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chimneys, and passes in all states through
the portal of our noses, in and out without
any reference to the wishes of us men or
women, delicately organised as aforesaid.  The
air itself is in confusion: it is warm below and
cold above, the earth acting as a warming-
pan in the midst of it. Its temperature
diminishes one degree for about every three
hundred and fifty-two feet of distance from
this warming-pan.  And yet the upper
currents are perpetually plunging down into
the lower, and the lower soaring up into the
upper, and we are born to stand all this!  The
seasons alter and the wind shifts, and we are
expected to live through it all.  There is this
air all about, as an elastic fluid some eight
hundred times lighter than water, full of
streams and currents and of different degrees
of heat, perpetually on the dance about our
ears, and it is expected that we are to walk
about in it, and never mind.  We do mind.  A
wind is a draught on a large scale, and we do
mind it. If it were true that winds come from
a cave of Æolus, and we could find the cave, I
for one would subscribe for a great soot-bag,
chimney-board, or bran cushion to thrust
over the mouth of it, and stop the horrid

That being impossible, we must do what
we can.  We can fight with little streams
of air, though we are no match for the big
ones.  We can put list round our doors,
cover the joints of our windows, stop our
chimneys up when there is no fire under
them, put our heads at night under bed-
clothes, and box ourselves up in a square
hole among bed-clothes and bed-curtains,
to keep out the enemy.  We will frown
at the wretch who lets a window down
in any coach or omnibus; we will wrap
comforters over our mouths, when the air
is too cold, to comfort us; we will build
theatres, churches, and public rooms, with
the smallest possible recognition of our
dependence upon the enemy for life and health;
since Britons must be slaves in some degree
to this all-powerful invader of their hearths
and homes, they will not be slaves more than
they can help.  Let chimney-boards defend
the hearth, shut windows all day long, close
bed-rooms, with listed sitting-rooms protect
the home.  He is no true John Bull who throws
his doors and windows open to the foe.

True though it be that we cannot prevent
our enemy, the air, from being to a certain
extent, though unwelcome as a bailiff, in
possession of our premises, there remains to
us one easy revenge.  It can be poisoned.
Let no nice conscience start off with a
shudder.  It is a thing that is done every
day.  We are all poisoners, though not
deliberately so; for it is a remarkable fact,
and a distinct proof of the natural antipathy
that must have been intended to exist
between man and his enemy the air, that our
mere presence acts as poison on the air in our
vicinity. The tenderest of ladies who
assembles friends in a large party, and fills her
drawing-rooms, is an accomplice with me in
the crime which I commit, and would have
all men to commit as they have opportunity
poison the air. Fellow combatants against
the enemy, never count the square feet in
your rooms, before you count the noses that
shall come into them; when you have air
well shut into your bed-rooms, poison it, and
feed upon its corpse.  You shoot a deer
before you eat its venison; and if you must
feed upon air, you are entitled to do by it as
you do by deer, sheep, oxen, everything but
oysters; that is, to destroy its life in the first
instance.  It lies with our opponents to show
why air should be eaten like an oyster; and
if so, if it is to be taken into our bodies in a
living state, why it should be taken without
vinegar and pepper.

Poison the air!  Cut its throat you cannot;
kill it with a sledge-hammer you cannot;
poison it you can.  You might plant in vain
a guillotine upon your first or second floor,
but a great deal may be done against the
enemy, when he has got into your house,
by undermining him with some good drains
leading to a sink or rat-hole.  Whenever
you smell drains, you may be sure that
the power of our common enemy is, for the
time being, efficiently antagonised.  The
broad winds blow about the world, and the
air rides high above the worst of our assaults,
but nevertheless we can do much to
emancipate ourselves, if we persist constantly in
catching small detachments of the enemy,
hedging them in corners and confined spaces,
and there holding them and sticking close
to them until they are destroyed.

Against an enemy mightier than any
human despot, I would be a Tell or Hofer,
if I could.  Let us not be slaves to our
senses. It is said, to our shame, that

    "The eyeit cannot choose but see;
         We cannot bid the ear be still;
     Our bodies feel, where'er they be,
         Against or with our will."

But we can shut our eyes against the light,
and very often do; we can stop our ears;
and as for the feeling in our bodies, we can
conquer that with chloroform.  Shall it be
said, then, that we are compelled to be
dependent on the air for life?  The time is not
yet indeed come when we may with safety
plug our mouths and noses, as we close our
eyes or plug our ears; but we can do the
next best thing to thatwe can plug up the
next surrounding shell.  We can plug up
the house, the room, the carriage in which
mouths and noses are; we can decree that all
shall be made air-tight within a circle of
so many feet around the said mouths or
noses, and that the air within that circle
shall be further poisoned; and any candid
man will own that the next step would be,
if we could but take it, the wearing of an
impervious muffler over mouth and nose.

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