Saturday, 3 December 2016

30 April 1881 - 'Seasonable Dress and How to Make It' by Dora de Blaquiere

This month, please wear warm underclothes even though the season has turned, the in colours of the season (blues and rich reds), and remember to pepper your furs before putting them away until next winter. 

Spring – with its violent and sudden changes, its storms and sunshine, which alternate so quickly as to render it most difficult to know "what to wear," even in our daily walks – is certainly the most treacherous and dangerous of all the seasons of the year. To young people, full of movement and life, it is especially so, as they more easily get overheated, and are more easily tempted to throw off winter clothing than their elders. A family physician of more than usual common sense, used to say in our hearing, years ago, that "flannel and merino underclothing should be left off on the 30th of June and put on on the 1st of July again," showing that in his experienced mind the wearing of warm underclothing must be the rule, not the exception. And so we advise all our young readers, even in summer, to wear some light-warm woollen material near the skin, and to adopt our old friend's advice about the non-dismissal of it at any time in the year.

We have spoken before now on the importance of an even temperature being preserved all over the body, and the great advantage the new combined underclothing gives in this way especially. All underpetticoats that are heavy and ungored should now be altered our dismissed, and others substituted which are light, warm, and well gored, and possess a deep well-cut yoke. The present excellent fashion of short dresses bids fair to prevail for some time, and there is a simple and very easy method of buttoning on a train below the flounce at the back, by which a morning dress can be turned into an evening dress with no trouble. Both dresses and sleeves, too, are wider, and so there is no need of endeavouring to preserve the ungainly, ugly fashion of extremely "tied back" skirts and skeleton arms.

In the methods of making there is extreme latitude allowed, for every style of bodice is worn – the polonaise, prettily draped, and buttoned or laced either at the back or the front; the cuirass bodice, and the coat bodice, which will be worn much as it was last year, as a sufficient to-of-door covering when the weather is warm enough. They are made in the same way, but the fronts are sometimes made in extremely long points, the back being something like a coat.

The three-figure illustration shows the present way of making girls' simple walking costumes. AT figs.1 and 2, the first wears a dress of serve, trimmed with velveteen, the colour of the serge being a golden brown, called *tete de faisan (pheasant's head), the velveteen being of a darker shade, and the woollen ball-fringe rather lighter, to match the serge. This figure wears a draped polonaise, with a scarf of velveteen below the waist, velveteen cuffs, and collar, and two leaf-shaped pieces of velveteen that fall below the polonaise over the two small flounces of the skirt. The hat is of dark brown felt, with trimmings o plush, and a feather tip of the lighter shade of the dress.

Fig.2 wears a dress of blue vigogne; the underskirt is of silk, or merino, with bands of galloon; the overskirt, which is of vigogne, opens in front, and is draped back on one side; the bodice has a plain long basque, edged with galloon, and buttoned down the front; the hat of blue straw, with a trimming of grey-green leaves to suit the colour of the blue, and a plush lining of grey-green, which shows above the forehead, where the bonnet turns up.

The third figure shows the new method of making the habit bodice this season. The fronts are pointed, the narrow basque being continued above the hips to the back, where it is pointed to match the front.

Fig.4 is a charming girl's dress, which is especially adapted to the altering and remaking of old dresses. The material of the illustrated costume was a basket-woven beige, the bodice and sleeves being trimmed with a plaid material of silk and wool; the "Black Watch" tartan, one of the new fancy French checks, being, any of them, very pretty. This idea may be carried out  for the mending and making up of old black dresses; the figured or checked material will then look best to be of old-gold and black, or red and black. The balayeuse, or kilting, should be either of old gold or red.

The bonnet illustrated at fig.5 is a small fancy straw, lined with a shaded silk, the strings being of the same. The flowers are those of the spring, which are peculiarly suited to the use of young girls – the daisy, the snowdrop, and the violet, to add a little colour to the group.

The new spring colours must not be forgotten. Yellows and browns, both together and alone, seem to be the favourite hues of the day, and a very pleasant mixture they prove. Then comes a lovely blue hue called *saphir, which, with *bleu de ciel and turquoise blue, will be much used all the summer. A beautiful red, called by many names, will be much worn; it resembles a cardinal, but is deeper and richer, and reminds one of the red which in those fierce and warlike days of the Franco-Prussian war the French introduced and named *sang de Prusse, with questionable taste. Then there are greys and drabs, without number, and a beautiful dark hue called *cassis, which is copied from the red currant and bears its French name.

All kinds of straw bonnets are worn, and all descriptions of shapes. Many girls choose the "grannie" bonnet, which was also worn last year, and indeed, Miss Kate Greenaway's pictures have pretty well used us to quaint old-fashioned poke shapes for young girls, and very pretty some of them look. There are plain white straws also, which exactly resemble some worn by our great-great-grandmothers, trimmed with plain blue ribbon which almost makes them into the bonnet of the little charity girls, or the queer shape worn at the Foundling Hospital.

Belts and bags of yellow leather and others of plush have been brought out for the use of young girls, and very useful and pretty they are. The fashion of wearing belts and buckles and gathered bodices is more becoming to young figures than to old ones, and they have one great advantage, they are easily made and fitted at home.

Capes of several shapes are to be worn, the prettiest of the new ones being the "Mother Hubbard, which is exactly like the top of the cloak of that name, cut off where the sleeves are put in, just at the elbow. The gathered top and the bow at the back with the high frill are all very graceful, and this cape, though small, gives much additional warmth in the chilly days of late spring. The cape and pointed hood of the Red River voyager and the Eskimo have also been copied for one o our new spring hoods, and very becoming they are. These little capes are easily made at home, and are much newer than the sleeveless jackets which have been worn so long.

Quantities of silk and thread gloves with many buttons are prepared  for the spring and summer.  For the benefit of those who do not know how to wash them, we will give an excellent way: Place the gloves on the hands and wash the hands with borax water or white Castile soap, as if you were really washing the hands. Rinse in fresh water, and dry as much as possible with a towel, keeping the gloves on until they are about half dry. Then take them off carefully, and fold them up so that they may look as nearly like new gloves as possible. Lay them between two clean towels, and press them under a weight.

And now we must give a few lines to the important subject of taking care of the winter clothes that we are about to lay aside  for the summer months. Furs must be shaken and well beaten with a small rod, so as to get all the dust and dirt out, as well as the eggs of the moth, which may be laid in them already. When this is doe, pepper them well with strong white pepper, and wrap them in linen, putting them away, if possible, in a tin box.

In regard to winter clothing, it is absolutely needful that it should be put away clean, and well brushed and beaten, if it is to be preserved from moths. All the greasy and dirty spots should be taken out, and in folding up the utmost care should be taken. A tablespoonful of spirits of ammonia or of hartshorn added to a teacupful of boiling water, covered up and allowed to cool, is an excellent mixture for taking out grease. Apply with a bit of sponge or flannel before quite cool, rubbing the spot briskly, having first brushed the dust well out of it. Rinse with a little clean water, and rub dry with a piece of the same as the dress, if possible. Dry in the air or in a sunny window. If the grease has not disappeared, go over again in the same manner, being careful to rub the same way as the nap of the materials. This recipe will take out grease, sweet or sticky spots, or anything that has not taken out the colour of the fabric.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

24 April 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

LITTLE MOLLY – Your name should be engraved or written on your mother's card. If the friends on whom you call be at home, your cards will not be needed. Tell your names to the servant who will announce you, and if your father should send his card, lay it on the hall table as you leave the house.

GREENWOOD – Your desire to devote your restored health to the service of the sick is a very commendable one; but in some cases such creditable desires cannot be carried out; and under the disappointment which you would naturally feel, you must remember that while David's intention to build the Temple was frustrated, his desire to do so was accepted and approved. "It is well that it was in thine heart," was the answer of God. Now in reference to your being a nurse, having been four years suffering from a severe pulmonary affection, we feel sure that you are quite unsuited to such an arduous life. Strong health and nerves are amongst the essential requirements in a nurse. Do not think of it further.

CELANDINE – Feed your puppy with a little sop of bread and milk and water, or porridge and dogs' biscuits. While very young feed him night and day.

CORAL NECKLACE – Gooseberries are not served as a dish for dessert in society. At home, you hold the gooseberry, and having pulled off the little terminal tuft at the end, you squeeze the contents into your mouth. In reference to grapes, which always appear at dinners in society, there is a fully acknowledged difficulty. It is a safe rule to notice what the best bred persons do who are present at table with you; but it is an undoubted fact that they usually make a cup of the left hand, place it close to the mouth, and so receive the stones and skins, and convey them as privately as possibly to the plate, while others swallow the whole in preference. But no one likes to do either; and the best plan is to restrict your indulgences in all such fruits to private dinners.

BESSIE – Your poems have merit and show good feeling likewise; and you write a pretty, well-formed hand; but we cannot always publish even good amateur productions. You are right in supposing that we are neither "bewigged nor bespectacled" nor at all disposed to find fault with your kind letter. We shall always be glad to hear from so good a friend.

CLEMENCE TAYLOR – You suffer from bad circulation, produced either by insufficient clothing and food, or those which are not suitable for your case, or else from too sedentary a life; or, again, you may have a feeble heart. Take exercise; use a flesh brush; eat warming food, such as lentils, beans, peas and so forth; and wear merino under-vests and warm stockings. If not sufficient to improve your state, consult a doctor.

ROBIN – Enclose a note in the parcel containing the wedding gift, only inscribing upon it:- "With all good wishes (or affectionate wishes) for your happiness – From 'Robin,'" giving your real name. Your writing is stiff and large, a more flowing hand would be prettier.

RUTH – Considerably more than a hundred letters come every day. It is necessary to make some selection for replies, although all letters are read. To many questions answers have already appeared  in previous numbers. Others will be met b articles soon to appear. Other questions are either trifling ones or could be answered by any person at hand, by an older girl or teacher, or by referring to common school books or dictionaries. Some scores of letters ask opinions about handwriting! If all letters were answered there would be no space left for other matters.

A.C. of E.H.S. GIRL – You give yourself much too long a name for our columns. Exercise a little strength of will and purpose, and resolutely keep your hands still when addressing anyone.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

23 April 1881 'How to Wash and Dress the Baby' by Ruth Lamb - Chapter 1 'About Little Nurses'

Before I enter upon the main subject of these chapters I should like to devote a portion of them to a very large class of helpful-handed little people. I mean young nurses. This class includes both boys and girls. Had it not been for this fact, I might perhaps call these youngsters "Little Mothers." But I see, almost daily, such pleasant pictures of small boy-nurses in the exercise of their vocation, that the class must be understood to include them also, if fairly treated.

Perhaps there is no place in which the genus "little nurse" can be studied in all its varieties and to greater advantage than in our public parks. On every fine morning especially, it is to be met with at almost every turn, and of nearly all ages above that of the actual baby in charge.

In the houses of well-to-do people, where there are experienced nurses to assist mothers in the care of their children, or sometimes – alas that it should be so! – to take the entire charge of them during infancy, the elder little people of the family generally have to beg to be allowed to "take baby."

The little lassie of eight or nine who is, perhaps, a baby worshipper, and whose ambition it is to be called a good nurse, is sometimes quite indignant at the amount of supervision to which she is subjected all the while baby is on her knee. She chafes at the continual charges, "Mind you don't hurt him, Miss Annie!" "He'll be off your knee if you're not more careful!" "Put your arm behind his back!" and so on, *ad libitum.

At the same time the vigilant eyes of nurse are so perpetually turned in the direction of her amateur assistant, that any sense of responsibility in that quarter is utterly destroyed, and Miss Annie herself waxes indignant under this persistent and irritating espionage.

True, the elder child's young arms lack the strength and dexterity of nurse's practised ones; but baby, if well, does not object to Annie's rather awkward mode of handling him. He likes to see her young, fresh laughing face close to his, and sister Annie's hair is delightful to pull and to bury his small fists in. He seizes it and tugs with all his might, and so retaliates on his little nurse for having so poked and tickled him into a fit of laughter, in which she joins as heartily. His real nurse's head-gear is much less attractive, her prim cap being carefully and necessarily kept out of baby's clutches, and her hair, tidily tucked beneath it, offers no such temptation to baby's roving fingers as to Miss Annie's soft flowing curls.

But nurse has perhaps just tidied Miss Annie for dinner, and the ruffled hair is an additional grievance. "You should not let baby pull your hair so," she says, in a tone of reproof. "I shall have it all to curl up again before you go downstairs."

It seems a pity to disturb such a delightful game, when baby brother and little sister are so innocently happy. But Annie is tired of such constant looking after, tired of the continual nagging and cautioning, and she would not hurt the chubby darling for all the world. So she sighs in a weary fashion, gives baby a hearty kiss on his dear little distended mouth, evading another grab at her curls as she does so, and resigns herself anew into the hands of nurse, who grumbles a good deal at having to put her right a second time.

Annie's mind is considerably exercised on the subject of nursing and of her assumed helplessness in comparison with the scores of little nurses whom she sees in sole charge of babies. None of the tiny creatures appear to come to any harm in consequence of the trust reposed in mere children by poor mothers who have no choice but to do this, if their household work is to be completed in anything like a reasonable time. She wonders why poor people's children may be trusted to do all sorts of things for and with babies; whereas she is looked after, watched and cautioned at every turn, just as if her little brother was made of egg-shell china, and she had made up her mind to break him with a touch.

Miss Annie looks at her round strong arms, very different from those of some little nurses she sees out of doors; she knows that her limbs are stronger, because she has good health, and is better fed and looked after than they are; she has the will to be useful, and she loves, with all the warmth of her young heart, the helpless darling in the nursery at home.

She feels half-angry, half-humiliated, and says to herself, "I wish I lived in a cottage where there are no nurses to bother and fidget, then mamma would be glad to let me have baby and take him out whenever I liked."

There are plenty of children like our "miss Annie," who grow up comparatively helpless, but who are only so because they are neither taught how to make themselves useful, nor trusted. As a hint both to mothers and children, let me point out a few of the valuable qualities which I have seen developed in little nurses. These have come under my notice as I have watched them in the streets and parks, far beyond the overseeing eye of the mother who was often toiling for their bread at the wash-tub or in the mill.

Carefulness, patience, unselfishness, endurance, good temper, tender love  for the little one, and trustworthiness. Perhaps I should notice the last mentioned quality before all the rest. The mother must believe in its existence when she trusts her infant to the care of a nine year old girl or boy. How seldom does the child fail her! How carefully is the baby held, just as a mother holds it! How watchful are those young eyes over the one, two, or three other children who play round the doorstep or near a eat in the park on which the little nurse sits with her sleeping charge.

As to patience, I do not know whether to yield the palm for this virtue to the boy or the girl nurse. Only a few mornings ago I noticed a boy patting, petting, kissing, and comforting a baby whose tearful eyes and pouting lips told of some little trouble. How he persevered in his efforts to pacify the child! He walked up and down, made droll faces and droller noises, until at last he won back a smile to the bonny round face, while his own looked the picture of happiness. The sound of a hearty kiss was the last thing I heard as I turned out of the park.

If you want to know whether these little nurses are interested in their charges, seat yourself near a couple of them and listen to their conversation. You can have a book in your hand, which will put them quite at their ease, though you need not read it.

One will perhaps tell, with anxious face, of some narrow escape that her baby had had through getting cold when he had measles. The other will speak with exultation of a new frock which mother is making for hers. They will compare ages, count and exhibit the wee ivories just peeping, and tenderly rub the little gums to help the next one through. And is not that small nurse a proud individual if her baby, being the same age as the other, or perhaps a little younger, has actually cut a tooth or two more, or has a less bald pate under its woollen hood.

Then what beauty they see in their baby's face! You and I might think it a poor skinny elfish-looking creature, but the little nurse does not. Love gives beauty, and the helpless thing is perfectly lovely in the eyes of its young guardian. You will hear all sorts of admiring epithets showered upon it if you listen.

You know the little nurse's arms ache, and you wonder how she goes on holding it, hour after hour, without a word of complaint. Many a mother would think she had done a great thing had she held her child for half the time.

I write especially in the hope of attracting the thoughtful attention of the girls who will be the mothers of the next generation.

If you, dear girls who read this paper will look around you, you will see many an exhibition of those fine qualities of patience and uncomplaining endurance amongst the little nurses in whom I feel a deep interest. Conscience will, perhaps, tell you that untaught, ignorant, as many of them are, you might yet learn many a lesson from them as you pass along the highways in town or country.

The little nurses are unselfish and brave. Often I Have seen one take off the little woollen shawl, which was doing duty as a bonnet on her own person as well as being her only out-door covering, and wind it round the baby lest the cold wind should reach him.

Fancy, too, the temptations that have to be resisted. Do you not think those two bright lads would like a game at marbles, as well as their neighbours who are unfettered by baby or perambulator? Of course they would, and, depend on it, the faithful nurses, whether girls or boys, fight and bravely win a hard battle when they turn from ball, skipping-rope, hoop, or marbles, and remain the spectators of games in which they long to join, because they will not neglect the helpless infants entrusted to their care.

They have their pleasures as well as trials. In the warm, summer weather, when the grass is dry and the sun shining, the little ones will kick about and sprawl on the ground, enjoying the bustle that is going on around them. But often, when the day we glorious for active play, and the sky is bright and clear, there is a cold wind and the grass is damp. Baby could not be laid down safely, and then the courage and self-denial of the little nurse are called into operation. Then great victories are won of which the world knows nothing.

Little nurses, as a rule, have their reward in the growth, progress, and increasing strength of their babies. What joy and exultation do the first tottering steps cause to their guardians! How proud are they when the wee thing can run alone!

And far beyond even these rewards are the approving smile and word, the whispered blessing, the loving kiss of a good mother, with whose cares and anxieties their children sympathise, and whose toil their young hands have lightened.

There are such animals as crabby, impatient little nurses. I have seen such that could scold and even strike the help.ess and unfortunate babies with which they had to do. But, thank god! There are few instances of this kind and so many of the opposite.

There are mothers, too, who are apt, probably because they do not think about it, to speak lightly or not at all of their children's services. They take their loving labours as a matter of course, and hardly care to cheer and encourage them on the path of duty. So the children gradually become indifferent, and look upon that as an irksome task which should be a pleasure. But it is not with such as these that I am specially dealing in this paper. I wish to picture, as I o often see them manifested, those high and noble qualities which are drawn out in the characters of children by the very fact of trusting them.

We cannot help contrasting the helpful children of the cottage and the streets with those who do nothing, simply because they have so many people to care for them that they are neither called on to think for themselves, nor for others. Watched, waited on, thought for in everything, they grow up helpless, because they have never been exercised in self-reliance; and selfish, because they have not been taught the blessedness of giving, or giving up anything  for the sake of others.

There is one sad drawback in the case of little nurses who are trusted too much and too early. They seem almost weighed down with family cares whilst they are but children. Theirs is the growing "old too soon." But in the homes of well-to-do parents, there is little fear of the children being overburdened, whilst it would surely be worth their while to draw out such qualities in their young people as are daily exercised in the houses of their poorer neighbours.

Children who never have to do with babies are often, I was going to say amusingly, awkward in handling an infant. Better, however, say pitiably awkward; because it is a pity that the "future mothers" of our race should have no training in this most important part of woman's work. Boys of this class usually consider it *infra dig to notice babies in public. If they condescend to kiss them they manifest a strong objection to open-mouthed salutes, and touch the little velvet cheek with their lips much as they might approach a red-hot poker. It is a touch-and-go process, which makes mothers and grown-up nurses smile pityingly at the urchin who does not know how delightful is a genuine baby kiss.

Happily, there are lots of little mothers "to the manner born" in every station f life. I fancy I see one of these as I write. From her very infancy she loves her doll as a true mother loves her child, and should an accident befall her wooden or waxen darling, she grieves and moans over it, not as a broken toy, but a wounded baby. Its eruptions – of sawdust – cause her all the anxiety incident to measles. Her tears are real tears, and it is of no use to intimate that the broken arm, over which she is weeping causes Dolly no pain.

A matter-of-fact child laughs contemptuously at the idea of a doll being able to feel, and points to the wooden fragments as proof of her being in the right. She means well, doubtless, but her calm indifference only adds to the grief of the loving-hearted little mite, who presses her injured darling to her breast and loses hours of sleep in weeping.

There is neither rest nor comfort for her until somebody sets to work and restores the limb as far as possible, and then she sleeps; but even then she sobs at intervals as if the trouble could not be forgotten.

As the little mother grows older she wins everybody's admiration by the "handy" way in which she nurses a real baby, and when she has shot up into a slender slip of a lass, as tall as her own mother, she is a greater infant-worshipper than ever. She bestows a perfect wealth of love on the wee things, and the younger they are the better she likes them; because they want the most care and nursing.

If the little mother is missing from her own home circle, her mamma sends a message of inquiry to the nearest friend's house, where she is made free of the nursery, or perhaps to some cottage in the neighbourhood, where a nice clean baby is to be found. Perhaps her attentions are least acceptable to children beyond babyhood. She plagues them a little by wanting to wash and tidy them more frequently than they like, because she is so fond of the work and delights in making them look nice. But she generally coaxes them to submit by offering bribes in the shape of wonderfully got-up dolls, of which she always has a store ready, dressed by her nimble young fingers.

Bless the loving little woman! She is not without a reasonable liking for school work, and loves reading as well as most. But her great charm is her delightful motherliness, even as a child, a quality which is, I fear, insufficiently cultivated at home, and never thought of at all in schools, or supposed to have any place in the so-called "Higher Education of Women."

Yet when I see these sweet feminine qualities in the lassie, I often think to myself that if I were a youth - a good one, mind – I should watch the growing into womanhood of such a "little mother" as I have described. I should value the development of these heaven-bestowed womanly instincts as something more precious than any amount of certificates won for Latin or advanced mathematical knowledge. And though I might have a choice between such a little damsel as I have described and a feminine senior wrangler, I would do my best to win the little mother as the mistress of my future home.

Just another picture of little nurses and I will finish. Some years ago I was in the Peel Park Museum, Salford, and was much edified at the sight of a number of these small people standing before the cases of gaily-plumaged, stuffed birds. They were spelling out the names and repeating them to such of their companions as were above baby age, thus doing their best to improve their minds as well as care for their bodies. I felt rather put out when a policeman conducted them to the door and told them, not unkindly, to "Go play in the park," probably for fear the clatter of their clogs should offend the ears of some well-dressed grown-up folk in the museum The longing, lingering looks they cast behind them quite spoiled my enjoyment, and I felt sorry that in this "People's Museum" well-behaved poor children should have been sent out, because their feet were clogged instead of shod, and necessarily made a clatter on the floors.

I went out almost immediately, and as I drew near the entrance gates I met a picnic party coming into the park – a little girl nurse with a disproportionately large baby in her arms, and quite a train of attendant youngsters, who were evidently going to have "a day out." They were nearly all barefoot, and their clothing was poor and scanty, though the baby was well bundled up in all sorts of odds and ends of garments.

There was a provision basket, containing a bottle of blueish-tinted milk, thick lunches of bread and dripping, a few green apples, and some indescribable scraps of other food. The party did not live in the immediate neighbourhood, as was evident,  for the young leader glanced around in some bewilderment and then said to me, "Please will you tell me the way to the swings?"

I directed her to the girls' playground adding, "There were plenty of swings at liberty a few minutes since."

This information gave new vigour to the youngsters. The little nurse thanked me, hitched the baby a little higher on her shoulder, gave her free hand to the toddler next in size, saying, "Come on, Georgie. The lady says there's plenty of swings ready for us."

Away went the bare feet pattering over the hard gravel path, and this humble picnic party was soon lost to my view. With all my heart I wished them a happy day, a safe return, and a good rest  for the little nurse in charge when the evening shadows should begin to fall.

Many a time since then, when I have seen over-indulged, helpless girls satiated with too many pleasures, almost wishing they had a want, and not knowing how to spend their time and use their strong limbs, I have thought of that half-clad, barefooted group, and of the almost awful responsibility of the mere child who was charged with the safe conduct of the rest.

When I began this chapter I did not intend to let little nurses occupy so much space, but they came before my mind's eye in such crowds, and I have long felt such a deep motherly interest in them as a class, that I have permitted them to push the baby itself out of sight for a time.

Yet I am truly anxious to interest both mothers and girls in this most important subject – namely, whatever concerns the care of the comfort and well-being of the baby. I am going to write out some simple instructions for its management, which I hope may be of use to young nurses who are willing but unskilful, and who are therefore afraid to offer help in washing, dressing, or nursing the baby.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

23 April 1881 - 'Aprons'

I'm guessing that for the working class, aprons didn't actually appear between the 18th and 17th centuries. Just saying.

There is nothing so pretty as an apron for home wear. It seems to give an air of pleasant homeliness to the wearer, and at once stamps her character s careful, economical, and exquisitely tidy – qualities which she will surely carry into everything she undertakes in life. She is perhaps a little precise too, which will show itself in punctuality as to time, and as to business-like habits in keeping her engagements, and we feel nearly sure that the apron-wearer will neither disappoint, nor vex us with any unreliability. The word itself is a strange blunder, being "a napperon" converted into "an apperon", - napperon being the French for a "napkin," from nappe, "cloth". In many counties in England it is said that the word "apperon" is still used.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the apron is its extreme antiquity. It appears to have been worn from the Fall until the present day In our own country Strutt, who wrote on the "Dress and Habits of the People of England," gives an illustration of it as used in his time, the thirteenth century. His picture shows us a blacksmith at work, in an apron precisely similar to the leathern one still worn. It is tied round the waist, and thence rises to the breast, which it completely covers, and is secured round the neck by a tie. This shape had been in use long previously by women, and continued so long afterwards. It was also worn at that date by the upper classes as an ornamental addition to the dress. In the fourteenth century the apron was called a "barme cloth" in England, and in "The Miller's Tale" Chaucer gives a description of it as worn by the carpenter's wife. She wore –

"A barme cloth, eke as white as moe milk,
Upon her lendes, full of many a gore."

These many gores are thought to mean "plaits," or perhaps gathers, which were done in the way we now call "honey combing."

After this period the apron was confined to good housewives in the country, until the sixteenth century, when the ladies took them again into favour as articles of decoration; and used them of so fine a texture that a poet of the day says –

"These aprons white, or finest thread,
So choicilie tied, so dearly bought,
So finely fringed, so nicely spread,
So quaintly cut, so richly wrought;
Were they in work to save their coats,
They need not cost so many groats."
- Stephen Gosson's "Pleasant Quippes for Upstart Gentlewomen," 1596

These aprons were edged with lace, and one of them may be seen on the monumental effigy of Mistress Dorothy Strutt, in Whalley Church, Essex, who died in 1641.

In the days of King William III, they again became an indispensable part of a lady's dress, and were very small, edged round with the finest and most costly lace, and covered the top of the petticoat, the front of which was fully displayed by the open gown then in use. Good Queen Anne herself wore an apron later on, and in her reign they were richly decorated with needlework, gold lace, and spangles; and occasionally these ornaments formed a framework for a small picture, which was painted on satin and sewn on the apron. One of the aprons of this date, which has descended to me from an ancestress, is in my possession, and is a beautiful example of needlework. The ground is of white silk, the apron being about half a yard square. The border is of leaves in coloured silks, and vines and flourishes round them in silver thread and cord. The fineness of the work is a subject of wonder to all who see it. It was worn under the pointed bodice, and they sometimes had a stomacher to match in colour.

In George II's reign they were worn very long and quite plain, without lace or ornament, but occasionally fringed at the end. The material seems to have been white muslin or lawn. A curious anecdote is told of these aprons. It appears that Beau Nash, the Master of Ceremonies and the celebrated "King of Bath," had the strongest aversion to them, and excluded all ladies who ventured to appear at the Bath assemblies dressed in that manner. In Goldsmith's "Life of Nash" it is said that "at one assembly he went so far as to strip the Duchess of Queensberry's apron off, and, throwing it down on one of the back benches, declared that none but abigails appeared in white aprons." How strange a picture of the mixture of rudeness, and extreme ceremony in the manners of that day!

Short aprons of cambric were worn in full dress in 1788, and after that we do not hear of aprons being much in use until 1830 to 1850, when all ladies wore them, made generally of black silk, and though decorated and ornamented in various ways, they were not the entirely useless articles of dress of the preceding century, but were intended to combine the useful and the ornamental.

A great revival of aprons took place when art needlework commenced to be applied to them about the year 1874. Since then they have been in constant use  for the household-work and lawn-tennis, and they will in all probability retain their hold on our fickle fashions for some time to come; but whether this be so or not all young girls should make a practice of wearing them, as they add much to their appearance both at work and at play.

In our page of aprons we have tried to gather together all that is prettiest and most useful, too, of the modern styles, and in order to please every one of our girls we have taken all materials and aprons for all seasons and events.

The first three may be called "dress," or afternoon aprons, and they are suitable for that time of day when we are all supposed to have done work, and put on our best frocks. The first apron is of white muslin or nainsook; it has a gored centre, and two gores at the sides, and is trimmed with tatting and muslin puffings. The little girl's apron is of the well-known princess shape, and may be made of any white washing material, from muslin, to a figured brilliant or jaconet, trimmed with embroidery. The third figure wears a charming apron, both in style and trimming. It is of mull muslin, or Victorian lawn, trimmed with frills of the same, and a fancy-coloured washing braid.

The next two figures give the back and front of a housekeeping, and cooking apron, which is made of a coloured printed cotton, or a sateen, those with a white ground being the most suitable. It is edged all round with a frill of the same, and has a large pocket which may be placed either at the side, or in front, as the wearer pleases. The next figure wears a useful house-apron, which completely hides the dress, and so is equally valuable to protect a new or to hide an old one. The material may be unbleached Barnsley linen, brown Holland, or any of the new fancy materials, such as oatmeal cloth. The bands are of blue linen, with an appliqué pattern in vine leaves of Turkey-red cotton or cretonne flowers. Plain bands may be used.


The work-apron with a pocket will prove an immense comfort to those who do much needlework or knitting, as not only does it hold the balls of yarn, the cotton, scissors and needles, but the work itself can be safely put away in it, to be found in order for an immediate start when taken up again. The material of our illustrated apron is blue linen, with outline or cross-stitch embroidery in coloured ingrain cottons. The little girl's apron with a bib and bretelles, or shoulder straps, is a very pretty and stylish pattern, the back being especially effective. Any material, from muslin to silk, may be used, the pattern given being made of muslin, with a muslin and lace frilling, and three rows of narrow black ribbon, velvet all round, which of course requires to be taken off when the apron is washed. The young lady's house-apron is perhaps the most useful and practical of all. It is made of workhouse or Bolton sheeting, and has bands of Turkey-red twill laid on, and sewn down with the sewing machine. The little design above is worked with red and blue ingrain cotton. The front resembles that of the little girl's, but the shoulder straps cross behind instead of coming down straight to the belt.

The Roman apron is the newest of all that we have illustrated. It is made of fine unbleached linen, or it may be of pure white. It is cut lengthwise, and is about one yard and a half long, and folded over nearly half a yard from the top. The strings are sewn in under the fold three inches from the edge on each side. The decoration consists of two rows of embroidery, which may be done in drawn-work, cross-stitch, or even in crewels. The ends are fringed and then knotted evenly, and the sides are hemmed up. The width of the apron is three-quarters of a yard. The next apron is also called a Roman apron, although not doubled over at the top. It is made of black silk and is twenty-four inches long by twenty wide. The length is increased by the addition of the trimming and lace to over three-fourths of a yard. The trimming consists of strips of red, blue or white linen, worked in a border design of cross-stitch with ingrain cotton. The lace is an ordinary inexpensive lace, sewn on with very little fullness.

The small design at fig.1 is intended to give an idea of the new darned work, which has been revived from the seventeenth century styles of embroidery. The material used is huckaback; the price about 10d per yard. The ends are fringed, and the unworked end is turned over, like the usual Roman apron, the lower part alone being worked. The design chosen is a conventional pomegranate, from a series of designs lately published, which are copies of ancient needlework. The pattern is traced, and worked first in outline stitch in blue filoselle, which should be split to three strands only. The background is then put in by darning from every one of the double threads which appear on the surface of the huckaback. The square is, of course, traced first to keep it even in working. The colours chosen may be all blue, blue in two shades, yellow  for the grounding, and red for the outlining, or even a mixture of tints, if great cleverness be exercised in doing it.

The only apron I have left unnoticed is that in the well-known handkerchief style, which has now become so common, and is so cheaply purchased, that it has passed beyond the ken of our more artistic workers.

Monday, 21 November 2016

23 April 1881 - 'The Weddings of the World' by A.H. Wall - 'A Wedding in China'

And here you are complaining about wanting the vote, western women. Look how good you have it compared to your poor Oriental sisters.

When a son is born he sleeps upon a bed; he is clothed with rich robes, and plays with pearls; everyone obeys his princely voice. When a girl is born she is cast upon the ground, is wrapped in a cloth, and plays with a tile." Thus wrote Pan-houi-pan of her own sex, in her own country, China, adding, "She can be neither vicious nor virtuous; she has only to prepare the food, make the wine, and abstain from troubling her parents."

Pain-houi-pan write with neither regret nor indignation of this strange contrast. In her opinion it was both proper and wise to mark by neglect and indifference the inferiority of a creature born without a soul, even in the helpless days of its infancy. In her still popular works she is continually reminding women that they have no purpose in creation beyond that of being useful and pleasing to the superior sex. The birth of such a being as a woman was a thing to be ashamed of – a sure sign of heaven's disfavour, in the estimation of Pan-houi-pain, and in that of all her countrymen and women.

A modern well-known traveller, M. Huc, describing his adventures in China, says on one occasion when leaving Lean-chan, his Chinese companion, speaking of women being Christians, exclaimed laughingly, "Isn't that nonsense!" And being told that it was not, and that, moreover, certain Chinese women were Christians, he asked, with an air of being completely puzzled, "What can women become Christians for?"

"What for?" was the reply; "to save their souls – like the men."

"But," responded the astonished Chinaman, "they have no souls. You can't make Christians of them!"

"We endeavoured," says the author in question, "to remove the worthy Chinaman's scruples – to give him a few sounder ideas on the subject of women's souls, but we are by no means sure that we succeeded. The very notion tickled his fancy so much that he laughed with all his might. 'Nevertheless,' said he, 'I will be sure to recollect what you have been telling me, and, when I get home again to my family, I will tell my wife that she has got a soul.' She will be not a little astonished, I think.'"

But, despite his laughter, it is not improbable that in his secret heart he regarded this new view of Christianity with no little dread. It seemed to him, doubtless, a veritable serpent in the garden, so that when he got home he may have prayed heartily to his grotesque little wooden god that a knowledge of equality and consequent discontent and rebellion, might never beget evil within the doors of his own little domestic paradise. For the women of China, brought up in a slavish spirit of obedience and servile humility, are generally meek and gentle, patient, timid, and long suffering, deriving from ignorance a degree of content which, as a rule, is not altogether unproductive of happiness. John Chinaman would not have his women either wise or independent. They see no evil in being without a soul; they have no rights, and they want no rights. He is content with women because they are content to regard the ministering to his luxurious comforts and enjoyments as their highest, grandest, and sole privilege. For that only are they born, bred and educated. And, again, as a rule, the good-humoured, cheerful, chatty Chinese women, devoting themselves with all their might to parents, husbands, and sons, with a generous abnegation of self which is – dare I say? – worthy of a better and nobler cause – is admirable. Even amongst the poorest you see them decent in their apparel, modest in their behaviour, assiduous in the pursuit of their heavy monotonous labours, on the water or in the garden, field, farm, or at the loom, and seldom without a pleasant word and smile. Sometimes they are fortunate enough to win gratitude, sometimes happy enough to create love, but, as a rule, I fear the predominant idea they awaken in their masters' minds is merely that cold emotionless one that when they have done their utmost in serving or pleasing, they have but done that duty for which no thanks are fairly due.

The Chinese girl who has poor parents leads the degraded life of a slave; no out-door labour is too long or too hard for her, no treatment too bad, no punishment too severe. If her parents are lowly but not so poor, she is regarded as the household drudge, whom no kind of work can injure or degrade. In either case she stagnates in ignorance, unable either to read or write; but, strange to say, she does not grow either dull, brutal or apathetic. A kind word moves her to tears, and to win her heartfelt gratitude is a very easy task. The daughter of wealth fares a little better. She is not so active, and, therefore, not perhaps so happy, but her domestic work is light, and she can read and write a little, and she has amusements. She is taught music and singing. She goes to the theatre, receives occasional visitors, and now and [t is taken to the temple in a sedan chair, or a kind of wheelbarrow with curtains. But she keeps to her own chamber, has her meals apart from her father and brother, devotes considerable time to her toilet and the growth and preservation of her long claw-like nails, and yawning and sighing over her almost purposeless indolent life, is frequently glad to stupefy herself with the opium pipe.

At length there comes a time when the girl may be married, a time for which she has been longing with all her heart. Amongst those whom the law of China compel to marry, and with one of their own rank, her charms are duly but indirectly magnified, and they all know that she will be the bride of the highest bidder. Her nose is beautifully short, her lips delightfully thick, no lashes disfigure her charming black eyes. The length of her finger-nails is surprising! If these fail to attract and no bidder appears, the disconsolate father says that she was a mistake, regrets that she was not drowned directly after her birth, as thousands of other female infants are every year, and mournfully contemplates the cost of her living.

If a good offer comes, and no more bidders are likely to appear, immediate preparations are made  for the wedding. At last the girl will be somebody; she is delighted to find herself for once an object of general interest; it is a grand discovery when she finds that even a girl can make all the people about her glad and merry! Her spirits rise, life assumes a brighter aspect, she dreams day-dreams, sees herself honoured and respected as a house mother, her dignity asserted even by the law, which has hitherto recognised her rather as an object for punishment than protection. She will soon no longer be a mere useless piece of furniture or a domestic drudge; or, as a Chinese author says, she should be "a shadow and an echo in the house." She knows well enough that for a time she will but live her old life over again; that marriage will not give her a right to call anything her own; that she will stand in silence to serve at table and feed on the leavings of the men; and that outside her own inner room or rooms no living soul will  acknowledge her authority. But she knows also that she will be the proud mother of boys, that she will have children to love her and to be cared for.

On the day of her wedding the house is early astir. There is the greatest zeal displayed for her adornment; her looks are anxiously watched, and the perfection of her toilet is an object of overwhelming importance. Her splendid silken robes flash, gleam and glitter with jewels and gold; her long plaits of raven hair are adorned with flowers and precious stones. She totters on her poor cribbled feet into a kind of cage, a brilliant palanquin, where she sits in state like a queen on her throne, and is carefully inspected. Most carefully, for only consider! What a dreadful thing it will be if when the bridegroom first sees her he should express disappointment; say that those who described her deceived him, and wind up by declaring that rather than have her he will sacrifice all the dowery money he has paid, and submit to the usual fine in a like amount. When the procession is ready to escort her, the lattice work of her cage is closed and locked, and the bearers raise and carry her in triumph to the home of her purchaser. Musicians playing fifes, drums, and hautboys, precede her; torch-bearers and flambeau bears surround her! Her family march in solemn state behind; and everything comprising her portion, clothes, furniture &c., follows, each article displayed by one person, male or female.

Shut up alone she hears the music and the joyous shouts and the trampling feet; sees the red light of the torches and flambeaux, falling flickeringly upon her gold and jewellery; thinks of her new home amongst strangers whom she has never seen; dreads the little sound to come, that of the unknown bridegroom's key in the lock of her gilded cage; wonders what he will be like, in what words will he first address her; trembles with intense anxiety.

Meanwhile, the bridegroom, in another fever of anxiety, stands in holiday attire within his outer door. The feast is spread, the guests have arrived, he only waits his bride. What will she be like? How will he be pleased? Will the blind bargain really prove a good one? At last he hears the approaching music and shouting; at last the procession halts before his house; her gay and gilded bridal cage – the palanquin – is before him. The trusty domestic who bears its key gives it to him with a lowly obeisance, and then, amidst sudden and profound silence, he turns it in the lock. The gilded lattice-work swings open; he looks for a moment upon the girl he has purchased – does not suddenly shut the door and turn away, as she tremblingly fears he may, but gravely assists her to alight, while the merry music bursts forth afresh, and the shouting is louder than ever.

Entering the house, the ceremony which unites them, as firmly as the most ceremonious one can, is thus performed.  For the first time she sits down to eat and drink with a strange man – perhaps she does not even know his name – and having previously prostrated themselves before their parents and saluted the Tiers, or idol, in the hall four times, they feed together, drink each from the other's cup, and they are then man and wife, united as completely as Chinese law can unite them.

The bride is then given into the hands of her new female relatives, who entertain her and her family  for the rest of the day at a feast in their own section of the dwellings, while the bridegroom and his friends make merry in another.

One month after there is another ceremonious meeting of the two families, when the bride's family come to see her  for the first time, and this is followed by a third, when the bride revisits her old home.

Friday, 18 November 2016

23 April 1881 - 'How to Keep a Journal' by James Mason

I'm not sure why he's addressing it to his wife Nanette but you do you, James.

Some people are very sensitive on the subject of keeping a journal; should you ever hint at their doing such a thing, they look just as if a dog had bitten them. And yet it is a highly respectable practice, and one indulged in by many men and women remarkable for their good sense. Indeed, I shall go farther and assert that the keeping of a journal in some form or other is a necessary duty if one would derive the utmost profit, material and spiritual, from one's daily life.

It is quite a mistake to think that memory will answer well enough, and that all the events of our lives can be carried in our heads. Set them down in black and white, for memories are fickle and the deepest impressions in a few years fade away. I have even noticed that many a sensation, which at the moment seemed as if it would last for ever, has become very dim after a week.

A journal is a convenient storehouse of personal experience. "But," you say, "my personal experience is not worth the storing. I am only a girl leading a quiet life, without adventures and without incidents - one to whom to-day is like every other day, and every other day like to-day." For all that keep a journal, and you will be surprised how much you will find worth setting down and worth reading over, too. Your journal, it is true, will not be one of sensational interest, but for this, like those happy nations who have no history, you may be thankful.

It is not a hard task, my dear. The chief difficulty lies not in the starting of the journal, but in the keeping of it up. But you are not clever, you object. Stuff and nonsense! We know better than that. Cleverness, however, is not requisite, for your journal is to be nothing more than a faithful record of what goes on in that little world of which you are the centre. Fine writing, ornamental flourishes, and philosophic flights are all out of place.

In its pages, for one thing, you should make mention of all the people you know. There will be the friends who are dear to you, the pleasant acquaintances you have met, and the people of interest who have crossed your path. Family gatherings should be noticed, and all the changes which year after year are altering your circle  for the better or  for the worse. You should record the letters you write under the dates when they were written; the preachers you have heard, and the concerts you have attended.

Your studies should also have a conspicuous place, so that turning to your journal you may ascertain at once when, for example, you began to learn French, or when you took your first lesson in singing, and what progress, rapid or slow, you have made in those lines of learning, in which one day you mean to be proficient. The prizes and certificates you contend for should be included, and, as in a journal one is, as it were, talking to oneself, I hope you will never fail to mention your failures as well as your successes.

The places you visit should also be entered. You may chance never to see them a second time, so it is a good plan in every case to write on the spot a few lines of description for the purpose of at some future time reviving your recollection.

Our lives are greatly influenced by the accidents that befall us, and the circumstances into the midst of which we are thrown. These should always be recorded. But we must be cautious in doing this, or, at any rate, in indulging in prediction, lest we get into the habit of thinking every incident a revolution, and every trifle a catastrophe. There are some moments, no doubt, about which there can be no mistake - when sudden light breaks in upon the mind, and all things appear, and indeed are to us, quite new; but these are very rare, and it is not prudent to assume, even in a journal, that they have arrived.

What a host of other things remain to be included in your journal! There are the records of your little adventures, and, spite of what you have said, you know you have little adventures; your bright days of happiness; the books you have read, and what you have thought of them; the names of the books you have bought, and the magazines you have subscribed to; the clever sayings you have heard; the odd things you have seen; the romances in real life you have met with - and everyone meets with some - the strange ups and downs of this world of change, as these affect and interest yourself; the many good resolutions you have formed, and, alas! The many good resolutions you have broken.

Should you be anything of a naturalist, you will find an additional pleasure in recording all the phenomena of the circling year, and of posting up in your journal your notes from the book of nature. Human life must ever be of most interest; but birds and flowers and wind and rain have a charm of their own, and it is no proof of a superior intelligence to be above taking an interest in butterflies and beetles.

One common fault of journal-writing is a morbid self-consciousness. No fault could be worse, either in a journal or in anything else; but I am not afraid that you, who are always so natural, will fall into it. The journal you will keep will be one of incident and observation rather than one of reflection; it will not be so much a picture of your mind as a record of the events of your life. And such, to my thinking is for most persons the most sensible form of journal.

The great interest of a journal of course begins after it has been kept for some time. We turn it up then to review our past life, and see our existence as an artistic whole. We observe what changes have come over us; how our surroundings have altered, and our friends, and our pursuits, and our likes and dislikes.

You think you will never change, do you? Wait a while, and, perhaps, as some one has put it, "you will then burn all you now worship and worship all you now think only good to burn." And as for other people, why our stars often prove but meteors, and the idols of our existence have a sad habit of getting cracked and sometimes even of bursting outright.

A journal reminds us of many a day-dream we have indulged in, and of many a speculation as to the future which has not been realised. It is prudent, by the way, to confine these speculations to one's journal. I know you think you will one day be a duchess, but don't speak about it, which makes you almost as ridiculous as the American who was so confident of being successful at the Presidential election, that he liberally distributed his carte-de-visite with the inscription, "Mr So-and-So, Future President of the United States".

Every year you should make a point of going regularly over your journal, and taking note of all you have seen and done. This will enable you to lead a more orderly life in future; to see, sometimes, in a remarkable manner, the connection between the present and the past; and to recognise, over and over again, the Hand which is leading us and the care that is protecting us in every moment.

You may have noticed that those who keep journals are, as a rule, good conversationalists, and specially entertaining when they relate their own experience. No doubt this comes from the act of writing. An incident which we have taken pains to narrate pithily with the pen can usually be repeated quite as pithily with the tongue. Journals are also very handy for letter-writers, especially for those who have a large friendly correspondence. There is no need for sitting down and biting one's pen for information; turn up your journal and there it is. The only awkward feature is that should your correspondence ever come to be collected for the purpose of writing your life, it may be found that you have sent the same thing and in much the same words to half-a-dozen different people. But, much as I admire you, this is not at all likely.

The book which it is best to use is one of the large diaries, of which so many are published at the beginning of every year. We should have one with three days to a page, which is a good allowance for most people. A great advantage possessed by this form of journal is that it admits of our entering engagements in advance, calls to be made, promises to be kept, and so on.

There are usually two or three pages of blank paper at the beginning of the diaries we speak of, and these may be easily and profitably filled up.  It is a sensible plan to begin by setting down all those good resolutions by which we would regulate our lives. Almost everyone who is thoughtful has such good resolutions, though perhaps not reduced to writing, but the writing of them in this way brings them constantly under our notice and prevents their being hid away, as they are very apt to be, when most needed, in some dark corner of the memory.

After these resolutions should come a list of friends, and of all those people we would like to keep in mind, with their addresses. This should be succeeded by a list of birthday and other anniversaries.

Then should follow what may be called our *general plans; books to be read, places to be visited, walks to be taken, subjects we propose to study; all things, in short, regarding which we have no date fixed.

Last of all should come any notes regarding the money we may have to spend during the year; how much may be allowed for this and how much for that, so that we may at no time be in danger of "outrunning the constable."

As the year goes on, this portion of the journal will, no doubt, be subjected to alteration, for we will be modifying our resolutions, changing our circle, and completing our plans. With every new journal, of course, it should be entirely re-written.

A journal should be written up every day, no matter how tired or busy you may be. Make it a habit, and, custom being second nature, you will soon feel as uncomfortable if you go to bed without making the necessary entries as you would if, on getting up in the morning, you neglected to wash your face. "I shall write it up to-morrow," says the voice of laziness; that is the first step towards failure.

No doubt it is a labour, but don't shirk it. Let every day finish its own business; make that one of your good resolutions, and write up your journal every day and on the spot. A journal is valuable in proportion to the freshness of the impressions it records. With what keen feeling we remember, it may be years after this, this entry was penned with some loved voice still ringing in our ears, and that in some dear old home to which we return no more. When you and I, Nanette, came in from rambling in the forest, do you think I put off till to-morrow the wonderful things you said, and the glories of nature we saw? Not I.

Perhaps, however, you may be from home, when it would be inconvenient to carry a journal. Then carry a note-book and make the entries in it, to be copied into your journal when you have the opportunity.

It has often been remarked that quiet times, when you have most leisure for writing, are just those when there is least to write about, and that in busy times, when there is plenty to say, you cannot spare a moment. Write, say I, let the times be what they may; but write most when you have least leisure, for then you are both seeing and hearing most.

Should a journal be kept in regular form – that is, should it read just like a book? Not at all; at least not necessarily. Perhaps the more disjointed it is the better, because it is then most natural.

It certainly must not be in the grand style as if you were a heroine, or in the formal style, as if you wrote for publication and kept one eye on the paper and another on posterity Let it be nothing more than a quiet and honest record of your daily life, in which you strike no attitudes and aim at being nothing but yourself.

And when should this journal be started? To-day is always the best day; so open the book and make the first entry – "Read today an article in THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER on 'How to Keep a Journal' and this is the result." Good Nanette! May you live to keep it for many a year!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

16 April 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

 VIELLE GANACHE - Your writing is that of a foreigner and is decorated with more flourishes than are usual in good English writing, but the characters are clear, even and legible.

L.M. - People of really good breeding never leave out the "Miss" before the Christian name on the visiting card. Boys of twelve or thirteen usually have the prefix "Master" before their Christian names on letters, &c.

TOPSY - seems happily situated, and had better remain contented and useful.

ROSA - You are well rid of one who could treat you as you think you have been treated, but you may have been mistaken in supposing there was more than polite courtesy.

RUTH - We got about 200 letters on the day that yours came. If only one minute were taken in opening and looking at each, you can calculate how much time it would require. The time taken in writing replies no one can imagine, and many questions cannot be answered off-hand. Therefore it is not likely we can give time to questions of no general interest, and which could be answered by any person at hand. The best book on the theory of music is Canister's Music, 3s. 6d.

CHATTY - We do not think it is quite proper for a girl of sixteen to travel alone, but "circumstances after cases," and "necessity has no law" and it is sometimes impossible to avoid such things. A reserved and quiet demeanour is a great safeguard, and a book an excellent refuge against intrusion and unwelcome attentions.

TITANIA - We should advise you to consult a doctor, who will probably be able to give you relief.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

16 April 1881 - 'Cookery for Invalids' by Phillis Browne

I remember once hearing of an old gentleman who went to visit at a house where there were three young ladies in the family. While he was there the cook was taken ill, and it was thought advisable for her to have a little gruel. It turned out,  however, that there was no one who could make it. The young ladies looked at each other with blank countenances. The housemaid prudently withdrew from the kitchen, and busied herself with brushes and brooms, but the gruel was not to be had, and the sick woman was obliged to put up with a cup of tea in its stead. The feelings of the old gentleman on the occasion are more easily imagined than described. He never forgot the occurrence. As long as he lived those unfortunate girls were associated in his mind with ignorance concerning gruel. When, after a time one of them married, he regarded her husband with feelings of the deepest and most heartfelt pity.

The recovery of a patient very often largely depends upon the food which he takes, and as his power of taking food is affected very considerably by the way in which it is served and cooked, it is well worth while trying to learn how an invalid's food should be prepared.

Cookery for invalids is usually very plain and simple. All rich, highly spiced, and fatty foods are entirely out of the question, and small delicate dishes, light foods, and cooling or nourishing drinks are needed more than anything else. Variety, too, is a great thing in invalid cookery. We all enjoy frequent change of food, and would grow weary of a dish that was set before us day after day. How much more is this likely to be the case with invalids, whose appetite at the best is poor, and who have been rendered fastidious and fanciful through disease. The skill of a cook is shown quite as much in the readiness with which she can provide pleasant little surprises as in the delicacy of the food prepared.

Take, for example, the food which is perhaps more valuable and more frequently prepared for invalids than any other - beef-tea. When first supplied in cases of weakness beef-tea is usually taken with great relish. It seems to give strength and to supply just what is wanted, and a patient will look for it and enjoy it heartily. In a very short time, however, the appetite for it will fail, and the very name of beef-tea appears to excite loathing. In cases of this kind a nurse who is a clever cook will introduce a change of flavour; present the beef-tea under another form, and avoid the name altogether.

A very agreeable variety may be made by using half beef and half mutton or veal in making the tea, or by stewing an inch or two of celery, or even an onion and one or two cloves with the beef. The addition of a little sago also, or crushed tapioca, and a small quantity of cream to the beef-tea will alter its taste, whilst the addition will increase rather than diminish the nourishing wholesome qualities of the tea. When making this, soak a tablespoonful of sago or tapioca in a little cold water for an hour. This will take away the earthy taste.  Strain it and put it into a saucepan with a gill of fresh water and boil gently till tender. Add a pint of good beef-tea, hot; simmer this with the sago for a minute or two, then add a quarter of a pint of cream. Stir thoroughly, and serve. If liked, an egg or a couple of eggs may be added to the beef-tea, as well as the cream. The eggs must be broken into a basin, and the specks must be carefully removed. The hot tea, with the cream or without it, should now be poured on gradually, *off the fire, and stirred well that the eggs may be thoroughly broken up and separated. Beef-tea may also be used in savoury custard such as is sometimes made for putting into clear soup. For this, take the yolks of two eggs and the white of one, beat them well, put with them a quarter of a pint of strong beef-tea, and season with a little salt. Butter a small jar or basin, and pour in the custard. Tie some paper, slightly buttered, over the top, and set the basin in a saucepan containing boiling water which will reach half way up the basin, but which must on no account touch the edge of the paper. Set the saucepan by the side of the fire, and simmer very gently till the custard is set. It will take about twenty minutes. If the water is allowed to boil fast round the basin the custard inside will be full of holes, instead of being smooth and even. This custard may be served hot or cold.

Sometimes invalids who have a great distaste for ordinary beef-tea served hot, will enjoy it served cold, or offered as a jelly. Now, the best beef-tea, made from juicy meat, such as the roll of the blade bone, and which has not been allowed to reach the boiling point, will not jelly when cold; but beef-tea made by thoroughly stewing the shin of beef will jelly. Beef-tea jellies because of the gelatine which it contains. Gelatine is the least valuable part of butcher's meat, and it is obtained chiefly from bone and gristle. I do not recommend, therefore, that beef-tea should be made into a jelly because it will be more nourishing, but because it may prove more appetising. I have known invalids enjoy jelly beef-tea who turned away with loathing from liquid beef-tea.

Jelly (I do not mean now beef-tea jelly, but calf's-foot jelly, and isinglass, or gelatine jelly) has fallen very much in the estimation of doctors and nurses of late years. I can remember that when I was a girl calf's-foot jelly was the one article of nourishment that was supplied before all others in cases of weakness. If any member of a family was taken ill the cousins and the aunts, but especially the aunts, used to come round at once with superlative moulds of jelly, as furnishing undoubted proof of sympathy and affection. We children used to regard it as one of the compensations attending indisposition that we were allowed to have an unlimited supply of the same.

Of course calf's-foot jelly is a very different thing to gelatine jelly, but it is possible to estimate even calf's-foot jelly too highly. Jelly is very good when mixed with other substances, which are nourishing, but, taken alone, it serves too often to satisfy the appetite without doing much good. Gelatine jelly made from the gelatine sold in packets is of no use. Hear what Miss Nightingale says about it: "Jelly is an article of diet in great favour with nurses and friends of the sick. Even if it could be eaten solid it would not nourish; but it is simply folly to take one-eighth of an ounce of gelatine, and make it into a certain bulk by dissolving it in water, and then to give it to the sick, as if the mere bulk represented nourishment. It is now known that jelly does not nourish - that it has a tendency to produce diarrhoea; and to trust to it to repair the waste of a diseased constitution is simply to starve the sick under the guise of feeding them. If one hundred spoonfuls of jelly were given in the course of the day, you would have given one spoonful of gelatine, which spoonful has no nutritive power whatsoever."

We must return, however, to our beef-tea, for I want to write a word or two about the best way of making it. I said a little while ago that the roll of the blade-bone of beef was the best part that could be chosen for making beef-tea. I must not forget to add that the butcher should be asked to supply freshly-killed meat, because that will be more full of gravy than well-kept beef. To make good beef-tea, take one pound of meat, trim away all fat and skin, cut the lean into very small pieces; place these in a jar, pour over them one point of cold water, and cover the jar closely; leave the meat to soak for one hour, stirring and pressing it now and then to draw out the juice. At the end of this time put the jar, still closely covered, into a saucepan with boiling water, which will come half way up, but which cannot touch the paper, if paper has been tied over as a cover. Keep the water boiling round the jar for two or even three hours, then pour the tea from the meat, add a little salt, and it is ready for use. Put it in a cool place till wanted and warm a little as required, but do not keep the tea hot till wanted or it will spoil.

Mutton-tea or veal-tea may be made exactly in the same way as beef-tea.

Perhaps girls feel inclined to say, Why should we not put the beef at once into the saucepan, and never mind the trouble of putting it into a jar first? Because by taking this extra trouble we make the beef-tea more digestible. People who are in a weakly condition need to have food that can be very easily digested. If the tea were to reach the boiling point, 212 deg., for even a second, the albumen contained in it would harden, and the tea would not be nearly so wholesome. Therefore we give great care to keep the tea from boiling, and we know that if we thus place it in a jar set in a saucepan of boiling water it never will boil, even if it remains on the fire all day, and so we are safe on that point. All we have to do is to keep putting more water into the saucepan, for fear it should boil away and leave the pan dry, for if this mischance should occur our beef-tea would be burnt.

Perhaps some economical person feels inclined to ask, "Could we not make more beef tea by putting in a quart instead of a pint of water?" Of course, you could put in a gallon of water if you liked, but, after all, it would only be so much more water, and it is the beef-juice that does good, not the water. If I wanted very strong beef-tea for very weak people, I should put less water even than this; and in cases of exhaustion, when the patient could take very little food at a time, no water at all should be put with the meat. The simple gravy of the beef should be drawn out by steaming the meat in the way already described, but without water in the jar, and the juice thus drawn out would be the strongest beef-tea that could be made. The beef-juice or beef-essence, as it is called, is sometimes poured over a slice of crumbs of bread freshly toasted, then seasoned with pepper and salt, and served on a hot dish; and this is an excellent dish for an invalid.

A good many poets have occupied themselves in singing the praises of sparkling wine. I wish some very clever one would take it into his head to sing in praise of good beef-tea. I am sure it deserves far more than wine to have its virtues told. Properly made, of fresh meat (not of somebody's extract), and taken, not instead of food, but in addition to food, I know of no more valuable restorative. It is particularly useful for bringing sleep to people who are overworked and overwrought as so many are nowadays. Let such a one have a cup of beef-tea by the side of his bed, and take it, not the last thing at night, but in the night when he wakes up, and finds Black Care sitting by the side of his pillow, and hears her say, "Now I have you in my power, sleep if you can." Beef-tea will chase away the demon. Let the victim drink it and he will be very different from most people, if he does not lay his head on his pillow, and in less than half an hour fall asleep as quickly as when he was a baby and his head lay on his mother's breast.

In cases of typhoid fever and some other diseases, doctors frequently give orders that raw beef-tea should be administered to the patient. This is made by drawing the juice of the meat out in cold water as already described, then straining it off at once and serving it uncooked. This tea must be made in small quantities, as it will not keep.

In making broth or beef-tea for sick people, great care should be taken to remove every particle of fat from the liquid, for fat will not only be likely to upset the stomach of the invalid, but it will prove most objectionable to him. If there is time  for the tea to go cold, the fat will cake on the surface, and can be easily taken off. If, however, the tea is wanted at once, a sheet of clean blotting-paper should be passed lightly over the top of the liquid. The fat, being the lightest, will rise to the surface, and will be taken up first by the paper. The fat will rise more quickly if the jar containing the hot tea is set in a bowl of cold water.

Care, too, must be taken about seasoning the broth or tea. People who like highly-seasoned food in a general way frequently object to it strongly when they are ill. It is wise, therefore, to season beef-tea or broth very slightly, and to place pepper and salt on the tray, and let the invalid season his food for himself, if he is able to do so.

We must not think that we have done everything that is wanted when we have made the tea or broth, seasoned it lightly, and removed the fat. A very great point in catering for sick folks is to make food look inviting. Every article used should of course be perfectly clean and bright, the tray should be covered with a spotless napkin, and if we can put on it a glass containing a few flowers as well as the food, all the better. Also we must remember, not to take over much food up at one time, for this will be likely to set the invalid against it altogether.

Another point is worth remembering. As soon as the patient has eaten as much as he can, take the food quite out of the room, and when it is time for food again bring it in afresh, in a fresh basin with a clean spoon, having made a change in some way. Nothing is more likely to disgust an invalid than to have the food which he had left brought to him again and again, as if we were a naughty child and must finish one portion before any more were given him. We should anticipate and consider the fancies of sick people. We want them to take nourishment and grow strong, and we know that a great deal is accomplished when food is enjoyed; therefore, anything we can do to this end is well worth the trouble.

Chicken broth used to be very highly thought of a few years ago, but it is not worth very much when all is said and done. It is strongest when the whole fowl is cut up, covered with cold water, boiled up, then drawn back and allowed to simmer gently for three hours, and strained for use. A little boiled rice, boiled barley, or chopped parsley can be added with the seasoning. This, however, is a painful way of making broth, because it is giving so much to produce so little. It is better to take the flesh from the bones, stew the latter for broth, then cook the meat separately turning it either into panada or mince. Panada is very nourishing and very good, but the meat must be well pounded after it is cooked, or it will not be made the most of. The meat is cut up and stewed gently with a little good broth, not being allowed to reach the boiling point. It is then pounded to a pulp, pressed patiently through a sieve, seasoned with pepper and salt, and mixed with a spoonful or two of cream, and served. For variety's sake veal may be substituted  for the chicken and cooked in the same way. In either case a spoonful of barley may be soaked and boiled, pounded and pressed through the sieve with the meat. It will be a great improvement, but will be difficult to get through the sieve. Chicken mince is made by mincing the meat when raw, heating it gently in milk or good broth for a few minutes without allowing it to boil, then serving it immediately.

Cooling, refreshing and soothing drinks are so much wanted by invalids that I must mention one or two before closing.

Gruel - The world-renowned gruel may be made either with oatmeal or patent "grits." "Grits" are the best. Mix a tablespoonful of grits or oatmeal to a paste with a little cold water; add a point of boiling water, boil the whole, gently stirring well for ten minutes. Sweeten with sugar or treacle, or season with salt and pepper, and serve. The gruel will be much better made with milk instead of water.

Barley Water - Wash two ounces of pearl barley, boil it for five minutes in clear water, then throw the water away. Pour on two quarts of boiling water, and boil gently till the liquid is reduced to half, or for about two hours. Flavour with sugar and lemon juice, strain (or not, as preferred), and serve. If liked, a little lemon rind can be boiled with the barley. Stir the barley water before using. Apple Barley Water - Cut a good large apple wiped, but not peeled, into slices, and boil this with a little lemon-juice till soft. Rub it through a sieve, and add it to a quart of barley-water.

Toast Water - Take a thin slice of bread, and toast it thoroughly on both sides. Put it into a jug, pour a point of boiling water over it, and let it stand till cold. Strain before using.

Lemonade - Roll two lemons on the table to make them soft. Cut the rind off very thinly, and be careful to reject the white pith, as that would make the lemonade bitter. Cut the lemons into slices, and put these, free from pips, into a jug with half the lemon rind and a pint and a half of boiling water. Cover till cold, strain, and serve. A very pleasant drink may be made by substituting oranges  for the lemons. A raw fresh egg beaten up with two tablespoonfuls of warm milk and a little sugar is a very nourishing and agreeable drink for invalids. Sometimes wine is used instead of the milk; in this case a little water may be added, or a little soda-water may be taken instead.

When a doctor is attending a case it is always well to consult him before offering any food to an invalid. It is a good plan, however, to think over beforehand two or three dishes which can be obtained and prepared without difficulty, then to suggest these to the medical man. Every good doctor knows that "kitchen physic" will frequently do more good than drugs, and he will rejoice when he sees that this part of the medical treatment is not neglected.

Friday, 11 November 2016

9 April 1881 - 'The Toilet-Table and What Should Lie Thereon' by Medicus

Make sure you read right to the end for another toothpaste "recipe". :/

With the toilet-table, as a table, it is not my province to speak, nor to tell you how it should be draped or bedecked; but neatness, tidiness, and perfect cleanliness should reign supreme in a young girl's dressing-room, however splendid and beautiful the fittings thereof may be, or however humble and poor.

Now, under the title I have chosen for this paper, I mean to give you many little hints, and not a few harmless recipes; and if you attend to the former, and make use of the latter, I have no hesitation in saying that improvement in your personal appearance will be the result. Beauty is your birthright, you ought to try to look as well as you can, both for your own personal comfort and  for the sake of those around you. By taking pains to improve your looks by natural and simple means while young, you will retain your beauty even when, with the ever-recurring years, youth is slipping slowly away. But nothing in after years can atone for, what I may call, the want of attention to the simple rules of personal hygiene in your younger days. Does, then, attention to these rules lie in the proper use of the adjuncts of toilet-table, and dressing-room? Not quite. These are mere accessories, indispensable I willingly admit, but accessories nevertheless; and even their constant use has no more effect without something else, which I shall presently name, in retaining true beauty than an occasional coat of paint to a rotten boat has in keeping it seaworthy. The something else is health - perfect health. And even granting that you have the strongest of constitutions, and the highest of animal spirits, if you do not cultivate habits of temperance wand moderation in all your actions and thoughts, take my word for it, you are but frittering those precious possessions away.

"Oh!" I think I hear some of my young readers exclaim, "this isn't a medical paper, this is a sermon 'Medicus' is going to preach."

If "Medicus" does preach, depend upon it he will preach common sense, but not one inch will he budge towards the toilet-table, until he has had his say. "As soon," remarks a great authority, "as we begin to live we begin to die." This is true; and even in youth our bodies are but the strongholds behind which we live, and the stouter the ramparts the more likely are they to ward off the shafts of disease and death. But these very ramparts themselves have a tendency to crumble away, and we must study to strengthen them; we must look upon them as our foes likely at any time to fall and crush us; in other words, we must conquer self, we must study abnegation in everything, for abnegation leads to temperance, indeed, it is the root and soul thereof, temperance leads to health, and health is the foundation of true personal beauty. Be temperate, therefore, in eating, and temperance in this respect will become a habit, although it may cost you much abnegation to acquire it. But look up, never look down, for in this world, though we may sow in tears, we reap rejoicing in the life which is to come.

Be temperate in your hours of pleasure and sleep. Over indulgence in either produces wrinkles and sallowness of complexion. This is easily accounted for in this way, and I will put it as simply as I can. When the heart is overtired from long hours of wakefulness, or languid and weak from over indulgence in sleep, it is unable to receive the blood back sufficiently quick, the tender tissues around the eyes get puffy and swollen, the skin is thus stretched, and when the puffiness goes away it is inclined to lie in folds or wrinkles. The skin, of course, is very resilient and elastic and will regain its former appearance again and again for a time, but a constant drop will wear a stone away, and at last its elasticity is lost and wrinkles are the result. Be temperate in talking and self-abnegating in argument, you will thus preserve your good temper.

Having heard me patiently, I will now advance to the toilet-table, the largest and most conspicuous object on which is the mirror. However big this may be, or however small, let it be a true glass. A few shillings spent on a good mirror is money well laid out A proper looking-glass certainly will not flatter you, but, on the contrary, it will point out to you in a friendly way all your defects, and if there be means of remedying them it will give you light to do so; but a bad glass is your worst friend, because it not only hides your faults, but gives an imperfect and very far from flattering reflection of your face and figure, and this would be no comfort to you if you were going out anywhere to spend the evening. The looking-glass should be kept perfectly clear and bright; it should be well polished once a week at least, but this must be carefully done. Thus: dust the mirror first with a soft brush to prevent scratching, then take a damp sponge and sprinkling a little eau de Cologne on it, rub the surface gently over; then dust over with good whiting, and while it is still damp polish with a silk handkerchief. The sponge itself should be perfectly clean, and sponges, whether used  for the bath or simply for face ablution, should be invariably soft and clean and pure. When bought new, before you use them, shake out the dust, and then steep them for some hours in soft water several times renewed. Soap spoils sponges. If soap must be used with a sponge, rinse the latter in warm water before you put it away. Press or squeeze a sponge - do not wring it - and if it gets slimy, which it never ought to, soak it in water and soda for some hours. The bath sponge should be a very large one, if you mean to benefit by the use of the bath. The bath itself should be kept spotlessly clean; when spots of rust begin to appear in it, it is time it was repainted, else it will not wear. Iron rust is rather good in the water than otherwise; indeed, I have known much good come from a course of iron baths. The iron bath is a simple tonic one, and should be used every morning for a fortnight or three weeks at a time. It is composed of water one bucketful, sulphate of iron a quarter of an ounce, placed in the bath over night. While taking a course of such baths, a tepid bath with soap should be used twice a week - to thoroughly cleanse the skin - the last thing before going to be. For young pale girls with weak nerves and languid circulations the iron bath is likely to be of great use, especially if steel drops - ten in a little water thrice daily after food - are taken at the same time.

Meanwhile, I am turning my back on the toilet-table, so I must face found again. Here are a couple of hair-brushes. How beautifully white and clean you keep them! This delights my eye. Of course you wash the occasionally, by dipping them in cold water in which soda has been dissolved - not soap - with gentle friction on the palm of the hand, holding them in such a position that the backs do not get wetted, and afterwards standing them in the wind, but not in the sun, to dry.

Do you ever use the metallic brushes? They are so cooling to the temples on a warm summer's day, but must be kept dry, else they are apt to rust. I sometimes think they stimulate the growth of the hair by their pleasant, cool friction.  When you wash your hair do not use soap, unless the very mildest transparent kind, the same as you use for hands and face; but yolk of egg is better, well rinsed out with lukewarm water, then with cold soft or rain water, and, when partially dried by means of soft towels, combed and brushed.

Rain water is a great beautifier of the complexion. Collect it, and keep it in jars, after having it run through a filter. This is a hint worth much fine gold, so lay it to heart and you will look well.

Now, I am not your hairdresser, but I know you want me to tell you of something to increase the strength and beauty of the hair. I am good natured, and can't refused. Here is a good application, a little of which may be rubbed into the roots of the hair, after moderate friction with the brushes every morning: - Tincture of cantharides, a quarter of an ounce; eau de Cologne, one ounce; bay rum, one ounce; rose water, two ounces. You can make your own bay rum simply enough: get two ounces of fresh bay leaves and steep them for six days in six ounces of best rum. These are valuable receipts, but they must not be used more than once a day, nor longer than a fortnight at a time, and if they produce the slightest irritation or heat of the skin they must be omitted for a time.

Here is a good and very safe pomade for thinness of the hair; Pure lard four ounces, pure white wax half an ounce, melt, then remove from heat, and add half an ounce of balsam of tolu and twenty drops of oil of rosemary. Equal parts of bay rum, eau de Cologne and castor-oil form a good hair cosmetic.

The most innocent of white powders for face or skin are composed either of oxide of zinc, magnesia starch, or levigated starch. Be on your guard against such as are sold under fancy names. Be on your guard, too, against the dangerous compounds that are advertised by taking titles. Here is a recipe for the best bloom for lips or cheeks: - Early rising, morning tubbing, and plenty of out-door exercise. Soap is a necessity of life, but pray get it pure, non-alkaline, and transparent, and not the dangerously dyed masses of unhealthy curd you see so often exposed for sale.

Toilet vinegar should always find a place on the table. A little in the basin of water you lave your face with is delightfully refreshing.

Does your face often flush - I do not mean simple blushing? If it does you cannot be over strong, you need tonics and more fresh air. No applications will do good, but continuous flushing of the face under the least excitement is very apt to spoil the very best complexion.

Cold cream is one of the most harmless of applications to tender lips or skin.

Here is a lotion for freckles. It is a drachm of the muriate of ammonia dissolved in a pint of soft water, and a dessert-spoonful of eau de Cologne added; apply twice a day. The following is a good wash for sunburning: - fifteen grains of borax, an ounce of limejuice, and a dessert-spoonful of eau de Cologne. Buttermilk applied before going to bed, especially if a little sour, is very cooling after a hot day. Milk or roses (the best) is also a good face application; and here is a very simple one. Dissolve a quarter of an ounce of borax in a pint of elder-flower water, and add an ounce of eau de Cologne. By the way many harmless and delightful preparations can be prepared from flowers, as well as many good but simple perfumes, and if my girl-readers care for it, I feel sure the editor will grant me space for a nice summer article on this subject.

I think, in a former paper, I mentioned tooth-powders. Charcoal is unsightly but very effective, and it can be made more so by rubbing up with an ounce of it as much quinine as will lie on a sixpenny-piece; a few drops of otto of roses may be added. Or, make a tooth-powder thus (if you can find a pestle and mortar): Equal parts of burnt crust of bread, white sugar, and Peruvian bark, and a drop or two of otto of roses. If you prefer a paste, add a little honey. Use a soft and a hard tooth-brush, and never omit brushing the teeth inside and out after meals as well as in the morning.