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Russian stove-heaters are very clever in all the necessary arrangements for their peculiar mode of heating. They have no acquaintance with tongs or shovels, and they have no other instrument than a long iron hook for the fire, with which they regularly stir the mass of coal in the stove, break the coals, and bring those forward which have not been burnt out, to expose them more to the draught. In all great houses there is one or perhaps two stove-heaters, who have nothing else to do the whole day but look to the stove, bring the wood and prepare it. In order that their masters may have the room warm when they want their coffee in the morning, these good, faithful creatures are obliged to begin their work even whilst it is still night. It is easy to imagine what an important part the stove plays also in the houses of the common Russians. In these it becomes a much larger machine, which is used for warming, baking, and cooking. All round it run benches for the enjoyment of the warmth, and numerous little recesses and holes are made in it to dry a thousand little things, while wet clothes hang round it continually.
The double windows, which are used in Petersburg as well as in all Russia, contribute not a little to maintain the heat of the rooms. Hardly has the first frost made its appearance in October, than the whole house is prepared against it; all little openings are pasted up with paper, and double windows placed in all parts. Nearly every peasant has double windows. They hardly have a little window anywhere, which can be opened for air, and you may think what joy, what mirth and freshness come into the room when at last in May, these stifling coverings are taken away again, and the windows can once more be opened. In the spaces between the double windows they generally put salt or sand, which substances absorb any damp which may collect.
The salt is piled up into all kinds of ornamental forms, and remains undisturbed until spring, and the bed of sand is planted with beautiful artificial flowers, which bloom for the same length of time in these glass cages. Each house follows its own taste in its own way, and you may on a clear day have great pleasure in going through the streets, to see the decorations in the double windows. The doors are not inferior to the windows. They may be found not only once doubled, but sometimes even three and four times.
The inordinate consumption of brandy very much increases the danger of the cold; for drunkenness and sleep are in frost the most dangerous of all things. As every frost which comes suddenly finds a crowd of drunkards and sleepers in the streets, it may readily be imagined that the loss of life is not small. The number of these is still more increased by the want of consideration on the part of the nobles. During visits, even when the weather is most severe, they let their servants wait for hours in the streets, in order to have them ready at a moment's notice. The coachmen then sleep upon their boxes, and the little twelve-year-old postillions, who have not yet learned to keep awake until midnight, hang dozing upon their horses, or lie down, with the bridles fastened to their arms, on the frozen snow of the pavement.
From the German of Kohl.
Lord God of morning and of night,
Fresh hopes have wakened in the heart
Yet whilst Thy will we would pursue,
O Lord of lights ! 'tis Thou alone
Praise God, our Maker and our Friend,
The very gradual way in which most external influences produce their effects on the bodily constitution has been one of the causes of the neglect of physiology by doctors as well as by the public. When a man loses his life in consequence of sudden immersion in the carbonic acid of a brewer's vat, everybody perceives at once the existence of a sufficient cause for his death. But when a person is exposed to the action of the same gas in a more diluted form, as in the confined atmosphere of an ill-ventilated apartment, public assembly-room, or crowded church, the effect produced on the bodily system is much less in degree, and instead of actual destruction of life, it may amount only to a feeling of uneasiness, oppression, or headache, which is disagreeable at the time, but which goes off when pure air is admitted. No sensible inconvenience continuing afterwards to be felt, people think the exposure has done them no harm, and therefore no attempt is made to prevent the same thing
happening again. In fact and in reason, however, the evil done is quite as certain in the one case as in the other. The only difference is, that in the one the feeble, because diluted, poison produces a correspondingly smaller effect; while in the other, the concentrated poison produces a result so intense that there is no possibility of overlooking it. But let the weaker poison continue to act, as when an individual lives habitually in a vitiated atmosphere, and the sum of weak effects will go on accumulating till health becomes impaired by slow degrees, and premature death at last ensues, as certainly though not so soon as in the other case.
17.-HINTS ABOUT BEDROOMS.
Their small size and their lowness render them very unhealthy, and the case is rendered worse by close windows and thick curtains and hangings, with which the beds are often so carefully surrounded as to prevent the possibility of the air being renewed. The consequence is, that we are breathing vitiated air during the greater part of the night, that is, during more than a third part of our lives; and thus the period of repose which is necessary for the renovation of our mental and bodily vigour becomes a source of disease. Sleep