Saturday, 27 August 2016

25 December 1880 - 'Seasonable Clothing and How to Make It'


There is no use in concealing from ourselves that multitudes of our girls marry, and that afterwards they take THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER just as regularly as before, and find all the information they need in it, with as much ease as their younger sisters. We know this from the questions  we receive and answer on many matronly subjects, and so we think we must help our girl brides to purchase the best wedding dress possible, one that will last a long time and that can be dyed if need be. Fortunately this winter very excellent material, Irish poplin, is much used for brides' dresses, the kind selected being that with very thick cord or double repped. The trimming used is plush, but very little is required for such a handsome thick fabric as Irish poplin. Bridesmaids, too, are fortunate as to the winter change in their dresses, which now have plain plush petticoats and full bodices of one of the moderately-priced Indian silks, t match the plush in colour, only paler. This dress will not be an extravagant one, as it will, if suitably made, answer for a best dress for a long time. The large hats and the mob caps have all grown old-fashioned for bridesmaids, and they have been quite supplants by the hat-caps, as they may be called, the "Tam o' Shanter," the "Henry VIII," and the "Leonardo da Vinci," all of which are made of plush, matching the colour of the dress.

It is delightful to hear that the over-frizzed heads are to disappear from amongst us and are no longer to be considered fashionable. We are to return to the prettily weaved bandeaux, with the centre parting clear and well defined. The knot behind remains the same, but short curls fall from it, in a graceful Greek fashion, such as we may see represented on classic busts.

The woollen stockings worn this winter must match the dress in colour, and some charming new merino ones have been introduced, which are nearly as finely woven as spun silk and are quite as soft. They are not ribbed, and so are more suitable to tender feet than if they were,  for the latter cling too tightly to be otherwise than irritating to sensitive skins. I trust that all the readers of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER wear woollen stockings, and stout shoes or boots, with wide low heels and road toes, so as to be perfectly comfortable when they walk. I heard of a young lady the other day, who wore the fashionably-pointed toes and high narrow heels, who had had a succession of violent nervous headaches, which ended in floods of tears and hysterics. Her doctor, on being consulted, said that the boots she was wearing were the cause of her troubles, and he had had several similar cases; whereupon the sufferer ingenuously confessed that she was sure the doctor's opinion was correct, for she had indeed gone through agonies of distress every day that she had worn her fashionable boots.

White kid gloves are worn again at night, as well as lavender-coloured, and pink and black are worn as much as ever by day, a very good thing for those who are obliged to save their money, and consequently their gloves. On first putting on a pair of black kid gloves it is a good plan to rub them all over with some salad oil, pomade, or even butter, by means of a little piece of flannel, until they look lustrous and blacker than ever. Of course no grease is left on them that might rub off upon anything. after this preparation they will be found to wear much better and be softer and more flexible. Some gloves for evening wear are ornamented with beads at the back in a simple, conventional spray or scroll pattern. Any of our readers who are in mourning might do this little bit of extra decoration for themselves.

The favourite gloves of all are the almond and tan-coloured gants de Suede, and they appear to be worn both by night and by day equally well. They are, of course, less expensive than the real kid, but that they do not wear nearly as well nor keep clean as long, so are not to be recommended to careful girls.

The new bodice shape has as few seams as possible, and only one side piece, the joining of which is carried quite to the back of the arm, so as to have a plain piece under it. Three sizes of buttons may be worn on basque bodices, the largest being of the size of a penny piece, on the pockets. The next size is on the front, and the smallest, which are as big as a fourpenny piece, on the cuffs. The use of gathering (or gauging, as it is properly called) is much on the increase for the shoulders and fronts of dresses, muffs, millinery and sleeves, so that the readers of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER should learn to do it for themselves, for it is one of the lost arts in ordinary needlework, though still used for surplices and the "smock frocks" of wagoners and the peasantry. The following is the description given in a very old needlework book: - "Take up the stitches at regular intervals of half an inch each  for the first row;  for the second, continue doing the same, letting the needle, however, take up the intermediate parts. The third row is like the first, and so on. For the purpose of securing the gathers firmly work them as follows, with very strong netting silk. Take on your needle the first two gathers, and the thread on which they run, pulling your thread firmly through.  For the next stitch again take two gathers and the thread upon your needle, letting the first of them be the last gather that was taken up at the former stitch, so that the work proceeds by one gather at a time. Observe to draw the netting-silk as tightly as possible, so as to make the stitches lie very closely together, in a slanting position."

Walking-dresses are still made with deep kiltings, but the plaits are very wide, which takes away much of their stiffness of appearance. A lightly arranged and bouffant scarf finishes the skirt below the basque bodice. I have no doubt that many girls will be glad to purchase and wear the very moderately-priced woollen Jerseys, of which there are so many in the shops this winter. They form a very pretty and easily-obtained bodice, and their plain appearance may be taken off by placing a plastron of plush or gathered ilk in a V shape in the front. A large velvet collar, something like a sailor's collar in form, much improves them, and cuffs to correspond are worn at the wrists. Jerseys are not now covered at their termination below the waist with the scarf, but are either left plainly hemmed in their original style or else they have a deep fringe generally of jet beads, which can be made by any one with clever fingers.



Our large illustration gives two costumes - an outdoor and a handsome indoor gown. Both show exactly the present fashions. The cloak worn is of a simple cloth dolman shape, trimmed with black fox fur, both warmly lined and wadded. The dress of the other figure shows the profuse use of gauging in dresses. There is one great comfort in this style of making, that old dresses can be turned to use admirably in trimming each other, provided they be not faded. No amount of wear (we were told the other day) seems to matter, as the close gathers hide it all; so, if it be a trouble to do, you may have this consolation. Cheaper material can also be bought for trimmings, for a very poor silk is good enough to use in this way.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

18 December 1880 - 'The Difficulties of a Young Housekeeper and How She Overcame Them' by Dora Hope - Chapter Three

It was with something of an effort that Margaret rose rather earlier than usual the morning after the concert, so her eyes looked a little drowsy as she entered the kitchen, where she found Betsy engaged in filling the coal-scuttle with wood and paper to light the fire.

"Betsy," she said, "I'm going to lay and light the dining-room fire myself this morning, and I want you to come and watch, so that you can do it in exactly the same way yourself  for the future."

"Well, Miss Margaret, I 'ope I knows 'ow to light a fire without being showed," said Betsy, rather huffily.

"Well, how much wood does each fire take?"

"Pretty near a bundle, one with another."

"Why, Betsy, I think it is time somebody showed you, then, for you ought to make one bundle light three fires, including the kitchen. Do you know that you waste, at the very least, fifteen shillings a year by extravagance in firewood alone?"

Betsy was rather staggered at those plain statistics, and followed her young mistress without more ado.

"Now, you see, I first of all put a scanty layer of cinders at the bottom of the grate, next some crumpled paper, and about half a dozen pieces of wood laid crosswise, and lastly some knobs of coal. You must be careful always that the whole is well back in the grate, and leave plenty of air-holes between the pieces. When it has all caught fire you can put a shovelful of cinders on the top, and you will have a hot fire in no time. And that reminds me, Betsy, that I want to talk to you about cinders after breakfast; I am afraid we do not manage them as well as we might; but we must get on with the other work now, or breakfast will be late."

Betsy looked  dejected; she did not altogether like Margaret's burst of energy in the morning; it was much less trouble to keep on in the old routine.

Breakfast over, Margaret returned to the kitchen.

"What do you do with the cinders, Betsy, after you have raked out the fire?"

"Oh, I puts a few large bits on the back of the fire, and throws the rest in the dustbin?"

"Well, I have had a letter from my sister about it. I will read to you what she says:- 'You must remember that cinders are as much fuel as coals, and there is no more excuse for wasting the one than the other. They are much better than coal for some purposes; for instance, in a bedroom they are safer, as there is not the danger of sparks flying from them, and a better and hotter fire can always be made with part cinders than with coals alone. The best fire for cooking is made up of lumps of coal in front, and cinders at the back.' So you see, Betsy, we have been very wasteful; but I hope we shall reform now. This wooden box on rockers, which I bought yesterday, is a proper cinder-sifter; and for the future I want you to place all the ashes into this wire tray at the top, put the lid on, and rock it for a minute; then if you leave it for a little while before taking off the lid, you will find that all the small ash has gone through the tray into the box beneath, leaving on the top only large cinders ready for use."

"Humph," said Betsy, "I never was in a place before where they could not afford coals, and had to burn up old rubbish."

Margaret flushed up, and felt inclined to be very angry, the more so as she had a little uncomfortable feeling herself that perhaps it was rather mean to watch every farthing so carefully; but she was determined not to lose her temper, so took no notice of Betsy's rudeness, and went on -

" For the next week or so I want you to save small ash in this large box, instead of throwing it into the dust-bin as usual; with this very cold weather I am afraid all our plants in the garden will be killed; so as soon as you have collected a good quantity, I will get a boy to come in and heap it round the roots of the delicate ones to protect them."

"But won't it spoil the look of the garden, miss?"

"It will not show much, and at any rate it is better than letting our plants be frostbitten, and next spring we will have it dug into the ground, and it will very much improve our heavy clay soil. If the boys begin keeping fowls in the spring, as they talk or doing, they will be glad of all the ash we can spare  for the fowls to scratch amongst."

"Please, miss, there ain't no 'mergencies left."

"No *what, Betsy?"

"Why none of them 'mergencies in tins, miss, that you sue when anybody comes in unexpected."

"Oh, ah! Yes, Betsy, I understand," said Margaret, smothering her laughter; "I am glad you reminded me."

The meaning of Betsy's curious statement was that, on Joanna's suggestion, Margaret always kept a few tins of meat, soup and fruit amongst her stores in case of emergencies, such as the unexpected arrival of visitors, when the soup could be warmed in a very few minutes, while the fruits and meats might be eaten as they were if there was no time for preparing them in any of the numerous ways described on the tins. These emergencies, as Betsy called them, were found to answer very well, and prevented any embarrassment at the appearance of an extra guest at the table.

That evening Margaret told her father about the cinders, and asked him if he thought she was getting too parsimonious.

"Decidedly not in this case," he answered, "for if Joanna is correct in what she says, you must waste a good deal of money, and waste can never be justified even in the smallest trifles. Have you forgotten the injunction to 'Take care of the pence,  for the pounds will take care of themselves'? But look at it another way. Suppose you find that by careful management you can save threepence a week, that would pay  for the schooling of some poor child. If you spent your savings in that way you would not think it stingy, would you?"

Margaret brightened up at that, for it happened there was a poor family she very much wanted to help; but she had found so much difficulty in making her money last that she had not ventured to do anything for them. Now she determined to begin with the New Year to help the poor mother by paying  for the schooling of at least one of the children.

It is true that at the close of the week sometimes a small balance would be discovered, but this was only occasionally, and any such surplus was sure to be needed, sooner or later, to replace broken articles, or to pay for new scrubbing brushes, or some such incidental expense. Margaret had a small cash box for these little savings, h was never opened except in the case of real necessity. Just now the box was being watched with particular care, but it was never opened on any pretext whatever, for it had been long ago fixed that Joanna and her husband should spend Christmas at the old home. During this visit the expenses of the house would of course be greater, and the savings of previous weeks would all be needed. Now the happy time was drawing near, and all Margaret's perplexities were being saved up till she could talk them over with her sister. The pleasure with which Joanna anticipated the visit was, it must be confessed, tinged with curiosity. Although conscious of her sister's strong desire to do well, she could not but wonder how the household management, conducted by one so young and inexperienced, would strike a new comer.

Thinking that perhaps Margaret would feel a little nervous about the approaching visit, she determined rigorously to avoid noticing any little delinquencies, or at any rate to appear not to notice them.

During the first day or two, though there were very few mishaps of any kind, still it was amusing to mark her air of utter unconsciousness when anything in the ménage went wrong. Even when Betsy got a little "mixed" over the sauces at dinner one day, and handed Joanna parsley and butter with plum pudding, she appeared quite unaware that it was not an usual accompaniment for sweets.

Betsy related this little episode to her young mistress the next morning with much contrition; Margaret laughed at her sister's delicacy, and at once saw through her schemes to spare her feelings.

"It is very kind of you, Joanna, to pretend not to see things, and of course I am thankful in a way, to see you looking abstractedly in another direction when accidents happen. But I would really rather you would pry about and find fault, and tell me of things you see wrong that perhaps I do not notice myself," said Margaret, as the two sat having a cosy chat before tea.

"There is little or nothing to find fault with, Madge; in fact, so far from disapproving, I am learning myself; but there is just one little thing I thought of at dinner that might be a useful suggestion to you, that is, to avoid getting so many spills on the cloth. You should not have the gravy put on the dish, round the meat, as you do at present; it is almost impossible to carve without splashing it over, and it is altogether much more convenient in a sauce-tureen. Then you should always spread a serviette under the carver's dish and plates to catch anything that may be dropped. I am afraid it would offend the boys, or I should advise you to put one under their plates too! Some people always have them - one to each person, or a long narrow cloth down the whole length of the table at each side. They are afterwards removed with the crumbs in them, which does away with the necessity for a crumb brush; but I do not recommend that to you, as the washing would be as expensive as frequent clean table-cloths."

"Thank you, that was one thing I was going to ask you about. I have a whole list of questions so prepare for a good catechising. Now, stand still like a good little girl, with your hands behind you and your head up, and tell me how to prevent the pipes bursting."

"Have you had any burst already?"

"Yes. Didn't I tell you? In that thaw last week, directly the water began to come into the cistern, Dick came running along to my room to say he thought the end of the world was come, for his room was flooded with water. It was pitch dark, like the dead of night, but it was really six o'clock in the morning. Poor Dick had to dress and rush off  for the plumber, and he soon put it right, but the room was in a dreadful state, and the plaster is all broken off the ceiling and you know it might happen in the middle of the night, when we could not get the plumber, and whatever should we do?"

"Well, dear, in this case, as in many others prevention is better than cure, and the best advice I can give you is, in frosty weather keep your taps just dripping, and if there is a gas jet near any pipe likely to freeze, let one burner be always alight; that will generally give enough warmth to prevent it. And also any outside pipes should be covered up with straw or old carpet. They generally burst when the water is coming in; and if that should happen again, in spite of your precautions, till a plumber can be brought you should fasten down the ball in the cistern, tie it down with string or any contrivances of that sort, to stop the flow of water; and if you can get at the part of the pipe that has burst, stuff up the hole as well as you can with anything that comes first to hand."

"Well, I think I will try the prevention first. My ideas are generally a little hazy on first waking in the morning, and I am afraid I should not have presence of mind to tie down the ball. Now I will let you off the rest of my catechizing for a little while, though I have hardly begun my list, but the other questions will keep."

On Christmas Eve the pleasant task of decorating the dining and drawing-rooms was accomplished, and it was a merry party that engaged in the work. Some dust sheets were spread on the carpet, and Joanna and her sister sat dexterously weaving wreaths and festoons, and giving directions to Arthur, Tom, and Dick, who were performing feats of gymnastics on the top of stepladders, in their endeavours to satisfy the demands of their task-mistresses as to the position of the decorations.

In the midst of the work Betsy appeared at the door, with a face of dismay, and beckoned Margaret out of the room, to tell her that the turkey was "froze as hard as a brickbat," and so was the sirloin of beef for Boxing Day.

"Well, put them before the fire till they are melted."

"La! Miss Margaret, that will make them so awful tough; besides they will only freeze again as soon as I put them out, and that turkey won't taste no better than an old goat" (a favourite simile of Betsy's).

"Oh! Dear me! Wait a minute, and I'll ask Mrs. Hellier."

A whispered consultation between the sisters resulted in the turkey and all the other meat in the larder being hung up in the kitchen, not near the fire, and there left all night, which proved quite as effectual a way of thawing and preventing their again freezing as the frequent plan of washing in warm water, with the advantage of not taking out the flavour.

Christmas Day came and went, as happily as it always must do when a family, scattered abroad through the year, are reunited to celebrate the anniversary of our Saviour's birth.

A few days later found Margaret in a bustle of business and excitement, preparing  for the entertainment of some friends who had been invited to meet the young bride and bridegroom. This would be the first time that Margaret had had the ordering and management of anything larger than the addition of one or two guests at their usual evening meal; but now friends, to the number of twenty, had been invited, so that considerable preparation was necessary. The guests were invited for tea at seven o'clock, and supper was to be at ten. Happily the contents of Margaret's little savings'-box were not yet exhausted, so that she was able to provide  for the party with the addition of only ten shillings extra from her father. The bill of fare  for the supper was as follows: hot soup, turkey, ham, tongue, and cold sirloin of beef, hot Christmas pudding, and mince-pies; one dish of trifle, one jelly, one blancmange, and sundry little dishes of tarts, biscuits and fruits.

This list being decided upon, everything necessary  for the carrying out of it was bought in and prepared, as far as possible, the day before; the soup was made and the meats cooked; the pastry, too, was made, and the jelly and blancmange - the two latter being kept in moulds; then the dishes of biscuits and preserved fruits were set out and tastefully ornamented with twigs of holly. Even the table-cloths and serviettes were put ready, so that the next morning would be left clear for arranging flowers and giving finishing touches, for Margaret was determined not to be like many anxious hostesses, who are in such a bustle and flurry all the day of their party that when the evening comes they are quite too tired to enjoy it.

Immediately after dinner, Margaret laid the table for supper, and very pretty it looked with its display of spotless linen and glittering glass and silver. Mr. Colville had a great objection to the flowers or plants on the dinner-table being so high as to intercept the view of his opposite neighbour, and sometimes did not scruple to rise in the middle of the meal and lift off such an offending decoration, should his daughter happen to have forgotten his objection. Margaret therefore wisely contented herself with placing several small low glasses here and there about the table, containing a few feathery grasses and bright red leaves (gathered and pressed in the autumn for winter use), and whenever there was likely to be a rather large gap between the dishes she laid a device of coloured leaves and fern fronds laid flat on the cloth, completing the whole by placing in the middle of the table a handsome old china bowl full of glorious many-hued chrysanthemums.

Her tasteful fingers had also prepared some pretty cards, each bearing the name of a guest, and placed on the table to indicate the place he or she was to occupy. Some of them were decorated with little pen and ink sketches, copied from pictures, the selection of which had occupied the boys several evenings; others had a little painted flower, or a group of pressed flowers gummed on them.

This done, she was able to breathe freely and take a little well-earned rest, before proceeding to give a final look round the dining-room and kitchen (the drawing-room was left to Joanna's supervision). She took particular notice that the cold viands were all on the table, and the sideboard well stocked with clean plates, knives and forks and glasses, and then with a last entreaty to Betsy not to get excited and make mistakes, she went to dress  for the evening.

When the guests began to arrive, Betsy took the ladies upstairs, and ran down again immediately to be ready  for the next arrival. Each party was met at the drawing-room door by Mr. Colville, whilst Margaret stood near a small table in a corner of the room, to dispense tea and coffee after welcoming her friends. The two boys proved capital assistants, and handed round cakes and biscuits as though to the manner born.

When all had arrived, Margaret rang the bell, and Betsy removed the tea things, leaving the table free  for the display of Mr. Colville's engravings, and a number of books and pictures, part of which they had borrowed from friends  for the occasion. The evening passed pleasantly for guests and hosts alike. Margaret had never permitted even the busiest day to pass without devoting a little time, though sometimes only ten minutes, to practising her music. Her father liked her to play to him in the evenings when he came home sometimes tired and jaded, and she was always ready to do her best, even though that best was not always of the first order. Her voice was neither powerful nor of great compass, but it was clear and sweet, and several times during the evening she sang with so much expression and with so simple a grace that even the critic listened with pleasure. She had provided a number of glees, and part songs, too, in which the musical members of the party joined, while those who did not care for singing, played various games, headed by Mr. Hellier, who proved a great acquisition in the way of originating new entertainments.

In the meantime, Betsy after making sure that her soup and pudding were progressing favourably, had added a soup-plate for each person on the supper table, and a few minutes before ten o'clock she carried up the soup, hot and savoury, in a large jug, from which she filled each plate; then running upstairs she knocked at the drawing-room door and announced that supper was ready. She came down again quickly to dish up the turkey, and directly the soup was finished, she placed it on the table for the carver to begin operations while she removed the empty soup plates. In the same way, all the appliances  for the second course being ready on the table, she now went down to prepare the pudding and mince pies, which plan answered so well that there was not a minute's delay between the courses.

After supper the games were begun again with renewed energy, and it was nearly twelve o'clock before the last guest left, being unanimous in their expressions of pleasure at having spent so delightful an evening together.

So passed this happy Christmastide, rendered all the happier  for the Colvilles in that they did not forget, in their own rejoicings, the sufferings of their poorer neighbours who had nothing wherewith to make merry.

It had always been a rule during the lifetime of their mother that each of the children should try to give some poor child, if not a merry Christmas, at least a happier one than they could otherwise have had, and the plan was still kept up. For weeks beforehand Margaret had been very busy mending old clothes and making new ones, while the boys had made scrap-books, bought tops and balls, and denied themselves many little indulgences to have the more charity. Mr. Colville, too, had given them some money to spend on meat and materials for Christmas puddings, so that when they started on their rounds, directly after breakfast on Christmas morning, they found their supply of presents much larger than they could carry, that Tom had to waylay a schoolfellow who happened to pass and press him into the service. Dick added to the general merriment by insisting upon fastening up a piece of holly and mistletoe in each poor room they visited, "to make it look Christmassy," as he said. Many cheerless homes were made brighter that morning, and it was with joyous hearts they joined on their return in the grand old song, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill to all men."

Monday, 22 August 2016

11 December 1880 - 'Answers to Correspondents' - Miscellaneous

A.M. - 1. Endeavour to remove the fruit from the stones with your fork, otherwise remove from the mouth in the hollow of the almost closed left hand, placing it close to the mouth so as to conceal the passage of the stone from the mouth. Never remove them in a spoon. 2. Remain at the dinner table till after dessert, and rise, leaving the dessert china and glasses still on the table. 3. Do not use a spoon and fork simultaneously - a common habit, but ignorantly practised. Remove your knife and fork from your plate, and lay them beside you; when you send for a second help as they both incommode the carver and endanger those at table whom the servant has to pass. If you desire a second help, lay the knife and fork on your plate until observed, with the points together, and the handles apart. When you wish to show that you desire no more, lay both parallel with each other across the middle of your plate, the handles towards you.

HILDA ASMOND - We feel rather shocked at your being so little acquainted with your Bible as to ask such a question. Read the Epistles of St. John, and seek  for the text yourself.

CLARE VERE DE VERE - How should we know? We never saw your elder brother ride, and cannot say what kind of a teacher he would make. It is always safe to begin with a good teacher, so as not to fall into bad habits, which, if once formed, can seldom be eradicated.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

11 December 1880 - 'Comedones' by Medicus

Blackheads. He's talking about blackheads. 

Comedones! I think I can see before me even now the puzzled looks of numbers of my fair young readers as they read the title of this little article. Comedones! What is it? OR what are they? Or whatever do they do? Had it been by anyone else but by Medicus you might fancy it was the name of some nice little tale, but being by Medicus, "of course," you will say, "it must be something nasty  and physic.'"

Well, not to keep you any longer in suspense, the word "comedones" is the technical name of a little ailment concerning which some of you are always consulting me. It is an affection of the skin, principally of the face, which girls call "those nasty little tick things," or "small black specks."

"Well, you ask me," "and what are they? What will cure them? Answer me quick."

"No, I reply; "I refuse to be hurried, but you shall have answer all the same. Listen."

You have all heard of the pores of the skin. They, as you know, secret perspiration. But there are also in the skin numerous tiny outlets from glands, h secrete an oily lubricating substance, which keeps the skin pliant and soft. Like every other gland and organ in the body, these little bodies are subject to many different derangements, of which I shall not speak at present. Suffice it to say that one of them gives rise to the affection called comedones (from comedo, to eat up, or devour). It is simply a hardening or drying up of the contents of the tubes of the glands. These latter are unable to force out the secretion, and so it distends the skin, and can be squeezed out.

"Why has it a black head?" you inquire. The black point is merely caused by the smoke or dust of the atmosphere. Sometimes it gives rise to pimples. The affection is most common among girls who live in towns, who do not take sufficient exercise to render the circulation in the skin duly active, or among girls who suffer from nervousness.

If the unpleasant-looking things are left long in and undisturbed, they get as hard as horns, and when they are finally squeezed out they leave a little pit. I have known cases in which, from no other treatment having been adopted except that of simply pressing them out with the fingers or nails, the skin of the face came to assume quite a pitted surface all over.

As I have already told you that these disfiguring specks are caused by an inactive state of the skin, you will readily perceive, then, that removing this state is the proper way to get rid of them. The morning soap bath to the whole body will greatly aid the cure, and plenty of friction should be used. Then to the face soap should be applied and well rubbed in twice or thrice a day, morning and night at all events; then, after drying it, rub well with a rough towel. Do not be afraid of spoiling your complexion. You will do quite the reverse - you will improve it, although there may be redness of the skin for a little time.

After this thorough washing and rubbing of the face, you may apply a little Eau de Cologne, with just one grain of corrosive sublimate to the ounce. As corrosive sublimate is a deadly poison, this lotion must be compounded by a chemist. Exercise must be taken in the open air, and plain, wholesome, non-stimulating food.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

11 December 1880 - 'Hints for Christmas Decorations'

In the pleasing hope of rendering some little assistance towards making bright and joyful the Christian's great anniversary of the proclamation, "Peace on earth, good will towards men," we venture to offer a few hints for Christmas decorations.

The pleasant work of decorating in the country is comparatively easy compared to the same thing in town. There, when one's stock of materials is exhausted, a run into the garden or a stroll along the lane is all that is required to replenish it; while in the town every branch of evergreen, every trail of ivy has to be paid for, and the price is high enough to make a large purchase a very expensive matter. Therefore it behoves us, the "pale-eyed denizens of the city," to avail ourselves of any and every means of practising economy.

Pre-eminent amongst our materials is the holly. Unfortunately, it is always dear in towns, and sometimes this time-honoured friend of decorators fails altogether as far as its chief attraction - its berries - is concerned. It is quite unnecessary to pay more than a trifling sum for the berries, as imitations can be made which answer all the purposes of the real ones, and at a very small cost.

Amongst the many methods adopted the following will be found the easiest: ivy berries or dried peas dyed red (a sixpenny bottle of dye will be sufficient for a very large quantity); or putty, rolled into little balls and coloured either in the same way or in a solution of sealing-wax mixed with spirits of wine; or red wax, to be bought at an oils hop, and shaped into berries, after slightly softening before the fire. There are many different sorts of red berries to be had in the autumn, which, by soaking in strong salt and water, will keep till Christmas time, and may well pass for holly. And, lastly, easiest of all, artificial berries are sold in bunches very cheaply at most shops.

With all this choice at our disposal and a little judicious management a great deal can be done with a few of the commonest evergreens; a room may be made to look very pretty with only a little laurel, ivy, and holly; but any others which may be obtainable will be useful in giving a variety of effect; amongst them may be mentioned the box, arbor vitae, bay, variegated holly, ivy, and laurestinus.

Some artificial berries are too hard to admit of stalks being added, and will only be available for gumming on to a flat surface. Where stalks are required the soft berries must be chosen, and a little fine wire inserted.

The decorator must not fail to provide herself with some of the bunches of dry moss which is sold at all florist's; also with the necessary implements - string, wire and strong glue.

The effect of snow is easily obtained, and gives a very seasonable air to the decorations. For a flat background white wadding, bought at sixpence a yard, answers very well, but for an object standing out, such as a statuette, the fine soft wool called jeweller's cotton is required. The wool should be first tied on with thread all over the top edges and wherever snow would be likely to lodge. It must then be pulled out, and made to look as light and natural as possible, hanging down in irregular points and masses over any projecting parts. The effect of snow may be obtained on branches and leaves of evergreens with less trouble by coating the upper surface with gum, and then sprinkling thickly with flour.

Trees sparkling with hoar frost are always a lovely sight in winter, and this effect of frost or rime can easily be procured by artificial means. Drop gum upon the wool, wherever frost would naturally form, and sprinkle coarse Epsom salts over it. The surfaces of leaves and twigs may be coated in the same way, and, as an alternative for Epsom salts, frosted glass, ready crushed, is sold; but a much less expensive contrivance is to pound roughly, or crush with a garden roller, any pieces of glass, such as old bottles, which have been saved up during the summer for this purpose. Cardboard letters, for mottoes, can be crystallised in the same way, and look well on a background of leaves or coloured flannel.

Another method of crystallising, which is more useful for some purposes, is to dip the objects in a solution of alum. On one pound of alum, pour a quart of boiling water. Whilst still warm, suspend the leaves in it by a string tied round the stalks; leave them in for twenty-four hours and then hang them up till dry. Large and beautiful crystals are formed, but the effect is less like real frost than by employing the other means. If a wreath or festoon is to be thus crystallised, it must be made up first, and then immersed in the alum, as it is impossible to handle it much afterwards, without breaking off the crystals.

Everlasting flowers are very useful indeed in adding colour to our devices. If a suitable natural colour cannot be obtained, the flowers may be easily dyed; red, violet, or yellow being the most useful colours. Mixed with the green in wreaths and garlands, or sewn thickly over cardboard shapes for letters, these are very effective. Grasses dyed in the same way will also be useful, particularly the splendid heads of Pampas grass. These latter, dyed crimson, are most beautiful objects.

If one has time and patience to make a number of them, the paper rosettes, which were used so much for little picture-frames a year or two ago, are very pretty and useful, and are so durable that they will serve for years, with care. Those made of brown paper and varnished are much used in church decoration, as at little distance they look exactly like carved oak. Large ones, made of red paper, are very handsome on devices made of yew, or dark green leaves, while small ones, in creamy white, may well pass for ivory. Their uses are almost endless, and they will quite repay one's trouble. The way to make them is too well known to need description here, but the various colours, especially red, are rarely seen, though most effective.

Letters and borderings should be first cut out in strong cardboard, and then ornamented in various ways. A novel method is to coat the letter thickly over with gum, and then sprinkle it with pieces of broken walnut shells, or to fasten them on whole in rows. A similar effect is produced by cutting up old corks, and sprinkling their fragments on a gummed surface.

The methods of making ornamental letters for mottoes or monograms are innumerable, and the choice will depend upon the position they are to occupy. If near the eye they must be carefully and neatly done. Cardboard letters, with small leaves sewn thickly all over them, look well, but it is a long task; the background should be first covered with green or red paper or cloth, to show through between the letters. Silvery letters, too, are pretty made of tinfoil. Cut a piece of the tinfoil to something like the shape of the letter, but larger, and crumple it up in the hand; then straighten it out slightly, but so as still to preserve the crinkled appearance, and lay it lightly over the card letter, fastening it at the back. Others are covered with everlasting flowers, sewn firmly on to a foundation of cardboard; or if they are required strong enough to last for future occasions, of perforated zinc.

Very pretty letters, in imitation of coral, are made by coating the shapes with gum, as above, and sprinkling them with rice or, better still, tapioca; they will generally require two coats to give them the proper rough look. Sometimes the rice is first dyed red, which looks very pretty; for a monogram it is a good plan to have each letter a different colour, which will make them more legible than they usually are.

A word as to cutting out the letters may be useful. It is most important that they should all be the same size; this is not so much a matter of course as would appear to the uninitiated, but is easily managed. Decide first how many inches in height and width each letter is to occupy, then cut out a number of pieces of paper or cardboard of these dimensions, and all of exactly the same size, and by taking one of these for each letter they are sure to be correct. The smaller they are the simpler they should be in design, as if elaborately-formed letters are used for small mottoes they will not be legible, and their chief charm will be lost.

The border of mottoes will depend on the colour and texture of the background and letters; but it must not be so obtrusive as to detract from the effect of the sentiment it frames. A simple and pretty border is easily made of a double of treble row of holly leaves stitched or nailed on according to the material; the point of each leaf must overlap and hide the stalk of the last one. A more durable one can be made with cork or nuts hells, as described  for the letters.

Red is the favourite colour  for the background of mottoes and scrolls; Turkey twill, cheap flannel, or glazed lining being generally employed  for the purpose; but where the position is too high up for close inspection coloured paper does equally well.

For devices such as an anchor, shield, or Maltese cross, moss makes a capital foundation for further ornamentation. It must be stitched on in tufts, and afterwards arranged with the fingers till the surface looks uniformly covered. Letters of bright everlasting flowers or small red rosettes on a background of moss are very pretty. The Cape silver leaves, too, of which there are such beautiful wreaths on the Prince Imperial's tomb at Chislehurst, look charming laid on bright green moss, but, as they are rather expensive, they should be reserved for small wreaths or mottoes in a conspicuous position.

Before beginning to decorate it is well to have a plan in one's mind, more or less matured,  for the general arrangement. In forming this design, be careful not to overdo it, or the result will be a heavy and crowded effect, which is anything but beautiful. A little tasteful decoration is much more pleasing than an excessive amount.

Wreaths and garlands in a room should not be toot hick, but a light, graceful effect must be aimed at. In making them, there should always be two persons at work together. Having cut the rope to the required length, one should hold it and bind on the twigs which the other arranges and hands to her; if there is only one worker, she has constantly to lay down the rope while she seeks out suitable pieces, which not only hinders her very much, but probably mars the symmetry of the wreath. For churches and public rooms a number of large, rough wreaths and ropes of green are usually required for adorning pillars and windows. These should be left to the last, as the debris from the small wreaths and more delicate devices will do for them. They should be made on stout rope, and the bunches of green tied round it with string.

If it is wished to ornament a pier glass or other article of furniture likely to be injured by the green, a thin lath of wood should be obtained to fit the top of the glass, to which all the decorations are fixed, thus preventing their contact with the gilt frame or glass. If possible some long trailing pieces of ground ivy or other creepers should be fastened on to this lath, as their reflection in the mirror is exceedingly pretty; these should be quite short in the middle, getting longer towards each side, till the outside ones should be long enough to reach to the bottom of the frame.

A lath may be arranged in the same way over doors, but in this case, of course, there must be trailing pieces at the sides only. This is a suitable place too, for a motto, as it can rest on the ledge over the door, and so avoid injuring the wall with nails.

In decorating a chandelier, only light materials should be chosen, and few of them, or their weight is likely to drag it down, besides casting an unpleasant shadow. A graceful effect may be obtained by twisting round the stem of the chandelier a very slight wreath of ivy, made on thin wire, and having few of the leaves frosted.

If there is a large space of bare walls, wreaths can be made, light enough to be affixed with strong pins instead of nails, by stitching laurel, other large leaves, or dried fern leaves on a length of tape. The leaves should be sewn on two at a time, one pointing to the right and the other to the left, and they must slightly overlap each other where the stalks meet, or better still, let the juncture be hidden by a good-sized red rosette.

We venture to urge the desirability of not leaving decorations up too long, but of removing them before either the occasion has passed by, or the least symptom appears suggesting the perishable nature of the materials; for, in every circumstance in life, there is nothing more objectionable than faded finery.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

27 November 1880 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

We learn from the final two letters this week that (1) humble-bragging and (2) fishing for compliments precede the era of online social networking. 

CANARIENSIS AND OTHERS - 1. Paddle away as much as you like, as it is wonderfully strengthening to the feet and ankles. 2. We are almost afraid to offer any advice as to the length of time which girls ought to pass in the water. We have frequently offered our advice at the seaside and it has invariably been rejected. Our private opinion is that twenty minutes will make a very fair average, but much depends on the constitution of the bather. When a bather of either sex finds that the finger tips become white instead of pink, it is a sign that the bath has been too long. Giddiness on coming out of the water tells the same story.

BERYL ORSMOND - 1. Make the diet of your cockatoo as simple as possible. Perhaps you have been allowing her to nibble at bones or to eat animal food. Give her a bath by all means, but don't put her in it yourself. If she needs a bath, instinct will teach her to use it. 2. You do not mention your age, so we cannot tell how much character your writing ought to have; it certainly is not too small, and it is perfectly legible, but it has a sort of character of its own, the lines slanting downwards instead of upwards, as is the usual feminine fashion. Practise writing with black-lined paper, and you will soon find yourself falling into the right way.

ZULU HAT - 1. Of course you do not "make both ends meet of your income" if on £300 per annum and you "keep three servants." One is all you ought to keep, and you should undertake the light part of the household work yourself. 2. Wreaths of grapes and a few poppies serve best as trimming for a Zulu hat.

ALPHONSIA - 1. Your handwriting is very good for your age. But don't be satisfied; make it still better. 2. Who is afraid? Why, bring common-sense to bear upon it. You should live where we do, and go upstairs at midnight to hear the owls hooting in the wood. Whenever you feel particularly nervous repeat to yourself the fourth verse of the 23rd Psalm; it is a fine cordial for all timid folk.

AN UNSOPHISTICATED CHILD OF NATURE - Kindly choose a shorter *nom de plume when next you write. Do not be uneasy about your tortoise. The little gentleman has very likely got a will of his own. Try him with cabbage or greens, but he will go off to sleep by and bye, and when summer days come, he will most assuredly make up for his long fast.

JARVIS STREET - We regret to tell you that our editorial staff is complete; and we already have close connections with Canada.

LILIAN MARY GRAHAM - Both your friends failed in good breeding. The gentleman should have taken the penny to pay  for the stamp, as he had already laid the lady under an obligation by his prompt kindness in offering it to her. But allowing that the gentleman failed in good breeding that is no excuse  for the lady's declining the stamp altogether. Finding she was not allowed to pay for it, she should have accepted it with a graceful expression of thanks  for the gift. Of the two, the lady's fault was the greater.

CLARINDA - 1. We do not know - and do not wish to know - who wrote the morbid lines which you quote. We think you had better consult your doctor for you are evidently in a very bad state. 2. Your writing is scandalous.

HAZELDYNE - Why do you say that care not for music, and yet  acknowledge that you play Bach, Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart. Your sister says that you play well and have a very good touch. WE counsel you not to be silly, for you are getting out of the dry-bones part of learning, and will be thankful, when you are older, that you are an accomplished pianist. Your writing is rather nice, and so is your sister's.

A LEFT-OUT ONE - If it is true that you are selfish, lazy, bad-tempered, plain and unaccomplished, we do not wonder that nobody cares for you, and we trust that you will always keep at a respectful distance from us. Your portrait which you enclose, however, is that of a charming young damsel.

Friday, 12 August 2016

27 November 1880 - 'How to be Healthy' by Medicus

I know for a fact this blog gets a fair bit of traffic from people Googling things that have absolutely nothing to do with the Girl's Own Paper, who might consequently click the link without immediately noticing that this is emphatically NOT a 21st-century lifestyle website. 

So although I know you are all very smart and intelligent people, who immediately realise what's going on and click the Back button on your browser, I must heed my conscience and make the following disclaimer: Everything on this website is at least a hundred years old. Especially the stuff to do with health, medicine and science. 'Highlights From the Girl's Own Paper' is an archival blog, intended for entertainment and interest only. Do not follow any of the directions for the preparation and taking of medicines contained herein. Please. 

The permanganate of potash, which forms the basis of Condy's disinfecting fluid as well as Condy's ozonised water, possesses remarkable powers of purification. It is a reddish brown salt, and can be bought for a reasonable price from any respectable chemist. In cases of sickness it is invaluable as a disinfectant. Redden a quart of water by mixing a teaspoonful of the salt in it and shaking the bottle, and pour a little of this into a saucer, standing it in a room wherever the air is likely to be tainted. A little of this water may be used to slightly tinge the bath, or the water with which you wash the hands, or rinse the mouth. When the breath is offensive, either the stomach, lungs, or teeth are in fault. If the former, a little Gregory's powder is a good thing to take every morning. And three times a day, ten drops of the following mixture should be taken in a little water; twenty grains of permanganate of potash, dissolved in five ounces of pure water. If there is reason to believe that the lungs are weakly, there is nothing in the world better than moderate exercise in the open air, especially on sunny days, and the light brown cod liver oil. Begin with a teaspoonful three times a day after meals, and gradually increase till a tablespoonful can be taken. It may not seem to agree at first, but persist in it, nevertheless. It is a grand remedy for all kinds of constitutional weaknesses.

Many girls between the ages of ten and fifteen suffer from what we medical men call anaemia, or in plain English, poverty of blood. Such girls are often looked upon as merely delicate, and little that can be of any avail is attempted to be done for them. Here is a case in point, and it teaches a lesson that you will do well to lay to heart. Miss Julian A is fourteen years of age; she is an only daughter and adored by her parents. But her mother says, expressively, "Julian won't make old bones." Her mother's words may come true, because this is the way in which she is treated. She is kept and coddled almost constantly within doors, she has always a little fire in her bedroom, and the window is seldom opened. If she goes out she is positively burdened with clothes, and, in addition to all kinds of good living, she is made to drink wine "to keep her up." She is pale and blanched in appearance, too weakly to work, and suffers from back ache. This case, and all others of the same kind, requires plenty of exercise in the open air, the companionship of other girls of the same age, good food, cod liver oil, and tonics of iron, of which the following is an excellent sample; twenty grains each of sulphate of quinine, dried sulphate of iron, and the extract of henbane made into fifteen pills, and one taken twice a day. With this treatment an aloes pill should be taken at night about once a week. I ought to tell you that ten drops three times a day in a little water of the tincture of iron, or "steel drops," is an excellent tonic for pale weakly girls. But they ought by all means to take plenty of open air exercise. They should not make hot-house plants of themselves. Hot-house plants are good enough to look at, but they are of no other use that I know of.

Girls of weakly habit and constitution often suffer from fainting fits. So, too, do older people, and everyone ought to know what to do in a case of this kind. When a person faints, then, or swoons and falls to the ground, place her prone on the floor or sofa, the head being level with the body or not raised above an inch, loosen the clothes, let her have fresh air by opening doors and windows, rub the breast with brandy or spirits, dash cold water in the face, and apply smelling salts to the nostrils. The mistake people generally made in fainting fits are: first, crowding too much around the patient, then excluding the fresh air; and secondly, raising the head above the level of the body. Epilepsy or falling sickness is distinguished from fainting by the convulsions, grinding of the teeth, and foaming at the mouth. Little can be done during the fit further than preventing the patient from hurting herself or biting the tongue; the clothes should be loosened, however, and fresh air admitted.

A fit of hysterics is usually brought on through fatigue, or by mental emotion of some kind. It is too well known to need description. I cannot lay down any general plan of treatment. During the fit, some may be relieved by being gently soothed, others may need a soothing drink, followed by rest; but at all events, as it is only a weakly person who can be subject to hysterics, tonics should be taken in the intervals, quinine and iron &c., with good diet and moderate exercise, and the bath.

Have my readers ever heard of a disease called St Vitus' Dance? It is characterised by uncontrollable movements of the hands, or feet, or face, or even of the whole body, which greatly interfere with walking, or working, or even talking. It is far more common among young girls than among boys. Very distressing though this complaint be, both to the patient herself and to her friends, most cases can be cured by care and kind treatment. Patients who suffer from St. Vitus' Dance are generally irritable in temper. They ought never, therefore, to be excited, far less mimicked. They should have no worry, not even the worry of lessons to learn. The diet should be nutritious, with plenty of milk. The cold shower bath may be tried, it does great good when the shock can be borne. Or the sea-salt bath may be taken every morning before breakfast, cold if possible, if not, tepid. Two large handfuls of sea-salt should be added to each bucketful of water used. Then, exercise out of doors will be found exceedingly beneficial, if taken with regularity and judgment. Meanwhile cod liver oil must not be forgotten, and a tonic; I have great faith in a combination of zinc and steel, with an occasional aloetic pill. Take twenty grains of phosphate of zinc, one drachm of tincture of iron, one drachm of dilute phosphoric acid, and mix in eight ounces of peppermint water. Of course a chemist or druggist must compound this; the dose will be two tablespoonfuls twice a day, for a girl about fifteen; if only about ten years of age, one tablespoonful will be enough.

The old-fashioned plan of treating a common cold is by no means to be despised, and if taken in time is generally effectual. Warm drinks should be taken, according to this method, before going to bed, and about eight grains of Dover's powder for a girl of fourteen or fifteen. A handful of mustard should be thrown into a pailful of hot water, and used as a foot-bath, and an extra blanket should be put upon the bed to induce perspiration. Care should be taken to wrap up well next day, and to live as well as possible.

A teaspoonful of the solution of the acetate of ammonia, with fifteen to thirty drops of the spirits of sweet nitre, taken in cold water, three or four times a day, is a nice mixture to reduce the heat of the body, and the feverishness caused by a cold. So simple a remedy should find a place in every family medicine chest. When the cold attacks the chest, there will be at first a harsh, dry and painful cough; the pain gets less or goes away entirely when the cough is accompanied by expectoration, which it is in the second and last stage. A mustard poultice may be applied to the front of the chest, or friction, till the lower part of the throat and upper part of the chest are well reddened with turpentine. You apply the turpentine by pouring about a tablespoonful of it over a piece of flannel, wrung from water as hot as you can hold it. This and the same treatment as that recommended for a common cold will usually give relief.

Many young girls are greatly troubled with indigestion. This tiresome complaint, trifling though it may seem to some, should never on any account be neglected, because it is the forerunner, and even the cause, of many dangerous and fatal illnesses. Independent of this, no one can look well who suffers from it; the complexion of a dyspeptic girl is never clear, nor is her eye bright and full. Anyone suffering from indigestion should first and foremost find out the cause. Let her ask herself these questions: Do I take sufficient outdoor exercise? Do I practise early rising and always take my matutinal bath? Do I eat intemperately or eat in haste? Are my studies too long and tedious? The lighter and the more easily digested the food which a dyspeptic person takes the better, too long intervals between meals are injurious, and so, of course, is overloading the stomach. Milk is the best beverage, and tea should be avoided. Ginger ale may be taken with dinner; of medicines the fewer the better, but gentian bitters will do good if taken about half-an-hour before meals, and if there be paleness of the countenance, or inside of lips and gums, iron will do good (steel drops). If the tongue be yellow or white in the morning, the liver is probably somewhat in fault, in which case dandelion tea may be taken in doses of half a wineglassful three or four times a day. The proportion is,, of dandelion root sliced and bruised, one ounce boiled for a quarter of an hour in a pint of water. It is then simply strained, and enough water added to make it measure a pint. A teaspoonful or two of cream of tartar may be mixed in water, and half a teaspoonful of Howard's carbonate of soda added, and taken first thing in the morning; this medicine is very cooling and agreeable. A small teaspoonful of carbonate of soda in a wineglassful of water is an instantaneous cure for heartburn.

I know that many of my youthful readers suffer greatly from that most dreadful complaint called tic doloureux, or neuralgia of the face. The pain is usually confined to one half of the face and head, and comes on in paroxysms of great severity; an attack may last for days or even for weeks. Then it may be absent for quite a long time, when some little irregularity in diet or accidental chill may bring it all back again. It is most common in weakly girls.

To get rid of tic, the first thing to do is to have the teeth examined by a proper dentist. The removal of a bad one will often in itself suffice to effect a cure; a mild pill of aloes and pepsine combined may be taken about once a week, but stronger medicine is objectionable. An ointment composed of one grain or a grain and a half of aconitine with sixty grains of lard may be carefully and cautiously rubbed into the painful part of the cheek in front of the ear. A skilled chemist would tell you exactly how to use this. Liniments of chloroform, belladonna, and aconite are also worthy of a trial. But there is one medicine  for the relief of neuralgic pains that I must not omit mentioning, because it often - mind I do not say, always - acts like a charm; I refer to sal ammoniac. The dose for a grown-up person would be twenty grains in about half a cupful of water, repeated every hour till four doses were taken. If relief is obtained, the medicine should be taken three or four times a day for a week. About half the dose would do for a girl of about twelve.

Having got rid of the torture, a great effort ought to be made to improve the general health, and so prevent its return. Quinine wine should be used three times a day, with steel drops if the patient be pale and bloodless looking. The diet should be nourishing. Milk should be substituted for coffee or tea. The clothing ought to be warm, and the feet especially kept comfortable, white flannel must be worn next the skin. The Turkish bath twice a week is worthy of a trial.

I hope my readers will get any prescriptions I may give from time to time, either in my papers or in my Answers to Correspondents, made up by a regular chemist, except indeed, the more simple of them, such as dandelion or chamomile tea, &c. I would also remind them that unless attention to the ordinary rules of health is paid, such as regulation of diet, exercise, fresh air, early hours, and the bath, medicines will not work the wonders which they ought.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

27 November 1880 - 'Seasonable Clothing, and How to Make It'

Our bonnets and hats are usually a question of very deep consideration to all of us, and it is most natural they should be so; when we consider for a moment how really important they are as being the frames and shelters to our faces, and adding to or detracting from the pleasantness of our looks. A cheap bonnet or hat is hardly to be had unless we are fortunate enough to make them ourselves, when, I am sure, we have all been surprised at the great show which can be made at very little cost. This has been my own case this very season, when I have made two lovely creations (as the French milliners would call them), starting with one elderly bonnet, which, purchased in May, had lasted through the season. It was a very pretty and good black-jetted one, trimmed handsomely with jet, but it had quite done its duty and seen its best days. However, there was a new bonnet to be made from it, I was sure, and some little assistance toward another, perhaps, and my expenditure over both must be limited if other parts of the wardrobe were to be supplied as well.

Now my rule is to make such purchases invariably at a large shop - never where there is only a limited stock - as I am then sure of cheaper and better materials, and much newer and fresher things. On this occasion I followed my usual rule, and here is my bill in extenso -

1 black straw bonnet - 1s 1/2d
1 shape bonnet - 6 3/4d
1/2 yard black velvet, at 2s 11 1/2d per yard - 1s 5 3/4d
4 yard black ribbon, at 1s 1/2d a yard - 4s 1d
1 flower and leaves - 2s 6d
11s 1 1/2d

The black straw bonnet was one of coarse straw in the princess shape, small and closely fitting. A rummage in my bag of odds and ends soon found me enough black silk to line it with, and then it was bound all round back and front with a gathered bias of black velvet, which was slightly full, and was about half an inch on the edge of the bonnet. Above this all round were sewn on my strings of beads, which were as big as peas, and were kept on the thread on which they were strung, which was caught down at intervals with a stitch or two. On the front of the bonnet I placed one of the long knots or bows now so much worn cut from my half-yard of velvet, which I forgot to say was bought on the bias. This bow was about three inches wide, and was "slip stitched" round to prevent the stitches showing on the right side. A narrow band of velvet crossed the back above the beads. Then the strings were sewn on, and my little bonnet had reached completion.

I then turned to my old bonnet, which I carefully unpicked and brushed with a bonnet brush, before reconstructing it. After this I covered the coronet front of the new shape with some new black velvet, and bound the back with the same, first transferring the silk lining, which was quite clean and nice. Then the crown was covered with the embroidered bugle covering of the other bonnet, and the velvet coronet was quite covered with the deep-jetted fringe, which was sufficient to go all round to the back also. Lastly, my pretty old gold flowers were put deftly on the top of the front, the strings sewn on, and my second bonnet was done, the expense of both bonnets being 11s 1 1/2d - 5s 6 3/4d each. One, of course, was entirely new, but did not cost any more than the other with the flower and new strings. Now this little account has been given with a view of showing what can be done, either for ourselves or for others, if we choose to take the trouble of thinking about the matter.

I have always been thankful for my knowledge of millinery and dressmaking, which I derived from my nurse, who had been apprenticed to a milliner and dressmaker. Under her instructions I dressed and redressed my dolls, who went to endless entertainments, and altered and re-arranged their clothes with a boundless extravagance, which would have brought their male relations to the verge of bankruptcy if they had been anything but dolls. I do not remember either to have had any new things for my dolls in those happy busy days; nothing but a big band-box full of scraps of every kind, to which everyone seemed to contribute bits of lace, ribbon, and silk, besides anything and everything which could be turned to account for a doll or a doll's house. For my dolls lived in a big cupboard for a house, every room of which had been furnished by nurse and myself with wonderful home-made contrivances, much of which knowledge I have made use of in after life. But I fear very few girls have nurses like mine, and they must acquire their knowledge later in life, even if they are lucky enough to acquire it at all.

But to return to our "Seasonable Clothing." Now that we have disposed of our bonnets  for the moment, I am very anxious to help those amongst our girls who have just begun to have allowances, and do not yet know how to use them to the best advantage. There is no doubt that without a fixed plan we shall waste our money, and we must begin by making a fixed rule that we will try to buy everything we want at once, and not be always buying, or else we shall never get anything really good. There are a few rules which I think may be useful, and the first thing is to have as few dresses as possible, and nothing but what is good. One winter and one summer dress are quite sufficient to add to your stock yearly. Two bonnets and two hats are also enough; two pairs of shoes, and two pairs of boots. Four pairs of gloves will be found sufficient, if you buy only the very best, as 3s 9d, or 4s, and having worn a pair three months for best, take them for second best, and get a new pair to replace them as best. You should always manage to have two pairs of boots in wear at once, and two pairs of shoes, and never wear your best boots in wet weather. Stockings are another thing it is foolish to be saving in, as nothing really good in woollen can be obtained under 3s 6d or 4s. Three pairs are enough, and if of the best will wear for three winters. As occasion offers, take out the worst from your stock and replace them with new ones.  For the summer you will require six pairs at least; and if you darn and wear them carefully they will last three summers also, observing the same rule of replacing them.

All underclothing is kept in good order by the same rule, and every girl should always have some articles in hand, and endeavour to keep her stock of chemises and drawers up to six, while three or four night-dresses are quite enough. Flannels, too, are treated by the same rule, adding one at intervals (generally every autumn) to the stock, and using the thin petticoats in the summer. Summer petticoats are a very small item in the expenses, as they can be purchased by the yard as low as 10d and ready made for 3s, and they do not last beyond the season. Winter ones are rather more; I think that black moreen, or that satin-faced woollen material used to line gentleman's coats, are the best to use, but they may frequently be made from old black dresses. Black silk dresses are most economical wear, and, as a rule, one every four years is quite enough to keep anyone in best dresses. A few yards of new brocade, satin, or velvet will make a half-worn dress look like a new one. French merino and cashmere are also materials that will wash and wear to the last thread.




For those who require them I give two flannel (figs.1 and 2) dressing-gowns, which will be most useful to invalids. About eight yards will be required for each, and the trimmings may be of old black silk or cashmere for either, with a little cheap lace or work to enliven them, which can be taken off and washed.


Fig.3 is a flannel dressing-jacket, trimmed with flannel embroidery bands, or with torchon lace, and rows of herring-bone embroidery done with coarse purse silk.



The large illustration gives an idea of the winter fashions. A small coat-like jacket is in much favour, which reminds one of what is known, I believe, as a gentleman's "Newmarket" coat. The cheapness of Ulsters is quite astonishing in London this winter; I have seen them well made and of wonderfully good material for 12s 6d, and very excellent ones of a better class at 19s 6d.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

20 November 1880 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

TOPSY - We blame you not for weeping, as the song says, but try to take things more easy. Some people "worry" through life, make life in fact a continued "fever," and shorten their days by so doing. If you cannot learn to command your feelings at fifteen, you will not be able to do so at twenty. We are not making light of your troubles indeed, for such a girl's grief is often very real. Bathe your eyes with water (cold) in which a little toilet vinegar has been poured; then lie down a little and repeat the bathing when you get up. Afterwards sit in the fresh air for a short time, or at an open window. 2. All Walter Scott's novels are good, but read "Ivanhoe," it is spirited, and will not make you cry much. Writing fair, rather too round. Practise.

WAITING - You write very well.

C.C.G. - We prefer the "t's" crossed.

NELLIE B. - You write well, but red ink is objectionable, as it is too pale.

CORA FORREST - You may either peel the orange and divide it in its natural sections, or cut it in halve and quarters, and use both knife and fork. Your writing promises to be good.

NIL DESPERANDUM - Your writing is a beautiful copperplate hand.

J.B. VANE - The age at which a girl may be engaged must depend on her mother's wishes. We should consider seventeen too young, unless under exceptional circumstances. You promise to write well.

JENNIE WREN - Your natural hand, No.1, is by far the best of the collection, and very good. Your verses are much the reverse.

JENNY GEDDES - A travelling companion should speak good French, German and Italian, be familiar with the coin of each Continental country, should be well read in all the best guide books, and should be quick in understanding railway guides. When a route has been chosen and the best places for breaking the journey decided upon, the companion should make herself well informed as to the places of interest best worth a visit, and be able to act as a valuable guide.

Friday, 5 August 2016

20 November 1880 - 'How to Form a Small Library' by James Mason - Part Two

We agreed, you may remember, to aim at accumulating a library of fifty books. Now what these fifty are to be is a nice question, for a great deal depends on the character and education of the people who are to read them.

The poet Southey once drew out a "list of a gentleman's necessary library," and the works he put on it were the Bible, Shakespeare, Spenser's "Faerie Queen," Sidney's "Arcadia," the works of Sir Thomas Browne, the works of the Re. Cyril Jackson, Walton's "Complete Angler," Clarendon's History, Milton, Chaucer, Jeremy Taylor, South's Sermons, and Fuller's "Church History." These are all good books, and one of Southey's scholarly tastes might think his bookshelves completely furnished with nothing else; but it is doubtful whether we, who are less sedate, would care for five books out of the whole thirteen.

Perhaps the poet would have been as little satisfied with the following "list of a girl's library;" but if you, girls, are pleased, that is enough.

The longer I think about the fifty, the smaller the number seems to be. Let none of you run away with the impression that a little book-case can contain all the literature of worth in the world. Even had you ten times that number you might well heave a sight at the consideration of the number of works of beauty and glory of which you have not so much as turned over the leaves.

Many of our books will be necessary ones, but others I shall mention only "on approval." They are recommended, certainly, with all the enthusiasm with which one introduces his best friends; but if a girl desires to read other books, then those others are likely to do her most good, so let her buy them, after taking counsel with some friend whose judgment she respects.

In selecting the fifty I have tried to put it to myself in this way; Suppose I were Mary, or Kate, or Alice, and banished - of course for nothing at all - to a desert island, what books would I carry with me of a useful and fairly representative kind, so  that the time might be pleasantly and profitably spent till remorse attacked my oppressors and urged my recall? Here they are:-

The first is the Bible, the best of books and a library in itself. "Turn it, and turn it again," says an old writer, "for everything is in it." The Bible should form the keynote of every collection, and all the rest should be in harmony with it. Get a good edition, with notes, and strongly bound, so that it many stand constant handling.

Whoever sets a high value on the Bible will welcome every aid to the understanding of its sacred pages. The best of all helps in this way is "Cruden's Concordance," of which there are several cheap and serviceable editions to be had.

Of other religious books to be placed beside the Bible and the Concordance, we shall choose five. The first is the "Pilgrim's Progress," the work of the "prince of dreamers." No other book in the English language, the Bible alone excepted, has, as everyone knows, obtained so constant and so wide a sale.

Besides prayer-book and hymn-book, you should have a good manual of daily devotional reading. Bogatsky's "Golden Treasure" is an old favourite, and one of the best of those recently published is "The Daily Round." The "Book of Praise," edited by Lord Selbourne, is one of the best collections of sacred poetry. With the concordance, I ought to have mentioned the new Companion to the Bible, published at 56, Paternoster-row, a little book, with much information on scriptural subjects. The Bible Handbook of Dr. Angus is also of great value.

We have now decided on seven books, but perhaps we have gone ahead too fast. We should, maybe, have begun by speaking of what are strictly utility books, books not for reading but for reference. These form a good solid foundation for a library.

There must be a Dictionary of your own language, of course, and let it be the best you can afford to buy. When you get it, too, use it, and never fall into the lazy habit of making a guess at a word whose meaning you do not know. As a supplement to the dictionary, you must have a good work on English Grammar; including, if possible, a sketch of the history of the language. When on the look out for this at your second-hand bookseller's, do not buy the first that offers merely because you have not patience to wait till another turns up. The best and most satisfactory purchases are often only to be made by waiting.

Next comes a Dictionary of Dates, which will give you in a disjointed fashion the history of the world. To this should be added the "Elements of History," and from it you will gain a correct idea of the orderly progress of events.

A Dictionary of Biography cannot be done without; neither can a Gazetteer, and we can as little dispense with an Atlas. Let these books be of recent date; give the cold shoulder indeed on every occasion to antiquated books of reference. They are little better than waste paper.

You must now narrow your views, and having what will represent in a general way the places, the biography, and the notable events of the whole world, invest in a History of your own country; it must be the best your purse can afford. But stay, we said that when speaking of the dictionary. It is, indeed, a rule applicable to every book bought for your library.

Whose history should it be? Why, my friend, if I were to name an author for this, or for many another of these books, it would be of small use. If we had started with the understanding that you were going to buy them all new it would have been different. As it is, you must take the best that present themselves, and ma fortune send you a happy choice!

A Handbook of English Literature will come in nicely now, giving short notices and specimens of all the famous authors who have adorned the past. This is a most interesting branch of study, one rich in everything that can enlarge the mind and improve the heart. There is none better than the Handbook of Dr. Angus, and its companion volume, "Specimens of English Literature."

An Atlas and Geography you must possess; Milner's Geography, new edition, by Keith Johnston, is the best. Add next a Guide to your own town or county, so that you may take an intelligent interest in your own immediate neighbourhood.

In Biography there is an immense number of books one would like to have, and all the more so because in biography we have one of the most valuable aids in the formation of character; but we must be satisfied with three. There is Plutarch's "Lives" to start with, a readable, medicinal, invigorating book, which is not to be spared from the smallest library. When I name it I always remember how Alfieri, the great tragic poet of Italy, read it with such enthusiasm that he was afraid the people in the next house would think he was mad. The second is Boswell's "Life of Johnson," and let the third be some collection of the lives of eminent women.

Amongst volumes of Essays we may select as many as we did of biographies. The first are those of Lord Bacon, a book containing a great fund of useful knowledge and displaying a more intimate acquaintance with human life and manners than perhaps an other. "It may be read," says the great Scotch philosopher, Dugald Stewart, "from beginning to end in a few hours, and yet, after the twentieth perusal, one seldom fails to remark in it something overlooked before." Then there is the "Spectator" or Addison and Steele, an inexhaustible mine of humour, invention, and good counsel; last of all, we must have the Essays of Lord Macaulay.

What about Poetry? Now we feel pinched, indeed, for room, and filled with alarm lest we should not be compelled to make another shelf. Let us begin by getting a good general Collection of English Poetry. There are several good ones to be had, books which will familiarise us with the names and highest efforts of the chief writers of verse of our land.

We must next make the acquaintance of the ancient heroic world by purchasing and reading Pope's translation of Homer. The defects of this translation have often been pointed out, but its merits, too, are great. The only objection which you who are so gentle-minded are likely to find with it is one that belongs to the subject, and not to either the poet or his translator; the Iliad, at any rate, has rather much fighting in it.

The next whose works you must buy is Shakespeare, the greatest dramatic poet in the world. Then comes Dante, in whom the Middle Ages found a voice, and of Dante the most readable translation is Cary's. We must not forget the gentle Spenser either, or Milton, and these are all the poets I shall insist upon. They are five of the greatest of the great. Read them, and as you do so thank heaven for having sent such genius to brighten, elevate, and purify the lives of men.

But you may wish to add other poets, for one is sometimes most in love with lesser lights. Choose, therefore, three others, whom you please. Cowper, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Longfellow, and Scott might be suggested, as pray don't forget the "holy George Herbert."

How are we getting on now? We have named thirty-five books in all, and after enumerating fifteen more shall be at the end of our tether.

To fiction we shall devote five books. One will be "The Vicar of Wakefield," and this by the way, you may meet with bound up in the same volume with Goldsmith's Poems, and some of his dramatic and miscellaneous works. Thus you will increase your collection without infringing the rule as to the fifty. The remaining four should be one story by Scott, one by Dickens, and one by Thackeray - say "Pendennis," "David Copperfield," and "Vanity Fair," and one favourite - you will yourself name who he is to be. What! No? You ask me to choose, do you? Then, I say, a good translation of Grimm's "Fairy Tales,"  for the enjoyment of which all happy people can never grow too old. These will supply more nourishment to the imagination than half the novels in Christendom.

This will be a delightful corner of our library, but we must not be too much taken up with it. The rule, as somebody says, should be this - "Mix light reading with serious reading, so that the one shall not engross nor the other weary."

Good Letter-writing is a rare accomplishment, and one book may be named as a model in this department. Critics of most opposite tastes, Southey, Jeffrey, Robert Hall, have all pronounced the poet Cowper the most charming of letter-writers. An edition of his selected letter, with memoir, and notices of his correspondents, is published at the office this paper.

In Science we must have something, and the most charming work in this line I know of is white's "Natural History of Selbourne." Get it by all means, and it will teach you, as it has already taught many, to be a close observer of nature and an enthusiast for rural life. Add to this one work of a thoroughgoing character on any science for which you have a decided taste; botany, zoology, astronomy, or anything else.

Now we come to miscellaneous books, and of these you would do well to have three at least; a Dictionary of Quotations, a Book of English Proverbs, and a Collection of Anecdotes. These are all food for thought, and most valuable for such as know how to use them.

Of "home books" you must have three also. Let one be a sensible work on Cookery, another a book on Domestic Management, and the third a Guide to the Preservation of Health and the cure of simple ailments. These all treat of subjects belonging to the sphere of woman, and you will relish the poets none the less for knowing the best way to boil potatoes, lay the fire, or bind up your little brother's cut finger.

An almanack is hardly to be reckoned in our list, being usually of pocket size; but if a book, let it be "Whitaker's Almanack," the completest and best.

You are musical, of course; so your forty-ninth book - for we have really come to the forty-ninth - should be a thoroughgoing treatise on the Theory of Music, another special subject for girls.

And the fiftieth; what is that to be? What should it be but THE GIRL'S OWN ANNUAL? Modesty makes the Editor insist that I should put it last, but we all know how high a place it deserved to hold. It is true that all our other books differ from THE GIRL'S OWN ANNUAL in this, that they may be had in one volume, whereas, in the course of time, there is no saying how many volumes our magazine may grow. "But," says Mary, "never mind that; we shall shut our eyes to the peculiarity you have mentioned, and, whatever number of volumes we possess, we shall always reckon them just as one book." Thank you, Mary; you are a very nice example of women's ingenuity.

Now our library is complete. Complete, at least,  for the present; for, as I said before, the appetite for books grows by what it feeds on. In these fifty books you have a little collection representing the best thought of all time, and containing an immense store of the most useful information, and no one who possesses it can fail to lead a happy intellectual life- a life, too, that may exercise some good influence in the world.

But never forget that many of the books just named are not of necessity the right ones for you. I hope you will in the end let them all rank with your best friends; but never, no, never, form a library on a plan suggested by somebody else without regard to your own inclinations. If a library is worth anything, it should faithfully represent the tastes and aspirations of its owner. It should be such that a stranger coming in and looking at it might say with confidence either, "There are many points of contact between that girl's mind and mine;" or, "I am sure that girl and I will never get on, for she cares for nothing that I like and likes nothing I am keen upon."

You may say that we have made our library hold more books than we can ever hope to read. I do not think so; but what matter if we have? To own more books than we can read, is one of the conditions of intellectual growth. Our minds expand even by the contemplation of the subjects we cannot master and the authors with whom we can never hope to grow familiar.

Having started your collection, keep it in good order. Keep everything in order, but especially your books. Have them neatly arranged according to size, placing the biggest on the bottom shelf as ballast. Were your library larger, I would recommend placing books by subjects; but you will be able to run over the whole fifty in a minute, so it is not necessary, and I expect you to handle them so often that you will be able to pick them out blindfolded in the dark.

Keep a catalogue, and whenever you bring home a book enter it; and whenever you lend one enter it also, with the date and the name of the friend who has borrowed it.

On the subject of lending, do not cease from indulging in this kindly practise, because of some unhappy experiences. I  sometimes think there is a great deal of false delicacy shown in not asking the borrower to return a book when one thinks she has had it long enough.

It has been suggested that at Christmas one should devote some time to searching for borrowed books and returning them to the owners. This would certainly add another charm to the festive season.

Enter all the books you borrow in an appendix to your catalogue. This is a useful practice, and in the course of time you thus secure an interesting record of all the books which have passed through your hands.