Monday, 24 October 2016

19 March 1881 - 'Mourning Attire' by S.F.A. Caulfield

The outward symbol of affliction has been dignified with the name of the reality which it so feebly portrays. In the reality, and in its external shadow, I find a rather extensive subject for our consideration.

It has been a necessity of our pour human nature to give vent to feelings of distress in some manner from the earliest period of the world's history, ever since the day that sin "brought death into the world, and all our woe." And in the history of nations - as in those of each individual being, from the cradle to the bier - various in character have been the expressions of mortal anguish when "it must have way."

It is my intention to take a three-fold view of the subject: historical, sentimental (in the best sense of the term) and practical, and further, to consider the case of those who find satisfaction in wearing black garments; those who find none in so doing; and those who, desiring to wear mourning, have not the means to purchase it.

The Israelites use dot fast and weep and rend their garments, clothe themselves with sackcloth, hair-cloth, or coarse black or brown cloth. They sat in ashes, threw them on their heads, tore and cut off their hair and their beards, smote on their breasts and tore them, made loud wailing, and went barefoot and bareheaded. All the time of their mourning they sat at home or went to mourn at the grave, and ate whatever they allowed themselves on the ground, their faces being covered. They further gave vent to their misery by leaving their beds unmade, abstaining from the use of a bath, and all the duties of the toilet. It was, of course, impossible to protract a mourning of this description, and the ordinary limit was restricted to a week, but extended to a month on special occasions. Contemporary nations used to "cut themselves with knives and lancets," and gave vent to loud, and what we should regard as extravagant grief; and, as we are informed in a Holy Writ, they "made themselves bald  for the dead" (Jer. XVI, 6, 7).  The mourning by Joseph and the Egyptians for Jacob was of seven days - "a great and very sore lamentation;" and in the Book of Daniel, tenth chapter, three weeks are named as a period for mourning. From what the prophet Zechariah tells us, it would seem that men and women used to part company on such occasions, and give vent to their sorrow. They "put on mourning apparel," and abstained from their "anointing with oil." (See 2 Sam, XIV, 2.) It was also a custom to hire public wailing women to mourn after a complimentary manner, just as we hire "mutes" to wear black, and long black or white bands from their hats, and scarves. See Jer. IX, 17, 18 where "mourning and cunning women" are mentioned; as likewise in the prophecies of Amos V, 16, where persons "skilful in lamentation" are named.

I spoke just now of "the cuttings" made in evidence of grief  for the dead by the ancient Israelites as not being peculiar to them. The custom of self-bleeding obtained amongst the Greeks, and also the Turks, and the cicatrices left  for the remainder of life served as mementoes of the departed. As to the Lacedaeomonians, they used to tear the flesh from each other's foreheads with pins and needles in honour of deceased monarchs. The making bald also was by no means peculiar to the Israelites and their contemporaries,  for the Greeks and Romans cut off their hair, as an offering of what they greatly esteemed, to a deceased relative; and sometimes it was laid upon the grave. The whole Greek army would do the same in honour of a much esteemed general. It was also their habit to retire into solitude, and to throw ashes on their heads, under which circumstances it was well that they did cut off their hair; and as natural also that they wore a veil whenever they appeared in public. Their dress was of black. The early Peruvians had an unpleasant prejudice in favour of pulling out the eyebrows and eyelashes as an offering to the dead; and in savage tribes of modern times the sacrifice of the hair, more or less, much prevails, as amongst the Carib and Dakota tribes of North America. The former sacrifice their long and precious scalplock, which is plaited down their backs, as the utmost expression of their respect and utter distraction; and the latter also cutting short, like their slaves and captives, that in which they glory. I have read of some uncivilised tribes who make their expression of grief a still more unpleasant affair, that of cutting off a joint of a finger. Indeed, the devotion of the Greeks to the memory of their commanders is thrown into the shade by some of these aboriginal tribes, whose magnates gave orders that a hundred fingers should be cut off to do honour to the memory of a chieftain just deceased.

The colours adopted in various parts of the world to express respect  for the dead have been various. We derived our idea from the Romans, who wore a black toga for mourning, and sometimes left it off altogether  for the same purpose. So far as the men were generally concerned, the colour did not change either under the Empire or the Republic, but under the former the women wore white, under the latter dark blue - a colour adopted by some of the men.

The Egyptians, in all probability, gave the custom of hiring "wailing women" to sing and lament, and beat tambourines, divested of the tinkling metal plates, to the Israelites. Two or more were engaged to mourn for an hour at a time. Strange to say, the colour adopted by them for their mourning is yellow.

In Turkey they adopt blue or violet, in China and Japan white, and in Ethiopia brown. In Bokhara they wear purple, as we are informed by Thomas Moore, in "Lalla Rookh."

"Not glittering o'er
With gems and wreaths, such as the others wore,
But in that deep-blue, melancholy dress,
Bokhara's maidens wear in mindfulness
Of friends or kindred - dead, or far away."

But throughout Europe, the United States of America, and our own colonies and dependencies, black is universal for deep mourning; and grey, or black with a little admixture of white, for slight mourning.

I have now reached the second division of my subject - the sentiment, which supplies the origin of all external exhibition of grief, whether of a positive or negative character.

I have related many extraordinary customs very uncongenial to our feelings, but it must not be supposed that hypocrisy was necessarily exhibited; for, custom having prescribed certain observances, to devote time, care, self-mortification, and money to their accomplishment was surely an indication of genuine respect of affection. And, however barbarous the ceremony, it might have indicated as much genuine feeling as the shedding of quiet tears unseen at home. Few of us "creatures of habit," as we are bound by the prejudices of our friends, care to be remarkable, any more than less civilised nations, by acting after a contrary fashion to them.

But, without scandalising them, a considerable amount of personal freedom is conceded to all. And, moreover, "necessity has no law;" and the pecuniary circumstances of one person might permit of much indulgence in the outward expression of distress, while those of another allow of little or none. It is scarcely possible to find two leaves alike on the same tree; and so even among members of the same family features and characters vary too. Therefore as others differ from us in disposition, we must check all unkindly criticism, misjudging of motives and personal vain-glory. There may be no difference whatever in the depth of feeling between the individual who is shrouded in crape, and one who wears but the most trifling expression of mourning; experience continually proves the fact that each alike may -

"...have that within which passeth show."

A strong prejudice against the wearing of black is consistent with great strength of feeling, yet those who entertain it are too often misjudged. In their behalf I would observe that there are no black flowers in Nature, although there are sombre hues. Still there is nothing really black in the beautiful garment with which our world is clothed. Even the firmament above it, though inky-dark at night, is wondrously glorified and gladdened with its stars. I have known a great lover of the beauties of Nature who mourned  for the loss of one beloved for years so acutely that she could scarcely endure to speak of that bereavement, even to the day of her death. And yet she had such an objection to being wrapped in black attire that she omitted to wear it on some occasions when custom required its adoption. A sincere feeling of sorrow was veiled under an ordinary garb, for she wished to look up from the narrow bed, where her dear ones were laid, to their happy place of rest beyond the charnel house, and to shake off as much as possible all depressing influences that her mind might be the more absorbed in thoughts of the beatific vision of the hereafter. In reference to these mourners after a fashion of their own, I may quote the words of one who had studied human nature more closely than most of his fellows -

"'Tis not my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black
That can denote me truly...
These but the trappings and the suits of woe."

At the same time our sympathies may be as tenderly and truly enlisted in behalf of that still larger company feeling a necessity for a vent for grief. Like the outburst of tears and convulsive sobs, that medium  for the relief of the nerves provided for all living, so the adoption of a sable garb supplies something of consolation to mankind in general. And then if some appear to outstep the limits of ordinary custom, in the amount of their crape and the duration of its wear, we must not be censorious, and charge them with affectation nor even with folly. Leave them alone and undisturbed for a season. Let it suffice for you to know that the hand of God is upon them, how heavily, for their state of mind, of health, of nerves, of faith, He only and they themselves can realise. Doctors will sometimes prescribe crying, even aloud, under a certain amount of mental and physical strain. The nerves demand an "opening of the floodgates." The bereaved ones must be left to turn their sad faces to the wall, and to unburden their hearts for awhile unrestrained. "The heart knoweth its own bitterness," God only knows it as well. "In all their affliction He is afflicted," of whom it is recorded, when, in a scene of mourning -

"Jesus wept!"

It is a gracious act of Christian charity to supply those of your poor friends or relatives, lacking the means to purchase them, with a black dress, bonnet, or out-door covering which their position in life would demand on such an occasion. For amongst these indigent persons there are those who would derive much consolation from showing outward marks of respect for their loved and lost; and none are so keenly sensitive, as a general rule, as poor gentlefolks, who struggle to keep up a certain appearance suitable to their birth, both because they wish to associate with their own connections, and because they would rather bravely struggle on under unseen privations, than prove a burden to their relatives, however, unintentionally. "Withhold not thy hand" in such cases as these. Light up the poor wan faces with a gleam somewhat akin to a smile, by helping them to vent their sufferings in some little external exhibition, in harmony with the "shadow of death" brooding within. In Nature the heavier the shower, the sooner the break in the cloud, the clearer the light, and the warmer the sunshine that follows - a meet emblem for that calm that succeeds a stormy grief, in trustful anticipation of the blessed "clear shining after the rain," and that "reaping in joy" of "those that sow in tears" - "sorrowing after a godly sort." Show no impatience. Let them give free vent to their trouble in their own way, having this consummation in view.

I have now arrived at the third and last portion of my subject - the practical part of so-called "mourning." To many a few hints may prove of service.

As to the length of its duration  for the several relationships in life, there can be no fixed and unalterable law. A widow, however, could not, with ordinary propriety, leave off her "weed" under a twelvemonth; nor should deep mourning be left off for a parent under that time. A year is not too long to wear it for a brother or sister; but under any circumstances no change should be made from the first deep crape until six months have elapsed. From three to six months for an uncle or aunt would be within ordinary rules, unless under special circumstances, of early residence under the same roof, or close relations of much affection or obligation. There is a paltry affectation of mourning which is very objectionable for women for a two-fold reason, because, while acknowledging the wearer's feeling of obligation to wear it, the least possible expense and trouble are conceded to that feeling. Better make no sign at all, than one so poor and mean. I allude to the wearing of a band of cloth or crape round one arm, the wearer being otherwise dressed in colours. The second objection to this "freak of fancy" is that it is an aping of a masculine style. In many respects men are allowed more license than women, and often wear a coloured overcoat, if not entire suit, together with crape on the hat alone. Women are hedged about by stricter rules; they are expected to show a greater semblance of grief in family troubles, and to shed tears more freely. Thus, to show any hardness or indifference to the usages of society, is to throw off a certain amount of feminine propriety and tenderness, at once unnatural and repulsive. Wear a black bonnet or hat, and black gloves, in lieu of that strap round one arm; and your ulster, though not a black one, may be worn by as true a mourner, and as true a "lady," as any in the land.

All mourning should be plain, without ornamental trimmings. A widow's dress may be nearly or altogether covered with crape. Paramatta and crape-cloth are suitable for widows, and these, with cashmere, grenadine, camel's hair cloth, and barathea may be worn in mourning for other connections; white for slighter mourning, whether of widows or others. Plain black lustreless silk may be worn trimmed with crape. Plain grey stuff trimmed with black are suitable for slight mourning; also crepe lisse collars, serge, nuns' cloth, and mohair. For inexpensive mourning cashmerette and alpaca can be worn. Even in deep and expensive styles a slight introduction of white may be permitted; and, for economy's sake, widows may cover their white cuffs with single crape, to keep them clean. Satin, lace, and fringe must be excluded from the black dress worn as deep mourning, either for a husband or very near relative.

The only material exclusively appropriated to mourning is crape, and this is a most expensive item. Only the best in quality is worth purchase, as the inferior kinds wear badly. The former may be renovated. To persons to whom a certain amount of economy is an object, I advise that crape should be reserved for a best dress, and for out-of-door wear; and that a perfectly plain dull black material should be adopted for home wear, and for an ordinary walking costume. French people do not wear crape, except for bonnet and veil. They consider that a plain black crape-cloth which may be sent to a laundress  for the common washing, a black woollen shawl, and black woollen gloves - not kid - are full mourning. I also recommend all those who are not wealthy, and who feel themselves under weightier personal obligations than those of "encouraging trade," to have one black dress always on the list of their wardrobe, which will be ready on any emergency, and save some outlay when, perhaps, their purses may ill afford to make it. Such a dress might be worn with equal propriety out of mourning, as it has of late years been so much disassociated with it, if only worn with some coloured article.

And while on the subject of crape I should not omit to tell you that, since it has been known that arsenic is employed in the dyeing of this material, people are less disposed to wear it constantly, and some even send it to go through the process of renovation when quite new, as by this means all that is injurious is abstracted: and it is, moreover, rendered impervious to damp. A crape bonnet no longer new may be restored to its original condition, without being taken off the frame, nor even removed from a silk lining. But were the latter of any other material, the removal would be necessary. If a warmer material than cashmere be desired, merino may be a good substitute. Sealskin fur, black lynx, or sable jackets and cloaks, muffs, and collars may be worn in the very deepest black with perfect consistency, but not as mere trimmings; and chinchilla is a good selection for a slighter degree of mourning, but where not very deep, any fur may be worn the price of which may render it suitable  for the means of the wearer.

This last observation reminds me to add a few words for those of my readers whose slender resources preclude their indulgence in what would be to them so great a solace in their affliction. Genuine grief will make itself quite apparent without intentional effort, or any external exhibition in the colour of the dress, at least, to all those whose intimacy, or near relationship would make that sorrow a matter of any interest. Thus no disrespect to the dead will be charged by them to the amount of your coloured dress. And if to add a few black ribbons to your bonnet - in lieu of some faded trimming of a different hue - and one dark outer covering, be all the attempt within your power to make, to conceal your ordinary dress when out of doors, do not fret over your inability to do more. That poor black ribbon tells as much on behalf of your loving remembrance, as the costly and elegant costume a wealthy neighbour may purchase, who consoles herself by the greatest outlay her ample means may afford. Think of it as the utmost that the wise providence of God permits you to do. He who regarded the widow's mite as more than all that of the rich, of their abundance, had cast into the treasury, because it was "all that she had." Could your lost ones revisit your dwelling, they would but say approvingly, "She hath done what she could." Besides, as a matter of principle, it is wrong to purchase mourning when the money is due for rent, taxes, or other responsibilities, or when required for outlay on clothing essential for warmth, or for suitable food for yourself, or your family.

I have now no more to say on the question which we have under consideration, unless it be to remind you of the somewhat remarkable example left us by David, when he lost his child. While he yet lingered in life, the King fasted and wept and prayed; but when God took him, he "washed his face and anointed his head," and, laying aside all external expression of grief, he resumed his public duties. Few could act thus; yet the example is worthy of consideration, as well as that recorded in the sixtieth chapter of the prophecies of Isaiah, twentieth verse, referring to that blessed hereafter, when -

"The days of thy mourning shall be ended."

Saturday, 22 October 2016

19 March 1881 - 'Pies and Tarts' by Phillis Browne - 'Short Paste, Suet Paste, and Raised Pies'

I said in our last lesson that the idea in puff paste is to have the butter and paste separate, so that the paste shall be made up of a number of layers, divided from each other by layers of butter. In short-paste, on the other hand, the idea is  for the butter to be mixed with the  flour by kneading, not rolling. Indeed, one great secret in making good short-crust is to roll it as little as possible. After the butter and flour have been moistened with water, the paste would be rolled once only to make it smooth and of a good shape.

Short paste is much more wholesome than puff paste. It is used chiefly for fruit pies and tartlets. It is made more easily, and is much more commonly met with than puff paste, which is usually regarded as a luxury.

In short paste, as in puff paste, the addition of an egg and of a few drops of lemon-juice enriches the paste, and helps to make it workable. These ingredients are not, however, absolutely necessary, and very good pastry may be made without them.

Short paste is "superior," or "good," or "plain," according to the quality and quantity of the materials used in making it. In very rich pastry equal quantities of butter and flour would be used. Superior crust might, however, be made with less than half the weight of butter than of flour, and good economical pastry may be made with a smaller proportion of butter and a little baking-powder. Good plain pastry may be made with sweet soft beef dripping, such as is obtained from joints, or produced by rendering down ox flare or other kinds of soft beef fat.

A great many people have a strong objection to pastry made with dripping. I cannot quite understand the delicacy of appetite which refuses good beef dripping and accepts cheap common butter. If butter is wanted, let good butter be used; but if it is a question between dripping that is fresh, soft and sweet, and questionable or cooking butter, I should say by all means choose the dripping. A large proportion of the composition sold under the name is not butter at all - it is coloured animal fat. Why should we not use the animal fat, i.e., dripping, and omit the colouring? The difference in price between the adulterated article and the real one is worth consideration. And I hope the girls who attend our class will be too sensible to scorn economy in cookery. A really good cook is never a wasteful one, and it is wasteful to purchase cheap butter for every-day pastry when there is in the larder sweet dripping that could be employed instead. IN making pastry a light cool hand is worth more than a pennyworth of colouring matter.

It must not be supposed, however, that I recommend the use of all kinds of dripping in making pastry. Fresh soft beef dripping is excellent  for the purpose, but mutton dripping is to so. It has a way of making pastry taste like tallow-candles, and as Europeans have not the same tastes as the Esquimaux, this flavour is not popular. Though mutton dripping is not to be made into pies, however, good hard mutton fat, finely-shred, is almost as good as beef suet for making paste for boiled puddings. Lard is much liked by some cooks for making pastry. It is, however, better when mixed with butter or dripping than when used alone. Bacon fat also, if not too much smoked, may be employed to make pastry for meat pies.

The water used in mixing pastry should be added gradually and mixed thoroughly. If a large quantity is poured in at once the pastry may be made over moist, and then an undue proportion of flour will have to be added before the pastry can be rolled. It should be remembered that it is scarcely possible to give the exact measure of water that will be needed in making pastry because some flours absorb more moisture than others. An experienced cook could tell in a moment by touching the pastry whether or not it was of the right consistency. All one can say to the inexperienced is that pastry should be smooth and stiff, but not too stiff.  If over moist it will stick to the rolling-pin or the pastry-board, if too stiff it will not be light when baked.

We will suppose, therefore, that we wish to make superior short crust; how shall we proceed? We must put six ounces of flour on a board, and mix with it a very small pinch of salt. We then rub into it with the fingers four ounces of sweet butter, and keep rubbing until the butter is quite lost to sight and the flour looks like fine oatmeal. If the pastry is intended for a fruit-pie or tartlet, an ounce of finely powdered white sugar may now be added. We then make a well in the centre of the flour, and break into it the yolk of an egg. We put on this two drops of lemon-juice and a very little (about a tablespoonful) of cold water; mix all flour, egg, and water together with two fingers (or if the cook has not a cool hand she may mix the paste with the blade of a clean knife), and add more water gradually till there is a smooth stiff paste; knead this lightly, roll out once, and the pastry is ready. Of course, if the egg is not considered necessary it must be omitted.

If plain short crust is wanted, we put one pound of flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt and a heaped teaspoonful of baking powder. Rub into this six ounces of clarified dripping; add cold water to make a smooth stiff paste, knead lightly, roll out once and use.

The excellence of pastry depends very much upon its being properly baked. The best pastry that ever was mixed would be spoilt if the oven was not exactly right. If an oven is not hot enough the pastry will sink away from the edges of the dish and will be heavy. If the oven is too hot the pastry will be burnt or will stiffen without rising. The surest way of testing the heat of the oven is to bake a small piece of pastry before putting the pie or tart into it. Another way is to sprinkle a little flour upon the oven shelf. If it turn a bright brown in a few seconds the oven is hot enough. If it turn black the oven is too hot; if it remains pale in colour the oven is too slow.

Pastry should be put in the hot part of the oven  for the first five minutes, after which is should be removed to a cooler part that it may be cooked through. Large pies containing fruit or meat, which must be thoroughly cooked, should have a sheet of paper placed over them as soon as the pastry has risen, to prevent their acquiring a dark brown colour before the contents of the pie are done.

Pastry which is to be boiled is lighter when made with suet than it is when butter, lard, or dripping is used. Beef suet is generally used for this purpose, but mutton suet is more wholesome and can be chopped the more easily of the two. With one pound of flour, four, six, eight or ten ounces of suet may be taken, according to the degree of richness required. Very good suet crust may be made with six ounces of suet, one teaspoonful of baking powder, a pinch of salt, and a pound of flour. The suet should be skimmed, and the fibres and sinews should be removed, and it should then be chopped till it is far as fine as oatmeal, and rubbed into the flour; water should be added gradually. To make a very stiff paste, the pastry should be rolled out once and it is ready for use.

Making raised pies, that is pies baked without either dishes or pattypans, is very interesting work, and like a good man other things it is very mysterious until we know how to do it, and very easy when we do. I will try to describe the method of making these pies very clearly. If there are any girls who feel inclined to follow the instructions given, and make the attempt, I would advise them to begin by making small pies, and when they have become quite proficient in the art, they may try their hand on large ones.

Raises pies may be made with every kind of meat, game, or poultry, provided only that whatever is used is free from bone. It must be remembered, therefore, that all meat must be boned before it is used for this purpose. The meat also must be pleasantly seasoned, and the gravy must be reduced until it will form a stiff jelly when cold. This strong gravy is put in after the pie has been taken from the oven, and it should, if possible, be made the day before it is wanted.

We will suppose, therefore, that we wish to make either one moderate sized pork pie, or two small ones. Take one pound of lean pork, one pound of flour, a quarter of a pound of lard, half a pint of cold water, six dried sage leaves, one egg, and a little pepper and salt. Weigh the flour and put it into a bowl with a little salt; put the lard and cold water into a saucepan, and set it on the fire until it is boiling hot. Pour the boiling liquor into the flour, and mix it with a wooden spoon till it is a firm smooth paste. It cannot, of course, be mixed with the fingers in the first instance, because it will be too hot.

Mix the sage leaves with a little pepper and salt on a plate. While the water and lard are heating, cut the meat into small neat pieces and set them aside till wanted.

As soon as the paste is made we must be as expeditious as possible, because the pie is to be moulded while the paste is warm and soft. As it gets cold it will become hard, and then we cannot shape it as we wish. First we cut off one-fourth of the quantity of paste (that is if we are going to make one moderate sized pie), put it on a plate, and set it over a saucepan of hot water to keep it soft; it is intended  for the lid of the pie. We then take the remainder of the paste, form it with both hands to an oval lump, and lay it on the table. We keep pressing the centre of the lump with the knuckles of the right hand to make a hollow; we put the thumb of the right hand inside the hole thus formed, whilst keeping the four fingers outside it, and with the help of the left hand we work the shape round and round till we have a firm thin wall to the pie with a solid foundation. We shall find that the walls will show a tendency to grow wider than the bottom, and incline outwards. This cannot be allowed, they must inline inwards, and so if they get wide they must be doubled over and then pressed smooth, just as children double over part of a seam when they are in danger of "puckering" it. When we acquire skill in our work there will be no fear of our thus "puckering" our pork pie, and so we shall not need to fold it over, but while we are learners we must do our best, and leave the rest.

Another mistake into which we shall be likely to fall will be that of making our walls or sides thinner in some places than in others. This also must not be allowed. When the pie is filled and is in the oven, these thin places will, if left, burst through, and the pie will be spoilt. Care must be taken, therefore, to make the walls of an even thickness all round, and if any portion should inadvertently become thin and weak we must either double it over and make it thick again, as in the former case, or lay a little patch of pastry inside it to strengthen it.

Girls will see now how necessary it is to be quick in this business. The paste is soft when we begin to work upon it, but every minute it is getting harder. If it were to get quite hard we should have to put it on a plate over hot water to soften it again, and then it would not be so good as when freshly made.

When the pie is shaped we fill it to within half an inch of the top with the pieces of meat, first dipping each one into cold water and afterwards rolling it in the seasoning which was mixed ready for us a little while ago on the plate. We then roll out the piece of paste which was set apart  for the cover to the proper shape and size, and lay it over the meat; egg the edges, and press them securely together, and make a hole in the centre of the pie through which the gravy can be poured when the pie is baked. All that now remains to be done is to ornament our work, brush it all over with beaten egg, and bake it in a moderate oven, then pour the gravy into it. The ornamentation must be left to taste. The pie will look very pretty if leaves of pastry are laid all round the outside, and if the rim at the top is notched finely and evenly with scissors. I once saw a pie made to look very pretty by placing what the artist called "wheatsheaves" (that is, strips of pastry rolled up, then cut finely at one end to make them look something like wheatsheaves) at regular intervals, with leaves of pastry between. Of course these ornaments had to be fastened firmly to the pie with white of egg.

Raised pies must be baked in a moderate oven, because they are solid, and have to be cooked throughout. A pie such as I have described would need to bake from two to three hours; a large pie would require from four to five hours. Sometimes these raised pies are made in a mould, then the bottom is rolled and laid in the tin; the sides are put on separately, the edges being fastened together with white of egg, and the lid is laid on and fastened in the same way. These moulds are not, however, to be found in every kitchen, and it is a very good thing when we are able to dispense with them.

Girls who wish to become adepts in the art of making pastry must always remember that the most perfect theories are of little use without practice. Practice alone will enable us to make good pastry. We may measure quantities and observe rules with the utmost precision, but until we have had practice we shall creep painfully along instead of marching bravely forward with our pies in our hands.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

19 March 1881 - 'Some Useful Hints on Surgery' by Medicus - Part Two

I should not like to think that any of my girl readers were in the habit of teasing either dog or cat, and thus falling victims to a well-deserved bite or scratch, but I am not quite so sure about their brothers. Well then, if your brother has been naughty towards a dog, and the animal has retaliated, as dogs, according to Dr. Watts's hymns, have a perfect right to do, you must not for a single moment imagine there is any danger to be apprehended from the bite. Nothing is more harmless than a cut from the tooth of a dog that is not actually rabid at the time; his going mad on some future day would not have the slightest effect upon the person bitten. Nevertheless, to comfort the naughty boy and allay his fears, something should be done to the bite. If water is quite handy the bitten part should be laved in it; this, in itself, if the water were cold enough, would cause contraction of the vessels and prevent the absorption of any poison. The bite must next be sucked well, and afterwards washed in salt and water. If any other treatment is necessary, the sufferer should be taken to a chemist, in order that the wound may be cauterised with nitrate of silver. In nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand there is no necessity for having a dog bite cauterised, except that it warns the youth who has been teasing the animal, and teaches him not to do so again.

Scratches from cats are not poisonous, only they seldom heal very kindly, because, like a cut with a rusty nail, they leave a ragged wound. They should be carefully washed to get rid of any dirt /t may lodge in them; and, if deep, bound up with a wet rag or, better still, a morsel of lint wetted in warm water with a little oiled silk placed over it. In a day or two, a simple dressing with cold cream, to exclude the air, will be all that is required.

We are very fortunate in this country in one way; our climate may well be called fickle and changeable, but we are free from the swarms of noxious insects and reptiles that make life in the tropics almost unendurable to us Europeans. We have no deadly tarantulas, no dreaded scorpions, nor six-inch-long centipedes. These creatures never creep from under our pillows; nor, while walking in our gardens, do venomous snakes hiss at us as they hang from the rose trees. We have, it is true, one poisonous serpent, the lovely little viper; but he seldom appears, and when he does he is far more afraid of you than you can be of him. But in summer seasons, when plums are plentiful and the farmers talk about potatoes as "a grand crop," we have in the country wasps in millions, and few escape being stung at least once before the cold weather comes on, and one ought to know what to do when such an accident occurs. There is no getting over the fact that certain people are more apt to be stung than others. I myself am a martyr to the playfulness of these yellow bees. I think they like to sting good people best, that is my way of looking at it; but I have some friends who permit wasps to alight upon and crawl upon their hands or faces. One day last summer I was prevailed upon by a lady relation, to allow one to alight on the back of my hand. This particular wasp just walked about the length of two of my knuckles, then he stopped as I said f some happy thought had just occurred to him. Next moment the wasp was calmly flying away through the open window, and I, the victim of misplaced confidence, was rushing frantically away  for the ammonia bottle. Yes, that is the cure - ammonia, strong hartshorn; just wet the stoper of the bottle and put it on the part that has been stung. Hive bees always leave the sting, wasps only sometimes, but if they do so, it must be carefully extracted. If no hartshorn be at hand, try salt and water, or strong soda (washing soda), then rub the part with olive oil.

In wooded portions of the country, especially where the land lies low and flat, young people suffer greatly while in bed at night from the bites of gnats. These things are really second cousins to the real mosquitos, and the bite raises a swelling just as painful. Here again ammonia is the cure. I have known cases where delicate girls and children were quite fevered from the loss of rest and blood poisoning, caused by the bites of these tormenting insects. The febrile disturbance is accompanied by weakness and nervous depression; it is best relieved by the tincture of yellow bark, a small teaspoonful in water three or four times a day. Coffee also does good; it may be made in the morning and drunk cold in small quantities during the day, without either milk or sugar.

Those who walk much in grassy paddocks or orchards are often bitten by an extremely , almost invisibly, small insect called the harvest bug; touching the spot with hartshorn destroys the poison and kills the animalcule if it has burrowed. The swelling and pain occasioned by the bite is best allayed by rubbing the part with spirits of camphor.

Children sometimes, while eating fish, especially if eating hurriedly, a habit which is most prejudicial to digestion, have the misfortune to get a bone stuck in the throat. It is usually a small one, s that some attempt should be made to immediately get it down. Swallowing a morsel of bread only half chewed may do this. If not, and the bone can be seen or felt, it should be hooked out with the fingers. Choking on a piece of meat is a terrible accident. Medical aid should be at one summoned; but very often this is too late, and the victim to hurry in eating is dead ere he arrives. A smart blow or two on the back will often tend to dislodge a piece of meat or food of any kind stuck in the throat, but if any attempt at swallowing can be made, a tablespoonful of salad oil should be taken.

Talking of things sticking in the throat brings me to say a word or two about foreign bodies in other places.

In the eye, for example. While walking or riding on a summer's evening or afternoon, minute flying beetles often get into the eye. These tiny little gentlemen, as soon as the alight anywhere, immediately fold up their wings and put them away under a kind of tippet they wear over their shoulders like a policeman's cape. I suppose they do this to teach human beings always to take the greatest care of their best things. Well, if one of these little beetles gets into your eye, and you have no companion b you to remove it with the corner of a handkerchief, gentle rubbing of the eyelid in one direction will bring it to the inner corner of the eye, from which the finger alone will be able to remove it. Or if this fails, lifting up one eyelid so as to get the other under it to sweep it will usually be effectual, but no harshness should be used.

Now, I know that any girl who can read this magazine is too old to be likely to amuse herself by poking peas or beans up her nostrils, but her tiny brother or sister may, by way of gaining new experiences. When such a thing happens the foreign substance must be dislodged somehow. A pinch of snuff - it must be a very tiny one - will often be effective by causing it to be sneezed out. And there is a right way and a wrong way of giving snuff to a child with this end in view. For the snuff must be drawn in very gently, else the pea itself may be sent further in, as, before sneezing, the breath is drawn in; you must hold the child's nose momentarily in order that he may take in his breath only by the mouth. Well, if this fails, you should take the child on your knee, lay him on his back, hold the nose above the pea to prevent it from getting farther back, and with the point of a bodkin slightly bent, you must get it under the object, and try to hook it out. If you fail, medical assistance must be had recourse to.

When a pea gets into the ear, the bent end of a hair-pin may be used to dislodge it, or a stream or water thrown in with a syringe to float it out. The ear may also be syringed to get rid of a fly or earwig, the annoyance from which, if lodged in the ear, is most distressing, not to say alarming. But olive oil had better be dropped into the ear first; this will kill the insect, and very likely also dislodge it.

When a ring cannot be removed from the finger,  it is just as much matter out of place as a pea in the nose or fly in the eye or ear. It is apt, too, to give rise to much pain and swelling. When you have tried in vain to remove the ring from your oiled or well-soaped finger, give up any further exertion for an hour or two, then after placing the hand in the coldest water for a minute or two and wiping it dry, take a long and fine thread and roll it tightly and closely round all the finger in front of the offending ring, beginning at the extreme tip, and as soon as you reach the ring, slip the end through beneath, and endeavour to work it gradually off. Failing this, it must be filed off, and this a surgeon must do.

The accident which is generally designated by the name of sprain or strain, is simply a stretching or wrenching of one of the tendons near a joint, or it may be even the laceration of one of the ligaments of the joint. There is usually much pain or tenderness and swelling. A very bad sprain may require the application of leeches to subdue the swelling. An ordinary sprain should be gently rubbed - remembering the rubbing must not cause much pain, no "thumbing" should be permitted - it should, I say, be gently rubbed with some such stimulating embrocation as opodeldoc, and then swathed in a flannel bandage, or hot fomentations may be necessary to soothe the pain and allay the swelling and inflammation; this may be followed by the application of a soothing brain poultice at bedtime. Rest of the sprained joint must be carefully enjoined, if it be a foot, a knee, or ankle it ought to be raised on a pillow at night and on a chair by day; if it be the wrist or hand it should be carried in a sling. Make no attempt to use the sprained joint until all the pain is gone, and even then you must be careful. The stiffness which often remains, accompanied sometimes with swelling, is best removed by salt water douches, or by pouring cold water from a height on the part.

When the pain from a sprain is very severe, great relief is obtained from the laudanum fomentation. An ordinary fomentation means the application of flannels wrung as hot as the hands will bear it; a laudanum fomentation is made by simply pouring a teaspoonful or two of tincture of opium on the flannel before it is applied. The mustard fomentation is used to the chest when during a cold the cough gives much pain. Here the flannels are wrung out of water in which two or three good handfuls of mustard have been mixed. It reddens the skin and gives much relief. The turpentine fomentation is also a good one in the same kind of cases; a tablespoonful of turpentine is poured upon the heated flannel and the chest well rubbed with it, or it may be simply laid upon the chest and changed for another hot flannel as soon as it begins to cool down.

Monday, 17 October 2016

5 March 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous


R.J.B. - Do not expect us to prescribe for individual cases such as yours. We can only speak in general terms of ordinary complaints. Constitutions differ, and some people are troubled with complications; while some have mischief going on of which they are not aware, or are unable to describe.

AN EARNEST INQUIRER writes - "I have heard it said that if you take a guinea-pig up by its tail its eyes will drop out; but as it has no tail, how can its eyes drop out?" Are you "earnestly inquiring" for the purpose of testing the result? If you put a little salt on a sparrow's tail, you will be enabled to catch him. "Earnestly" try the experiment with the sparrow; do as you like about the guinea-pig.

MEG - We sympathise with you. Tell your father how much you suffer from headaches, and that, apart from the suffering and state o health producing them, you find them to interfere with your daily work, and ask him to let you consult a doctor. If you can see the latter privately, you had better confide to him the blows you receive, and get him to tell your parents that any blows on the head are dangerous, and carefully to be avoided (without betraying that he knows how they were given). Hastiness of temper on your part may occasion some of your troubles. Lay your case daily before Him who permits the trial and ask for His grace and ultimate relief. Meantime, "patience must have its perfect work." Do not despond.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

5 March 1881 - 'Female Names' No.3 - 'Edith'

Yes, there have been two previous 'Female Names' papers, but this is the name of my favourite Crawley sister, so we are skipping right to it, especially omitting name number one, as this is my blog. (Okay, I will transcribe the others too if anybody wants me to, just email me or leave a comment.) 

How very little most of us think of our Christian names! Yet, if we would only see it, every name is a little poem in itself, and every name contains a moral lesson which we all of us should be the better for attending to. Our name may, it is true, have been given to us somewhat at haphazard; we may have been called after one of our godparents or relatives, or possibly after some illustrious personage. Or again a name may have been chosen because it is pretty or romantic. But however we may have come by our Christian name, we cannot change it, much as we may wish to, so let us make the best of it, and try to learn what we can about its meaning and its associations.

It is a good sign that at the present day we are returning to our fine old English names once more; we have done with the Letitias, Euphemias, Clarissas, Arabellas, and Sophonisbas of the last century, and even such names as Julia and Amelia are becoming less common every year. We consider this a very decided improvement, for why should we go to Latin or Greek for names when our own English tongue supplies us with such a variety of beautiful appellations? Our surnames are  for the most part pure English, and  for the future let our Christian names be English likewise.

Surely such a name as that of Edith is not inferior in sound to any grandiloquent classical appellation, and it has the advantage of being pure Anglo-Saxon, and of possessing a most beautiful meaning. The earliest form of the name may sound somewhat harsh to modern ears, but to those who first used it the meaning it conveyed was so apparent as to atone for any defect in the sound. Eadgyth, as the name was first written, meant "a noble gift," and was a name very frequently given to the princesses of the West Saxon Royal house. Indeed, our early kings were very fond of the first syllable of this name, and it occurs in a great many of the Royal cognomens. Thus we have three kings before the Conquest called Ead-ward, two Ead-munds, one Ead-wig, and one Ead-gar, and besides these there are found such names as Ead-ric, Ead-bald, and Ead-bert among the various members of the Royal house. This prefix ead, then, was a widely used one, and very beautiful it is, signifying "noble," "pleasant," "happy," "prosperous." And so when a fair daughter was born to one of our Anglo-Saxon kings, he often called her Ead-gyth, "the noble gift from God," just as the Greeks gave their children the name of Dorothea. Of these early Ead-gyths, or Ediths, the most famous were the daughter of Edward the Elder, who became the wife of the mighty Emperor Otto the Great; and the daughter of King Edgar whose holy life and good deeds earned for her the title of Saint Edith. The wife of the Confessor was Edith, daughter of Earl Godwine, whose virtues were praised by English and Normans alike. The latter, who hated Godwine, because he had once driven all the Normans out of England, made a verse which said that as a rose springs from a thorn, so had Edith sprung from Godwine. Of another Edith, whose beauty gave her the name of Swan's-neck, it is told that she, and she alone, recognised the body of her lover Harold as he lay dead on the fatal field of Hastings.

When the Normans got hold of England, of course all English names were dropped, and instead of Edwards and Harolds we find Roberts and Williams, and so strange did the English names seem that when Edith of Scotland, who was the niece of Edgar Etheling, was brought into England to be married to King Henry, her name was changed to Matilda, or Maud, which was as favourite an appellation with the Normans as Edith had been with the Anglo-Saxons. So that we must not forget that the real name of "Good Queen Maud" was Edith. Many are the stories told by the old chroniclers of her piety and her charity, how she washed the feet of the poor, and tended the lepers, relieved the wretched and studied to increase her holiness. Everyone who saw her was the better  for the sight, and when she died the whole nation mourned as if each man had lost his mother.

Of Edith, King Edgar's daughter, a story is told which shows her to have possessed a degree of common sense in religious matters very uncommon in those days. She possessed a natural love for fair attire, for which he was one day rebuked by a monk, who thought by his untidiness and slovenliness to manifest his great devotion and unworldliness. But Edith quickly answered that she thought a mind might be as pure and devout under seemly raiments as beneath tattered rags.

From the time of Good Queen Maud we hardly meet with any Ediths till we come to the present century when the grand old name began to be revived, and we find Charles Lamb, after enumerating some fashionable names of the day, declare, "These all than Saxon Edith please me less." Since his time Edith has gradually been getting into favour, and it bids fair to be, as it really deserves to be, one of the most popular of our female names. All those girls who bear the name should never forget its meaning, and should try to be in reality happy, blessed gifts to their parents, while from "Saint" Edith and from Good Queen Maud they may learn lessons which are not altogether unneeded in our day.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

26 February 1881 - 'The Difficulties of a Young Housekeeper' by Dora Hope - Chapter Five

Look, Margaret, it's not as though your maidservant's previous employer told you she didn't have a drinking problem.

"My dear Joanna -

Do you know, Spooner has her faults! I know you will be surprised to hear it after the description I sent you of her. I am very loth to confess it even to myself, because I did really think she was so perfect when she first came.

"For one thing, she is unpunctual and procrastinating. Every meal is a few minutes late, and nothing is ever done till the last possible moment. But I cannot blame her very much for that, because I feel too painfully that it would be a case of the kettle scolding the pot for being black. I remember your telling me that was my chief failing, and that I had perverted an excellent proverb into: 'Never do to-day what you can possibly leave till to-morrow.' But I am improving, I assure you, and Spooner is a solemn warning to me. She never does anything thoroughly; the knife handles are always dirty and rough, and the crockery and glass smeary, and when I complain, she says, it is because it is poor glass, but that cannot be true, for under Betsy's reign they were always bright. In strict confidence, I do not know how to wash them properly myself; I suppose there is some particular knack in doing it, but I am afraid you overlooked that departments of my education.

"But that is not the end of my grievances; the table-cloth never looks fit to use a second time, because she has quite a genius for avoiding the proper creases in folding it up, so that it is crumpled and untidy. I have told her and shown her how to do it properly, and it was better for a day or two, but now is as bad as ever again.

"She does not at all approve of the stock-pot, and when I insist, she neglects to scald it out every few days, so the soup is often sour.

"Then the sink! You should see it. It is generally piled up with dirty plates and dishes waiting to be washed, a saucepan standing in a frying-pan, and most of the holes of the sink stopped up because she will empty the teapot straight into it, leaves and all, and even the scraps of the plates are left there till the end of the week, when she has a great clean up for Sunday.

"Perhaps I am not stern enough; I read the other day in a curious old book of maxims that if you are of a hasty temper you should never scold your servants till the day after the offence has been committed, but it does not answer at all in my case, as my rage has quite evaporated by the next day, and Spooner is not in the least affected by my mild insinuations.

"But, to be honest, I am afraid the real cause of my non-success in making her mend her ways is that I cannot teach others what I do not understand myself, and I really have no idea what is the correct thing to do with the contents of a half-empty tea-pot, for instance; nor why some people make glass look quite dazzlingly bright, while others never do, even with the best intentions (for I tried in private myself, and the result certainly was not equal to Betsy's).

"If you could send me a few hints about these matters, and others of the same kind, you would confer the greatest kindness on

"Your loving sister,


"P.S. - I had such a beautiful bouquet sent me on Valentine's Day; I cannot think who it could be from."

A few days after Margaret had written this letter, Mrs. Trent called to ask how she liked her new servant.

"She looks nice, does she not, Mrs. Trent?"

"At the first glance, yes; but feeling rather responsible for her, I took the liberty of looking more particularly at her than I should otherwise have done, and, on closer inspection, I am afraid she is not at all neat. I notice that pins too often take the place of hooks or buttons, or a fold of her dress is carefully arranged to hide a hole which ought to be darned."

"I think that is a very fair index to her whole character; as long as one does not notice details it is all right."

"But the details are just what a good house wife does particularly notice. You know the old saying: 'If you would thrive most prosperously, You yourself must ever corner see.'"

"Yes, I suppose that is true; but Spooner cannot bear my going downstairs and poking about amongst the cupboard, so I shrink from doing so, as it always raises more or less of a tempest. Though I must say that very fact makes me the more uneasy; for, do you know, Mrs. Trent, I hardly like to suggest such a thing, but I am very much afraid she drinks rather more than she ought I found several bottles which I did not remember in a cupboard, and when I smelt them to see what they contained I felt certain it was spirits, and two or three times she has seemed so very strange and excited, that I was quite afraid of being alone in the house with her. But if she had any weakness of that kind, her mistress would have been sure to mention it in her character, would she not?"

"No, I am afraid you cannot depend upon that. So many mistresses, from a false idea of kindness, give most deceptive characters, quite forgetting that honesty and truthfulness are quite as much a duty in domestic affairs as in anything else. They quiet their consciences by not actually stating anything false, but nevertheless they do not hesitate to give an entirely wrong impression by being silent on disagreeable points; and no doubt that is the reason the character you received was so carefully worded."

"But it seems to me absolutely dishonest, and I do not see that it is really a kindness to the servants, for if they are allowed to go from place to place with impunity, a bad habit of that kind is never likely to be checked."

"You are quite right, but people yield to a feeling of compassion without properly considering the facts of the case; of course, it is equally wrong, if not worse, to give a bad character to a servant who has simply been discharged in a temper, or because of some slight fault. What is wanted is a stronger sense of justice and honesty, and a desire to act honourably by both the lady and the servants. But in the meantime I am not helping you out of your difficulties; I would offer to speak to Spooner for you, but she would naturally resent my interference."

"Yes, I am afraid I had better speak to her myself, but I do so dislike doing it; and besides, it *might not have been spirits."

"I certainly should not advise you to say anything till you are sure; but the next time you think her manner strange, wait a little while till she has had time to get over it, and then ask her to explain it."

The opportunity Margaret wanted came only too soon. That very evening, on going into the kitchen to give some directions, there was such an unmistakable odour of whiskey, and Spooner looked so confused at Margaret's sudden entrance that there was no choice but to ask the meaning of it. She protested that it was imagination, and that she did not smell anything, but Margaret insisted that she was right, and asked further what were those bottles in the cupboard. At the mention of the bottles, Spooner lost her temper, and putting on an air of injured innocence, said that no one had ever accused her of such a thing before, and if she was not trusted she had better leave.

"Not at all," said Margaret; "I do not want to send you away; and if you can prove that I am wrong I will not only trust you entirely  for the future, but apologise for having accused you falsely now. All I want at present is to know what is in those bottles, so if you will tell me it will settle the matter at once."

This, however, Spooner absolutely declined doing, and answered so rudely that Margaret could not but say she had better leave; and after a private consultation with her father, told her she had better go the next day, and she should have a month's wages, instead of the usual month's warning.

The next morning, Margaret went to tell her troubles to her unfailing adviser, Mrs. Trent, and asked her advice as to how to get another servant.

"I should recommend you," said that lady, "to call at the shops at which you deal, and inquire if they know of anyone likely to suit you. Respectable servants in want of a place very frequently mention it to the tradespeople with whom their mistresses have dealt; and if that does not succeed, you must either go to a registry office, or answer another advertisement; but in any case let this be a lesson to us both; never again to be satisfied with a written character. It is time I had learnt that already, but I confess I was deceived by the girl's quiet, respectful manner.

"Even if it involves a good deal of trouble, you should make a point of seeing the girl's former mistress It is the only way in which you can be sure of getting at the truth, and also by the appearance of the house in which she has lived you will know the kind of work to which she has been accustomed."

"I have heard just the same tale from a bachelor friend of mine," said Wilfred, who had come in during the conversation. "He had a very evasive sort of character for a man servant; but being ignorant of the convenient equivocations practised by masters in giving characters, he supposed it was all right, and engaged the man; but now he finds that as soon as he has gone to bed, this estimable servant slips quietly out of the house, and spends the first few hours of the night carousing with his friends, leaving a window open through which to return quietly, which of course is equally convenient  for the easy entrance of robbers."

Margaret was much impressed, and went to ask of the tradespeople if they could tell her of a good servant.

While she was still prosecuting her inquiries in the neighbourhood, she had a letter from Betsy, saying that her mother was dead, and as she was no longer required at home, if only her "dear Miss Margaret" would take her back, she would work as much as two servants.

This put Margaret rather in a dilemma. She had now learnt to appreciate Betsy's honesty and good temper, but it was a trial to have to go back to her rough ways and untidy habits. Accordingly she wrote her a letter, telling her frankly the state of the case, and saying that she could not take her again unless she would promise to be more careful and thoughtful over her work and neater in herself.

All this Betsy eagerly agreed to, adding that her mother, who was as "gentle as a real lady," had talked about her rough noisy ways, and she had promised her to try to be more "perlite in her behaviour."

So once more Betsy was installed in the kitchen, and peace reigned in the house of Colville.

But before her arrival, Margaret had received a long letter from Joanna, in which, after condoling with her troubles, she went on to answer her questions as follows -

"The knives are very often a difficulty as servants persist in putting the whole knife into hot water and soda, which not only discolours and cracks the handle, but in time loosens the cement which fastens the blade to the handle in cheap knives. The blades only should be dipped one at a time, not left in, and wiped at once; the handle is then washed quickly in warm water without soda. You will find that very few servants are willing to take this trouble, but you should insist upon it, or your knife handles will soon be spoiled.

"As for the glasses, they are generally smeary through careless drying. They should be washed in cold water (Spooner probably used it nearly boiling), and rubbed first with a coarse glass cloth, and then polished for a moment with a soft leather or old cloth. This sounds troublesome, but really takes hardly a minute longer than drying with only one cloth, which probably is wet through before you get to the end of your task. It is a great mistake to be too saving of your cloths.

"Crockery looks dull from various causes. If you were to go into the kitchen some day when your domestic is washing the tea-things, you would very likely find her emptying the contents of the cups into the water she was using; and it is more than possible that there would be a pile of greasy plates at the bottom of the pan; of course if that is the case you cannot expect to have china bright. There should always be a basin at hand into which to drain all the cups and jugs. The plates should be put aside till the smaller things are finished, and then when all the pieces have been collected and thrown into the fire (failing a pig or fowls who will devour them with a relish), wash the plates in hot water, not luke-warm, give them one rinse in a pan of cold water, and put them on the rack without drying them. If they are very greasy a little soda or soap may be added, and above all, do not be sparing of water, but change it frequently.

"I am very sorry to hear of your difficulties about the sink, because it is really an important matter. Take great care that nothing that can possibly clog the holes is ever thrown in. The tea-pot may be drained through the spout into the sink, if it is really necessary to waste the tea, then the leaves should be taken out and thrown behind the fire, unless you are likely to want some for sweeping the carpets, in which case you should lay them in an old plate or basin, till they are required, but they must have the air on them or they will go mouldy. Do not use more than are quite necessary, as they are apt to leave a stain on the carpet. The tea-pot must then be rinsed out with hot water, but not emptied into the sink, as the water will wash out the small leaves which have remained in the pot, and they will certainly clog the holes.

"There are very nice little wooden sink tidies to be bought now, with a division for soap and others for sand or flannel, which would help you to keep the place in order. I suppose you have a sink brush, if not, you should get one at once, and insist upon its being used every day. They are made very much like those for saucepans, but an old scrubbing brush does quite as well.

If, as you say, your kitchens are left in a dirty disorderly condition, I advise you to have a charwoman before your new servant comes, to thoroughly clear up everything, and rearrange it all according to your own taste, you will find it much easier than making alterations after she has arrived.

I think that it is the end of your questions. But there are one or two other suggestions I have to make to you on other domestic matters.

"The first is that pork is just in season. I am quite aware that you do not like it, but probably the boys do, and at any rate it is less expensive than other meat, and it is considered unwholesome after March, so I should advise you to have it once or twice before it is too late. But you must take especial care that it is very well done; when undercooked it is most indigestible. I always have a little sweet oil rubbed on the pork with a brush or feather, it makes the crackling more crisp and brown than dripping does. Do not forget the apple sauce; besides being a nice addition, it also renders the pork more wholesome by assisting its digestion.

"Certain vegetables will soon be over too, in particular savoy cabbages, celery, and beetroot, though the latter may sometimes be obtained all through the year. Beetroots are cooked in so many different ways, nearly every family who eat them have a favourite mode of their own. They need careful handling or they will lose all their beautiful colour. After washing, they must be put into a saucepan of boiling water, and boiled till tender, which will take about an hour and a half; then lift them out very carefully, so as not to break the skin, and lay them in a dish till quite cold before attempting to peel them, unless they are to be served hot as a vegetable, in which case they must be peeled and cut into slices as quickly as possible, and sent to table covered with melted butter. They are sometimes strewed with onions, but perhaps the nicest way, and one which I am sure you will find will please the boys, is to boil a little vinegar with some spice in the proportion of a small half ounce of peppercorns and three cloves to a pint of vinegar. Many people add pounded ginger, and horseradish or capsicums, but I do not think you would care for it. When cool, strain this, and pour it over the sliced beets. This pickle can be used at once, but is improved by keeping two or three days.

"The particular attraction of this dish for boys is, that they feel they are eating pickle, which they always like; but at the same time they may be safely allowed to take as much as they please of it, which is not generally permitted with ordinary pickles.

"You must remember the pancakes on Shrove-Tuesday. Lest you have not a recipe for them, I send you mind, which is a good one. Put a quarter of a pound of flour into a basin, break into it two eggs, with a little nutmeg, and half a pinto f milk. Mix as smoothly as possible; the consistency should be like cream. Put a little butter in the frying-pan, and when melted pour in two tablespoonfuls of the batter. As soon as one side is done toss over to the other. When well browned lay on a dish, one on the other, till all are done, then sift sugar and squeeze a little lemon juice on each, roll them up, cut them in two, and serve directly. Should there chance to be any snow at the time of year, it takes the place of eggs, allowing two heaped tablespoonfuls to one egg. In this case the batter should stand an hour or two in a cool place before cooking.

"As to marmalade, which you asked me about, you must watch your opportunity for buying the Seville oranges when they are cheap and good. The best time is usually about the end of March or beginning of April. Choose the largest oranges, with nice clear skins; cut them into thin slices, carefully removing all the pips, of which there are innumerable small ones. Put the sliced fruit in a pan, cover with water, and leave for twenty-four hours. Then boil till the pieces of rind become soft, and let stand another twenty-four hours. Now add sugar in the proportion of one pound and a half to one pound of fruit and juice together. Then boil up again for about an hour, or until the peel looks transparent and the juice thickens. This is a much simpler recipe than that ordinarily used, and will, I think, please you better.

"I have neglected to tell you before to look occasionally at the covers on the sides of the mattresses, to see that they are not dirty. You will notice, if you have not already done so, that before I left home I made new covers of glazed Holland, which I tacked on with strong thread, to cover the edges of the mattresses. They are sewn with long stitches, so that they are easily taken off to be washed when necessary. I did not use them when I first began housekeeping thinking them one of the unnecessary fads of housewives, but I soon changed my mind,  for the sides of one bed became so dirty that I had to take the whole bed to pieces to wash the tick."

This letter came just in time to allow Margaret's following the advice it contained, to have the kitchens well cleaned and re-arranged before Betsy's return.

She bought a sink-tidy and brush, and arranged the kitchen drawers and cupboards according to her own fancy, so that on Betsy's around she was able to take her round her domain, and show her that there was to be a place for everything, and everything in its place.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

19 February 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

RIGGY - Your writing is very ugly.

QUEEN OF DAISIES - After so kind and appreciative a letter, it would be indeed difficult to find fault. Your writing is excellent, but beware of flourishes, and use better ink.

JANE W - 1. You are not feeding your parrot properly, that is the cause of her indisposition. The soaked bread is all right so long as you give it in a clean dish and fresh every morning. Stop the hemp and stop the bones. You may give canary and millet seed, however, and nuts, and crusts, and an occasional cayenne pepper pod. This last is considered a great dainty by a parrot. 2. Handwriting fair, but may be greatly improved. You must try to write without ruling your paper.

LITTLE NELL - Your health is undoubtedly delicate. At your age (22) you should not feel worn out and tired by eight o'clock at night; nor should you have those tell-tale dark rings around your eyes. We are sure you would feel benefitted by a course of citrate of iron and quinine; cod-liver oil would also benefit you. But you must live very regularly, and be all you can in the fresh air. Change, too, would do you good. You may write again, and we will be happy if our advice has benefitted you.

NELLIE - Red and yellow are both considered appropriate to brunettes.

FANNY - We believe that many ladies use them in riding, but we hope you will remember a very little spur will go a long way, and avoid cruelty.

BLACK-EYED SUSAN - We should advise your consulting a doctor. Your writing is legible.

LADY MARY W - Birds are often killed by the frost in wintry weather. Take a half-dead bird up and placing it near the fire as you have done, would only make matters worse. If you want to show mercy to poor birds, place them in a quiet room or garret, and feed on crumbs, letting them free whenever they wish to go, for *old wild birds can hardly be tamed.

LADY CLARICE - We quote  for the benefit of our hysterical correspondent, from a first-class medical work recently published - "If a girl wishes to have a hysterical fit, by all means let her have it. Conduct her to an empty room, place her on the floor, and let her have a fit quietly by herself. Mothers ought to instil into their daughters habits of self-discipline and control, and also take care that they have plenty of occupation and out-of-door exercise."

Friday, 7 October 2016

19 February 1881 - Useful Hints

COFFEE utensils or brass articles may be as thoroughly cleaned and look as bright by washing them with a solution of salt and vinegar as by using oxalic acid, with the advantage of running no risk of poisoning either children or careless persons. Use as much salt as the vinegar will dissolve, and apply with a woollen rag, rubbing vigorously, then polish with pulverised chalk, and the article will look like new, with little labour, as the acid of the vinegar is very efficient in removing all stains from either copper or brass.

VEAL BALLS - One half pound of cold veal, eight tablespoonfuls of bread crumbs, two tablespoonfuls of chopped parsley, one teaspoonful of mixed dried herbs, and one half-teaspoonful of pepper, one teaspoonful of salt, one salt-spoonful of grated nutmeg, tow eggs. Put six tablespoonfuls of the bread crumb into a bowl, and chopping the vela finely mix it therewith. Season this with the pepper and salt, adding the nutmeg, also the parsley and herbs, after which the whole must be thoroughly mixed together. To give this consistency drop in the yolks of the two eggs, saving the whites separate upon a plate. Roll the mixture now into small balls, using an ounce of flour upon the hands to prevent sticking. Beat the whites of the eggs slightly, roll the balls therein, and placing the remaining bread-crumbs in a paper, roll them also in it. Throw them into smoking, clarified fat for four minutes, when they should be taken out and put to drain on kitchen paper, after which serve upon a hot napkin.

SAVOURY HASH - Three quarters of a pound of cold meat, one Spanish onion, one ounce of butter, one ounce of flour, one teaspoonful of salt, one half teaspoonful of pepper, one dessert-spoonful of catsup, one dessert-spoonful of Harvey's sauce, one half-pint of second stock, one carrot, one turnip. Clean and chop fine both the carrot and the turnip, when they must be put to boil in a small saucepan with boiling water until tender, which will take about twenty minutes. While these are cooking melt the butter in a separate saucepan, brown it in the onion sliced, then cutting into slices cold roast beef, or beefsteak, roll them in the flour, and, placing these slices in the butter with the onion, brown slightly also. Pour over this the stock, the Harvey's sauce, and catsup, stir gently until the stock boils, and season with pepper and salt. When the meat is thoroughly heated through arrange them in a flat dish and pour the grave over. Strain the water from the carrot and turnip, and pile them high on the top of the pieces of meat when ready for serving.

CUSTARD PIE - Three eggs, three gills of milk, one ounce of sugar, one half-teaspoonful of grated nutmeg. Line a pie-tin with pie-crust, and putting the eggs and sugar into a bowl, beat them together until the eggs become very light. Add to this the milk, and pour all into the crust-lined pie tin; place the whole in a moderate oven, and bake the pie for half an hour. When done, grate over the surface the nutmeg, and serve cold or hot, as the taste may suggest, although custard pie should be cooled at once if desired cold, as the crust soaks and becomes unpalatable with standing.

A SIMPLE SPONGE CAKE - Take five eggs, three quarters of a pound of sifted sugar, break the eggs upon the latter, beat all together for half an hour. Take the weight of two and a half eggs in their shells of flour, and after the time of beating is expired stir in the flour the grated rind of a lemon and as much of the juice as desired, and pour immediately into a tin lined with buttered paper; place at once into a rather cool oven.

CLEANING WHITE FURS - Wash in a cold lather of soap and water, with a little soda and blue; if not sufficiently clean, draw it through several clean lathers; rinse in fresh water, and hang up to dry.

PREPARATION OF FRUIT ICES - Take one pint of strawberries, one pint of cream, rather less than half a pound of white sugar, and the juice of one lemon. Wash the fruit through a sieve, remove the seeds, mix all together, and freeze; adding a little new milk to quicken the process. Strawberry and raspberry jam may be used in lieu of fresh fruit, or equal quantities of the two together; but in this case less sugar will be required.

WATER ICE may be made thus. Take a large bottle of the fruit, the juice of a lemon, one pound of sugar, and half a pint of water. Rub the fruit through a sieve, mix and freeze.

LEMON AND ORANGE WATER ICE - Make thus. Of the juice and the water each half a pint, rasping off the rind before squeezing with lump sugar, and adding it to the juice; then mix, strain, leave to stand for an hour, and freeze. Beat up the whites of three eggs with a little sugar, and as the ice begins to set work it in with a spatula.

STRAINED INDIA-RUBBER - Professor Tait has found that india-rubber , after having been stretched for years and become permanently strained, or if it be stretched while warm nearly to rupture, will recover its former dimensions when it is dipped into hot water.

STOOPING AT WORK - The Lancet says: "The dangers which the seamstress, especially the young undeveloped girl, incurs by prolonged stooping over her work have been exposed by us on more than one occasion. Every practitioner will have been able to trace cases of deviation of the spine, uterine complaints, etc., to the bending of the back, and the crossing of the legs for so many hours day after day Our object now is to record the successful attempt made by Dr. Malherbe to avoid these melancholy consequences of an industrious occupation. The new system employed is that of fixing to the edge of an ordinary table a sort of cushion on which the work can be easily fastened or spread out, and represents the seamstress's knees. A framework of the simplest description admits of the raising or lowering of this cushion, so that the work may be done either sitting or standing; but in either case the vertebral column is maintained perfectly straight, while the facility thus given to a change of position will tend to mitigate the fatigue a young person would otherwise experience. Recognising that example is more forcible than theory when waging war against common routine, Dr. Malherbe at once sought an opportunity for making some practical experiment. He therefore introduced his contrivance at the Communal School of Nantes, and no objection was raised on the part of the pupils. Two among them had a slight tendency to malformation, which has been to some extent rectified since the introduction of this reform in the attitude of sewing. Evidently the remedy to a great evil is simple and practical, and should be made the subject of more extensive experiments.

THE following is the Scotch method of washing woollen shawls - Scrape one pound of soap and boil it down in water When cooling beat it with the hand; it will become a sort of jelly. Add three tablespoonfuls of spirits of turpentine and one of spirits of hartshorn. Wash the article thoroughly in it, then rinse in cold water until all the soap is taken off, then in salt and water. Fold between two sheets, taking care not to allow two folds of the article washed to lie together. Mangle and iron with a very cool iron. Shawls done in this way look like new. Use the salt only where there are delicate colours that may strike.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

19 February 1881 - 'Seasonable Dress and How to Make It'

A few seasons ago the backs of our dress bodices were ornamented, or, perhaps, rather disfigured, by either six or seven seams, two or even three side forms, and a back seam being the ordinary number. Now as we have once again reverted to the old style of one centre seam, as, although three joins are allowed, the best cut dresses show only the centre one, the other being brought so far under the arm as to be practically invisible. This change will be a great comfort to the amateur dressmaker, and will be an encouragement to those of "Our girls" who aspire to make their dresses at home. In fact, if the promised change should be brought about, of having no seams under the arms at all, the work of manufacturing a bodice will be quite reduced to half the usual amount. The spring models seem to portend a reduction in the seams of our sleeves as well, for some of them have no join on the outside, from the shoulder to the elbow, the top and under parts of the sleeve, so far, being cut in one piece. Of course, below the elbow the shape could not be retained if there were not a seam both at the back and the front. The sleeve is set as high into the bodice as ever, as everyone still appears to wish to look square-shouldered and narrow-backed. Of course, a certain amount of adherence to the prevailing fashions, so as to avoid attracting attention, is desirable, but we trust that all our young readers will avoid extremes in this, as in all other matters connected with dress. Of course, the natural place  for the seam is at the point of the shoulder, and there is no doubt that our dear Princess of Wales recognised this fact when she insisted on having her dress shoulder-seams cut like the Prince's coats; and banished all long and ill-fitting shoulders from her wardrobe.

The prettiest shape of the season for bonnets is, perhaps, the very sensible and moderate-sized "Granny bonnet," which has sometimes a round front, and at other times one bent down in the centre, after the fashion of the well-known "Marie Stuart Head-dress." We saw a perfectly plain velvet one, the other day, edged with a row of medium-sized black beads all round it, and no other trimming save two silk pompoms, and a cord of black chenille. This form is very suitable  for the mantles, as they are now worn, as they prevent the head from assuming that pin-head shape, so often found fault with when the very small Princess-shaped bonnet is worn with a large cloak. We think these "Granny bonnets" will probably be great favourites all through the summer, and they can be manufactured at home by a clever girl. They require to be seen, however, and the shape is easily obtained. They are all of one material - velvet, plush, or satin; or the crown may be lighter than the front. The sole trimmings often consist of the satin ribbon strings, which are placed along the joining of the crown to the front, where they are tied in drooping bows on the top.

A young lady's small-sized bonnet is shown on p.321, beginning from the left side in our monthly illustration. The bonnet itself is of brown straw, with brown velvet trimmings and strings, and a wreath of autumn leaves in brown, red and yellow. The dress is a brown Vicuna, made with a long over-jacket of the same, which is edged with a brown fur trimming; a small cape of the same completes the costume. The front of the tunic is pointed, and the back of it is seen on the next figure. The skirt is of silk, satin or other material, the small hemmed flounces being placed on a stout foundation of alpaca. We have before now pointed out the economical nature of these tiny flounces, and how easily an old dress may be made into an excellent skirt with their help, the foundations only being new.

Fig.2 wears one of the new jacket-mantles, which, having been so lately introduced, will be much in use for the early spring; they are a most useful form of out-door covering. The jacket has loose fronts with pockets, the back being plain at the top, and the plaited portion added on to it to bring it even in length with the front. The material is a black and white checked tweed; the round cape is similar in shape to those worn some years ago and called "Inverness." The hood is of tweed, lined with striped silk.

Fig.3 is a simple walking dress, of blue serge, or cloth. The skirt being kilted, with a shawl drapery as an over-skirt, the bodice is a woven "Jersey" of a colour to match the skirt; the cuffs and capes are of blue velveteen. This dress requires no trimming, and is easily made up at home.

Fig.4 is a pretty at-home evening dress. The skirt and pointed bodice are made of velveteen, the under bodice and pointed tunic of some thin material, such as striped grenadine, Indian silk, or plain white cashmere. The pointed cuffs are also of velveteen, and the neck is finished by a ruching of lace and a black velvet band. There are lace frillings at the wrist.

The fifth figure is intended to be a representation of one of the much talked of aesthetic dresses. Perhaps the more proper name for them would really be "pictorial," for they generally may be found to be adaptations from a famous portrait of some historic beauty of past centuries. Any endeavour to improve dress in this way is much to be desired, as such fashions are not changeable and foolish as many of the ephemeral styles of the present day, and may be worn always, without fear of the beholder's fault-finding. The skirt has three flounces. The polonaise is plainly cut and slightly draped; the sleeves have two puffs above the elbow, and the square cut neck has a gathered top inserted into it, and a stand-up, wired, velvet collar, with a lace frill inside it. The small velvet bag at the side has the wearer's initials on it, or an embroidered spray of flowers if preferred. The pattern would be easily cut out in paper, and the bag could be made by anyone, with little trouble. The "Queen Anne" table is illustrated in deference to the wishes of many of our correspondents who have made inquiries as to the method of making and covering them. The legs, as well as the table and shelf are all covered with plush, which is likely to sit best if sewn on with needle and thread. The fringe may be made at home, if there be any one who understands the netting of fringes.

Bodices entirely in longitudinal puffs are amongst the new spring introductions. They are very becoming to the slight figures of young girls, and hide their extreme thinness, which is very painful at times to themselves and those who see them. Some little care is needed to shape them well, but otherwise they can be made over the plain pattern usually worn, the material being first cut in a square piece, then gathered, and lastly tacked on the shaped lining, and cut to the form of it.

For serge, Vicuna, and cloth dresses the narrow silver and gold braids arranged in several rows, form a very pretty and simple trimming round the jacket and overskirt. They also are excellent to brighten up an old dress, in which category plaids must be also mentioned, and we have no doubt, as the spring proceeds, that many girls will be looking about anxiously for some simple and inexpensive way of making up their winter dresses again. The plaids are put on in flat bands, and the effect would be much heightened if they were edged by a cording of the brightest colour composing the bright lines in the pattern of the plaid. The material may be very inexpensive of which they are made, the effect being the same as if it had cost a great deal.

Much use is made of the inexpensive brightly coloured French merinos or cashmeres, which can be obtained as low in price as 1s 8d per yard, yard wide. We were shown a wonderful dress the other day made up by a young lady of very limited means, for house and evening wear at home. The short kilted skirt of black cashmere was made up from an old long dress, and the black "Jersey" had cost her 8s 9d. The ornamental additions consisted of two yards of deep red cashmere, at 1s 8d per yard, from which she had made a prettily draped scarf, placed round the top of the skirt, over the edge of the "Jersey," and also a collar and cuffs, which she had embroidered in black silk, with a pattern of ivy leaves. The small lace frill at the neck finished as pretty a little costume as could be desired, at very little expense. On account of their great usefulness, we think that "Jerseys" will continue to be worn by young girls for some time, but for older people they have very decidedly gone out of date. They were very trying to bad figures, and not generally graceful. Very pretty little necklaces of plush leaves, green or variegated, are now manufactured by young ladies for evening wear. They are made up on a wire foundation.

The next illustrations consist of a pretty cap and a fichu. The border of the cap consists of a closely-gathered lace, or net, with an embroidered edge, which is laid in a series of shells. We have lately given two illustrations of caps, as so many of our girls make those of their mothers; and we much desire to encourage them in their useful and kindly work and to induce others to follow their example also.

We likewise give designs for those most useful aids to economical dressing, fichus, as we notice that they are used more and more each month, and serve to turn a morning dress into a useful and becoming one for evening wear without much expense and with very little trouble. There are so many pretty laces just now, and though called imitation, they really should be properly named "machine," in contra-distinction to "hand-made" laces. We use so many things now that are manufactured by machine which used to be made by hand that it seems an injustice to call lace, over which the same change in its working has come, "imitation." The lace used for the neck is now laid in flat box-plaitings, or else side-plaitings, and two rows are preferable to one. The most lady-like hue is a deep cream colour, the very yellow and the very brown laces having both rather gone out of fashion, which was rather a pity, as they kept much cleaner in this island of damp and this smoke-curtained city, with its incalculable number of coal fires.

Monday, 3 October 2016

12 February 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

G.P.M. - As a general rule we should advise any young girl, tried and perplexed as you are, to consult her mother. In your especial case we do not recommend your informing her of any particular act of rudeness to you, but state your difficulties in general terms, and act towards your brothers and sister according to her counsel. Your writing is fairly good.

AN IRISH GIRL - 1. Probably you are in the habit of wetting your lips. It could not be the cod-liver oil, nor the other beverage that is to blame for their sore state. Use lip salve every night, and on going out on a cold day. 2. Your mother should be consulted in reference to the introduction you wish to make. If she approve, your course is clear; but you must confide all you know to her respecting your acquaintance before you act upon any permission you may obtain. Your writing is fairly good.

A LOVER OF PEACE wishes us to give her advice, but states her case in rather a mystifying way. "What remedy would you prescribe for a sister to take to prevent her brother teasing her?" We think it seems as if the brother should have the remedy prescribed to him, instead of the sister, but doubt whether the mischievous little tormentor would take it. We should recommend the sister to assume an appearance of perfect indifference to any annoyance intended

MOUSE - In a case such as you describe your parents would be your best advisers. We think that a little extra cordiality of manner is expected on a first meeting, after some years of absence; but rather more reserve had better be shown afterwards, and if reproached for it, playfully yet decidedly maintained, and excused in a kindly way, on account of being "now no longer in the schoolroom."

POMMES-DE-TERRE - We believe that the author respecting whom you inquire is still living; but we have no desire to "shed some light on his ancestors," to which proceeding we entertain *grave objections.

VALERIA - If not allowed to heat your room by means of any kind of stove, and you have no chimney nor fireplace, we recommend you supply yourself with a large tin, or stone-jar to be replenished from time to time with hot water.

ROBERT H.W. - What do you mean by sending us your amateur verses? Try THE BOY'S OWN PAPER.

FLORENCE GREAVES - British wine, as also cider and perry, all contain alcohol, and are certainly not allowed to teetotallers. There are now so many pleasant drinks which are free from spirit, such as Zoedone, Sparkling Hygeia, Ginger Ale, &c., that there need by no difficulty in providing for those who desire a little variety on festive occasions. Handwriting too spidery; study some good model which has some character to it.

M.H.C. - We think you have made a mistake in the name. Your writing is very legible and pretty. We hope the character you give yourself is not true, and that if it is, you will set about improving yourself at once.

MURIEL WINTLE - We do not see anything to prevent your contributing to a charitable object because the promoter is a gentleman.