She inclined her head significantly. "It will be repeated," she said sadly, "unless you educate them. Give their bright and active minds the power of knowledge. They will use it wisely, for their own and their country's welfare."
I doubted my ability to do this, to contend against rooted and inherited prejudice, but I resolved to try. I did not need to be told that the rich and powerful had a monopoly of intellect: Nature was not partial to them, for the children of the poor, I well knew, were often handsomer and more intellectual than the offspring of wealth and aristocratic birth.
I have before spoken of the positions occupied by those who performed what I had been bred to regard as menial work. At first, the mere fact of the person who presided over the kitchen being presented to me as an equal, was outraging to all my hereditary dignity and pride of birth. No one could be more pronounced in a consciousness of inherited nobility than I. I had been taught from infancy to regard myself as a superior being, merely because the accident of birth had made me so, and the arrogance with which I had treated some of my less favored schoolmates reverted to me with mortifying regret, when, having asked Wauna to point out to me the nobly born, she looked at me with her sweet expression of candor and innocence and said: "We have no nobility of birth. As I once before told you, intellect is our only standard of excellence. It alone occupies an exalted place and receives the homage of our people."
In a subsequent conversation with her mother, the Preceptress, she said: "In remote ages, great honor and deference was paid to all who were born of rulers, and the designation 'noble blood,' was applied to them. At one time in the history of our country they could commit any outrage upon society or morals without fear of punishment, simply because they belonged to the aristocracy. Even a heinous murder would be unnoticed if perpetrated by one of them. Nature alone did not favor them Imbecile and immoral minds fell to the lot of the aristocrat as often as to the lowly born. Nature's laws are inflexible and swerve not for any human wish. They outraged them by the admixture of kindred blood, and degeneracy was often the result. A people should always have for their chief ruler the highest and noblest intellect among them, but in those dark ages they were too often compelled to submit to the lowest, simply because it had been born to the position. But," she added, with a sweet smile, "that time lies many centuries behind us, and I sometimes think we had better forget it entirely."
My first meeting with the domestics of my friend's house impressed me with their high mental culture, refinement and elegance. Certainly no "grande dame" of my own country but would have been proud of their beauty and graceful dignity.
Prejudice, however deeply ingrained, could not resist the custom of a whole country, and especially such a one as Mizora, so I soon found myself on a familiar footing with my friend's "artist"--for the name by which they were designated as a class had very nearly the same meaning.
Cooking was an art, and one which the people of Mizora had cultivated to the highest excellence. It is not strange, when their enlightenment is understood, that they should attach as much honor to it as the people of my country do to sculpture, painting and literature. The Preceptress told me that such would be the case with my people when education became universal and the poor could start in life with the same intellectual culture as the rich. The chemistry of food and its importance in preserving a youthful vigor and preventing disease, would then be understood and appreciated by all classes, and would receive the deference it deserved.
"You will never realize," said the Preceptress earnestly, "the incalculable benefit that will accrue to your people from educating your poor. Urge that Government to try it for just twenty years, long enough for a generation to be born and mature. The bright and eager intellects of poverty will turn to Chemistry to solve the problems of cheap Light, cheap Fuel and cheap Food. When you can clothe yourselves from the fibre of the trees, and warm and light your dwellings from the water of your rivers, and eat of the stones of the earth, Poverty and Disease will be as unknown to your people as it is to mine."
"If I should preach that to them, they would call me a maniac."
"None but the ignorant will do so. From your description of the great thinkers of your country, I am inclined to believe there are minds among you advanced enough to believe in it."
I remembered how steamboats and railroads and telegraphy had been opposed and ridiculed until proven practicable, and I took courage and resolved to follow the advice of my wise counselor.
I had long felt a curiosity to behold the inner workings of a domestic's life, and one day ventured to ask my friend's permission to enter her kitchen. Surprise was manifested at such a request, when I began to apologize and explain. But my hostess smiled and said: "My kitchen is at all times as free to my guests as my drawing room."
Every kitchen in Mizora is on the same plan and conducted the same way. To describe one, therefore, is to describe all. I undertook to explain that in my country, good breeding forbade a guest entering the host's kitchen, and frequently its appearance, and that of the cook's, would not conduce to gastric enjoyment of the edibles prepared in it.
My first visit happened to be on scrubbing day, and I was greatly amused to see a little machine, with brushes and sponges attached, going over the floor at a swift rate, scouring and sponging dry as it went. Two vessels, one containing soap suds and the other clear water, were connected by small feed pipes with the brushes. As soon as the drying sponge became saturated, it was lifted by an ingenious yet simple contrivance into a vessel and pressed dry, and was again dropped to the floor.
I inquired how it was turned to reverse its progress so as to clean the whole floor, and was told to watch when it struck the wall. I did so, and saw that the jar not only reversed the machine, but caused it to spring to the right about two feet, which was its width, and again begin work on a new line, to be again reversed in the same manner when it struck the opposite wall. Carpeted floors were swept by a similar contrivance.
No wonder the "artists" of the kitchen had such a dainty appearance. They dipped their pretty hands in perfumed water and dried them on the finest and whitest damask, while machinery did the coarse work.
Mizora, I discovered, was a land of brain workers. In every vocation of life machinery was called upon to perform the arduous physical labor. The whole domestic department was a marvel of ingenious mechanical contrivances. Dishwashing, scouring and cleaning of every description were done by machinery.
The Preceptress told me that it was the result of enlightenment, and it would become the custom in my country to make machinery perform the laborious work when they learned the value of universal and advanced knowledge.
I observed that the most exact care was given to the preparation of food. Every cook was required to be a chemist of the highest excellence; another thing that struck me as radically different from the custom in vogue in my country.
Everything was cooked by hot air and under cover, so that no odor was perceptible in the room. Ventilating pipes conveyed the steam from cooking food out of doors. Vegetables and fruits appeared to acquire a richer flavor when thus cooked. The seasoning was done by exact weight and measure, and there was no stirring or tasting. A glass tube, on the principle of a thermometer, determined when each article was done. The perfection which they had attained as culinary chemists was a source of much gratification to me, both in the taste of food so delicious and palatable, and in its wholesome effect on my constitution. As to its deliciousness, a meal prepared by a Mizora cook could rival the fabled feasts of the gods. Its beneficial effects upon me were manifested in a healthier tone of body and an an increase of animal spirits, a pleasurable feeling of content and amiability.
The Preceptress told me that the first step toward the eradication of disease was in the scientific preparation of food, and the establishment of schools where cooking was taught as an art to all who applied, and without charge. Placed upon a scientific basis it became respectable.
"To eliminate from our food the deleterious earthy matter is our constant aim. To that alone do we owe immunity from old age far in advance of that period of life when your people become decrepit and senile. The human body is like a lamp-wick, which filters the oil while it furnishes light. In time the wick becomes clogged and useless and is thrown away. If the oil could be made perfectly pure, the wick would not fill up."
She gave this homely explanation with a smile and the air of a grown person trying to convey to the immature mind of a child an explanation of some of Nature's phenomena.
I reflected upon their social condition and arrived at the conviction that there is no occupation in life but what has its usefulness and necessity, and, when united to culture and refinement, its dignity. A tree has a million leaves, yet each individual leaf, insignificant as it may appear, has its special share of work to perform in helping the tree to live and perfect its fruit. So should every citizen of a government contribute to its vitality and receive a share of its benefits.
"Will the time ever come," I asked myself, "when my own country will see this and rise to a social, if not intellectual equality." And the admonition of the Preceptress would recur to my mind: "Educate them. Educate them, and enlightenment will solve for them every problem in Sociology."
My observations in Mizora led me to believe that while Nature will permit and encourage the outgrowth of equality in refinement, she gives birth to a more decided prominence in the leadership of intellect.
The lady who conducted me through the culinary department, and pointed out the machinery and explained its use and convenience, had the same grace and dignity of manner as the hostess displayed when exhibiting to me the rare plants in her conservatory.
The laundry was a separate business. No one unconnected with it as a profession had anything to do with its duties. I visited several of the large city laundries and was informed that all were conducted alike. Steam was employed in the cleaning process, and the drying was done by hot air impregnated with ozone. This removed from white fabrics every vestige of discoloration or stain. I saw twelve dozen fine damask table-cloths cleaned, dried and ironed in thirty minutes. All done by machinery. They emerged from the rollers that ironed them looking like new pieces of goods, so pure was their color, and so glossy their finish.
I inquired the price for doing them up, and was told a cent a piece. Twelve cents per dozen was the established price for doing up clothes. Table-cloths and similar articles were ironed between rollers constructed to admit their full width. Other articles of more complicated make, were ironed by machines constructed to suit them. Some articles were dressed by having hot air forced rapidly through them. Lace curtains, shawls, veils, spreads, tidies and all similar articles, were by this process made to look like new, and at a cost that I thought ought certainly to reduce the establishment to beggary or insolvency. But here chemistry again was the magician that had made such cheap labor profitable. And such advanced knowledge of chemistry was the result of universal education.
Ladies sent their finest laces to be renewed without fear of having them reduced to shreds. In doing up the frailest laces, nothing but hot air impregnated with ozone was employed. These were consecutively forced through the fabric after it was carefully stretched. Nothing was ever lost or torn, so methodical was the management of the work.
I asked why cooking was not established as the laundry was, as a distinct public business, and was told that it had been tried a number of times, but had always been found impracticable. One kind of work in a laundry would suit everyone, but one course of cooking could not. Tastes and appetites differed greatly. What was palatable to one would be disliked by another, and to prepare food for a large number of customers, without knowing or being able to know exactly what the demand would be, had always resulted in large waste, and as the people of Mizora were the most rigid and exacting economists, it was not to be wondered at that they had selected the most economical plan. Every private cook could determine accurately the amount of food required for the household she prepared it for, and knowing their tastes she could cater to all without waste.
"We, as yet," said my distinguished instructor, "derive all our fruit and vegetables from the soil. We have orchards and vineyards and gardens which we carefully tend, and which our knowledge of chemistry enables us to keep in health and productiveness. But there is always more or less earthy matter in all food derived from cultivating the soil, and the laboratories are now striving to produce artificial fruit and vegetables that will satisfy the palate and be free from deleterious matter."
One of the most curious and pleasing sights in Mizora was the flower gardens and conservatories. Roses of all sizes and colors and shades of color were there. Some two feet across were placed by the side of others not exceeding the fourth of an inch in order to display the disparity in size.
To enter into a minute description of all the discoveries made by the Mizora people in fruit and floriculture, would be too tedious; suffice to say they had laid their hands upon the beautiful and compelled nature to reveal to them the secret of its formation. The number of petals, their color, shape and size, were produced as desired. The only thing they could neither create nor destroy was its perfume. I questioned the Preceptress as to the possibility of its ever being discovered? She replied: "It is the one secret of the rose that Nature refuses to reveal. I do not believe we shall ever possess the power to increase or diminish the odor of a flower. I believe that Nature will always reserve to herself the secret of its creation. The success that we enjoy in the wonderful cultivation of our fruits and flowers was one of our earliest scientific conquests."
I learned that their orchards never failed to yield a bounteous harvest. They had many fruits that were new to me, and some that were new and greatly improved species of kinds that I had already seen and eaten in my own or other countries. Nothing that they cultivated was ever without its own peculiar beauty as well as usefulness. Their orchards, when the fruit was ripe, presented a picture of unique charm. Their trees were always trained into graceful shapes, and when the ripe fruit gleamed through the dark green foliage, every tree looked like a huge bouquet. A cherry tree that I much admired, and the fruit of which I found surpassingly delicious, I must allow myself to describe. The cherries were not surprisingly large, but were of the colors and transparency of honey. They were seedless, the tree having to be propagated from slips. When the fruit was ripe the tree looked like a huge ball of pale amber gems hiding in the shadows of dark pointed leaves.
Their grape arbors were delightful pictures in their season of maturity. Some vines had clusters of fruit three feet long; but these I was told were only to show what they could do in grape culture. The usual and marketable size of a bunch was from one to two pounds weight. The fruit was always perfect that was offered for sale.
Science had provided the fruit growers of Mizora with permanent protections from all kinds of blight or decay.
When I considered the wholesomeness of all kinds of food prepared for the inhabitants of this favored land. I began to think they might owe a goodly portion of their exceptional health to it, and a large share of their national amiability to their physical comfort. I made some such observation to the Preceptress, and she admitted its correctness.
"The first step that my people made toward the eradication of disease was in the preparation of healthy food; not for the rich, who could obtain it themselves, but for the whole nation."
I asked for further information and she added: "Science discovered that mysterious and complicated diseases often had their origin in adulterated food. People suffered and died, ignorant of what produced their disease. The law, in the first place, rigidly enforced the marketing of clean and perfect fruit, and a wholesome quality of all other provisions. This was at first difficult to do, as in those ancient days, (I refer to a very remote period of our history) in order to make usurious profit, dealers adulterated all kinds of food; often with poisonous substances. When every state took charge of its markets and provided free schools for cooking, progress took a rapid advance. Do you wonder at it? Reflect then. How could I force my mind into complete absorption of some new combination of chemicals, while the gastric juice in my stomach was battling with sour or adulterated food? Nature would compel me to pay some attention to the discomfort of my digestive organs, and it might happen at a time when I was on the verge of a revelation in science, which might be lost. You may think it an insignificant matter to speak of in connection with the grand enlightenment that we possess; but Nature herself is a mass of little things. Our bodies, strong and supple as they are, are nothing but a union of tiny cells. It is by the investigation of little things that we have reached the great ones."
I felt a keen desire to know more about their progress toward universal health, feeling assured that the history of the extirpation of disease must be curious and instructive. I had been previously made acquainted with the fact that disease was really unknown to them, save in its historical existence. To cull this isolated history from their vast libraries of past events, would require a great deal of patient and laborious research, and the necessary reading of a great deal of matter that I could not be interested in, and that could not beside be of any real value to me, so I requested the Preceptress to give me an epitomized history of it in her own language, merely relating such facts as might be useful to me, and that I could comprehend, for I may as well bring forward the fact that, in comparison to theirs, my mind was as a savages would be to our civilization.
Their brain was of a finer intellectual fiber. It possessed a wider, grander, more majestic receptivity. They absorbed ideas that passed over me like a cloud. Their imaginations were etherealized. They reached into what appeared to be materialless space, and brought from it substances I had never heard of before, and by processes I could not comprehend. They divided matter into new elements and utilized them. They disintegrated matter, added to it new properties and produced a different material. I saw the effects and uses of their chemistry, but that was all.
There are minds belonging to my own age, as there have been to all ages, that are intellectually in advance of it. They live in a mental and prophetic world of their own, and leave behind them discoveries, inventions and teachings that benefit and ennoble the generations to come. Could such a mind have chanced upon Mizora, as I chanced upon it, it might have consorted with its intellect, and brought from the companionship ideas that I could not receive, and sciences that I can find no words in my language to represent. The impression that my own country might make upon a savage, may describe my relation to Mizora. What could an uncivilized mind say of our railroads, or magnificent cathedrals, our palaces, our splendor, our wealth, our works of art. They would be as difficult of representation as were the lofty aims, the unselfishness in living, the perfect love, honor and intellectual grandeur, and the universal comfort and luxury found in Mizora, were to me. To them the cultivation of the mind was an imperative duty, that neither age nor condition retarded. To do good, to be approved by their own conscience, was their constant pleasure.
It was during my visit at my friend's house that I first witnessed the peculiar manner in which the markets in Mizora are conducted. Everything, as usual, was fastidiously neat and clean. The fruit and vegetables were fresh and perfect. I examined quantities of them to satisfy myself, and not a blemish or imperfection could be found on any. None but buyers were attending market. Baskets of fruit, bunches of vegetables and, in fact, everything exhibited for sale, had the quality and the price labeled upon it. Small wicker baskets were near to receive the change. When a buyer had selected what suited her, she dropped the label and the change in the basket. I saw one basket filled with gold and silver coin, yet not one would be missing when the owner came to count up the sales. Sometimes a purchaser was obliged to change a large piece of money, but it was always done accurately.
There was one singular trait these people possessed that, in conjunction with their other characteristics, may seem unnatural: they would give and exact the last centime (a quarter of a cent) in a trade. I noticed this peculiarity so frequently that I inquired the reason for it, and when I had studied it over I decided that, like all the other rules that these admirable people had established, it was wise. Said my friend: "We set a just value on everything we prepare for sale. Anything above or below that, would be unjust to buyer or seller."
The varieties of apples, pears, peaches and other fruits had their names attached, with the quality, sweet, sour, or slightly acid. In no instance was it found to be incorrectly stated. I came to one stall that contained nothing but glass jars of butter and cream. The butter was a rich buff color, like very fine qualities I had seen in my own country. The cream, an article I am fond of drinking, looked so tempting I longed to purchase a glass for that purpose. The lady whom I accompanied (my hostess' cook) informed me that it was artificially prepared. The butter and cheese were chemical productions. Different laboratories produced articles of varying flavor, according to the chemist's skill. Although their construction was no secret, yet some laboratories enjoyed special reputation for their butter and cheese owing to the accuracy with which their elements were combined.
She gave me quite a history about artificial food, also how they kept fruits and vegetables in their natural state for years without decaying or losing their flavor, so that when eaten they were nearly as fine as when freshly gathered. After hearing that the cream was manufactured, I resolved to taste it. Dropping my coin into the basket, I took up a glass and drank it. A look of disgust crossed the countenance of my companion.
"Do you not drink this?" I asked in surprise, as I set down the empty vessel. "It is truly delicious."
"At regular meal times we all use it, and sometimes drink it in preference to other beverages--but never in public. You will never see a citizen of Mizora eating in public. Look all over this market and you will not discover one person, either adult or child, eating or drinking, unless it be water."
I could not; and I felt keenly mortified at my mistake. Yet in my own country and others that, according to our standard, are highly civilized, a beverage is made from the juice of the corn that is not only drank in public places, but its effects, which are always unbecoming, are exhibited also, and frequently without reproof. However, I said nothing to my companion about this beverage. It bears no comparison in color or taste to that made in Mizora. I could not have distinguished the latter from the finest dairy cream.
The next place of interest that I visited were their mercantile bazars or stores. Here I found things looking quite familiar. The goods were piled upon shelves behind counters, and numerous clerks were in attendance. It was the regular day for shopping among the Mizora ladies, and the merchants had made a display of their prettiest and richest goods. I noticed the ladies were as elegantly dressed as if for a reception, and learned that it was the custom. They would meet a great many friends and acquaintances, and dressed to honor the occasion.
It was my first shopping experience in Mizora, and I quite mortified myself by removing my glove and rubbing and examining closely the goods I thought of purchasing. I entirely ignored the sweet voice of the clerk that was gently informing me that it was "pure linen" or "pure wool," so habituated had I become in my own country to being my own judge of the quality of the goods I was purchasing, regardless always of the seller's recommendation of it. I found it difficult, especially in such circumstances, to always remember their strict adherence to honesty and fair dealing. I felt rebuked when I looked around and saw the actions of the other ladies in buying.
In manufactured goods, as in all other things, not the slightest cheatery is to be found. Woolen and cotton mixtures were never sold for pure wool. Nobody seemed to have heard of the art of glossing muslin cuffs and collars and selling them for pure linen.
Fearing that I had wounded the feelings of the lady in attendance upon me, I hastened to apologize by explaining the peculiar methods of trade that were practiced in my own country. They were immediately pronounced barbarous.
I noticed that ladies in shopping examined colors and effects of trimmings or combinations, but never examined the quality. Whatever the attendant said about that was received as a fact.
The reason for the absence of attendants in the markets and the presence of them in mercantile houses was apparent at once. The market articles were brought fresh every day, while goods were stored.
Their business houses and their manner of shopping were unlike anything I had ever met with before. The houses were all built in a hollow square, enclosing a garden with a fountain in the center. These were invariably roofed over with glass, as was the entire building. In winter the garden was as warm as the interior of the store. It was adorned with flowers and shrubs. I often saw ladies and children promenading in these pretty inclosures, or sitting on their rustic sofas conversing, while their friends were shopping in the store. The arrangement gave perfect light and comfort to both clerks and customers, and the display of rich and handsome fabrics was enhanced by the bit of scenery beyond. In summer the water for the fountain was artificially cooled.
Every clerk was provided with a chair suspended by pulleys from strong iron rods fastened above. They could be raised or lowered at will; and when not occupied, could be drawn up out of the way. After the goods were purchased, they were placed in a machine that wrapped and tied them ready for delivery.
A dining-room was always a part of every store. I desired to be shown this, and found it as tasteful and elegant in its appointments as a private one would be. Silver and china and fine damask made it inviting to the eye, and I had no doubt the cooking corresponded as well with the taste.
The streets of Mizora were all paved, even the roads through the villages were furnished an artificial cover, durable, smooth and elastic. For this purpose a variety of materials were used. Some had artificial stone, in the manufacture of which Mizora could surpass nature's production. Artificial wood they also made and used for pavements, as well as cement made of fine sand. The latter was the least durable, but possessed considerable elasticity and made a very fine driving park. They were experimenting when I came away on sanded glass for road beds. The difficulty was to overcome its susceptibility to attrition. After business hours every street was swept by a machine. The streets and sidewalks, in dry weather, were as free from soil as the floor of a private-house would be.
Animals and domestic fowls had long been extinct in Mizora. This was one cause of the weird silence that so impressed me on my first view of their capital city. Invention had superceded the usefulness of animals in all departments: in the field and the chemistry of food. Artificial power was utilized for all vehicles.
The vehicle most popular with the Mizora ladies for shopping and culling purposes, was a very low carriage, sometimes with two seats, sometimes with one. They were upholstered with the richest fabrics, were exceedingly light and graceful in shape, and not above three feet from the ground. They were strong and durable, though frequently not exceeding fifty pounds in weight. The wheel was the curious and ingenious part of the structure, for in its peculiar construction lay the delight of its motion. The spokes were flat bands of steel, curved outward to the tire. The carriage had no spring other than these spokes, yet it moved like a boat gliding down stream with the current. I was fortunate enough to preserve a drawing of this wheel, which I hope some day to introduce in my own land. The carriages were propelled by compressed air or electricity; and sometimes with a mechanism that was simply pressed with the foot. I liked the compressed air best. It was most easily managed by me. The Mizora ladies preferred electricity, of which I was always afraid. They were experimenting with a new propelling power during my stay that was to be acted upon by light, but it had not come into general use, although I saw some vehicles that were propelled by it. They moved with incredible speed, so rapid indeed, that the upper part of the carriage had to be constructed of glass, and securely closed while in motion, to protect the occupant. It was destined, I heard some of their scientists say, to become universal, as it was the most economical power yet discovered. They patiently tried to explain it to me, but my faculties were not receptive to such advanced philosophy, and I had to abandon the hope of ever introducing it into my own country.
There was another article manufactured in Mizora that excited my wonder and admiration. It was elastic glass. I have frequently mentioned the unique uses that they made of it, and I must now explain why. They had discovered a process to render it as pliable as rubber. It was more useful than rubber could be, for it was almost indestructible. It had superceded iron in many ways. All cooking utensils were made of it. It entered largely into the construction and decoration of houses. All cisterns and cellars had an inner lining of it. All underground pipes were made of it, and many things that are the necessities and luxuries of life.
They spun it into threads as fine and delicate as a spider's gossamer, and wove it into a network of clear or variegated colors that dazzled the eye to behold. Innumerable were the lovely fabrics made of it. The frailest lace, in the most intricate and aerial patterns, that had the advantage of never soiling, never tearing, and never wearing out. Curtains for drawing-room arches were frequently made of it. Some of them looked like woven dew drops.
One set of curtains that I greatly admired, and was a long time ignorant of what they were made of, were so unique, I must do myself the pleasure to describe them. They hung across the arch that led to the glass conservatory attached to my friend's handsome dwelling. Three very thin sheets of glass were woven separately and then joined at the edges so ingeniously as to defy detection. The inside curtain was one solid color: crimson. Over this was a curtain of snow flakes, delicate as those aerial nothings of the sky, and more durable than any fabric known. Hung across the arched entrance to a conservatory, with a great globe of white fire shining through it, it was lovely as the blush of Aphrodite when she rose from the sea, veiled in its fleecy foam.
They also possessed the art of making glass highly refractive. Their table-ware surpassed in beauty all that I had ever previously seen. I saw tea cups as frail looking as soap bubbles, possessing the delicate iridescence of opals. Many other exquisite designs were the product of its flexibility and transparency. The first article that attracted my attention was the dress of an actress on the stage. It was lace, made of gossamer threads of amber in the design of lilies and leaves, and was worn over black velvet.
The wonderful water scene that I beheld at the theatre was produced by waves made of glass and edged with foam, a milky glass spun into tiny bubbles. They were agitated by machinery that caused them to roll with a terribly natural look. The blinding flashes of lightning had been the display of genuine electricity.
Nothing in the way of artistic effect could call forth admiration or favorable comment unless it was so exact an imitation of nature as to not be distinguished from the real without the closest scrutiny. In private life no one assumed a part. All the acting I ever saw in Mizora was done upon the stage.
I could not appreciate their mental pleasures, any more than a savage could delight in a nocturne of Chopin. Yet one was the intellectual ecstasy of a sublime intelligence, and the other the harmonious rapture of a divinely melodious soul. I must here mention that the processes of chemical experiment in Mizora differed materially from those I had known. I had once seen and tasted a preparation called artificial cream that had been prepared by a friend of my fathers, an eminent English chemist. It was simply a combination of the known properties of cream united in the presence of gentle heat. But in Mizora they took certain chemicals and converted them into milk, and cream, and cheese, and butter, and every variety of meat, in a vessel that admitted neither air nor light. They claimed that the elements of air and light exercised a material influence upon the chemical production of foods, that they could not be made successfully by artificial processes when exposed to those two agents. Their earliest efforts had been unsuccessful of exact imitation, and a perfect result had only been obtained by closely counterfeiting the processes of nature.
The cream prepared artificially that I had tasted in London, was the same color and consistency as natural cream, but it lacked its relish. The cream manufactured in Mizora was a perfect imitation of the finest dairy product.
It was the same with meats; they combined the elements, and the article produced possessed no detrimental flavor. It was a more economical way of obtaining meat than by fattening animals.
They were equally fortunate in the manufacture of clothing. Every mountain was a cultivated forest, from which they obtained every variety of fabric; silks, satins, velvets, laces, woolen goods, and the richest articles of beauty and luxury, in which to array themselves, were put upon the market at a trifling cost, compared to what they were manufactured at in my own country. Pallid and haggard women and children, working incessantly for a pittance that barely sustained existence, was the ultimatum that the search after the cause of cheap prices arrived at in my world, but here it traveled from one bevy of beautiful workwoman to another until it ended at the Laboratory where Science sat throned, the grand, majestic, humane Queen of this thrice happy land.
Whenever I inquired: "From whence comes the heat that is so evenly distributed throughout the dwellings and public buildings of Mizora?" they invariably pointed to the river. I asked in astonishment: "From water comes fire?"
And they answered: "Yes."
I had long before this time discovered that Mizora was a nation of very wonderful people, individually and collectively; and as every revelation of their genius occurred, I would feel as though I could not be surprised at any marvelous thing that they should claim to do, but I was really not prepared to believe that they could set the river on fire. Yet I found that such was, scientifically, the fact. It was one of their most curious and, at the same time, useful appliances of a philosophical discovery.
They separated water into its two gases, and then, with their ingenious chemical skill, converted it into an economical fuel.
Their coal mines had long been exhausted, as had many other of nature's resources for producing artificial heat. The dense population made it impracticable to cultivate forests for fuel. Its rapid increase demanded of Science the discovery of a fuel that could be consumed without loss to them, both in the matter consumed and in the expense of procuring it. Nothing seemed to answer their purpose so admirably as water. Water, when decomposed, becomes gas. Convert the gas into heat and it becomes water again. A very great heat produces only a small quantity of water: hence the extreme utility of water as a heat producing agent.
The heating factories were all detached buildings, and generally, if at all practicable, situated near a river, or other body of water. Every precaution against accident was stringently observed.
There were several processes for decomposing the water explained to me, but the one preferred, and almost universally used by the people of Mizora, was electricity. The gases formed at the opposite poles of the electrical current, were received in large glass reservoirs, especially constructed for them.
In preparing the heat that gave such a delightful temperature to the dwellings and public buildings of their vast cities, glass was always the material used in the construction of vessels and pipes. Glass pipes conveyed the separate gases of hydrogen and oxygen into an apartment especially prepared for the purpose, and united them upon ignited carbon. The heat produced was intense beyond description, and in the hands of less experienced and capable chemists, would have proved destructful to life and property. The hardest rock would melt in its embrace; yet, in the hands of these wonderful students of Nature, it was under perfect control and had been converted into one of the most healthful and agreeable agents of comfort and usefulness known. It was regulated with the same ease and convenience with which we increase or diminish the flames of a gas jet. It was conducted, by means of glass pipes, to every dwelling in the city. One factory supplied sufficient heat for over half a million inhabitants.
I thought I was not so far behind Mizora in a knowledge of heating with hot air; yet, when I saw the practical application of their method, I could see no resemblance to that in use in my own world. In winter, every house in Mizora had an atmosphere throughout as balmy as the breath of the young summer. Country-houses and farm dwellings were all supplied with the same kind of heat.
In point of economy it could not be surpassed. A city residence, containing twenty rooms of liberal size and an immense conservatory, was heated entire, at a cost of four hundred centimes a year. One dollar per annum for fuel.
There was neither smoke, nor soot, nor dust. Instead of entering a room through a register, as I had always seen heated air supplied, it came through numerous small apertures in the walls of a room quite close to the floor, thus rendering its supply imperceptible, and making a draft of cold air impossible.
The extreme cheapness of artificial heat made a conservatory a necessary luxury of every dwelling. The same pipes that supplied the dwelling rooms with warmth, supplied the hot-house also, but it was conveyed to the plants by a very different process.
They used electricity in their hot-houses to perfect their fruit, but in what way I could not comprehend; neither could I understand their method of supplying plants and fruits with carbonic acid gas. They manufactured it and turned it into their hot-houses during sleeping hours. No one was permitted to enter until the carbon had been absorbed. They had an instrument resembling a thermometer which gave the exact condition of the atmosphere. They were used in every house, as well as in the conservatories. The people of Mizora were constantly experimenting with those two chemical agents, electricity and carbonic acid gas, in their conservatories. They confidently believed that with their service, they could yet produce fruit from their hot-houses, that would equal in all respects the season grown article.
They produced very fine hot-house fruit. It was more luscious than any artificially ripened fruit that I had ever tasted in my own country, yet it by no means compared with their season grown fruit. Their preserved fruit I thought much more natural in flavor than their hot-house fruit.
Many of their private greenhouses were on a grand scale and contained fruit as well as flowers. A family that could not have a hot-house for fresh vegetables, with a few fruit trees in it, would be poor indeed. Where a number of families had united in purchasing extensive grounds, very fine conservatories were erected, their expense being divided among the property holders, and their luxuries enjoyed in common.
So methodical were all the business plans of the Mizora people, and so strictly just were they in the observance of all business and social duties that no ill-feeling or jealousy could arise from a combination of capital in private luxuries. Such combinations were formed and carried out upon strictly business principles.