Thursday, 30 January 2014

2 June 1900 - 'The Law of Order and How Beryl Came to Observe It' - Chapter 3 - Duties of a Hostess, Chaperonage

This is the first of the 'Law of Order' articles I've transcribed since moving to Blogger. The previous two chapters can be found in the index for Housekeeping, Domestic Life and Etiquette, but as they're from the Tumblr I'll link them here and here also. If you've just joined us, 'The Law of Order and How Beryl Came to Observe It' are a series of etiquette articles framed, often awkwardly, as a serial story in which young wife and mother Clara schools young Beryl in how a nice young lady should behave. Today Beryl learns about how to treat house guests, and about how society's moved on and women be walking about unchaperoned now, but the more demure your mien and unobservable your dress, the lesser the chance you will be subjected to street harassment from strange men. 

 “This room will do very nicely, I think, said Beryl. “If there is anything necessary, Clare, you must be sure to tell me.  Father says I must get anything that is wanted.  This Lizzie Delverton is really a second cousin of father’s and not a bit old.  She lives at Brighton with her husband and children, and father saw her there last month and liked her so much that he told me to invite her here.  I cannot think why he could not have asked her himself.”

“Because an invitation always should come from the mistress of a house. You forget what an important person you are, Beryl!” I answered, and she laughed.

“Now, Clare, please take a tour of inspection round the room, and be as critical as you like.  I have made no attempt at arrangement yet, as you see, for I waited until you had seen over it all and told me what was wanted.”

“The windows won’t open at the top,” I said, after a vain struggle with them.

“Does that matter?”

“Yes.  Many people sleep with a bit of the window open at the top, both in winter and summer.  All windows should be able to be opened easily.  You can get a man to see to that, for the paint has stuck, and I am afraid none of you in the house will be able to do it. Now for the blinds. These Venetians want a little repairing, and the string is so much worn, I think you had better have a new one put.”

“Very well,” said Beryl. “You see I have brought up a piece of paper and pencil, and I shall make a note of all that you say I need to do or get done.”

“That is very methodical of you, Beryl. By the way, I have not seen you since you went to lunch at the Trevors’. Was it pleasant?”

“Yes,” said Beryl emphatically. “It was delightful.”

As I know that Mr and Mrs Trevor are an extremely quiet old couple – clients of Uncle Dick’s – I was rather surprised at Beryl’s tone and the evident pleasure she had had. However I was at the moment examining the door.

“Put down ‘key’ on your list, Beryl, unless there is one somewhere belonging to this lock. And see that it turns easily,” I said. “Oh, how this door creaks! You must put a little oil down the hinge. Is the bell in working order?”

“Yes, for I tried it before you came, and you will see that the presses and drawers have keys, so that is all right.”

“Are they empty?” I inquired.

“Nearly all.  You see, I keep some of my summer things in these lower drawers and half the hanging press is filled with dresses.  Surely this Lizzie Delverton will have enough room for her possessions with this” – and Beryl flung over the hanging wardrobe and showed an empty half, the other half being well stocked with dresses.

“Isn’t that the dress you wore the evening you spent with us last week?” I inquired, as I recognised a pretty evening dress.

“Yes,” said Beryl, “there is more room for it here.”

“Now, dear, don’t think me cruel when I say that you must empty out the drawers and presses and leave them quite free for your visitor.  I see there is a press in the wall that if you like you can fill with summer things; but the rest must be empty. It is most annoying for a visitor to have to live in her boxes, as she has to do if she does not find empty drawers and presses in which to place her belongings.  It also prevents her feeling that she has her room to herself if at any moment a member of the family may come to her room to take out dresses or anything they want.  By the way, of course you know that once your visitor has arrived you do not enter her room during her absence without asking her permission.”

“I did not know that,” said Beryl. “Very well, I shall move all my things into that wall press and into my own room.”

“Have you a bath for the room?”

“Yes, it is in the lumber-room at present; but it shall be brought down,” said Beryl. “And I want to get a nice bath blanket, such as you have, to throw over it.”

“Yes; and mind you have plenty of bath towels to change. A big Turkey towel should always be on the towel-horse as well as the other towels.”

“The housemaid should always ask a visitor on arrival at what hour he or she likes a bath, and whether hot or cold, and also if in winter a fire is liked or a hot water jar,” I said, for Beryl had asked me to remind her of everything that could conduce to the visitor’s comfort; and in reply to my remarks she said that she must have a fire lighted soon to air the room and bedding.

“There do not seem to be many pillows on the bed,” I remarked, “or a bolster.”

“No; none of us anything more than one pillow. I don’t think there is a bolster in the house,” said Beryl.

“You had better get one for this room,” I said, “for it is usual to find one on a bed, and if your guest does not like it she can ask the housemaid to take it away.  People who do not use bolsters and only one pillow are the exceptions.  I should get another pillow. How about your linen – is that in good order?”

“Yes,” said Beryl, looking pleased. “I am rather fond of nice house-linen, and when we got new sheets lately I got them all hem-stitched and the pillow-cases as well, and a few frilled pillow-cases for this room. About light, there is gas, as you see, but I suppose I had better put a little candlestick by the bed?”

“Certainly; and Beryl, do not forget the matches,” I said. “How often I have gone for a night or two at a friend’s house and not found them. Now I always carry about a box of matches with me; but everyone does not do so.”

“This is a nice sofa, is it not?”

“Very.  Now if I were you, I should put a nice writing-table close to it.  Many people – like myself – like to write their letters in their room; and it is such a comfort to find everything handy and a table at which one can write.  I remember last autumn going to stay a few days at Stoke Newington with an old friend and finding the most perfect writing-table. It was by no means an expensive one, simply a strong table with a pretty cloth on it, but it had everything that one could want on it.”

“Oh, do tell me what the things were,” said Beryl. “I should so like to get everything, too, for I want the room very nice; and really there is a charming writing-table in the lumber-room which only wants to be polished.”

“I think I can remember everything,” I said. “Writing paper and envelopes, correspondence and post-cards – of course in a little stationery case with a blotter well filled with blotting paper. In the pocket of the blotter were some telegraph and post-office order forms, luggage labels, both gummed and to tie on.  Then there was an inkstand with plenty of clean ink in it. Many people have very smart inkstands, but you often find in them only a small quantity of very dusty ink.  There was a penholder and a box containing pens of different kinds, pointed nibs and broad, a penwiper, pencil-ruler, sealing-wax, pen knife, small candle and wax vestas. I think that was all. No, now I remember, there was also a calendar on the table and a card containing weights for letters, etc., and a Salter’s letter-balance.”

“Do you think it necessary to have a clock in the room?” I have one I could put upon the chimney-piece.”

“it is a great convenience,” I answered, “and another nice plan is to have a famed card on the chimney-piece stating the hours of meals and when the post goes out, or rather when letters are sent to the post. In the country it is always well to add when the posts come in, but in London or a suburb like this where they are so frequent it is unnecessary. You should leave a few books and magazines in the room in case your visitor likes to look over them at any time; and be sure you leave a night-light ready to be lighted, and have it renewed every day if it is used. Before your guest arrives it is well to see yourself that all is in order, the soap and matches in their places, some flowers on the table in a pretty vase, a pin-cushion with pins in it on the dressing-table, and everything comfortable. Servants are so apt to forget the details which are so important. How long is your guest coming for?”

“I don’t know,” said Beryl. “I did not like to ask her for a stated time.”

“it is much better to do so, and it is not at all an inhospitable arrangement. It is really a great comfort to the visitor to know for how long she is expected as then she can regulate her luggage accordingly.  If she is only going on a visit of two days or a week, she actually needs less than if she was going to stay a month. If she does not know, she is on the horns of a dilemma.  On the one hand if she takes much luggage and finds she is not expected for a long stay, she feels as if her luggage looks as if she expected to stay some time, and if she has very little in the way of clothes, she is often much inconvenienced if the visit is longer than anticipated.”

“Then, in inviting people, is it well to ask them for a definite time?”

“Yes.  You can say, ‘Will you come and stay with us from Friday to Tuesday’ or ‘We shall be delighted if you can spend a fortnight with us,’ or ‘from the 8th to the 21st’. It is always quite easy for you to ask your visitor to extend her visit if you wish to do so.”

“I am afraid I shall find it rather a bother having her here,” said Beryl, “for I have so much to do just now. I am helping May a good deal with her music, for she is working up for an examination which is to take place at her school at the Midsummer term, and I have also a good deal to do on my own account, as I am re-writing a few little papers I have written.”

“Of course, as her hostess, you must always try to ascertain your cousin’s wishes and carry them out as best you can. People vary very much indeed. Some people treat one’s house like a hotel and go in and out in a way which is hardly courteous. They are unpunctual for meals and expect odd glasses of wine and sandwiches at all hours and things to be kept hot. I hope Lizzie will not be so inconsiderate.”

“I hope not indeed, for Jane’s temper is not of the best, and it will make her very cross.”

“I am sure you will do your best to make your cousin enjoy herself,” I said, for I knew how kind-hearted and good-=natured Beryl was. “I think some people are very inconsiderate to their guests and insist upon dragging them about here and there when perhaps they would much rather be quiet, or else, if they themselves know a place thoroughly, forget that their visitor may want to see what there is to be seen, and may not care to go about always by herself.”

“It will take up a lot of my time if she wants perpetual entertaining,” said Beryl.

“But you must not suppose, Beryl, that you will require to be with your cousin all day. Far from it.  Usually a visitor does not expect to see her hostess during the morning, as she concludes that she has her letters to write, housekeeping to attend to, and all kinds of matters to fill up her time. The visitor can go out to walk or stay in and read, write or work as she pleases. You are so near London that Lizzie Delverton will probably want to do no end of shopping or sight-seeing and one of you thee girls can go with her.”

“oh well, that is a relief, at least to have the mornings!” said Beryl, “but during the rest of the day I suppose I must give myself up to her or get Amy or May to be with her?”

“Just see first of all how things go. I have never met Lizzie since her marriage, so do not know her tastes. In any case you may be very glad of her being here if any of you want to go up to town to see things; it will be pleasant for all of you.”

An uneasy look passed over Beryl’s face at my words and she coloured up slightly.

“Clare, I have always forgotten to ask you something.”

“Yes, dear – what is it?”

“About going out by myself,” said Beryl. “Of course Wobury was only a village, and I went about there all the time; and when I went into Anderford, our nearest town, father or someone was always with me. Now here it is so different. I want to go into London constantly for one thing or another, and I don’t think it is quite pleasant.”

“What made you find it pleasant?”

“I was walking down Regent Street yesterday afternoon. It was so fine, and I was enjoying immensely looking in at the shop-windows, and a man came up and spoke to me. Of course I hurried on, but it alarmed me,” said Beryl, and she continued, “It is not the first time that I have been spoken to and very much stared at.”

“What had you on?”

“My new hat,” said Beryl, alluding to a charming hat which became her very much, but which was decidedly dressy and smart.

“Beryl,” I said, “to begin with, you should not walk about the Strand or Regent Street and Piccadilly by yourself in the afternoon. It is an understood thing that it is not advisable to do so, and in any case if you are obliged to go into any crowded regions unaccompanied – and you can nearly always avoid it by taking an omnibus – then you should be as quietly and unobservably dressed as possible.  Indeed you should aim at that whenever you are in London by yourself.”

“I certainly shall in future,” said Beryl. “I was afraid that you were going to say that I could not go about by myself at all, and I was wondering what I should do, for of course father is too busy to come with me excepting once in a blue moon, Tom is at his lessons, and Amy and May too are usually at school.”

“They would not mend the matter.  The two of you together had much better never be walking about the most frequented thoroughfares of London in the afternoon, but I repeat in an emergency if you have to go, be careful about your dress. If you have to go up to London for any purpose, go in the morning and no matter where it is walk quietly on, not stopping to look into shops and never dawdling or sauntering. If you do this, quietly dressed and not staring about you, but walking modestly and nicely – as you always do, I think,  Beryl,” I added, for she looked alarmed, “then you need not be uneasy. In the upper ten thousand rank of life a girl may not be seen, excepting perhaps near her own house, unaccompanied; but in our more quiet station of life it is quite permissible. IN these days, too, when girls take up all kinds of professions, it becomes a necessity that she should go about without a chaperon.”

“Thank you very much, Clare. When my little papers are finished, I am going to take them up to an editor in a lane near Fleet Street. Mr Trevor’s nephew, Mr Ernest Trevor, has given me an introduction to the editor of the Thinker, and he thinks that they might possibility be taken there. I do so hope they will be. I was talking to Mr Trevor about it when I met him at luncheon at his uncle’s, and he was very encouraging.”

“Have you shown them to him then?” I inquired.

“Yes, and he thought them rather nice,” said Beryl, “but I must not repeat what he said,” she added, laughing. “Of course the opinions of friends are not of much value.”

“I did not know he was a friend,” I remarked.

“Oh, yes. He has come to live near us. He is boarding with the Harrington-Browns, and he often comes in the evenings to talk to father,” said Beryl.

I said nothing, though Beryl’s expression led me to wonder if my busy uncle talked all the evening only to young Trevor, whom I knew to be a rising artist. But to tease or chaff a girl about a young man, simply because he is attentive to her or they  have some tastes in common, is very foreign to my taste and practice. Many people do so much harm in that way, and it always strikes me as an evidence of bad taste. Many girls are made shy and self-conscious when they are teased in this way, and what might have ended in a happy engagement often comes to nothing in consequence.

Lizzie Delverton came, and after her visit to the Thrushes, she came to see me for a week, and a very pleasant visitor I found her. She always had something to occupy her when I was busy, and always seemed to know when to efface herself. In the evenings she was always ready to play when asked to do so, and yet she was not one of those dreadful individuals who, once in possession of the music-stool, cannot be induced by hint or suggestion to vacate it.

I much enjoyed Lizzie’s visit, for she had plenty of tact. Jack is Conservative, and Lizzie, I found, is a Radical, and so is her husband, who is at present in India. I was afraid they would have unpleasant discussions, but to my surprise they had not. Everything passed off most pleasantly.

Beryl did not say much about her literary efforts to me this spring. I did not think that she was meeting with success or she would have told me about it; and later on I found that my surmise was correct. However, she seemed in excellent spirits.

In May my baby was born, and Beryl was her godmother. I got well very quickly, and when baby was a month old I was quite myself again.

One day Beryl came in to see me, and after we had done a good deal of baby-worship, she asked me what I had been about before she came in, for my table was covered with bundles of letters.

“I am looking over old letters and I am going to destroy a great many,” I said.

“Those look very old,” remarked Beryl, referring to a packet of yellow letters.

“Yes, they were some my father possessed, old family letters now of no interest to anyone.”

“I wish you would give me some hints upon letter-writing,” said Beryl.

I shook my head.

“Ask mother – she is the one to tell you all about letter-writing,” I said, and as mother came in at that moment, I told her of Beryl’s request and she settled herself down and said she would willingly give her a few hints about it.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

17 April 1886 - Useful Hints - 'French or Dry Cleaning at Home for Gloves, Ties, Boots (Either Satin or Kid), Furs and Plush' - by M.C.

This method is so simple that, to young ladies who go out a great deal, gloves are a great consideration, and when by such a simple process you can have clean gloves in a few minutes, most ladies would like to learn the method, the cost of which is so trifling.  The first thing to do is to procure benzene, or benzoline (the former I prefer) from a chemist; six-pennyworth will clean at least a dozen pairs, and then can be used again, if care be taken that in returning it to the bottle no sediment is allowed to return, but wiped from the bowl with a cloth kept for that purpose.

The best thing to scrub the articles on is a common slate and an ordinary nail-brush, and care must be taken that water on no account must be allowed to come near the spirit.

There are two bowls used, one for soaking, the other for rinsing.

After soaking the articles, lay them on the slate and scrub those parts which are the most soiled gently until clean, then rinse them through the clean spirit, and put them on a rounded stick, or a glove stretcher will do if not opened, and rub gently all over until dry, then hang them up on a piece of twine to take the smell out of them.

It is always best to do your cleaning in the day with windows open, so that the air carries off any smell; although not unpleasant, some people object to it.  Light or fire should be avoided, as the spirit is inflammable, but with a little ordinary attention there is not the slightest cause for fear.

This method of cleaning is so simple that a child of ten years old could, without the slightest fatigue, clean from twenty to thirty pairs per hour.

The rubbing clothes are made of the commonest kind of coarse towelling, half a yard square, and when these are dirty and require washing, they should be thrown into strong soda water and boiled, and when thoroughly dried are ready for use.

Boot and shoe cleaning is precisely the same as for gloves, only in the case of kid shoes, instead of being dried with a cloth, they are finished with plaster of Paris, the plaster being rubbed on with the hand.

White furs are treated in the same way, and then shaken well to get the powder out and raise the fur nicely.

Dark furs are rinsed in clear spirit after scrubbing, then rubbed neatly dry with a cloth, shaken, and hung up to dry the same as gloves.

I think it best to take the linings out of muffs (but not other things) because it is very difficult to get the lining to set smooth afterwards.

Neckties are smoothed over with a warm iron after cleaning, and, as a rule, look equal to new.  Furniture coverings can have all grease removed from them by rubbing the part with the brush first, and then quickly with a cloth; if the first application is not sufficient, the second one is a certainty.

This process of cleaning removes dirt and grease of every kind, but not stains.  Sometimes a spot of grease on a dress spoils the effect, and some people think nothing will do but to re-trim or take the soiled part away; but this spirit, carefully used on the spilt part, will almost instantaneously remove all trace of grease.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

17 December 1881 - 'How to Provide for a Children's Party' by Phillis Browne

Use lots and lots of food colouring. Children love colour.

There is many a household where the children would be allowed to have a “party” now and then, if it were not for the trouble which the necessary preparation would entail upon the elders. Why should not the girls belonging to our cooking class set to work to give a little pleasure to their small brothers and sisters?  So far as the cooking is concerned, I am sure they could do what has to be done easily, and I have very little doubt that if they tried they could manage to entertain the youngsters as well as to feed them. What do you say, big grown-up sisters?  Do you think the little ones would like it?  If they would, persuade mamma to consent, tell her you will take all the trouble of getting ready out of her hands, send out your invitations, and then let us have a little talk together about what is to be provided for supper.

First of all, however, I must tell you that I am a very old-fashioned person. I believe in children being treated as children, and fed on simple wholesome diet. I should be very sorry to ask any of my young friends to spend an evening with me, and then arrange matters so that they should be in the hands of the doctor for two or three weeks after they have left me. Therefore, I warn you that if you admit me into consultation you will not be told of anything rich and savoury, but only what is suitable, plain, and good. I will answer for it, however, that the children will appreciate the dishes which I am about to suggest, and if they are satisfied I do not think we need mind anyone else.

There is one advantage in providing for children, and that is that you soon know whether or not they like what is set before them. Also, you are in no difficulty as to the kind of dishes which they prefer. Meat they do not care much for, and they are better without it at night; therefore, so far as the children are concerned, we need not trouble about meat dishes. Of course, if there are any mammas and papas invited to accompany the children, it is a different thing; we enter upon a new field altogether. Here, however, I am speaking of provision for children only, and I maintain that you may make all sorts of expensive preparations, provide fish, fowl, or good red herrings, etc., and the children will care very little for any of them. Your substantial dishes will all be regarded as so many unimportant details which must be surmounted before the sweets can be arrived at. If, therefore, you will be persuaded by me you will provide nothing in the way of meat excepting a few well-made beef, ham or tongue sandwiches, and a dish of sausage rolls. Even these will be introduced more for form than anything else. You will not think you have made suitable provision unless you have a few sandwiches; therefore have them by all means, but if you consult the wishes of the children you will not provide a large quantity, neither will you pass round those which are there too many times.

But though our supply of meat be thus limited, we must take good care to have plenty of fruit – oranges, apples, almonds and raisins, French plums and grapes, and fresh fruit, if it is in season. Nuts I should not recommend, because nuts very often disagree with children. More than all, however, we must have an ample variety of good sweets, and by good I mean sweets which look well, as well as taste well. We are all influenced by the eye as by the palate, and children are especially so. Moreover, children like colour and appreciate contrasts. The addition of a few drops of cochineal will often determine their appreciation of a dish. As we wish to please the little folks, we must not forget to supply colour.

Before I go on to the all important sweets, however, I must say a word about making the sandwiches. Perhaps you feel inclined to say “Everyone knows how to make sandwiches! Why speak of them?” I suppose theoretically everyone does know, and yet well made sandwiches are very rarely met with. First of all, the sandwiches must be freshly made, and with bread which is firm but not dry; therefore if you do not bake at home, order a square tinned loaf of the baker, and have it baked the day but one before the day of the party. A loaf of this shape is the best, because there is so little waste in cutting it. If you were wanting to make a large quantity of sandwiches it would be well to order a sandwich loaf – that is, a plain tinned loaf of twice the usual length. This would supply you with the maximum amount of crumb and the minimum amount of crust. A loaf of the ordinary size will, however, make a very good dish of sandwiches.

Before cutting our sandwiches, we put the meat of which they are to be made on a plate, look it over very carefully, and remove all the gristle, skin, and inferior portions, then cut the remainder into small mouthfuls. We place the mustard and butter (the latter must not be too hard to spread easily) close to our hands, and then we may commence operations. If the sandwiches were to be made of beef, a little salt would be needed, but  for ham or tongue this is not required.  By the way, I may say that economical housekeepers often make beef sandwiches of the tinned corned beef, for the purpose finding it both convenient and cheap.

Of course, the crust must be shaved from the loaf all around, and the slices must be cut thinly and with a sharp knife. The butter must be spread very lightly, and the mouthfuls of meat must be laid on evenly to cover the whole surface of the under slice. Add mustard judiciously, press the uppermost slice upon the meat gently with the hand, and cut the slice into triangular pieces of a small size; large sandwiches do not look well. Cover a dish with a neatly folded napkin, pile the sandwiches lightly on it, place small sprigs of green parsley here and there upon it, and our dish is ready.

We should not make these sandwiches until the day of the party, and the later they could be made the better. It is quite possible, however, that our friends the providers will have so much to do and think of that they will wish to make the sandwiches early and get them off their minds. They may do this easily, and the sandwiches will take no harm if they are placed in a cool place, and if a napkin wrung out of cold water is placed on them.

If liked, sandwiches can be made of something different to the ordinary ham or tongue. Cold meat, poultry or game may be used, potted meats or potted fish of all kinds, or even cold dressed fish with fish sauce can be converted into sandwiches. The most delicious sandwiches I ever tasted were made with brown bread and butter and filleted anchovy (that is, strips of anchovy freed from bone and skin), hard boiled eggs cut into slices, and small salad. These sandwiches were rather troublesome to make, but they were quite worth the trouble they cost.

The sausage rolls may be very easily prepared. Calculate how many rolls you will need, and procure half the number of sausages, because each sausage will make two rolls. If you buy ready made sausages, be very particular where you get them, because as you know there are sausages and sausages. Do not get very highly seasoned meats, because children are not partial to pepper. Make a little flaky pastry, the recipe for which you will find in a previous number of THE GIRL’S OWN PAPER. Roll this out into pieces the eighth of an inch thick and six inches square. Cut the sausages into halves, lay each half in the middle of a square, fold the pastry over the meat, and join the edges neatly down the centre. Place the rolls on a greased baking tin, brush the tops of the rolls with egg, slightly beaten, and bake in a hot oven. It is best to cook the sausages partially before putting them in the pastry, then the rolls are sufficiently baked when the pastry is done. The fresh sausages may be plunged into fast boiling water and simmered for five minutes; after this the skin can be drawn off, and when cold the sausages are ready.

Jellies, creams and blancmanges are always liked by children, therefore I would advise you to make an ample supply of these either the day before, or the day but one before the party. In arranging for an affair of this kind it is always well to do as much as possible beforehand, and to leave as little as may be to the actual day; however much you do you will find quite enough to occupy you at the time.  There will be rooms and table to prepare, the children to get ready, the games to arrange, and the flowers to look after. As to how you are to make the jellies and creams, I must refer you to my articles on those two subjects published recently. Follow closely the directions given there and your moulds will turn out well, only remember to supply colour and to give ample scope to your ideas of ornamentation.

As to additional sweet dishes, I will mention two or three which you may like to make in addition to those I have mentioned.

Snow Balls- Boil a teacupful of ice with a pint and a half of milk; flavour with chopped almonds, sweeten with sifted sugar.  When tender beat the rice briskly to make it smooth.  Pour it into cups which have been rinsed in cold water.  When cold turn these on a glass dish; garnish with bright-coloured jam, and serve with milk or cream.

Fruit Gateau – Soak half an ounce gelatine in as much water as will cover it for half an hour.  Boil half a pint of water and a quarter of a pound of sugar to a syrup.  Throw in a pound of any kind of firm fruit, without being at all broken, and simmer till the fruit is tender.  Dissolve the gelatine, put it with the fruit, add a few drops of cocineal, if colour is needed, and the juice of a lemon if dry fruit has been used.  Place a jelly-pot in the middle of a mould, pour the fruit round it; turn it when cold on a glass dish and put cream in the centre.

It is astonishing what a number of dishes you can make by following this recipe and using different fruits.  French plums make a delicious mould, which looks dark and rich as well as tastes well.  Apples too, flavoured with lemon and boiled to pulp, are very good; rhubarb also, and cranberries for people who like cranberries, are excellent.  Fresh fruit, of course, may be used in this way, and excellent gateaux may be made of any fruit which is firm enough to keep its shape when boiled.  In winter it is a good plan to make two moulds, one of apples and one of prunes.  The preparations of apple can, if liked, be arranged in layers, each alternative layer being coloured.

Lemon Sponge – Soak an ounce of gelatine in a quarter of a pint of water.  In half an hour put it into a saucepan with three-quarters of a pint of water; the thin rind and strained juice of two fresh lemons, and three-quarters of a pound of loaf sugar.  When the gelatine is dissolved pour the liquid out and let it remain until it is cold and beginning to set.  Take the whites of thee eggs, without a speck of yellow, beat them well, then put them with the dissolved gelatine, and whisk all together till the preparation stiffens and looks like snow.  Pile it high on a dish and make it look as rocky as possible, and at the last moment sprinkle hundreds and thousands, or pink sugar, over it.  Serve with finger biscuits.  To make the pink sugar, crumble a little loaf sugar to powder; drop a little cochineal on the palm of the hand, and rub the sugar in the cochineal.  Spread it out to dry.

Jam with Cream – Rub three or four good lumps of sugar upon a large fresh lemon till all the yellow part is taken off; add more sugar to make up four ounces.  Put this in half a pint of double cream and flavour with a glass of raisin wine, if liked.  Whip the cream with a whisk till it is slightly thick.  Put a spoonful of apricot jam at the bottom of some six or eight custard glasses.  Fill the glasses with the whipped cream, and serve with sponge fingers.

Stewed Prunes are always liked by children, and served with milk or cream they are both wholesome and excellent.  The prunes should be soaked overnight in plenty of cold water, they should then be simmered gently in the same water till they are quite soft; a little lemon rind and two or three cloves may be stewed with them.  When done the fruit should be drained (stoned or not), allowed to cool a little, then piled high in a dish.  The syrup should be strained, sweetened and thickened slightly with a little arrowroot, coloured with two or three drops of cochineal, and poured over the fruit. 

Peach Compote, or Pine-apple Compote – Procure a tin either of preserved pine-apple or preserved peaches and a small and rather stale sponge cake.  Pour off the juice and put it into an enamelled stewpan with a breakfast-cupful of white sugar and a teacupful of water, and boil a minute or two till the sugar is dissolved; then put in the fruit and stew gently till it is quite tender.  Cut a piece out of the centre of the sponge cake, leaving a good wall all round which is not likely to break.  Put the fruit (when quite cold) gently into the centre of the cake, place a slice of sponge cake on the top as a cover; pour the syrup all over, and let the cake soak in the syrup.  Pour a thick cream or custard over all; sprinkle pistachio kernels, which have been blanched like almonds and chopped finely, on the top, and the compote is ready.  The sponge cake which was cut out may be crumbled, put into a glass dish, soaked in cream, and covered first with jam and then with good custard.

I must not, in speaking of the sweets, forget to mention the fruit.  As I said before, have plenty of fruit; it is wholesome and comparatively inexpensive and convenient.  If the party is given in summer time when we can get fresh fruit, we possess a great advantage.  A large dish of ripe strawberries or currants will go a long way towards furnishing one table, and with the addition of white sugar and cream, will constitute luxury by themselves.  The more usual time for parties, however, is in winter, when apples, oranges, and dried fruits only are to be had.  The value of these will be greatly increased if they are prettily dished with green leaves for garnish.  May I remind my friends that when fresh leaves are not available artificial leaves may be bought at the fancy shops?

Ripe juicy oranges are always popular when they can be eaten in private; but they are rather more than children can manage who are seated, not at the table, but round the room; who have a plate, and a fork, and a spoon on their knees; and who are specially desirous of conducting themselves with elegance and propriety.  I never see children at parties eating oranges but I think of the two old ladies in Crawford who made a point of retiring to their bedrooms when they were about to indulge in oranges, because they so much enjoyed sucking the fruit, and did not like to do so before each other.  Besides, with children pretty best dresses have to be considered, and we do not want them to come to grief.  Why then should we not prepare the oranges so that the children’s difficulty will vanish? 

The usual way of preparing oranges is to cut them in half, but a half orange is almost as difficult to manage as a whole one; far better adopt the following plan, which comes to us, I believe, from America.  Peel off the skin of the orange, leaving only a band round the middle about an inch wide.  Divide the orange into sections, but let these remain connected by the band.  The strip of rind can (if liked) be divided into two, so that each child can have half an orange instead of a whole one; but in either case it will be found that the sections can be removed when wanted and disposed of one by one, and that without any discomfort.  Oranges thus prepared do not look very well, but they are most convenient for eating. 

When the time has come for laying out the supper, be sure to arrange the dishes so that the different colours shall contrast prettily.  Intermix the white creams with dark gateaux or pink jellies, and let there be plenty of flowers upon the table; be sure also that there is an ample supply of forks, spoons and clean plates.

Of course we must provide something for our little friends to drink, and what shall that be?  A great many hospitably disposed people out of the kindness of their hearts offer wine to children – sherry or raisin wine, or even champagne.  Be sure this is mistaken kindness.  If the children are judiciously brought up they will not be accustomed to wine at home, and wine is more likely to disagree with them than anything else.  Have plenty of lemonade and raspberry vinegar; simple drinks like these will quench the thirst of your guests and will do them no harm.

The raspberry vinegar and water may have a little carbonate of soda stirred into it and be drunk during effervescence.  The lemonade may be made as follows –

Lemonade – Pare the thin yellow rind of two lemons and throw it into a pint of cold water.  Boil this with half a pound of loaf sugar till it is a clear syrup; strain and cool it, and mix with it a quarter of a pint of lemon juice.  Two tablespoonfuls of this syrup mixed with a tumbler-ful of cold water will make an excellent drink.  If liked, the lemon syrup can be mixed with water beforehand, put into decanters, and served in large claret glasses instead of tumblers. Some people use lemon juice sold in bottles for preparations of this kind, but bought lemon juice never tastes so well as juice newly strained from fresh lemons.

Last but not least, whatever else you omit, at a children’s party have plenty of bonbons.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

19 November 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous advice

CHRISSIE PARKER -1. Your first question is a silly one.  2. There seems little room for doubt that Lady Jane Grey was placed on the throne much against her own wish and better judgment. The first thermometer was constructed by Fahrenheit, a native of Amsterdam, about the year 1720.

LAUGHING WATER: - Use a little weak ammonia and water to the stains on your dress. The “Man in the Iron Mask” is now, we believe, generally supposed to have been Count Mathioli, the Prime Minister to the Duke of Mantua who, having been bribed by Louis XIV, betrayed him to his master, and was seized treacherously and immured for life in France.

YELLOW BUTTER wants us to tell her “which is the proper height for a young lady”. The “proper height” is not an invariable one, as it depends on the proportions of the head and figure, and the due proportions to be maintained. Abut supposing the symmetry were perfect, you might just as well be a “pocket Venus” as a grand specimen of perfect and extra development. There is no “proper height” for a tree, nor “proper height” for a building. There is a charm in variety, if combined with correct proportions. The question of size is a matter of individual taste.  2. People do not continue to bow every time they meet a friend during a promenade, but should your eyes chance to meet you may make a slight smile of recognition.

ROSEBUD – 1. Your gentleman acquaintance needs not to stop to introduce his lady relative with whom he is walking merely because he has raised his hat in acknowledgement of your bow.  2. Unmarried girls have their names engraved under that of their mother on her visiting card, but if she be dead, and they out in society, they may have a card of their own.

CLARA DESMOND – The “gentleman” who was introduced to you by your host was guilty of ill-breeding in replying to your first remark by saying, “I did not catch your name”. It seemed like a distrust of his host’s discretion. If he did not know to whom he was presented, he should have taken an opportunity of making a private inquiry elsewhere. In replying, you should have said, “My name is Desmond”. You write neatly.

HESTER – We do not think you have quite considered the foolish nature of the question you have put to us. If everyone born at sea could claim a pension, imagine the amount of money required to be invested to pay such pensions. The people who told you such a story must have been mischievous, foolish, or very ignorant.

A MACDONALD OF GLENCOE – You say that you are still only a school-girl, yet wish to leave home as a Zenana missionary, although adverse at present to the wishes of your parents. Go home first and show dutiful obedience to your parents until a little older, for very young women are not sufficiently experienced, and do not carry sufficient weight, to be suitable for the work you desire. Your home training, in loving submission to those who are “over you in our Lord” will render you more fit to be a trainer and teacher of others, for it is not merely scholarship and a knowledge of the Indian languages that will form a due and efficient training for such a life. You know your wishes, and when you have exercised patience and “shown piety at home”, for a time, your parents will be more ready to accede to your wishes later on. It is no trifling duty to set an example of filial submission to your sisters.