Sunday, 31 January 2016

3 January 1880 - 'Our Cookery Class' by Phillis Browne - Chapter One

This is part one of the first series of cookery essays Phillis Browne wrote for the G.O.P.

Cookery is one of the Arts. Those who would excel in it must, like other artists, be educated for it. It would be as reasonable to expect that a girl could play one of Beethoven's sonatas, because she had the score, a piano, and a music stool, as it would be to suppose that she could prepare a dinner because she was in possession of a cooking apron, a rolling-pin, a pastry board, and the materials for making an apple pie.

A knowledge of cookery consists in the understanding of a number of details connected with the subject. To be a cook is to be able to set upon that knowledge. This power can only be gained by practice and experience. No one can learn to be a cook by reading papers on cookery any more than they can satisfy their hunger by looking at a sirloin of beef.

It will be my endeavours in these papers to write down the details of cookery as plainly as I can. The girls who read them must, if they would become cooks, go down into the kitchen and prove for themselves whether or not what I say is right. They will feel at first a little awkward; things will not come exactly as they want them. But if they will persevere they will soon become skilful, and after a time they will be able to congratulate themselves on being able to cook. This means that as long as they live they, and more than themselves - those whom they love - will never be dependent upon others  for the comforts of home; that whatever position in life they may occupy they will be able to cook food for themselves or to direct others in doing it; and that they will have gone a long way in the road which leads to their being good daughters, good wives, good mothers, and good mistresses. In addition, they will gain one of the finest things a woman can gain - the power to use their own hands for a useful purpose.

There are six different ways of cooking food. Roasting, broiling, boiling, stewing, baking, and frying. Of these roasting and broiling may be described as the most nutritious; stewing and boiling as the most economical and digestible; frying and baking as the most convenient and speedy. I will begin with roasting.


We English are continually being told how very much better the French cook their food; but at any rate we may pride ourselves on this, they do not roast meat so well as we. A great French cook once said that in England all women roast well, and certainly the roast beef of old England is celebrated all over the world. Those who have travelled on the Continent know that wherever the English go it is thought necessary to provide them with "rosbif", and as a rule I imagine experienced travellers avoid the dish and regard it as a delusion and a snare. Our real roast beef is quite a different thing. Let us see what makes it so excellent.

The first consideration is the joint itself. The superior pieces of meat are generally chosen for roasting. The coarser parts are reserved for stewing. Red meats - that is, beef and mutton and game - should be hung for awhile before they are roasted, for only when this is done can it be expected that they will be tender. White meats, on the contrary - such as lamb, veal and pork - taint quickly, and require to be roasted w- fresh.

The time that meat should be kept must depend upon the weather and the time of year. In cold dry weather a leg of mutton can be hung for three weeks with advantage. In hot, and particularly in what is called "muggy" weather, it will not keep for as many days. In buying meat, therefore, the state of the weather should first be considered. If it is favourable, inquiry should be made when the joint is bought, as to the time which has elapsed since the animal was killed. If it is freshly killed do not be persuaded to roast it at once. Hang it - not lay it in a dish - in a cool, airy larder, and examination it every day. Do this with particular care if the weather should change. If it should get to look at all moist in any part, cook it at once. Good beef, however, does not become moist with keeping. A good many cooks will flour a leg or a shoulder of mutton all over to prevent its becoming moist, and this is a very good plan.

One thing I must not forget to say, and that is that a joint must not be allowed to freeze; if it does it will be sure to be spoilt. When there is a frost, it is advisable to put meat that is to be roasted in the warm kitchen for awhile, in order to soften it, before putting it down to the fire. Houses are built in such a way now that it is not every one who has a "cool, airy larder" in which they can keep meat. When this is the case, there is nothing for it but to trust to the butcher. If you ask him to supply you with well-hung beef or mutton, he will doubtless do so, or will hang the meat for you.

If meat is to be roasted before an open range, the fire must be looked after, fully an hour before the meat is put down. It would be of no use to hang meat before a fire that had just been made up. It would only get a smoky, unpleasant taste, and the juice would be drawn out of it, instead of being kept in the meat as it ought to be. A good cook is very particular about her fire. She first pokes it well underneath, to clear it thoroughly from the dust and small cinders which will have settled at the bottom, pushing the live coals to the front of the range. She then puts fresh coal on the fire, choosing for her purpose not large blocks of coal, but what are called "nubbly" pieces. She does not throw these on from a scuttle, but arranges them with her fingers, protected by an old glove, so that they shall be packed closely, yet leaving room for a draught of air to pass between the lumps. She then sweeps up the hearth, collects the cinders, and places them with some coke or damped coal-dust at the back of the fire. A fire made like this will last a long time. As soon as the front part is clear and bright it is ready  for the meat. It must not be forgotten, however, that it must be watched, and fresh pieces of coal or coke added occasionally, in order that it may be kept up until the meat is roasted.

The dripping-tin, with a good-sized lump of dripping in it, should be put down ten minutes or so before the meat. This is to be done so that there may be dripping at hand to baste the meat with as soon as it is put down. The goodness of roasted meat depends very much upon its being frequently basted, and this is particularly necessary when the joint is very close to the fire, as it is at the beginning. If a meat-screen is used, it also should be put before the fire, so that it may not be cold when the meat is put into it.

While the dripping is melting the meat may be got ready. It should be looked over and trimmed neatly if required, any rough or jagged pieces, or superfluous fat or suet being cut away with a sharp knife. A leg of mutton should have the knuckle bone cut off, and the skin from the thickest part of the leg, where it joined the loin, cut away. These trimmings must of course be preserved. They can be stewed, and will make very good stock. A sirloin of beef should have the soft pipe that runs down the middle of the bone taken away. This has a very unpleasant appearance if left on the joint. All white meats are better for being wrapped in greased paper before they are put to the fire.

Some cooks think it necessary to wash meat before putting it down. If the joint has been bought of a respectable dealer, and has not been roughly handled, it is most undesirable that this should be done, as nothing draws the goodness out of meat more than washing it. If there is any suspicion that it has been touched by dirty fingers, it may be scraped and wiped with a damp cloth, or if it is in such a condition that it must be washed, it should be plunged in and out of hot water. The business must be performed as quickly as possible, and the meat must be dried at once and thoroughly with a soft cloth. If it should happen that the meat has been kept a little too long, or if it is discoloured in any part, it should be washed quickly with vinegar and water and wiped dry afterwards.

The next thing is to wind up the meat-jack, to weight the joint, and then to hang it on the meat hook. And here it must be remembered that the meat is to hang by the small end, so that the largest or thickest part should hang a little below the hottest part of the fire. The thickest part of the meat will take more roasting than the rest, therefore the fiercest heat of the fire must fall upon it.

It is a great object both in roasting and boiling meat to keep in the gravy or juice. In both cases this is best effected by cooking the outside very quickly, so that it shall be a sort of case through which the juices of the meat cannot escape. It is for this purpose that the meat should be put quite near the fire to begin with - that is, as near as it can be not to burn the outside; and it should be basted immediately to prevent its becoming hard and dry. Then in about five or six minutes it may be drawn back to the distance of about a foot from the fire, and basted frequently till it is done. By frequently I mean as much and as often as possible, for meat can scarcely be basted too much. It is the lean part of the meat that requires basting. The screen that is put round it will keep the cold air from blowing upon it.

This is a very important part of roasting, and I should like to impress it upon you. I once heard a very clever cook say that in every dish she made there was a secret; and her great desire was to keep the secret very safe, so that no one might make such good things as she did. We will act quite differently. We will try to discover the secrets, and if they are worth knowing we will tell them all around.

As to the time that meat will take to roast, that will vary with its quality, its thickness, and the heat of the fire. This is one of the points on which a cook cannot go by a book, but must use her common sense. The great general rules are a quarter of an hour to the pound and a quarter of an hour over for red meat, and twenty minutes to the pound and twenty minutes over for white meats - lamb, veal and pork. These rules, however, cannot always be followed. A thick, solid piece of meat, such as rolled rib of beef, or the topside of the round of beef, or a loin of mutton boned and rolled, would need to be roasted longer per pound than a shoulder of mutton or a loin of mutton that was not rolled; while a joint that had a good deal of gristle and bone in it, such as the thin flank of beef, would need to roast half-an-hour to the pound. Then the time of the year has something to do with it. Meat requires longer roasting in winter than it does in summer time. This is one of the lessons that only experience can teach.

There is one very important point that I must not forget to mention, and that is - take care of the dripping. This is a most valuable article. It can be used for a great many purposes, which we will speak of later; therefore we must look after it now. It may be that we have a dripping-tin made with a well to receive the fat, and if this is the case it will be kept free from dust and cinders without any difficulty. But a very great many people have merely a shallow tin or wrought-iron pan to put under the meat. When this is the case, the fat must be looked after. If any cinders fall in they must be removed, and the fact must be poured away once or twice whilst the joint is roasting, to prevent its getting burnt. Of course, enough dripping must still be left in the pan to baste the meat. If dust should fall from the fire to soil the side of the tin, the opposite side should be at once turned to the fire.

And now we have kept up our fire and basted our meat vigorously, and the time is drawing near when it should be sufficiently roasted.  I am quite sure that a pleasant odour is making itself felt which is enough to make our mouths water. The dishes and plates are on the plate warmer, and everything seems ready. But what about the gravy? We must leave that until the next lesson.

The New Posting Regime!

Sooooo I have a LOT of material to get through here. Over twenty consecutive years' worth.

Henceforth I am going to post two or three times a week, and I will be going back to start from the beginning, with the first paper published in the first year of the run, 1880.

The plan is to try to stick to a mostly chronological order, but let's be honest, there will probably be a few random jumps back and forth in time. This will be according to my own capricious whim as the boss of this blog, but if there's anything that you know is several years away but would like to see sometime soon, please leave a comment or email to let me know. :)

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

26 October 1890 - 'A Week in Paris for Six Pounds' by Evelyn Upton

However much people may differ as to the desirability of visiting other celebrated localities, I think all will be agreed that no man or woman should cross the English Channel without making a point of seeing Paris. Its historical association alone would entitle it to a visit. And perhaps the reason that many more who could appreciate and enjoy its attraction do not participate in them, is either on account of an exaggerated fear of journeying difficulties, such as language, foreign coinage, etc., or else the very common complaint of a limited purse. With regard to the first set of obstacles, they usually vanish into thin air when resolutely confronted; and with regard to the second, when I have shown how a week may be spent in Paris profitably and pleasurably  for the small sum of six pounds, including the return fare, some of my readers may be tempted to make the trial.

Although I only give the scale of expenses for one person, I do not for a moment propose that one lady - least of all a young lady - should spend a week in Paris by herself. It would, indeed, be the height of impropriety. In fact, every young woman, whether she be of gentle or humble birth, who visits Paris, cannot remember too often that more discreetness of behaviour is necessary there than in any other city in the world. This I can vouch for from my own observation. 

It is obvious that to limit the expenses of a week in Paris to six pounds will involve a certain amount of economy. I should arrange the various items thus -

Return Fare, via Dieppe, 2nd Class - £2 2s. 3d.
Saloon on Return Voyage - 4s. 6d.
Registering Luggage - 2s.
Board and Lodging for Six Days, at 8s per day - £2. 8s.
Sightseeing and Conveyance for One Week - 10s. 6d.
Extras - 12s. 9d.
Total - £6.

I leave a wide margin for extras, as this must include gratuities to hotel servants, railway porters, etc., which, however, will be lessened by being shared by your companions. Then it is impossible to gauge accurately another person's power of walking or enduring fatigue, though as a rule I have allowed for no walking except to and from the omnibus office, and for convenience I am supposing your hotel will be within easy reach of the Place de la Concorde. Of course none but a tolerably strong young woman would attempt to crowd the following programme into one week. And if your hotel only provides breakfast and table d'hote, you will require some refreshment in the middle of the day; but in the buoyant air of Paris a modest lunch, costing half a franc, will be found quite sufficiently sustaining.

Most people have friends who, from personal experience, are able to recommend moderate hotels in Paris; but failing this, the most direct plan is to apply for Cook's hotel coupons.  For the sum of ten francs, or eight shillings per day, you secure bedroom, lights, and service, plain breakfast and table d'hote. Some hotels even provide three meals a day  for the same sum. In any case you must engage your room beforehand, and I think also it is best to change a sovereign into French money before starting; for one cannot depend on one's fitness for monetary transactions after a long and perhaps rough sea voyage, and the relief of finding yourself already provided with current coins is great. But mind you get small as well as large change, for one cannot afford to throw away even a sou recklessly.

As only 56 lbs weight of luggage is allowed each passenger, a small tin box or valise holding one dress, one change of raiment, and the few other indispensables, will be found quite sufficient for such a short visit. There is the other alternative of taking your luggage with you under the carriage seat, but to my mind a shilling expended on registering it through from London to Paris is the far better plan, as when this is done your responsibility concerning it ceases altogether. Nothing can be nicer for the wear and tear of daily sight-seeing than a well-made travelling dress of light texture.

As to whether you choose the day or night service from London must depend partly on your qualifications as a sailor, and also on your powers of enduring fatigue ; for there are not many women who, after travelling all night, would be able to spend the succeeding day in sight-seeing. We will suppose, therefore, that you decide on the day service, and that you leave London on a Tuesday morning at nine o'clock. On arriving at the Saint Lazare station in Paris as soon as you have rescued your luggage from the tender mercies of the Douane - and most probably your small box will escape inspection entirely - hire a voiture and drive to your hotel. Paris cab fares are regulated on a different scale to the London ones. Of course you will start provided with a good Guide to Paris, in which cab and omnibus fares as well as several other important pieces of information are given. A very comprehensive Guide can be bought for one shilling and as you will have at least one companion, the cab fare to and from the station on arrival and departure will be halved.

Wednesday - Versailles, Trianons, S. Cloud.

If your first day in Paris appears likely to be fine, you cannot do better than spend it at the historical palace of Versailles. Leave by the ten o'clock tramcar for Versailles, or earlier if possible. It starts from the Quai de Louvre, and before taking your seat outside you must first enter the omnibus office and procure a numero or ticket. Always go outside the omnibus or tramcar when the weather is fine; it is cheaper, and you will get a much better view of Paris. You will find it more convenient to join the tramcar at the Champs Elysees office. The drive is a very pretty one, running parallel with the Seine for a great part of the way, and then passing through S. Cloud and Sevres, and ultimately landing you at the very door of the Palace of Versailles.

To see it thoroughly would take several days. One must therefore be content with a hurried survey of the miles of paintings, principally battle pieces, covering the walls of the great picture gallery on the ground floor. Ad in like manner must the Galerie de Sculptures be treated. The whole place so teems with historical memories that wherever you tread you are brought in contact with the great dead and gone monarchs of France. In the Kings' apartments are numerous relics of Louis XIV., and also a piece of sculpture - the death of Napoleon I., which, though modern, struck me very much indeed on account of its realistic power. The splendid hall of mirrors, with its 242 feet of polished floor, and its unique view over the lovely gardens, takes one back to that bleak January day, when, surrounded b his generals, the grand old king of Prussia was proclaimed Emperor of Germany. And lovers of Carlyle's "French Revolution" look with heightened interest at the celebrated Oeil de Beouf, in which so much public mischief, gigantic in its results, had its origin. But most interesting of all to my mind are the private apartments of the ill-fated Marie Antoinette - the furniture still retaining its coverings of pale blue brocaded damask - and the small secret stair down which she fled, when, on 6 October 1789, the infuriated mob broke into these very rooms.

But when your time is so limited it is impossible to linger long in the palace or the grounds; so taking a bird's eye view of the gardens, it is best to walk on to the Trianons, Great and Little, situated half a mile distant, and easily reached by a direct road through the park. They both contain many objects of interest, but they do not take long to inspect., and the loiterings in the lovely gardens must be so curtailed as to allow of your reaching Versailles in time to catch a return tramcar to S. Cloud, where you should descend to view the shell of the ruined palace, and to stroll quickly through the magnificent avenues of the beautiful park. Then back by steamboat to Paris, for it is best to vary your routes as much as possible, and where it is practicable go and return two different ways. But if when you are planning out your day you find the steamboat would not bring you to your hotel in time for table d'hote, you must either give up one of the above named sights, or else take S. Cloud on the way to Versailles, and return from Versailles by railway, which, however, makes the difference of a franc in the expense. If not too tired, walk down the Rue de Rivoli, and spend the evening in the arcades of the Palais Royal, as the shops are seen to best advantage when illuminated. I have carried out this programme in one day, so I know it can be done.

Expenses - Tram to Versailles, 85 c. Versailles to S. Cloud, 50 c. Steamboat, 30 c. Total, 1 franc, 35 c.

Thursday y - S. Denis, Palais de Justice, Saint Chapelle, Musee de Cluny, S. Sulpice, Palais de Luxembourg.

As the tramcar for S. Denis starts from the Rue Taitbout, by leaving your hotel a little earlier, you will be able on the way to inspect the Grand Opera, the largest theatre in the world, built at a cost of a million and a half pounds sterling. S. Denis is the Westminster Abbey of Paris, the burial-place of the French kings since the third century; and the Abbey has had a share in all the subsequent history of Paris. Here Joan of Arc hung up her banner, and here also was carefully laid up the oriflamme, the royal standard with the flames of gold always carried before the king when he led his troops in person to battle. Among the royal tombs are those of Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette. After life's fitful fever they sleep well in this grand old abbey.

S. Denis can easily be seen in a morning; so early in the afternoon take the tramcar to S. Michel, and visit the Palais de Justice, the site of a palace for a long time the residence of the Kings of France, but now principally used as Law Courts, very little of the original structure being left. But the whole place is historical. One the facade overlooking the Quai de l'Horloge is the entrance to the Conciergerie, so notable in the history of the great Revolution. To view it an order must be procured from the Bureau de Police. Here Marie Antoinette found her last earthly shelter before she laid her head on the guillotine. By a sort of solemn mockery the cell was afterwards turned into a chapel, but burnt by the Communists in 1871. Here also the notorious Robespierre was imprisoned, and in an adjoining hall the famous Girondin conspirators supped together on the night before their execution. It is a relief to turn from these gloomy memories to the lovely little Sainte Chapelle, the palace chapel, so rich in Gothic carvings, and the most superb stained glass windows.

The Musee de Cluny must next be inspected. If time presses, a walk through the rooms will just give a general idea. The Roman alter in the gardens is said to be the oldest existing monument in Paris. The church of S. Sulpice being close at hand also claims a visit on account of its fine frescoes. Finally, a glance at the sculptures and the picture gallery in the Luxembourg, and a stroll in the gardens, listening to the military band, which plays on Thursdays  only, from five to six o'clock, will compete the sight-seeing for the afternoon. By taking the tramway back along the Boulevard S. Germain, you will pass the Church of S. Germain de Pres, one of the oldest churches in Paris, and several large public buildings, the principal of which is the Palais Bourbon, where the legislative body hold their assemblies. In crossing the Place de la Concorde you see the very spot, now marked by the Luxor Obelisk, where, a century ago, the dreadful guillotine stood. Here Charlotte Corday met her death; here also Robespierre ended his bloody life, and Danton met the just reward of his crimes. Here, too, perished, during the Reign of Terror, the weak-minded Louis XVI., the stately Marie Antoinette, the gentle Madame Elizabeth, and a great number of others, more than 2,000, whose names have not been preserved on any earthly record - "Martyrs by the pang without the palm!" The evening may be spent on the Boulevards watching the Parisian outdoor life.

Expenses - Tram to S. Denis and back, 60 c.; admission to the Royal Tombs, 1 franc; tram to S. Michel and back, 30 c. Total, 1 franc, 90 c.

Friday - Tuileries Gardens, Louvre, Place de la Bastille, Pere la Chaise, Buttes Chaumont.

At least one whole morning should be devoted to the Louvre; and more time if you could spare it. For it is one of these museums which you may hurry through in an hour, or spend several days among its priceless treasures without having examined them. You can approach it through the Tuileries gardens, and view the spot where for three centuries stood the historical Palace of the Tuileries, but which is now, alas! no more. Then crossing the Place du Carrousel, so named from its having been the scene of a tournament in the days of Louis XIV., you face the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, built by Napoleon I. to celebrate some of his victories. Originally the top was decorated by the famous chariot and four horses from S. Mark's, at Venice but after the peace of 1814 it was taken back to Venice. The Palace of the Louvre dates from the time of Francis I., and most of the sovereigns since have had a share in its construction and embellishment. Were it only  for the fact that from one of its windows on the western facade Charles IX., with his own hand, fired on the Huguenots during the massacre of S. Bartholomew, it would be invested with undying interest. As there is so much to see in the palace, it is best to read up an account of it beforehand, and then determine how you will spend your time. Speaking broadly, the works of art are divided into sculptures and paintings. Whatever else you do not see, do not fail to look at the Venus de Milo, one of the two perfect statues of the female figure the world possesses, the other being the Venus de Medici at Florence. In the picture galleries the most time must be devoted to the Salon Carre and the Grands Galerie, which contain matchless Murillos, glorious Titians, and priceless Raphaels. With many of them we have become familiar through photographs and engravings. And the French galleries, rich in masterpieces of Poussin and Claude Lorraine, must by no means be overlooked.

By quitting the palace through the entrance in the Place de Louvre, you will see in front of you the church of S. Germain l'Auxerrois. From this very church, more than three hundred years ago, in the solemn stillness of the summer night, the great bell sounded out the signal  for the massacre of the unsuspecting Huguenots.

In the afternoon walk through the Place Vendome and notice the column erected by Napoleon I. to celebrate his victories over the Austrians and Prussians. At the Madeleine take an omnibus which will pass along the great Boulevards des Italiens, Poissonniere etc., through the Place de la Republique, and will land you at the Place de la Bastille. Today the Colonne de Juillet is all that marks the site of the most famous prison in the annals of history. The number of state prisoners who pined away and died in its dungeons will never be accurately known. The story of the Man in the Iron Mask has invested the castle with a mysterious interest for all young readers of French history. In the Revolution the fortress was stormed, the brave governor and his companions beheaded, and the castle levelled with the ground, a fitting culmination to all the previous tragedies that had been enacted there.

Leading out of the Place de la Bastille is the Rue S. Antoine, once a fashionable quarter, but a century ago the hot-bed of revolutionary conspiracy. It is frequently mentioned in Dickens' attractive story "The Tale of Two Cities". The Place de la Bastille is about a mile from the cemetery of Pere la Chaise, which you can reach either by omnibus or on foot.

The guide will point out the most interesting tombs, among which are those of Abelard and Heloise, Bellini, Chopin and Count Lavalette, who was rescued by his wife from prison and death. Then walk to the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, and view the spot where the murdered body of the brave Admiral Coligny was exposed on the gibbet. Return to Paris by the Centure Railway, and spend the evening at a cafe concert in the Champs Elysees.

Expenses - Omnibus to Pere la Chaise, 30c.; Guide in cemetery, 2 francs; Centure Railway, 2nd class, 55 c.; cafe concert, 1 franc; total, 3 francs, 85 c.

Saturday - Arc de Triomphe, Jardin d'Acclimitation, Bois de Boulogne, Chateau and Park of Vincennes.

Any omnibus will take you up the avenue of the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. The extensive view from the top is well worth the somewhat fatiguing climb. Another omnibus will take you to the Jardin d'Acclimitation, the Parisian Zoological Gardens, after exploring which you can walk about the Bois in the vicinity of the lakes, which are situated near the entrance. If preferred you can hire a voiture and drive to the Grande Cascade and back by the lakes; but of course this is more expensive, and I do not think the Grande Cascade at all worth seeing. On the return to Paris, descend for a look at the Parc Monceau.

Afternoon - to see the Chateau of Vincennes, one must reach it by tramway from the Louvre soon after three, as the castle is closed to visitors at four o'clock. Within its walls of gigantic thickness many eminent prisoners have been confined, among whom were the great Conde, the famous Duc d'Enghien, and Mirabeau, of "oaken strength", who crowded more work into one day than most men do in a month. If you feel equal to it, and times and seasons fit, walk through the Bois de Vincennes and take the boat at Charenton back to Paris.

Expenses - Trams to Bois and back, 60 c.; Jardin d'Acclimitation, 1 franc; tram to Vincennes, 20 c.; steamboat, 30 c.; total, 2 francs, 10 c.

Sunday - On all accounts it is best to make Sunday as much as possible a day of rest. Church of England services are held in the Church of the Embassy in the Rue d'Aguesseau and also at Christ Church, Boulevard Bineau. This latter is situated outside the fortifications, and is consequently some little distance from the central parts of Paris. Those who take an interest in mission work should visit Miss Leigh's Home for Governesses in the Avenue Wagram, or Miss de Broen's Belleville Mission at the Rue Clavel, near Buttes Chaumont. And those who are anxious to see for themselves what a French Catholic service is like can witness the celebration of Mass in the beautiful church of La Madeleine. Before entering be sure to study carefully the exquisitely carved figures over the front entrance. As I gazed upon them I understood  for the first time in my life how the sculptor's chisel could bring undreamed of beauty and life out of the solid marble block. Very fine musical services are held in the Catholic churches of S. Roche in the Rue S. Honore, and S. Eustache, in the Rue Montmartre. This last is also architecturally interesting, as being a very fine example of the late Gothic and Renaissance periods. The richly decorated chapels, with their fine frescoes, claim more than a passing glance.

Monday - Halles Centrales, Notre Dame, Morgue Pantheon, S. Etienne, Church of the Invalides, Tomb of Napoleon.  It is very necessary to bear in mind that Monday being the cleaning day, most of the galleries and museums are closed to the public. Consequently, I Have reserved the principal churches in Paris for this last day. You can begin by taking the tram down to the Halles Centrales, and the earlier the better. It is the largest market in Paris, and is well worth seeing; but for intrinsic beauty I think most visitors would prefer the flower market held on the Boulevard de la Madeleine just behind the church. Then if you walk past the Tour S. Jacques, a comparatively modern erection, and the beautiful Hotel de Ville which has succeeded the one burnt down by the infuriated Communists, you will soon reach the Cathedral of Notre Dame, one of the finest Gothic churches in Europe. It has several times narrowly escaped destruction. In the Revolution it was doomed, but the decree was not put into execution, and in 1871 the Communists actually attempted to burn this splendid cathedral, but most happily failed. The whole exterior should be carefully studied - the beautiful carvings, the statues of the twenty-eight French kings, each in his separate niche, which adorn the west front, and the flying buttresses at the east end. As soon s you enter, the tout ensemble of the nave and double sides, and the glorious colouring of the stained glass, through which a subdued light shines, cannot fail to impress you most forcibly, even though you were the most impassive of mortals.

Although you may not believe in the authenticity of the relics, it is as well to see the treasury in which they are kept; and the same fee will also include admission to the chapter house, choir, and sacristy. Immediately behind Notre Dame stands the Morgue. As one of the sights of Paris, though a ghastly one, I mention it; but I do not recommend anyone with sensitive nerves to visit it.

It seems hardly fair to go straight from Notre Dame to the Pantheon, for naturally the two churches will not bear the least comparison. But the frescoes in the Pantheon are very interesting. Almost the only historical associations connected with the building were done away with when the bodies of Mirabeau, Marat and Voltaire were removed from the vaults. The neighbour Church of S. Etienne du Mont, has a far more beautiful interior. Its exquisite choir screen and spiral staircase are unique in their way. It stands on the site of an ancient abbey, founded by Clovis, the first Christian king of the Franks.

A steamboat taken from the Pont du Neuf will land you at the Pont des Invalides, a very short distance from the church of the same name. Beneath its dome repose the ashes of the great conqueror - Napoleon I. After you have looked and wondered and reflected on the end of all human greatness, walk to the Champs de Mars, the site of the International Exhibition. Return on foot along the Quai d'Orsay, and fill up  for the remainder of the day with shopping in the Rue de Rivoli. The Louvre Magasin is also specially worthy of a visit. Then be ready to leave Paris by the evening tidal train, and cross by the night service, via Dieppe and Newhaven, arriving in London about 9 o'clock next morning. You will find it best to take a transfer ticket  for the saloon on board.

Expenses - Tram to Halles Centrales, 15 c.; Notre Dame, 50 cc.; steamboat, 15 c. Total, 80 c.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

21 August 1880 - 'Our Aquarium at the Seaside'

How to bring a bit of the natural world into the sitting-room.

Nothing is more interesting, during a visit to the seaside, than the institution of an aquarium; but, unfortunately, it is not always so popular as it is interesting.

The lodging-house keeper is apt to say that she "don't want them nasty things lol-olloping all over the place, and making a swim everywhere;" and if we are as careless as some young people I have known, who put scratchy shells and damp seaweed on polished tables, and spilt fishy water over new carpets, I do not much wonder at the poor woman's objections. But a little suavity and a good deal of care will probably soon soothe her into resignation, if not acquiescence, and a square of oil or America cloth laid under our aquarium will be a further balm to her suspicious fears.

But if we are to have a successful aquarium, more than this will be required of us.

We must be endowed with some proportion of those useful qualities, patience and perseverance, as our fish will die and our pans become unsavoury mortuaries if we are not both constant and tender in the care of our marine nursery.

And first we must be particular as to the kind of vessel in which we place our aquarium, for fishes and anemones will not live anywhere and anyhow.

The pan or pans must not be of glass, if we are to make the inmates happy, for these little rovers and climbers of the deep love occasional darkness and retirement.  For the same reason they should not be left too long in the sun or before a glaring window.

Then, again, they must not be too deep. A large surface is absolutely necessary for evaporation, and  for the water to absorb sufficient of the oxygen of the air, without which our fishes could not live or breathe. The liquid, again, should be renewed daily. But we need not trudge all the way down to the sands for this. Our bedroom jug, if tolerably fresh, will do, for soft water may be put in without injury, since the salt remains when the water evaporates. Then put in a little sand, a few pebbles, and only the right sort of seaweed.

Green laver - (Ulva latissima), a common seaweed, with a thin green crenellated leaf, like a broad ribbon, is a good kind, as it absorbs the gases given out by the fishes, and itself gives out the oxygen gas which they require. Purple laver is equally good. Now raise a cone of stone or sand - a miniature Mont Blanc - in one part of your aquarium, for your crabs and other animals to "take the air" when they desire it; but take care that your cairn is not near the edge of your vessel, or you will soon have all the crustaceans and shell-fish taking voyages of discovery over your sitting-room floor.

From all this you will see that those showy glass tanks kept in the fashionable shops are not at all the right things to have, and that earthenware pans, though less ornamental, are really far better for your little prisoners. They will by no means disdain a footpan if you are short of better accommodation.

But now  for the inmates themselves.

We will begin with bona fide fishes, for it would never do to have only crabs and anemones (or crustacean and acalepha, as we ought to call them) in our aquarium.

The grey mullet and the basse are both nice fishes, if not too big for us. The grey mullet is specially lively, and thinks nothing of taking a flying leap out of his tank on to the floor, to his own inevitable destruction, so that we must be careful to see that his prison is covered.

The basse is very hardy and very lively, and if we can manage to get a small one out of the fisherman's seine net, his blue back and silver stomach will look well darting about our aquarium.

The pluck, or pogge, is a very queer little fish, with a striped brown body, white underneath, and covered with a quantity of spiked tubercles, that gain for it in some parts of the country the name of the armed bullhead. We must decidedly get a seiner or a shrimper to find a pogge for us in their nets.

Among fishes that we may find for ourselves by hunting among the rock pools is the spotted gunnell. It is a little, dappled brown, eel-like creature, ornamental along the bottom of the dorsal fin with a line of black spots in a white rim, and is so agile and slippery that it requires a wary fisher to entrap it even with the net. It is a little bit large, perhaps, for our collection, being unusually about six inches long, but is hardy and a curious variety.

Montague's Blenny is its cousin, and is another pretty fish that we may capture for ourselves when we clamber over the slippery rocks at low tide.  It is much more highly coloured than its relative, however, wearing a dark green coat, spotted with blue, with a white waistcoat, and orange-dotted fins.

At the same time we may "happen" across a goby, a dark little fish belonging to the same family, but of quaker-like dress, who is distinguished by the rapidity of his motions and by his habit of carrying off his prey, when caught, to some convenient retiring place, where, like a dog with a bone, he devours his prey in private.

It is decidedly worth while, and by no means difficult, to get one of the pipe or bill fishes for our marine happy family. They have most queer, snake-like little bodies, long and thin, and their tails are prehensile. That is to say, they fasten themselves to the seaweed tufts by these appendages, precisely as monkeys do to forest trees. They have a decided predilection, like monkeys, for hanging head downwards; but, unlike monkeys, they show an equal enjoyment in balancing themselves the other way up, upon the tips of their tails! The dorsal fin of the pipe fish is beautifully and delicately formed; and it is by means chiefly of this fin that the owner can perform his acrobatic feats.

The pipe fish, too, has another peculiarity. If he resembles the monkey in his tail, he resembles the kangaroo in his pouch. In this pouch the paternal pipe fish carries about his numerous little family, until they are old enough to be cast adrift and to provide for themselves.

If we have room for another fish in our aquarium, we should not omit to put in one little dab or flounder. The movement of these flat fishes when swimming is the perfection of undulatory grace, and the brown and silver curves rippling through the water, circle in and out like a broad ribbon.

But we must begin now to think of shellfish for our aquarium, and of course we must have some crabs, both common crustaceans and hermit crabs. The common green crab is not a very desirable inmate, although he is an amusing and lively fellow. But his voracious appetite and sanguinary proclivities make it advisable for us either to give him a separate establishment of his own, or to choose from his species one young and small enough not to be a very formidable foe. We must also take care to provide him with a dry landing place, remembering that crabs are amphibious creatures. But we must look to his security.

I had, a few years ago, an interesting little crab who met with a most untimely fate. He had attained to intimate and almost affectionate terms with me, when one day, to my sorrow, he disappeared, and my footpan knew him no more.

I had almost forgotten my little crab, when, a week or two latter, happening to remove the sofa cushion against which I had been leaning, I found the stiffened corpse of my friend pressed between it and the sofa back. What induced him to go to such an unsuitable place I never knew; whether curiosity, or desire for warmth, or simple chance. I fear, however, it could scarcely have been affection for myself.

The way the crab eats is very interesting, using his claws like a human hand to hold and to dissever. 

The spider crab is a curious-looking little animal, worth having, and easily obtained at low water; and the velvet fiddler or lady crab is a handsome creature, with soft velvety brown back, and legs striped blue and scarlet. But of all crabs the hermit or soldier crabs will interest us most. They are called hermits, I suppose, because of their solitary lives, and soldiers because of their pugnacious love of warfare.

But they might, with reason, be called cuckoo crabs, too, since, like that dishonest bird, they have the audacious habit of turning their neighbour out of house and home, and appropriating his tenement.

The hermit chiefly affects the whelk's shell; but he is not above putting up with a less suitable one if that is not procurable, and, watching his absurd efforts sometimes to insert the whole of a large body into a very small shell, one is irresistibly reminded of an overgrown schoolboy in last year's trousers.

The hermit crab's excuse for his burglary lies in the fact that nature has not provided a shell for his body, which at one part is soft and defenceless.  At its termination is a sort of T-shaped hook or grasper, by which he clings so tightly to his stolen property that you may tear the animal to pieces before dislodging him. 

The soldier crabs will fight fiercely over an empty shell placed between the two of them, and I had one valiant specimen that used to go out to battle with a cuttlefish six inches long. The opal-coloured cuttlefish blushed all over in crimson patches with anger at the crab's temerity and at his opening nips, but after a minute or two always got the best of it, and persuaded the crab (who scuttled ignominiously away, shell on back), that discretion was the better part of valour.

Belonging to the same family are the shrimps and the prawns, of which we must have one or two. The shrimps we can catch for ourselves in the rock pools, and we shall do well to examine their method of swimming and the delicate shell-plates upon their "tails," so constructed as to enable their possessor to dart through the sea with a marvellous rapidity. The prawns, too, are pretty little creatures in the water, with their glowing eyes and diamond-hued bodies. Perhaps, however, some of my readers may agree with a small friend of mine who, on first seeing a live prawn, exclaimed in disappointment, "O, auntie, I like the pink prawns much better!" 

A minute ago I named the cuttlefish. Mine was a very fine specimen, and rather rare on these coasts, I fancy; but the squid may be procured almost anywhere with a little care, and is a better size for our aquarium. He is a most singular little creature, looking all head, eyes, and suckers, and well worthy of our observation.

We may perhaps hatch our squid from the eggs which are to be found, about June, upon the seashore, and this of course will double our interest in our eccentric little friend. If we have a taste for hatching marine animals, we may do the same with the whelk's eggs, which are found in such countless clusters on the rocks.

The Trochus zisiphinus, or top shell, is a pretty inhabitant for the stones at the bottom of our pan, with its dappled pink, white, and mauve shell; and the dog winkle, also, though we must beware he does not use his long sword-like tongue (with which he perforates the abode of his enemies and devours them) to work too much havoc amongst his companions.

As for limpets, a few of the handsomest common limpets, or fisherman's hats (Patella vulgate), and of the common periwinkle, will be sufficient for us. The latter is a useful member of an aquarium, as he keeps in order for us the too luxuriant, freshly-growing seaweed, with his long scythe-like tongue. This tongue, covered with its numerous teeth, is a most interesting object under a microscope.

If we have our friend with the dredge still at our beck and call, we must get him to try and fish up for us one of those beautiful creatures called Aphrodite aculeate, or the sea mouse. It is not unlike the shape of a mouse, only requiring legs and tail, but is covered all over its sides with spines or hairs of every conceivable shade of brilliant colouring. These spines change their hue with every fresh ray of light, making the sea mouse a thing of rare beauty. 

It seems strange that so fascinating a creature should prefer darkness and retirement, but so it is; and we shall find some difficulty in persuading it to display itself to our admiring eyes. The Aphrodite is essentially a practical-minded animal, and what little energy it possesses, it lends to the cause of gastronomy, eating up many of its more defenceless companions by means of a terrible aggressive proboscis, which it can dart out, when hungry, to a surprising length, but which it keeps almost concealed when not in use.

But (at the risk of mixing up our company without much regard to ties of relationship or rights of precedence), I must remind you that we must not forget to get a sea-cucumber for our aquarium. He is a most curious-looking, though retiring animal, often found in the dredge, and owes his name to his queer shape, which is not unlike that of a cucumber with a bunch of leaves at one end. His skin is spiny and perforated with holes, out of which come curious suckers, used in breathing and digestion. 

This Holathuria, as he and his family are called, has one very odd and unpleasant trick, which is, that he will not only at times turn himself inside out, but will subsequently, if properly nourished, live to replace his ejected inside.

The holathuria differ as to their choice of homes, some living in the deep sea and some burrowing in the sand or hiding under rocks or seaweed. The poor people of Naples sometimes eat them; whilst the Chinese have a perfect mania for a certain member of the holothurian fraternity, which they call "trepang."

They make it into rich soups and stews, and thousands of pounds worth of these queer unsavoury-looking animals are yearly imported into China  for the delectation of the Celestials.

A sea urchin, too, we must have, or sea hedgehog, as his picturesque spikes entitle him to be called. In Latin he is termed the echinus. The empty shell of the echinus, that very probably we have picked up on the shore, bears very little resemblance to the beautiful creature when alive. It was bare, smooth, and brown, and covered with little circular sockets.

But when the echinus is alive every socket bears its pointed spike, so delicately fixed that it can move at will; and intended party as a means of defence, and partly as numerous crutches to assist the little suckers which serve as feet.

The echinus differs a good deal in size on our own shores; but he excels both in beauty and magnitude abroad. I have picked up very beautiful ones by the Mediterranean - a rich brown, deep purple, and even crimson, in colour, nearly four inches in diameter, and with spikes quite three inches long.

The sea urchin does not look a tempting dish to us, but both Greeks and Romans of old appear to have thought it so. It was served up at marriage and other feasts, flavoured with vinegar, sweet wine, and herbs, and considered quite a dainty.

Belonging to the same family as the sea cucumbers and the sea urchins, although to a different branch, are the star-fishes, which lie all about us as we climb along the rocks and over the loose shingle. After a storm these fat, red stars almost cover the shore, thrown up by the retiring waves; and in some places their corpses have even been used to manure the land.

It is worth taking a star-fish (Uraster rubens) home with us, in order to study the action of the five rays, or limbs, which, covered with their thousands of strong minute suckers, make themselves useful as feelers and as propellers. It is a funny thing to see a star-fish walk or turn himself over. He is a lively and intelligent animal, and although apparently he has no eyes, he boasts a pair of little organs like insect antennae, which are very sensitive. But if you keep a star-fish, he must be put into a pot by himself. Mind you do not let him associate with the rest of the marine aquarium or you will find your aquarium speedily turned into a slaughter-house, with only shells of the inhabitants left to explain their mournful ends. For our friend has a vulgar appetite, and a fierce and determined mode of gratifying it. In his turn, however, he is much relished by larger fish, and especially by cod and haddock, and has many foes to contend against.

The stellerides, as they are called, are remarkably full of vitality, and indeed may almost be said to have  as many lives as a cat, since, were every one of their arms lopped off by a cruel hand, each to which a little portion of the circular body adhered, would become in time a new starfish.

Another kind of starfish, called the brittle star, may be found on the shore or among the rock pools at low water, generally buried among the tufts of green seaweed. The brittle stars are delicate and pretty, and more lively than their heavier cousins, the common stars, and owe their name to their embarrassing habit of tumbling to pieces when touched or frightened.

But all this time we have forgotten the actiniae, or sea anemones, who perhaps after all will form our chief delight in our new aquarium. The commonest kind, found all over England, is the beadlet (I will not attempt its terrible scientific name, which boats sixteen letters in one word).

The beadlet, when closed, is a little roundish lump of crimson or green jelly, sticking firmly to the rock; when open, he is a soft hamper, full of waving leaflets, a rim of bright blue ornamenting the base of the hamper. The beadlets, when on their native rocks, are often to be seen surrounded by a happy family of baby beadlets, and will populate the aquarium rapidly with fresh members. They are very hardy little animals, and will stand unintentional neglect or maltreatment with greater good temper than most of our marine friends. 

There is another fish, the dahlia wartlet. It is another common but beautiful sea anemone. This fine creature is more than five inches in diameter, and is coloured white, crimson and green. When open it resembles a soft basketful of fine buds, something like the dahlia in appearance. Its name of wartlet it gets from the little protuberances, like warts, which cover its body. These protuberances attract small bits of shell and stone, which so cover the anemone that it is difficult to discover it when closed.

But the dahlia wartlet, like the starfish, is a dangerous addition to an aquarium. It is a hungry creature, and so skilful with its tentacles, that shellfish, crabs, and even prawns fall victims to its voracious dexterity. There is no such objections to the plume anemone (Actinoloba dianthus), who is an exceedingly pretty little fellow, white, yellow, and red. When open its outer edge is beautifully fringed, resembling a circle of fairy feathers. This little anemone loves the dark, and I have found a beautiful species of it in caves on the Bristol Channel, coloured scarlet, with a white fringe.

Another curious anemone is the snake-locked (or Sagartia viduarta), which, when closed, is an uninteresting little object, like a flattened lobster-pot, but when open becomes a long waving arm, the hand being represented by a numerous quantity of snake-like locks floating in every direction.

A few acelepha or sea jellies will make a nice variety in our aquarium. I would scarcely advise you to burden your can with one of those huge rainbow-hued crystal bowls lying upon the sands, but I would advise you, in passing, to bend down and admire its opal, transparent brilliancy; and then, turning it gently over, to mark its strange india-rubber-like appendages or tentacles, and the shape of its body, which - convex or pointed above  is concave or hollowed below.

Many of the jelly-fish are called Medusida on account of the long tendrils which fall from their bodies or float after them like the locks of Medusa - as they lie lazily and gracefully on the summer sea.

In the region of the tropics, jelly-fish or Medusae of all kinds and sizes swarm, extending for miles over the sea, and positively checking the progress of ships, whilst the phosphorescent light they emit gives the appearance of an infinite host of stars twinkling and dancing over the bosom of the waters.

The medusa, however, is an unpleasant customer to deal with when out bathing, as he has a most irritating sting.

One of the prettiest ornaments for our aquarium will be the cydippe or sea acorn - a little cone-shaped medusa, with long dependent strings - which is exquisitely formed and tinted, and which can be caught in a net a little distance from land. When first captured, it will appear like a little colourless ball of jelly; but, when freed and at ease in the aquarium, it will spread out its tentacles, adopt its rainbow hues, and become an object of beauty.

Who has not heard of "Portuguese Man of War," with its luminous body and its tentacles of two lengths - the longer used to capture the prey and convey it to the shorter, which are furnished with mouths to receive it?

And now, before turning homewards with our well filled can, may I ask you to bend down and carefully gather up that little lump of sandy tubes lying at our feet upon the wet shore?

And don't say, contemptuously, "Why, those are nothing but worms!" for you will find, when you keep an aquarium, that some worms can be interesting acquaintances.

This sabella, as he is called, is very delicate, and you must beware that his house does not fall to pieces in your hands; but you will discover in time that he is a clever architect and industrious builder, who will carry on his work with perfect equanimity in captivity, if supplied with material.

Another "worm," probably not far off, and decidedly prettier, is the "terebella."

The sabella looks like a writhing mass of sandy pipes; but the terebella has the appearance of one large distinct tube, covered with sparkling incrustations of broken shell and grains of sand, from one end of which protrude many little snaky tentacles.

The terebella is sometimes a foot long, and is a burrower as well as a builder, often burying his body in the sand, leaving uncovered his tentacle and a part of his tube.

This tube is only the shell of the animal, which is quite distinct, and can not only move about the habitation, but if denuded of it can build a new one from surrounding materials by means of its skilful tentacles.

But we must pause. One could go on for ever enumerating new instances of the intricate beauties of creation, and the loving care of a divine Father. But we have now more than sufficient to stock the moderate aquarium of a beginner, who will find that a careful study of the habits of even these few among the countless multitudes of strange and beautiful little creatures will open out to her new fields of ever-widening thought, and many an hour of unexpected enjoyment.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

10 October 1889 - 'Schoolgirl Troubles and How to Deal with Them' by Nanette Mason - Part 1 'Home-sick and Desponding'

Many a schoolgirl would give a good deal for one of the magic carpets of the fairy tale books, on which she would have but to sit and wish, and so go flying through the air to home again. And we can hardly wonder at it. To be turned out of the parental nest at an early age to pick up education at a boarding-school, surrounded by strange faces and governed by unfamiliar and unwelcome rules, is a heavy trial to a sensitive nature. Happy are the girls whose people live in large educational centres, and who need never experience homesickness, because they can find what is needed in the way of learning in the next street.

Annie is not one of that lucky number. After every holiday, when she returns to school, she weeps all the way to the train. Ethel, too, not only does the same, but lets her tears flow for days - last term it was a full fortnight - after her arrival. Winnie weeps when she gets a letter from home, and when she gets a letter that isn't from home, for no other reason than because it isn't, she weeps again. And when you speak  about home, tears are in the eyes of all three; just as if they were grown-up people listening to the familiar strains of "Auld Lang Syne".

Some girls are more prone than others to home-sickness, much in the same way that some are more liable than their neighbours to attacks of measles and scarlet fever. A girl of resolute temper can hardly even realise what it means. When she leaves home there are tears in her eyes, maybe, but she brushes them away and calls in philosophy to fight against what she looks on as a weakness. It is like Eve leaving Paradise, "Some natural tears she dropped, but wiped them soon". Her grief never lasts beyond the first few miles, not that she does not love home, but because "what can't be cured must be endured", and it is her nature always to make the best of things. She is not without feeling, but she has learned early one of the most important lessons for our comfortable passage through the world, that "the art of life consists in not being overset by trifles".

Not a few girls, however, are naturally disposed to gloom, and when clouds come along they pay attention only to the dark side. One would think it was they whom the poet had in view when he wrote, "There's nought in this life sweet, if men were wise to see't, but only melancholy. Oh, sweetest melancholy". They are sometimes so in love with depression that to cheer them up looks like robbing them of their joy.

If a girl of this sort goes to school she is sure to do so with a heart overflowing with grief, and it is hard to feel much sympathy with her. She looks so like crying to indulge a caprice and to illustrate the old proverb that "It's no more pity to see a woman weep than to see a goose go barefoot". If you say to her, "Mary" - or whatever her name is - "why are you looking so glum?" she can give no reasonable reply. Some tears would move a stone to pity, but hers are not of that sort.

A girl, however, one has deep feeling for is the timid and retiring character, afraid of strangers and so shy perhaps as to be startled by the sound of her own voice, who goes to school like a girl driven into banishment. Her hankering after the home with which she is familiar, and the friends with whom she is intimate, mounts to the height of passion, and to be in exile and to have exchanged it, it may be, perfect liberty for constant restraint are felt by her as great afflictions.

She has not yet had the experience which shows that, whether we like it or not, separation is an incident which we must all learn to put up with. As we make our progress through the world, we find that life is made up of partings, and that we must steel our hearts to face what is inevitable.

Fortunately, the tears of youth do not as a rule last long, and in the first stages of existence the heart has a great capacity for getting over depressing events. For a day or two a girl may resemble the character in the story whose heart was so heavy that the chair broke down under her, but she quickly becomes volatile enough for anything. And curiously enough, she who has suffered from the greatest depressions of melancholy is often seen to rise afterwards to the greatest elevations of cheerfulness and mirth.

A good cry once in a while is not an entirely useless performance. It relieves the mind and only becomes foolish when indulged in to extravagance, and as if one were sent to school merely to conjugate the verb to weep.

There is an art of transforming all things - even trouble - into gold, and of making them the sources of no end of mental wealth and improvement. Home-sickness may be made a blessing if it teaches us to value aright the firesides we have left. We best see things as they really are by being removed from them, and a mother's tender care and the wise counsels of a father's are never appreciated half so much as when we are no longer sheltered by the roof under which we were born.

The rule is not infallible, but you may gain a good deal of information about a girl's home from the way in which she takes absence from it. No one is home-sick whose coming to school is a welcome relief from the irrational and uncomfortable life that prevails in some houses, where everything is at sixes and sevens, children being in the way of their parents, and parents in that of their children. It is the happy homes that send out more or less home-sick daughters.

There is this, at least, in common between us and cats, that we are disinclined to change our locality, and grow attached to a thousand and one little things for no other reason than that we happen to live amongst them. To remain constantly in one place is not, however, good for us. There is health in change, both mental and physical. "Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits," is a saying with a good deal of truth in it.

It is wholesome discipline to be thrown on one's own resources, and many a schoolgirl which she says good-bye to her people at the railway station, may be thankful at being forced to shift for herself. She may be nervous and diffident at first; but that wears off after a little, and the result is sometimes surprising. We have seen girls go off to school,  for the first time, mere ciphers and intellectual jelly-fish and, after a year or two, there they were quite new creatures, with bright intellects and full of life and self-possession.

To go alone anywhere is not to be reckoned a hardship, loneliness being a condition of humanity of which our hermit spirits should try to make a wise and profitable use.

"Why should we faint and fear to live alone,
Since all alone, so heaven has willed, we die?
Not e'en the tenderest heart and next our own
Knows half the reasons why we smile and sigh."

A pleasant reflection that we are enduring separation  for the sake of learning, and with a view to becoming a credit to all who are dear to us. There is a saying that women in all ages have taken more pains to adorn the outside than the inside of their heads; but in these days this truth is going out of date. The pursuit of learning, when followed up with diligence, does a great deal to prevent the feelings of home-sickness. The sovereign cure for grief of any kind is occupation. Melancholy is a nightmare; be busy about something, and it is already ended, for we cannot be sad and interested at the same time. The reason why many girls are home-sick is simply because they do not keep their eyes about them, and their attention at the proper time fixed on those lessons to learn which they were sent to school.

A great consolation in home-sickness is the thought of meeting our loved ones again, when we are sure to find that absence has made the heart grow fonder, and that home is dearer to it than ever. Meetings are made all the brighter because of partings, and of all innocent pleasures give us that of recounting to a fireside circle the experiences we have gained when separated from them. Time hurries fast when one keeps busy, and whilst to the melancholy idler a term appears an age, the industrious girl sees it go by with such rapidity that is quite a surprise when the end comes, and she finds herself free to fly off to her father's house, like a bird escaped out of a cage.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

17 February 1880 - Useful Hints

TO MAKE YEAST - Yeast for home-made bread may be easily made as follows. Boil 1 lb of good flour, 1/4 lb of brown sugar, and 1/2 oz of salt in two gallons of water for one hour. When almost cold, bottle and cork closely. It will be fit for use in twenty-four hours and one pint will make four quarter loaves.

TEA CAKES - 1/4 lb fresh butter, 1/4 lb sifted sugar, 1/2 lb of flour, one egg and a little milk.

BURNS AND SCALDS - Mix limewater and olive oil in equal parts; if you have it at hand, dissolve as much carbonate of soda as possible in it; soak a piece of lint or rag in the mixture, and cover the injured part entirely with it, that it may be kept from the air. Another plan is to make a thick paste of whitening and spread it over the burn.


The first thing to be remembers is that the doctor's orders are to be implicitly obeyed.

Be careful that the room is kept perfectly clean and well aired.

Endeavour always to have a supply of fresh flowers, or, where their scent is too powerful, branches of bright leaves without perfume may be substituted.

Never introduce disagreeable topics, but seek to entertain the patient by some pleasant news or tale, so as to keep the mind as much as possible from dwelling on suffering and disease.

Never ask a sick person what he will have to eat, but carefully procure such food as is suitable. Should the patient particularly desire anything, hasten to satisfy the wish unless it would be hurtful. Serve the food in small portions in an appetising manner. A small dish well cooked and served awakens an appetite, whilst a large and carelessly dressed repast produces nausea and disgust.

Be very patient and of an even and cheery temper when attending on a suffering invalid. Remember that illness often renders us unreasonable and capricious. Listen with kindness and sympathy to the complaints and murmurings of the poor sufferer.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

12 October 1889 - 'Home-made Sweetmeats' by Edith A. Brodie

I think to most young folks the sweetstuff made by themselves at home tastes indescribably better than that which comes from what Scotch children call a "sweetie" shop. It has, at any rate, the merit of being more wholesome. With this idea I have written out some successful recipes, which have been duly tried and approved of by an appreciative circle of girl friends, and I think, if you carefully follow them, you also will be pleased with the results.

My first shall be for that time-honoured favourite, Toffee. Take one pound of brown sugar, two ounces of butter, and half a teacup-ful of cream or milk. Put these materials into a nice clean pan, and boil, without stirring, for twenty minutes. At the end of that time find out if it is sufficiently boiled, by dropping a little into cold water, when, if it "sets", the mixture should be poured into a buttered dish or tin. The addition of five or six drops of essence of vanilla, just before it is poured out, is a great improvement.

Toffee-Balls are made by taking a little of the toffee off the buttered dish before it gets too cold, and rolling small pieces tightly into balls in your fingers. When you have  thus shaped the balls, roll them about on a cold plate until they are perfectly hard and cold.

If you want to have Almond Toffee, blanch four ounces of almonds, split them into strips, and throw them into the toffee just before it is dished, omitting the vanilla flavouring. To blanch the almonds, throw them into a basin of slightly salted boiling water, and leave them to soak for two or three minutes. Then pour off the water, and you will find the skins slip off between your fingers. Drop each almond into clear cold water, then strain and lay them in a shallow dish to dry slowly in front of the fire before using.

Everton Toffee - For this, half a pound of golden syrup, half a pound of Demerara sugar, lemon juice to taste, and from five to six ounces of butter are required. Mix carefully the sugar and syrup, and then add the butter in little bits, stirring slowly till it is all thoroughly mixed. Then cease stirring, or the toffee will "sugar", let it boil gently till a tiny bit thrown into cold water sets. If everything is satisfactory, it will be beautifully crisp, and the whole should then be poured into a tin previously well rubbed with sweet oil or butter. When it is half cold, mark it into squares.

Butter Scotch - Put into a very clean pan one pound and a half of soft sugar, two ounces of butter, half a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, and half a teacupful of cold water. Let the whole boil for about ten minutes without stirring, then dip a spoon in cold water when the mixture hardens it will do. You may add, if you like, a little powdered ginger of vanilla essence just before pouring it out. Mark it into neat square when it cools a little.

Marzipan - Procure half a pound of almonds, two ounces of bitter almonds, and half a pound of sugar. Blanch the almonds and pound them in a mortar; clarify and cook the sugar slightly, then remove it from the fire and stir into it the almonds. Warm all together, stirring well, and taking the greatest care that it doesn't burn. When it is cooked enough (that is, when it won't adhere to the fingers), pour it out on a board sprinkled with sugar. As soon as it is cool, cut it into tiny fancy shapes, stars, rings and fingers; and, if you are anxious to make it a very "swell" goody, decorate it with preserved cherries or other dried fruits.

Chocolate Creams - Take one pound of loaf sugar, put it into a saucepan, and pour some good milk or thin cream over it, as much as the sugar will absorb. Let the latter dissolve, then boil it gently for a time, until when you drop a little into cold water it candies. Do not boil it too long, or, in place of smoothly creaming, the sugar will go into minute sand-like grains. Be most careful, too, that it doesn't stick to the pan, but do not stir it till it is taken off, when it must be continually stirred until it creams. Then beat until cool, when it has to be rolled into little balls, which form the inner cream of the sweetmeat. Now put half a pound of vanilla chocolate into a jar, and place over a saucepan of boiling water to dissolve; when melted, dip the creams into it and place them on a buttered paper to get cool.

Cocoa-nut Tablet - Get a small fresh cocoa-nut, open one of the holes at the top, and pour out the milk into a cup; crack the shell, take out the kernel, and pare all the skin from it, then grate about half of the kernel. Dissolve half a pound of loaf sugar in a large cupful f cold water, and when it is dissolved put it on a clear moderate fire, without flame or smoke, to boil; a little of the cocoa-nut milk may be added. Allow it to boil for five or six minutes, carefully removing every particle of scum that rises, when the sugar should look like a thick white cream; then add the grated cocoa-nut, and let it boil for a few minutes longer, stirring it continuously from the bottom with a wooden spoon to prevent it catching. Try if it is ready by pouring a teaspoonful into a cup of cold water, when if you can gather a little soft lump at the bottom of the cup it is sufficiently boiled. Remove it from the fire, pour it out upon a buttered plate, or sheet of clean, common note paper previously laid in front of the fire to warm. When it is thoroughly set, but not quite cold, cut it into neatly shaped blocks. If you would like the tablet to be pink, add some drops of cochineal to the syrup while boiling, stirring to see the required tint.

Barley Sugar - For this you require one pound and a half of fine loaf sugar broken into very small lumps and boiled over the fire in a pint of water. Keep on skimming it carefully till it looks like glue, and becomes so brittle when dropped into cold water that it snaps. Now add the juice of a lemon, and a few drops of essence of lemon, and boil the sugar up once. Stand the pan in a basin of cold water till the contents have somewhat cooled, when they may be poured out upon a shallow buttered tin; to prevent the sweetmeat spreading too much, draw it together with a knife. When it has cooled sufficiently to be handled, cut it into small pieces, and roll them into round sticks, which you can twist a little so as to make the look more like the barley sugar one buys in shops. All that remains to be done is to sift the sugar lightly over the sticks when they have become perfectly cold and hard.

Fig Rock - For this take one cupful of sugar, three-quarters of a cupful of water, and a quarter of a teaspoonful of cream of tartar. Boil till the mixture becomes an amber colour, but do not stir during the process; add the cream of tartar just before taking from the fire. Wash the figs, split them in half, and lay them flatly on a dish, pour the mixture over them, and let it stand til cold.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

26 March 1881 - 'Seasonable Dress, and How to Make It'

Say NO! to the crinoline, people.

We fear that in the spring we shall all be obliged to make a stand, firm and bold, against the invasion of that most inconvenient and needless incumbrance, the crinoline. All through the winter at the extremely fashionable modistes, the "dress improver" has been dangling before our eyes, but very few even of the most outré dressers have adopted it. We hope the same right feeling will continue in the spring. It is the duty of us all as individuals to make a resolute stand, and prevent a foolish and atrociously ugly fashion from enslaving us again. So we shall look to the readers of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER, as warm and hearty auxiliaries in the matter, as to them we are always endeavouring to show a duty in all things, small and great; so that even in their dress, as well as in their demeanour, they may display to the world the highest possible ideal of a fair and Christian womanhood, and a girlhood so thoughtful in spirit and so beautiful in taste, that it could not stoop to extremes of dress or to the adoption of unseemly and monstrous fashions.

Happily for us of late, we English women have become much emancipated from the control of French fashions, and we are not so much afraid of displaying a little individuality in our dress. For this change we are indebted in a great measure to the high-art votaries or aesthetes, who, in spite of extravagance, amounting even to foolishness, have done good service in many ways. There is something dreadfully degrading to our womanhood in the accounts given lately of a Polish countess in Paris, who surprised the world by a harlequin dress, the skirt of which was composed of diamond-shaped pieces of satin and velvet sewn together; and of the eccentric foreigner who created "immense excitement" by a parti-coloured costume - pink on the left, blue on the right, from the crown of her head to the tip of her shoes.

Large and small bonnets are flourishing together in London, so that no one can feel out of date with either one or the other. Plain white straw hats are beginning to show themselves again, and are warmed up with soft crushed-looking poppies, and red strings or trimmings to match. This may be a useful idea to some of our readers who have white straw bonnets of last summer lying by them. They should have them cleaned and re-blocked, and then line them with black velvet, and trim them outside as before directed. The velvet lining should be put in on the bias, and velvet used  for the purpose can be obtained, cut in that way in the shops, at less than 2s per yard. Half a yard should suffice.


The popular flower  for the spring is the humble little violet, we are glad to say, as we do not like any fashion which introduces large and gaudy flowers. Mixed with violets we sometimes see a tuft of yellow cowslips or tender buttercups, just as they sometimes grow beside each other in the hedges. These violets are greatly used on the small black straw princess bonnets, to cover the front in a wreath-like form, and with them are used violet velvet or silk strings, a simple and pretty method of trimming our winter bonnets.

The favourite colours  for the spring for every-day and walking dress are grey and brown in all shades, from dark to light. Very few plaids are to be seen, and they will be mainly used for trimmings, being placed on dresses of a quiet uni-colour, such as brown, in flat bias bands, sewn on by the machine. They are also let in down the front of the bodice in a pointed shape, and also as yoke-shaped pieces on the shoulders. The new plaids are in very quiet tones of colour, and where brighter hues are introduced it is only in stripes of pale and delicate tints. A great many striped fabrics are amongst the new spring materials, the width of the generality of the stripes being one inch, both contrasting stripes of even width. The colours are quiet, grey and brown, grey and dark blue, brown and old gold, and grey and tan colour.

For those who are obliged to consider the cost of their clothes, and dress on £10 to £15 per annum, the custom of wearing brown is very good; indeed, brown is the colour par excellence of the economical, not a washed-out ugly shade, a rich, warm, old-fashioned brown, never found save in fairly good materials and never-failing dyes. This brown, whether in cashmere, cloth, serge or silk, can always be matched and remade, and it never looks out of place at any season of the year. It shows very few spots or stains and, if of good quality, should not fade or become rusty. The best materials are those which are all wool, such as cashmeres and merinos, beiges, or vigognes; they do not easily crush, and they will make and remake any number of times. Mixtures of silk and wool and wool and cotton are all objectionable, and should be avoided. A French lady gives it as an axiom that the fewer dresses, mantles and bonnets purchased the better, as the quality of them will then be vastly superior to what it would be were the same amount of money spread out over a quantity of cheap dresses - thin mantles and poor finery. The drawback to this good advice is that very few girls, or "grown-ups" either, take sufficient care of their clothes, and in this matter I fear that French women are superior to us.

Our illustrations this month give, amongst other things, two delightful models of hats, the one turning up at the side, the other turning down all round. The first is of black straw, chip, or felt; the brim is lined with velvet, and a fold of the same is lightly arranged round the crown, while a handsome ostrich feather falls over the side. The second is an entirely new shape, which has just appeared this spring. It may be of black or white straw - in the model illustrated it was black, with white lace turned up over the edge. Black Spanish lace is placed round the crown, and forms the strings, while a feature of small size decorates the side, the colour of which is decided by the dress of the individual wearing the hat.

The five figures composing our large picture represent some of our girls in their pretty home costumes, one only wearing the neat double-breasted tailor-made jacket - the favourite out-of-door dress of our neat English maiden. The one in question is of tweed, with velvet collar, and a flat braid laid on round the edge. The hat is of straw, bound with velvet and a small upright wing in front. The skirt of the dress might be of tweed to match the jacket.

The sitting figure at the piano wears one of the new season materials, of wool, flecked with colour, in a sort of chine pattern all over its surface. The bodice has revers in front, and is pointed both at the back and front of the long basque, a belt being worn round the waist The over-skirt is plain, and draped in folds, while the skirt has two kilted flounces, and a row of pointed tabs over the top of the lower one. The next standing figure has a skirt wholly kilted, with two tiny flounces at the edge. The long bodice is buttoned down the front, and the over-skirt is draped at the edge, so as to hide the union of the bodice and skirt. The large collar and cuffs are of coloured plush, edged with lace. The sitting figure at the extreme right has a striped polonaise, with a plastron deeply pointed in front, of velveteen. The polonaise is edged with fringe and draped up very high on the hips, and the skirt is of plain velveteen. The young lady at the extreme left, who is buried in a reverie - which seems a delightful one, whatever the subject may be - is attired in a cashmere dress, of a light colour, trimmed with velveteen. The bodice is pointed, the deep kiltings underneath extending to the back, where they meet the points as they do in front. The front is opened, and a folded plastron so introduced. The cuffs are of velvet; the skirt is plain, and edged with two narrow kiltings of the same, and the trimmings at the side consist of a band of velvet and cords to match it in colour.

The new materials of this season are remarkable both for their cheapness and their goodness.  Amongst the best of the novelties are those materials which have a border for trimming running along one side of the piece, which is sometimes figured, and sometimes plain. We very much admired a pretty dark prune-coloured beige, and we thought how pretty it would be with silver buttons to match. But we cannot say how these pretty tinsel materials will wear.

Monday, 4 January 2016

12 March 1881 - 'Other People's Happiness, and Other People's Things' by James Mason

It is a shame, girls - yes, it is a great shame, that we should make ourselves miserable by envying other people's happiness and coveting other people's things. Of the envious and covetous no one has spoken respectfully since the world began, and if you would only reflect - which, at the giddy age of some of your highnesses, is perhaps hardly to e expected - you would be nothing but patterns of sweet content.

I have often thought of quoting to you the example of a man with whom it was a custom every evening before he retired to rest, to sit quietly for a time in his chair, endeavouring to discover whether he had done anything wrong during the day, even to the extent of coveting what was not his own, and, if he fancied he had, he did his best never to fall into the same error again. If that were your practice how good you would grow and how much more charming you would be. I, for one, would then pin my faith to you forever.

As it is, to speak but of one fault at a time, how envious you sometimes are of others' good looks. If women  were able to cast the evil eye, as it is said the gipsies do, the reign of beauty would soon be over, and only homely features would have a chance of existence. My dear, don't be ridiculous; you are good enough looking for me, and, if not the prettiest I ever saw, you are by a long way the most agreeable. Beauty, you know, is but skin-deep, and to be envious of another's loveliness is to be no more sensible than a child crying  for the moon.

It is just as wrong to be envious of affection. "Why," said a girl once, making a confession to me, "I was in love with Tom when Julia came along, and she actually did her best to win him away; not that she cared for him a bit, but she was envious of seeing me so happy." Could anything have been more shabby? But there is no end to the mean things that envy will do.

Envy has made a home for itself everywhere, and whether we live in peasants' huts or in kings' palaces, it is pretty sure to be at least our next-door-neighbour. The ignorant envy the educated, the poor the rich, the low the high, and the high the low. Only the other day I read of a girl, nobly born, envying much the happiness of those milkmaids who pass every morning over the dewy grass, sing sweetly all day, and sleep soundly at night, and who have the privilege of bestowing their affections as they please, and of wedding "those who are high in love though low in condition".

Success of any sort is sure to stir up envy. A girl, for example, has worked harder than her associates, and proved herself a better scholar; up jump immediately a crowd of ill-natured feelings excited by the honour she receives. She has, indeed, a noble spirit who can at such a moment deliver her congratulations without envy, and rejoice sincerely at the reward of the deserving. Life, my friends, is too short to spend any portion of it fretting at the success of others. Succeed for yourselves; that is by a long way better than indulging in a passion that can never do you or anybody else a single particle of good.

Covetousness is a companion vice to envy, and quite as wicked, quite as foolish. In the young it is not always so observable, your opportunities for indulging in it not being so numerous; but it is common enough for all that. If there were not many greedy girls there would not be so many avaricious women, and one's acquaintance is in a very limited circle if she cannot from personal observation furnish several who are far from models in this way. I know at least one girl so greedy that the deep sea is nothing to her - one who wishes everything that others have her own, and will stick at no craft or intrigue to obtain what she desires.

If either envy or covetousness ended in happiness it would be something, but both are enemies to happiness, like all other vices. The envious step-sister in the fairy story always in the long run came off worst, and so it will be to the end of the chapter in the real world. As we grow older these passions grow stronger; in fact there is a proverb which says that "covetousness is the last vice which dies." Once they take root, they never fail to wither the best natures; for neither generous thoughts, nor wholesome ambition, nor sincere love can exist in the same heart alongside of them.

On the whole they are the vices of little minds that have little to do. When one is occupied with work and engrossed with thought, she has no time and still less inclination either for envying other people's good fortune, or unlawfully desiring other people's possessions. Here we have perhaps the reason for envy and covetousness, especially envy, being much less common amongst men than amongst women; they have more to do. Be never idle! This is as good a rule for mental health as to take plenty of exercise is a sound law for the health of the body.

It is a great antidote to envy to think that things are not always what they seem. Indeed, most often after we have summed up the happiness or prosperity of other people, we find we have seriously miscalculated. We are like the woman who longed to get into a Court circle, which appeared to her the most desirable of all companies. At last she did, and "I wish," she wrote soon after, "I had never seen anything higher than the flowers in the field."

Another, who attracted envy enough in her day, has confessed to the same feeling. "How much," she says, "have I regretted that ever I was born even when I have been surrounded with all that could gratify the ambition of woman."

As for covetousness, the mere desire to have what our neighbour has, and so deprive her of the possession, should never be one of your failings. Happiness does not lie in possession, and to covet mere worldly goods - money or anything else - is but to make a treasure of a dust-heap. Let us all then cultivate content and be of one mind as to making the beautiful lines of the old poet our own:-

"My conscience is my crown;
Contented thoughts my rest;
My heart is happy in itself,
My bless is in my breast."