Thursday, 19 January 2017

28 May 1881 - 'The Difficulties of a Young Housekeeper and How She Overcame Them' by Dora Hope - Chapter 7

This month, quietly putting up with it when other people ruin your mantelpiece, preserving gooseberries, and when the help want to have their boyfriend over for tea. 

"Oh dear me, what a heap of mending!" sighed Margaret, one Monday morning, as she raised the already partially open lid of her stocking basket. "The basket actually will not shut – it's so full! And what big holes! However is it that boys' socks always wear so much worse than anyone else's?"

Taking out the top pair, and unrolling them, Margaret held them at arm's length in dismay. Such yawning chasms of holes, and so many of them, it would be but labour lost to attempt to mend. She remembered that very pair of socks, a week or two previously, as having looked decidedly thin in several places, but having no actual holes in them they had been rolled up and put in Tom's drawer, ready for wear. And this was the result; and as she reluctantly put the mutilated socks aside for kitchen use, remembering experiences, she learned anew the old but invaluable lesson about "a stitch in time." Never again would she leave thin places to come into these awkward, even unmendable holes, but, by taking them betimes, save herself endless labour, expense and time.

The stocking basket, well stocked with needles, yarn, scissors and socks was kept handily in a work cupboard, whence it could be lifted out whenever there was a little time to spare.

Margaret found she could not afford to waste even the odd five minutes which come to the busiest people sometimes. The two brothers would rush home from school, perhaps with some long tale of the morning's exploits to narrate, or Mr Colville, before starting in the morning, liked to read extracts from the paper, commenting thereon; and Margaret, not from want of interest in either, could not help but feeling fidgety at letting the precious moments slip away when there was so much waiting to be done. So she would quietly take some piece of mending from the cupboard and go on with it the while, or, failing mending, she kept always a piece of knitting in hand – a sock for her father, or stocking for herself – which c be readily taken up and laid down again.

Thus she soon got into the way of almost mechanically taking up her work in these odd minutes. But when she felt she could spare time for a real rest, she did rest – no work then, but snugly nestled in the recess of the largest and easiest of easy chairs, she would give herself up to the enjoyment of a favourite author or poet.

For it must be confessed that this young damsel was not by nature fond of work. It is probable that, had her lines fallen in different circumstances, her time and energies would have been chiefly devoted to music, reading, and so on, without a thought anent household affairs or the conservation of leisure moments. So she may be excused for banishing even her knitting, when, on very rare occasions, she gave herself to "luxuriating."

But to return to Margaret as she sits examining her pile of mending. Her thoughts are not solely fixed on the task, for they will wander prosaically to the larder which is at present bare, and, moreover, must speedily be filled, or else dinner will be late. The problem still often proved a puzzling one, particularly on Monday, when it was advisable to have a joint that could be eaten cold next day, because Tuesday was washing day.

Washing day was not a very imposing matter in the Colville household, because nothing was washed at home save the kitchen cloths, dusters, and so on, and Betsy's clothes, excepting her cotton dresses. Monday was sometimes a cold-meat day, and then a nice savoury hash or stew formed the Tuesday's dinner, as it could be gently simmering by the fire whilst the washing was going on. But Betsy would have felt aggrieved at being expected to cook anything more elaborate than a stew on this great day, and hence the problem.

"Let me see! Last time we had hot meat on Monday – it was roast beef; and the time before I think it was roast mutton, and before that I've no doubt beef again. Oh, I have it! We will dine off boiled mutton with the usual trimmings, a la Mr Weller, and that will give an opportunity for telling Betsy the rules for boiling meat, which I've long suspected she is slightly 'mixed' about."

The next few minutes were spent in instilling into the mind of the domestic the fact that if you want to extract the goodness of the meat – for beef-tea, for instance – put it on the fire in cold water, because the act of boiling draws out the juices of the meat. But if it is desired to keep the strength and grave in the meat, let the water boil first and then put it in, as otherwise it cannot but be tasteless and poor, because all the goodness has been drawn out into the water.

"And you must, of course, keep the liquor the mutton was boiled in, Betsy," went on Margaret, "and on Wednesday we will use it for oyster soup. You have the recipe?"

"Yes, miss, but will you be so kind as to read it out to me, I can seem to take in the meaning better when you read it up."

"But you will have forgotten it all by Wednesday. However, if so, you must ask for it again. You require a tin of oysters, the tinned ones will do as well as the fresh for this occasion. Three pints of white stock, not quite half a pint of milk, one and a half ounces of butter, one ounce or rather more of flour, and salt, mace and pepper. First, take the oysters from the tin and put them in your soup tureen; then take a pint of stock and simmer it with the liquor from the oysters for half-an-hour; strain it and add the rest of the stock, with the seasoning. Boil it, add the butter and flour for thickening, let it simmer for a minute or two, stir in the boiling milk, and pour all over the oysters. There, that is very simple, and now I must go out and order the leg of mutton."

" But please, miss, about the upstairs fires, as it's come so warm lately and you generally lets the fires out in the morning, I was thinking whether I need light them any more  for the present."

"Well, you need not do so to-morrow, and we will see whether anyone feels chilly. If we decide to leave them off altogether in the drawing-room you must thoroughly clean and blacken the grate, take away those bars and put in the bright ones."

"Yes, miss, and beautifully bright they are; I just give them a bit of a rub with a cloth, and they look just like new, through being put away covered with a thick paste of sweet oil and unslaked lime: there's nothing like it for keeping off rust on brights."

"That is all right. Do not forget to fasten down the register. The dining-room grate can be left as it is, because you know we like a fire occasionally even on a summer's evening, but that register must of course be closed too. Only I hope you will not forget to raise it when we have an occasional fire again."

This idea of keeping the fire laid all the summer through was Mr Colville's, who failed to see why one should sit chilly and comfortless on a cold evening simply because it was the month of July and August.

"Of course, it ought to be warm, I grant you," he would argue, "but it is cold, so by all means let us have a fire."

There was no difficulty about this, as Margaret had worked a pretty pair of curtains in crewels for the fireplace, which effectually concealed all traces of coal and stick. When the fire was to be lighted the curtains were simply looped back by their bands, the register raised, and the grate was ready  for the application of the match.

Apropos of grates, Margaret's calmness had been put to a severe test on the night of Dick's birthday party. Wilfrid Trent came to preside in Mr Colville's absence and Margaret retreated from the noisy scene after tea, but returned to be present at the promised conjuring tricks. The room after a time becoming warm, a window was slightly opened, and the draught blew directly on to the mantelpiece, causing the candles to flicker, and presently to begin to drip grease down upon the marble.

The conjuror stood immediately in front of the fireplace, and Margaret did not like to interrupt the performance by getting up to remove the candles, so she had to just sit and watch, with growing anxiety, the likewise growing heaps of wax.

Her precious marble mantel! It was very handsome, fine, and white; the one thing in the house in which she felt a pride. Every day, with her own hands, she rubbed it tenderly, using a soft cloth only, rightly judging the application of soap and water would be prejudicial. And now to have to sit and calmly watch the slow, steady trickle of grease was indeed anguish.

"Never mind," she said to herself, "I must smother my feelings till this is over, then I will rush for Joanna's book and seek a remedy whilst the company is having its lemonade and cake in the dining-room before going home."

This she did, and luckily found there an excellent and simple way of removing grease spots from marble. Carefully detaching with a knife as much as she could without scratching the surface of the mantel, she applied some finely-powdered magnesia, to be left all night, and then, with an easier mind, rejoined the merry party in the next room.

The following morning, on wiping off the magnesia, the grease marks had disappeared, and a 2d application was not necessary.

The Colvilles' house was an old one, and though it consequently could not boast of modern improvements, such as heated linen rooms, yet it possessed one advantage rarely met with in a new house ,namely, a fairly large garden.

It was not a remarkably productive garden, but that was, perhaps, because there was so little attention given to its culture. The lawns were kept closely shaven and the paths neat and trim, but beyond that the old-fashioned rose-bushes still blossomed on (or not, as the case might be), free from the rivalry of standards; the lilacs, all untrimmed, grew into perfect bowers, whilst honeysuckles and clematis climbed and wandered about in a delicious tangle, just as their own sweet wills led them.

One corner of the garden was dignified by the name of orchard, though all that remained to merit the title was one gnarled old apple-tree, hoary with age and long past bearing. But here were a number of fine hardy gooseberry and currant bushes, which some enterprising tenant had planted, and in spite of the neglect of the present very unagricultural family, the bushes were laden with fruit, year after year, with unabating plenty.

Tom and Dick would commence their onslaught on the crop whilst the fruit was still in the condition of small green bullets, and indigestible beyond words to describe, and continued it as long as there was a berry left, but still there was abundance left for pies and puddings and preserving.

This year Margaret resolved to be content with bottling a quantity for winter use, instead of preserving any, for it must be confessed that she felt a little timid of trying her 'prentice hand on preserves. Following what she took to be the traditional family recipe for gooseberries in the miscellany book, she selected the fruit when fully grown but before it was ripe. They were gathered on a dry sunny day, and with the "heads and tails" cut off, they were placed in wide-mouthed bottles, which had to be perfectly dry inside. These, well corked, were put to stand up to the neck in a pan of cold water on the fire, which was allowed to come to a boil very gradually till the fruit looked scalded or "coddled," to use an old-fashioned phrase. The bottles were then taken out and the necks dipped into the following cement for keeping out all air: - Put two pounds of resin, with two ounces of tallow (that from a dip candle will do) into an earthen vessel; melt over a slow fire till well mixed, colour with a little stone blue or yellow ochre, and let it cool till it is only just liquid.

"The currants require rather more care in gathering, so as not to bruise the fruit, and their treatment afterwards is somewhat different. To every pound of fruit, half a pound of sugar is allowed, pulverised and dried by the fire. They are boiled with the sugar for a minute, then when cold put into bottles with a little sweet oil on the top. A piece of bladder and a little sheet lead are good coverings for excluding air, and finally, the bottles are put away in a cool, dry cupboard, and their contents subsequently testify to the excellence of the way of preserving, for they taste like fresh fruit.

It was during the gathering of this fruit that Betsy confided to her mistress a very agitating and interesting piece of news. It seemed that during her sojourn "down home," Betsy's pleasant face and manner, and her devoted attention to her sick mother, had quite won the heart of a rising young baker, in fact, so devoted was he that, not being actually discouraged in his suit, he had left his native village and taken a situation as foreman in a thriving establishment not far off, ostensibly to better himself, but also, as Betsy could not but surmise, with the idea of renewing his proposals.

"And now," continued the damsel, hiding as best she could amongst the friendly gooseberry bushes, her face always rosey, at this agitating moment absolutely carmine, "now the young man was pressing for a decided answer, and a letter had come that very morning urging for it in eloquent terms."

"But you don't mean that – he doesn't want you to marry him directly, surely?" asked Margaret, lost in amazement and perplexity.

"Oh, dear heart, no, miss," replied the damsel, unable to refrain from a smile at her mistress's simplicity, "'tis only to keep company, as the saying is; and I thought as father hasn't no objections, and if you hadn't no objections, and he's a very steady young man and getting on well in his trade too –"

"Your father knows him, then?"

"Oh, yes, miss, from a child, I might say, and me too. We was at school together, and was always friendly like."

"Well,  Betsy, it would not be right for me to hinder you in a matter like this, so long as your father is content, and I feel sure he would not allow you to have anything to do with one who was not very steady and good and nice."

"No, miss, certainly not, nor I wouldn't wish to. Should you have any objections to me seeing him now and then, miss?"

It was Margaret's turn to smile now,  for the idea of not being allowed to see one's betrothed even now and again struck her as droll. She was on the point of saying he could come as often as he liked, but, on second thoughts, prudently replied, "Of course I wish to do what is best for you, so I will think it over, and let you know what can be arranged."

Margaret's "thinking about it" meant, as usual, "ask Mrs Trent or Joanna about it," for this was indeed a new experience for her. She knew, poor child, that a whole day's thought would bring her no light on such a subject, and though she felt much interested in the affair (as what girl of eighteen would not?) she wished she had not to give an opinion on it.

As soon as possible she set out for Mrs Trent's, timing her visit so that Wilfrid would be certainly safe at his business.

After hearing the state of the case, Mrs Trent congratulated Margaret on Betsy's having made so good a choice, for she had heard the young man spoken of in high terms by his employer.

"As to his coming to see Betsy, it has always seemed hard to me that while Miss Belinda in the parlour may have her beaux, Betsy Jane in the kitchen is not permitted to have a 'follower!' One wishes to be kind and considerate in such cases, but too frequent visits are not satisfactory; it unsettles the girl, as she is in a constant state of expecting him to come, and it may tempt the young man to waste the time when he ought to be at work. Now, I advise you to give him permission to come every other Sunday afternoon, have tea with Betsy, and go to church with her in the evening. On the intervening Sunday she will see him no doubt at church, but he should not come into the house on any other occasion, save by very special permission."

"Oh, Mrs Trent, only once a fortnight! Why, if she is very, very fond of him, she will want to see him every single day! I'm certain I should," Margaret exclaimed, blushing and laughing.

"Ah1 Well, we cannot have everything we want, love; supposing he lived very far away, once a fortnight would seem delightfully often. But you had better propose that to Betsy, and I feel sure she will be well content, and he too. Now, dear, I will give you that recipe for the marking ink with which my linen was marked when I was married thirty years ago, and, see, it is as black and clear as if it were freshly written. Here it is. Take two drachms of powdered gum arabic, one scruple of sap green, and one drachm two scruples of nitrate of silver; dissolve these in an ounce of distilled water. That is the ink; but before using it, it is necessary to prepare the linen with a mordaunt, made by dissolving one ounce of carbonate of soda in half a pint of water. Moisten the place to be marked with this mordaunt, and when dry proceed as with ordinary marking ink, finally holding the newly written letters to the fire for a minute."

"Many thanks, Mrs Trent, dear, I have been so troubled with bad marking inks: some of them wash out directly, and others, still worse, eat away the linen into large holes. If this is a little more trouble to use I'm sure it will be well worth it,  for the names on your linen, done so long ago, are far clearer and better coloured than any I can get now."

"Yes, I think you will be pleased. In looking over my old papers, searching for that recipe, I came across this one – it is a delicious conserve, made of rose-leaves – which I have never seen or heard mentioned since I was a child, and used to have a spoonful for dessert on Sundays as a great treat. Yes, you may well open your eyes, but after all it is not a very different thing from drinking the infusion of tea-leaves. This is the recipe:- Take red-rose petals, remove the white part at the bottom of each, sift them through a sieve, to remove seeds and other particles. Weigh them, and allow three times their weight of the best loaf-sugar. Boil the leaves till they are tender, reckoning about a pint of water to the same measure of petals. Then add the sugar and boil, stirring all the time till the syrup is nearly all taken up. Then put away in little jars, covering as for preserves."

"I shall like to try that as soon as our roses are in perfection; it is such a pretty recipe, and it is so poetic actually to eat a conserve of rose-leaves.

"Then I saved two simple custard recipes for you. They are such an improvement with rather sour early fruit, which will be soon coming on now. Here is one of them: - Take a pint of milk, add two large eggs, both whites and yolks, and a little nutmeg. Beat these together for five minutes, and pour into a saucepan. Stir over a clear fire till the mixture thickens. Put into a jug a little drop of almond flavouring, or vanilla (half a teaspoonful is ample), strain the custard into the jug, strain it once more, and serve cold. The other recipe is equally simple and economical. For it you must boil a pint of new milk, with a little lemon-peel, two bay-leaves, and sugar to taste. Meanwhile, rub down smooth a dessert-spoonful of rice-flour into a cup of cold milk, and mix with it the well-beaten yolks of two eggs. Take a basin of the hot milk and mix with the cold, then pour that into the saucepan of boiling milk again, stirring it one way till it thickens and is on the point of boiling. Next pour it out into a jug or other vessel, stir it for some time, adding a tablespoonful of peach-water, and any flavouring you please."

"Those certainly sound very simple. I have never been very successful with custards when I have tried the more complicated recipes, but surely I cannot go wrong with such clear and easy directions as these. How lovely that bouquet of lilac is! Surely they are not the same clusters that I saw here more than a week ago?"

"Yes, indeed, they are the same, and they are as sweet as ever, are they not? It is because there was a little charcoal put in the water in which they stand. There is nothing like it for keeping flowers fresh."

"Well, I hope Betsy will not think me very hard-hearted about her interviews with the young man," said Margaret, as she rose to take leave.

"She will be unreasonable if she does; but you need not fear it. I hope you will meet with no worse treatment from the powers that be when your own time comes."

Monday, 16 January 2017

28 May 1881 - 'On Summer Drinks' by Medicus

The day was very hot, and I felt both dry and drowsy,  for the office gasogene was empty. No wonder as I sat, almost nodding, in my arm-chair, that my thoughts wandered away from the busy toiling town to bloomy dales and woodland scenes; no wonder that I presently roused myself up, and, fixing the Editor with my eagle eye, addressed him as follows:-

"I'd have a cottage where the south wind came
Cool from the spicy pines, or with a breath
Of the mid-ocean salt upon its lips,
And a low lulling, dreamy sound of waves,
To breathe upon me where I lay."

But the Editor brought me up sharp, -

"Not to-day, doctor, I can assure you," he said; "you've got to finish that article on summer drinks. After that you can have as many cottages as you like." I gazed sadly on the empty gasogene for a few moments, then with a sigh resumed my pen, and presently I forgot everything else saving my subject, and a very pretty duet the editor's quill and mine made, I do assure you.

But why, fair reader mine, should one sigh to look at an empty gasogene in summer? We seldom trouble ourselves much about this queer machine in winter. The question requires no very deep knowledge of anatomy or physiology to enable us to reply to it: exposure to a more heated atmosphere than usual increases the perspiration of our bodies, both sensible and insensible. When this is carried too far thickening of the blood is the result, and one feels in consequence enervated, languid and depressed, and longs for some cooling beverage to assuage the thirst.

But before going a line further I must warn you, that the excessive use of cooling drinks is most hurtful and injurious, not only to the skin and complexion but to the whole system. I should like every reader of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER to feel as cool in summer as a little cucumber, and as "caller" as a little trout, but with a skin as soft as the petals of a rose, and eyes as pure and bright as an Italian sky. Therefore, I say, whatever beverage you may fancy, sip it. Never drink until thirst is quite assuaged, or you will assuredly drink too much. Let your motto be, "little at a time," but I do not mind how often you drink. Be guided by your own feelings as to that. Excessive thirst is often quenched by allowing the cooling drink to trickle slowly down the throat. But on the other hand, I would have you live during summer in such a way that there would be no occasion for frequent potations of any kind. And if I did not show you how to do this, my present paper would be, in my opinion, anything but complete.

There is a right way, then, and a wrong way of spending the hot days of golden summer time. Winter's pleasures ought never to be carried quite into spring; even indoor parties, and especially close concert-rooms, should be avoided in summer, so should the fatiguing journeys and excursions people so often take, in the oft-time vain search for pleasure. The social circle is now best enjoyed in the cool of the evening, in the moonlit verandah, or seated in the garden beneath the quiet stars. The heat of the mid-day sun should be avoided; fortunate are they who can choose the hottest hours of the day for a siesta in a shaded hammock out of doors. But this is a work-a-day world, and most of us have to toil at noon, as well as any other time. Only there is one thing we can all do and so help to keep ourselves cool and healthy: even in the hottest months of summer, we can dress lightly and wear light coloured garments, and we can alter the kind of food we eat to suit the weather. We ought to carefully avoid all kinds of heavy indigestible food, rich soups and gravies, fat meats and over-stimulating condiments, and we should eat more sparingly; and although we ought to be cautious in the use of cheese, salads ought to be eaten every day. And yet how very few of the fair sex know how to compound a delicious salad! I think if some of my readers knew the effect for good upon the blood and the complexion that salads have, they would study how to make them.

"Does your daughter play?" I asked an American with whom I was dining last year in Philadelphia.

"Well, no, and that's the truth," he replied somewhat disconsolately. After a few moments' pause he brightened up as he added:-

"She don't play, sir, but you just wait till you see the salad she'll put in front of you."

And if you would be well in summer, if you would be cool in body and in mind, and if you would feel and look strong, do not forget the morning tub and the rough bath towel. Mind I don't hold with excessive bathing; once a day immediately after getting up take the sponge bath, and once a week before going to bed a nice tepid soap bath, followed by a sponge full or two of cold water.

Early rising in summer is greatly to be recommended. A young girl ought to get up soon after the birds do.

But it is time, you will say, that I should tell you something about summer drinks. Well, I shall tell you first that neither beer nor stout nor porter is suitable for warm weather; nor is champagne, the effects of exhilaration produced by it are only momentary, but claret cup and, better still, sauterne cup may be partaken of in moderation, after or during exertion. Such out-door games as lawn tennis should always, in my opinion, be played either early in the forenoon or in the evening during summer.

I may remind you that the hottest part of the day is from one o'clock till three. A great many girls think that their complexion will not be injured by the sun, unless his rays shine directly on the face; and they wear veils or sun hats to protect themselves; but they should bear in mind that exercise or over-exertion during the hottest hours of the day, is far more detrimental to the skin than sunshine.

Both tea and cocoa are refreshing as summer beverages, and not only refreshing but soothing and cooling as well. The cocoa should be the best procurable. I recommend cocoatina, which is neither adulterated with sugar nor with starch. Its good effects will be appreciated if taken in the forenoon, just before going out walking or for exercise of any kind. It should be taken warm but not too hot, and with milk and sugar. Tea on the other hand is most valuable in the afternoon of, say, a warm or sultry summer's day. It should be pretty strong, because much should not be drunk; it ought to be the cheapest tea you can buy, and the cheapest tea, mind you, is that for which you will have to pay the longest price. Bad tea is worse than useless. Do not drink tea too hot, do not drink it at all, but sip it. When taking tea talk on subjects light as air, and do not let what you eat be very much heavier. It would, methinks, be a blessing to our country if everyone knew the value of cold tea as a beverage  for the traveller. I have travelled a great deal by train, and very long journeys, and I find there is nothing to equal it. I have it made before I start, milk and sugar added, and bottle it and place it in my bag. Thus armed I am secure against thirst, and to a great extent against fatigue as well, and I run no risk of being injured by bad beverages at railway stations.

To those who can afford it some or other of the various aerated waters – Vichy, potash, soda, or seltzer water – either plain or mixed with some kind of flavouring, form the most wholesome drink for a warm summer's day. These waters are, of course, all the better if iced, but they cannot be drunk in large quantities with impunity. This should be remembered by those who partake of them, nor is it a good plan to make too large a use of ice in hot weather; it interferes very materially with the process of digestion, and if carried to excess will induce positive disease.

I must also warn my readers against over-indulgence sin any of the numerous medicated waters, with which the market is at present flooded. Taken occasionally, some of them are undoubtedly tonic in their effect, but if persisted in for any length of time the drugs, such as iron and phosphorus, &c., which they contain, accumulate in the system and produce the most distressing symptoms. This is a fact which cannot be too widely known.

Aerated iced waters form the basis of a great many cooling drinks. Soda-water may now be bought very cheaply and economically on the syphon system. The syphon flask should be kept in the ice chest, and, if desired, the draught may be nicely flavoured with any of the various fruit syrups, which your grocer will supply you with cheaply. Where there is a large family the gasogene may be used, otherwise I cannot recommend its use, as the water left in it for any time is apt to get flat. When the summer's heat seems to be telling too much upon one, a very nice drink may be composed as follows, and used every day for a fortnight, three times a day or even four times. It is made of dilute phosphoric acid five drops, tincture of quinine thirty or forty drops, and a little syrup of oranges, mixed in a tumblerful of iced soda-water. Another excellent tonic drink is composed of extract of malt in soda-water, flavoured with a little tincture of oranges. The dose of the extract is from a dessertspoonful to a tablespoonful three times a day; if a little tincture of quinine is mixed with the drink the tonic properties are of course increased.

I cannot speak too highly of soda-water and milk as a summer drink on a warm day; it is soothing, nourishing and refreshing. You see that soda-water may be made the basis of a great variety of drinks. If ice be bought, and you have no ice-chest, either keep it in a box of sawdust, or roll it round with thick blanket-cloth. A box of sawdust is the better plan; it will keep ice almost any length of time.

A few drops of tincture of ginger in a bottle of sweetened soda-water is a very reviving drink. Ginger is aromatic, tonic, and stimulating. Tincture of ginger can be had of any chemist, only be careful to make him mark the strength or ordinary dose on the phial.

Here is a cheap and wholesome summer drink: A tablespoonful of lime juice in a glass of pure cold water, sweetened to taste, with or without a little tincture of ginger, and half a teaspoonful of carbonate of soda added to make it effervesce. Mind it is lime juice, not lime cordial. This lime juice may be added to soda-water or plain water and syrup.

Apples, pared and sliced, and steeped in water over night, form a nice summer drink.

There are various kinds of sherbet powders sold by the chemists, which effervesce when mixed with water. I can recommend them all except ginger-beer powders. They are not nice.

Ginger beer itself is one of the most wholesome summer drinks I know, and can be drunk ad libitum; only make it yourself. "Medicus" need not give you a recipe for this – you can get one in any cookery book almost. What is sold as ginger beer in glass bottles is not good. But ginger ale is an excellent beverage for summer use.

Spruce beer is another capital drink.

New milk, drunk in the morning, warm from the cow, will support you wonderfully in hot weather; and, last, but not least, as a summer drink, comes one which deserves to be put in capital letters and have a whole line to itself; I mean


Friday, 13 January 2017

21 May 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

EASTERN HELIOTROPE – We sympathise with you and your eldest brother sincerely. In reference to your own case, you have given us a clue to the reason for some of the unpleasant scenes that occur. "I confess to a very hot temper," to which you give vent when annoying things are said. But a young girl, still a minor, has no business to "answer back," whatever may be said by one so much older and standing in such a position. We say this in all kindliness, and with the fullest  sympathy for you in so painful a position. Try the peace-making effect of that "soft answer" that "turneth away wrath," and set yourself to the difficult task of self-control, daily asking  for the needful strength. This "nagging" is often the result of a lack of tact in the person subjected to it.

EVELYN, NELLIE, CHOLMONDELEY, AND L.S.D. wish to restore discoloured pearls to their natural hue. Soak them in hot water in which bran has been boiled, with a little salts of tartar and alum, rubbing them gently between the fingers, when the heat will allow, rinse them in lukewarm water, and lay them to dry in a dark place on white paper. Renew the application till all discolouration is removed.

HOUSEKEEPER – With great care we think £3 to £3 10s per week should suffice for food, washing, and light. The clothing  for the father, mother, and two elder daughters would cost at least £15 per annum each.  For the two younger ones £15 the two. All clothes must be made at home, except the gentlemen's cloth suits. You do not mention either wages or rent, so we conclude you pay these from some other fund, as they are very important items. Repairs and renewal of furniture, china, and house linen are also omitted.

WILD ROSE – We consider that it is a lazy and very bad practice to appear at breakfast in a dressing-gown. If young girls come down in bedroom attire, the grandmammas and grandpapas might come down in their night-caps and slippers. The term genre is French, and denotes subjects of still life, sometimes, perhaps, including birds and animals. The Dutch excel in this style.

PET LAMB – From what you say we fancy you have a soprano voice of small compass, and you have not got any good low notes. If suffering from chronic hoarseness you should consult a doctor. We thank you for all your kind wishes.

F.M.  – What a funny little body "F.M." appears to be! She says, "I have written a book, and cannot tell what to do next. I do not know what a publisher is." They are not "sea-serpents" at all events, though apparently rather formidable to this little maiden who seems to be so much "at sea" on the question of launching her paper boat. She further assures us that "the people in my book are neither so ignorant nor so foolish as I am." But all the same we do not know how we may obtain the privilege of an introduction to them. Get some gentleman friend (clergyman or lawyer) to look through your manuscript and advise you. We did not for a moment disparage the feminine character of your epistle by "mistaking you for a boy."

ROSALIND – It is by no means advisable for a girl's health to go out every morning in the depth of winter, at half-past 6 a.m., to attend a class, fasting. Under such circumstances she is liable to catch any infection prevalent, and to suffer from the inclemency of the weather. If unable to obtain a regular breakfast she should have a cup of milk and a piece of bread and butter.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

21 May 1881 - 'The Duties of Servants' by Sophia F.A. Caulfield

The question of the respective duties of all classes of domestic servants to their employers, and no less so those of the latter to their paid dependents, is one which often supplies a subject of painful disagreement between the two parties concerned. Unhappily for each, they are too much disposed to regard each other as opponents, actuated by conflicting interests. On the contrary, the well-being and peace of the household forms an important object of interest to each. They have it equally in their own power, respectively, to promote, or mar their mutual comfort and happiness, and to confer more substantial benefit on each other in their own especial departments of duty than money could either purchase or reward. All antagonistic feeling should be extinguished on both sides, and this can be effected without in the least degree interfering with the order of society and of those distinctions of position which exist by the ordinance of God. It is to be recognised throughout all nature, from the humble "hyssop on the wall, to the cedar of Libanus;" "one star differing from another star in glory;" one faithful servant being "ruler over ten cities," and another "over five" only. "The head cannot boast itself," we are told, "against the hand' or the foot; nor can they be envious of the head. For all the members there is a fit and seemly place, and an honourable work to do; and of every arrangement of divine appointment we may be perfectly sure that all is well and wisely ordained.

In giving a general summary of the duties devolving on those employed in every department of female domestic service, I propose to offer a few suggestions both to them, and to those appointed to be heads of households.

The HOUSEKEEPER has the entire direction of all the female servants, with the exception of the lady's maid and the head nurse; receiving the orders of her mistress and acting as her deputy. Excepting where a house steward is kept, it devolves on her to keep the weekly accounts, to enter on her ledger the expenditure of each day; to pay all bills and file receipts; superintend the weighing of meat, to correct the tickets sent with it, and to examine every article sent to the house  for the table or otherwise. Should there be a man cook he will relieve her of many of her duties, including that of marketing, one with which she would otherwise be charged. In the case of a female cook being kept, the housekeeper should be prepared to supplement her work as may be found necessary, and to make, as well as to superintend the making of all dishes of a delicate or *recherchĂ© kind, and likewise the arrangement of the bill of fare for every meal. The taking in of the fruits in their due season for preserving, and all the direction and assistance requisite  for the making of pickles, jams, and confectionery; the preparation of syrups and the bottling of them, and other juices and liquors are also amongst her duties; as also salting of meat, changing of the brine, the curing and smoking of hams, the storing of salted butter and of eggs, the preserving of potted meats, preparation of stock for soup, and in fact, everything connected with the kitchen, larder, store-room, still-room, and dairy; as well as the superintendence of the poultry, and all live stock designed  for the table, outside the house, all this comes under her jurisdiction. But her duties must be regulated with each particular family, by the establishment kept, and the character of the house, whether a country seat where most of the necessaries of her several departments of trust are home supplied, or a town mansion where the domestic arrangements are of a different character.

The linen closet and laundry demand her close attention, and she has to give out from the former what is either for use or repair to the under-servants, and to see that the requisite mending be accomplished. The body linen she separates from the rest, and commits to the hands of the lady's maid or head nurse, as the case may be. In the evening she directs the breaking of lump-sugar, washing and stoning of raisins, blanching of almonds, and general preparation of all that will be required for use on the following day.

The inventory, which she should receive on entering her situation, should be carefully compared with everything committed to her charge at stated intervals of six or twelve months, including all the household furniture and kitchen requisites, and a report of wear and tear or deficiencies supplied to her mistress, and entered on the list, if not made good. Her own accounts should likewise be submitted for inspection at least once a month. But all such rules must depend on the wishes of the mistress herself. The wages of a housekeeper vary from £20 to £50 per annum. The "finding" or providing with beer, tea, and sugar, over and above the ordinary food of an indispensible character, is subject to no "hard and fast" rule. It varies, according to private arrangement, as regards every class of domestic servant.

The COOK, where no housekeeper is kept, has a considerable amount of work on her hands besides the cooking of meals, such as the marketing, continual supervision of the  larder, the salting of the meat, the making of the preserves, and the baking of cakes and perhaps of bread. She must make the study of cookery her continual business, by reading as well as by practice. She must know when meat of all kinds, and different sorts of game, poultry, and fish are in season. She must study the gardener's calendars to ascertain when certain vegetables and fruits come in, and when to make pickles and jams. The cooking of the dinners and what may be requires for all the other meals, of course devolve on her, and the scullery-maid is under her direction, to whom she should make it a point of conscience to teach, to the best of her ability, the art of cookery. In small households she is required to give some assistance in household work, such as to take the front hall, dining room, hall door, and the steps and pavement in front of a town house under her care; not to speak of the kitchen and all the basement. But where a kitchen-maid is kept, the basement floor, area, pavement and pot and pan, and all floor cleaning, and the bringing in of coal and water, naturally devolve on her, instead of on the cook. But private arrangements may be made by mutual agreement, either increasing or decreasing the legitimate work which a mistress has a right to demand of her cook. Her wages vary from £16 to about £30 per annum.

It will be remembered by the reader that a cook's duties – while she cannot refuse to fulfil those which I have named – may, as I have stated, be multiplied by private arrangement; and must be so, as a matter of course and right, when she undertakes a situation where no housekeeper, nor kitchen-maid is kept. Thus she will have to study the list of that functionary's duties, to be thoroughly acquainted with her own. On this account I have introduced her out of place in the order of precedence amongst servants, in which she ranks after both the lady's maid and the head nurse.

The LADY'S MAID holds a position next to the housekeeper. Her duties commence before her mistress rises; and if tea be taken in bed, it is her duty to bring in the small tray containing it, and the toast or bread and butter she also should prepare. She then places all the underlinen, slippers, and dressing-gown ready for use, takes out the dress and cap to be worn, and remains to assist, or retires for a time, according to her mistress's wishes, until she be summoned  for the hair-dressing, and to complete her mistress's toilet. Every such maid should be proficient in the art of dressing hair, and should learn every new style as it comes in. She should also know how to make cleansing washes, and rosemary and other decoctions requisite  for the hair, so as to provide them at home; also such necessaries of the toilet as camphor-cake and lip-salve, pomatum, &c. After her lady has left the bed-room, it is her business to fold the night and dressing-gowns, and place all in order before the entrance of the housemaids throwing open the bed and the window, taking out such articles as may need repair or alteration, those requiring fresh lace and frills, and the linen that should be aired. Gloves and boots should likewise be inspected, that buttons may be supplied and small rips sewn up as required. The jewel-case and all private drawers should be locked before leaving the room.

Not only reparations and alterations of dresses come within the limits of her duties, but she should know how to cut out, fit, and make them. She should understand the art of blending colours, so as to become a light or a dark complexion; and her mistress, whether tall or short, stout or slight, fair, sallow, or a brunette, should be to her an object of study; as it is her duty to make her appear at all times to the best advantage. In many houses where a lady's maid is kept, there is no private laundry maid, and thus it is one of her duties to understand the cleaning of lace, "getting up" of fine things, clear starching and gauffering. Also how to preserve furs from moth.

A lady's maid should likewise understand millinery, how to make a bonnet, cap or hat, and should study all the new fashions in their style as they appear in the best shops. She will have to keep an account of all t she expends in reference to her needlework, as she may be entrusted with a certain sum to meet current expenses. It is her duty to count all the body linen on its return from the laundry, to divide all requiring buttons and strings or other repairs from the rest, and to place each set in a separate spot, drawer, or work-basket, after all have been well aired. An inventory should be kept and notice given to her lady when the wardrobe needs to be replenished with new articles. Having inquired at what hour she proposes to go out, it is her duty to be again in attendance at the appointed time, having to place all that is needful, whether for driving, riding, or walking, in readiness for her; and on her return her lady should find the suitable change of dress prepared for her, and the maid awaiting her arrival to attend upon her. A knowledge of folding and packing closely, so as to save space, without injury to clothing, is another of her essential duties, and one in which must deficiency is generally observable amongst them. At a suitable time before dinner the maid should again adjourn to the bed or dressing-room, and lay out all she may require for her evening costume, and be prepared to dress her. On her leaving the room she extinguishes the candles or lets down the gas, and places a screen on the fire. At bed-time all required for night should be put out in readiness, and she should be in attendance until dismissed. In case of going out to dinner, or any kind of evening entertainments, her mistress has a right to expect her to sit up till her return, and see that she has all that she may require, such as tea or sandwiches, hot water, &c. Should the mistress be an invalid or an elderly person, the maid would be required to act more or less as a nurse, and would have to read aloud, which she should study to do agreeably, and to write letters at dictation, on which account her writing and spelling should be thoroughly good. But under these circumstances many of the duties required of her by a younger mistress, and one in good health and going into society would not be required of her, so that her work would not be excessive. In small families some of the duties of a housekeeper are united with those of the lady's maid. Her wages vary, according to her efficiency in all her duties, from £18 to £30 per annum.

An UPPER NURSE should have a thorough acquaintance with all the ailments to which infants and children are commonly liable. She should therefore have some reliable book on the subject of nursing the sick, and children in particular, always by her, and keep her memory perpetually refreshed on all points, so as to recognise the first symptoms of every complaint, and to be prepared for all emergencies. She should also study all questions relative to attendance upon her mistress, so as to nurse her, and supplement the services of the regular nurse temporarily hired. Her place is in the nursery, for meals as well as for a sitting and work-room, should it happen that there were no day-nursery; and only when her charges are asleep  for the night can she leave them in the care of the under nurse, or housemaid, to take her supper in the housekeeper's room, or with the other servants if there e none. The only female servants who have a right to avail themselves at all times, for meals and otherwise, of the housekeeper's room are the upper nurse and the lady's maid. The washing and dressing of a young infant must be exclusively done by the upper nurse, and that of the older children by the under nurse, always by the supervision of the former. She must take them out, wheel their carriage, and carry them in turn with her assistants. She has the dress and under-linen to make and mend, and she has the assistance of the under nurse, who acts at all times under her directions, helps her to make the bed, and does the rough work of cleaning the room and grate, making the fire, and bringing up the water and all the meals. Should the nurse be single-handed, she must be prepared to keep the nursery in all due order herself, and obtain assistance from the under housemaid, or the single-handed housemaid, as she could not be expected to leave her charge to fetch water, coals, nor the daily meals. She also lights her own fire when single-handed, unless assisted by the housemaid, and makes the beds. A head nurse receives from £18 to £25 or £30 per annum. Ordinary single-handed nurses in small households receive less. But the qualifications, experience, and age of the latter must always regulate the amount of wages expected, even should a valuable servant prefer a situation in a small family of limited means, and to undertake the whole charge of the nursery and its young occupants, to a situation of a higher character.

The UPPERHOUSE MAID. – The duties that devolve on this class of domestic servants are comparatively light, but they are only well performed by a careful, industrious woman – methodical, gentle in touch, and one who "has her eyes about her," knowing how to direct and superintend, and is not above assisting in any duties which are performed by the under-housemaid. Whether she be aided in her work, or be single-handed, that work must be the same in every house, great or small. The cleaning and arrangement of the breakfast room, boudoir, and then the drawing-room, should be accomplished before the family leave their bed-rooms; just as the cleaning of the hall, hall door, steps before it, and dining-room are all done by the cook or kitchen maid before their appearance downstairs. While the family are at breakfast the bed-rooms have to be set in order, the windows opened, the beds shaken and turned, the slops emptied, and all crockery washed and scalded, carafes, jugs, and tins refilled; a T-shaped sweeping brush wrapped in a wet cloth passed under the bed and all round the room where there may be no carpet; and a damp and dry duster employed in successively removing the dust from the whole room, especially all the ledges in the wood-work. The table, looking-glass, and cheval-glass, or that in the wardrobe door, should be well polished. The rugs should be taken out and shaken daily, the grate and irons cleaned; the cinders must be sifted from the ashes, and the latter removed before the dusting of the room, and the bed also, having been previously shaken and turned, may be re-made without making any fresh dust, the last thing in the finishing of the work. The making of the bed is no unimportant matter, as there is much variety of taste, and one person does not like the bed to be made as another may like it to be arranged. Thus the housemaid should observe what alterations have been made in the amount and ordering of the clothes, and also inquire whether any change would be agreeable. Housemaids are little aware how often the beds are completely re-made by their occupants, as visitors never like to give directions to the servants of their hosts, even in reference to the room especially allotted to their own use, and many are the comments made o dullness, and want of observation of those who attend to the bed-making.

The cleaning of the paint and of the windows, the washing of china ornaments, and the polishing of the furniture (if need be) should be the work appointed for a certain day in every week, a room or more being completely cleaned every week. The wiping down of the uncovered portions of the stairs and landings, and upper corridors and passages with a damp cloth should be the housemaid's daily work, but when two are kept it devolves on the under maid. The taking out of each rod, one at a time, to wipe underneath the carpet, should be done weekly, on a certain day, and each rod rubbed with a leather before being returned to its place. It is a most inconvenient and unsightly habit, adopted by half-trained maids, to always be taking up the whole of the stair carpet at once. Furniture polish should also be applied to the top of the balusters at intervals, and careful rubbing performed afterwards.

It is the housemaid's business to collect and count the linen to be washed, under the housekeeper's or lady's maid's supervision, weekly; to mend and hem the house-linen, and also to count all on its return home. She has to take down, shake, and put up the curtains and hangings; attend also to all the rugs and cushions in the house, and destroy all moths and flies which may be found behind the shutters in the spring or early summer. Of course, much devolves on the housemaid which properly is the work of the lady's maid, if there be none in the establishment, and in various ways in the nursery, and even sometimes in waiting at table, if only one man-servant be kept. It is also very usual for the office of housemaid to be combined with that of parlour maid, and this demands great quickness, method, and extra knowledge – such as that of cleaning plate, knives, lamps (including the entire management of the latter), the laying of the table, and the art of waiting well – observantly, in reference to the requirements of each individual at the table, quickly and noiselessly. As a housemaid's duties may be so much regulated by the circumstances of the establishment kept, she may have, as I said, to include some of those which naturally belong to the lady's maid, nurse, and footman, and must not be ready to say "this or that is not my work." She will also have to answer the hall door at certain times, if not always. Her wages range from £15 to £25 per annum.

The UNDER HOUSEMAID, UNDER NURSE and KITCHEN MAID are directed by the servants holding a higher position in the same department of service as themselves; and, with the exception of remarking that the kitchen maid is expected to dress the nursery and kitchen dinner, it is not necessary to enter into any detailed account of the work of each respectively.  The wages of all these maids vary from £9 to £14.

A GENERAL SERVANT should be a very well-informed person, particularly active, methodical and intelligent; yet she is usually more ignorant and more incompetent than any other class or servants. Well-trained and experienced persons naturally object to the almost never-ceasing work which their situation entails; but quickness and a judicious timing of all the work to be done will, with the kindly aid of her mistress, enable her so to get through her duties – if the dinner be an early one – and enable her to have a quiet hour or two for her own needlework or reading before bedtime. She will have to be an early riser, and she must manage her work so as to be dressed in the afternoon, to attend the hall door when visitors may be expected; but the enumeration of all her duties is superfluous in this place, as she needs only to study the directions given to the cook, housemaid, and parlour-maid to be fully acquainted with all her own work. Her wages vary, according to her efficiency as a cook especially, from £8 to £18.

Upon the duties of the Laundry and Under Laundry Maids, the still-room and the Dairy Maids it is scarcely necessary that I should write, and I hope in my next paper to add a few friendly words to those of my readers who have selected domestic service as their vocation.

Friday, 6 January 2017

21 May 1881 - 'Seasonable Dress, and How to Make It'

Welcome back! 

The prevailing tendency of the summer materials is towards extreme softness and lack of "dress." Everything hangs in graceful folds, and more drapery is used than has been seen for some time past. Gathers, or as they are now called, "reevings," form the most popular way of making up all the thin materials, such as nun's cloth, grenadine, zephyrs, or ginghams, as they were once called. The little girl's dress in our monthly illustration shows the newest and prettiest way of making in this manner. It is gathered at the neck, waist, and sleeves, and the style is as suitable to sixteen and eighteen summers as to six. The "zephyr cloth," or old-fashioned gingham, is, as it always was, a delightfully pretty and becoming dress for all ages, and from its excellent washing and wearing qualities is extremely economical, and it costs from 1s 2d to 1s 4d per yard. It is made in pink, blue, and a soft grey. The favourite trimming for it now is one of the Nottingham or "Calais" laces, which are coarse in texture, but very strong, and wear well even for children, while they are moderate in price, and do not add to the trouble of washing.

The numbers of non-washing materials prove how useful they were found to be last year, and though the patterns are improved, the way of making up a figured sateen or print, with a plain petticoat and trimmings, is unchanged, the ground of the former being generally chosen as the colour  for the latter. This style is a great help to those who have old summer dresses to alter and enlarge to suit growing girls, because if the old dress be figured, a plain sateen, gingham, or cotton can usually be found  to go with it. A small bodice can be enlarged by putting in a gathered front and back, and a circular collar-like piece can also be added at the neck to increase the length. A puffing at the shoulder and elbow will give length to the sleeve, and the skirt may be lengthened by means of a kilted flounce at the edge. A little consideration and cleverness are needed to make these changes, but I hope that the readers of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER have improved so much in the art of dressmaking during this last year that they will be able to accomplish any alterations required. Of the excellence of their needlework there can be no doubt, as it is sufficiently proved by the work sent in to the "plain needlework competition."

Dresses ornamented with crewel embroidery are as much used as ever, although the manner of its application has slightly changed. The embroider is applied to a pointed plastron down the front of the bodice, or to a circular yoke at the neck, into which the top of the bodice is gathered. An embroidered band is also used, and similar bands on the sleeves, with narrow puffs in the centre of every second band.

The long "Newmarket coat," as it is called, shown upon the second figure, supplies the most stylish shape for ulsters of light summer cloth, and also for those useful dust cloaks which are made either of thin tweed, pongee, or tussore silk, or alpaca of quiet colours. For travelling their use is nearly imperative, as they protect the dress from being utterly ruined by the dust and blacks of the railway and steamer; while for those who walk much, or have to make shopping expeditions at home, they are equally useful. The turndown hat that is worn by this figure shows a quiet ladylike shape for morning wear.

The third figure wears a handkerchief dress of summer alpaca, or a thin woollen nun's cloth. The method of making is clearly shown. As these handkerchiefs can be purchased separately at so much a piece in all good drapers' shops, they form an economical means of doing up old dresses, for which the style of the illustration might be adopted as a guide. The handkerchiefs require no trimming, and are simply hemmed round, either by machine or hand.

The fourth figure shows the present style of the jersey, which continues to be worn by young girls, but not by married nor older women. This jersey is of dark blue merino, very thin in texture, the overskirt being a plain shawl-shaped scarf, tied at the side; the under skirt is of plaid. The material is a very light tweed, the colours dark blue, green and threads of yellow and red. The plaids used are of the most quiet and modest description, and they are in keeping with the present quiet taste in colour. This figure wears a "Mother Hubbard," or more properly a "Grannie" bonnet. These will be made to match the summer dresses, and are gathered, or drawn in deep puffs in front, the crown being high and loose. The last new shape of this kind is called "Under the Window," and is copied from one of the bonnets in Kate Greenaway's book.

The summer costume worn by the young lady gardening may be made of sateen, cotton, batiste, or pique, and is trimmed round with Swiss embroidery. It is made with a full bodice and waistband. The skirt is decorated with two kilted flounces. A small coarse straw hat is worn with it, trimmed with India muslin and Valenciennes lace. Capes, resembling the top of the "Mother Hubbard cloak," are made for all washing dresses. The stockings and gloves are of plain colours, and will probably be worn to match the costume by those who can afford them. Dark blue stockings with coloured clocks are excellent for summer use, and if carefully washed in tepid, or even cold water, they do not lose their colour, but they must be wrung out till perfectly dry to avoid a "streaky" appearance, and look better if rinsed in salt and water.

Oxford shoes are worn, as usual, this summer, and are the most economical foot-gear for those who are obliged likewise to think of their pence. Care should always be taken to avoid extremely pointed toes, as no style could be more unbecoming, or injurious to the foot. The shoes should be selected of a long and rather narrow shape, instead of being very short and broad. Greater comfort will ensue if this rule be followed.

Galatea stripes have returned to fashion, the material being rather thinner than it was formerly. Plain blue is used  for the petticoats and trimmings; and the "sailor costume," a kind of loose blouse, is the favourite way of making. Very large round collars of lace or Swiss embroidery are much worn by all young people. Some very recent novelties are made of a plaid gingham, the edges being trimmed with Swiss embroidery – these would certainly keep the longest.

The most sensible, as well as the prettiest garments for every day out-of-door use for girls of all ages are the long, closely-fitting jackets made of black, grey, navy or drab stockingette cloth.

They are untrimmed save  for the buttons, and the neat rows of machine-stitching around them, and have collars at the necks. No hoods appear to be worn with them, and their whole appearance is most becoming and simple. Parasols and sunshades are made to match the cotton and sateen dresses, in pretty pompadour and Japanesque patterns, but those of our readers who must think of economy should select a parasol with a black ground, and any colour about it must accord with the principal dresses they are in the habit of wearing.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

14 May 1881 - Useful Hints

CALVES' FEET JELLY. – Split four feet, and boil them gently in a gallon of water for four hours, skimming well when the broth is reduced to half that quantity. Strain the stock into a basin through a sieve, and when cold and in a firm jelly scrape off the grease, wash the surface with scalding water, wipe, and place it in a stew-pan, adding 2 lbs of sugar, the juice of 12 lemons, the rind of 6, a bruised stick of cinnamon, and 20 coriander seeds. Set on the fire, dissolve, and add the whites of 6 eggs well whisked with half-a-pint of water; continue whisking the jelly, while on the fire, until it commence to boil. Then add a pint of sherry, put on the lid, laying some live embers of charcoal upon it, and leave the jelly to simmer slowly by the side of the stove for about twenty minutes longer. Then pour through a jelly bag into a basin, returning it again through the bag, until it passes quite clear and bright-looking. It can be coloured with cochineal, or annatto, or other suitable preparations to be procured at a chemist's.

MACARONI CHEESE. – Cut the macaroni in two or three inch lengths, place in a stewpan with 3/4 lb of grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese, 4 oz of fresh butter, a spoonful of good bĂ©chamel; season with pepper and salt, toss all well over the fire, pile it in the centre of a dish, bordered round with fried croutons of bread, covering also the bottom. Cover the top with equal parts of fine bread-crumbs and grated Parmesan, and pour over all a little melted butter through the holes of a spoon, and place the dish in the oven to be baked.

TAPIOCA CREAM. – Soak two tablespoonfuls of tapioca over night in just enough water to cover it. Boil one quart of milk with the tapioca in the morning; add a little more than half a tea cup of lump sugar, a pinch of salt, and the yolks of three eggs well beaten; stir them in the milk, then remove it from the fire. Flavour to taste with lemon or vanilla; beat the three whites of the eggs to a stiff froth, and drop them on the cream when cold.

CURE FOR CHILBLAINS. – Bathe the parts affected in the water in which potatoes have been boiled, as hot as can be borne. On the first appearance of the blains this bath, affords relief, and in the more advanced stages repetition prevents breaking out, and generally results in a cure. One ounce of white coppers dissolved in a quart of water and applied occasionally is also considered efficacious.

A NICE WAY TO BAKE APPLES. – Choose good sour apples, dig out the cores, and fill the cavities with sugar, and, if liked, a small clove. Place the apples in a dish, or tin, with about a cup of water. Bake them in a quick oven. This makes a good dish for children, and is very cooling and pleasant for invalids.

AN EASY WAY TO MAKE AN OMELETTE. – Beat the whites and yolks of three eggs separately, add a teaspoonful of water and a pinch of salt to the yolks; beat and mix them with the whites lightly. Put about as much butter as will lie in the bowl of a teaspoon into the frying-pan, hold it over the fire till it melts, then pour in the egg. When the surface is nearly dry, fold one half of the omelette over the other, slide it gently off on a plate and serve quickly.

OATMEAL CAKES. – Mix a handful of fresh coarse oatmeal with a little water and a pinch of salt; rub in a little butter. Make the paste sufficiently moist to roll out the thickness of a shilling; put it on a girdle over a clear fire. When slightly brown on one side, toast the other side before the fire. Each cake must be mixed separately.

SCALDED BATTER PUDDING. – Four piled tablespoonfuls of flour, four eggs, a little salt, and rather less than a pint of ilk. Mix salt with the flour, and when the milk is quite boiling pour it gradually over the flour, stirring it with a fork until it is sufficiently mixed. Set it to cool, and in the meanwhile whisk the eggs very thoroughly and stir them in to the other ingredients when these are just warm. Boil for an hour and a half in a well-buttered cloth, leaving room  for the pudding to rise. It will be very light and delicate, a perfect pudding for an invalid; but in the preparation no spoon should be used, the mixing being done wholly with a fork. Serve with wine sauce, or, if this is objected to, plain melted butter and jam, or a little raspberry vinegar.


1. Soak a soft fig for about a week in pale brandy, and take half when the cough is troublesome.

2. Put a lemon in boiling water. Boil it for a quarter of an hour. Then press out the pulp into a jar, removing the pips, and mix it very thoroughly with a quarter of a pound of honey. Take a teaspoonful when required.

3. Dissolve 1 oz of gum Arabic and 14 lb of sugar candy in a pint of water. A little lemon juice and a chip or two of the rind, cut off very thin, may be added, and greatly improve the flavour. A teaspoonful of the mixture taken a bedtime will often allay the tickling and irritation of the throat, and secure a night's rest. It should be sipped very slowly. By sucking a little pure gum Arabic the same effect may be produced as it coats over the susceptible surface. The mixture is, however, more palatable, and especially for children.

4. Thin linseed tea, which should always be boiled, not merely infused, sweetened with sugar-candy and flavoured with lemon juice and rind, is also an excellent demulcient, and highly nutritious. Some black Spanish juice may be boiled with the linseed. This old-fashioned remedy is often undervalued, because it is extremely cheap, and may be used with only the limit of the patient's inclination.

5. For tickling in the throat a teaspoonful of the soft, cold pulp of a roasted apple often proves useful, especially in the night.

6. Put a large tablespoonful of black currant jam into half a pint of boiling water. Stir and bruise thoroughly; let it stand till cold, and drink of the liquor when the cough is troublesome.

7. Half a teaspoonful of Condy's fluid – crimson – mixed in half a tumbler of water is an excellent morning gargle for a susceptible throat. It is also a purifying wash for the mouth and teeth, but should not be swallowed.

See you next year! :)

Sunday, 18 December 2016

14 May 1881 - 'Our Mutual Friend, Puss' by Dr Gordon Stables - Part Two

Part one of this story can be found here. And as always when the G.O.P. starts giving out recipes for medicines: don't try this at home.

Anyone who had never seen a more highly-bred cat than the honest and faithful but common grey grimalkin, that lies on the cottage hearthrug, singing duets with the tea-kettle, or the half-wild mouse-catcher of the barn-door, would be greatly surprised if he happened to go to a large show of our favourites, at the wealth of feline loveliness and grace displayed upon the benches.

"Why," I have heard some people exclaim, "I couldn't have believed there were such beautiful cats in the world."

And I have made reply, "What you see is simply the result of care and kindness, proper feeding and housing, and attention to the pelage or coats of the animals."

Cats, especially the long-haired breeds, it will do my readers no harm to know, are becoming more fashionable every day as domestic pets, and people who care to keep good ones, and to rear them well and show them, get very large prices for them. I am acquainted with ladies who sell their kittens even for two and three guineas each, and who would not take twenty for many of their full-grown pussies.

Let us imagine now that we are taking a walk around the great cat show at the Crystal Palace, and that I am mentor. I feel sure I can tell you many things about the inmates of the pens that you do not know.

Well, then, first on the list of short hairs is a tortoiseshell male cat, a very rare animal; here are several tortoiseshell female pussies, not big, and very dark in their markings, with no white. In their nature they are brave and bold, good workers, loving, gentle, and jealous, and always faithful to mistress or master. Next come the tortoiseshell and white, the colours being yellow, red, black and white, artistically arranged in those who have won prizes. They are bigger cats than the former, and not so decided in their likes and dislikes.

Then we have the brown tabbies – splendid fellows everyone of them, some of enormous size. There is one yonder, blinking half asleep on his scarlet velvet cushion. Who weight twenty-two pounds, but is so very lissom withal that he can jump on to the top of any door in his master's house. Tabbies are *par excellence the Englishman's cat. They are good-natured, brave and noble, fond of children, and very fond of their offspring. They ought to be long bodies and graceful; though massive, somewhat short in the forelegs, with large round heads, small ears, and gentle, happy-looking eyes. The strips should be black on a brown ground, and very well defined, and there should be no white on them, else they would be classed as brown-tabby-with-white. There should also be one or two semi-circular bars across the chest. Eyes hazel preferably.

The silver tabby has somewhat longer ears, and a less blunt face with green eyes. Colour like Aberdeen granite, striped with deeply dark markings. They are very lovely and valuable. The red tabbies come next. They are splendid fellows, with green or yellow eyes, reddish in colour, marked with deeper red, and no white. Look at this one; he has been passed over by the judge because his colouring is neither deep enough nor distinct enough. This breed is very clever, and they make capital hunters, but are apt to wander a long way from home; however, unless they fall victims to the vile traps or the too ready guns of cowardly keepers, they never fail to come back again.

The red and white tabby is a gay and gallant fellow, and full of life and fun. In that pen is a spotted tabby. This cat may be any colour, only covered with stripes, composed of spots. I hope that is not an Irish bull. That gentlemanly-looking fellow there is a black and white cat. His coat is of jet, he wears white socks and gloves, and a front as spotless as the snow. He is as good and as aristocratic in his ways as he looks; indeed, he would hardly deign to catch a mouse, but he likes a good dinner, and when he is outside and wants to get in, he does not mew like a common mouser; no, he jumps up and lifts the knocker.

In the next cage is a cat you scarcely see, so intensely ravenly black is he all over. But he can see you and me, and he is glaring at us with his green, green eyes, evidently in no very amiable temper. What he wants to know is, what has he been imprisoned here for, instead of roving wild and free in forest or field? But we must not judge him too harshly, for although he flew at the adjudicator of prizes this morning with tooth and nail, at home he is not naturally quarrelsome. These cats should be very large, with coats of glossiest black; even the whiskers must be black, and the eyes should be hazel if possible, but green is beautiful. Here we have a small but graceful puss, all one colour, namely, dark slate, not a light hair in her, not even in her whiskerets. These cats are rare, and seldom fail to win prizes in a mixed class. They are called Maltese cats. Pure white cats are no favourites of mine. They are usually dull and apathetic and often as deaf as a post. I should never expect a white cat to do anything *very clever.

There are many other strange, short hair cats, Manx, Abyssinian, &c., but we now pass on to the Long Hairs, only pausing for a moment at the cages filled with daft-looking kittens, brimful of folly and mischief and fun.

Now there are all kinds of colours of Long Hairs, but your real Persian is most graceful and elegant, especially in shape of head, which is somewhat sharp or peaked with shortish ears poised downwards, and an aural tuft in each. The expression of their eyes is singularly beautiful, and there is a certain languor of looks and manner about them that tells us their real home is not here, but in a far, far sunnier clime.

They do very well on the whole in England, however; but they ought not to be allowed to roam much, else they will assuredly be stolen, and their coats ought to be combed and brushed almost daily.

"What is the difference," you ask me, "between a Persian cat and an Angora?"

Well, I have been asked that question before, and the reply is that there is no appreciable difference in the size of the cats nor in the length of their coats, only the fur of the Angora is finer and flossier and woollier than that of the Persian, and probably the Angora cat is not so sharp in expression of features.

May I give you a word of advice as to showing a cat? If you have one good enough there is no reason why you should not let it have a chance at distinguishing itself and winning a prize. DO not be afraid that it will not get every attention as far as can be given at a show. Nevertheless, do not fail to go with your favourite yourself, if possible. Take with you some raw meat, and the sweetest of milk in a bottle, and attend to pussy's wants yourself.

And now a few lines about the ailments that cats are subject to. Veterinary surgeons, I fear, know little about them, and care less.

When a cat seems ailing and sick, and moping and sleepy-looking, and if at the same time she refuses all food, you had better give an emetic – half a teaspoonful of salt in a little warm water. Follow this up in an hour or two with a teaspoonful of castor oil.

Grass should be grown in a flower-pot in towns, where cats have not much fresh air and freedom. This flower-pot should be placed where she can easily see it and get at it. Or when you are walking in the country, you may cull some nice fresh green grass and place it in the corner of the kitchen, the ends being kept tight between two bricks. It is an excellent blood purifier. A kind of chronic inflammation of the stomach is common among cats, especially those who are not properly dieted, and are glad to pick up and eat anything they can find. The cat refuses food, gets thin and wretched-looking, and has frequent attacks of vomiting. Medicine – a grain and a half of the trisnitrate of bismuth, put on the tongue twice a day, and a dose of castor oil once a week. Food – sweet milk or cream, and fish. If much wasting, raw beef, chopped fine, twice a day.

To give a cat medicine, two people are required. Pussy is rolled in a rug and placed on some one's lap, while you pour the medicine very gradually down her throat. If it is a pill or bolus, dip it in oil, and put it well back against the roof of the mouth; but mind your fingers. You can hold the mouth open with one hand whilst you manipulate with the other. Bronchitis is often fatal to cats; it attacks badly fed and badly housed pussies very often. There is a rough, dry coat, perhaps fits of shivering at first, with cough. The cough is dry the first day or two, but soon becomes moist, and there is a distressing difficulty of breathing, whilst the tongue is often protruded. Give a little oil at first, and feed on arrowroot, beef-tea, milk, &c., little and often. Then give this cough pill. Extract of conium and compound squill pill, of each twenty grains; make into a bolus with bread crumb, and divide into twenty pills; dose, one every night. Keep up her strength, and give a small teaspoonful of cod-liver oil twice a day.

For laxity of the system, a little common chalk mixture should be given three or four times a day, with one drop of the solution of muriate of morphia in each dose. Or put two grains of trisnitrate of bismuth on the tongue three times a day. Food: only milk, or milk with arrowroot, and a little egg may be allowed, but no meat.

Lung disease, or consumption, is known by the general appearance of the poor cat. There is bad coat, emaciation, capricious appetite, and loss of all liveliness. Raw mat, careful housing, and cod-liver oil are needed. When the cough is troublesome I order the following prescription:- Tinct opii camph., 1 drachm; syr scille, 1 drachm; sol mur morphine, 15 minims; aquae 2 oz; mix. Label: a teaspoonful whenever required. 

Fits: these are common in cats, and are almost too well known to require much description. The puss must be caught and bled. With a lancet make a small incision at the lower part of the ear, and make the blood flow by sponging with hot water. Or slit the ear with a fine pair of scissors.

If the cat is subject to fits, order the following at a respectable chemist's – Bromid potass, 10 grains; iod potass, 5 grains; zinci sulph, 5 grains; mix. Make twenty pills with bread crumb, and give one night and morning.

If pussy is thin, give cod-liver oil. If the reverse, lower the diet, and give a little boiled sheep's liver twice a week

For skin complaints use carbolic lotion; pure carbolic acid one part, water forty. Well shake before using it, and apply once a day, but not all over. AS internal medicine, give a teaspoonful twice a day in milk of liquor arsenicalis, ten drops in one ounce of distilled water.

For eye inflammation, bathe frequently in warm milk and water, and use a lotion of three grains of sulphate of zinc t an ounce of water.

Never deprive a cat of all her kittens at once. Never keep kittens that you are not sure of getting a good home for.

Never let anyone persuade you that pussy is not one of the gentlest and most faithful pets we possess.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

7 May 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

CISSIE K – Consult a doctor; he will probably discover the cause of your malady.

MINNIE HUFF  - We could not possibly inform you "how long it would take you to become a good violin player," for we do not know  either the present amount of your knowledge or your capabilities for learning. We should imagine from your note that it will take some time.

HEBE DAWSON – We consider it a possible case but not a probable one.

ANTONIA – Perhaps if you got up earlier in the morning you would have no difficulty in going to sleep at night.

VIRA – 1. There is nothing vulgar about wearing a flower in the street. 2. It would entirely depend on the amount of intimacy between you.

NANCY – We are much obliged for your offer, but we dread the prospect of reading "a very simple little story, written when you were thirteen." We remember too well what we did ourselves at that early and verdant age, and we take comfort in the idea that we shall never do the same thing again.

MARY MCELENY – In spite of much writing to the contrary, we fear there is no real reason to doubt that poor Joan of Arc was really burnt to death.

WHITE PUSSY thinks it worth while to write and inquire, "Do you like lemon? I do. There is another queston I forgot."

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

7 May 1881 - Button-Hole and Satin Stitch

Most of you girls have some knowledge of crewel work, the mania of the day, both from the instructions you have received and from your own practice, but I daresay that very few amongst you have ever tried your skill in the white embroidery, or white work, as it was once called. This style, however, should be quite familiar to young ladies who have any ambition to wear tidy and dainty linen, and more so now when there is such a return of worked muslin gowns, fichus, and collarettes of all kinds.

I will therefore give you a few hints on this branch of stitchery of modern introduction, specially when compared with the long stitch of almost unknown origin. To confine my remarks to the two fundamental varieties, button-hole and satin-stitch, I must first make you observe the great contrast between the formal regularity of their direction and the broken, dove-tailed surface offered by the embroidery stitch. This very uniformity of stitch prevents any shading, and to be set off at its best requires the richness of relief. The swelling or undulating appearance is obtained by padding or stuffing. Taking coarser cotton and needle than those intended for embroidery, you commence by running the outline of the flower, leaf, &c. Do not make the stitches too long,  for the nicety of curves and angles – indeed of the entire shape – rests on this careful outlining. Proceed to fill in the vacant space by row after row of long loose running stitches, piercing the needle through the merest trifle of the ground in order to leave nearly all the cotton above the surface. Guided by the shape you increase or decrease the rows at will, in such a way that they merge into one another (fig.1) and form a soft compact underlay.

Quicker modes of padding are resorted to when special rapidity is imperative, but these, like all other makeshifts, require the skill of an adept to manage them satisfactorily. Hence I will simply mention them: stuffing by chain-stitch, herringbone, tacked braid, and loose strands of cotton, guided by the hand whilst working. The chief object of the padding is to give the embroidery a slight convexity or gentle rise to the centre, and as a general rule the stuffing runs in a contrary direction to the overlaying stitches, as will be proved by a glance at our illustrations. So in fig.1 the running stitches are horizontal and the feston vertical in the spots, the filling is circular, whilst the sewing over crosses it. Again, in the leaf (fig.7) the padding runs lengthways, and the covering widthways. In the case of delicate scallops the tracing and stuffing reduce themselves to three, two, and even a single line, as seen in fig.2.

These preliminaries well understood and followed, you will have mastered the greatest difficulty and can proceed to the concealment of the underlay either by button-hole or satin stitch. The former is sometimes wrought in a straight line either for ornament or flat seaming so invaluable in patching, in hiding two overlapping edges, or in bringing two edges face to face, thus avoiding ridges or imparting a width of a few extra threads. It also shapes entire letters, leaves, and flowers; in the latter case padding is dispensed with. Edging, however, constitutes the real use of the button-hole stitch purposely called in France feston, i.e. festoon. The word at once explains itself and brings to your mind scallops, loops, semicircles, &c. The first three illustrations afford good specimens of the diversity in single festoons.

Fig.3, the "wolf's teeth," is decidedly the most difficult of execution on account of its sharp Vandyke, which has so much resemblance to the teeth of a wolf.

The crescent-shaped scallop of fig.1 can easily be drawn out, either with the help of compasses or a coin of the desired size. To make the stitch itself, begin on the left hand at the extreme point, and secure the thread by passing it through the few stitches of the stuffing, for remember no knot is ever allowed in any kind of embroidery, still less in delicate white work. Pass the thread downward and hold it firmly under your left thumb, while you pierce the needle just above the upper outline to slip it underneath, and bring it out just beyond the lower outline, opposite the thumb, and in the centre of the loop formed by the cotton. With the thumb and forefinger pull the needle straight towards you, gently raise the left-hand thumb and draw the thread to tighten the knot, at the same time inclining it to the left by the little finger. Practice alone will teach you how to turn your work and to regulate the stitches with the perfect evenness indispensible to the task; they must lie against each other, neither too closely nor too far apart, in order not to disclose a single under thread. The outline should be as bold and undeviating as if pencilled by an expert hand. Keep the work well stretched on the fingers of the left hand in such a manner that the embroidery itself rests on the forefinger. When the border is finished, with sharp embroidery scissors shave off the superfluous material, cutting into every crevice yet without snipping any of the stitches. If the work has to go to the wash before being worn I should advise you to leave this cutting out until it has returned from the laundress.

Often very large scallops are prettily pinked out into festoons of all shapes and sizes, some resembling the notches of a cock's comb, others peaked or gradually rounded, like the petals of a rose, &c. In olden times, when feston was very much used for the muslin embroidery employed on net, the worker had the trouble of making the picot or purl whilst button-holding; this she did by working round a long horsehair, which served as a mesh. Now industry spares us the most fidgety details, and ready-made purls are sold by yard.

I believe these few particulars on the button-hole stitch are all you require, so we will pass at once to the satin stitch, so called from its smooth sheeny surface. The previous remarks on tracing and padding apply equally to this stitch, but here only the darned stuffing, or occasionally the chain-stitched, is admissible. The satin stitch, in its origin, was invariably worked in horizontal lines; later on an exception was made  for the petals of the rose, wrought perpendicularly as shown in fig.4.

In many cases the two directions are combined, as in fig.5.

To execute this flower, pierce the eyelet-hole with a stiletto, and closely overcast it; then darn straight rows of padding, and cover them by sewing over, commencing at the widest part and carrying the cotton right round at the back to bring it up again in front. By this means the wrong side will be like the top one, except that the stitches will lie flat. Next shape the oval frames, previously stuffing them in the same way as in fig.6.

On the underlay I cannot put too much stress, and for this very reason I have taken care that you should have plenty of examples, which convey more than any description of mine. If nicely done, your embroidery will be softly rounded off, and the leaves, &c., will bear being bent without the stitches showing the least tendency to separate.

The veining of a leave is generally traced first, but is only marked out by the twist stitch as the finishing touch. See figs.7 and 8.

In delicate foliage you will find the lightest plan is to merely suggest the midrib by a furrow, produced by working the two sides of the leaf separately. Outline the veining, pad on each side, and start with the sharp point for a few stitches until you meet the midrib; then cover one side, only working from edge to centre, turn the work and proceed to the opposite side (fig.9).

It requires some knack to define the centre hollow, which is of frequent occurrence in satin stitch embroider, not only for veining, but also for Vandykes  such as figs.1, 3, 4 and 10.

The stitches must just meet without interfering or encroaching in any way with the opposite one, else the beauty of the line will be spoilt. When scallops are in this way fitted into one another, the outside one is properly padded, while the others, necessarily, are much less so or not at all. Another difficulty of this straight stitch lies in the proper shaping of the spikes of the leaves; some just out in triple leaflets as in fig.6, or in a series of teeth, as exemplified by fig.11.

This jagged edge you have all had the opportunity of noticing in the petals of the bluebottle and the foliage of the vine, the daisy, and the rose, &c. There is really no rule to give you as to the clear defining of the various dents; your eye will be the best guide  for the gradual increase and decrease of the stitch as well as its correct tightness. Here, too, I find the supporting touch of the little finger a great help when drawing out the thread.

To lighten the general effect leaves are often satin-stitched on one side, whilst the other is filled up with straight rows of back-stitch, the notches and midribs having beforehand been outlined by twist stitch (fig.12).

But a still lighter and truly artistic ornament would be to cut out this part and fill it up with lace-stitches, a variation which would charmingly enhance the centres of figs.4, 6, 10 and 13.

Long ago, in my schooldays, crewel stitch was little known, and all the attention was directed to satin stitch, or plumetis. My needlework teacher, a dear old maid, would have everything learned systematically, and never swerved from her established rules, which obliged the pupils to conquer each stitch in its own rotation. We first learned the twist or stem-stitch in all its meanderings, then we passed to the straight plain leaves, after this to the spots, next roses and all blossoms, &c., wrought with the perpendicular stitch, and last the efficient ones were privileged to venture upon the jagged foliage and a few elect pupils on the lace frilling. This routine was not completed in one year, I can assure you.

I just perceive that I have spoken very little of the spots. Their direction varies to harmonise with the annexed design. When very small they are termed "beads," or "dots," and need no filling; if very close together you had better not break your cotton at each, but pass from one to the other, not drawing the connecting thread too tight for fear of puckering the fabric.

Open spots are called eyelets, some being quite round, as I have already mentioned in figs.5 and 13, and others rather berry-shaped (fig.14).

These eyelets are button-holed all round, but the wide part alone has any padding, the narrow edge merely being worked over a double outline. To form the whole you slit the material with scissors, four times describing a cross, and with the needle you turn back the four underpieces, which will eventually disappear beneath the over-sewing. The ribs of the leaves are wrought in satin-stitch, but I will recommend you a much quicker mode, fitly named point de poste, or railway stitch. For this bring your needle out at the base of the stem, carry it across to the extremity of the rib, slip it underneath, to emerge again at the starting point, and before you draw it out coil the cotton ten or twelve times round; press the thumb on this, coiling sufficiently to keep it in place, yet not so tightly as to prevent the needle from sliding through; then with thumb and forefinger carefully bring the thread and coil up, along the place of the rib; again prick the needle into the point of this rib, and pull it out a thread above the first starting-point. This time draw needle and thread gently together, and your coil, if well made, will e a very good imitation of the real stitch. The needle is now ready  for the second ascending rib.

I hope you will thoroughly practise my instructions, because I intend to give you soon a nice collection of such pretty letters that will at once tempt you to immediately set to work and lavish your elegant stitchery on all your surroundings.