be
allowed before searching for the source of escape further than can be
done by feeling the taps in the dark or following the scent by the

Further illustration of the effect of convection currents in the air of
a dwelling-house are needless, but the student may profitably spend time
and thought in considering how fresh air may be introduced into a room
without causing cold air to lie on the floor or hot, vitiated air to
cling to the ceiling. It is the old problem (with a difference) of
teaching a grandmother to suck an egg. He may also interest himself in
seeking answers to the questions (1) What action is expected to take
place when a poker is placed against the bars of a grate to make the
fire draw? and (2) Does the sun put the fire out, and if so how? In
connection with the expansion of air with heat he may consider the
popular fallacy that an inverted empty pot in a pie keeps in the juice.


Accidents have occurred in houses owing to ignorance of the full effects
of heating or cooling water from its ordinary temperature. Water at any
ordinary temperature expands when subjected to the action of heat; it
contracts on cooling till it reaches a temperature seven degrees above
the freezing point; from this temperature it expands until it becomes a
solid mass of ice. At still lower temperatures ice contracts.

Let us consider first the effect of heating water. If water at the
ordinary temperature be poured into a vessel which is placed on a fire
or other source of heat the water at the bottom of the vessel will be
warmed and will expand; it will therefore be lighter, bulk for bulk,
than the water nearer the top of the vessel. The cold water will
therefore descend, and the warm water will rise. All ordinary water
contains air; presently the air in the water will become visible as
small bubbles which rise to the surface of the water and escape
noiselessly into the atmosphere. As more heat is applied some of the
water in the bottom of the vessel will be formed into steam, and bubbles
of steam will expand and rise into the cooler water above and collapse
there with a rattling noise which is characteristic of the state known
as simmering. These bubbles of steam rising and bursting aid the
convection currents in stirring and mixing the water so that it
presently becomes of even temperature throughout. When this occurs the
bubbles of steam rise to the surface and burst explosively into the
atmosphere, throwing the water violently about; the water is then
boiling. It is an important point to remember in cookery that boiling
water will not become any hotter with the application of more heat, but
it will "boil away;" that is, it will be completely converted into
steam. The steam resulting from any volume of water occupies a space
1700 times that of the water from which it is produced, but what
concerns the housewife most seriously is that the change of water into
steam is accompanied with the evolution of tremendous mechanical force
that will burst any vessel in which the water is enclosed. It is the
fact of this tremendous exercise of mechanical force that has led to
serious accidents when hot-water bottles have been put into the oven to
keep warm. It has been assumed by some people that if the hot-water
bottle be not completely filled, that if what they consider to be
sufficient room is left for the expansion of the water, no harm can
result from putting the bottle into the oven, but no arrangement can
make such a course safe.

The bursting of the kitchen boiler is an accident resulting from
disregard of the phenomena of heated water. It sometimes happens that
the hot-water supply of the various taps in the house fails. If the
boiler supplying the water is a hand-fed one some one whose duty it was
to fill it has neglected that duty. An empty boiler with a removable lid
will do no harm, but it is not advisable to leave it empty, as the heat
of the fire will destroy the iron of which it is made. No attempt,
however, should be made to fill the boiler while it is hot, as the
result of pouring cold water into it will be the sudden and violent
conversion of the water into steam, and the person pouring in the water
will assuredly be scalded. If the boiler be one that is filled
automatically, one of two things has probably occurred: either the pipes
are blocked by fur--that is to say by sediment from the boiled water--or
the supply-pipe is frozen. In neither case is it safe to light the fire.
If the pipes are blocked by fur steam will be formed in the boiler and
it will burst; if the supply-pipe is frozen the heat may thaw the ice,
and the inrush of cold water will at any rate crack the boiler.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.]

When water expands with heating convection currents are formed in it,
and the hot water rises to any height we please if cold water be
available to take its place. This law of convection is applied to
maintain a circulation of hot water in pipes used for warming a house.
The general arrangement of such a system is shown in Fig. 3. The
furnace heats a boiler in the basement or on the lowest storey of the
house; HB and HL' are parallel vertical pipes connected with a
horizontal pipe H'H at the top of the house; C is a small cold-water
cistern which is furnished with a ball-tap to maintain the supply of
cold water to the pipe H'L if any water is drawn off at any part of the
circuit. The short pipe A acts as a valve for the escape of air from
the pipes. The pipes H'L, H'H, and HB are filled with water. When
the fire is lighted in the furnace, hot water is driven up the pipe
HB by cold water descending through H'L, and this circulation goes
on so long as a difference of temperature is maintained in the pipes;
that is, so long as the fire is burning. Any number of coils of pipes
may be introduced into the circuit between the boiler and the top of
the pipe HB. In filling the pipes with water allowance is made in these
coils for the expansion of the water with heat and for the air which we
have seen escapes from heated water, and a tap is fixed in each coil
for letting out any air that may have lodged in it. If free air
remains in the pipes the circulation of the water will be hindered and
the boiler may become dangerously overheated. It is therefore necessary
when the heating apparatus is in use to examine these taps and see that
water and not air escapes from them.

The installation of a heating apparatus in middle-class houses is fairly
common, and where one is not found many persons use gas or oil stoves in
the passages in the winter, for it is now realised that it is not
possible to heat rooms by means of open fires without creating cold
draughts in them from the cold passages into which they open. And,
moreover, the constant change of temperature encountered in passing from
one warm room to another through cold passages is not only disagreeable,
but is not found to be conducive to health.

Let us turn to the cooling of water. Water expands about one-eleventh of
its volume on becoming ice. This change of state, like that of change
into steam, is accompanied by the evolution of tremendous mechanical
force. If water freezes in pipes it bursts the pipes, and on a thaw
taking place the pipes are found to leak. The appropriate remedy for
this state of things is to protect the pipes from cold or to empty them
when a frost is apprehended. In all properly built houses there is a tap
by means of which the water supply can be cut off from the house, thus
allowing the pipes to be emptied on a frosty night. The custom of
leaving the taps dripping is effective, because the pipe is generally
liable to freeze at some particular point where it is in immediate
contact with the cold air, probably in the unclosed chink where the
pipe passes through the wall; keeping the water moving in the pipe
prevents any part of it getting cold enough to freeze, but the practice
should not be resorted to, as it wastes water.


[Illustration: FIG. 4.--Section of a Convex lens.]

It is pleasant on a dry, still day in winter, when the ground is covered
with crisp snow or glistens with hard frost, to feel the warmth of the
sun's rays, and it is becoming quite a fashion for people of leisure to
spend the winter months at the pleasure resorts amid the snow-laden
mountains of Switzerland. It is a matter of some interest to inquire how
it happens that the sun's rays are warm when the thermometer tells us
that the temperature of the air is below freezing-point. There is an old
and pretty experiment in which a burning glass is made of ice; it is not
a difficult thing to do. If the scale-pan of an ordinary balance be made
hot and be pressed against a slice of ice (the concave side of the
scale-pan towards the ice), first on one side of the slice and then on
the other, the ice can be formed into a convex lens (Fig. 4). If now
this lens be placed in the path of a sunbeam and the light be brought to
a focus, that is, to a bright spot on a piece of paper, the paper will
be heated and will take fire while the lens through which the heat
passes remains ice. From this we may surmise that the heat of the sun
does not affect the medium through which it passes.

Clerk Maxwell suggested yet another experiment in illustration of this
law. By means of an ice lens he collected the sunlight to a focus in the
middle of a basin of clear water, and observed that no effect was
discernible in the water. He then directed the focus (the spot of light)
on to a mote in the water. The mote became hot, the water was agitated,
convection currents were formed, and the mote was carried up in them.
This showed that rays of light from the sun do not affect the substances
through which they can pass, and that they heat bodies through which
they do not pass. It has been demonstrated by laboratory experiments
that all hot bodies emit rays of heat, whether we see the rays or not.
When we see the rays the bodies are said to be red or white-hot. The
process by which heat passes from one body to another without warming
the intervening medium is called radiation. Radiation takes place only
through transparent bodies. Rays of heat, like rays of light, pass
through transparent bodies; whereas they are absorbed by, that is they
make hot, opaque bodies. Heat rays travel in straight lines and are
reflected from polished surfaces; their intensity varies inversely as
the square of the distance of the object on which they fall from their
source. The heat of an ordinary fire is radiant heat; when we sit round
the fire we act as opaque bodies and absorb the heat, and are what we
call scorched if the fire is very bright. If we move away from the fire,
still letting the same firelight shine on us, we are not scorched; this
is because the heating power of the rays varies inversely as the
distance from their source, therefore if we move away double the
distance we receive one quarter of the heat that we received before we
moved. If we draw our chairs to one side we are not scorched, because
the rays of heat do not travel round a corner.


We have seen that the ice-lens was not affected by the passage of heat
through it. If we now take hold of the lens we shall experience a
feeling of cold, and the lens will begin to melt. Heat has passed from
our hand into the ice. The process by which heat passes from one body to
another in contact with it is called conduction. The fundamental law of
conduction is, that heat always passes from a warm body to a cold one.
Clerk Maxwell illustrated this law in a series of very simple
experiments. He placed a silver teaspoon in a cup of hot tea, and noted
that the handle became warm gradually from the hot tea; the heat passed
from the bowl of the spoon in the tea to successive parts of the handle
until the whole spoon was hot. His second experiment was to put two cold
spoons, one of silver and one of German silver, into the tea, when he
found that the same phenomenon took place, but that the silver spoon
became hot much more quickly than did the German silver one. He then put
three spoons into the tea, made respectively of silver, of German
silver, and of bone. In the result, he found that when the other two
were hot, the bone spoon hardly showed any sign of heat at the end of
its handle.

The conclusion to be drawn from these experiments is that heat passes at
different rates through different substances. Substances through which
heat passes quickly are called good conductors of heat. The law of the
conductivity of heat is that in a homogeneous body the flow is
continuous, and is from the region of high temperature to the region of
low temperature, and that it continues until the body is of uniform
temperature throughout. The law is the same for bodies of different
materials when in contact one with another.

The conduction of heat is in operation in every department of domestic
life. People live in houses and are clothed to protect them from the
vicissitudes of the weather, including the cold of winter and the heat
of summer; use is made of the phenomenon in warming the house and in the
preparation of food.

In selecting materials for various purposes, account has to be taken of
their conductivities, for in some cases it is desirable that the
transfer of heat should take place slowly, and in others that it should
take place quickly. It might be thought that the conductivity of a
substance could be estimated by touch, but a little reflection will
show that this cannot be the case. The flow of heat between two bodies
depends upon the difference of temperature between them, and if there
should be no difference of temperature between them at the moment of
touch there will be no flow of heat, though both are bodies of greater
or less conductivity. Let us take, for example of the uncertainty of
estimation by touch, a well-known experiment. Suppose we have a basin of
hot water and a basin of cold water, and place a hand in each for a few
moments; suppose we withdraw the hands and plunge them into a basin of
tepid water, we shall find that the tepid water feels cold to the hand
that was in the hot water and warm to the hand that was in the cold

Luckily, it has been found possible in the laboratory to refer
substances to a common standard and to assign numerical values to them
in order of their conductivities, so that substances can be compared and
a selection made for any desired purpose. Pure silver has the highest
conductivity; other useful materials take the following order: copper,
zinc, lead, iron, steel, marble, glass, brick, slate, wood, fur, cotton,
flannel, water, air. Fur and wool no doubt owe much of their warmth to
the fact that they consist of fibres which enclose a good deal of air,
but as a matter of fact the warmth of loosely woven woollen and knitted
articles in general is often overrated; they are very warm as under
garments or in calm weather, but in windy weather the air in them is
rapidly changed and the cold seems to blow through them. If for any
purpose we select a material from its place in a table of comparative
conductivities, and use it without reference to the law of conduction of
heat, we shall probably be disappointed with the result. We know that
cotton burns easily; if we stretch a cotton handkerchief over the back
of a gold watch and place a red-hot cinder from the fire on the
handkerchief on the watch, the handkerchief will not be burnt.

Many interesting problems present themselves when a house has to be
built or rented. There is often opportunity for some choice of material
in walls or roof, and some peculiarities to be considered. Are the top
rooms of a thatched cottage warmer or colder than the top rooms of a
house covered with slates? Is a wooden or an iron building warmer? What
difference does it make if the iron building is lined with wood? If the
iron walls were twice as thick, what would be the effect inside the
room? Would the walls of such a building be always dry inside? It
sometimes happens that the end wall of a row of houses is covered with
slates to preserve it from the effects of storms of wind and rain; will
that inside wall be always dry?

But the housewife is probably more interested in those articles in
use in the house which it is her business to provide. Shall the
stoves be of slate or iron? In olden days warming-pans were made of
copper. What change in the manner of use justifies making them of
earthenware or India-rubber? The slow transmission of heat through thick
woollen materials has been applied to the construction of Norwegian
cooking-stoves (Fig. 5). These stoves consist of a wooden box, lined
with well-padded felt. The cooking vessels are of metal; the food when
at boiling point is placed in these vessels and the lids put on, a
thick padded felt is placed on the vessels and entirely fills the
wooden lid of the box which is then closed; the heat is preserved so
that the cooking is continued without further attention. Would it be
possible to use the Norwegian stove as a refrigerator? Would it keep
an ice pudding cold without any alteration? In connection with this
we may ask why freezing machines have the inner vessel in which the
freezing takes place of zinc, and the outer vessel which contains the
ice and salt of wood? What would be the effect of interchanging the

[Illustration: FIG. 5.]

It is possible that the excellence of some continental cookery is due to
the extensive use on the continent of earthenware cooking utensils
through which heat passes very slowly. The growing fashion of using
enamelled cooking vessels must have some effect on the food cooked in
them as heat certainly passes quickly through them. Reference has been
made to them simply to demonstrate the universality of the application
of physical laws, and we may now return to the house and its arrangement
for the comfort of the inmates.


The two methods of warming a house are by radiation and conduction. We
may surmise that in any case both methods will be in use, but the one
will predominate; for instance, in heating by an open fire radiation
will predominate, and in heating by stoves and radiators conduction will
predominate. In planning a house a decision must be made between the
two. This decision being made there is the further consideration of
where the source of heat shall be placed. In the case of an open
fireplace shall it be in an end wall, in a corner, in an outside wall,
and so on, the object being to make the greatest possible use of the
heat that passes up the chimney and of that which radiates into the
room. The same consideration must be paid to the situation of the closed
stove; where will it pass heat by conduction to the greatest volume of
air, and where can its radiant heat be utilised?

In a room heated by a stove there is frequently a vessel of water placed
by or on the top of the stove. If we ask what is the purpose of this
water we shall be told that the stove dries the air in the room. Now, it
is impossible that the heat of the stove should remove any moisture from
the air; we must therefore seek an answer to the question, What is dry
air? The sensation of the dryness or moisture of the air does not depend
only upon the amount of vapour in the air but upon the ratio of the
amount present to the amount that the air is able to hold at the given
temperature. The warmer the air is the more vapour it can hold, hence
when the air is warmed the percentage of water present to the possible
amount in it is lowered; that is its humidity, which is the percentage
amount, is lowered, and we feel it to be dry. The question may arise why
we should feel this when the room is heated by a stove and not when it
is heated by an open fire? It may be that in a room with an open fire we
are warmed by radiation and give out heat to the surrounding air which
is constantly changed by convection currents, so that the air we breathe
is colder than we ourselves; and that in a room warmed by a stove we
receive heat from the air and are constantly breathing air that is
warmer than we ourselves. But it is more than probable that the custom
of providing a source of moisture to the air persists from the
suggestion of a single person in seeking to relieve the disagreeable
feeling attending the breathing of air laden with the poisonous products
of half-consumed gas, and that it has no real scientific foundation.

_How to estimate temperatures._--Whatever method is adopted for warming
a room, the housewife may be assured that the resulting temperature will
not be pleasing to every member of the family. One will find it too
warm, and another will at the same time find it too cold, and this not
from any wilful captiousness but from the cause that we have already
alluded to, that the feelings are a very uncertain test of temperature.
It is therefore advisable to keep the air of the room as far as possible
at a standard temperature. To do this it will be necessary to have a
thermometer in the room, and to know what its readings indicate. When
the thermometer registers 32° Fahr. or less, water will freeze in the
room, and the vessels in which it is kept will burst; it is therefore
wise, when it is anticipated that the temperature will fall below 32°
Fahr., to empty the ewers and bottles that may be in the room. From 32°
Fahr. to 40° Fahr. the room will be very cold, up to and including 58°
Fahr. it will be too cold to be pleasant; the standard temperature may
be taken as between 62° and 64° Fahr.

It may appear a simple matter to hang up a thermometer and read it, but
a little thought will show that it is not so easy as it seems. If, for
instance, the thermometer is placed in front of the fire at a distance,
say of four feet from it, what will its reading indicate? Will it be the
temperature of the air of the room or the temperature of the fire, or if
neither, what will it be? Suppose we have two identical thermometers,
and hang them on adjacent walls, one of which is an outside wall, which
of the two readings shall we take as that of the temperature of the
room? It is not an easy matter to decide. In a sick-room, where one
person's comfort only has to be considered the doctor will order the
thermometer to be hung at the bed-head, but we cannot adopt this plan in
a general sitting-room.


In our endeavour to establish the claims of the science of chemistry to
a prominent place in the educational equipment of women, all reference
to those most interesting and important chemical phenomena that
accompany the exercise of the physiological functions will be omitted;
as also those which are most immediately concerned with the preparation
of food. Attention will be confined to some of the common occurrences of
daily life, the methods of dealing with which are typical of the method
adopted in considering more important and abstruse problems.

Perhaps one of the most disappointing experiences of the novice in
housekeeping is the rapidity with which everything assumes a shabby
aspect. Bright paint grows dull, dull paint wears away, curtains and
fabrics fade, and very soon mistress and maids alike feel that the
house no longer repays the trouble incurred in the spring-cleaning
that it must still undergo. This spring-cleaning, the primary object
of which is the preservation of the beauty and substance of the house
and its appointments, is in the result the cause of much of their

Cleaning consists in removing dirt by means that are partly physical and
partly chemical; for instance, the removal of dust by sweeping, shaking,
or brushing is a physical operation, and the removal of dirt and grease
by dissolving them in soapy water involves their change by a chemical
process. If the surfaces or materials to be cleaned include a substance
on which the cleansing agent can operate the agent will not confine its
work to the removal of the dirt only; in washing coloured fabrics we
know how often the colour comes out with the dirt. Knowledge therefore,
not only of the composition and properties of cleansing agents, but also
of the surfaces and materials to which they are to be applied, is
essential, and we should find that it is not always the powder or paste
which makes the greatest show of cleanliness in the shortest time, with
least expenditure of labour, that is the most to be desired.

_The use of alkalies._--The most common cleansing agents are hot water,
soap, and soda. Hot water is itself a detergent; that is, it has the
power of dissolving dirt. It does not, however, dissolve grease, and all
household dirt is more or less greasy, hence we cannot do our cleansing
with water only, and we are accustomed to add to it soap or soda.

It is not easy or even possible to discuss the chemical properties of
substances without the use of chemical terms. Substances are
classified for chemical purposes in groups, every member of which
exhibits the same chemical property, and we shall require to distinguish
between the group called acids and the group called alkalies. It
will be sufficient for our purpose just now to know that acids have a
sour taste and that alkalies counteract acids. From this definition
lemon-juice will easily be recognised as an acid. If we add soda to
lemon-juice there will be a brisk effervescence and the lemon-juice
will no longer be sour, hence soda is an alkali. Alkalies have
another well-known chemical property--they dissolve grease and oil and
enable them to mix with water. If we have some hot water in a
tumbler and pour oil into it the oil will float on the water, and if
we stir the two together the oil will break into globules but will still
float on the water; we cannot mix them together. If we dissolve some
soda in hot water and pour in oil we shall find on stirring that the
mixture becomes milky or soapy in appearance and the oil and water are
no longer discernible as different fluids. Moreover, on standing the
oil will not again separate from the water; it has been emulsified.
Oils themselves have the chemical power of dissolving resins. Resins
are hard, bright vegetable gums which will come under our notice when
we consider the composition of varnishes.

All hard soaps are made from soda, grease, and resin; the cheaper soaps
contain free soda, the dearer ones contain an excess of fat. Yellow
scrubbing soap contains about eight per cent. of free soda. Both soap
and soda can be dissolved in water, and are so dissolved for cleaning
purposes. Knowing the constituents of our cleansing agents, we can
consider their action on paint and varnish. Paint contains white-lead,
linseed-oil, and colouring matter. It is not very hard when dry and can
be easily scratched with the nail. Varnish is made from linseed-oil,
resin, and turpentine. When dry it should be very hard and bright.

The whole of the painted woodwork of the house is subjected to
spring-cleaning whatever its appearance with regard to dirt may be. The
operator throws into a pailful of hot water a "handful" of soda, soaks a
scrubbing-brush in the mixture, rubs it well with soap, and uses it to
brush the somewhat soft paint or harder varnish. The soda and soap,
aided by the heat, soften the paint and the brush removes a quantity
equal to about a coat of paint. The effect is certainly pleasing for the
time being, but there will be no difficulty in understanding that the
process can only be repeated until the paint and varnish grow shabby or

It is not wise for the inexpert housewife to trust to unscientific
friends for advice as to the best materials to use when cleaning paint.
A foreman painter once gave, as a recipe for this purpose, an
instruction to add a tablespoonful of "salts of tartar" to
three-quarters of a pailful of water. The result was a very rapid and
complete removal of dirt from the paint, but the housewife, being
dissatisfied with the rather dull appearance of the white varnish,
stroked it with her finger and found that it was covered with a fine
white powder. The maid's assurance that this was all right and only
needed to be removed by dusting did not satisfy her, and she began to
wonder what chemical action was to be expected from "salts of tartar." A
first search for information revealed that salts of tartar was an old
name for "potassium carbonate," but the housewife knew no chemistry and
had never heard of potassium carbonate, so this information was useless
to her. She had, however, had some scientific training and was not
satisfied to rest in ignorance. A search in a book on elementary
chemistry disclosed the further truth that the commercial name for
"potassium carbonate" is pearlash! She then remembered that being
desirous at one time to remove the paint from some oak carving said to
be two hundred years' old, she had successfully used a solution of
pearlash painted on with a brush. The paint when dry from the
application had been scraped off in long, tough ribbons. Of course the
mixture had been very much stronger than that prescribed by the painter,
but the effect had been very much more apparent.

Acids and alkalies are to some extent responsible for the fading of
fabrics in the wash when these fabrics owe their colour to vegetable
dyes. Acids turn vegetable blues red, alkalies turn vegetable blues
green and vegetable yellows brown. It is easy to illustrate this action
of acids and alkalies on vegetable colours. A blue liquid can be
obtained by boiling a red cabbage in water. If we take two portions of
this water and add any acid, say lemon-juice, to one portion we shall
obtain a red liquid; if we add any alkali, say soda, to the other
portion we shall obtain a green liquid. If we go a step further and add
lemon-juice to the green liquid and soda to the red liquid we may
approach very nearly to our original blue liquid. These experiments
suggest a remedy for the change of colour in fabrics on washing with
soda, but the dyes most commonly used are not vegetable dyes, and the
fading of the fabrics is due to chemical changes, into which we have no
space to enter.

Strong acids and alkalies act as caustics; that is they destroy fabrics.
Continued washing in strong soda and water not only tends to destroy,
but also spoils the appearance of all kinds of wearing apparel and
household linen. White silk and wool at once become yellow on being
washed with soap that contains free soda, and linen is affected in the
same way though not to the same extent.

The widely advertised pastes and liquids for cleaning metal-work,
particularly brass, often contain acids or alkalies that are injurious
to metals. If after cleaning there should be a green deposit on brass or
copper it will be wise to inquire into the composition of such deposit,
and to discontinue the use of that paste or liquid. When brass pans are
used for boiling fruit for jams, it is usual to rub them inside with a
slice of lemon before putting in the fruit. A careful housewife will
consider the reason for this custom. We remember once seeing a copper
pan, that had been provided for the preparation of oatmeal porridge,
with a band about an inch wide of green crystals on the inside. Inquiry
elicited that the cook had thought it a convenient pan in which to
prepare the fish (salt haddock) for breakfast. Ignorance of the chemical
action of salt and acids on metals may lead to very serious results. The
common name for the green deposit on brass and copper is verdigris, and
most people know that verdigris is a poisonous compound; the difficulty
is that, not knowing its chemical composition, they do not recognise
verdigris when they see it. The cook thought that the complaint made had
reference only to the misuse of the pan, and said that it was quite easy
to clean the green deposit off!


It is to the science of chemistry that we owe our knowledge of the
composition of the various foodstuffs from which dietaries are selected,
as well as of the several parts of the human body which relies for its
sustenance on those dietaries. But the adjustment of dietaries to the
work they have to do is a more complex problem than those we have
hitherto considered. We learn from the science of physiology that the
human body is a laboratory in which certain juices are secreted for the
digestion of foods, and that in this laboratory foods must be reduced
to the consistency necessary for their passage through animal membranes;
for it is by passage through membranes that the nutritive parts of food
find their way into the general circulation of the blood which carries
them to all parts of the system. Very few foodstuffs are available for
use in their natural state, and the majority of them are prepared for
consumption in the first place by more or less elaborate processes
included in the art of cookery. When thus prepared they should be in a
fit state to undergo in the body the physical changes comprised in
mastication, and the chemical changes associated with the process of

It might be surmised by the thoughtful parent that as the child's body
lacks some of the external features of the adult body, such as hair and
teeth, so there might, and probably would, be corresponding lapses in
the internal economy, and that therefore the food prepared for the adult
would be, even in the smallest quantity, unsuited to the child.
Physiologists tell us that this is so, and in particular that the
secretions which in adult life are called saliva and pancreatic juice
and which have the function of preparing starch for digestion, are at
this time scanty in amount and deficient in chemical action. But these
secretions are essential for the digestion of starchy foods, and
chemists tell us that starch abounds in the vegetable kingdom from which
most of the food of children is derived. It is therefore a matter of
some importance that every person in charge of an infant should have
that amount of knowledge of chemical reactions which is requisite to
enable them to detect whether a food does or does not contain starch. A
child fed entirely on starchy foods suffers from malnutrition of so
serious a character that death may, and often does, ensue. Even if other
suitable food, such as modified milk, be given, the internal economy of
the child will be seriously disturbed.

The names by which patent foods are advertised are very often misleading
to unscientific persons, and invalids have suffered much from the
mistaken idea that jellies and meat extracts are foods. Meat extracts
have their use, but any invalid fed on extract of beef only would die
sooner than one left with no food at all. The reason for this can be
learned from the knowledge of the constituents of beef extracts and the
part they play in the human organism.


If we have seemed to lay stress on the value of a knowledge of the
sciences of physics and chemistry to the exclusion of the mention of
others, our justification of the fact is that space is limited, and that
we believe that physics and chemistry underlie all the other sciences
and are of paramount importance to students of all other subjects. In
the sciences of biology, physiology, botany, geology, &c., little
advance can be made without a knowledge of the fundamental laws of
nature. The physical laws control movement, and the chemical laws
control growth, whether of animate or inanimate nature. Physical and
chemical phenomena are concerned in the upheaval of rocks and mountains
which govern the contour of the continents of the world. These contours
influence climates and peoples; as the contours change the people
change. The dwellers in the mountain regions differ in character from
the dwellers in valleys and plains; the inhabitants of cold districts
differ from the inhabitants of warm districts; but it is people who make
history, and historians cannot afford to pass by natural environments
and natural laws.

If a foundation of the fundamental sciences be laid at school the
student can subsequently build upon it the special science that is
suited to his career. It matters little what the calling in life of any
person may be; if he aim at success in that calling he must acquaint
himself with the laws by which he has his being, and by which he must
perforce be guided in all his actions as well as in his intercourse with
his fellow-men.

The many avenues now open to women for public work entail on them the
responsibility of fitting themselves for that work. They as much as, if
not more than, the housewife need to study the sciences which treat of
the safeguarding of human life. As councillors dealing with sanitary and
building laws, as inspectors of workrooms, of institutions, and of the
conditions of child-life, they owe it to themselves and to the community
they serve not to undertake those duties without adequate knowledge.
Adequate knowledge must be taken to mean scientific knowledge of those
matters of which, by offering themselves for such appointments, they
assume an expert knowledge. It is an irony that scientific training
should be willingly and even eagerly acquired when it is a question of
qualifying for a salaried post for work among strangers, and that a
mother should be content to bring to bear on the well-being and lives of
her own circle unscientific and amateur experience.

We have only been able to touch the skirt of a great subject, but our
end will have been achieved if we have succeeded in pointing the way for
a fuller realisation of the aims of earnest men and women for the saving
of child-life and the mitigation of disease, and if we have shown how
great that subject is--how much too great for anything but the most
superficial treatment in a single article.




The household has been treated by economists with curious negligence.
The founder of political economy showed so little insight into the
real nature of the work carried on there as to class those whom he
described as menial servants with unproductive labourers.[13] The
later classical economists have followed his lead. Marshall, it is
true, shows throughout his books an appreciation of the position and
responsibilities of the housewife and the mother which is foreign to
most of his colleagues.[14] But he has never attempted to analyse the
economic functions of the household, or to show its varying relations to
the rest of the community; neither has he pointed out the peculiar
factors which differentiate the position and remuneration of the women
employed in domestic activities from those of all other workers. On
the other hand, the more modern school of economists, those who devote
themselves to the history of economic development in the past or to
the intensive study of special economic institutions in the present,
have equally failed to discuss with any adequacy the organisation of
the household.

The economic historians describe with minuteness the rise and fall of
gilds and chartered companies, the workings of different methods of
education and of poor relief in successive epochs. They rarely indicate
how the various forms of industrial organisation translated themselves
into the domestic expenditure of the people. It would, for instance, be
very difficult to extract from the pages of the economic historians an
answer to the question, "What were the conditions determining the supply
of domestic servants at the close of the Middle Ages, in the eighteenth
century and in the nineteenth century respectively?" It is not easy to
answer definitely even simpler and more fundamental questions than
these. It is often stated, for example, that the household arrangements
of the serfs on the mediæval manors were rude and uncomfortable to the
last degree,[15] but it is certain that this is not so universally true
as has been thought. Some at all events of the more prosperous
inhabitants of the manors possessed household furniture and equipments
of a kind not inferior to the outfit of the casual labourer to-day.
Sheets, for example, are mentioned several times in extant inventories.
But much more investigation than has yet been possible would be
necessary before it could be determined whether these instances of a
higher standard of comfort are or are not exceptions to a general rule.

To take other instances of unsettled problems: How was pottery made in
the Middle Ages--by travelling potters as in the East to-day, by gilds
of potters, or by the inhabitants of the manor directly for their own
use? Or again: When did the custom of building houses to let on rent
first become general in England? It is clear that the habit of living in
rented houses has and must have the most profound influence on family
life and national character. But so far, neither from economic histories
on the one hand nor from histories of architecture on the other, have I
been able to obtain any reliable information on this point.

When one turns to even more important questions--such, for instance, as
the industrial position of women at different epochs--it is equally
difficult to obtain precise and detailed knowledge. Without a very
lengthy and elaborate investigation of the extant original materials,
many of them scattered in municipal chambers in distant parts of
England, it would be quite impossible to say on what terms women were
admitted as members of the gilds and fraternities which extended over
the whole area of industrial life in the Middle Ages. The character and
organisation of the household and the position of women in the Middle
Ages are subjects still practically untouched by the economic

When we turn to modern times, a little more material has been collected.
There is an investigation by the Board of Trade into the wages of
domestic servants, and a book on domestic service by Professor Lucy
Salmon of Vassar College. It deals of course mainly with American
conditions, but cannot be neglected by any English student of the
economic relations of the household.

Humanitarianism has prompted studies more or less elaborate of the
dietaries and housing conditions of the working classes, especially in
towns,[17] but it would be idle to pretend that there has been yet more
than a beginning made of the task of determining how for each class of
the community its share of the national income as stated in money is
translated into the necessaries, comforts, and luxuries of life, into
house-room, fuel, food, cleanliness, clothing, insurance, domestic
service, recreation, and culture. The generalisations available are of
the most meagre description. We can, for instance, say with tolerable
certainty that the agricultural labourer spends three-fourths of his
income on food, the town labourer two-thirds, the artisan a half, the
middle-class man from a third to a fourth; but there is practically no
reliable information with regard to very large incomes, or to sums spent
on clothing in _any_ section of the community.

Moreover, there is one class--large, growing in importance, and an
essential element in modern civilisation--about whose domestic
expenditure we have no scientific knowledge at all. This is the class
which may be named "the routine brain-workers," the people who as
clerks, book-keepers, salesmen, typists, &c., are responsible for the
routine administration of modern commerce. They have been compared to
the nervous system, for like that system in the animal body they serve
for the communication and the mechanical record of the life of the
community on its industrial side. With them may be classed elementary
school-teachers, reporters, and the lower ranks of the Civil Service,
though I should not be prepared to say that some of these--especially
the teachers--ought to be regarded as performing only routine
brain-work. But all these workers can be conveniently studied together
in that their labour is carried on under somewhat similar conditions--it
is sedentary, highly regimented, exhausting to the brain and nervous
system, and is generally remunerated by a fixed salary, &c. They earn an
income larger than that of the manual labourer, but considerably less as
a general rule than that of the professional man. There is a total
absence of information as to the domestic expenditure of this class. It
is sometimes declared that its less well-paid members suffer as severely
from poverty as do sections of the working-class, and that the poor
clerk is really much more to be pitied than the well-to-do trade
unionist, the skilled manual worker.

But no one has yet attempted to test the truth of this view by the only
scientific means, namely, by the collection of precise details as to
the domestic expenditure of the routine brain-working class, showing
what sums are spent on house-room, food, clothing, &c., and what kind
of accommodation is obtained for the money spent. In short, the
investigation of domestic expenditure has never yet been carried out
in a purely scientific spirit solely for the sake of the resultant
knowledge. It has always been undertaken with some special practical
problem in view, and is consequently always fragmentary and frequently

Yet if it is important to know how the wealth of the country is
produced, it is of equal importance to know how it is consumed, and that
whether the consumption takes the form of porridge and flannelette for
the child of a dock-labourer, of drink and admission to a football match
for the miner or cotton-operative, or of a gardener, and a holiday in
Switzerland for the hard-working doctor or stockbroker. Domestic
expenditure should be investigated as impartially by the economist as
are the variations of plants or animals by the biologist. His one aim
should be the discovery and statement of truth, as complete and as
unbiassed as he can make it.

Hitherto, as I have said, this field of research has remained
comparatively untouched. In the first place, economists have generally
been men, and have naturally devoted their energies to the elucidation
of the problems of industry and business which concern men most closely.
Few women, on the other hand, have until recently received any training
in economics, and it has never occurred to them that the familiar and
wearisome problems of the rent, the butcher's bill, and the children's
clothes, together with the difficulty of finding a satisfactory cook,
may have a wider aspect than the narrow and personal one. But even as it
is, the few women who have distinguished themselves in the sphere of
economics have in a note or a casual remark pointed out distinctions
between household management and other branches of industry which cast a
flood of light on the whole subject. There is a paragraph in the second
volume of "Industrial Democracy"[18] which lays down the difference
between the underlying principles of business and of the administration
of the home in a few words which might serve as the text for a volume.
It is precisely this difference, first clearly indicated by Mrs. Webb,
which constitutes the second ground for the common neglect of this
branch of economics. A factory or a shop is run for profit; a household
simply to provide comfort and convenience for its members. To put it in
technical language, in the world of industry we are concerned with
exchange values, but in the home with use values alone. From this
distinction, overlooked by reason of its obviousness, there flow a large
number of consequences which will be discussed later. At present we are
only concerned to show that economists, with their eyes fixed on trade
and the mechanism of trade, very naturally neglected that section of
life in which values, material and immaterial, were being continually
created, but for use alone, not for commercial purposes.

The wife who cooks her husband's dinner, or caters, organises, and keeps
accounts for him, is really engaged in work which in any rational
interpretation of the word has far more right to be called productive
than is much of the labour employed in manufacture or business. But the
work accomplished by the wife in the household has never yet received
its full acknowledgment from the economists. The truth is that, although
they constantly warn students to avoid the vulgar error of confusing
money wages with real wages, they themselves have been so biassed by the
commercial conception of profit-making that they have almost completely
overlooked even the purely economic value of much work, such as cooking,
cleaning, and clothes-making, which is carried on within the home, not
for profit-making or for a salary, but as part of the duties attaching
to the status of wife and mother. It is acknowledged by the economists
themselves[19] that although in theory they have set aside a section to
be devoted to the discussion of "consumption" as other sections deal
with "production" and "distribution" of wealth, yet in practice the
treatment of consumption has been meagre and ineffective. This, perhaps,
is inevitable--it is certainly regrettable--and women economists would
be performing a most useful work if they were to undertake a careful and
detailed investigation into the consumption of wealth at different
epochs and by different classes of the community, and one, moreover, for
which their connection with housekeeping, which is only the practical
application of the science of the consumption of wealth, would have
already partially prepared them.

There is still another reason why a scientific treatment of the
consumption of wealth has been delayed. It could not be developed until
medicine and hygiene had provided us with satisfactory standards of the
needs of the human body. When food, for example, was still regarded
purely as a matter of individual likes and dislikes, it was impossible
to discuss at all adequately the sufficiency or insufficiency of the
food consumption of a given class. But now that we know that the varying
tastes simply express in different ways the need for so much proteid,
carbo-hydrates and fats, we have a firm basis on which to work. It is
true that it is not yet quite so firm as we could wish; the scientists
have not yet succeeded even for a single class in fixing a dietary
standard which would be accepted by all in particular, and recently the
investigations of Professor Chittenden have suggested that the amount of
proteid hitherto thought essential may be excessive. Moreover, little
attention has yet been paid to the need of different food for different
work. Yet it seems probable, to say the least, that the sedentary
worker, using his brain and not his muscles, may require lighter and
daintier food than the labourer in the fields or the docks, and may
really suffer as seriously if that better food be denied him as does the
latter if he fails to secure a sufficiency of coarser and cheaper
nutriment. This question would be of great importance in investigating
the expenditure of the clerk class. But although the scientists have
here failed to provide the students of domestic expenditure with all the
data required, yet there is sufficient knowledge of the general
principles of dietetics to enable us to base our study of food
consumption on a fairly sound basis.

In the same way a standard of housing accommodation establishing the
minimum of space per head necessary for health is generally recognised;
and on these and similar calculations, correlated with the cost of
house-room and commodities, it will be possible to build up a science of
consumption which will be really a science and not a series of guesses
and vague generalities.

It is true, again, that it is easier to deal with the grades of society
practising the roughest and least-skilled labour than with those
engaged in the higher forms of brain-work, but we can at all events set
ourselves to discover what _is_ the average distribution of the
expenditure of men earning £1000 a year, and can afterwards appeal to
the hygienists to decide for us what kind of food, house-room, and
recreation is essential for a man who makes his living by the higher
activities of the intellect. A very close connection between economics
and hygiene is essential if the division of our subject that deals with
consumption is to be adequately treated.

So, then, a scientific study of the economics of the household would
fall into two divisions--(1) an endeavour to describe the industrial
development of each country as it affects family life, house-room, food,
and clothes; and (2) a descriptive account of the domestic circumstances
and the expenditure[20] of each class of the community at the present
time. Under each of these headings special sections should treat
domestic service, the work of woman beyond the household, and the
organisation of household work as compared with different branches
of industry and administration. Finally, a supplementary section
should set forth the practical applications of the conclusions arrived
at, and should endeavour to help the housewife or, it may be, the
superintendent of an industrial school, college, or boarding house
in the administration of the income at her disposal.

But much more careful investigation into the question of how incomes
actually are spent is essential before we can deal satisfactorily with
the even more difficult problem of how they ought to be spent. And there
is, too, another factor which must be taken into consideration.
Economists in defining wealth commonly admit nowadays that it includes
collective and immaterial well-being of various kinds.[21] But having
made this admission, they straightway put it aside and proceed to
discuss wealth as though it consisted exclusively of material
exchangeable commodities. Yet clearly the real income of a family is
increased if the children have easy access to good free schools or to
ample open spaces. It will not be possible to estimate precisely the
money value of opportunities of this description. But we should at least
notice their presence or absence for each class and for each stage of
national development. It is clear that in the present paper no attempt
can be made to deal with the problems of the economics of expenditure
or of the household save in the merest outline, and therefore the
following pages are to be taken simply as a sketch to be filled in by
more extensive and more throughgoing investigation later on.


English industrial history has been divided into three main epochs with
intervening periods of transition. These are (1) the mediæval period,
(2) the period extending from Elizabeth's reign to the reign of George
III., and (3) the modern period.

In the first, the typical economic institutions are the manor and the
gild; in the second, domestic manufacture and convertible husbandry
are predominant; and in the third the factory system and capitalist
farming take their places.[22] Trade, too, undergoes a similar
evolution. In the first period it is intermunicipal rather than
international. In the second period, within each nation trade is free
and unfettered, and a considerable amount of territorial division of
labour and regional specialisation results. But external trade is
regulated by governments on the principles of the mercantile system. In
the third period, with the increase and improvement of the means of
communication, international trade becomes more and more important,
markets are immensely widened, and the economic organisation of society
reaches the complexity possessed by it to-day, which reacts in many
half comprehended ways on the household and on family life.

The main characteristics of these divisions of English industrial
history are, on the whole, clear and well-marked. But the transition
periods are more difficult to describe. It has often been pointed out
that the two industrial revolutions, as they have been named by some
writers, bear a certain resemblance to each other. Both involve a
reorganisation of industry which results in increased productivity on
the one hand, but in the demoralisation of certain classes of the
workers on the other hand. Both therefore require a revision of the
system of providing for the destitute. Both, too, produce the most
far-reaching effects on home-life and the economy of the household, and
influence profoundly the position of women. Both, too, are alike in that
it is not easy to fix dates to the periods within which the revolution
in industry takes place.[23] But roughly we may regard the late
fifteenth century and the early part of the sixteenth as a time of
stress and strain, due to the appearance of new methods both in
agriculture and in industry, especially in the wool trade; and in the
same way the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the
nineteenth was a period of sudden and violent economic transition. In
both cases alike the changes in agriculture preceded somewhat the
changes in industry, and the revolution made itself felt in different
ways and at different times in the various districts of the country.
There are still backward areas in the south of England and in the west
of Scotland where life has been very little affected, notwithstanding
trains and steam-engines, by the alterations in industry which have
produced the roaring mills and clattering shipyards of Lancashire and
the Clyde.

The task before us, then, is to sketch as clearly as possible from the
scanty material available the main features of domestic life at each one
of these epochs, and to show how the changes in industry reflected
themselves in the life of the household.


(1) _The Serf--his Position and Domestic Arrangements_

In the mediæval period, outside the small and scattered towns, the
prevailing form of economic organisation was the manor. We have to
imagine the surface of England dotted over with stretches of cultivated
land, with areas of waste, moorland or woodland intervening. Each
stretch of arable land was cultivated more or less in common by groups
of serfs, who lived generally in one long village street, with the
church and the lord's hall near at hand. Usually, in addition to the
arable land worked on the complicated "three-field" system soon to be
described, there were also hay-meadows down by the river, sometimes
permanent pasture held in common, while the waste was available for
extra pasturage, and for cutting turf and wood for fuel. Each serf
possessed, besides, a small croft attached to his house, and sometimes
an orchard and rude garden. The arable land was divided into three large
fields, not shut in as are our fields by hedges, but lying open. Each
field, again, was partitioned into numbers of strips more or less
regular in shape, and each serf possessed a certain number of these,
not, however, all lying together, but intermixed "mingle-mangle" with
the holdings of his neighbours. He was not allowed to cultivate these,
or indeed any of the land save his own tiny croft, as he pleased, but
was compelled to follow the traditional method of farming according to
the customs of his manor. Usually the rotation was wheat or rye in the
first year, oats or barley in the second year, fallow in the third year,
while the other two fields followed the same course a year and two years
later; so that in each year one field was fallow, one grew wheat or rye,
and the other oats or barley. The animals belonging to the serfs and
their lord were pastured on the arable fields when the crops were taken
off, and on the fallow field. The lord of the manor also possessed
strips in the common fields, and was regarded as the owner of the common
and waste, subject to the pasturage and fuel rights of the tenants. He
did not receive rent quite as we understand it, but each serf owed him
dues calculated in labour, in kind, and occasionally in money.

For instance, on the manor of Tidenham, in the time of Edward I., one
serf worked for the lord for five days in every alternate week for
thirty-five weeks in the year, two and a half days every week for six
weeks in the summer, and three days every week for eight weeks during
August and September (the three festival weeks of Easter, Christmas, and
Pentecost were holidays). Then, in addition to this regular weekly work,
he could also be required for extra work, commonly called boon-works or
precariæ. "He made one precaria called churched, and he ploughed and
harrowed a half acre for corn and sowed it with one bushel of corn from
his own seed, and in the time of harvest he had to reap and bind and
stack the produce, receiving one sheaf for himself on account of the
half acre." And he had to plough one acre for oats. In addition, there
were dues in kind--one hen at Christmas, five eggs at Easter, eight
gallons of beer at every brewing, and also small payments in money,
commuted, one would conjecture, for payments in kind, _i.e._ one penny
for every yearling pig, and one halfpenny for those only of the half

In other cases the tenants paid dues of lambs, of fish, of honey, of
clews of net yarn, of straw, &c. One of the tenants of the great
monastic establishment at Glastonbury had to find thirty salmon, "each
as thick as a man's fist at the tail."[25] A curious form of labour due
is described in the Boldon Book. The tenants of certain manors in Durham
had to build each summer a hunting-lodge for the bishop and his retinue
when they came to take their pleasure in the moors in the west of

At different periods and in different districts the subdivisions of the
tenants vary greatly, and for complete details the reader must be
referred to the special works on the subject. But two classes can
usually be distinguished--(1) the villeins, who possessed oxen and
worked the larger holdings (often about thirty acres--called virgates or
yard lands); and (2) the cotters, who held about five acres, and whose
domestic animals consisted of pigs and poultry. In addition there were
often found socmen, who were personally free; and, at the other end of
the social scale, slaves, who, largely through the influence of the
Church, were manumitted before the end of the Middle Ages.

The most striking feature about the manors is that each was almost
completely self-supporting. Each manor provided corn, meat, eggs, milk,
cheese, poultry, &c., for its own inhabitants. Fuel, and perhaps game
and rabbits, came from the waste. The furniture was of rude wood, and
the clothes would be sheep-skin and coarse cloth spun and woven from the
wool grown on the sheep that were fed on the manor lands. The ordinary
serf would very rarely either receive or spend coin of the realm. Salt
he would buy and the metal pots and pans used for cooking, and, as
Ashley suggests, tar.[26] But the greater amount of the goods required
for himself and his family would be produced under what the economists
call "natural economy," _i.e._ they were made by the people who intended
to use them, directly, without the intervention of money or any
mechanism of exchange.

Together with this self-sufficiency would go a considerable amount of
co-operation. Economists are not yet agreed as to the precise extent to
which co-operation was used in the manorial village. But we know that
tenants frequently lent their oxen to one another to make up the
necessary team; that in some of the Durham manors there was a communal
smith, who received payment in the possession of a strip of land; and
that the tenants owned a common oven. It was customary, too, for one
shepherd or swineherd to guard the sheep or the pigs of the whole
community. The village mill, when first established, was also a common
boon to the whole body of serfs, but later on the obligation to grind
their corn at the lord's mill and to pay the dues came to be regarded as
an onerous burden.

A curious and important person on the mediæval estate was the
bee-keeper. Particulars are given of his duties and rewards in one
Durham manor by the Boldon Book.[27] He does no regular weekly work, the
care of the bees apparently taking the place of this, but he must take
part with the other serfs in the boon-works necessary at harvest and
other times of pressure. As honey was almost the only source of
sweetness in early mediæval cooking, it can be understood why the
bee-keeper ranked only a little below the shepherd. The Boldon Book,
unfortunately, since its aim is to define the relations between the
villeins and their lord, does not tell us whether he superintended the
bees belonging to his fellow tenants. On the analogy of the shepherd and
swineherd, we should assume that he did.

How, then, are we to describe the domestic life of the various
sections of rural society at this time? Unfortunately, very little
material exists on which to draw for the account of the household
arrangements of the serfs. They have naturally left no account-books;
they enter rarely into the literature of the period; there are no
remains of their houses or clothing, and it is, in fact, far from
easy to decide how they did live. But it seems probable that a rude and
dirty plenty, procured by long hours of toilsome open-air labour, was
the prevailing characteristic of the serf household. The house would
be of clay or wattles or wood, probably without windows--and those
certainly unglazed--and with a hole in the middle of the roof to let out
the smoke, the fire being placed in the centre of the floor. The
furniture must have been rough but solid, its most valuable items being
the brass or iron cooking-pots. On the other hand, I do not believe
that, in the more prosperous villein households at all events, the
level of domestic comfort was so low as has sometimes been represented.
Rough cloth was probably woven or sometimes bought. There is one case
on record where, in return for a small piece of land, one family
undertook to do the weaving for another, and Gasquet mentions[28] that
to the common Christmas feast on one of the Glastonbury manors some of
the tenants brought their own napkins, "if he wanted to eat off a
cloth." I see no reason to doubt that some at least of the villein
households were provided with coarse coverings for bed and table. On
the other hand, it seems doubtful whether any form of artificial
light was commonly used in the poorer households. The food, too, would
show what to us would seem strange contrasts of plenty and of
poverty. It would include neither tea nor coffee, neither sugar nor
spices, nor yet potatoes. On the other hand, there was probably,
save at times of famine, a sufficiency of bread,[29] and eggs and
dairy produce would be used in quantities now quite beyond the reach of
the ordinary working-man. The butter, it is true, was not of a high
standard, for it was usually liquid, but the children must have had
milk to drink and cheese and eggs to eat. Even the poorest serfs
apparently kept a few fowls, since their dues are so often payable in
eggs, and some of the eggs and the chickens would be available for
family consumption. But their meat must have been much poorer than
ours. Fresh mutton and beef were rarely eaten, except in the case of
animals who had died a natural death. The others were much too valuable
for draught purposes, for milk or for wool. Among the maxims of an
old agriculturist of the thirteenth century we find the following
remark: "If a sheep die suddenly, they put the flesh in water for so
many hours as are between midday and three o'clock, and then hang it
up, and when the water is drained off they salt it and then dry it. But
I do not wish you to do this."[31] In the autumn, animals which it
was impossible to keep during the winter, owing to the absence of
root-feeding, were killed and salted down. Occasionally, however, fresh
pork would be used, and no doubt every now and then a wild beast or
bird from the common or waste would find its way into the housewife's
iron pot. The food, then, would be rough and sometimes unwholesome,
but on the other hand it contained many most desirable forms of
nourishment which are absent from the labourer's diet to-day, and which
are, it might be observed, those specially suitable for children.[32]

The fuel used was wood or peat, or in some cases dried cow-dung.

On the whole, then, the household arrangements of the mediæval serf were
primitive, and in times of famine he and his family must have endured
great hardships. The winters, too, when the tracks were deep in mud and
artificial light was absent or scarce, must have been recurring times of
considerable suffering. But on the other hand, fresh air and easy access
to the land were benefits hardly valued until in later times they have
been lost to whole sections of the population.

(2) _The Lord of the Manor--his House and Household_

There is more material available for the description of the household of
the lord than of his serf. Account-books, directions for household
administration, and in the fifteenth century very curious rhymed rules
of behaviour and of precedence are available. Naturally, however, it is
of the king's household and of the households of the nobles and of the
great monasteries that we know most. Very little can now be discovered
of the details of the domestic arrangements of the master in possession
of one manor only, and it is not certain that we should be justified in
supposing that what we find to be true of the great household will
necessarily hold also for the smaller one. For example, in the families
of which we have records the great majority of the servants are men,
cooking in particular being in the Middle Ages a masculine vocation. But
is it safe to assume that the same would be the case in the household of
a simple knight? It must therefore be clearly understood that what
follows has reference mainly to royal and noble families.

The domestic buildings of all manors were on a more or less uniform
plan. They were grouped round a quadrangle, one side of which consisted
of the great hall where dinner was served, business transacted, and
where servants and the humbler guests slept at night. The door was at
one end, usually protected by screens, behind which was another door
leading to the buttery, and above which the musicians' gallery was often
placed. Opposite the door was a raised daïs, where stood the table
reserved for the master, his family, and important guests. In the body
of the hall dinner was served to the rest of the household. A private
chamber called the solar or bower, reached by a staircase either inside
the hall or placed in the quadrangle outside, was kept for the special
use of the lord and his family. There occasionally they took meals,
though it was regarded as a sign of luxurious self-seeking to avoid the
formality and bustle of the meals in the great hall. In the solar, too,
beds were placed for important guests, and any particularly valuable
articles of furniture would be kept there. On the other sides of the
quadrangle were the chapel, granaries, storehouses, dairies and
bakehouses, and the kitchen. This was often placed at a little distance
to guard against fire. The cooking was usually carried on at an iron
grate placed in the middle of the floor, and pictures show us that
sometimes it was even done in the open air. Refuse was carried off by an
open drain running across the centre of the kitchen.

As an illustration let me quote an account of a typical manor-house of
the twelfth century. "The manor-house of Ardleigh consisted of a hall
with bower annexed. Also a kitchen, a stable, a bakehouse, two stores
for corn (granges) and a servants' house. In the hall were two moveable
benches, a fixed table, and a buffet." [33]

In course of time other rooms were added, and the furniture and
equipment became more elaborate. But until Elizabeth's reign the great
hall where master and servants dined together was the central feature in
the wealthy English home.

The food was derived from the manor, and purchases were only made of
such things as could not be produced in England, notably red wine,[34]
spices, almonds and rice, all much used in mediæval cookery. Sugar, too,
would be bought, when it replaced honey for sweetening purposes. But the
corn, meat, milk, cheese, and eggs would be all home-grown, and as it
was easier in the state of transport at that time to bring the family to
the food than the food to the family, part of the duties of housekeeping
consisted in so arranging the sojourn of the household as to draw
food-supplies from each manor in the most convenient way. The great
Bishop of Lincoln, Robert Grossetête, gives elaborate directions on this
head to a widowed friend of his, Margaret, Countess of Lincoln.

"Every year at Michaelmas when you know the measure of all your corn,
then arrange your sojourn for the whole of that year and for how many
weeks in each place according to the seasons of the year and the
advantages of the country in flesh and in fish, and do not in any wise
burden by debt or long residence the places where you sojourn.

"I advise that at two seasons of the year you make your principal
purchases, that is to say, your wines, your wax, and your

And there follows a list of the fairs recommended by the pious bishop.

The materials of mediæval food, then, would be similar to the diet of
the serfs already described, but would be used in greater plenty and
would be supplemented by luxuries imported from the East and bought at
the fairs. If we keep in mind these conditions, as well as the leisure
and the large supply of labour available, we shall understand why
mediæval cooking was so elaborate; for, contrary to ordinary opinion, it
was distinguished by a large number of complicated made dishes. Small
birds were commonly roasted, but other forms of meat were stewed or
minced. They would in this way both be more easily dealt with at the
open fire of the mediæval kitchen, and more easily served in the
mediæval dining-room, where knives and spoons were the only implements
in common use. Moreover, there was what seems to us an extraordinary
liking for violent and mixed flavourings and brilliant colouring.
Bucknade, for instance, was made of meat hewn in gobbets, pounded
almonds, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, onions, salt and
fried herbs, thickened with rice-flour and coloured yellow with saffron.
Here, again, is the recipe for mortrews, a dish mentioned in Chaucer's
"Canterbury Tales."

"Take hennes and pork and seethe them together. Take the flesh of the
hennes and of the pork and hack it small and grind it all to dust. Take
bread y-grated, and add thereto and temper it with the self-broth[36]
and mix it with yolks of eggs, and cast thereon powder fort,[37] and
boil it and do thereto powder of ginger, saffron, and salt, and look
that it is standing,[38] and flour it all with powder of ginger." The
lavish use of eggs, pork, and chickens in this recipe could be
paralleled in many others, and is evidently to be connected with the
custom of receiving manorial dues in kind at stated intervals. Hundreds
of eggs would be sent in by the tenants at Easter, and the problem of
the housekeeper would not be how to lessen the consumption of eggs in
order to keep down the bills, but how to get through those in store
before they were hopelessly spoiled.

For the earlier period menus are not available, but a curious rhymed
treatise on servants' duties dating from the middle of the fifteenth
century, entitled "John Russell's Boke of Nurture," has been reprinted
by the Early English Lent Society[39] in the volume entitled "Meals and
Manners of the Olden Time," and from it I extract the following:--

  Furst set forth mustard and brawne of boore, the wild swine,
  Suche pottage as the cooke hath made of herbis, spice, and wine,
  Beef, mutton, stewed feysaund, swan with the chawdyn[40]
  Capoun, pigge, venisoun bake, leche lombard,[41] fritter, viant fine,
  And then a soteltie.[42]
  Maydon Marie that holy Virgin
  And Gabrielle greeting her with an ave.

This is followed by two other courses rather lighter in character,
though still including venison, peacocks, quails, &c., and then comes

    After this delicatis mo,
  Blanderelle or pepins with caraway in confite,
  Wayfurs to eat, hypocras[43] to drink with delite.

The service in the wealthy mediæval manor was as elaborate as the
cooking, at all events in the later period. The Bishop of Lincoln finds
it necessary to warn the Countess of Lincoln not to permit slovenliness
among her retainers. She is not to allow "old tabards, and soiled
herigauts, and imitation short-hose." But even this widow lady is served
with considerable pomp. "Command that your panter[44] with the bread and
your butler[45] with the cup, come before you to the table foot by foot
before grace and that three valets be assigned by the marshal each day
to serve the high table and the two tables at the side with drink. And
at each course call the servers to go to the kitchen, and they
themselves to go always before your seneschal as far as you until the
dishes be set before you, and see that all servants with meats go
orderly and without noise to one part and another of the hall to those
who shall be assigned to divide the meats, so that nothing be placed or
served disorderly."[46]

In the "Boke of Nurture," which refers of course to a much later
period, the service is even more elaborate, and we gather indeed that
the dinner was a social function at which all classes of the community
met together. Even the poorest were not forgotten, as there was a
special officer whose business it was to distribute alms of broken meats
to the beggars waiting at the door. The rules of precedence were most
elaborate, and the serving seems on special occasions to have risen
almost to the rank of a solemn ritual. In addition, dinner was
accompanied by music and sometimes enlivened at intervals by pageants
and shows.

Domestic service in these great households was very different from what
it is to-day. There was, in the first place, no fixed line drawn as
there is now between the menial and the non-menial classes of the
community. The higher servants were often people of nearly the same
social rank as those whom they served. Sir William de Mortimer was the
head-steward of Bishop Swinfield, Sir Gilbert Brydges the steward of
Gloucester Abbey.[47] Young men who entered the service of a lord might
one day be called on to carve or serve wine, and the next day might sit
at meat in the same room.[48]

Through the account-books and the household ordinances of the period, we
can trace four grades of household servants--squires or gentlemen,
valets or yeomen, grooms, and pages. The last grade had been recently
introduced into the royal household in Edward IV.'s time, and they did
not eat in hall. "A page etyth in his office or with his next fellow,
not in the halle at noe place, taking dayly one lofe, one messe of great
meate, half a gallon of ale; one reward quarterly in the counting-house,
twenty pence of clothing when the household hathe at every one of the
four feasts, one napron of one elle and part of the King's great rewards
given yearly amongst them in household."[49]

The last quotation illustrates also the method of remuneration. The
money received was a very minor and unimportant factor. The servants
were paid mostly in kind, and the share of each in food, fuel, and
clothing is very fully and carefully stated. The chief porter of the
Abbey of Gloucester, for instance, had a chamber next to the abbey gate.
His weekly allowance was three white loaves, called myches, and two
called holyers, with seven loaves of squire bread; for ale every quarter
3s. 4d. On every flesh or fish day he had a mess of flesh or fish of the
first course, as much as was set before two monks. He had a gown every
year of the suit of the gentlemen of the Lord Abbot, and in addition
13s. 4d. per annum. These fixed rations of food clothing &c., are called
livery, a term now restricted to clothing alone.

It is noticeable that these servants are almost all men. Washerwomen
(lotrices) are women, and there are occasionally notices of young girls
in attendance on the lady of the house. But so far as our information
goes, cooking and cleaning and serving are carried on by men, though
mention is made of women pastry-cooks who in monasteries, to avoid
scandal, had to be accommodated in a separate kitchen, called the
pudding-house.[50] But in the Middle Ages domestic service was not, as
it is now, regarded as a menial occupation to be left, save in some of
its higher branches, exclusively to women.

I can find no trace at this period of any difficulty in obtaining
service. Bishop Grossetête assures the Countess of Lincoln that she can
easily obtain servers if she needs them, and the young men addressed in
the rhyming exhortations preserved in "Meals and Manners" evidently
regard it as promotion almost beyond their hopes to become members of a
lord's household. Whether this would be equally the case if we had
information about the smaller households, it is not easy to say. But
when we remember that the alternatives were laborious and monotonous
work at agriculture or the chance of finding a place in the gilds or
fraternities which monopolised the trade in towns at that period, we can
believe that the plentiful fare, the lively society, and the not too
strenuous[51] work required of a serving-groom or yeoman would be
regarded as a prize worth striving for and worth keeping.

It would be interesting, had I more space at my disposal, to discuss
mediæval town life and the domestic arrangements of the monasteries,
which are very fully and interestingly described in Abbé Gasquet's book,
"English Monastic Life." But I must content myself solely with one or
two extracts illustrating the household furniture of the mediæval

In 1303, a certain Alan de Bedeford, a baker of London, was sold up for
arrears of taxes, and the following were the goods seized by the
inexorable tax-gatherer: "One brass pot weighing 18 lbs., value 2s. 6d.,
and another brass pot weighing 13 lbs., value 21d., and one kettle value
14d., the total whereof amounts to 5s 5d."[52]

In 1337, an inventory was preserved of the goods of a felon. It was
probably exhaustive, and may therefore be taken as indicating with
tolerable precision the standard of household comfort of a London
burgess at that time. It is too long to quote in full (the list of
garments in particular is rather tedious), but it is interesting to note
that it includes a mattress, three feather-beds, five cushions, six
blankets, seven linen-sheets, four table-cloths, six whole brass pots of
varying value and one broken one, one candlestick and two plates of
metal, two basins and one washing-vessel, a spit, a frying-pan, and a

Further study of wills and inventories would yield a fresh store of
information with regard to mediæval household equipment, and might not
improbably upset some preconceived ideas as to the ordinary standard of
life at that time.


(1) _The First Industrial Revolution and its Effects_

The fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century were
marked by great economic changes. The manorial system, modified before
this period by the gradual commutation of labour dues and especially by
the catastrophe of the Black Death, was replaced on the one hand by
enclosures for sheep-farming and on the other by convertible husbandry,
when the farmer possessed or rented his own separate holding and managed
it as he pleased, using the same land alternately for pasturage and as
arable.[54] At the same time, the gild organisation of industry was
replaced by the system commonly known as domestic manufacture. This
spread largely in the country districts, and profoundly influenced home
life and the position of women. At the same time both home and foreign
trade greatly increased, and "natural economy" was almost entirely
replaced by "money economy," the necessities of life being no longer
produced by the family for their own use; men worked instead for
payment, and then with the money so earned bought in the market the
goods they required.[55] These changes, like the corresponding changes
at the end of the eighteenth century, brought greater wealth and pomp to
some classes, increased comfort to the bulk of the people, but called
into existence a new class of landless labourers, whose needs and
importunities finally led to the establishment of the poor-law.

It would require a volume to describe how these changes reflected
themselves in the daily life of the people, and at present I must
content myself with noting very briefly the main effects of this first
industrial revolution.

In the country two classes appeared: the labourer, who, although he
might possess a small piece of land of his own[56] or at the least had
grazing rights over a neighbouring common, yet depended for his
livelihood on the wages paid by his master. So far I have not discovered
any reliable source of information with regard to the family expenditure
of this class.[57]

Next there was the farmer either renting or owning a farm. Very often
farming would be combined with spinning or weaving wool. Agriculture
of this kind, partly for subsistence and partly for the market,
supplemented by the practice of domestic industries, remained the
dominant type in England until the introduction of capitalist farming
in the eighteenth century, and indeed can still be found in backward
districts. The part played in it by women can be illustrated by a
curious account of the duties of the wife of a husbandman given in
Fitzherbert's "Book of Husbandry" (1534).

"First in a morning when thou art waked and purposiste to rise, lyfte up
thy hands and blesse thee.... And when thou art up and redy, then first
sweep thy house, dress up thy dysshe-board, and sette all things in good
order within thy house. Milk thy kye, suckle thy calves, sye up thy
mylke, take up thy children and array them, and provide for thy
husband's brekefaste, dinner, souper, and thy children and servants, and
take thy part with them. And to ordayne corn and malt to the myll, to
bake and brue withal whanne need is. And meete it to the mill and fro
the mill, and see that thou have thy measure again beside the toll or
else the miller dealeth not truly with the or els thy corn is not drye
as it should be. Thou must make butter or cheese whan thou maist, serve
thy swyne both morning and evening, and give thy poleyn[58] meat in the
morning, and when tyme of the year cometh, thou must take heed how thy
duckes henne and geese do lay and to gather up their eggs and when they
wax brodie to get them.... And in the beginning of March or a little
before is time for a wife to make her garden and to gette as many good
seedes and herbes as she can and specially such as be good for the potte
and to eat. [Then come lengthy and technical directions for sowing and
working up flax and hemp] and thereof may they make shetes, bordclothes,
towels, shirts, smocks and such other necessaries and therefore let thy
distaff be always ready for a pastime that thou be not idle.... It is
convenient for a husband to have shepe of his owne for many causes, and
then maye his wife have part of the woll to make her husband and herself
some clothes. And at the very least way she may have the locks of the
sheep either to make clothes or blankets or coverlets or both. And if
she have no wool of her own, she may take wool to spyn of cloth-makers
and by that means she may have a convenient living.... It is a wife's
occupation to wynowe all manner of corns, to make malt, to wasshe and
wrynge, to make haye, shere corn, and in tiyme of nede to help her
husband to fyll the muck-wain or dung-cart, drive the plough, to load
hay, corn or such other. And to go or ride to the market, to sell
butter, cheese, eggs, chekyns, capons, hennes, pigs, geese, and all
manner of corns, and also to bye all manner of necessary things
belonging to the household and to make a trewe reckoning and account to
her husband what she hath paid. And if the husband go to the market to
bye or sell, as they oft do, he then to show his wife in like manner."

It is interesting to note in this extract the mixture of natural and
money economy, the appearance of domestic manufactures, and the
energetic co-operation of the wife in the work of the farm. The
sixteenth century would have had little sympathy with the
sentimentalists who hold that womanhood in itself is a burden so heavy
that all active occupations should be forbidden to the married woman.

According to Harrison[59] the standard of comfort among the agricultural
classes rose markedly at this time. Chimneys became common, pewter
plates and silver or tin spoons are used in place of "tinn platters and
wooden spoons." A farmer thinks his gains very small "if he have not a
fair garnish of pewter on his cupboard, with so much more in odd vessels
going about the house, three or four feather-beds, so manie coverlids or
carpets of tapestry, a silver salt, a bowl for wine if not a whole nest,
and a dozen of spoons to furnish up the suit."

Food, too, according to Harrison, was plentiful and varied. The increase
in pasture farming and the decrease in arable land had made meat (often,
it is true, salted) cheaper and corn-stuffs dearer, at least in
proportion. This tendency can be traced in the menus and accounts of the
period, and certainly appears in the following extract:[60] "The
artificers and husbandmen make greatest account of such food as they may
soonest come by and have it quickliest ready. Their food also consisteth
principallie in beef and such meat as the butcher selleth; that is to
saie, mutton, veal, lamb, pork, whereof he findeth great store in the
markets adjoining, besides souse,[61] brawn, bacon, fruit, pies of
fruit, fowles of sundrie sort, cheese, butter, eggs." A little lower
down he notes that venison and a cup of wine are luxuries reserved for
special occasions.

It is not easy to estimate the worth of Harrison's testimony to the
social habits of a class which he did not probably know intimately. It
is certain, too, that he was not speaking here of the poorest class of
labourers,[62] those who later recruited the class eligible for poor-law
relief. But even making these admissions, his words seem to be evidence
of a standard of comfort higher in some respects than could be attained
by the corresponding classes to-day. Chicken, for instance, practically
never forms part of the dietary of even the well-to-do urban artisan of
the present time.

In the organisation of the wealthy household, the economic changes of
the time produced important alterations. The increase in buying and
selling made the landlords more anxious to dispose of their surplus
produce in the markets, and on the other hand provided new luxuries on
which money could be spent. There resulted a tendency, which can be
traced in all the household books of the period, to limit the numbers of
servants and retainers. At the same time there was a growing desire for
privacy, and a widening gulf between the upper and the lower classes of
society. Hence the hall, the general assembly-place for the entire
household, lost its importance; dining-rooms and withdrawing-rooms for
the exclusive use of the family and guests, took its place, and the
servants were relegated to their own part of the house. Partly as cause
of this, partly as effect, domestic administration ceases to be a career
for men of better social rank, a tendency which would of course be
intensified by the fact that in commerce, in literature, in exploration,
&c., new opportunities were perpetually being opened up. Hence
Elizabeth's reign is a turning-point for the history both of domestic
service and of domestic architecture. It was probably about this time
that women superseded men as cooks and cleaners, and it is certain that
the increase in Elizabeth's reign of industries worked for profit must
have diminished the production for use in the household of many articles
of common domestic utility.[63]

(2) _Life in the Stuart Period_

For 150 years after the death of Elizabeth no startling changes occur in
the organisation of the household or in its economic relations. The
marked feature of this period is the existence of domestic manufactures,
engaging the head of the household and his family, one or two
apprentices, and sometimes a journeyman or two. It was common, indeed
all but universal, for the small master manufacturers to board and lodge
their employees, as it was common for farmers to board and lodge their
labourers. The larger households carried on at home many of the
operations--baking, brewing, washing, jam-making--which have now passed
to the factory. There was a steady growth of domestic luxury and of
convenience. The development of commerce made available new commodities,
such as tea, coffee, cocoa, and thereby influenced social life.
Furniture became more elegant, and perhaps at the same time more

It would require much reading and research to elaborate the details of
this progress, and for our present purpose it is hardly necessary, as it
involved alteration in particulars but not in the general organisation
of household economy. The difficulties of finding domestic servants
begin, however, to make themselves felt, and are amusingly discussed by
such writers as Defoe and Swift. It is at some time during this period
that houses are first built in terraces and squares on an identical
plan for letting purposes. But there are no sweeping changes, such as
mark the eighty years before the accession of Victoria.

(3) _The Influence of the Second Industrial Revolution on the Home_

In the last half of the eighteenth century agriculture and industry
were once more revolutionised, the former by the introduction of
capitalist farming, the rotation of crops, and the further enclosure of
common fields, commons, and wastes, the latter by the introduction of
machinery and mechanical motor power. For a detailed account of the
enormous changes consequent on these new methods of production, I must
refer the reader to the special treatises on the subject,[64] but we
must spend some time in considering the ways in which the home,
family life, and the position of women have been modified by these
industrial developments.

In the first place, the introduction of machinery meant the growth of
the factory system, and in consequence work left the home, which ceased
to be the institution where productive industry was carried on, and
became instead a centre solely of emotional and domestic life. At the
same time, the alteration in the land system made it impossible any
longer to combine home weaving, spinning, &c. with subsistence farming;
the worker becomes an employee in a business where the capital is owned
by his employer, and he depends absolutely on the skill of his own hands
for his livelihood.

Nothing could be more curious than to contrast Defoe's celebrated
picture of the wool-weaving districts of Yorkshire[65] with those
districts in their present condition. Then the workers,
semi-independent, farming small enclosures of two to six or seven acres,
laboriously produced cloth by hand processes in their own houses. Now
they work in enormous factories, fitted up with machinery which can spin
and weave wool both easier and better than in earlier days. They return
to their homes for rest and leisure alone. Work for wages and the home
are now separated, and, unless the use of cheap electrical power brings
about a counter-revolution, are likely to remain so. At the same time,
since mobility is in modern economic conditions of prime importance, it
is becoming less and less common for the manual worker, or indeed for
the citizen of any class, to own his house, and therefore the new trade
of the speculative builder comes into existence, its place being taken
in some cases, specially in mining districts, by the "company" houses
provided by masters for their employees.

These alterations in the framework of society inevitably influenced home
life, which was still further affected at a later period by an analogous
movement. Not merely the work done for wages left the home, but also
many of the commodities formerly produced for its own use by each
household came to be made by outside labour.

A very interesting and quite untouched field of inquiry here awaits the
economist. Why, for instance, is it customary to bake bread at home in
some districts and to buy it from a shop in others? Probably the
explanation is to be found in the relative cheapness of fuel. Yorkshire
and the North of England are close to abundant coalfields, and in the
days before cheap and quick transit the difference in the price of coal
in the South and North of England must have been even greater. At a
time, too, before the improvement of ovens, owing to the introduction of
the iron range and kitchener, the amount of fuel used for baking bread
would be even larger than at present. Therefore in the south there grew
up a race of housekeepers and servants unskilled in the making of the
delicious, crusty home-baked loaf, while in the north, even though
conditions have changed, the tradition still remains, and the weekly or
bi-weekly baking day is a regular institution. But this theory does not
explain why bread is not baked at home in Scotland, even in Glasgow and
the districts near it, or in Fife, which are all situated right in the
coal-bearing areas.

And at present there is little material for describing how brewing, jam
and cake-making, biscuit-making, the making and the washing of clothes,
the cleaning of furniture and carpets, &c., passed from the household to
the factory and laundry. It is a process which has evidently been much
quickened by the growth of town life, itself one of the most important
effects of the industrial revolution.[66]

The aggregation of population in towns in the first place made the
space available for household operations much smaller than was the case
when the kitchen was supplemented by rows of outhouses, a green and a
garden. In modern conditions, washing at home results in the discomfort
of the whole family, whether that family lives in a single room or in a
decent middle-class house of ten or twelve rooms. In the second
place, the massing into a comparatively small area of a homogeneous
population makes it easy to arrange for other methods of cleansing
clothes, either in the working-class districts by the provision of
municipal washing-houses, or in the more well-to-do suburbs through
the appearance of steam laundries. In the same way, when each
household possessed a garden it was natural to pick the fruit and
make it into jam. It is a different thing to buy fruit specially for
the purpose. Many housewives find that when the cost of the fruit,
sugar, and extra fuel is calculated, taking into account also the
dislocation of the regular routine of the household caused by the extra
work, it pays them better to buy the jam ready-made. On the other hand,
the use of machinery, the existence of cheap methods of transit, and
the multiplication of grocers' shops makes it increasingly possible to
produce jam in large quantities actually cheaper than it can be made
at home, and to distribute it quickly to the consumer.

The same cause, acting within and without the home in different ways, is
resulting in a steady transference of these domestic avocations from the
household. Moralists often lament this tendency, and attribute it
entirely to increased love of ease and leisure among women. But it is no
more possible to draw an indictment against a whole sex than against a
whole people, and an alteration in custom so widespread as this which we
are discussing must have deeper roots than a personal defect of laziness
in particular individuals.

This removal of production for domestic use from the home operates,
however, in very different ways in different cases. Sometimes the
article is produced much more cheaply outside the home than within,
owing to the lower cost and greater efficiency of large-scale methods of
manufacture. But this is not invariably the case. Laundry-work, for
instance, is probably done more cheaply in the private household. The
few attempts hitherto made to provide hot cooked food from a central
kitchen at a reasonable price have not been successful. On the other
hand, no individual household could hope to rival Messrs. Huntley &
Palmer as producers of biscuits. The factors which prevent the full
economies of the large-scale method of production from being realised in
the making of certain commodities are twofold. (1) Some goods are of
such a kind that they must be consumed where they are produced. Jam or
even plum-puddings can be made in a factory in the North of England and
afterwards transferred to London. But roast beef, omelettes, and
rice-puddings must be eaten within at least a hundred yards of the place
where they are cooked. This obvious fact effectually retains the
supremacy of the home in the provision of hot cooked food, and disposes
once and for all of the cruder arguments for co-operative housekeeping.
(2) Certain commodities must be made for or returned to individual
owners. If, for instance, we did not trouble to receive our own sheets
and towels from the laundry, but simply made a contract that each week
we should be supplied with a certain number, then the washing and
sorting could be done wholesale at a much cheaper rate. If we sent our
own fruit to the factories to be made into jam, jam would be much more

Thus the household will compete successfully with outside agencies, in
the case of all commodities which must be consumed on the spot, and the
outside agencies will have only a small advantage--will do the washing
or dressmaking more conveniently, but not much cheaper--when wholesale
methods are forbidden by the personal interest of each consumer in one
special portion of the commodities dealt with.[67]

Still, regarding the matter from the general economic standpoint, it
cannot be denied that the result of the industrial revolution has been
to transfer many branches of production both for profit and for use from
the home to the factory.

(4) _The Position of Women as Affected by the Industrial Revolution_

This in its turn affected the position of women, and is probably, if not
the sole, at least the most important reason for the discontent and
unrest to be traced among women of many different classes in the
nineteenth century. But the women belonging to the manual labouring
class and the women belonging to the upper classes were influenced in
different ways.

The former had always been accustomed to work for their living,
indirectly if not directly. On the little farms they looked after the
cow, the hens, and the garden. They did the carding and the spinning of
flax and of wool. True, these industries were carried on at home, and
probably the decent "manufacturer," then literally a hand-worker, would
have regarded himself as disgraced had his wife or daughters needed to
go outside his home to find work.[68] But when the factory system came,
with the horrible sufferings caused by the transition from one system of
industry to another, the women and children always accustomed to toil at
home followed their work to the factory, and there, owing to the new
methods of competition and to the absence of any regulation of industry,
they suffered hardships of overwork and underpayment which seem to the
present generation nearly incredible.

Home life for a time almost disappeared, and the suffering and
degeneration was only checked by the series of Factory Acts, imposing
ever fresh and fresh restrictions on the treatment of women and
children.[69] The policy underlying these acts was much criticised at
the time, and was indeed not fully comprehended until recently. But it
is now all but universally admitted that the Factory Acts have in the
main achieved their object, and have greatly improved the position of
women in the districts most affected by them; and reformers are
constantly urging their extension to fresh trades.

This movement was not understood, and was in consequence opposed by
the women of the middle-classes, whose position was affected quite
differently by the industrial revolution. They too found their
occupations within the home to a large extent destroyed. And in
other ways their situation was altered. For some reason not yet
explained, there appeared in the middle-classes a surplus of women.
This is no doubt partly due to the colonial expansion of the period,
which sent young men out to Australia, Canada, and South Africa,
while their natural mates remained behind in England. It is not easy to
give precise statistics, as our statistical tables make no distinction
of classes, but common observation and the description of social life
in the novels of the nineteenth century afford evidence of this fact.
Some statistics bearing on the subject can be found in Miss Clara
Collet's[70] article, "Prospects of Marriage for Women," and also in
"Die Frauenfrage," by Lilie Braun, pp. 157 _ff._ Frau Braun, whose
book is marked throughout by characteristic German thoroughness, sums
up:[71] "Es hat sich gezeigt, dass die Zunahme der allein stehenden
Frauen, die Abnahme der Heiratsfrequenz und die wirtschaftliche Not
als Ursache der Frauenbewegung in aller Lände anzusehen sind."

But it was not merely the decreased chance of marriage which made the
lives of middle-class women difficult in the last century. There was
also a change in the position of the fathers, which decreased their
opportunity for providing for their unmarried daughters. The
middle-class man is now less and less frequently at the head of a
business of his own, and is more and more frequently a salaried clerk,
manager, or engineer.

Formerly the shop or farm when it passed to the eldest son was burdened
with the charge of the spinster sisters, who often would help in the
dairy or behind the counter. Now, when a middle-class man dies, his hold
on the industrial world, so to speak, passes away with him, unless he
has been at once able and willing to lay by savings out of his salary, a
duty too often neglected. Briefly, therefore, the unmarried woman of the
middle-classes is less likely to marry, has less to occupy her at home,
and cannot so easily be provided for by her father if she remains a

Is it then to be wondered at if women insist, in increasing numbers,
upon a thorough education as well as the right to enter a profession in
which they can be self-supporting?[72] But the first women who decided
that a way must be opened by which they could earn for themselves
honourable maintenance not unnaturally fell into what we cannot but
regard now as regrettable mistakes, however unavoidable these errors may
have been at the time. Their great difficulties were to win admission to
the universities and permission to practise what had hitherto been
regarded as men's professions. Therefore they dreaded all restrictions
liable to be laid upon the entrance of women to occupations, and were
led in consequence to oppose the Factory Acts, designed for the
protection of women of the working-classes. It is only to-day and only
partially that the woman teacher, doctor, or journalist has come to
understand that the position and problems of the factory-hand are very
different from her own, and that confusion is created if she insists on
judging them from her own standpoint.

In the next place, they were almost forced to become masculine and
aggressive in their manners and outlook upon life. In particular, the
need of conformity to a system of education framed for men and not for
women led to an undervaluation of domestic pursuits. It was not realised
that in managing a household and in bringing up children there was scope
for the most developed character and the finest education.

But with the twentieth century,[73] college-trained women themselves are
coming to see that their previous neglect of those principles of science
and economics which underlie household administration was unwise and
unwarranted. Of that change of attitude, the new courses in home science
at King's College are the firstfruits, and this book is a small
contribution to a movement which is destined, perhaps, to revolutionise
housekeeping, as a band of devoted women succeeded some few years since
in revolutionising the profession of nursing.

The main lines on which the influence of the industrial revolution on
women's position has operated can be but briefly indicated in this very
summary sketch. Want of space prevents me from doing more than allude to
other aspects of the question, such as the employment of married women,
the status of women in government offices, women's trade unions,
homework and sweating, the prevention of infant mortality, the work of
women in the administration of charity and in local government, together
with many other developments of the one cause--the alteration between
the relations of the home and of society due to the changes in our
commercial and manufacturing system.

I must turn now to a study of the economics of the household as it
actually exists to-day.


To begin with, it is perhaps worth while to notice certain broad
distinctions which differentiate the household, considered merely as an
economic institution, from other agencies engaged in the production of
commodities and services.

One main difference is, as was noticed earlier, that the household
produces use-values, and all other organisations (save some public
bodies) exchange-values. Or to put the same thing in another way, the
industrial world is run to make a profit; the household, on the
contrary, is kept up by the contributions of its members, and exists
to provide for them the necessaries and comforts of life. None the
less is the work of cooking, cleaning, and serving of real economic
value when carried on within the household, as people discover when
they have to pay for the organisation of the same services in hotels
or boarding-houses.

The second great distinction is that while any other business may expand
to meet the demands of a growing market, and as a result of the
increasing competency of its organiser and work-people, the household is
definitely limited in scope by the numbers of the family included within
it. Biscuit-makers or jam-makers, to put the matter concretely, may
succeed by skilful management in enlarging their businesses until they
supply their goods to hundreds of thousands of people, and earn a large
profit by doing so. But the most efficient housekeeper continues all her
life to organise and cater for the same number of people, and her reward
for her good management does not consist in a raised salary or increased
profits. It is, in fact, not pecuniary at all, but is the increased
well-being of those whom she serves.

Important consequences follow from these two distinctions, some of them
desirable, others the reverse. The household is preserved, as it were,
as a little oasis in the midst of the surrounding commercialism. There
at least exists no temptation to adulteration or sophistication, or to
shoddy work intended to sell but not to last. No housewife would be such
a fool as to put alum in the bread baked at home, to use decaying fruit
in the tarts, or questionable meat in her pies. She can have no object
save to provide the best she can for her family with the means at her
disposal. This is an enormous advantage, the value of which it is hardly
possible to overrate.

But the absence of profit-making has certain disadvantages. It means
that while other economic organisations are being constantly spurred to
increasing efficiency by the stimulus of competition, the household
remains backward. A manufacturer knows to-day that he must use the most
up-to-date machinery and employ the most skilled management or be beaten
in the race for commercial supremacy. But housekeepers may continue (and
do continue) to use old-fashioned ranges or antiquated systems of
hot-water heating without any reference to the proceedings of their
neighbours. Without doubt it results that new inventions make their way
much more slowly in housekeeping than in profit-making industry. How
rare, for instance, it is to find properly constructed grates outside
very wealthy households. How badly the kitchen, larder, and scullery are
planned in relation to one another. In how few cases is any attempt made
to utilise electricity for cooking or removing dust, for both of which
purposes admirable machines are already on the market.

But there are other factors which also contribute to the backwardness of
domestic engineering. The smallness of the household is one. It pays a
large hotel, for instance, to buy special machines for cleaning knives,
or to instal superheated steam, for washing plates and dishes. But
neither the initial expense nor the cost of running could be met out of
the funds at the disposal of the small household. Another reason exists
in the fact that the average housewife does not distinguish between
annual and capital outlay. Unaccustomed to finance, and keeping
accounts--if she keeps them at all--in a very amateurish fashion, she
fails to understand that capital expenditure, let us say, on one of the
little electric vacuum cleaners now on the market might pay for itself
in a short time by saving the wages of a charwoman.


Then, finally, few people own their houses, and are therefore
disinclined to make an outlay which would benefit their successors
rather than themselves. Landlords (who are frequently retired tradesmen
or elderly ladies depending on the rent of a row of houses for their
sole income) are in their turn unprogressive and unenlightened. It is
often hard to induce a landlord of the type indicated to consent to
structural changes even if carried out at the tenant's expense. The
builders of new houses, again, are not, to put it mildly, educated in
the best schools of household architecture and domestic engineering. It
is true that in some suburbs, largely under the influence of the more
competent architects employed by the garden city organisations, a marked
improvement in domestic building is noticeable. But only too often the
hot-water system is inefficient, the ventilation poor, the grates
wasteful, and so on. I have never yet heard of a speculative builder who
deliberately planned the laying out of the streets in the area which he
was developing in such a way that the living-rooms might have a maximum
and the larder and pantries a minimum of sunlight. The new roads are
usually all set at right angles to the main street, and the houses
rigidly planted square to the roads, regardless of the points of the

All these factors, acting together, prevent that general improvement in
the construction of houses which is noticeable in other branches of
industry. Progress does, of course, take place. The pressure exercised
by the local health authorities leads to improved drainage and plumbing;
lighting, owing to the recent competition between gas and electricity,
has become both cheaper and better. But an intelligent application of
science and investment of capital when a house is under construction
could easily effect still further improvements.

Since, however, the household is not influenced by the ordinary
processes of competition, advance will probably depend on some form of
co-operation among tenants. The principle of tenant co-partnership has
hitherto been applied only to the construction of working-class houses,
but there seems to be no reason why it should be not equally useful
among the middle classes. The advantages of the organisation are that it
secures to the tenant a well-built house, sometimes specially
constructed to meet his wishes, while his complete mobility is not
interfered with as it is by ownership of his dwelling. These apparently
opposed results are obtained by the formation of a company which is the
legal owner of the land and the houses; but no one is allowed to rent a
house until he invests a certain amount of money in the company. Thus
there are two classes of shareholders--tenant shareholders and ordinary
shareholders. If a man wishes to move from the neighbourhood, then he
ceases to be a tenant and becomes only an ordinary shareholder, and if
he needs the money he can always sell out. Rent is paid in the ordinary
way, and so too are dividends on the shares. Thus groups of people are
enabled to control the conditions under which they are housed, without
being hampered by the possession of a dwelling-house, which in an
emergency they may be forced to sell at a serious loss. Minor advantages
are greater cheapness of construction owing to wholesale buying of
materials, and the provision of a more liberal repair fund than is
contemplated by the ordinary landlord. It is possible, too, to provide
common tennis courts, children's playgrounds, pleasure gardens, &c.,
which are kept up out of the general funds of the company.[74] The
"co-partnership tenants'" villages at Bournville, Hampstead, Ealing,
&c., are all doing well,[75] and we may venture to hope that if the
same principle were applied to the housing of the middle classes, the
worst horrors of the dreary and yet pretentious suburbs constructed by
the speculative builder would soon be checked.


The position of the domestic servant is the next subject which demands
consideration. It is a question which has aroused much acrimonious
controversy, mistresses accusing maids of ignorance and inefficiency,
maids objecting in their turn to the menial position and lack of freedom
involved in domestic service. Yet it is curious to notice that the
conditions of this branch of work have been little studied by the
economist. The number of domestic servants as enumerated in the census
of 1901 was 1,330,783, the largest single occupation in the country.[76]
But while dozens of books and blue-books could be named discussing the
position of the textile worker or the agricultural labourer, not more
than three or four investigators have concerned themselves with the
domestic servant, on whose efficiency our health and comfort absolutely

Another curious anomaly is that domestic servants are becoming fewer in
proportion to the population, although the level of their wages is very
high in comparison with the usual payments for women's work. Between
1881 and 1901 female indoor servants increased from 1,230,406 to
1,330,783, an increase of 8.2 per cent., while the population increased
25.2 per cent. Actually, then, there was a smaller proportion of the
population engaged in domestic service in 1901 then in 1881.[77] What is
still more remarkable is that at the younger ages the number has
actually decreased. Between the ages 15-20, there is a decrease of 7.3
per cent., while in the number of females living at those ages there is
an increase of 28.1 per cent. This suggests that the difficulty of
finding servants will intensify as time goes on, as is indeed borne out
by observation. Other women's industries are growing very rapidly. The
number of female clerks more than trebled between 1891 and 1901. In the
same period, female elementary school teachers increased by over 50 per
cent., and the women engaged in hospital and institution service and in
workhouses and workhouse infirmaries by 41 per cent. These facts
indicate that domestic service is becoming less and less popular and is
losing ground, while other women's industries are gaining.

It is our duty then to consider the causes of this state of things,
which cannot be regarded with equanimity. Our steadily increasing wealth
ought to make it more and more possible and desirable for more women to
specialise in those basic industries of cooking and cleaning, which are
of the utmost importance for the right ordering of life.

The question must be treated in reference to the general industrial
and social changes of our time. Many ladies, knowing nothing of
economics, discuss the matter as one of personal relations only, and
when they find themselves annoyed with one incompetent servant after
another, content themselves with blaming the servants as individuals
without inquiring whether the difficulty has any deeper root. Or they
take up a reactionary attitude, and declare that the lower classes are
over-educated and too well off, and are in consequence refusing to
perform their natural duties. But neither personal blame nor the
semi-feudal belief that the one and only rightful destiny of daughters
of bricklayers, coal miners, or small clerks is to become cooks or
housemaids in the service of their betters will avail to throw any
light on the difficulty of obtaining competent domestic workers. We
must study carefully and without bias the conditions of that industry as
compared with other industries, in order to solve the problem.

In the first place, we may note the advantages of domestic service. It
is, as has been already observed, well paid. Some investigations carried
out by a group of my students last year led to the conclusion that the
ordinary cook, housemaid, or general servant in middle-class households
costs her employer in wages, food, house-room, heating, lighting, and
insurance about £50 a year.[78] I have been informed by a lady
accustomed to deal with servants in a wealthy household, that board
wages are usually 14s. 6d. for men servants, and 12s. 6d. and 10s. 6d.
for women servants. When we remember that in the ranks from which
servants are drawn,[79] a workman is comparatively well off if he is
earning 35s. a week for the support of himself and his family, and that
a woman who makes £1 a week is a rarity,[80] we should expect to find
domestic service one of the industries in which the supply outruns the
demand. Again, there is no period of apprenticeship or training
necessary. The servant earns from the first day she enters service, and
is often carefully trained by a mistress in cooking or waiting at table,
only to leave that mistress for a better situation the moment she
thoroughly understands her duties. Again, in many households the maids
share in the family holidays. They spend a month at the seaside or in
the country, having all their travelling expenses paid as a matter of
course. Their allowance of personal holidays may not be large, but at
all events their wages run on without interruption. These advantages
are the more remarkable, when it is considered that they have been
attained without the aid of any trade organisations at all. Trade unions
for domestic workers have been formed from time to time, but their life
has been ephemeral and their membership of the smallest. High wages,
practically continuous employment, food and lodging usually of a
standard much above that in the servant's own home--all these are to be
found in domestic work. Why, then, does it remain unpopular?

In the first place, the hours are long and irregular. A domestic
servant, especially in a place where only one or two are kept, is "on
duty" for at least fifteen hours a day--from 7 A.M. to 10 P.M. Even
meal-hours are not free from interruption. The thoughtful mistress, it
is true, will not summon her maids at dinner-time or supper-time if she
can help it, but all mistresses are not thoughtful, and in any case
there is the doorbell to be answered. Much of the work is not hard; in a
well-managed household there should always be an hour or two of
comparative leisure in the afternoon and again in the evening. But the
average maid is never sufficiently free through the whole day to go out
without asking leave, or to lie down for an hour should her morning work
have been unusually heavy. Of some households a much blacker picture
could be painted. Not merely do the maids have no leisure, but they are
actually hard at work washing, cooking, ironing, serving meals, washing
up, carrying coals and hot water, &c., for even a larger period than
the fifteen hours which, as noted before, is the minimum of time "on
duty." These hours compare very unfavourably with the six or seven
hours' day of the elementary school-teacher, the eight hours' day of the
Civil servant, and the nine or ten hours worked in factories and in

Next, there is the lack of personal freedom. This may seem a mere
sentimental objection not to be weighed in the balance for a moment by
sensible persons as against the solid advantages of domestic work. But
sentimental objections count more decisively with women than with men.
Miss B. L. Hutchins points out in a recent article that respectable
girls of the working class often accept quite low wages, provided only
their employment is light, clean, comfortable, and affords abundant
hours of leisure. And women enter on domestic service exactly at the age
at which freedom and some amount of leisure seem more valuable than high
wages. Doubtless in later years many sweated drudges have wished that
they had become servants instead of entering the jam-factory or the
steam-laundry. But at sixteen and seventeen, when the choice was made,
the situation appeared very different. I have very little doubt that one
of the greatest objections to domestic service is that it removes the
young woman from her own class just at the marriageable age, and
therefore decreases her chances of marriage, while in some ill-governed
households and in hotel and restaurant service she may be subjected to
severe temptation. The widening of the gulf between rich and poor and
their segregation into distinct districts increases this disadvantage.

Again, there is the fact that domestic service is strangely enough
regarded as a peculiarly menial occupation, in itself a mark of a lower
social grade. This is indicated by the use of the Christian name, the
insistence on a uniform, and the commonness of contemptuous terms such
as "slavey." Refined people are careful to avoid the use even of the
word "servant," replacing it by "maid," so strong is this connotation of
inferiority. Here again we are on sentimental grounds. But it certainly
seems undesirable, in view of the spread of doctrines of social
equality, that this suggestion of a low social status should cling
around the person who undertakes such important duties as cooking and

Another disadvantage is the loneliness of domestic servants. In other
occupations women have colleagues and companions. The general servant,
coming as she does from a lively even if poor working-class home, with
neighbours at hand for gossip in moments of relaxation, may find it very
hard to bear up against the restraint and unnatural quietude of her
first place,[81] and often ends by returning in haste to the factory
industry she had been persuaded to abandon, when she will find the
gaiety and lively society of girls and young men of her own age. Even
when two maids are kept, they may not be congenial to one another, and
one cannot deny that to share work, meals, and often bed with a woman
whom one has reason to dislike, is a fate we would all wish to avoid.

Girls of higher status and more intelligence are often turned from
domestic service by the fact that it affords little or no opportunity
for self-improvement or recreation, or for promotion inside its own
ranks. Servants cannot go to lectures or evening classes. The servant's
piano or bicycle is a common theme for jesting in the comic papers. In a
large household or in a hotel promotion may be obtained, but the maid
who becomes a general servant or a single-handed cook reaches the limit
of her increase in income at an early age.

Many of the disadvantages noted do not apply to large households. There
companionship is to be found, and promotion may be looked for. The hours
are more regular, meals less interrupted, and free time easier to
obtain. Hence I was not surprised when I questioned proprietors of
clubs, residential hotels, and the mistresses of wealthy households to
learn that most of them considered the servant difficulty to be greatly
exaggerated. The housekeeper of one suite of residential flats told me
she had no trouble at all in getting servants, and that she sent them
off at a week's notice if they proved unsatisfactory. "Even if I cannot
get a maid to live in at once," she added, "I can always supplement the
work of the others by an extra charwoman. There are any number of
outworkers to be had." In another residential hotel all the women
servants had two evenings a week free from 5 to 10.30. Here, too, there
was never much difficulty in obtaining workers.

Another disadvantage of the small as opposed to the large household is
that the management is often inefficient, and the equipment poor. In
these residential flats, for instance, each suite had its own bathroom
and lavatory, and consequently the work of carrying water was reduced to
a minimum. I think, too, that the regularity of the discipline is often
liked by girls, who find it hard to keep to good ways when they work

On the whole, then, I see no reason to believe that domestic service is
unpopular because cooking and cleaning are regarded as disagreeable
occupations in themselves. It is the conditions under which it is
carried on that are disliked, and if mistresses desire to have better
servants, those conditions must be altered. Some of them, it must be
admitted, are inherent in the present organisation of the household.[82]
Some form of co-operation might obviate certain of these defects; in
groups of associated homes, the domestic equipment could certainly be
improved, skilled supervision and proper discipline could be more easily
carried out, and the maids would have the advantages of shorter and more
regular hours and of companionship with their equals. Here again it may
be possible to apply the co-partnership tenants' organisation. Many
people, however, not unnaturally dread the lack of privacy and
independence which such a mode of life would, they think, entail, and
would prefer to endure the disadvantages of the present system rather
than lose control over their own kitchen and their own servants. It is
too soon yet to express an opinion. Fortunately, at Letchworth, at Brent
Lodge, Finchley, and elsewhere, experiments in the provision of
associated homes with a common kitchen and a common staff of servants
are shortly to be tried. If successful, they will no doubt prove a boon
to many people.

In the meantime one can only suggest that mistresses must endeavour
individually to mitigate some of the disadvantages of domestic service.
It is not higher wages that are needed, but more leisure and more
society, and an absence of the foolish snobbery which regards it as an
amusing joke that a servant should wish to possess a bicycle or go to a
meeting or concert.

The suggestion has sometimes been made that distressed gentlewomen might
find a refuge in domestic service. But "lady servants" or "mothers'
helps" only rarely prove a success. Their presence is inevitably a
hindrance to the full enjoyment of family privacy, and often enough
their gentility is an excuse for incompetence. But in special cases
lady servants turn out well, especially as children's nurses. The
most interesting attempt to introduce them into general domestic service
is that started by the Guild of the Dames of the Household at
Cheltenham. A short period of training is insisted upon, while on
the other hand certain privileges not usually conceded to maids must be
granted, in particular, a period of two hours each day free from
duty. In small and quiet households, specially in those composed of
ladies only, a "Dame" would be welcomed in place of the incompetent
general servant, or two Dames might take the place of the regulation
cook and house-parlour maid. But it would not be easy to have one Dame
demanding special privileges and imbued with different traditions in
a larger household.[83]

Nor do I see any reason to expect that increased provision for domestic
training alone is likely to improve the lot of mistresses who want
maids. The training in the elementary schools is often given to children
too young to profit by it, and is besides designed rather to enable them
to be of use in their own homes than to qualify them to become cooks or
housemaids in middle or upper-class households. Again, the girls who
attend at the special domestic economy schools are not usually available
for ordinary domestic service; the greater number of the students are
being prepared either for teaching or for positions as housekeepers and
matrons. While untrained girls can find a place and wages without any
difficulty, working-class parents are not likely to spend money on
training for domestic service; and the numbers for whom scholarships
are provided must naturally be limited.

Improvement is much more likely to result from alterations in the
condition of domestic service. If, as regards leisure and social status,
that occupation could be put more nearly on a level with other women's
trades, the outlook would be much brighter, and then training in
domestic economy in continuation schools or trade schools for girls from
fourteen to sixteen would be valuable.

Failing these reforms, mistresses will probably continue to find
themselves obliged to put up with cooks who cannot cook, and housemaids
and laundresses who are both ignorant and incompetent. The irk and
irritation of living all day long at close quarters with an impertinent
and inefficient person, which often severely tries the nerves of the
women of the professional classes, will continue. These things are
inevitable so long as domestic servants do not choose their occupation
because they wish to follow it, but because they have been failures in
other directions. Therefore no improvement would be attained by shutting
other avenues of employment to women and forcing them back into this.
Such a line of action is, of course, quite impracticable, whatever be
the difficulties of mothers of families and mistresses of households;
factories, offices, shops, elementary schools and post-offices will
continue to offer employment to women. But even if it were practicable
it would fail of its aim. Work is only well done when it is chosen for
its own sake, not when it is unwillingly accepted because the worker is
fit for nothing else. And a genuine improvement in domestic service can
only come about by an alteration in its conditions.

A systematic investigation into English domestic service similar to that
carried out in America by Professor Lucy Salmon of Vassar College would
be most useful at the present juncture, and may possibly be undertaken
by the household economics class at King's College. Professor Salmon
issued 5000 schedules to employers and 5000 to employees, and received
in all 1744 answers. On the answers received she based the conclusions
arrived at in her book, "Domestic Service," which are not dissimilar to
those set forth in the preceding paragraphs. Conditions in America are,
however, so unlike those in England that a separate investigation for
this country would be most valuable.


(1) _Working-Class Budgets_

I have left myself very little space for dealing with another important
section of household economics, namely, domestic budgets. Unfortunately
the material for a satisfactory study of the actual and the advisable
division of household expenditure is only abundant in certain classes.
There are a considerable number of investigations into the cost of
living among the working-classes.[84] From these it is clear that we
must make a very marked line of distinction between the domestic
circumstances of labourers and of artisans. The former spend at least
from 75 to 80 per cent. of their income on food and lodging alone; yet
if the family is of ordinary size and none of the children are earning
anything, they are commonly under-nourished and badly lodged. The
remainder of the income is devoted to fuel, clothes, savings, insurance,
and recreation.

Members of this class commonly wear second-hand clothes, and live in
tenement houses, originally built for a wealthier section of the
community. It is they who send their children to work at any employment
that turns up at the earliest moment allowed by the law. The burden laid
on the women of this class is peculiarly heavy. They must work for wages
if possible, for every extra shilling adds immensely to the family
comfort. Hence they go out charing; they undertake ill-paid home work;
and at the same time all the toil of keeping the house and children
clean and of doing the cooking and washing falls on the mother. Add to
this the fact that if the food supply runs short, then the children and
the husband have their share first and the mother takes what may be
left. It has been calculated[85] that this class amounts to about
one-third of the population, and is the source whence comes the greater
part of the pauperism with which the country is afflicted.

The artisan class was found by Mr. Rowntree to comprise about one-half
of the working-class population. Its domestic circumstances differ in
several respects from those of the class already described. Food and
housing were adequate; and, save in the textile districts, the wife
commonly remains at home and the children stay longer at school. It is
this class that is the backbone of trade unionism and the co-operative
movement; it is in fact the true "middle-class" of Britain.

Lady Bell in her book "At the Works" gives a very sympathetic sketch of
the home life of the ironworkers of Middlesborough, pointing out that
the monotony and narrowness of the lives led by the women and the
ugliness of the surroundings of the workers' houses are the main defects
from which they suffer. Roughly half their income goes on food, which is
plain but adequate. The proportion of rent varies very much from
district to district. In York it was 12.8, but in such crowded towns as
London and Glasgow it would be higher. There is, however, a surplus
sufficient for clothing, saving, holidays, and reasonable recreation.

It is conjectured that the excessive expenditure on drink in the United
Kingdom[86] must be largely due to this class. But the evidence is
insufficient to show whether the labourer or the artisan is the more

(2) _Lower Middle-Class Budgets_

The next class which should be examined is that made up by the clerks
and routine brain-workers. As already noted, there is little or no
material available for the study of the budgets of this class. The
Economic Club published a few years ago a collection of family budgets,
four of which might be taken as illustrating the home life of this
important section of the community. From these and from the rather
unreliable divisions of income given in some of the smaller women's
papers, I have come to the conclusion that food absorbs 30 to 40 per
cent. of the income, and rent 15 to 20 per cent. The expenditure on
clothing is much more liberal, and I am inclined to believe that the
poorer clerks are sometimes insufficiently fed.

It should be noted that in this class the cost of education tends to be
borne by the parent and not by the State; no doubt there is here a
genuine grievance, one, however, which the provision of municipal
secondary schools is gradually removing. But a thorough and accurate
study of the circumstances of the lower middle-class would be of the
utmost value at the present time. It is certain that its needs and
demands are to some extent at all events overlooked through the
increasing power of organised labour on the one hand and the increasing
wealth of the upper classes on the other.

(3) _The Budget of the Well-to-do_

Probably it is in the budgets of these wealthier classes that the reader
of these pages will be most interested from a personal standpoint. Under
this head there is very little scientifically collected material; but on
the other hand the ladies' papers and the housekeeping handbooks afford
considerable information of somewhat varying value.

It is in this class that service becomes an important item; it is in
this class that the artistic side of life, the enjoyment of physical and
intellectual luxury, first becomes possible. In a sense the study of
expenditure here is both more useful and more interesting. A fraction of
the income would suffice for the satisfaction of the mere physiological
needs, and there is a real choice possible in the disposition of the

Therefore, in the case of these larger incomes, I propose to discuss
rather the general principles of expenditure than the statistical facts.
The latter are not thoroughly reliable, and at the same time the
circumstances of the class in question are better known to my readers.

The fundamental principle, as Marshall[87] states, is that the marginal
utility of each separate division of expenditure should be equal. He
means by this that our income should be so distributed that the last
sixpence we spend on clothes should yield us the same amount of pleasure
as the last sixpence expended on food or on books. And he rightly
remarks that to the housekeeper the value of keeping accounts lies
precisely in the fact that it makes the application of this principle

If we know exactly how money has been spent, then it is possible to see
that expenditure has been wrongly balanced, that impulsive extravagance
on hats or on out-of-season delicacies has unduly curtailed the amount
spent on holidays, books, or concerts. It is for this reason that
itemised tables are more useful to the housekeeper than is the ordinary
creditor and debtor method of account-keeping. She should of course be
able to present an accurate statement of the money spent and received,
but she should not be content with this. She should further show for
each quarter the amount spent on rent, food, fuel, &c.


  A  Food and Cleaning Materials.
  B  Household Washing.
  C  Service.
  D  Coals.
  E  Gas.
  F  Electricity.
  G  Rent.
  H  Rates.
  I  Garden.
  J  Miscellaneous.
  K  Total.
  L  Guests.[88]
  M  Remarks.

  |Weeks    | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M |
  |Ending.  |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  |Jan.   9 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | "    16 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | "    23 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | "    30 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  |Feb.   6 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | "    13 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | "    20 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | "    27 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  |March  6 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | "    13 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | "    20 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  | "    27 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  |April  3 |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  |TOTAL.   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  |Weekly   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  |Average. |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |

The table appended has been in actual use for some time, and has served
on more than one occasion to check expenditure which was unduly
increasing. It could easily be modified in various ways. Food could be
further subdivided, and headings for dress and other personal expenses
could be added. Probably, however, it will be found better to keep one
card for the quarterly household expenditure, and others for the
personal expenditure of the separate members of the household. The
amount of trouble involved is comparatively small, provided that the
different items are summed up and entered regularly each week when the
household books are examined. If the quarterly cards are then filed in
order, they afford a most valuable record of household management in a
small and easily handled form.

When deciding on the amount of money to be allotted to the separate
items, the first thing to be kept in mind is the necessity of
preserving efficiency; and brain-workers ought to remember that
thorough mental alertness and competency can only be secured by
well-chosen, well-cooked, and daintily served food, by sufficiency of
sleep, by frequent intervals of rest and recreation, and by thoroughly
invigorating holidays. Extravagance should of course be avoided, but
the journalist or scientist who is niggardly of expenditure on these
items will probably later on be obliged to spend his savings on
doctor's bills or a rest cure. A high standard of comfort and efficient
work is the cheapest way of living in the long run. Whether, however,
all the conventional necessaries now included by custom in the upper
middle-class expenditure are really essential to the brain-worker's
standard of life is perhaps another question.

The "simple life" which consists in doing without all the conveniences
of civilisation has been proved a failure by many experiments, but a
"simple life" which accepted the comforts of electric light, gas stoves,
and laid-on hot water, but abolished heavy curtains and carpets and that
multiplicity of ornaments and of dishes, which increases the complexity
of life without adding to its beauty, might turn out to be a success. In
many cases, however, conventional expenditure is essential for
professional advancement. The doctor, for instance, must live in a house
of a certain size and importance; the high school teacher or woman
journalist must be well dressed. Expenditure of this character is really
of the nature of advertisement, and it is foolish to endeavour to
curtail it.

After the claims of efficiency have been met, saving and insurance come
next. Life insurance is of course almost universal among the salaried
classes, and is a duty imperatively laid on every man whose death would
leave his family without means. But it is curious that other forms of
insurance are not more practised. A small yearly payment for each child,
commencing at its birth, would provide a convenient sum for its
education, its start in life, or, in the case of a girl, for her
trousseau and dowry. Insurance against illness also is much rarer among
the upper middle class than among the working-classes. Possibly this is
due to the fact that, save in the case of prolonged disease, salaries
are paid during illness, while wages cease as soon as the worker is
compelled to stay at home; also partly no doubt to the fact that
provision for contingencies is made in other ways.

Saving and insurance will be less necessary in the case of those whose
income is derived from land or from invested capital, but should be
considered absolutely essential by all those in receipt of a salary. In
addition a small sum saved and invested in some easily realisable
security will be most valuable to meet special emergencies.

If after all these needs have been met, _i.e._ (1) full "efficiency"
and "conventional" expenditure (including, of course, such an education
for the children as will prepare them in their turn to earn an income
in the same rank of life as their father), and (2) saving and
insurance to provide against all contingencies that may reasonably
be anticipated--if, then, a surplus still remains, its disposition
must be a matter of individual choice, and it is impossible to lay
down general rules.

In some cases it will be saved, in others it will be used to provide
more material and conventional luxuries, in others it will supply the
needs of what American writers rather unpleasingly call the "higher
life." Certainly the claims of generosity, charity, and culture should
first be met, and it is the right and wise disposition of this surplus
income which might well tax the highest powers of any human being. It is
commonly supposed to be a difficult thing to earn money, but a simple
matter to spend it. On the contrary, to spend with wisdom and discretion
is always hard, and is hardest when the income is so elastic that a
slight deviation from the best method is not immediately visited on the
head of the person who has offended.

The artisan's wife has no easy task, it must be confessed, but the
results of any mistakes she may make fall at once upon herself or her
children. But if the mistress of a large household is careless or
incompetent, then she may cause untold waste, inefficiency and
degeneration among her servants and tradespeople, and may never even be
aware of it.

A recent book by Mr. A. Ponsonby[89] gives some extraordinary instances
of unnecessary expenditure on food. Mr. Ponsonby is not, of course, to
be taken as an unprejudiced investigator; he is writing rather from the
standpoint of the preacher than from that of the unbiassed sociologist.
But his figures are not likely to be absolutely false, and it is safe to
say that if in a household containing four in family and fourteen
servants the food bills amounted in a week when there was little
entertaining to £60, 12s. 7d. (£3, 7s. 4d. per head),[90] either the
servants were being fed in a way that was quite absurdly lavish, or much
of the food was absolutely wasted, or there was dishonest collusion
between the housekeeper and chef and the tradespeople. In any case, the
ignorance and negligence of the mistress of the house were corrupting to
her staff.


In short, in place of regarding the household as standing in no special
relation to the rest of the community, it ought to be understood that
the function of the housewife is of the utmost importance, not only to
her own family, but to the whole nation. It is she who is finally
responsible for the education of the children; it is she who, in the
quiet and restful charm of the home, provides (or should provide) for
her husband and grown-up children the recreation and refreshment which
they need. If she employs many servants, then the example of her
household will influence for good or for evil the homes of many
working-class couples. It is the demand of the household that determines
whether the labour of this country shall be employed on debased articles
of sham luxury or on well made and artistic goods.

The conscientious housewife could also to some extent discourage
sweating, if she refused to buy products which to her knowledge were
made under bad conditions. The responsibilities of the housewife place
her at every turn in economic relations to the rest of the community,
and therefore it is only right that coming housewives should be trained
not alone in the manual crafts of cooking and laundry-work, but also in
the general principles of economic science which underlie the
development and present organisation of the household. We may perhaps
hope too that the principles of household management may in turn react
on economic science, and may show to its professors that value in use,
though more difficult to detect and estimate than value in exchange, has
been unduly neglected both in theory and practice.

If to the management of our towns--which are, after all, only our homes
on a larger scale--were applied the principles used by a good
housekeeper in ordering her home, then cleanliness, beauty, and
convenience would increase around us. A science of economics so modified
would recall to a scholar the original meaning of the word; for what,
after all, did the craft of oikonomikê, as first developed by Xenophon
and Aristotle, mean but just "the management of the home"?


   [13] Smith, "Wealth of Nations," edited by J. S. Nicholson, pp. 135 and
        280. It is of course true that Adam Smith meant by this merely
        what is in a way true, that domestic servants earn no profit for
        their employers. He does not deny (p. 136) that their labour
        "has a certain value." But, like all the economists who followed
        him, he is content to dismiss domestic workers with this cursory
        treatment and to identify labourers with the workers hired for
        profit-making purposes.

   [14] See "Principles of Economics" (4th ed.), pp. 192, 772.

   [15] Marshall, "Principles" (4th ed.), p. 764: "The working classes had
        then no other beds than loose straw, reeking with vermin and
        resting on damp floors."

   [16] Thorold Rogers is a partial exception.

   [17] _e.g._ Rowntree, "Poverty: a Study of Town Life;" portions of
        Booth's "Life and Labour of the People;" reports to the Board of
        Trade on the cost of living.

   [18] Webb, S. and B., "Industrial Democracy" (cheap edition), p. 674.

   [19] Marshall, "Principles of Economics," vol. i. p. 159.

   [20] There is an assumption here which needs perhaps some discussion,
        _i.e._ that expenditure or consumption of goods can be most
        conveniently studied on the basis of family life. This is
        obviously the case with house-room, food, fuel, cleanliness,
        &c., less so with regard to clothes or recreation; it was truer
        of the past than of the present, and is truer of the poor than
        of the rich. In some classes, _e.g._ the professional class,
        where marriage is commonly delayed and a considerable period may
        intervene between the end of education and the establishment of
        a fresh household, it may be necessary to supplement the study
        of family expenditure by a consideration of the standard of
        living of unmarried men and women. Attempts, too, must be made
        to deal with the various forms of institutional life, varying
        from prisons and workhouses on the one hand to expensive
        boarding-schools and hotels on the other. But when all these
        necessary deductions have been made, it remains true that in
        order to study expenditure we must in the great majority of
        cases take the family as our basis of investigation. Consumption
        is organised on a family basis.

   [21] See Marshall, "Principles," book ii. chap. ii.

   [22] Ashley, "Economic History," vol. i. part ii. p. 262.

   [23] The economic historian must always be prepared to acquiesce in a
        certain vagueness in the matter of dates. He is not dealing with
        definite events, such as battles and the enactment of special
        laws, but rather with social tendencies, each constituted by a
        large number of small events; such as, for instance, the
        replacement of hand labour by machinery, the appearance of
        limited liability companies in the place of the single employer,
        or the determination of middle-class girls to earn their own
        living instead of remaining dependent on father or brothers.
        Tendencies such as these appear at different times in different
        industries and in different parts of the country, and only a
        misleading precision can be gained by any mention of definite

   [24] Summarised from Seebohm, "Village Community," pp. 156-157.

   [25] Gasquet, "English Monastic Life," p. 197.

   [26] "Economic History," vol. i.

   [27] Surtees Society, Boldon Book, p. 28.

   [28] "English Monastic Life," p. 198.

   [29] The English were famed in the Middle Ages for their preference for
        good bread. They would eat no bread

                  "That beans in come,
          But of cocket[30] or clerematyn[30] or else of clean wheat."

            --_Piers Plowman_, A. vii. 292.

   [30] Better kinds of bread, but not the best (wastel).

   [31] Walter of Henley, p. 29.

   [32] Apparently, it is only within the last hundred years that the cow
        has ceased to be a normal possession of the agricultural
        labourer. See Slater, "English Peasantry and Common Fields," pp.

   [33] Eddy, "English House," p. 133.

   [34] England at that time possessed her own vineyards, _e.g._ near
        Gloucester, and produced white wine.

   [35] Rules of S. Robert as given in "Walter of Henley," p. 145.

   [36] Broth in which the meat had been boiled.

   [37] Pepper.

   [38] Stiff.

   [39] "Meals and Manners of the Olden Time," p. 164.

   [40] Kind of sauce.

   [41] Pork, eggs, cloves, currants, dates, sugar boiled in a bladder,
        cut into strips and served with hot rich sauce.

   [42] A soteltie was an elaborate confection of pastry painted or
        adorned with paper to represent a saint or a figure of spring,
        summer, &c.

   [43] Spiced wine.

   [44] Panter and pantry, from pain.

   [45] Butler = bottler.

   [46] Rules of S. Robert in "Walter of Henley," pp. 138-140, _passim._

   [47] Webb, "Essay on Gloucester Abbey," p. 13.

   [48] "Meals and Manners," p. 74.

   [49] _Libes Niges Domus_, p. 65.

   [50] Gasquet, "English Monastic Life," p. 211.

   [51] The maintenance of a large retinue was one of the easiest ways
        available for indicating the possession of surplus wealth. This
        fact, coupled with the almost absurd over-elaboration of the
        details of serving, incline me to believe that in the mediæval
        castle servants were numerous and not overworked.

   [52] Riley, "Memorials of London," p. 48.

   [53] Riley, "Memorials of London," p. 199. There is, unfortunately, no
        indication of the social standing of this felon, Hugh le Bevere
        by name. The list of clothes suggests that he was fairly
        well-to-do, in which case his equipment of cooking and table
        utensils is certainly meagre. It is curious that pottery is not
        mentioned; it can hardly be urged that although in use it was
        too unimportant for a place in the inventory, since room is
        found for one small canvas bag, value 1d.

   [54] Hence the name convertible husbandry.

   [55] This is, of course, a very summary statement of changes which it
        took centuries to bring about. On the one hand, money economy
        existed in the mediæval town; on the other, subsistence farming
        continued in England to some extent until within a hundred years
        ago. Yet it is roughly true that in the fifteenth and sixteenth
        centuries production for the market and not for use markedly and
        suddenly increased.

   [56] By an Act of 1589, it was ordained that four acres of land should
        be attached to every cottage. _Cf._ Hasbach. "English
        Agricultural Labourer," p. 40.

   [57] See Cunningham, "English Industry and Commerce," vol. ii. p. 40
        (4th ed.).

   [58] Poultry.

   [59] "Description of England," p. 238 _ff._

   [60] _Op. cit._, vol. i. p. 150.

   [61] Pickled pork.

   [62] This class is never described by him.

   [63] See Cunningham, ii. p. 78, "Issue of Patents for making Soap and

   [64] _e.g._ Slater, "English Peasantry and the Enclosure of the Common
        Fields." Hasbach, "History of the English Agricultural
        Labourer." Toynbee, "The Industrial Revolution." Hobson,
        "Evolution of Capitalism."

   [65] [Near Halifax]. "After we had mounted the third hill, we found the
        country one continuous village ... hardly a House standing out
        of speaking distance from another, and as the day wore on we
        could see at every House a tenter, and on almost every tenter a
        Piece of Cloth, Kersey or Shalloon, which are the three articles
        of this country's labour.... Then as every clothier must
        necessarily keep one horse at least to fetch home his wool and
        his provisions from the market, to carry his yarn to the
        spinners, his Manufacture to the fulling mill, and when finished
        to the market to be sold and the like; so every one generally
        keeps a cow or two for his Family.... Nor is the industry of the
        people wanting.... Though we met few People without Doors, yet
        within we saw the Houses full of lusty fellows, some at the
        dye-vat, some at the loom, others dressing the cloths, the women
        and children carding or spinning. All employed from the youngest
        to the oldest. Scarce a thing above four years old, but its
        hands were sufficient for its own support." Defoe, "Tour through
        Great Britain" (1769), vol. iii. p. 146.

   [66] "The increase of urban areas can be gathered from the Census
        Reports. In 1851 ... the population of such areas amounted
        approximately to 9,000,000, or 50 per cent. of the total
        population of England and Wales; by 1881 the population of urban
        sanitary areas, as defined by the Public Health Acts, 1872 and
        1875, was 17,600,000, or 68 per cent. of the aggregate
        population; by 1901 ... the population of boroughs and urban
        districts amounted to 25,000,000, or 77 per cent. of the
        aggregate population."--Blue Book on Public Health and Social
        Conditions, p. 6 [Cd. 4671 of 1909].

   [67] It should be noted, too, that the advantages of the large-scale
        method of production are greatly diminished by the dangers of
        adulteration. _Cf._ p. 177.

   [68] In the absence of an efficient system of police, it probably was
        not safe for women to walk or travel alone. In the security
        provided for us by paved and lighted streets, guarded by trained
        constables, and in the complete safety of modern methods of
        travelling, some of us are apt now to forget these elementary
        considerations, once of supreme importance.

   [69] For the whole subject, see Hutchins and Harrison, "History of
        Factory Legislation."

   [70] In "Educated Working Women," by Clara E. Collet, 1902. Miss Collet
        says: "Were statistics available it might perhaps be shown that
        the unmarried women are to a large extent the daughters of
        clerks and professional men.... Emigration is probably more
        frequent in the salaried class; and where the sons are obliged
        to emigrate, it frequently happens that the daughters have to
        work for their living. In this class I believe the inequality of
        the sexes is greatest and the chances of marriage least" (pp.

   [71] P. 171.

   [72] I cannot refrain at this point from inserting the following
        quotations from "Shirley" (chapter xxii.). Charlotte Brontë's
        genius illumined the situation of many girls even in her time,
        and of a larger number since. Caroline is speaking. "Old maids,
        like the houseless and unemployed poor, should not ask for a
        place and an occupation in the world; the demand disturbs the
        happy and rich; it disturbs parents. Look at the numerous
        families of girls in this neighbourhood. The brothers of these
        girls are every one in business or in professions ... their
        sisters have no earthly employment but household work and
        sewing.... Men of England! look at your poor girls, many of them
        fading around you, dropping off in consumption or decline; or,
        what is worse, degenerating to sour old maids, envious,
        backbiting, wretched, because life is a desert to them; or, what
        is worst of all, reduced to strive, by scarce modest coquetry
        and debasing artifice, to gain that position and consideration
        by marriage which to celibacy is denied."

   [73] I am not suggesting here that the pioneers of women's higher
        education were wrong in the attitude they adopted. To win for
        women intellectual freedom was the most important duty for them,
        and that could only be achieved by women submitting to the same
        intellectual tests as men. But the problems which call for
        solution by their successors of a later generation have assumed
        a new form.

   [74] See Raymond Unwin, "Housing and Town-Planning."

   [75] In June 1908, the value of the property of the various tenants'
        companies was only a little short of a quarter of a million
        pounds, and their operations have since then been extended in
        various directions.

   [76] For comparison:--

                                     Number of
          Occupation.             Persons Employed.

          Agriculture                1,197,922
          Textile fabrics            1,155,397
          Professional occupations     606,260

   [77] Owing to a change in the system of enumeration which alters the
        basis of comparison, the year 1891 cannot be used in our

   [78] The competent single-handed maid is meant here, not the little
        "slavey" who assists her mistress in the rougher part only of
        the work.

   [79] A further inquiry is needed into this matter. I am not at all
        clear whether servants are derived from the class of the fairly
        prosperous artisan or from the unskilled labouring class.

   [80] "There are unfortunately no reliable statistics as to the average
        wages earned by women workers, but, speaking from a large
        experience, I estimate that the average wage of the manual woman
        worker, taking into account slackness, sickness, &c., is
        certainly not more than 7s. 6d. all the year round."--"Trade
        Unions," by Mary Macarthur, in "Women in Industry from Seven
        Points of View," p. 66.

   [81] Stephen Reynolds in "A Poor Man's House" paints this situation
        with great psychological insight.

   [82] Compare Salmon, "Domestic Service," pp. 145-6.

   [83] Compare "Englishwomen's Year-book for 1910," p. 69.

   [84] _e.g._ Rowntree, "Poverty: a Study of Town Life"; Liverpool
        Economic and Statistical Society, "How the Casual Labourer
        Lives"; "Study of the Diet of the Labouring Classes in
        Edinburgh" (published by Otto Schulze & Co., now out of print);
        Recent Blue-books on the Cost of Living, &c.

   [85] Rowntree, "Poverty: a Study of Town Life," pp. 117, 298 _ff._, as
        to inadequacy of diet of labourer, pp. 235 and 303. Mr.
        Rowntree's conclusions have been impugned by several critics,
        and it may be that his dietary standard is too high. But even if
        it turns out that only a quarter and not a third of the
        population are in receipt of incomes insufficient for the
        expenditure necessary to secure bodily efficiency, the fact is
        serious enough.

   [86] Calculated by Messrs. Rowntree and Sherwell to amount to 6s. 10d.
        per family of the working-class population. "Temperance Problem
        and Social Reform" (7th ed.), p. 20.

   [87] "Principles" (4th ed.), p. 194.

   [88] A special charge was made for guests in this household, and the
        amount received was deducted from the weekly food bill.

   [89] "The Camel and the Needle's Eye."

   [90] "The Camel and the Needle's Eye," p. 153.



Among the many notable characteristics by which the last half century
has been distinguished, there are two which bid fair permanently to
colour its records and materially to influence the future of our
country. I refer in the first place to the scientific study of man, his
nature, his needs, and his potentialities; and in the second to the
growing appreciation of the fact that the centre of ethical gravity must
be shifted from absorption in the sole concerns of self to an
intelligent interest in the affairs of others--that is to say, that
selfishness must yield to well organised and discriminating social


It is of course no new thing for questions upon the real nature of that
complex creature, man, to force themselves upon the attention of the
observant, and from time immemorial the philosophical have spent
themselves in efforts to solve this problem by theories designed to
detect, even if not to account for, the agencies active in the
formation of the human mind and body. The records of older civilisations
bear testimony to their labours, and are familiar to most students of
ancient literatures. But it was not till the resources of modern science
forged new tools for the inquirer that it became possible to chisel out
from the bedrock of fact the main features of man's physical and social

With admirable patience and infinite skill, the scientific craftsmen of
recent times have laboriously pieced together the scattered chips of
biological research, of human tradition, of tribal customs and of
world-wide folklore, until the dignity and power, the beauty and the
possibilities of human nature have emerged from the dust of ignorance
and the veil of superstition. The result is that it is no longer
permissible to deplore in pessimistic tones the inevitable degradation
of the race, nor to accept with supineness the threatened deterioration
of a population. The forces by which humanity is moulded are no longer
unknown; the principles which underlie social stability have been
identified; the means by which the arts may be developed, which make
life not only tolerable but healthful, are ready to our hands.

The far-reaching significance of these facts in connection with human
health and progress become apparent when considered in more detail.
Observers throughout the ages have gradually noted, and subsequently
turned to practical account in garden, meadow, and farmyard, certain
characteristics common to all known forms of vegetable and animal life.
By due consideration of these it was found possible to improve breeds,
to strengthen and lengthen life, to avert disease, and generally to
enhance economic value. It may now appear simple enough, to extend and
apply these observations to the betterment of human life; but many
generations of human beings slipped away before the facts, dimly
discerned by Aristotle and Lucretius, by Buffon and Lamarck, were
clearly focussed by Darwin,[91] Wallace, Spencer, and Huxley, through
whose skill and labours the continuity of the web of life was first
displayed to the world at large. The design may here be almost
elementary in its delicate simplicity; there its subtle intricacies
well-nigh baffle description. The variety of pattern is marvellous
indeed, as Nature weaves with ceaseless industry the woof of progressive
development. But the warp of this wondrous web is nevertheless
continuous throughout its length, uniting the whole into one vast

This basic unity of all manifestations of life has been further
substantiated by another group of scientists--Schleiden, Schwann,
Kölliker, and Virchow, for instance--who gradually and conclusively
proved the identity, in their simplest form, of those living bricks
(_i.e._ microscopic particles of protoplasm) from which the whole vast
edifice of life is constructed. The capacity they possess for
differentiation in their functions and in modes of combination long
masked recognition of the fact that each commonwealth of cells, whether
plant or animal, is developed in the first instance in orderly
progression from a similar minute speck of protoplasm, acceptation of
which has sufficed to bring about a complete revolution in the
scientific world. To these discoveries were shortly added Pasteur's
conception of the nature and causation of infective diseases; a
knowledge which brought with it a great accession of power over hitherto
mysterious and uncontrollable conditions. And finally, man's eyes have
been opened to the comprehension of Nature's means of self-defence
against the micro-organisms of disease. Thus, while humanity is by these
means armed with most potent weapons against the inroads of infection,
decay, and death, the light thrown upon the mystery of the origin of
each individual life has shown man his true place in the kingdom of
nature. The application of these great discoveries, together with
increased opportunity for and accuracy in their utilisation, constitute
the basis of the modern methods of hygiene.

It must be borne in mind that until less than a century ago it was man's
custom to dissociate himself wholly from the less highly developed
animals and plants which he employed so freely for his support and
convenience. He set himself on the highest pinnacle, as it were, of the
edifice of life, believing himself to be independent of the influences
by which the rest of the building was dominated. And thus through
countless ages he suffered, languished, and died, unconscious that the
forces he had learned more or less to control in husbandry and farmyard
were in their turn controlling him in the conduct of his life. Ignorant
alike of the influences of his own inherited nature or of those of his
environment, he paid no heed to the responsibilities of transmitting the
torch of life undimmed to succeeding generations, and gave no thought to
utilising to his own personal perfecting the resources of Nature, which
he habitually employed to increase his wealth or to improve his crops
and stock.

It was indeed to the control of his _surroundings_ that man first gave
more or less careless heed. The fact that environment can either
stimulate or stunt both physical and mental powers, thrust itself too
persistently on his attention to be ignored; but the influence of a good
parentage or of sound ancestry was less obvious, and for generations
received little or no attention. Vague talk on "family temper," "family
habits," "family voices" was common enough, but no more than a passing
curiosity was aroused as to their hidden import, nor was their profound
significance suspected.

Thus, though half a century has passed since Darwin placed man[92] "in
his proper position in the sequence of biological forms," during which
interim enormous strides have been made in applying to the betterment
of human existence the principles found to hold good in the case of
lowlier type of life, public sentiment has so far only supported
sanitary reforms directed to the promotion of improved environment. And
this in spite of Sir Francis Galton's[93] first appeal in the cause of
eugenics more than forty years ago. The distinguishing characteristics
of progressive races and the right of every unborn child to be the
offspring of healthy, self-respecting, virtuous parents have been
repeatedly pointed out; while attention is drawn to the accumulating
evidence in favour of the fact that of all influences upon the
individual his inherited nature is the most powerful. Yet the public ear
remains deaf to the cry that the present generation is largely
responsible for the weal or woe of their children's children.

This is not the place in which to discuss Darwin's theory of heredity
nor its subsequent elaboration and amplification by his contemporaries
or successors.[94] But the time is come when emphasis _must_ be laid
upon the duty of gaining some general acquaintance with the subject and
its applications in the case of an Imperial people.

It may be also well to point out that pessimism is not necessarily
associated with the fruits of the studies carried on by our students of
inherited qualities, such as Sir Francis Galton or Professors Thomson,
Bateson, Karl Pearson, and others; only their results give us reason to
pause, for they cannot lightly be disregarded. They tell us that we hold
in our hands to-day the mental vigour and bodily powers of an untold
number of descendants, therefore it behoves us to consider our ways and
be wise while there is yet time. For our encouragement also be it known,
that while the lamp of modern hygiene illuminates the errors of the
past, it sheds its bright rays over the paths of the present, and
penetrates to some extent the dim twilight of the future.


It is a matter for regret that the sympathetic consideration for the
sufferings of others, which found such grand exponents in John Howard,
in Elizabeth Fry, and in thousands more since modern methods of
philanthropy were initiated in the eighteenth century,[95] has tended
latterly to lose its virility. It is giving place to a maudlin
sentimentality, which seeks not only to preserve life at all costs, but
to permit, nay to encourage, the production of a quality of human life,
so defective, so devitalised, that it threatens to minimise the
multiplication of the fit, by taxing them to their detriment with the
care and support of the unfit. So to smooth the path of the weakly and
unsound as to put a premium on their fertility is false philanthropy and
faulty hygiene; for it is well to remember that reasonable exertion is
beneficial to health; that to overcome obstacles is stimulating to the
energetic; that some struggle for the means of livelihood calls forth
resourcefulness and adaptability in the intelligent. Success in the
battle of life comes to those made of stuff equal to the wear and tear
of daily existence, and possessed of the qualities which conduce to
progress. These are they who are competent to perpetuate the best
qualities of a good stock; these should be the chosen bulwarks of a
nation's progress; nor must their numbers be swamped by the ailing, the
crippled, the defective, and the insane.

A proportion probably of some of the deeply seated, complicated, social
problems which have presented themselves, unperceived and almost
unconsciously, are the outcome of a one-sided study of hygiene: these,
combined with the slow growth of social science, and a sickly,
easy-going susceptibility, have been allowed to obscure the real issues
of many well-intentioned but unwise and ill-considered philanthropic
measures. The necessity, the _urgent_ necessity, has now, however,
arisen for the bold and scientific solution of these social problems.
The work of biologists, sociologists, and students of history during the
last ten years has illuminated the whole question of race progress and
public health with a light so powerful and clear that even he who runs
can read the signs of the times by its clear rays; while to the millions
of parents and guardians whose lives are spent in the care of children
and home, its brilliance throws into high relief the dignified
responsibility of their work, its far-reaching worth and enduring
influence, as well as the fact that for its adequate performance
something more is necessary than a bowing acquaintance with modern
sanitary science.

For what is the message of scientific hygiene to the parent and
householder of the twentieth century? Dr. W. H. Burnham, of Clarke
University, U.S.A., a world-wide authority on the subject, has
formulated this message for us into three terse, but telling and
suggestive, commands.

The first gives solemn warning to beware of fads and of the many popular
doctrines which are mediæval in their crudities and damaging by their
unconsidered acceptance.

The second preaches the gospel of _work_ and self-control, which must be
practised in this as in every other connection where progress and good
results are desired.

The third enforces the doctrine of cleanliness to a degree as
comprehensive as it is unusual--cleanliness in person, dwelling, and
food; in air, water, and decoration; in occupation, environment and
morals; the work of home hygiene being to secure for each family
conditions which will permit normal and unhampered functioning for all
the organs of each one of its members; elasticity and pliancy in the
functions being a primary characteristic of health.

If once it be accepted that health, capacity, endurance, and energy are
more powerful weapons for a progressive people than are sword or gun,
obedience to these commands will be general and their results enduring.
The pages of history teach us that each nation in turn has exhibited
these qualities at its zenith of success, whether it were the relatively
highly civilised inhabitants of Greece and Rome, or the barbarian hordes
under Attila. They characterise equally each group of successful
pioneers, whether they be the Pilgrim Fathers of the sixteenth, the
Huguenots of the seventeenth, or the successful colonist of the
nineteenth century. When however their cultivation is neglected the
force of the life current of a people or community is lost; the mighty
river of a nation's prosperity dwindles to an insignificant streamlet of
mere existence, soon to be lost to view in the morass of oblivion.

To what general causes may such deterioration be attributed? Among
the more prominent must be mentioned ignorance of man's physical
nature and of the nurture essential to his welfare; subtle forms of
self-indulgence; lowered standards of morality; enervating luxury, or,
in some cases, so severe a struggle for existence among the salt of
the population (the upper, middle, and professional classes, superior
mechanics and artisans), that even patriotism does not justify a
quiverful of children. But the persistence of these causes is a
national calamity. It is the science and art of hygiene which is
emphasising their disastrous consequences. No longer in its infancy, no
longer a mere collection of fads, questionable statistics, and
empirical doctrines, hygiene is prepared to inform us how to
promote human efficiency in every relation of life--domestic,
occupational, social, and imperial. Its tenets are firmly based upon a
goodly group of sciences, and their utilisation call into play a
whole range of arts. Its theories find confirmation in the social
problems of the day, and the experience gained from their tentative
and partial application affords sound evidence of their worth to the
world. The "expectation" of life, for instance, has been extended ten
years in half a century; in twenty years the death-rate has decreased
thirty per cent. Disease has been found in most instances to be
controllable, and has been controlled; unhealthy occupations have had
their dangers curbed if not entirely banished, and the lot of many has
been immeasurably brightened. _Yet_ the weak joints in the nation's
harness are gaping, and the vigour and virility of the masses appear
to be diminishing. Again we ask, Why?


The answer may be found by reference to the late Professor de Chaumont's
now classical outline of the stages to be identified in the hygienic
education of a race. He divided these into three periods, of which he
described the first as merely "Instinctive," for efforts after sanitary
practice were dictated solely by the personal discomfort associated with
their neglect. In those far-off prehistoric days, Professor Boyd
Dawkins tells us that primitive man, then in his nomadic stage, would
dig runnels to carry off the rain water from the near neighbourhood of
his shelters, or would move on to fresh pastures when his family and
herds had fouled the nearest stream, or change his camping ground when
the accumulated refuse of his food and his prowess as a hunter
interfered with convenient access to his dwelling; but he took no
precautions to prevent the recurrence of these discomforts, and his
efforts to remove their consequences were purely temporary.

To this there succeeded what Professor de Chaumont designated the
"Supernatural" period,[96] which extended over many thousands of years,
during the dawn of which Eastern rulers often combined in their own
person the triple callings of priest, prophet, and physician. Whether it
be in China or in Persia, in Egypt or in India, among the Greeks, the
Arabs, or the Hebrews, the practice of physical morality and of personal
cleanliness, of restrictions of diet or protection from infection, were
closely woven into the religion of the people. Reasons of health and
sanitary advantages permeate the rules of more faiths than that of the
Jews--whose Lawgiver embodied in the Pentateuch health maxims now known
to have been derived from earlier civilisations.

But, remarkable and interesting as are the ancient sanitary codes to a
generation which professes to believe in the necessity for hygienic
practice, their usage was tinctured from the first by a mass of
superstition. Tradition and fatalism hampered true consistency between
faith and works; the often sound regulations suffered from their
empirical foundations. Constant warfare, varied by alternations of
luxury with asceticism, combined to absorb men's minds and to pervert
their common sense, so that plague and famine, disease and penury, were
superstitiously regarded as discipline from the Deity, not to be averted
or avoided, but rather to be accepted as a chastisement prompted by
love. The creed that to save suffering to the vile body might risk the
salvation of the soul, cost Europe far dearer than is at all generally
recognised; for the noble, the pure, the high-minded, the intellectual,
segregated themselves for centuries in monastery and convent, in the
firm faith that by denying to themselves the joy of parenthood they
promoted the spiritual welfare of their country. Ignorant of their
racial responsibilities, they left as progenitors of the next generation
the less refined and ruder elements in the population. It is no cause
for surprise, therefore, that progress in sanitation moved slowly.
Domestic and urban conditions were permitted of a character well defined
by the facts that, in mediæval times, a man of forty-five or fifty was
considered long lived, and that first attempts to control disease were
based upon commercial convenience rather than upon the saving of life.

To this long night of superstition succeeded the third and last period,
known as the "Rational," of which the first dawnings can be detected
even in Plantagenet days. In this period it is desirable further to
differentiate three stages of progress--(_a_) that of Development, when
uneasiness made itself felt, but from absence of knowledge efforts at
reform and control were crude, though often intelligent; (_b_) the stage
of Legislation, and (_c_) the stage of Freedom.[97]

In the first of these, for instance, Henry III. effected an improvement
on any former practice by bringing water to the city of London in pipes,
made by boring or burning a channel through the trunks of large trees.
Half a century later, in 1297-8, laws were promulgated upon the subjects
of offensive trades, food adulteration, and wandering pigs; while
Richard II. imposed penalties upon those guilty of fouling rivers and
ditches. Out of sight out of mind, however, was the sanitary creed of
this and many succeeding generations, so that too often the apparent
gain of the moment sowed the noxious seed of intensified subsequent

Sir John Simon has pointed out that it was not until the early part of
the eighteenth century that hygiene in its modern significance loomed on
the social horizon with clearer outline and more definite aims. A
gradual transformation took place in the next hundred and fifty years,
when the national records, as well as the reports of philanthropic
organisations, indicate the gradual growth of a public opinion which
presently sought its sanitary salvation in legislation. The nineteenth
century saw, as a consequence, the accumulation of a huge mass of public
health laws, designed to accomplish reforms where philanthropy or
self-interest had failed to influence habits.

The suggested designation, namely, the Legislative, is therefore
peculiarly appropriate for this, the second stage of progress in the
third period of our country's hygienic education. To legislation men
pinned their faith as the most potent weapon of reform. From the first
most inadequate and ineffective Factory Act of 1802 until the enactments
of the last parliamentary session, each year has seen substantial
additions made to the growing mass of sanitary legislation, which has
become unwieldy in bulk and intensely complicated in machinery.

Any attempt to enumerate even a few of the public health laws which
crowd our statute books would here be tedious and out of place, though
the community in general ought to be better acquainted than it is with
its powers and obligations. For, truth to tell, fifty years of public
health administration has proved that human beings are not yet consumed
with a sufficiently strong desire for health and efficiency to be
willing to change objectionable or unwholesome habits or to sacrifice
their conception of comfort at the _suggestion_ of officials. Indeed
the sterner measures of compulsory conformity were so necessary to the
education of the public in the elements of healthy living, that the year
1866 saw the commencement of a new era in Public Health Department of
the Government. "The grammar of common sanitary legislation,"[98] writes
the historian of our "English Sanitary Institutions," "then first
acquired the novel virtue of an imperative mood." "Must" was substituted
in some laws for "may," and though the permissive has not, even in fifty
years, entirely given place to the peremptory, the efforts to effect
individual reform by Act of Parliament have, since the formation of the
Local Government Board in 1872, assumed more importance and vigour.

Since that date the reports of health committees all over the country
record the substantial results of persevering work in the interests of
hygiene, qualified by the fact that the experience of other nations has
been abundantly confirmed by our own, namely, that it is futile to
legislate in advance of public opinion. Until the populace has been
impregnated with a knowledge of what is right, right action, though
demanded by its legislators, will be perverted by ignorant intention or
by resentful indolence. Even those who have served the cause of
sanitation most loyally recognise that coercion is but a poor yeast with
which to leaven measures for the public weal; the product is liable to
become sour and worthless rather than wholesome and effective. One
higher grade must be passed by the nation under the tutelage of a
sanitary reform before its education can be called complete.

The final stage in this last long period is described by Professor de
Chaumont as that of "Freedom," of which the attainment is not possible
until action is based on intelligent individual conviction. Then and
then alone there will be a general recognition that "rights" are
inevitably associated with responsibilities, and that true liberty is
followed not by license, but by self-control and respect for the rights
of others.


And so it has come about that, with this ideal in view, the methods of
modern hygiene are directed to awaken the nation's sanitary conscience
and to stimulate the growth of true civic freedom. These methods may be
fairly defined as the working of common sense aided by the results of
scientific research, in their turn supported by very carefully tested
applications. Necessarily it is assumed that each individual will accord
to them intelligent, personal support and, where necessary, will be
willing to sink unreasonable likes and dislikes in the sea of social

Examples of the enormous benefit inseparable from well-considered
sanitary legislation could be multiplied; though, on the other hand, it
is also necessary to check optimism by many illustrations of the
grievous harm still being wrought by want of thought. Hindrance to
possible progress is also associated with the ignorance of those whose
development has not yet attained the level when freedom of action can be
permitted. It is some of the results of this ignorant indolence which
cause the minds of the thoughtful and far-sighted to be tense with
anxiety for the welfare of their country, and arouse a wish for further
and more stringent public health enactments. Nevertheless, again it must
be said that to legislate in advance of public opinion is futile. Only
after stupendous exertion, for instance, has the serious and continued
mortality among infants excited general attention; and the curious,
widespread indifference to the recommendations of recent Royal
Commissions on the Poor Law and the Care of the Feeble-minded indicates
that, were infant mortality controllable by legislation, such
legislation would still fail of its object unless it were also realised
that a child's hold on life is practically dependent upon parental care,
and is intimately associated with maternal nutrition before its birth.

Or again; the law relating to the protection of the public food supply
is approaching a high pitch of excellence; the penalties on adulteration
or on the sale of diseased or otherwise unwholesome foodstuffs are
severe and quite frequently inflicted; _but_ these regulations are
powerless to influence the errors of nutrition constantly reflected in
the features of our population at each age period, neither can they stem
the tide of self-indulgence, emotionalism and luxury which enervate and
deteriorate thousands of our people. Vain indeed are their endeavours to
disguise by alcoholism and drugs the traces of their misfortunes. Stern
Nature is relentless; her laws are as those of the Medes and Persians;
the children's teeth _shall_ be set on edge by the fruits of the
reckless folly and intemperance of their ancestors.

Is sanitary legislation therefore a failure, or by what means can light
from the sun of knowledge penetrate this dense mass of ignorance and
apathy? For what reason has it opposed such a resistant surface to the
manipulations of the reformer or to the coercions of the official? These
questions do not, unfortunately, admit of concise or conclusive

Each political party in turn points the finger of reproach and derision
at its opponents for the modest success by which their legislative
efforts at social reforms are attended. Disease, malnutrition,
alcoholism and overwork continue to hamper their efforts, and will
continue so to do, until a sanitary conscience is awakened in each
breast, at an age when habits and ideals are still unformed.

There is no royal road to the solution of these serious problems. They
call for infinite, patient and untiring tact, while they also demand the
employment of many and varied well-considered methods, based on a sound
foundation of sanitary and social science. The day for reform by theory
is over; the moment for practice by individual example and co-operative
effort has arrived.


Before proceeding to suggest some means by which to increase the
stability of the national health through the agency of family life, it
will be advantageous to recall the advice given to students of any form
of life by Professor Arthur Thomson:--that they should, before
attempting to form conclusions as to its nature, submit its constitution
to analysis, with the assistance of what he described as the biological
prism. This, he says, will throw light on the inherited nature of the
creature--the capital, so to say, with which it is endowed at birth. It
will illuminate the functional nature of its parts, and will reveal what
it does in the course of its ceaseless activities--nervous, muscular and
organic. Further, the prismatic rays will render visible the results of
some of the influences dependent upon the environment with which it is
surrounded, which play upon it before and after birth. Unfortunately
these rays, when directed to human nature, cannot penetrate so deeply
nor divulge so clearly the secrets of this the highest and most complex
form of life, as they do when directed to its simpler manifestations.
All ordinary difficulties are enhanced by our human capacity for racial
admixture and the creation of an artificial environment.

This much, however, is clearly revealed by a partial analysis. Human
beings, in common with all life, are distinguished by the power of
movement, and are sensitive to many forms of external stimulus:--heat,
cold, electricity, or pressure. They pass their lives in rhythmic
alternations of activity and repose; they breathe; they absorb food to
supply energy and to maintain unimpaired the substance of their bodies;
they excrete waste products. They share with plants and animals an
intrinsic tendency to continue their growth for a certain period and up
to a definite amount, while, at the close of the most pronounced period
of growth, ability to transmit life absorbs the energy hitherto utilised
for personal development, by which means the perpetuation of a species
is secured. Research shows, also without possibility of question, that
certain similar characteristics distinguish the mechanism of every type
of animal life; though the machinery be in some cases of the simplest,
in others highly complex. Thus have been revealed many secrets of man's
physical nature; as, for instance, the knowledge that, in the earliest
stages of their existence, higher forms of life recapitulate more or
less imperfectly certain far-off ancestral phases of development, of
which living specimens are still to be found on the lower branches of
humanity's huge genealogical tree. By means also of the close and
detailed observation of these lowlier organisms a clearer conception
has been formed of the intricacies of growth and the prolonged process
of development in mankind. Just how human beings have come to be what
they are, mentally and morally as well as physically, is a still
unsolved problem. There are, of course, many missing chapters in the
long story of life, though so far no contradictions have been detected
in its arguments. The sad side of this biological lore exists in the now
ascertained fact that the highest intellectual and moral powers, those
last to develop, are the first to suffer arrest or to die away when the
organism is subjected to premature exhaustion or to precocious
responsibility. Predisposing causes are found in disease, dissipation,
or defective nurture.

Another of the more important lessons to be learnt from the pages of
this book of life's history is the conservative influence of the law of
inherited nature; a law which makes for the preservation of racial types
by suppressing wide deviations from the normal. A familiar illustration
of this may be found in the fact that the children of parents of great
height or of very short stature usually revert to the average of the
race. The significance of this genetic relation in maintaining an
efficient people was unrecognised until quite recent times, and though
valuable evidence is accumulating on the descent of hereditary character
in mankind, no definite conclusions have yet been reached on the
_intensity_ of the transmission of qualities. It is, of course, a
subject of intense complexity, the full discussion of which is here
impossible. In the interests of future generations it is, however, to
be wished that more thought were given to the conclusions it is
allowable to draw. "If," for instance, says a recent writer, "instead of
allowing the race to mate at random we selected both parents for some
one quality, we could raise the intensity of inheritance and establish
gradually, by continued selection, a strain in which the quality reached
a value much higher than the average in the original mixed race...."[99]
Thus could a race be strengthened for life's calls, or, on the contrary,
until and unless the people are awakened to the existence and bearing on
their national security of such fundamental hygienic influences, it can
be emasculated. No such selection is likely ever to dominate human
marriages, but an appreciation of these and similar facts is fundamental
to national progress; and in time the dissemination of such knowledge
will be considered a parental duty, the more urgent since the resources
of civilisation and ill-regulated sympathy have combined to brush aside
the sterner laws of nature, so that the deteriorated threaten to become
the chief progenitors of the next generation.

During the process of studying the abundant evidence of life's progress
from the simple to the complex, it becomes also apparent that it is
affected by forces other than heredity. Recognition of the ever-present
influence of these potent but often disregarded forces makes for
harmonious living, whereas their neglect is associated with heavy
penalties. I refer to the capacity for individual variation from the
racial type; to the modification of each individual by his or her
surroundings; and to the personal predisposition, technically described
as diathesis, which influences the reaction made to every form of
stimulus. Of these three forces, the first is the result of an inborn
tendency to deviate from the ancestral type; an orderly process with a
definite intention, by no means a mere chance fluctuation. This
certainly makes for progress as well as for interest in life, though it
enhances the difficulties of education, because it demands the
adaptation of conditions to each individual's requirements. The second,
the law of modification, takes into account the influence of environment
upon inherited nature; the effects of climate, and food, for example, or
of forms of occupation. Predisposition is, of course, a personal
quality--a factor of primary importance in our susceptibility to or
power to resist disease or in our capacity to withstand adverse
conditions. This property is responsible for the greater or less degree
of adaptability to new conditions possessed by each of us, and is
concerned with our power to live in tune or at discord with our

Another biological law, that of periodicity,[100] or of rhythmic
alternations of activity and rest, has hitherto often suffered among
human beings more in the breach than in the observance of its tenets;
though unquestionably conformity to its requirements makes for health
and stability. Throughout nature habits of rhythmic, organic activity
are too familiar to attract attention. Of these, the periodic return of
the seasons, for instance, or the daily tides, the flowering of plants
and the ripening of fruit, the migrations of birds and the hibernation
of certain insects and animals, are obvious examples. These rhythms have
been proved by experience to be advantageous in the world. They make for
efficiency and economise energy, and, from their high degree of
development in man's nature, it may be fairly assumed that to him their
observance is of great consequence. Many of them are beyond his control;
such, for example, as the diurnal variations of his body temperature,
the beating of the heart, the call of hunger, or the rhythm of growth.
Others he can observe or abuse according to his pleasure; sleep, for
instance, or the rhythm of work, or the daily discharge from his body of
its waste products.[101] It is the work of hygiene to demonstrate how to
combine obedience to all these laws with the demands of modern
existence, and it is the duty of man to conform reasonably to modes of
life based on these demonstrations. More especially does responsibility
for the establishment of certain rhythms, such as sleep, devolve upon
the organiser of a child's early life.


Further researches into the records of the past, and a closer study of
the underlying principles upon which humanity has formulated many
generally adopted customs, indicate how unexpectedly intimate is the
relation between the growth of a social organisation and the origin of
primitive efforts after the preservation of life and health. The world
at large is so accustomed to the widespread existence of family life
that curiosity is rarely aroused as to its origin, intention and worth;
consequently to ignorance of its significance must be attributed the
assertion that the custom is well-nigh obsolete and the proposal of some
would-be reformers to abolish the institution and to instal the State
_in loco parentis_.

Professor McDougall[102] assures us that such is the social importance
of the family that all who have given serious attention to the question
are agreed that the stability of the family is the prime condition of a
healthy state. This opinion is supported by other writers,[103] who have
emphasised their conviction that the healthful development of the
individual--even the possibilities of racial progress--depend to a large
degree upon maintaining intact the integrity of family life. Their
conclusions are based upon recent researches into the sciences of
biology, sociology, and economics.

The origin of this relation is apparently traceable to one of the many
forms of human association which have proved advantageous in the
struggle for existence, when the value to a man and his wife of so
protecting their offspring during childhood that there should be later
on an array of lusty sons and industrious daughters thrust itself on
their notice. The division of strenuous work, for instance, the pursuit
and preparation of food, the effective defence of their rude shelters
against the depredations of their foes, were substantial advantages to
be derived in primitive times from the possession of a large group of
children. Upon the youthful vigour and strength of their family the
parents could rely also when overtaken by the weakness of old age or by
accident or disease.

These economic and sociological advantages were so early appreciated
and are so widely adopted that traces of family life are to be
detected in the history and customs of every tribe or community
hitherto investigated. The bond thus formed, even amongst the lowest
savages, first developed, then strengthened the ties of natural
affection between a mother and her children and prolonged its
emotional existence. In the case of the paternal parent, it is
probable that the motives which incited him to make the efforts
necessary for the protection of his helpless infants might more
probably be found in the desire to leave an avenger on individual
enemies and a feeling that funeral rites would be duly performed
after his death, as well as his tribe strengthened in war.

The gradual development of the human home has been admirably described
by more than one writer, who has associated its evolution with the
gregarious instinct, recognised in many of the higher forms of animal
life.[104] Within reason, associated numbers represent power--power
to preserve the progeny, therefore to maintain the numbers, which
again in reason make for social support and independence. Power for
defence, power to secure an adequate supply of food and ability to
differentiate occupations, thus dividing labour, so that while the men
of a family group were engaged in war or the chase, their womenkind
devoted their attention to the creature comforts which promote
health and efficiency--these are all factors which make for progress.


And so it came about that to some extent woman's special and privileged
vocation as a home-maker began even in prehistoric times. Upon her it
devolved to rear the children she bore; to cook, to mend, to make, to
spin and dye and weave; to prepare a welcome for the victor and to
minister to the sick or wounded. No sense of menial limitation in
their duties was apparent among the notable women of the past. They
were skilled workers, capable and respected managers, under whose
direction men as well as women carried out the details of daily work,
to whose care in later centuries castle and garrison were entrusted in
the absence of their lords, and who most evidently assumed this
responsibility with confidence and success.

The changing conditions of the last three centuries, however, reacted in
many ways to the detriment of women's domestic energies and sapped their
pride in the vocation of housewife. Industrial developments took much
occupation out of their hands, and they were not apparently concerned to
undertake others more in consonance with modern life. As concentration
of the population in large centres undermined the last survival of
feudal conditions, the strong conservative instinct of women made it
hard for them to adapt themselves and their households to revised
methods:--to substitute "new lamps for old," so that gradually it seems
women became split up into two parties, somewhat out of sympathy one
with the other. Adherence to the traditions of the past and the
attractions of social life distinguished the one party; a restless
desire to give scope to their whole nature and to work out their own
salvation on unconventional lines possessed the other. In the one case
there was no desire for domestic reformation. What methods could be
better than their great-grandmother's! In the other, glimpses of what
seemed a far wider and more intellectual life than that of the ordinary
housewife diminished interest in the physical needs of human nature,
which it was thought made no claims on mental faculties, and of which
the daily care was constantly associated with irksome restrictions and a
position of financial dependence.

It is not possible here even to outline the numerous social and
commercial innovations which have modified every side of daily life
for the last two hundred years; but, when inclined harshly to rebuke
women for some of their now almost inexplicable blindness to these
changes, it is well to remember that the flood of new discoveries, new
inventions, new modes of transit, new forms of occupation and
amusement, new means of money-making and fresh excitements imposed an
enormous strain upon nervous systems, still but slowly adapting
themselves to the stir and stress of the modern world. That eyes
should be temporarily dazzled by the brilliance of the "wonderful
century"; that the first results of freedom from a period of unnatural
restraint should be intoxication with liberty, is not surprising. Full
of encouragement is, however, the fact that an increasing number of
women of all ranks are engaged to-day in efforts to direct the light
of modern knowledge to the betterment of human life; the movement
speaks for the innate soundness of their womanhood and for their
realisation of their imperial responsibilities. Many of these efforts
are still unsystematised, many good intentions are held to be of
equal worth with organised practical knowledge; many women are alive
only to the needs of the least favoured of the community and are dead
to the urgent calls for intelligent reforms in their own domiciles. But
if the willing mind be there, the direction of the work into desirable
channels will slowly though surely follow. It is most certainly
unnecessary to pour every girl into the mould of a conventional
German hausfrau in order that she may perceive the inner meaning of
family life. God fulfils Himself in many ways, and diversity of training
and of interests is as beneficial as it is desirable. Neither can the
women of a country single-handed conserve this great institution of
family life. The loyalty of boys and the co-operation of men are
imperative to its preservation. They as well as their mothers, wives,
and sisters must realise its responsibilities and opportunities, and
must maintain the dignified position of those who preside over this
unit of community life; they also must respond to the crying need for
its adaptation to the requirements of modern civilisation.


Mrs. Bosanquet[105] has told us that the most important economic
function of the family to-day is its direct control of the prosperity or
ruin of nations; for here alone are found in combination the forces
which determine the quantity of the population with the forces which
determine its quality. To control these forces offers, to say the least,
a life-work for countless men and women. Both parents must safeguard the
character of their children's inherited nature; both sexes are more or
less directly or remotely concerned in the provision of a suitable
environment for human lives, infant or adult. Under the circumstances it
may well be a matter for surprise that we have been so slow to perceive
that the right performance of these duties demands a preliminary study
of the art of preserving health and promoting progress, and we marvel at
the placid spirit of content which has sanctioned the conversion into a
stronghold of empiricism, the very place where a sound knowledge of
progressive sanitary science is of primary importance.

In the book to which reference has been already made, Mrs. Bosanquet
also enumerates the causes which in her opinion militate most actively
against the continuance of family life at the present day. Among others
she mentions evasion of responsibility, self-indulgence (with which we
are very familiar), reliance upon external sources of maintenance, and
the unequal distribution among the members of a family of the burden of
support. Further, she refers to the unfortunate failure among parents to
realise that the old Roman customs of parental possession and filial
submission are out of date to-day, and calls upon the wise guardian to
substitute others which lead to loyalty and love.

The new movement for a study of the characteristics of childhood and
adolescence should materially contribute to the realisation that this
parental attitude of dominant authority must be now associated with and
modified by a more balanced understanding of the phases of youthful
development and of the intricacies of individual temperament.
Convenience has hitherto encouraged the customary regulation of a group
of young lives as if they were one and the same individual, no allowance
being made for variation in character or in age, in propensities or in
health. Each nursery party or infant school serves to illustrate the
point. Individual tendencies to cold or to fatigue, to nerve storms or
to indolence; individual capacities in diet, occupation or exercise,
must be intelligently respected if potentialities are to become

In the well-conducted home, for example, a study of individual character
must in the future replace cast-iron discipline or easy-going,
child-spoiling indulgence. The fact that the early cultivation of good
habits makes for healthful happiness must be generally appreciated; and
the duty of the home to provide opportunity for the exercise of personal
tastes, the importance of training as a relief to nervous strain and as
the best means to develop resource and skill, must be perceived. It will
be by this constant understanding supervision in early years, and later
by the cultivation of an intimate sympathetic comradeship with his
children, that the modern parent will retain for his country the
cementing force of family life.


The great discovery of John Fiske as to the reasons for the long
continuance of childhood in man must not be overlooked in this
connection; it bears so directly on health and efficiency, and is
closely associated with the importance of the family to the individual
as well as to the nation. Why, it may be asked, is man's period of
helplessness so prolonged; why, when his brain development reaches so
high a standard, is he for years in a position of entire dependence,
whereas snakelet and chick are practically self-supporting from the hour
of hatching? When the lower forms of animal life are compared with
mankind, the non-existence in their case of any such stage as infancy is
at once apparent. They are brought into the world able to take care of
themselves and to live an independent individual existence. Young pigs
run almost as soon as they are born, young swallows fly directly they
are fledged.

Now, if the structure of lower animals be examined, it will be found
that they have no central warehouse corresponding to the human brain for
the storage of new sensations or for an elaborate and original response
to them. Each such animal repeats the life of its parents; each responds
in exactly the same way to the contact of air, of earth, of food, or of
water. Their activities, it is true, are distinguished by accuracy and
despatch, but the offspring of a hen of the twentieth century has no
larger capacity for the variation of these activities than has the
chick which was hatched out six thousand years ago. The guinea-pig of
to-day, for example, remains mentally at the level of his thousandth
ancestor. Wherein then lies the difference between the pig and the

As animals rise in the scale, as their brains become more subtle, more
elaborate in structure, their actions become correspondingly more
numerous and complicated, more varied, more individual. The nervous
systems of such animals are characterised by an increasing complexity of
development, and this provides the machinery necessary to the
performance of an increasing number of muscular and mental
co-ordinations; they can adapt themselves to unfamiliar surroundings and
possess much enhanced advantages in the struggle for existence. _But_,
associated with these advantages, is a much longer period of immaturity,
because, where the capacity for flexibility and progress is great, the
antenatal period is insufficient for the establishment of the necessary
nervous connections or even for the development of the brain cells
between which these connections will be formed. The chick will have its
full plumage in ten weeks, but mentally it is far below a dog or a
monkey, whose period of immaturity is much longer. Similarly, the dog
attains his maturity long before the monkey, who is infinitely his
superior in fertility of resource, power to learn through imitation, and
capacity for attention. The infant in its turn is far longer in a
dependent condition than the highest ape.

Relatively large in bulk at birth, and reaching usually its full mass in
the first fourteen years of life, the human brain possesses throughout
childhood vast silent areas, big with future potentialities, areas in
which the cells are slowly ripening to function. Even after full growth
in size is reached, many more years must pass before capacity for the
higher mental functions or for the complete control of such functions
has developed. It must be borne in mind that, throughout this period of
immaturity, errors of nutrition or defective stimulation may interfere
with function. One of the most important duties of the home is to
provide the suited environment for its child occupants during these long
and anxious years. How long they are has been emphasised by Dr.
Clouston,[106] who has said that, of all the periods of brain growth,
the most important, as regards the development of our highest moral and
mental potentialities, is that between eighteen and twenty-five years of
age, when the capacity for self-control should be coming into function
in its highest relations, and when failure to ripen in due course is
fraught with most serious consequences for the future.

There is no such thing, therefore, as infancy or parental care in the
lowest orders of animal life; of which, one result is a gigantic
mortality among their offspring. Enormous numbers of eggs are laid to
ensure the preservation of the species when left to fend for
themselves. The turbot, for instance, must deposit millions of minute
glassy ova or the species would become extinct. Even among frogs the
destruction of tadpoles is so great that provision must be made to allow
for this loss. The fostering care of birds for their young at once
permits a great reduction in the number of the offspring; but, though
birds give evidence of some capacity for parental care, infancy, as
such, is really confined to mammalian young. Even here it is curtailed
in a vast number of species; but wherever it exists it stands for power
to progress, and represents capacity for benefiting by, indeed depending
upon, education, if only in the simple form of learning by imitation--a
form familiar to readers of such books as Long's "Schools of the

Plasticity is the hall-mark of progress; educability indicates a brain
more or less competent to assimilate, to remember, to compare, to
discriminate. This door of progress has been merely set ajar for even
the higher apes; it is open to man only. The period of plasticity is
evidently prolonged in proportion to the degree in which conscious
intelligence has superseded mere brute force in promoting successful
survival--that is to say, the transmission of _mental ability_ rather
than of _physical strength_ postpones maturity. Man alone possesses in
full the powers of selection and adaptation, of reason and of emotion,
of memory and of mental originality, which are included in his rich
heritage of life. If he is to realise his full potentialities, he must
have protection for years after birth and an extended time for
development. The immature infant must be fed, sheltered, and stimulated,
if the inherent powers of adjustment to surroundings are to develop
normally. But so great is the instability associated with human
immaturity and future potentiality, that arrested development is too
often the heavy penalty paid by the child for the ignorance and
carelessness of his parents.[107] Faults of food and clothing,
insufficient warmth, cleanliness, or exercise, premature work or
precocious responsibility and independence, prolonged overstrain or
insufficient stimulation of mind and body, are the prevalent causes by
which a child's normal growth is warped and prejudiced. Where this
occurs he never enters into his birthright of power; it has too often
been thoughtlessly bartered by his natural guardians, literally for a
mere mess of pottage.


Perhaps one of the greatest inconsistencies of an inconsistent nation
lies in the fact that the extraordinary ignorance of the elementary
needs of a tender infant is not confined to one section of society; it
is found in Belgravia as well as in Bermondsey. Thus, though the chief
sources of the tuberculosis which is responsible for the presence of 45
per cent. of the children in the London Invalid Schools are confined to
the homes of the poorer classes,[109] inquiries into the incidence of
rickets among children in Glasgow show a higher percentage of cases in
the families of mechanics than of labourers[110]--a clear illustration
that ignorance and not poverty is here the predisposing cause. Impure
air and stuffy, ill-ventilated rooms are concerned in the susceptibility
to both diseases, as is also malnutrition with its associated diminution
of the innate powers of self-protection. But, in the one case, inability
to provide suitable food is the general cause; while in the other,
inexcusable ignorance of the right forms in which food should be
supplied to young children is a certain source of the evil.

The thought is pathetic, for the causes are wholly preventable. Pitiful
also, because less excusable, is the grievous injury to health
associated with a mouth full of rotten teeth, permitted as it is among
families possessed of sufficient means to meet the cost of cure, who
prefer to spend their money upon dress and amusement, or among the
members of which necessary endurance of a trifling shock has not been
cultivated. Were the foulness of the discharge from a carious tooth to
be externally visible, the æsthetic instinct among the refined would
clamour for prompt treatment; but, unfortunately for health, the results
of the disease are concealed, and consequently condoned.

Again: light, sunshine and quiet are now known to be essential to
physical development and to the possession of a sound nervous system;
the statement amounts to a platitude, for is not every wealthy invalid
despatched to complete convalescence by the sea or in the country, and
is not the custom of a general annual holiday due largely to the
conscious benefits derived from an open-air life far from the bustle of
towns? Yet physical morality is so poorly developed that the atmosphere
of suburban as well as urban districts is permanently obscured by the
preventable and wasteful results of imperfect combustion, though the
detriment is incalculable to those whose lives see no change of air.
The ceaseless rumble of noisy traffic, allowed to disturb the rest of
thousands, or more probably of millions, of our population, is another
factor responsible for the prevalence of unstable nerves and of
ill-balanced brains. It assumes great gravity when it is realised that
among these sleepers are numbered the children whose hours of rest are
already most seriously curtailed.

Another sin against childhood bears long enduring fruits. I refer to the
terrible results upon the lives of those infants who survive efforts to
prevent their birth. The fact ought to be, if it is not, common
knowledge; yet the sale of the infamous drugs, necessary to the crime,
by pennyworths, in every drug-store, is tacitly sanctioned by the

Professor Sadler's[111] determination to direct attention to the
requirements of our adolescents has aroused such response, that excuse
is now impossible for ignoring the detrimental effects upon young people
of unskilled, exhausting "blind alley" work, or of removing prematurely
the restraint of moral discipline and systematised training.[112]
Statistics show not only the economic disasters which result from the
unsatisfactory methods of past years; they bring home also the steady
increase in the percentage of the proportion of nervous instability as
well as of anæmia, which interfere with the form of brain growth so
rapid in adolescence (namely, increase in complexity of association, and
in power to inhibit, to reason, and to concentrate). Another result of
these investigations is to draw attention to the increase in organic
heart disease, which has been shown to occur in more than thirty per
cent. of the London errand boys who are engaged in prolonged work on
Saturdays, as well as in out-of-school hours during the week.[113]

Should not parents inform themselves diligently on these matters? for
there are warnings and to spare from physician and educationalist upon
this reckless wreckage of the nation's most valuable asset. It was
pointed out ten years ago that the imposition of adult duties upon the
child, or even upon the young adolescent, is the most effective
machinery for the manufacture of the unemployed and the unemployable.
Only now, however, are bye-laws being sanctioned which impose at all
adequate restrictions upon child labour. For a longer period the steady
migration of the rural population from country to towns has been
bemoaned, as coupled with the risk lest the deterioration of the
individual decline into the degeneration of the race. Nevertheless, in
spite of the sustained efforts of the Rural Housing Association and of
private individuals, the housing problem still lies at the root of some
at least of this exodus. Miserable and inconvenient as are hundreds of
our cottages, their number is still insufficient in many places to meet
the demand; so perforce the young people of marriageable age must go, or
the elementary code of decency must be violated.

The curse of alcohol,[114] too, lies heavy on our land; it shortens
life, incapacitates for work, impoverishes and degrades; visits in
innumerable forms the sins of the parents upon their innocent yet
grievously afflicted children; promotes crime and perverts judgment.
Each year brings more statistical and biological evidence of its
enduring and deteriorating effects upon humanity. It seems strange,
therefore, that the law to insist upon the provision of an adequate
water supply for every dwelling remains entirely insufficient to meet
the most urgent needs of many town streets as well as country villages.
Cleanliness is consequently impossible, and the public-house must be
perforce frequented, for it provides a beverage more palatable and
perhaps as wholesome as the cottager's nearest supply.


May not the causes of some considerable proportion of this apathy be
traced to a want of popular faith in the teachings of hygiene? Is not
one source of the prevalent unbelief in its tenets to be found in the
widespread ignorance of the right administration of human life in the
home, which turns out therefore a product of unhealthy, inharmonious
citizens, who are a source of weakness to their country and a menace to
civilisation? How could it be otherwise? If the cradle of life be
defective, and its occupants be debilitated, it is not the nurslings
alone upon whom the penalties will fall; whereas if home administration
be guided by intelligence, and the quality of the inmates be high,
individual and national prosperity are assured. The burden of
responsibility or the privilege of promoting progress (according to the
spirit in which obligations are assumed) rests with those who propose to
be or already are parents; they being influenced in their turn by the
educational and social conditions of their surroundings. Parental care
and intelligent home management are thus intimately concerned with the
physical evolution of the race, as well as with its moral development.
They must, therefore, assume an increasing rather than a diminishing
importance, if the full development of potentialities is to be insured
in the rising generation, and racial progress promoted. Any proclivity
to depreciate the dignity or to undermine the influence of these
institutions must be carefully examined and, if necessary, sternly

The fact that such tendencies show signs of sprouting is, it seems to
me, a serious reflection upon the parental and domestic methods of the
day. There is no smoke without fuel; faults are rarely all on one side;
the young are not necessarily always in the wrong; therefore, a course
of self-examination into their methods and motives may be a wholesome
and fruitful discipline for those who are responsible for the nature and
nurture of our children, and for the stability and efficiency of
adolescent and adult. The absence of elasticity and adaptation to modern
requirements among the elders of a family is often responsible for
miserable homes, and for much arrested development in their inmates.


Such a condition of affairs is, however, no longer to be tolerated;
for the result of research carried out during the past and present
centuries has opened up a hitherto unsuspected vista of progress to
mankind, if and when he is intelligent enough to establish an
harmonious unison between himself and his environment. Once the
jarring discords of debility, disease, and deterioration have been
modulated into the major chords of health--moral and physical--the
latent potentialities of his higher life will be quickened into
productive activity. The misconception of humanity which has denied
to it the power to rise above the level of present attainments, which
has dwelt insistently upon the hopeless degradation of the body, has
brought about a condition of enervating and passive fatalism, based
upon the conviction that all reforming efforts must be directed
solely to the preparation of one part only of man's triune nature for
another and future sphere of existence. The duty and possibility of
building a fit temple for man's spiritual nature here and now is the
ideal of a minority to-day--in the future it will be that of an
overwhelming majority; for the proofs of human capacity for progress, of
man's power to control the forces of nature, are ever becoming more
firmly authenticated, and all that they imply will soon become far
better understood.

Though our knowledge of the subject is still incomplete and often
tentative, much progress has been made, for instance, in a correct
conception of the means by which the physiological balance of human life
is adjusted, since Metchnikoff[115] drew attention to the interference
brought about in man's normal development by certain fundamental
disharmonies in his constitution, of which the end is premature death,
if not a pathological old age. It is quite evident that unjustifiable
encroachments upon the reserve powers of the human body have been
commonly permitted hitherto, and though each year brings fresh proof of
the extraordinary endowment which it possesses to respond to the
demands made upon it, yet each year also confirms the conviction that
this reserve fund must in future be husbanded and used with economy.
When these powers are constantly drawn upon the body is necessarily
reduced to a lower level of health. If the metaphor be employed of the
body as a building in course of erection, it becomes obvious that if one
of a group of converging thrusts be much weakened or withdrawn, a
skilful rearrangement of forces may meet the strain, but the total
strength of the structure is reduced. In how many cases has the temple
of a child's body been permanently damaged by such withdrawals, or how
many adolescents are launched into life with their capital of health
seriously diminished by premature calls upon its resources.

The duty to maintain so far as possible a condition of physiological
equilibrium in ourselves and in our children amounts to an obligation;
for which reason health promotion during the plastic period of early
life assumes a new importance. Of course, a certain capacity for
vicarious activity is associated with the various organs of the body in
order to maintain their functions against temporary failure. Healthy
tissues are furnished with power to respond to increased call for
exertion. How often are they most sorely abused and unwisely taxed? Even
now, when made aware of these facts, we are slow to apply to the conduct
of life the lessons thus taught us, and continue to be filled with
self-commiseration for the results to our bodies of overtaxing their
capacity for accurate readjustment.

It is not possible, much less desirable, that the whole population
should plunge into amateur studies of recent physiological advance, nor
even that it should dabble, as its units are too much disposed to do, in
pseudo-scientific pathological publications. But it is both possible and
desirable for all who assume the direction of their own lives or those
of children to "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" some fruits of
the labours of others in the garden of health.

Were there one fixed standard of health to which all could attain, the
practice of hygiene would be attended by a charming simplicity.
Unfortunately, modern science forces us to conclude that each individual
can only reach his own particular standard of well-being. The grades of
health are consequently infinite in number, and the task which devolves
on parents and guardians to secure that the standard possible to each
child under their care be attained is no light one. So general is the
blindness to these truths, that the degree of health enjoyed is in most
cases far below the possible standard; the results of ancestral vice, of
parental ignorance, or of defective environment having sapped
prematurely the springs of progressive potentiality.[116] The mental and
physical balance is thus rendered relatively less stable and the powers
of resistance to adverse conditions are diminished.

Happily, by virtue of its inherent power, but strictly in proportion to
the vigour of this power, an organism is usually able to strike a new
balance; for the capacity to regain its equilibrium is exquisitely
delicate in human nature, _if_ the change be neither too sudden nor too
severe. Throughout life this process of self-adaptation to the presence
of morbid influences is constantly exercising its protective power. If,
however, the effort to overcome disadvantageous conditions be very great
or much prolonged, the life of the individual is never quite so vigorous
and symmetrical as it might and should have been. In a luminous address,
delivered at the University of Leeds some few months ago,[117] Lord
Justice Fletcher Moulton instituted a comparison between the human
organism, which invariably tends to swing back to the normal whenever
the balance of health is disturbed, and a ship which has safely
weathered a stormy voyage. The ship, he writes, "is not stable, if
stability means that she can defy the forces that bear on her to move
her from her normal upright position, for ... the slightest roll of the
sea ... will make her heel over. But she is stable, because when made to
lean over, there is thereby generated a system of forces tending to
return her to her place, which grows greater the greater is the
displacement, and thus ultimately becomes sufficient to overpower the
disturbing forces.... As the ship arrives safely, her construction must
be such that disturbances tend to right themselves when stability is
seriously endangered. Some corresponding righting force also tends to
bring back an organism to its normal state."

The caution may not be amiss that the amplitude of the swing of a human
pendulum, as well as the accuracy of its final balance, depends not only
upon inherited nature and the amount of reserve force possessed, but
will be stable or feeble, durable or transient, according to the
influence of environment.

In what way, it will be asked, can individual capacity for health be
gauged? to what degree can the power to progress or to resist
encroachments be strengthened? at what age is intelligent supervision
most important?

No concise and conclusive answers can be given to these most natural
inquiries, but much light has been recently thrown upon the long
duration of immaturity and associated instability in mankind; upon the
power of self-protection inherent in the body;[118] upon the influence
thereon of its environment; upon the penetrating power of heredity; and
upon the urgent importance of the adolescent period.

Further, it appears that the healthful body is equipped to withstand the
attack of the bacteria of most diseases, though the mechanism of
self-defence is of more kinds than one. Of the different pathological
bacteria identified up to the present, for instance, some appear to be
eminently sensible to one kind of action of normal blood fluids, while
they are in a much less measure sensible, or are, perhaps, entirely
insensible to others; a complication which enhances our respectful
admiration for the marvellous and intricate system which provides for
our bodily welfare. Obviously, human nature would be practically immune
from disease if this protective machinery were always in good working
order: unfortunately this is not invariably the case--hence disease. It
is the duty of hygiene to insure constant physical equilibrium, but the
intricate tactics of Nature are as yet so imperfectly understood that
man is not yet an ally of great worth in her operations.

Nevertheless, the perception that the secret of individual health lies
in fostering the resistant or protective elements, which should be
present in normal blood, marks a great step in advance; for from it have
originated measures to curtail the course of an illness and to reduce
the risk of its recurrence. It is hardly Utopian to forecast, as Sir
Almroth Wright has done, that the physician of the future will take upon
himself a still higher rôle than he has hitherto assumed in this work of
the prevention of ill-health, for he will attempt, by means of
systematically strengthening individual capacity for resistance to
disease, to remove the necessity for curing those who have fallen
victims to its attacks. The gain in health, in happiness, in time and in
money would be incalculable. For instance, had the death-rate _all_ over
England during 1908 stood at 13.8 per thousand, instead of at favoured
places only, no less than 33,831 lives would have been saved. Of these
deaths, one-fifth were those of infants under twelve months old, the
majority of them wholly preventable. What a reckless waste of racial and
national capital; what an unnecessary cause of bitter sorrow and
disappointment; what a source of unprofitable expenditure! The
calculation has been made that for each death there are at least six
cases of more or less serious illness, involving confinement to bed for
a few days or a few weeks as the case may be. A simple multiplication
sum will enable the reader to estimate the amount of serious illness
represented by the total arrived at: the loss in time, health, happiness
and efficiency is incalculable.

The bright prospects for human health in the future, therefore, rely
largely upon the use which will be made of this protective machinery,
and the prospective gain to humanity lies in the hope that when family
histories are kept systematically and the inherited tendencies of a
child are far more accurately known, the invading forces of disease will
never get a footing, because precautions to strengthen the body's own
defensive powers will be taken as a matter of routine practice. The
physiological balance being thus preserved from disturbance, the great
fund of energy now utilised to resist encroachments will be available
for productive purposes.

So great a reformation cannot of course be brought about till shame is
felt for the scandalously low standard of health now common among all
classes, nor until a general determination is developed to remove the
minor miseries from which we all suffer more or less impatiently.


The result of a curious obtuseness to the economics of personal and
domestic hygiene is also responsible for another serious dereliction of
parental duty, by which health and progress have been grievously, though
quite unnecessarily and constantly, hampered. I refer to the general
failure to economise nervous energy or to take any interest in what is
rightly called mental hygiene. Yet Press and people alike deplore the
evident increase of mental abnormalities, and anticipate the future with
undisguised anxiety. It has been well said that though men carry more of
the wood, women carry not less of the worries of life. They _may_ in
some cases escape the physical toil which strengthens; they do _not_
escape the mental toil which demoralises and kills spirit and energy if
not body and health. Now, though the brain tissues do not create mental
activities, nevertheless we all know that they are conditioned in some
inexplicable way by that organ. Derangement in any part of the brain
deranges or diminishes its functions; non-development in any part of the
brain can and does arrest mind growth. Chronic over-fatigue and
exhaustion, anæmia however produced, the circulation through the nervous
tissues of impure blood, alter the character of the mental processes.
The results of starvation may so distort them, that the horrors of the
French Revolution are attributed by some authorities to this particular
cause. That the imperfect lymph circulation associated with adenoid
vegetations accounts for much so-called stupidity is one of the first
fruits of the medical inspection of school children; that a severe shock
may destroy intelligence is a fact familiar to every expert in mental
hygiene. If it were generally known to parents that every impression
received by this, the most sensitive of all organs, is stored up from
early infancy, albeit subconsciously, and can at some future time rise
up into the field of consciousness, influencing both thought and action
for good or ill, a very different line of conduct would be taken towards
the persons or the places which make up a young child's surroundings and
most indelibly impress his brain cells.

It is surely time, therefore, that some broad outline of the process of
normal development of the whole nervous system should be possessed by
all in charge of children. Every mother, for example, should know that
the movements of a new-born baby, such as the facial contortions
observed during sleep, or the stretching and bending of the limbs in
very young infants, involuntary and automatic in character, constitute
the simplest form of nervous activity. They are the necessary precursors
of that intellectual ability, to the development of which parental
ambitions aspire, and should merge into more advanced forms of nerve and
muscle co-ordination, which, rightly utilised, are invaluable agents in
infant education.[119] An intelligent nurse possessed of even this
outline could begin quite early that training in physiological
righteousness and in the strict voluntary control of the whole group of
emotional expressions, of which, as a little reflection will quickly
show, good manners largely consist. Presently, as the brain cells are
stimulated into function by nutrition and a quicker and more extensive
recognition of external sensations is acquired, a child will perform
instinctive movements, such as sitting, crawling, standing, walking,
jumping and throwing. Though considerable latitude must be allowed for
their wide individual variation, failure to display these evidences of
mental progress should call for careful investigation. Later on, skill
in a hundred different forms of muscular activity should be displayed;
but many years will elapse before full control of the body in all its
parts will be acquired, and more years still must roll by before
reasoned control of the mental and moral actions is developed. The last
years of this long period of development are, perhaps, the most critical
of the whole; though all depend for their favourable fruition upon an
infinity of loving care and suitable provision for their appropriate

There would be a marked reduction in exhausting disciplinary
difficulties were every parent aware that, to the almost vegetative
character of the first few post-natal months (when sleep will or should
absorb at least twenty hours out of the twenty-four), will succeed a
period of extraordinary activity, which lasts till about eight or nine
years of age, when the mind is essentially an exploring organ;
imitative, impressionable, retentive. Every legitimate opportunity for
the liberal gratification of these characteristics should be provided,
as well as suitable surroundings for the eager, inquiring brain.
Elaborate toys are not necessary, nor is premature book-learning
permissible; but freedom to investigate, to experiment, to test, to
explore, is the child's urgent need, as well as suitable arrangements
for the intervening periods of profound sleep. Repressed activity is
often responsible for breaches of discipline; so is insufficient sleep,
following on over-excitement, accountable for "temper" and passions.

The next phase of growth is still distinguished by this continued
capacity for and dependence upon muscular activity, but the mind
becomes more reflective, more productive. The power to initiate should
develop during this stage of development, as well as increased power to
control mental and bodily functions; and, throughout each of these
periods, there should be a steady, unintermittent formation of good
habits. At first, the nature of these will be chiefly physical; the
habitual performance of the bodily functions should be safeguarded,
until their neglect is attended by discomfort and their violation
becomes almost painful. Then, by degrees, the moral and mental nature

Thus is the child prepared for the stress and turmoil of the long and
anxious years of adolescence; when, under the influence of new emotions,
of fresh temptations, of unfamiliar powers, the character built on the
sands of parental indulgence is undermined, if not swept clean away;
whereas when built on the firm rock of good habits it emerges unshaken
from the storm.

That childhood is an honourable estate must be now evident; pregnant as
it is with possibilities, pathetic in the risks associated with its
plasticity and dependence. Should it therefore be necessary in the
twentieth century to point out that, when the fund of nervous energy is
constantly exhausted by deficient sleep and poor food; when a demand on
function in advance of what nature is prepared to comply with is
persistently made, as it has habitually been in our schools; when
exaggerated and pernicious stimuli are allowed to fatigue and to
paralyse our child population; when inadequate training in the right
conduct of life is provided, and no information given on the dawning
functions of potential parenthood; when premature responsibility is
imposed or precocious and unwholesome independence is permitted; worst
of all, when, through parental disease or alcoholism, the brain tissue
is of too poor a quality to resist the strain of modern life--it is no
matter for surprise that mental instability and insanity are on the
increase, nor that degenerates hamper by their helplessness and crime
the productive capacity of the normal.

The importance of mental hygiene calls for no more emphasis on my part;
though, did space permit, further illustrations might be given of its
scope. It includes the methods in our nurseries, the curriculum of our
schools, the care of our adolescents, the increasing differentiation of
our industrial processes, the character of our often miscalled
recreations. It is concerned with the warding off of nervous breakdowns,
and, with Goethe, it would call the attention of all women to the fact
that the secret of rest is found not "in quitting a busy career, but
rather the fitting of self to one's sphere." It views with anxiety the
growing disregard of religious obligations and restraints, and
emphasises the grave antenatal responsibilities of parents for their
offspring; they who should be the most ardent advocates of a sound
heredity, as well as the promoters of a good home environment for their


Thus, though the human constitution is still imperfectly understood,
though its intricacies and the details of environmental influences are
still mainly undefined, the women of every nation must nevertheless see
to it that progress in the administration of the home keeps pace with
modern demands for revised methods and less conservative practice, in
order to give every chance of normal health to their occupants.

It is a serious reflection upon many housekeepers that the hall-mark of
progressive civilisation, namely growth in power to organise, is
generally absent from their domestic methods. The time will come when it
will be to them a matter for the deepest searchings of heart that they
are directly and inexcusably responsible for a mass of the disharmonies
which disfigure the fugue of family life. The fact is too certain to be
denied. Homes have not developed in proportion to the opportunities
offered, and the chief opponents to progress have been their organisers.
The economic link they form between the physical economics of the
individual and the social economics of the nation has been unnoticed.
Reference to the hygienic significance of due economy of time, of
strength and of health, as well as of money, has hitherto been generally
met with incredulous smiles; and though home has been extolled as the
place for children, how scant has been the attention devoted to their
legitimate requirements, and how few demands for special training have
emanated from, or been attempted by, those who have undertaken the sole
charge of young lives during their most important and impressionable

The new movement, designed to foster the science and art of right
living, cannot gain strength and influence unless it receives the
whole-hearted support of the millions of women whose lives and energies
are absorbed in the care of man's physical needs. It behoves _them_ to
recognise that intuition and tireless industry are insufficient
qualifications for their imperial service, and they must themselves
promote the substitution of systematic training for rule-of-thumb

This training must be varied and comprehensive. No other profession is
concerned with so many interests nor associated with more fateful
responsibilities. For those who can afford the time, it should include a
general acquaintance with the biological basis of life, and should
further direct attention to the vast mental and moral endowments which
give pre-eminence to our race. The products of literature and art and
the records of natural and moral science afford ever present evidence of
the extent of these endowments, and of the executive capacity associated
with their utilisation.

Chemistry must play a prominent part in the training, were it only for
the insight it gives into the inviolable law of cause and effect!
besides which physiologists tell us that the chief commerce of our
bodies with their environment is chemical; therefore, this subject
becomes an indispensable element in any comprehensive course of domestic
training. Without a working acquaintance with the physics of water, of
heat, or of air, a housewife is at the mercy of her architect, if not of
her plumber and her servants. In the absence of an introduction to
bacteriology she lives in constant perplexity over the vagaries of her
larder; and is at a loss to understand the sources of fermentation or
the methods of infection by the majority of known diseases. Without an
insight into economics she is helpless in the hands of the advertiser or
the vendor of patent preparations, all of whose wares are warranted to
perform impossible feats with an infinitesimal expenditure of trouble.
At their best these preparations are expensive, and at their worst they
are injurious to health.

Some personal practice of the domestic arts is also advisable even for
the wealthy; it is indeed essential to a right adjustment of the daily
duties in a home, though naturally the degree of skill acquired will
depend on the style of living. A study of hygiene in sufficient detail
is of course imperative, and while it will remove difficulties by
explaining common errors in diet, habits, and dress, it will be found
materially to lighten labour. Finally, hygiene will render extraordinary
assistance in the right rearing of children and in the general
arrangements of family life.

The objections may here be advanced that the study of these scientific
subjects is uncongenial to those whose temperaments are artistic or
literary; upon these people sanitary science has surely meagre claims,
while life is not long enough for all to pursue such exhaustive studies.
The reply to the first objection must be in the negative. There can be
no health under modern conditions of existence unless those who assume
responsibility in the affairs of men possess a scientific acquaintance
with its right regulation. The subjects just enumerated are the very
pillars which support the temple of Hygeia. But, for the encouragement
of these complainants, be it added that the temple walls demand
decoration; the shelves must be filled with wholesome mental provender;
the gifts of both artist and author are therefore contributory to
harmonious living, and an unlimited scope is offered to their
utilisation. The building which shelters a healthy family, for instance,
should be characterised not only by advances on existing provisions for
convenience but by symmetry in its parts. The test of beauty (use, ease,
and economy) can certainly not be passed by a large proportion of modern
houses, neither do they provide the space which gives to each occupant
"a chance to utilise his own gifts or to pursue his own hobby." Space
needs in its turn regulation, for the saving of steps must be considered
and compactness is essential. Decorations and furniture should also be
suitable in form and colour to their purpose, not a mere heterogeneous
confusion of inappropriate colours and articles, out of tune one with
the other.

The natural needs of normal children, too, must be more taken into
account in the future than in the past, and the conveniences offered by
scientific progress must be far more generally introduced into the most
modest homes. Here is a huge field for intelligent, artistic work; for
true beauty and real utility are near of kin.

It has been said that as in the world of life the localisation of
function made the organ subsequently to become responsible for that
function, so may the differentiation of labour develop individual
talents, just as the exercise of our vital activities has led to the
differentiation of parts in a house. Thus, as satisfaction of hunger is
a first necessity, eating made the kitchen, where means for the
gratification of this instinct were localised. By degrees the growth of
men's social and intellectual demands led to the setting apart of a
chamber for conversation; that is, the parlour. Storage of bread called
the pantry into existence; increased refinement necessitated a scullery
for the washing of cups and platters. Centuries, however, elapsed before
the enlarging personality of the individual demanded privacy for the
toilet and the right to isolate himself periodically from the bustle and
publicity of group life. The general provision of separate bedchambers
for each unit of a household is not even yet habitual, though most
desirable in the interests of health. Reparation of the omission will
mark a further phase of social evolution, and will remove one
disintegrating force now continually at work in home life. Here again
the artist will most advantageously collaborate with landlord and with
health authorities to devise means for the suitable satisfaction of this
laudable demand.

Further objections to the adoption of any comprehensive schemes for
training housewives of all ranks are found in the apparent want of time
available for the purpose and the prohibitive cost incurred if the
period of education be prolonged. The best answers to both objections
are found in the movement now active all over Europe and North America
to furnish more and fuller opportunities for this training, and to
extend, not curtail, its duration. More than this: this movement, which
generally originated in the desire to improve home life among the
poorest, has recently extended itself just as generally to institutions
for higher education, upon whose pupils and students its claims are now
recognised. There is no suggestion, for instance, in Germany or England,
Norway or the United States, of restricting the education of girls by
this movement or of prematurely enforcing upon them technical
instruction. The growth of public opinion is due rather to a belated
realisation that the end of all education is the betterment of life, and
that suggested applications to the practical concerns of daily life in
the course of a girl's general education make for the sounder
assimilation of theory by the pupil, and are thus contrived a "double
debt to pay."

The progress of preventive medicine has also introduced another
incentive to the diffusion of this training; for it affords convincing
proofs that the foundation of the national health is laid in the home.
If, however, the foundation is permitted to be imperfect the edifice
must necessarily be unstable.

Among other influences prejudicial to family life, the force of
which was for a long time unsuspected, mention must be made of modern
industrialism, the reopening of professional life to women, with its
associated financial independence and the increasing seductions of
society. For a century past the tendency has been to discredit
housekeeping as an unsystematised occupation, which has emphasised
the common and sometimes humiliating financial dependence of its
representatives. The first nation to perceive the importance of
stemming this dangerous tide was the United States, where conclusive
demonstrations are now offered of the fact that intelligent housekeeping
calls for a high degree of capacity, and that its problems demand the
resources of a university for their solution. By the recognition of
housecraft as a profession, American colleges accomplished even more
than at first they anticipated. A satisfactory proportion of their
students return to home life convinced of its scope and importance, and
satisfied to perform the duties which there present themselves, instead
of seeking outside occupations and divorcing themselves from family
interests. The King's College Course for graduate students in Home
Science and Household Economics bids fair to exercise an influence of
as satisfactory, though naturally of a slightly variant, character.


If the functions of the home are briefly enumerated under three heads,
no hint of exaggeration will attach to the assertion that by _its_
atmosphere children are modified in soul and body, and that upon _its_
outlook depends the ideals and health of all its occupants.

The first function of the home may be fitly defined as _Protective_.
If its evolution be traced it will be found that home life originated
in a craving for warmth, safety, and shelter; in the desire for a place
where the weary could rest and where security from ill was assured.
Physical comfort, sympathy and sanctuary are, or should be, primary
characteristics of every home.

The second function of the home is _Educational_. It is largely
responsible for the systematic formation of good habits, which should
here be stimulated by example and precept, and every advantage taken of
the imitative instincts so powerful in early life. Within its precincts
care can be exercised to afford opportunity for the development of
individuality; it is also, _par excellence_, the place for early
training in the judicious expenditure of energy and in the acquirement
of self-control. Such training improves brain power, relieves nervous
tension, and obviates the tendency to mental and moral confusion and
disorderliness which is associated with its absence. In a good home the
child's sanitary education should be fairly complete, at least in its
main principles, before the infection of bad habits from without can
interfere with automatic practice or weaken faith in home standards and
conduct. Regular washing of the teeth, for instance, should be early
inculcated, and rigid conscientiousness in matters of personal
cleanliness:--external, by bathing, rubbing, and brushing; internal, by
strict daily attention to the bodily functions. Slow and thorough
mastication of food should be cultivated, as well as good habits of
posture, of enunciation, and of regular exercise. Last, but not least,
habits of prompt and cheerful obedience, of truthfulness, and in due
course of moral purity, must be wrought into the very fibre of a child's
being. The discipline of home ought to be above all things consistent;
gentle, though firm and well considered. The virtues of obedience, of
self-restraint, and of respect for others should become instinctive
almost from infancy; for they sow the seeds of physical morality in
later life.

The third function of the home is _Social_. Before the present era of
"only" children, the exaggerated individualism was uncommon, of which
many of them are now unfortunately the victims. When large families
were the fashion, the give-and-take in nursery and schoolroom gave
early training in the duty of participation in the interests, the
pleasures, or the sorrows of others; it rubbed off the rough angles
of selfishness and gave invaluable lessons in consideration for those
whose circumstances varied from immediate individual experience. The
wider social sphere, for which much of the rough and tumble of
family life was an excellent preparation, was not familiar then to
young children as it is now, when the modern child's premature
introduction to its attractions is not only a constant source of
physical detriment and of mental exhaustion, but tends to disguise
its real character and to stimulate precociously the capacity to
respond to its demands. Occasional glimpses of this larger life are
a desirable part of home education; but constant familiarity with
its excitements is to be sternly deprecated in the causes of health
and of mental stability.

Where and when, then, are "only" children to receive this necessary
social training, occupants as they are of solitary nurseries; or where
are these qualities to be developed in the millions of children reared
under circumstances of such acute overcrowding and poverty that the
amenities of life are obscured by its fierce and exhausting conditions?
Observation shows that the function of accomplishing this training is
steadily devolving upon the school. Unfortunately, though the school
_does_ offer necessary opportunities for social intercourse, this
intercourse is relatively of an advanced type, which presupposes some
previous training in the more elementary principles of community life,
most fitly acquired at home. This tendency to force the school to
_supplant_ instead of to _supplement_ home training must be resisted, as
it involves loss to parents as well as to the children themselves.

The stress here laid upon the social function of the home may seem to
some exaggerated, and its association with the subject of this paper
may appear far-fetched; but to the writer its pressing importance calls
for this emphasis, for its connection with habits of sanitary practice
within and without the home is of the closest. The social spirit is the
very essence of sympathy; it exercises the imagination, it widens the
horizon, it quickens the sense of duty and of self-respect. If
graduation through the school of domestic, social training be omitted
in childhood, the realisation of personal responsibility is too often
indefinitely postponed. Consideration for others, care for their
welfare and personal sacrifice for their protection, must ever bulk
largely in importance throughout life, and must always be associated
with self-respect and self-control. When this sense of personal
responsibility is habitual, conduct which makes for limitations of
health in self, family, or neighbours will appear unjustifiable; and
neglect of either domestic or civic duties will become as unpardonable
as it is unpatriotic.

But antecedent to the attainment of this ideal, fundamental even to its
entertainment, is the adjustment or readjustment of home influences
or methods, as the case may be, to a higher standard. A better
understanding of the constitution of those for whose welfare the home
is established must also be insisted upon as an integral part of
general education.

It may be wise to point out that no proposal to sweep away in wholesale
fashion all the domestic traditions and family methods of this or any
other phase of civilisation is even suggested. Apart from the
impossibility of such a holocaust, treasures of great worth have been
handed on to us by our forebears, of which the majority only need some
slight readjustment to enrich many generations yet to come.

To take a somewhat extreme example. The mention of such homely,
old-fashioned, domestic remedies as black-currant tea for a bad cough,
or soap and sugar plasters for a boil--genuine relics from our
grandmothers--now usually excite a smile of derision; nevertheless they
have been instanced by one of our most able living pathologists[120] for
their admirable adaptation to their purpose, and have been shown to rest
upon a hitherto unsuspected basis of physiological therapeutics.

Another illustration may be drawn from the nursery tradition that bad
temper is often effectually cured by a dose of rhubarb.[121] Carefully
conducted observations upon children confirm the conventional
connection of peevishness with disordered digestion. It has been found
that gastric indigestion produces oversensitiveness, fretfulness, and
irritability, while chronic constipation results in erratic conduct,
stupidity, languor, headache, and moodiness. These effects may be so
far-reaching that, for no other reason than chronic constipation,
children may lose a large proportion of the advantages provided in
school life; they may even run the risk of being classed as "backward,"
from the interference with mental progress of the food poisons
reabsorbed into their circulation.

Modern methods of child training lay great emphasis upon the prevention
of these or kindred conditions by early formation of good habits; or,
when carelessness necessitates curative treatment, our old nurse's
panacea of drugs is the last resort; the first consists in attempts to
re-establish normal functions by the more natural means of suited food
and special exercise.

It is time, too, that the so-called "hardening fallacies," responsible
for the maiming of countless lives, were finally exposed and exploded.
The idea, for example, dies hard that beneficial endurance is cultivated
by exposure to cold; therefore, bare necks, arms and legs are lauded as
means of developing a Spartan spirit in young children. Now no profound
study of hygiene is required to demonstrate the close interdependence of
warmth with growth and nutrition, or to show that the chilly and
underclothed, sedentary child is both stunted and starved; whereas the
suitably clothed and freely active child is able to carry on unhampered
the necessary processes of growth and development.[122] So important is
warmth to the infant, that _eighty per cent._ of the total energy
derived from its food is utilised for the maintenance of the body
temperature essential to growth and for the activities of the organic
and muscular systems.

Children, in accordance with the law of the relation between mass and
surface in a cube, have, relatively to their mass, about thrice the body
surface possessed by an adult. The greatest loss of heat occurs by
radiation from the skin and by the evaporation of sweat, therefore undue
loss from this extensive area should be prevented by its suitable
covering; otherwise the child is placed at a far more serious
disadvantage than would be suffered by an adult similarly situated; for
in his case growth as well as equilibrium must be maintained. Few
parents realise the further fact that the power of heat regulation is
very imperfect at birth; indeed its slow development accounts for the
instability of a child's temperature for many years after. The fallacy
therefore of seeking to strengthen a young life by inadequate clothing,
by enforced and prolonged inactivity, or by abstinence from the source
of all energy--food--must be persistently exposed. Quite recently, also,
Dr. Eurich has advanced evidence to show that the quality of sleep is
adversely affected where the sleeper is insufficiently protected from
cold, thus emphasising the injury to health associated with going to bed
with cold feet.

All parents are ambitious that their offspring shall be distinguished by
the energy, the stability, the endurance and the power which
characterise the cream of humanity. The lives of young people are
carefully planned with this object in view. The waking hours of most
girls and boys are distributed in ordered sequence between what is
intended to be concentrated work and vigorous more or less exciting
play. But the fact has been very commonly ignored that these young
people are built up of young cells, which cells are passing through
almost every conceivable phase of instability in the course of
development; consequently recurring periods of leisure and rest are as
important to nutrition and nervous stability, more especially in the
case of girls, as are the most elaborate arrangements for exercise. Thus
it comes about that many youths and maidens suffer from chronic though
unrecognised fatigue, while others are unable to employ pleasurably even
a short space of "time to themselves," finding no interest in
occupations from which excitement is absent. The habitual limitation of
the hours of sleep among the rising generation is equally serious. The
loss which would be unbearable,[123] says Dr. Acland, even among our
most favoured children, were it not for the indulgence permitted them
during their long holidays. Is it not a parental duty to insist upon the
necessary provision for rest being made in every school, and ought not
inviolable rules upon the subject be laid down in their home circles?
Sleep, be it remembered, is the property of animals possessed of brains
and endowed with consciousness; it affords mechanical rest, and is
accompanied by a respite from the chemical changes which are
particularly rapid during childhood and adolescence. The intense
activity of the child's waking hours must be counterbalanced by ample
periods of entire rest. Habits of prolonged profound sleep are said to
be the best investment against mental instability and insanity; yet
parents permit a constant loss of from two to four hours' sleep each
night throughout the long period of immaturity.[124] Our newspapers and
lunatic asylums bear evidence to the price paid for this now inexcusable

Many more examples might be given of similar fallacies which apply to
later periods of life. How soon will a loving daughter allow herself to
learn that the consumption of large quantities of highly nutritious food
will not make for the prolongation of an aged parent's life? The fact
that abstemiousness and rigid conformity to the "simple life" are not
coincidents of longevity, but contributory to it, should be now common
knowledge. When will the day come that the fact will be accepted that
alcohol does not warm and protect the consumer, but actually lowers the
temperature, and by this means, in cold weather, renders him a more
ready prey to the effects of exposure. When will the value of good work
cease to be measured by the exhaustion it brings about or the breakdown
to which it conduces? Is it not, time that the housewife should be
abashed rather than self-commiserating when a bad cold runs through her
household, for observation of certain elementary principles of
disinfection would go far to avert such a catastrophe? When will the
fallacy be destroyed which gauges the strength of a disinfectant by the
pungency of its odour? The knowledge now available on these and many
other points only awaits assimilation by the housekeepers of the empire,
to serve as a powerful lever by which to raise the standard of health in
its every part.


The urgent call for a more intimate acquaintance with these tenets of
domestic sanitary science calls for no further examples, though at the
risk of wearying the reader one or two more may be selected to
illustrate their claims upon every member of a household.

It behoves the householder, in the first place, to choose his dwelling
with care; and, in the second, to maintain the health of its inmates by
his own conduct and by compliance with the requirements of public health
enactments. He must be generally acquainted, therefore, with the
essentials of a healthy home and with the obligations he must fulfil or
the demands he may legitimately make upon local authorities and
neighbours; otherwise he cannot insure that his own care is not
frustrated by derelictions of duty on the part of others. The selection
and purchase of the family's food will probably devolve upon his wife,
but it rests with him to insist that this food is produced, transported
or distributed, with due observance of cleanliness, and that reliable
protection from sophistication or adulteration is maintained. If
conformity to necessary standards as well as the good quality of their
products is to be safeguarded, the premises of dairy, bakehouse,
slaughter-house, laundry, market, and local purveyor of goods should
come under his intelligent inspection. The surroundings as well as the
conveniences of a house also call for careful consideration, especially
when some of its inmates are of tender years; and the reminder that to
the provision for light and air in its rooms must be assigned a greater
prominence than the mere prettiness of external elevation is still
necessary. It is the householder who for some time to come must from his
wider knowledge of economics personally safeguard his women-folk from
unnecessary exertion and chronic fatigue, by the provision of efficient
fittings and equipment, by a judicious expenditure upon labour-saving
devices, and by insistence upon adequate rest, recreation, and
remuneration. To the graduate in the school of personal experience the
duty of public service will next arise, in order that the advantages
enjoyed in his own home may be extended to those for whom cheap housing
must be provided. Civic claims must in the near future appear much more
prominently than hitherto in the balance-sheet of duty.

The necessity for a study of child life and its requirements ought to be
realised by both parents before the bitter results of inexperience have
permanently shadowed their home. This should be pursued by the man as
well as the woman before marriage is consummated, if their offspring is
to be "well born" and well nurtured.

Maternal care is of course the more conspicuous during the first ten
years of a child's life; but during the next fifteen, more especially in
the case of his sons, it is the father's example, sympathy, and
companionship which will steer them healthily through the stormy seas of
adolescence, which will safeguard them from pernicious habits and will
extend a helping hand in moments of temptation.

To enumerate the opportunities for hygienic practice by the prime
organiser of domestic methods--the mother--is almost superfluous at this
point. It is the foundation upon which depends the welfare of each
member of a household; for it is the housekeeper who plans the food and
is responsible for its character and suitability to age, season, health,
and occupation. It is she who superintends, if she does not carry out,
the details of cleanliness, so arduous and discouraging in our great
cities. It is she who selects the clothing of her family; who directs
the order of their lives:--their work and play, their rest and exercise,
their sleep and their habits. It is her place to shake faith in popular
patent preparations, by good reasons and demonstrations of their
exaggerated claims on purse and person.[125] It is her example which
sets the tone in recreation, pursuit of hobby, or choice of literature.
It is her infinite, understanding patience which cements breaches in
family love; it is her skilful treatment which heals wounds, spiritual
as well as physical. It is her privilege to devise better methods for
daily doings and to appreciate the principles of sound economics. It
falls on her to discourage futile expenditure of health, time, or
temper; to be alive to possibilities of progress; to show by her deeds
how profound is her faith in the dignity of a home-maker and her
recognition of the extraordinary demands made by her profession on
intelligence, moral capacity, and mental attainments.

It has been slowly dawning upon some minds for half a century at least
that kitchen methods in many of their details fail to meet the
requirements of sanitary science. The ordinary cook does not even
suspect what cleanliness means from the laboratory point of view;
neither, alas! does her mistress, in the case of 90 per cent. of
middle-class housekeepers. Both alike cheerfully ignore the relative
value as cleansing agents of boiling as compared with "scalding" water;
and refer to the broad shoulders of the weather or, quite frankly, to
bad luck, the waste of food directly attributable to ignorant and
uncleanly methods in market, purveyor's cart, or scullery. Yet no valid
excuse can now be offered for ignorance of the real causes of the
souring of milk, the tainting of meat, or the decay of vegetables;
neither is it permissible to entrust to the untrained the care of larder
and refrigerator, except under intelligent supervision. It is of course
a sign of progress that the modern housewife prides herself upon the
delivery of the daily milk supply in bottles. But a quite superficial
acquaintance with bacteriology would show the imperfect character of
such a protection. The milk may still be poured by the cook from the
unwashed mouth of a bottle, grasped, even if but momentarily, by the
hand of a milkman, which shortly before was caressing his horse or
serving him as a substitute for a pocket-handkerchief! When the numerous
uses of paper in the kitchen are considered, the advantage of a
scientific acquaintance with its constituents and absorbent properties
should hardly need emphasis. But the _laissez-faire_ attitude, common in
many households, permits newspaper or brown-paper bags of questionable
antecedents to be used indiscriminately for the lining of cake tins or
the draining of fried foods. Should this be tolerated any longer?

A sounder knowledge of the risks to health associated with unwholesome
food would surely check the growing disposition to purchase provisions
over the telephone, instead of by personal inspection and careful
selection; for the risks associated with stale vegetables or with
"woolly" fish would be recognised, in the light of this fuller
knowledge, as too serious to be encountered by any one responsible for
the health of a household. Again, cold storage is so justly credited
with the numerous and unquestionable benefits which it confers upon the
housewife, that she is apt to forget the coincident dangers; only
through tardily acquired experience does she become aware that foods
which are thawed after freezing possess a singular faculty for rapid
deterioration, and undergo subtle and detrimental changes when so
preserved over a long period. No excuse for continued ignorance as to
the changes responsible for such deterioration is now permissible;
neither can it be condoned in connection with the "flora" of the
refrigerator, now known to be accountable for the unpleasant and
all-pervading flavours of the food stored in such a receptacle, and
itself the product of defective cleanliness. The idiosyncrasies of
different groceries, as regards temperature and receptacles, have
hitherto received no attention, though the art of preserving fruits,
fresh as well as dried, is better appreciated than was formerly the

It would be easy to show, too, did space permit, what ample scope there
is for the application of sanitary science in the storeroom, as well as
the true hygienic inwardness of frequent coats of limewash in larder and
scullery, not to mention the worth of impervious coverings to their wall
surfaces and shelves. This suggests the inquiry: How many women to-day
are versed in the external tests, simple as some of them are, which can
be applied to tins containing foodstuffs, with the object of gauging the
quality of their contents; or who among our ordinary housewives
understands the reasons for the employment of reliable, _domestic_
methods of preserving the contents of the larder, such as sterilisation
by the use of heat, or why fat, sugar, salt, or vinegar are preferable
to the seductive yet questionable chemicals, so attractive to the
producer and purveyor of provisions?

A better understanding of the relation of sanitary science to daily
life would also facilitate some of the painful steps which must
inevitably be taken, in order to bridge the gulf set between the feudal
methods of the past and the modern problems of domestic service. That
the isolation from her kind of a "general" servant predisposes to
anæmia is stated as a fact on good authority, but it is certainly
not generally known. That absence of opportunity for recreation or
social intercourse has led and may lead again to deception, if not to
worse, is recognised unwillingly, if at all. That human nature is
physiologically similar, however diverse its external appearance and
standards, is very hard to realise or to act upon; so the fact that
suitable provision for bathing and wholesome sleep by dependents is not
always made, is apt to be ignored on economic grounds; and the resultant
complications are assigned to any but their real cause.

The solution of another of the acute problems of the day depends upon
the women also of this country. I refer to the character of the
influence, an influence of the most intimate, to which young children
are subjected during infancy. In addition to vulgarities of conduct or
enunciation, actual moral harm may be suffered from want of care in the
choice of a child's attendant. Bad habits, impossible to eradicate, are
to be traced to this source only. Their hygienic import calls for no
further stress. Their prevention rests entirely with the child's

Another illustration of the need for a better acquaintance with
hygiene is found in the general custom of entrusting the preparation
and care of the daily diet to empirically prepared, ill-informed,
young women. Ascertained facts in connection with, for instance,
"typhoid carriers"[126] should have surely created almost a panic in
the households of England; but it is rare to learn that even one
mistress has inquired into the personal habits of her cook, or that she
has concerned herself personally in the cultivation of most careful
attention to necessary hand-washing by her household. A mere tyro in
sanitary science would take warning and be on her guard against this
and other disgusting and preventable sources of domestic infection.

Finally, the protective function of the home must not be allowed to
obscure the educational and social. It is the right of all children to
be trained in habits of social, as well as of family, sanitary service.
Very early the love of ceaseless doing, by which these little people are
distinguished, can be taken hold of as an agent in this department of
education. Habits of neatness and order, of kindness and ready help, of
self-sacrifice and self-control, become lifelong in their persistence
and develop a physical as well as moral conscience which makes for
public health. But, without appropriate stimulus this interest in
others, this sense of civic obligation, remains in abeyance. Therefore
girls should be encouraged in the educational practice of the domestic
arts about the age of thirteen or fourteen; though instruction in the
care of children may be postponed for a year or two. Always it should
precede marriage and be adapted to the prospective social sphere of the
pupils. It would be advantageous to foster the interest of boys in
social sanitation by the introduction of some equivalent training into
their curriculum.

Enough has been said to show that knowledge of household administration
must soon become an indispensable qualification for any woman who
undertakes the charge of human lives, whether it be as wife or guardian,
as official or philanthropist, as physician or educator, as head of an
institution (such as orphanage, asylum, hospital or prison), or as
almoner of public funds. To be practical and influential this
comprehensive subject must be systematically acquired and securely
based; it must be accorded the support of men, and it must receive the
recognition due to its imperial importance. Thus sustained and
fortified, acquaintance with all that is comprehended in the domestic
administration for good of human lives will lead our women to redeem
their many shortcomings in the past, and will stimulate them to assume
with courageous confidence their weighty responsibilities in the present
and future.

Whether prepared or not for their discharge, these responsibilities
cannot be evaded. Upon their capable fulfilment depend human health and
happiness. "Health and good estate of body are above all gold," said
Ecclesiasticus, "and a strong body above infinite wealth." Seen in its
true light this great, beautiful, responsible work becomes the highest
form of consecrated service to the Source of all Life and to the Giver
of all those good things which humanity is intended richly to enjoy.


   [91] "Darwinism and Human Life," by J. Arthur Thomson, M.A., &c.
        (Andrew Melrose.)

   [92] "The Descent of Man," by Charles Darwin. (J. Murray.)

   [93] "Hereditary Genius," by Sir Francis Galton.

   [94] "Heredity," by Prof. A. Thomson. (J. Murray.)

   [95] "English Sanitary Institutions," chap. viii., "The Growth of
        Humanity in British Politics." Sir J. Simon. (Cassell & Co.)

   [96] _Les Pouvoirs en Matière d'Hygiène_--Part i. _L'Hygiène dans les
        Législations de l'Antiquité._ Alfred Filassier. (Paris: Jules

   [97] "English Sanitary Institutions," part i. chap. i. Sir John Simon.
        (Cassell & Co.)

   [98] "English Sanitary Institutions," part i. chaps. iii., iv., v., vi.
        Sir John Simon. (Cassell & Co.)

   [99] "The Family and the Nation," chap. i. Whetham. (Longmans.)

  [100] "Selected Essays and Addresses by Sir James Paget, F.R.S."--"The
        Chronometry of Life," Royal Society Croonian Lecture, May 1859.
        Edited by Stephen Paget, F.R.C.S. (Longmans & Co.)

  [101] "The Diurnal Course of Efficiency." Howard D. Marsh. (The Science
        Press, N.Y.)

  [102] "Social Psychology," section ii. chap. x. William McDougall.

  [103] "The Family," Lecture i. E. C. Parsons. (Putnam.)

  [104] "The Family," Lecture ii. E. C. Parsons. (Putnam.)

  [105] "The Family," part i. chap. ix. Helen Bosanquet. (Macmillan and

  [106] "The Hygiene of Mind," chap. iv. T. S. Clouston. (Methuen.)

  [107] "Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Employment of
        School Children, appointed by H. M. Principal Secretary of State
        for the Home Department," 1901.

        "Report of the Royal Commission on Physical Training
        (Scotland)," 1903, Neill & Co., Ltd., Bellevue, Edinburgh.

        "Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical
        Deterioration," 1904.

        "Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Model Course
        of Physical Exercises," 1904.

        "Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Medical
        Inspection and Feeding of Children attending Public Elementary
        Schools," 1905.

        "Report of Dr. W. Leslie Mackenzie and Captain A. Foster on a
        Collection of Statistics as to the Physical Condition of
        Children attending the Public Schools of the School Board for
        Glasgow," 1907.

        "Report of the Royal Commission on the Care and Control of the
        Feeble-minded," 1908.

        "Report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and the
        Unemployed--Majority and Minority," 1909.[108]

  [108] In each case, unless otherwise mentioned, these Reports are
        published by Wyman & Sons.

  [109] "The Hygiene School of Life," chap. viii. p. 129. Ralph H.
        Crowley. (Methuen.)

  [110] _Journal of the Royal Sanitary Institute_, April 1905--"Physical
        Inspection of School Children in Relation to Public Health
        Administration." A. K. Chalmers, M.D., M.O.H., Glasgow.

  [111] "Continuation Schools in England and Elsewhere." M. E. Sadler.
        (Manchester University Press, 1907.)

  [112] Report of Departmental Committee on "Employment of Children Act,
        1903." (Wyman & Son, July 1910.)

  [113] "Report to the L.C.C. Education Committee of the Medical Officer
        (Schools)," March 31, 1906. (P. J. King & Son.)

  [114] "The Drink Problem," edited by T. N. Kelynack, M.D. (Methuen.)

  [115] "The Nature of Man," parts i. ii. chap. vii.; part iii. chap. xii.
        Metchnikoff. (Heinemann.)

  [116] "Principia Therapeutica," chaps. ii. iii. Harrington Sainsbury.

  [117] "Some Thoughts on Causation in Health and Disease." An address
        delivered to the Faculty of Medicine, October 1909, by Lord
        Fletcher Moulton.

  [118] "Studies on Immunisation." Sir Almroth Wright, F.R.S. (Constable.)
        "Immunity in Infective Diseases." Metchnikoff. (Cambridge
        University Press.) "Immunity and Specific Therapy." W. d'Este
        Emery. (Lewis & Sons.)

  [119] "Infant Education." Eric Pritchard, M.D. (Kimpton).

  [120] "Studies on Immunisation," pp. 279, 462. Sir Almroth Wright,
        F.R.S., M.D. (Constable.)

  [121] "Addresses and Proceedings of the National Education Association,
        St. Louis, Mo.," 1904, pp. 952-962--"The Chicago Hospital School
        for Nervous and Delicate Children," by Mary R. Campbell.

  [122] "Children in Health and Disease," p. 41. David Forsyth, M.D.

  [123] "On the Hours of Sleep at Public Schools." A paper read before the
        Medical Officer of Schools Association, May 11, 1905, by T. D.
        Acland, M.A.

  [124] "Some Results of an Investigation into Hours of Sleep of School
        Children."--_International Magazine of School Hygiene_, vol. v.
        part i. Alice Ravenhill.

  [125] "Secret Remedies: What they Cost and What they Contain." British
        Medical Association. "Popular Drugs: Their Use and Abuse."
        Sidney Hellier, M.D. (Werner Laurie.)

  [126] "Human Carriers of Typhoid and other Zymotic Diseases."--_The
        Sanitary Record_, Sept. 8, 1910, pp. 215-216.






Modern woman finds herself in the twentieth century heiress to an
accumulation of domestic experience handed down from her primitive
sisters, much of which originated in necessity, and survives from

It is said that "of the billion and a half human beings on the earth,
about 700,000,000 are females, and what share their mothers and
grandmothers, back to the remotest generation, have had in originating
and developing culture is a question which concerns the whole race,"
though allusion only can be made to it in this paper.

If, from the study of anthropology, we find that man was the hunter, the
killer of food, it was woman who cared for it, prepared it for use,
tilled the ground, cleaned, dried, cut, and sewed skins for clothing and
shelter. It is believed by many authorities that it was woman who
invented and made many of the implements with which she worked, and who
spun, wove, and dyed fibres of all kinds into strong, useful, and
sometimes beautiful fabrics of varied and pleasing tints and colours,
from dyes of her own making, which she obtained from animal and
vegetable sources. The introduction of much plain and ornamental
stitchery, the forerunner of the needlework of the present day, followed
quickly upon the coming of textiles.

Until the invention of machinery and the institution of the factory
system, the practice of a large number of arts was in the hands of women
as part of their lives and homes. Now, however, women are no longer
leather-dressers, potters, or weavers in the home--these arts have
become trades for men, carried on in factories; and even the more
intimate arts of cooking, cleaning, and needlework are threatened from
the outside.

The cheapness and readiness with which the products of the factory can
be obtained, whether for the purposes of food or of clothing, has to a
large extent removed the desire to exercise these arts herself,
especially from the woman whose time can be otherwise employed to her
financial advantage in industrial pursuits. It would almost appear that
she has failed to perceive the intellectual and æsthetic enjoyment to be
derived from them, and has been content to permit the skill and
knowledge she originally acquired and exercised to rust from want of
practice as each generation succeeds its predecessor. On the other hand,
as the accumulated profits from the factory have made it possible for
well-off women to depute their own share of cooking, cleaning, sewing,
and the care of children by payments to their less financially
fortunate sisters, usually untrained women of narrow education, public
opinion has shown a tendency to regard these arts as menial, and to some
extent derogatory in practice to the educated and refined. Amongst this
class of women, consequently, knowledge of these arts has steadily
dwindled, until the home-made jams, jellies, cordials and pickles of our
grandmothers, the linen they spun, wove, and fashioned, are no longer
the glory of our storerooms and linen-presses; while the home has come
to be less and less regarded as the right and proper place for
instruction in the domestic arts.

Deep down, however, in the modern woman's nature lies the old instinct
for order, for caring for things animate and inanimate. This instinct
has found expression since the early seventies among more fortunately
situated women in an endeavour to arrest the decay of what I have
called the more intimate household arts, to promote their revival
and to raise their status in education--an endeavour due, shall we
say, to "something in the air," a kind of "Zeit Geist"--beginning more
or less contemporaneously on the Continent of Europe, in Great Britain,
and in the United States and Canada; an endeavour not to benefit
themselves alone, but to help their poorer sisters.

It was soon agreed that the cultivation of the household arts belonged
to education, and that they might and should be taught in schools; but
the questions--What was their link with general education, by what
methods they could be most appropriately taught, and in the curriculum
of what schools they should find a place--have been the basis of
prolonged experimental effort. It is now the opinion of a large section
of persons of authority in education, that these arts are neither
"sacred mysteries which can only be understood by patient life study,"
nor, on the other hand, can any woman, whatever her intellectual
ability, master them without training. It has been well said, in effect,
that the former attitude leads to a contempt for the plain everyday
things of life, while the latter is responsible for the cultivation of a
girl's head at the expense of her hands.

The arts of cooking and cleaning took the lead in order of experiment.
The results, as recorded, have proved their position to belong directly
to the region of applied science, and to be worthy of a place in a
specially arranged course of household science and economics for women,
of university standard. We may confidently expect that this result only
anticipates a corresponding triumph, awaiting in its turn similar
experimental work, which has been carried on for some years in respect
of the teaching also of the art of needlework. These experimental
efforts include the intelligent employment of the pencil, the scissors,
and the needle in the production of garments, draperies, napery, and so
forth. The lines along which at the present moment this development is
proceeding have regard indeed not only to the practical worth of
needlecraft, but to its intimate association with general education as
well as to decorative and applied art.

When we inquire what have been the results of past methods of teaching
needlework in our elementary schools, and find that they are in no way
commensurate with the time, labour, and money spent upon them, it surely
is wise to call a halt and examine into our aims and methods. The
circular of "Suggestions for the Teaching of Needlework" issued by the
Board of Education in August 1909 is not the first authoritative
pronouncement of the Board on this matter, but is the outcome of "the
well-considered criticism" invited upon their "Suggestions" on the same
subject issued in 1905, which teachers and others were asked to consider
as a challenge to independent thought on the subjects of which it


This challenge has resulted in the statement of certain important
"principles" in the new circular and of the proper attitude of the
teacher towards them, viz.:--

  I. _The duplex aspect of needlework._

    1. As a separate branch of instruction, the aim of which is

    2. As a means to an end, other than (but not excluding) a
    certain proficiency, _i.e._ to develop the intelligence and even
    to form the character of the child.

  II. _The subject must be made interesting_ if it is to be
  educational. The making of specimens is not interesting, and should
  be discouraged, excepting for the practice of new stitches before
  they can be used on a complete garment or article, however small,
  for the child herself or for others.

  III. _Correlation of needlework_ with drawing and arithmetic in the
  higher classes.

    1. To train the eye in form and proportion.

    2. To illustrate principles of arithmetic, by measuring and
    deciding upon quantities and by calculating cost, introducing
    incidentally ideas of economy and thrift.

  IV. _Needlework lessons are ordinarily uninteresting_ and wearisome
  to body and mind. This need not and should not be; if the subject is
  taught with the why and wherefore of things, it should rather
  stimulate intelligence and capacity.

  V. _Opportunity is afforded_ by the lesson for practically and
  tactfully inculcating the charm of neatness, cleanliness, and
  tidiness in person and in clothing, encouraging the child in
  self-respect and to regard as a matter of shame that any girl should
  reach woman's estate without a practical knowledge of the use she
  can make of the needle.

Certain suggestions follow as a basis for a more detailed scheme,

  1. Classification of scholars as to age and capacity.

  2. Size of illustrations and use of blackboard.

  3. Instruction of weakly children, and care of eyesight.

  4. Exercises in knitting and various forms of constructive handwork
  for very young children, in preparation for definite instruction in
  needlework at a later age.

  5. Condemnation of habit of counting threads.

  6. Order of teaching "processes" in needlework, from simple to

  7. Suitability of materials, needles, and threads to each other, and
  of the style of sewing to the garments which the children should

  8. Direction of attention to the fact that hands and eyes which have
  been sensibly trained to execute "plain work" will acquire "fancy
  work" quite readily later on if leisure can be found.

  9. New methods and stitches to be learned on waste material.

  10. Importance of practice in mending at school and at home.

  11. Importance of cutting-out and pattern-making.

  12. Garments made to be worn, not kept at school.

  13. Elaborate making-up of paper garments to be discouraged.

  14. Rough sketches to train the eye to recognise the value to each
  other of different parts of a pattern.

  15. Importance of recognition of difference between a well-cut and
  an ill-cut garment.

  16. Calculation of kind, quantity, and cost of material to be worked
  out in an arithmetic lesson.

  17. Note-books and records to be kept.

  18. Fixing to be done by actual maker of garment--not a joint

  19. Use of sewing machine permitted for long seams and hems.

  20. No time to be wasted while waiting for teacher's help.
  Independent work to be encouraged. Knitting and other suitable work
  to be at hand.

This excellent and sensible paper of suggestions means an offer of
freedom on the part of the Board; it remains, therefore, but to accept
and adopt its conditions. A practical difficulty, however, at once
arises from the fact that, after a long period of bondage to many
"Regulations," it is difficult for the teaching profession in general to
realise that independent judgment is now expected of them, indeed is
required, though this is a phase temporary and evanescent, which will
quickly adjust itself.

For lack of time and space we must here pass over the important question
of the relation of the domestic arts to the general school curriculum,
as well as the proportion of time to be allotted as between needlework
and the other domestic arts, and dwell for a moment on the relative
qualifications of our teachers in different sections of the whole
subject taken at its widest, for these qualifications reflect the
existing demands of the public. Taking England, for example--how do we
stand with other countries in this respect? Speaking generally, and as
one who, though not professionally a teacher, has for many years had a
hand in the training of teachers, and who has given much time and
thought to the comparative study, both theoretical and practical, of
needlework and dressmaking, it seems to me that, as to sewing, we are as
good, if not in some ways better than our neighbours, though we have
been apt to regard the perfection of our stitches as an end in itself,
which decidedly vitiates our conclusion. We also appear to have much to
learn, or at least to practise, in respect of suitability of materials,
needles, and threads to each other, and of the style of work to the
purpose required. As to "cut" and "the hang of the thing," and the root
difference between an "ill-cut" and a "well-cut" garment, I fear we make
a bad third with France and Austria; but with our newly acquired freedom
we can and we must change all that: the public begin to demand it.

In the first place, we must clear our minds of the indefinite cloud of
detail in which they have been so long submerged; or, to change the
metaphor, whereas hitherto we have too often not been able to see the
wood for the trees, we must now learn clearly to distinguish between
"principles" and "methods," which in practice are over frequently
confused: then, quite easily and naturally, the teacher will derive
resulting details from the few definite principles which are the "basis
alike of the simplest garment and the most artistic handicraft," and
"the principles once understood, in one instance, the pupils will be
able to make wider applications for themselves."

It is important here to emphasise that some elementary knowledge of
hygiene, physiology, and anatomy is necessary for the intelligent
appreciation of the requirements of the body as to clothing, and of its
alterations in shape when muscles are tense or relaxed. By a reliable
system of drafting from direct measurement, such as one of those in use
in the Ecoles Professionelles of Paris, a shaped bodice can be produced
fitting the arms and figure easily and gracefully, and from this pattern
can be deduced further patterns of other garments, whether tight, loose,
or semi-fitting, which hang from the shoulder or the waist.

When the theory of drafting has been learned, and the shapes and
proportions of a pattern and its derivatives are understood, "moulage"
or modelling on the figure in muslin, should be attempted; though, be
it remembered, "moulage" should not be regarded as a substitute for
drafting, but as its necessary accompaniment, for it affords opportunity
for eye training, and for learning how and where at certain points the
material should be stretched or held easily on the figure. The pupil is
thus prepared to handle the pattern intelligently when cut out in

I have seen it objected that only awkward and wooden lines can be
obtained from drafting on paper because of its rigidity, and because the
pattern is built up upon a framework of straight lines at right angles
to each other. The objector cannot have understood that the rectangular
construction lines have no connection with the outlines of the pattern,
except as affording _points d'appui_, which are found by direct
measurement. These construction lines stand for the warp and woof, or
"thread" of the material to be used for the garment. Stress must be also
laid on the fact that the grace or angularity of the pattern outline
actually depend upon the eye training and perception of curves derived
from drawing lessons, which must, for this as well as other reasons,
form a part of the scheme of instruction.


Limits of time and space have only allowed me to touch the fringe of a
fascinating and useful subject; but the frequent conferences of teachers
now being held in different centres, and the new suggestions of the
Board of Education are stimulating so much interest and discussion that
I feel that the educational teaching of needlework in its broad sense in
England has a cheerful future. There is already much excellent teaching
and work done in some of the trade schools in London as well as in a few
of its elementary schools, and others elsewhere, which leaves little to
be desired from many points of view.

Apart from the modern educational treatment of needlecraft and
dressmaking, though arising directly from it, are the unquestioned
advantages which may result to any woman of whatever rank or social
position who is willing to devote, in the first instance, a little time
and intelligence to mastering a few elementary principles introductory
to their practical application, either by herself or by any one in her
employment, to the cutting and making of her own garments from direct
measurement, modified by measurements of individual carriage or

When these modifications are clearly understood, the proving of the flat
pattern on the table after drafting should produce a well-shaped and
correct lining, without the misery of standing for hours in the ordinary
way to be "fitted on." If finer touches are needed, they are of the
nature of "moulage," or modelling; the different parts of the pattern
retain their balance and relative proportions, and the length of the
operation is much shortened.

The majority of women, especially when past youth, are not so happy as
to possess the theoretically perfectly balanced and well-proportioned
figure which has been so successfully adopted by the best business
houses as the basis for cutting high-class ready-made garments. Happy
indeed is the woman who can "walk straight into them" without the
offered "slight alteration" which so often spoils the cut and brings
bitter disappointment to the wearer. There are few women who have not
groaned under the waste of time and fatigue entailed by being "fitted
on" under the hands of the "little dressmaker," or for that matter under
hands of much greater pretension, with no idea of principles in cutting,
who pinch and drag and smooth down by rule-of-thumb, producing garments
without balance or ease, whose faults may be disguised by trimming or
drapery, but whose discomfort is always present to the wearer.

Women have in fact so long submitted to this tyranny of rule-of-thumb in
dress-cutting, as inseparate from it, that, as is their nature, they
continue to endure what they think cannot be cured. Nevertheless, the
discomforts and uncertainties of this rule-of-thumb misery may be
entirely eliminated, and it is for the modern woman to demand and insist
upon its elimination.

Let me especially recommend to ladies possessing the invaluable
qualities in this connection of taste and style in dress, who may be
thinking of taking up dressmaking as a profession, that as an important
preliminary step they should master the principles of a good method of
cutting. Let them make sure that the method can lay claim to this
description; that it is reliable and not altogether empirical. Thus they
will render themselves to some extent independent of the possible
vagaries and misfits of their cutters and workers. The excellent courses
of instruction now carried on in the trade schools already referred to
should ere long create a supply of well-trained young women who will do
their best work under an instructed head, and will be able to carry out
intelligently her ideas and directions. Under such conditions there
should be no room for failure in a business of this kind. As a result,
the arts of needlecraft and of dressmaking will be raised to the plane
of scientific certainty and success which is their due, instead of
remaining at the often low level of the unorganised, empirical and
inartistic occupations--a frequent source of financial disaster to their
exponents and of perennial vexation to the helpless victims of their


The position of modern woman towards matters domestic is somewhat
undefined, and at best can hardly be considered satisfactory. Her
attitude towards housekeeping is not one of enthusiasm. The Lancashire
mill-girl is proud to have a house of her own, but prefers her life at
the mill to one spent in ordering that house; the elementary school
teacher considers housekeeping of so little economic interest that she
is injured if she may not devote her married life to a profession
demanding the best of her energy; the university graduate pretends to a
mind superior to physical comfort and welfare unless it can be produced
by a creature less specialised than herself.

In the field of paid occupations for women, educated and uneducated,
domestic work stands low; not necessarily low in scale of payment, but
uninviting as a sphere of work and lacking the dignity of skilled
employment. That good housewives may be found in every grade of society
is evident, but the general trend of our social evolution demands that
some organised effort shall be made to simplify actual work and to raise
the appreciation of that work.

In history and philosophy, the moral advantages of a good home have been
acknowledged and extolled. The physical advantages are only now being
fully emphasised, and there is an ever-increasing demand that women
shall diligently apply their best efforts, first to the problems of the
individual household, and then beyond it to those forms of housekeeping
that fall to municipal and national control. We need a different
estimate, a better realisation, of the enormous responsibility that lies
in feeding, housing, and general hygienic conditions, and such a
realisation must work from the top downwards in our social and
intellectual strata.

In the care of the sick we have seen a complete revolution. Even so
recently as the days of our grandparents "Sarah Gamp" was the
general refuge--now her name is a byword. The work of nursing and the
care of an invalid's room, be it home or hospital, has been raised
from mere manual labour. Intellect has established formulæ and dogma
on which workers can be trained, and the work itself has been proved
not alone a suitable means by which a woman can earn her living, but
also a profession demanding a dignified respect and admiration. The
researches of medical laboratories--the accumulated experience of the
great physicians and surgeons of the world--are constantly placing
valuable knowledge in the hands of nurses and those who train them.
Elaboration and fuss have gone in favour of a simplicity of service
based on scientific facts; the influence of the trained worker has to
some extent permeated the untrained service of home nursing. Great
may still be our ignorance and great the need for a more adequate
service, especially in the homes of the poor, but taken as a whole the
care of the sick has been raised to what we may, without ambiguity,
call a scientific art. Nursing may be popular from a love of such work
and from its financial return, but the real strength of the nursing
world lies in its organised provision of skilled women sent out to
their work with a knowledge of its detail and a training in routine,
paid for by service during years of apprenticeship.

The changes that have been effected in regard to the care of the sick
may not form a perfect analogy of what can be done in other forms of
domestic work, but they at least constitute a lesson in cause and
effect, with many suggestions for the would-be reformer. Improvement
in nursing owes its first impetus to a realisation of the part a nurse
must of necessity play in curing or alleviating suffering, and any
real improvements in our general domestic work and conditions will
only be seriously considered when they are properly appreciated in
their relation to the health and efficiency of the nation. To bring
this home to individuals and classes must be the work of education. Let
us magnify the office of the housewife unduly rather than leave it
unrecognised. We must demand something more than mere manipulative
skill from the manual worker--a knowledge and interest from those who
direct her work; a place in laboratories and schools for the many
problems worthy of elucidation. To make lessons in housecraft a part
of the curriculum of elementary and secondary schools has its own good;
to make lessons in sick-nursing also a part might be good; but to leave
both there would be only to patch, not mend, a rent in our social
conditions. The matter must find its way into universities and
research schools for its physical and economic investigation--as in
other kinds of work we need an aristocracy of brains to guide the
democracy of hands to found an apprenticeship system that shall
provide efficient workers to bring the mighty forces of chemical,
physical, and biological science to bear directly on such matters as
selection of foods, methods of cooking, better apparatus for cleaning
purposes, and an evolution of house-planning and furnishing that shall
reduce the present elaboration of service and cleaning. It is not
possible that every woman who cooks a potato shall be intimately
acquainted with the structure of starch-cells or the effect of heat on
those cells, nor is it likely that we shall aim at a system that makes
the cooking of our food as exact as a laboratory experiment, but that
thermometer, microscope, and test-tube have their own part to play
is evident. The use of a disinfectant by a nurse is a scientific
operation, the scope of which has only been made possible by many
and careful investigations in which the specialised effort of the few
has resulted in a definite formula and a handy preparation only to be
used with intelligent appreciation of its purpose. She understands its
use and abuse, how to adapt it to circumstances, and probably how to
find a substitute for it if occasion requires.

It is much on these lines that many of the problems of kitchen and
household interest must be attacked.

We need a simple and reliable classification of foods that shall be
useful to the practical cook. A quantitative analysis of proteid or
carbo-hydrate qualities of wheat, lentils, or milk may form excellent
exercise for laboratory classes, but even there it is too often taught
without any relation to the assimilative properties of the average
digestion and their consequent effect on food values. For ordinary use
we want all this brought to a general outlook of the value, and
comparative value, of such ordinary food as bread, oatmeal, eggs, and
beef; not only as to suitable proportions in our diet and to methods of
cooking, but also as a help in providing suitable substitutes for a
particular commodity in time of scarcity. Beyond the inevitable victims
of the Irish potato famine, many suffered quite unnecessarily for want
of ability to replace the familiar potato by a possible substitute; and
to-day we are little more intelligent in our catering. Quantity and
quality of the potato crop must each year to some extent make itself
felt on small purses, and while not dependent on this one article of
diet we might often help a meagre table by a good substitute such as
rice, hominy, dumplings, and an increased supply of fresh vegetables.
Substitutes for butcher's meat too often suggest the purely vegetarian
dish that to most people is but a _pis aller_. To replace part or even
most of the meat in a dish with a food of approximate dietetic value
would generally be more acceptable. A dish of haricot beans cooked with
a little minced beef is, for example, a very different dish from the
vegetarian treatment of the same article. Pea-soup made with the
addition of a ham or beef bone will generally win approval over its less
"tasty" rival. The value of eggs and the many ways of using cheese--the
possibilities of oatmeal beyond mere porridge--are all matters worth
understanding; so also is the problem of our milk supply.

The fact that legislation is active in securing the hygienic conditions
of the wholesale milk supply cannot excuse individual indifference to
either its actual value or suitable treatment. The inferiority of skim
or separated milk to "whole milk" has been so emphasised that in many
places a useful article is lying as a drug in the market. That skim milk
is as useful as many "stocks" and much better than water for making
porridge, maigre soups, sauces, for mixing bread and scones, has yet to
be appreciated, and will only be so when the true economic use of food
is removed from its present haphazard position among the instinctive

The constructive consistency of meat, fish, and vegetables must be
clearly set out if we are to understand the effect upon them of heat.
The primary methods of cooking and the standard proportions of
ingredients may already be used with an intelligence that at least puts
aside the recipe book; but the research that can produce a satisfactory
system of catering and cooking has yet to invade the higher education of
men and women. A suggestion of the scientific treatment of domestic
matters too often presumes an elaboration of work rather than a
reduction of it, and yet we all realise the labour-saving and economic
return that has been the result of science applied to commercial
industries. There must be a definite aim to simplify housekeeping and
domestic work; the conditions of life have gone that made a women find
scope for _all_ her energy in administering the affairs of her house or
in employing others to that end.

To the uninitiated the various culinary processes seem endless, and to
arrive at a proper accomplishment of these is generally considered a
matter of continuous practice. A better understanding of the matter
readily shows that while many processes can only be perfected by
repetition, there are even more that fall under science rather than art.
Take, for example, the principles underlying the cooking of meat by
stewing. This is surely a process where manipulation is _nil_. To make
pastry or bread we must have a certain practice in the manipulation to
give the deftness (on which final success depends) in addition to any
understanding of the principles involved; but with regard to stewing and
many similar processes it should be possible to have one lesson made so
explicit that the actual process was known for all time--the Irish stew
of an artisan's home or the dainty entrée of the "Ritz" being only an
adaptation of given principles to different foods.

In order to reduce primary methods to such business-like proportions, it
is necessary to consider them in their effect on different foods, having
due regard to texture and to the effect of a moist or a dry heat. It
would be a matter of interest to know how the established methods of
cooking meat and fish all really conduce to one end, viz. to soften the
fibres by steam formed from their own juices. The rules for most methods
of cooking these foods lead to this assumption, though nominally based
only on a means of retaining these juices in order to save a valuable
part of the food. The actual part played by the liquid in which foods
are cooked is possibly very small, but not to be ignored; the presence
of salt in the water in which beef or potatoes is cooked makes an
appreciable difference in the flavour and probably in the food value.
The relation of the fat used in frying to the food fried in it is too
often quite misunderstood, and a dyspeptic patient consequently is
ordered "no fried food."

To "fry in butter" sounds well, but it is practically impossible; to
_sauté_ in butter at a temperature allowing some of the butter to enter
the food, is quite a valuable method of cooking; but to raise the
temperature to a point at which frying can be done is to char the
butter. To fry properly, the food should be immersed in fat so hot that
the outside of meat is immediately "set." Then allow the heating of the
juices inside the meat to perform the necessary cooking. The immersion
of the cold food soon lowers the temperature of the fat and makes
continued immersion possible. The best kind of fat for this purpose and
the relative temperature at which different fats may be used needs more
investigation. At present for ordinary kitchen use we have no more
reliable test of temperature than to venture a bit of bread and judge by
result. One thing we may accept--frying is not a greasy or rich method
of cooking. The fat used is merely a means of excluding atmosphere and
cooking food at a high temperature; it bears no more relation to the
food itself than does the atmosphere of the oven in baking.

This question of temperatures and their relation to the kind of food, as
also to the various cookery processes, needs careful handling; we want
not alone a definite dogma established on a scientific basis, but we
want the means to apply it brought within easy reach--reach of a limited
purse and a limited intellectual capacity, for we are not all scholars.
There is no reason why a thermometer should not become part of our
kitchen equipment just as readily as that old sand-glass which
regulated the boiling of an egg, but, before it is the case, many other
matters must fall into line. It is probable that a careful investigation
of the best means of frying, boiling, stewing, &c. would effect a
considerable revolution in our household pots and pans. Is it impossible
to produce a pan in which a given quantity of fat or oil should be
easily brought to, say, 400° Fahr., and yet be unable to exceed that
temperature? It would so safeguard expense from burning that the most
delightful frying medium, olive oil, would be readily used by many

The matter of watching, and waiting, and judging the exact minute for
certain operations takes far more time than is generally supposed, and
the gloom surrounding the average kitchen range increases the
difficulty. The cook who understands the use of double pans for oven and
range has done something to save both time and anxiety, but it is
evident that much more might be done to render many cookery processes
almost automatic. The science that controls the production of such
commercial products as biscuits, tinned foods, pickles, and jam, and
turns them out to a uniform standard, is at present remote from the
household kitchen. Such scientific knowledge has been produced at a
commercial value for commercial enterprise. We need _our_ problems
brought into universities and colleges; into the channels where research
is made public; into the laboratories of schools, where, if no wonderful
result may be proclaimed, we have at least established a scientific
method of approaching the work of kitchen, laundry, and storeroom. The
ordinary teaching of the domestic subjects too often tends to magnify
the difficulties in order to show how they may be overcome. The
simplification of methods by classification would do much, and the
evolution of possible devices for saving labour would do still more, to
establish a favourable view of housekeeping. What is worth doing is
worth doing well; but it is "doing" unnecessarily that spells drudgery.

Our attitude in considering household problems turns almost
involuntarily to cooking, but the need for an intellectual grasp of
matters domestic is equally potent in methods of cleaning. If the word
"hygiene," which we use so glibly, were really understood and
appreciated, the modern house-builder and furnisher would quickly be
sent to swell the ranks of the unemployed, and we should demand
construction and fittings which would minimise the problems of dust and
tarnish, provide suitable storage for food, and allow cleaning to be
simple, straightforward, and efficient. The advent of the vacuum cleaner
is less valuable in itself than in the establishment of a new principle
for dealing with dust, and one that may eventually revolutionise our
house-cleaning. We need a simple appliance of equal scientific value to
reduce some at least of the labour entailed in "washing-up." Pots and
pans, plates and dishes may be economised in number by a careful
worker, but cleaned they must be, and the average "sink" of scullery or
pantry is little removed from the pristine incompleteness of its first
appearance. There is, in the cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral, a sink,
evidently used by the monks of the sixteenth century, which is identical
with those found in sculleries of to-day, and yet chemistry and physics
have revolutionised our industries and produced all sorts of scientific
methods for cleaning, lighting, and heating on a large scale. Perhaps
when the same woman who takes a D.Sc. bestows some of her energy on the
washing of dishes we shall get to something less primitive than washing
each individual greasy plate with a mop or cloth. The only scientific
treatment of "washing-up" used at present seems open to criticism, and
is only suited to large establishments, but it should be possible to
construct every sink with some sort of douche and general fittings
suited to this work.

The question of the position of modern woman towards laundry-work
seems to have resolved itself into one of income. If she can pay for
the services of a steam laundry she does so. In the United Kingdom it
is estimated that there are 30,000 public laundries, but we have yet
to find one that can produce a list of charges within reasonable
limits of a small income. In the homes that are run on incomes of
£100 to £400 a-year, and where the laundry-work is done at the
public laundry, the amount of "washing" must be small, or some other
side of the expenditure must be seriously curtailed. Laundrying
performed intelligently and under suitable conditions is neither
difficult nor unpleasant. To stand over a wash-tub rubbing each
article by hand; to strain every muscle emptying that tub; to dry
garments on a rail across a kitchen and iron them near a blazing fire is
_not_ intelligent, and can only be followed by women driven by
custom to wash clothes at all. Perhaps in no section of household work
are scientific methods within reach as in the laundry; the existence of
the public laundry and the rivalry of different firms has produced an
open market for appliances of all kinds, and the exhibition of
laundry utensils, machines, &c., has become an annual event. Though many
of the inventions are destined for the "power" and general scope of
the public laundry, there are always a number of home appliances to
be seen; many more would be adapted if there were more demand. Any
real scope for these must rest in the first place with architect and
house-builder. In the North of England it is usual to build a small
"wash-house" to nearly every house, but the general construction of
these wash-houses is such as to discourage any desire to use them.
Only cold water is provided; the boiler is arranged as a detached
unit; the possibility of a drying cupboard in connection with kitchen
stove or hot-water cylinder is never considered, and the economical
heating of irons is generally overlooked. The use of irons heated by
gas, charcoal, and methylated spirit would be more general if these
were more efficiently constructed and less expensive. The provision of
electricity at a cost within the reach of ordinary folk will simplify
many things in laundry-work as in cooking and cleaning. Instruction is,
to some extent, already available as to soaps, detergent solutions and
bleaching agents. We need more appreciation of the part that may be
played by the process of "steeping" and the minimum of handling with
which clothes may be efficiently washed and finished. The profit and
loss in the matter cannot be estimated only in labour, time, soap, and
firing; the wear and tear of fabric in public laundries compared with
home handling and the risk of infection involved must both be taken
into account. If we make laundrying easy we do much to make a frequent
change of garment possible to a section of the community inclined to
economise in this direction, and we should probably make fashionable
those household materials that may be consigned to a wash-tub, instead
of paying a reluctant visit to the dry-cleaner--chintz, cretonne, and
Bolton sheeting instead of serge, tapestry, and plush. We owe one debt
of gratitude to the public laundry--it has raised a section of household
work to the level of a skilled industry, though as yet there seems
no system of apprenticeship that turns out the "complete" laundress.

For the limits of a short paper these matters have perhaps been treated
somewhat discursively, but the object has been attained if, by the few
illustrations selected, some attention has been drawn to the field of
inquiry which lies open, and the urgent need for a definite application
of scientific minds to problems which, amid all the advances of this
progressive age, seem to lag behind. The inclusion of housecraft as part
of the curriculum of elementary and secondary schools may do much to
rouse interest and overcome some difficulties of cooking, &c., but to
any one familiar with these classes it is evident that their scope is
very limited, if only for the reason that the teaching so often treats
the work of housekeeping as an imitative art, based, for want of
reliable scientific data, on rules and recipes that are practically
organised tradition no more. In secondary schools, the introduction of
laboratory work has opened up fresh possibilities of a more reasonable
treatment of housecraft, for it is certain that, when teachers are
properly equipped for their work, biology, physics, and chemistry
(organic and inorganic) can be successfully taught along lines that
bring within the scope of school science such matters as food and
feeding, cooking and washing, fuels, heating, ventilation, and hygiene.

To teach chemistry and physics in the usual academic manner and then
tack on a course of cookery and laundry-work at the end of school life
cannot possibly be of the same value as the co-ordinated courses; we
want scientific method even more than "science" for these schools girls,
who shall so soon be the housekeepers and home-makers. We may say with
Stevenson, "A dogma learned is only a new error--the old was perhaps as
good; but a spirit communicated is a perpetual possession." For those
girls who pass on to a university or technical school we want an
intelligence alert to all that may lie in further investigation of those
problems suggested at school.

A certain jealousy may be pardoned that the possible evolution of
housekeeping may be the work of women; the leaders of the "woman's
movement" have so often spoiled their work by following the lines of
men's activities and aiming at a goal essentially masculine. The things
that go to housekeeping seem so intimately connected with motherhood
and mothering that it must be hoped our most able women will bring
their intelligence, their education, and their sense of national
responsibility to the task of housekeeping--to the simplification of its
problems, the reduction of the labour involved, and the organisation
of the paid service. There is certainly scope for master-minds.

We touched on the organisation of the nursing service. If it is
possible to duly care for the sick and at the same time train an
efficient nurse, it is surely possible to provide proper service in the
huge caravanseries of our modern life, and at the same time provide a
suitable apprenticeship for the domestic worker. Good instruction at
school, followed by one or two years of definite training in a hostel
or boarding-house, should produce a class of skilled women workers who
can be organised and employed on the same lines as those of the
nursing service.

In many branches of labour the women are ousting the men; unless we can
make good the present breach in our home bulwark and train our army of
defence, we may find men ousting women in their own particular sphere.

America and Canada, realising that their coveted nationality must be
founded on homes, have brought into their universities the "science of
home affairs." England, in spite of the warning note sounded by
inquiries into physical deterioration, infant mortality, and kindred
evils, has been content with a _tradition_ of good homes, and has so far
done little more than provide a smattering of cookery lessons for
elementary school girls.

There is, however, a promise of better things. One university college
has made a venture into home science, and other universities would soon
be at work if the necessary money could be secured. Oh, for some
silver-tongued evangelist to cry in the ears of our philanthropic
millionaires all that might be done for this country by bringing its
_best_ brains to consider the material things that go to the making of a
good home!


  Edinburgh & London

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