« AnteriorContinuar »
Nor rivers flowing ceaselessly,
The bending heavens below.
Of iron branches sounds!
Sees not its depths, nor bounds.
Soft rays of sunshine pour ;
We can return no more!'
Yes, into Life's deep stream!
Be these henceforth thy theme.”—Longfellow.
LESSON 40.-THE BLACK HOLE.
OF PURE AIR.
who was a man of thought and
Grappling-hook-a hook for grappling,
or laying hold of. Gallant-brave. Aquatic-pertaining to the water (Lat.
ABOUT a hundred years ago, Surajah Dowlah, the Nabob of Bengal, quarrelled with the English at Calcutta, "and shut up a hundred and forty-six of them in the prison of the garrison, a chamber known by the fearful name of The Black Hole.'
The space was about twenty feet square, the air-holes were small. The captives were driven into the cell at the point of the sword, and the door instantly shut and locked upon
them. Nothing could exceed the horrors of that night, told by the few survivors ; they cried for mercy, they strove to burst the door. The answer was, that nothing could be done without the Nabob's orders; that the Nabob was asleep, and he would be angry if any one awoke him. Then the prisoners went mad with despair, they trampled each other down, fought for the places at the windows, fought for the pittance of water with which the cruel mercy of the murderers mocked their agony, raved, prayed, implored the guards to fire amongst them. The gaolers in the meantime held lights to the bars, and shouted with laughter at the frantic struggles of their victims. At length the tumult died away in low gaspings and moanings; the day broke, the Nabob awoke, and allowed the door to be opened; but it was some time before the soldiers could make a lane for those who were alive, by piling up on each side the heaps of corpses.
When at last a way was made, twenty-three ghastly men, such as their own mothers would not have known, staggered one by one out of the charnel-house. A pit was instantly dng, and the dead bodies, a hundred and twenty-three in number, were flung into it and covered up."
Now the climate, the great heat of India, increased their sufferings, but still the men died from bad air.
We feel when we breathe that we take in so much air into our lungs (which are like a pair of bellows) and then puff it out again. The air we take in is good fresh air, the air we breathe out is dirty air; the lungs have kept back some of it and given it to the blood to make it red. If we were to shut up a man in
box where no new supply of air could get in, he would breathe the air over and over again until all the good was taken out of it, then there would be nothing left but the bad air, which he could not breathe, and he would die, like the poor men in the Black Hole. A bird has died in this
shut up in a close place where no fresh air could come.
Some curious monkeys, brought from a
very long way off to the Zoological Gardens, were thus killed by over care. They came from a hot country, and were put into ' nice warm place” where no fresh air came, and they all died of consumption just like that of human beings.
Now in a small cottage bedroom where two or three, and sometimes four or five, people are sleeping, there is not enough air to last the whole night, therefore the people are obliged to breathe the same air over and over again, and by morning it is quite unfit for the lungs to take in, and those who have slept there feel tired, instead of refreshed and invigorated as they ought to be. A strong man does not perceive this, but weakly women and children suffer from it very much. They complain sometimes that they are as tired as when they went to bed. This is because their poor lungs have not had air fit to breathe. If it were not for the cracks under the door, and in the windows, which people often stop up, this would be much worse. When you are in the bad air for some time, you get used to it, and do not perceive it, but this does not make it the less hurtful. If you go out of a bedroom so shut up, into the fresh air, and then return into it, you will find how close and unpleasant it is. Very often, people make their rooms what they call nice and warm, by shutting out the fresh air; but unless there is a supply of pure air, it may be as unhealthy as the poor monkeys' house. We spoil the air not only by breathing it through our lungs, but also by our skins. The walls of old houses get filled with these exhalations from our bodies; there is no way of curing this but by whitewashing once or twice a year.* Clean water, clean air, clean skins, are necessary to keep people in sound health ; and if there is plenty of fresh air, it will be found that some trades which are called unhealthy, are more healthy than those which let men work all day in a shut-up room with the windows closed.
A pennyworth of pink or blue colour mixed with the whitewash makes the walls look very pretty.
When many people crowd into small spaces to hear music, or lectures, or sermons, without any open windows, they make the air very bad, and then they come out often with bad headaches, or feeling sick and faint, and hardly know the reason why.
Now God has made the fresh pure air, without which we cannot live, “the common air,” so as to be got at by the poorest as well as the richest, if we will only take care to secure it. A very little thought would make a place by which the air may come into
every bedroom in England. To open the window a little is the best way of airing the room. We ought to be just as fearful of being left without air as without bread. You must also see if the window be very near the ground; you cannot air the part above the window even with a great draught. Three men were killed in a sewer quite lately because they were caught by the bad air in a place where the draught could not come.
An air-brick or ventilator at the top of the room is therefore quite necessary
Because we cannot see the bad air, we have a great deal of trouble in understanding how hurtful it is; but “the invisible air” can strike a man dead as surely as a blow on the head, or a knife in his heart. The other day an old well was opened, which was full of foul air; a man was let down to clean it out; before he reached the bottom he became insensible, struck as if by a shot. A second man rushed to help him; but without thinking how best it could be done, went down by the rope, and fell on the body of his comrade the instant his mouth reached the part of the well where the bad air began. A third man who had a head on his shoulders und knew that it was no use trying to live in such airbegan by doing what was necessary to get rid of it; sent down buckets of lighted straw, threw in a quantity of water, and then went down with a grappling-hook in his hand, fastened it to the clothes of one of the men, who was pulled up with him, and then did the same by the
next; but he had been too long below, and was quite dead, and the gallant fellow who had gone down to save them was insensible himself for twenty minutes, so that his friends feared they would not be able to bring him round. In his anxiety to save the men, he had gone down too soon, before the air was cleared. So you see bad air is no fancy.
There are many ways of making air foul; the smells from sewers, and filth of all kinds, pigsties adjoining the houses, drains, churchyards. Workrooms and shops are often made unwholesome if there is much gas used. A gas-burner eats up as much air as eleven men ;* so there should be more air allowed to come in and
out where gas is used; still the chief and commonest way of making the air foul, is breathing it from our lungs.
God has made a beautiful provision by which the very
air hurtful to man is that which sustains the life of plants and trees. They live upon what animals reject. A clever chemist showed this by putting a certain number of aquatic plants and animals into a glass vase full of water. If the animals were put into it alone, the water became bad; and if the plants grew in it alone, they made the water bad; but when the two were there together, the animal and vegetable life properly balanced, the water never wanted changing. So that our Maker has shown us clearly that it is only “ dirt in a wrong place,” as Lord Palmerston once called it, which does harm. If we keep it in and near our houses, it helps to kill us by poisoning the air; if we spread it on the fields, it helps to feed us by enriching the ground. Cholera, scarlet and typhus fever, and small-pox, are all found to be produced by the bad air coming from drains, cesspools, rivers dirtied by sewers, filth of all kinds, and want of fresh air.
Now, as God has.put it into our power to get rid of these things, and shown us how mischievous they are by
* The gas-fittings must be properly tight, and every burner must have a ventilator to itself to be healthy.