Sunday, 28 February 2016

14 February 1880 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

HOMEDALE -  For the black specks on the skin of which you complain, we can only give the same advice that we have given to our correspondent "Kitty". Should you have any particular spot more conspicuous than the rest, take a small key and press the little round hole firmly down round it, and it will be thus removed. But the only way of preventing their recurrence is to wash the face well daily with soap which does not contain alkali, and this will cleanse the pores, which are simply choked with perspiration and dust. There are also two degrees of strength in carbolic soap, sold at all chemists, and ordered by doctors for affections of the skin. You may try one of these, and if none of the suggestions given prove successful, you had better consult a skin doctor.

EDINBURGH - If your health be good, and you neither suffer from head aches, nor any mental distress, we suppose that the premature greyness of your hair must be hereditary and for this there is no remedy, However, you may try the tonic  for the hair which is recommended by Dr Erasmus Wilson. There is a lack of nutriment perhaps, which might be supplied by this home-made tonic. Eau do Cologne, 8 fluid ounces. Tincture of cantharides, 1 fluid ounce. Oil of lavender, and of rosemary, 1/2 fluid drachm each. (If too strong, dilute with rosewater.) Apply with a sponge.

MISS W___MAN___ - The hair is dressed higher than it was, in much the same sort of coil, but with a comb. To wear short hair curled across a low forehead is certainly not becoming. It gives a low type of expression to the countenance, and spoils the proportions of the face.

"N.E.C." - The tradition of throwing shoes after a newly-wedded pair is of a very ancient origin. Amongst the Jews the delivering of a shoe denoted a renunciation of any right or title in any person of possession. The family of Ruth gave one to Boaz, when he entered into possession of his brother's lot. The custom in reference to marriage descends to us from our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, when the father presented the bride's shoe to her husband, who touched her with it on the head, in token of his authority. In Turkey, on the contrary, it is the bridegroom who is to receive due admonition by means of shoes, for he is chased by the wedding guests and beaten or pelted with slippers. But whatever custom may obtain in different countries at weddings, this giving or throwing down of a shoe is a relic of the ancient law of exchange; and when now thrown by the parents after a newly-married daughter, it means that they resign all authority and all right to her. The throwing of rice after her is derived from an ancient Roman ceremony, and is a relic of the Panis Jarrens, in the most honourable form of Roman marriage, called confarreatio.

KITTY - Eruptions on the face arise from various causes. A bad digestion, unwholesome food, swallowing food too quickly before half masticated, employing the brain too soon after meals (which should never be set at work while the stomach is engaged), stooping the head at any employment after meals, poorness of blood from insufficient or low diet, eating too many sweet things (causing acidity), intemperance, or, lastly, not using good soap, once a day, in washing the face. This neglect is the cause of much of the eruption prevalent amongst young people. The pores become choked with perspiration and dust, and little pustules are forced in consequence. Besides which the pores become as with the use of powder, permanently distended, like the holes in orange-peel. A soap having as little alkali in possible is the best for cleansing the face.

The Editor begs his readers' kind acceptance of a Valentine, which, with his compliments, he offers to every subscriber to this number. The drawing of the SPECIAL VALENTINE PLATE is by the talented pencil of Monsieur Giacomelli. 

Friday, 26 February 2016

14 February 1880 - 'Our Cooking Class' by Phillis Browne - 'Boiling'

Before boiling meat of any kind whatever, we should always ask ourselves one question, and that is "Do I want to keep the goodness in this meat, or do I want to get the goodness out of it?" It is on the answer we give, that our course must depend.

If the meat is to be eaten, we want to keep the goodness in it. We shall not be able to manage this entirely, for, with all our care, some of it will escape into the water, but we may preserve a great deal of it. And the best means we can adopt for this purpose is to surround the meat as quickly as possible with a kind of shield, through which the juices cannot escape.

We all know that an egg when broken in a cup is liquid. If this same egg be turned into a saucepan containing boiling water it will in three minutes be quite different,  for the white part will e solid. Now, there is in meat a great deal of the same substance that white of egg is composed of - that is, albumen, the peculiar property of which is that heat makes it solid. When, therefore, we plunge meat into boiling water, the albumen in it becomes solid, just as the white of an egg does. Of course, the part that is nearest to the hot water, that is, the outside, gets hard first, and this makes our shield. after the meat has boiled for five minutes, or a little less, it is quite surrounded with a covering that will keep in the goodness that we so much want to preserve.

If any one doubts the truth of this, let her take a little piece of raw beef, divide it into halves, and put one half into cold water and the other into boiling water. In one minute the cold water will be tinged with red - the goodness will have begun to escape from the meat. The boiling water will be very nearly the colour it was before. If the beef is allowed to be in the cold water for about half an hour, the water will be quite red and the meat will be white; its juices will have passed into the water, and it will be valueless for nourishing purposes. It is on this account that, when we want to make beef-tea, we put the beef to soak for awhile in cold water to draw out the goodness, before we put it into a jar to e placed in a saucepan of water to simmer till it is done.

We must not suppose, however, that, when we have got our shield round the meat, we are to let it keep on boiling till it is sufficiently cooked. If we did this, the meat would be shield all the way through, and that would make unnecessarily hard work for both our teeth and our digestions. What we want is not only to keep in the goodness, but to make the meat tender. This can be done only by gentle stewing. We must therefore proceed in this way. First we plunge our meat into the fast boiling water; it instantly stops boiling,  for the cold meat cools the liquid, so we bring it to the boiling point again as quickly as we can, let it boil for five minutes, then draw it back to a cooler place, put a wine-glassful of cold water into it to lower the temperature, and keep it simmering gently till it is done.

If we had a thermometer at hand to put into the water, we should find that when it was boiling, the quicksilver rose to 212 degrees. When the saucepan was drawn back and the cold water put in, the quicksilver would fall to 180 degrees, and it is at this point it should be kept all the time.

I know of nothing more difficult than to persuade inexperienced cooks of the fact that meat is made tender by gentle simmering and not by quick boiling.

Somehow it seems as if, when the water in the saucepan is galloping away, progress is being made, and the meat will be done sometime; whilst, when it simmers only, things seem almost at a standstill. I have again and again explained this to pupils, as I thought, in the clearest manner, and then, if I turned away for a little time, I should be sure to find the water boiling hard on my return. At last I have come to look upon those who can calmly allow meat to simmer, instead of boil, with a great deal of respect, as being far on the way to make good cooks.

The rule applies to all fresh meat - beef, mutton, pork, poultry and fish. When once we understand the general rule, we do not need to look in a cookery book to see how different joints are cooked. The rule is for all; a neck of mutton, a leg of mutton, a chicken, or a salmon, we must treat them all alike - first surround the meat with a coat of mail to keep in the goodness, and then simmer it til gently done.

I know very well that it is very uncommon to observe this rule, so far as fish is concerned. But I know of no reason why this should be. It is true, fish does not contain so much albumen as meat; but it contains a little, and this, when hardened, will help keep in the goodness. The only exception should be with mackerel, which may be put into warm water, because the skin is so delicate that boiling water will cause it to break.

One would think, to hear people talk, that boiling was one of the commonest processes in cookery. The fact is that, when cookery is understood, real boiling is very uncommon, excepting for a few minutes at a time. If we used words that really expressed what we mean, we should say "simmered" rabbit and "simmered beef", instead of "boiled" rabbit and "boiled" beef. Boiling, as applied to meats, is useful chiefly for hardening the outside to keep in the goodness and for reducing the liquid to make sauces.

As soon as the water boils, after the meat is put in, it should be well skimmed. The impurities that are in the meat are dissolved by the hot water, and they rise to the surface in the form of scum. If this is not taken off at once, it will sink again and make the meat a bad colour, so it will be well to watch  for the scum and take it off as quickly as it appears; a little salt thrown into the liquid will help it to rise. The earliest scum should be thrown away, but in a little while the fat of the meat will melt and rise, and this should be taken off and carefully preserved, for there is no fat that we can get that is so useful for frying as the skimmings of saucepans. Of that I shall have to speak when we are talking of frying meat.

The time that meat should simmer must, as in roasting, vary with the thickness of the joint. The safe general rule for beef and mutton is a quarter of an hour to the pound and a quarter of an hour over. When meat is very thick and solid, half an hour over may be allowed. When meat is to be pressed under a weight, and eaten cold, half an hour per pound will not be too long for it to simmer. Pork and salt meat should have twenty minutes per pound, and fish ten minutes per pound, and ten minutes over if it is thick. The time should always be counted from the moment the meat is drawn back, after it has been surrounded by its shield. This, therefore, must be considered, and allowance made  for the time the water will take to boil again after the meat has cooled it.

This general rule of putting meat into boiling water holds good for fresh meat only. A difference must be made with salted meat. Salt gets into the pores of the meat and needs to be drawn out a little before the shield surrounds the joint, or the meat would be hard. Therefore salted meat put into lukewarm instead of billing water, or, if it has been very strongly salted, it may even be put into cold water. The liquid may then be brought to the boiling point, be skimmed, and be left to boil for five minutes, and boiled twenty minutes per pound and twenty minutes over.

I must not forget to mention one thing. When I was speaking of roasting meat I said that beef and mutton should hang as long as possible, before being put down to the fire. It is not so with meat that is to be boiled. If meat on the point of turning were boiled, it would neither taste well nor look well, and, more than that, the liquor in which it was cooked would be good for nothing.

I hope no one would even think of throwing away the liquor in which fresh meat has been boiled. As I said a little while ago, do what we will, some of the goodness of the meat will have gone into it, and this must not be wasted. We English have the character of being the most wasteful cooks in the world, and the greatest benefit that would follow the spread of the knowledge of cookery would be that there would not be so much waste. The meat liquor must be poured at once into a clean earthenware pan and kept in a cool place till wanted. Excellent soup may afterwards be made of it, or it may be used instead of water for gravy and sauces. The only precaution that is necessary in order to keep it good is to boil it every day in warm weather, and every three or four days in cold weather. The worst of salt meat is that the liquor can seldom be used again in this way, and especially when saltpetre has been plentifully used to redden salt meat. The best thing that we can do after salt meat has been boiled is to taste the liquor, and if it is very salt, to throw it away at once. If saltpetre has been sparingly used, the liquor may serve for pea or lentil soup, but for no other kind.

So much for boiling meat. And now for vegetables. The majority of these should be thrown into plenty of fast boiling salted water, and boiled with the lid off the pan. If this can be done, and the vegetables are of moderate age, they will be sure to be of a good colour. Sometimes, when they have to be cooked on an open range, the fire is smoke, and, therefore, the lid must be put on. They will not then be of such a good colour. Closed ranges are, however,  becoming every day more usual amongst us, and with them there need be no dif in preserving the colour of vegetables. An exception to the general rule of putting vegetables into boiling water is made in the case of old potatoes, which should be put into cold water and gently stewed. New potatoes may, however, be put into boiling water like the rest.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

7 February 1880 - 'The Dress of the Month'

The return to favour of velveteen has placed great possibilities in the hands of our girls of pretty and stylish dress, which, without being expensive, is rich-looking, very warm, and suitable  for the day time and the evening. The new velveteens of the season are distinguished for their improved texture and their excellent colour. In black they are especially good, and many experienced people fail to discover that the velvet dress, which they have so much admired and the purchase of which they perhaps called extravagant, was only a good velveteen after all.

The "Louis" velveteen, which is one of the best kinds, varies in price from 1s 6 1/2d, to 2s 11 1/2d per yard, but the prices between these are quite good enough; that at nearly 3s will probably be thought too expensive for ordinary use, though it should be remembered that velveteen cleans, dyes and wears out at least three ordinary dresses; so that the purchase of a good one is really an economy in the end. Velveteen is, of course, a "best dress"; that is to say, it is suitable for church, visits, afternoon teas, luncheons, and quiet dinners - in fact, for all the occasions when a young girl must look her best and brightest - the festal days and seasons of her life.

There are many methods of making it. In many cases it will be found useful to have two bodices made at first for the skirt - a plain long-basqued one for the day, and the other rather more trimmed, and with elbow sleeves, or cut square, for dress occasions. Now, that short dresses are worn in the evening by everyone, we can take advantage of the fashion, and save our material. As a rule, coloured velveteens are not very good, and, although they are more expensive at first to purchase, they are less to be relied on for lasting wear, and they grow so remarkable that all your friends recognise them, and know them far too well before they are worn out. Our illustration this month shows a charming costume of velveteen, mixed with a camel-hair cloth, a serge, a diagonal, or indeed with any one of that numerous array of materials brought out each season by the best Welsh manufactures and sent by them to any part of England or even the Continent.

The dress of the figure on the chair shown in the picture has a short all-round skirt of velveteen, with a flounce laid on underneath its edge, which is deeper in front than at the back. The over-dress is a short draped polonaise, of cloth, diagonal, or serge, which buttons at the back, and has velvet sleeves. For out-of-door wear there is a jacket of the material, without sleeves, with revers and collar of velvet. It is tight-fitting and double-breasted, and,  for the sake of warmth, should be lined either with flannel, or wadded, and lined with alpaca. The hat or bonnet is of felt, of the colour of the dress, the feather being laid round it in cavalier fashion.

Of course this description may be much modified in every way, but, as represented, it is a costume of very moderate price. The cost would be increased by making it entirely of velveteen, but it would become at the same time more dressy. Plain velveteen would require a trimming, and black brocade is preferable to either fur or jet trimmings; fur bands being more used and more suitable to cloth and serge costumes. The brocade is not expensive, although it sounds so; I have seen it as low as 3s per yard at about 23 inches wide. This short polonaise above described may be worn over any kind of skirt this winter, for we have again returned to that useful and delightful fashion of wearing a different skirt with any bodice we may have.

For this costume, those girls who are not fortune enough to have furs may make muffs and capes to match for themselves. These are now quite as stylish and newer when made of velvet, satin or plush. The cape is quite a plain round one, in shape like the fur and cloth coachmen's capes which we have worn so long. It is generally wadded and lined, but this must be done most carefully, so as to avoid making it at all bunchy. It may be plainly corded with satin to match the colour, or have the edges turned up and the lining hemmed down over it. Of course the stitches must not be taken through to the right side. A small round collar may be placed at the neck. The muff is gathered in puffs underneath, on the wrong side; three gatherings inclusive of those at the edges being enough. The lining should be of silk, and those who have never before attempted to make one should study a fur one, and the method in which it is put together. The amount of silk and velvet needed is very small - half a yard of each being enough for those long skating muffs, which reach up at the wrists, like cuffs, and are larger in the centre, and is far too much  for the tiny muffs in vogue. The muff only requires an edging of black lace, if that be available, or else a yard of corded ribbon which is put through it, and tied in a large bow and ends up on the top.

The Pompadour velveteens, as they are called, have dark blue, green or brown grounds, covered with floral patterns, such as little roses, little forget-me-nots, or the smallest of pinks, in their natural colours, with sprays of green foliage. In short, they are the same things in velveteen that were worn as chintzes last summer. The same idea has been carried out in flannels, and both are charmingly pretty, either for small children, or their older sisters. One thing must, however, be remembered about them, and that is that they are cheap, and represent at best an ephemeral fashion, so that next winter our best dress of this year would look particular, and be easily marked as a fashion of last year. This is, as I have said before, very undesirable, and must always be avoided by every girl who wishes to dress unobtrusively, as well as prettily. So these new introductions will be more wisely used as trimmings for last year's dresses, and in that capacity they will be most useful. They will make pretty new cuffs, bands for trimmings, and plastrons  for the front, and, as everybody's dresses always show wear first at the sleeves and in the front, their adaptation in this way will make an elegant and fashionable costume.

A very pretty new style of under-skirt has just been brought out, made of dark flannel  or serge, trimmed with fine kiltings of the same, while on the kiltings and above them in plain bands is sewn some of the dark imitation Indian cashmeres, or "Paisley shawlings" as they are sometimes called. This makes a dark, yet bright skirt, and it may easily be manufactured at home with the aid of the sewing machine.

Even though writing in February, it is useless to think of warmer days, with all the experience of the past before us, and March is certainly a more bitter month as regards winds than the present; so I have kept the winter steadily in view, in addition to which, nearly everything about which I write is so novel at present that, even next winter, it will not be demodee, or passee. The casaquin, or long cuirass bodice, of Paisley or Indian imitation material, is rather more spring-like perhaps. As illustrated in the other figure in our picture, it appears as a house costume, but in Paris last autumn it was constantly used in walking, and made in exactly the same shape as represented.  The same material is used for a gathered plastron down the front of the skirt, but this is not needful, as any skirt can be worn with it, short or long, so that it accords in its hue with the general colour of the casaquin. In the evening it is very popular, but then it is made of a rich and expensive Indian stuff, generally interwoven with gold thread, through its patterns of palm-leaves or scroll-work. But the imitation Paisleys are to be obtained at prices ranging from 2s to 4s per yard, and these are quite good enough, I think. It will easily be seen how an old black cashmere or silk skirt can be turned into a fashionable costume, with the addition of a novel casaquin bodice, such as the illustration represents. The other day I saw a small toque hat worn with one, edged with a gathered band of velvet, and the loose crown of it was made of the material of the casaquin. The whole costume was so pretty and simple that it is worth describing. The skirt was a kilted brown cashmere, with a brown velvet scarf; the casaquin was of a reddish brown, the pattern through it being "old gold" and the hat, as I Have said combined the two, and so did the small muff.

There is nothing that the home dressmaker has more trouble in doing than in trimming the sleeves when made. It is difficult to avoid giving a kind of home-made look in finishing them, which always ruins the effect. In reality, there is no great secret in the art, and any trouble arises from want of common care and neatness, and the lack of sufficient turnings, which soon causes the home-made trimmings to look untidy and even ugly. The two which are have illustrated are of the latest fashion and are both so simple that a little attention will enable anyone to comprehend them.

Fig.1 is a plain bias piece of the figured material, over which is laid, as a revers, a bias piece of the plain stuff, turning it towards the hand. On it is placed as a trimming a flat gallon or braid. The three straps at the other side are also of the plain stuff, and should be cut out and lined with tarlatan, or lining muslin, to hold them firmly. They should be all made before being sewn on.

Fig.2 is also cut on the bias, and is put on round the wrist. The plain part is confined to the top half of the sleeve, the wide part being joined into the seam of the sleeve when it is sewn up.

The small Henri III ruff, as it is called in Paris, is most fashionably worn at present, and is within the power of every girl to make for herself. It consists of two lengths of lace, gathered separately, and arranged in shell-shaped patterns on a band of muslin. The front is finished by a rose and ends of ribbon, which may be of pale blue, or of black velvet if the rose be a pink one. Six yards of lace will be sufficient if it be desired to have the ruffle very full, and the lace should be purchased of a sufficiently good quality to be washed and done up several times.

Fig.4 is an example of one of the new bows, which are called after Louis XIV. They are a very considerable size, some of them large enough to cover the front of the dress. The lace used is the kilted Breton, which can be procured of all widths ready kilted. The lace is sewn upon muslin, which can then be placed as shown in the sketch; a small, square, double foundation being first made by which to pin it to the dress. The ribbon is of some pretty colour to match, or contrast, with the rest of the dress.

Monday, 22 February 2016

7 February 1880 - 'The Cup That Cheers' by S.F.A. Caulfield

Our meals and meal-hours have passed through great changes since the first records of English home-life were written. Our early English ancestors took four meals a day - breakfast at 7 a.m., dinner at 10, supper at 4 and "livery" at 8 or 9, after which they retired  for the night. The middle-class - persons employed in trade - the peasantry, and labourers of all kinds had three meals a day; breaking their fast at 8 a.m., dinner at 12, and supping at 6 p.m.

The nobility and gentry rose at 6 a.m., and, at their breakfast, as at other meals, they had no drinks  but wine and beer. Queen Elizabeth rarely varied hers from the latter, as she feared that the former might cloud her faculties. Dr Johnson says that the Earls of Arlington and Ossory imported tea from Holland in 1666 - the year when the Plague broke out in London - and that the great ladies of the country were taught how to make use of it by their two respective wives. He also gave it as his opinion that this was the first appearance of tea in England. But in this latter assertion he was mistaken. Notices of it, scarce as it was, are to be found of earlier date. If you have a copy of "Pepys' Diary" in your home library, you will find a mention of his taking "a cup of tea, a China drink" - which he had never before tasted - on the 25th of September 1660. That same year a duty of eightpence a gallon was laid on all tea and chocolate made for sale; and in the previous year (1559) tea was sold in nearly every street in London, although at enormous prices. Indeed, in 1661, a couple of pounds and as many extra ounces were presented as a worthy gift to the Sovereign himself by the Honourable East India Company. Although exceedingly scarce at first, tea dates back some years, earlier in the 17th century than the periods already named.

The real date of its first introduction is ascertained to have been at about 1635; and for some twenty or thirty years afterwards it price varied, according to the quality, from £6 to £10 per pound. A certain Thomas Garraway, tobacconist and coffee-house keeper, was the first to sell tea by retail at the more reasonable price of 16s, up to £2 10s the pound. "Doctors differed", but "patients" did not "die' from their conflicting opinions about it. According to one advertisement, it was "by all physicians approved"; but amongst other detractors, Guy Patin, a French doctor, denounced it as an "impertinent novelty of the age". So absurd was the prejudice of some, that a man who indulged in this fragrant non-intoxicating beverage was even charged with "effeminancy" by a writer in the Weekly Journal of June 27th, 1723. Walking through the rows of tents pitched  for the camp in St James' s Park, the champion of the Bottle, versus the Teapot, beheld, as he says, "a number of knickknacks standing on the table" in some officer's tent. He supposed that the occupant was an engineer, and the "knickknacks" represented "some fortification". To his surprise, the officer raised one of the "bastions" to his mouth, when the disgraceful fact became apparent that the supposed engineer was nothing better than "an effeminate tea-drinker"; and that the "knickknacks" (or cups); representing the bastions, were "the equipage appurtenant to that unmanly practice". After such a sight, he thought that "Misses from a boarding-school would do very well for officers", being versed in the dress and management of the tea-table.

Another "champion" of the stronger drinks, by name Henry Saville, the nephew of Secretary Coventry, writing in the year 1678, abuses the drinking of tea after dinner, instead of enjoying the bottle and pipe, and calls it "a base, unworthy Indian practice". Even the poet Young denounced the tea-drinking parties as much as Dean Swift, and, no doubt, much evil-speaking of neighbours often disgraces them in the last century; but the decoction, not being intoxicating, was assuredly innocent. Of the charge brought against it. Washington Irving also has remarked severely on the mischievous tattling that used to go on at tea-drinkings, and winds up by expressing his preference to "a newspaper roasting" adding -

"But spare me, O spare me, a tea-table toasting!"

No doubt, when sold at such high prices, it was a source of great expenditure and led to much extravagance; and I dare say the writer in the Female Spectator of 1745 was quite right in saying that the tea-table then cost more for its support than "two children at nurse".

In one of our earliest newspapers, dated "September 30th, 1658", we find an advertisement, probably the first, in reference to this the favourite beverage of modern times -

"That excellent, and by all physicians approved, China drink - called by the Chinese Tcha, by other nations" (our Irish peasantry included) "Tay, alias Tee - is sold at the 'Sultaness Head' Cophee House, in Sweeting's Rents, by the Royal exchange, London".

But whatever may be the conflicting opinions expressed, and the real, or evil qualities of this popular beverage, I cannot omit to give you Florence Nightingale's observations respecting it; as every girl must, sooner or later, act as a nurse to some sick person or child -

"A great deal too much against tea is said by wise people, and a great deal too much of tea is given to the sick by foolish people. When you see the almost universal craving in English sick for tea, you cannot but feel that Nature knows what she is about. But a little tea restores them as much as a great deal. I should be glad if any of the abusers of tea would point out what to give an English patient, after a sleepless night, instead of tea? At the same time, you should never give tea to the sick, as a rule, after five o'clock in the afternoon.

It is time now that I should tell you something about the plant itself. No one appears to know when its use was recognised in the land of its origin; but it is said that it grew spontaneously on the mountains in China, that a duty was raised on it nearly 800 years before the birth of Christ (B.C. 780), and that it was the East India Company that commenced the regular importation of it. They began by sending out for 100 lbs from their agent at Bantam (much frequented by the Chinese junks from Canton), for making presents to their friends at Court. Now there is more tea drunk in England than in all the countries of the world put together, except China.

Amongst the several kinds sold in the English market are the Orange and the Flowery Pekoe, Bohea, Souchong, Congou, Caper and Campoi, the two of Pekoe being the most expensive of the black teas, and only suitable for flavouring one of the others. The green teas are known as the Gunpowder and Pearl Gunpowder, the Hyson, Imperial and Twankay. There is much adulteration of tea, the black being dried on copper plates to give the green colour, and the leaves of the ash, elder, sloe and white thorn are often mixed with real tea in England, as well as other familiar herbs. This is not done to any extent, however, since the price of tea has been so much reduced. Old tea leaves dried form the chief adulteration in our day.

The shrub is small, and somewhat resembles the myrtle; the blossoms are white and perfumed, and not unlike the white rose, and these are succeeded by soft green capsules, containing two or three white seeds, which are crushed for oil, and much employed in China. The tea plant grows also in Japan, Cochin China, Tonquin and Java, and we have been growing it ourselves in Assam. When six or seven years old the leaves become of little value, and the old wood is cut away to make way for young shoots, or else removed for new trees. Several kinds of plants are said to be employed in China to add to the flavour and perfume of tea. The Chinese drink it, generally, without sugar, and always without milk. Sometimes they beat up the yolks of eggs with sugar, and mix this with it, and in Russia, and in other parts of Europe lemon juice is substituted for milk. Some of the nomadic tribes of Tartary not only drink it as a decoction, but, mixing the leaves with some gelatinous substance, they press them into moulds, and pack them together like bricks. When required, they scrape off a portion, and boil it with flour, butter, milk and salt.

This reminds me that some funny stories are told of the mistakes made by the first purchasers of tea in this country; though according to the Tartars, they were not very wrong after all.

Mrs Hutchinson's great-grandmother sat down to enjoy the novelty provided by the first pound of tea that reached the town of Penrith. No directions accompanied the present, and the good ladies assembled were at a loss what to do with it. So they chanced the boiling of the whole quantity at once in a bottle, and then turning the leaves out into a dish, they ate them with butter and salt, as if they had been ordinary vegetables, and great was their surprise that anyone should have thought the dish a nice one!

Lastly, my young housekeepers, I must warn you never to be careless in your tea-making. Warm the teapot and cups, wait till the steam puffs from the spout of the kettle, or lid of the urn, before you pour the boiling water on the tea. Half fill the cups, and then add more water to the teapot before filling them up, unless quite sure that it holds all that will be required without being replenished. Also, never forget the "cosy" cap, which, should there be none as yet amongst the other appliances of the breakfast table, I advise you to manufacture forthwith for yourselves.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

7 February 1880 - 'Peculiarities of the Chinese'

It feels like a while since we've had some good old Victorian racism, so here it is. 
We have received the following from a resident of Nankin, China -

"I am sure you will need no proof that the Chinese are peculiar people, as this is universally known and acknowledged, but as many of those things in which they are peculiar are not generally known, I venture to mention some of their customs in social and commercial life, and contrast them with our own. As their religions are far more ignorant, superstitious and sinful than eccentric, I shall not speak much about them now.

The Chinese begin to read their books where we end ours; they read down the page, we read across the page; they read from right to left, we from left to right. They direct their letters, writing first the province, then the city, then street or house, and last of all the name; we direct first the name, then house, street, town, and last of all, the country, In the language the Chinese have characters many and sounds few; in England we have letters few and sounds many. They believe the heart is the seat of the intellect, that it thinks, perceives, understands, etc., and that the brain is nothing of importance.

The needle of the compass necessarily points to the north, but they take the other end of the compass, and call it pointing to the south. In England we would say north-east and south-west; but the Chinese say east-north and west-south. We speak of a person's name as Mr Taylor; they say Tai Sien-sing, which represents Taylor Mr. We say James Taylor; they say Tai Ya-koh, which is equivalent to Taylor James. We write with a pen, they write with a brush; we hold ours slanting, they use their perpendicular; when we have finished writing we wipe our pen before laying it aside, they dip theirs in the ink.

The Chinese seat of honour is on the left side, ours is on the right. In England we sit down in boats to row, they stand; we pull, they push we sit with our backs towards the place we are going, they face the way.

They are not permitted to grow a moustache until they are thirty years of age, nor a beard until they are forty; we of course cultivate ours as soon as we can get them. The majority of women have their feet cramped when they are children, the length of the small feet varied from three inches to six. Children's heads, both boys' and girls', are entirely shaved  for the first time when they are about a month old, this is the occasion of great grief to the little one, and there is, as a rule, a "general row in the house". This shaving is continued until they are about eight to twelve years of age, when the hair is permitted to grow.

Chinese mandarins, scholars, and gentlemen allow their nails to grow, frequently to a length of two or three inches, they prize them and love to sport them as much as any young man at home does his first ring; their reason for thus allowing their nails to grow is that they wish to be thought gentlemen who never do any manual labour, nor carry any bags, etc. How much more gentlemanly would it be if they were to help some old man to push his barrow up a hill sometimes!

The Chinese naturally are far from being an enterprising nation. "As their fathers did, so do they". They think none wiser than their fathers, so they seek no improvements. But foreign influence is beginning to tell, even in this respect, to make the people a little speculative. To call a man "old" is a compliment to a Chinaman, but at home it would in nine times out of ten be deemed an insult. The Chinese claps their own hands and bow; we grasp the hand of a friend and shake. They administer medicine in large quantities, supposing that the more the patient drinks the better he will be. Occasionally, persons are killed in this way. Some cases have come under the notice of our missionaries, such as where the patient has had dropsy, or where the body has been filled with water, and his faithful wife has been diligently engaged in pouring down his throat as much liquid medicine as possible, until the poor man's death was not only hastened but was caused by the bursting open of his flesh to discharge the water of his overfilled body. The people are  for the most part kind to animals and never like to kill them, not even for food; if they die, all very well, they might cut up the flesh and eat it, but never take its life away.

Some, however, think that to kill very old beasts may be permissible, but not when they are young and able to work; but the Mahomedan Chinese eat beef, mutton, etc, and kill good beasts, so through them we stand some chance of getting meat occasionally. Beggars abound, but they are treated kindly, and I must say this of the Chinese, that I have never seen a beggar turned away receiving nothing.

White is the common colour worn at funerals, and red at weddings. During a time of mourning for a relative, we wear black on the hat, they wear white on their boots and in their cue.

When the father of a mandarin dies, the son has to mourn him for three years, during which time he must do no official work, not wear any stylish dress, nor enjoy any worldly pleasure. Married women have no Christian name. Suppose one be Mrs Wang, that be her entire name. They are unfortunately treated everywhere very shabbily. A wife does not walk here side by side with her husband, but she must walk behind, go in last, sit in the lowest place, nor speak, etc. Oh! How thankful we should be  for the light of the Gospel, and how grateful women in England ought to be, and not cry out about their "rights". In England, in making the marriage arrangements, one generally wants a nice wife with some money but here, of all things most inconvenient, one has to pay for his wife. My teacher tells me that a good wife can be procured at Nankin for about 500 to 700 dollars, equal to £100 and  £140. It seems to be similar to poor Jacob, who had to give Laban seven years' labour for each of his wives, because he had no wealth of his own with which to purchase them.

In wedding ceremonies the light of a lamp or candle, although in broad daylight, is considered able to keep away all evil spirits. One of the female assistants (we should say bridesmaids) at the wedding partially fills two cups with a mixture of wine and honey. She then pours their contents back and forth several times from one to the other, when both the bridegroom and bride sip out of each cup. After being married, the bride's veil is taken from her, and it is often the first time that the bridegroom has seen the face of his wife. At the wedding dinner he eats as much as he likes, but she must not touch a morsel. In the evening the newly-made wife has to stand while a company of spectators observes her appearance and criticises her deportment. The first night they have two candles burning in their room - one is marked with a dragon to represent the man, the other with a phoenix  for the wife. If one or both of these candles should be blown out by any means, they would regard it as an omen indicating the early death of one or both of the parties. If the tallow ran down the candles it would be thought to resemble tears flowing down the cheeks - that they would have sorrow, or that they would not live happily together. If the candles should burn out about the same time, it is supposed the couple will die about the same time in the future, and should one burn much longer than the other it is inferred one will survive the other.

The Chinese are particularly superstitious. They regard the owl as the harbinger of death; it is spoken of as a devil under the guise of a bird, or as a constable from the dark land.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

31 January 1880 - Answers to Correspondents - Housekeeping

ANXIOUS - Certainly you need not mind assisting in the house, by dusting the drawing-room, attending to the lamps, and performing any duties within your strength. If you are to grow into a useful and helpful woman, you must begin your training with such things as these, and, in time the whole routine and ruling of the household will be learnt, without trouble to yourself, by constant training.

BROWNIE - The best way of taking off rust is to rub the steel with rotten stone and oil. This will also generally restore the polish.

MARY - Mix a teaspoonful of ammonia with a quart of water; it will extract all the grease from woollen stuffs, but it will not take out stains.

AT HOME  Why not have all your floors stained and varnished, if you cannot manage the turpentine and beeswax - although we do not know what your difficulty can be. We find it simple enough. If the floors be varnished, they can be washed over, at any time, with cold water, and rubbed dry with a coarse rubber. Otherwise, as a rule, they will only require dusting, like the rest of the room, using first a damp duster to take up the particles of dust, and then a dry one. Do not forget that dust is matter, and if you dry-dust it away, without removing it entirely, it only flies to some other place, and settles there instead.

Monday, 15 February 2016

31 January 1880 - 'On Earning One's Living - Fruitful Fields for Honest Labour' by S.F.A. Caulfield

"Into what pleasant fields do you propose to lead us?" I think I hear the query from the lips of many readers of this magazine. Here, in this dingy city of ours, the vision of fresh green glades and of strolls between fragrant hedges of hawthorn, clematis, honeysuckle, and eglantine make the heart bound. But alas! I cannot treat all of you to a pleasure exactly like this; yet, although my heading is only metaphorical, some of the plans which I shall suggest for earning your daily read may really lead you amongst these very fields and flowers.

With a hope that a few amongst you may some day find your way out of the noisy streets to a far more agreeable dwelling-place, I recommend you to turn your attention to a new society, called the "Ladies' Association for the Promotion of Horticulture, Food Industries and other Country Pursuits".

To keep bees and make a profit out of their honey - to raise poultry - to keep cows and have a dairy, and learn to make either butter or cheese, or else to take a situation in some great place as head manager of the dairy - to raise flowers for sale at the markets of large towns, or to undertake the charge of conservatories, winter gardens, pineries, and hothouses of all tropical plants - these are the industries which this Society will assist in placing at your service. Of course you will be taught in a thoroughly and scientific as well as practical way, and if you wish to know more of the new College about to be instituted for this purpose, you must make your inquiries at the office of the Society, 22, Berners-street, Oxford-street, London.

But many amongst you may have duties and ties at home, and those homes may be respectively fixed for a long time, if not for life, in London. All the same, there are, even there, charming and varied employments for your industrious fingers.


Is most delightful work - classes for teaching it are open to all, and an artist well able to direct the students superintends their labours. The Society of Arts opened the "National School of Wood Carving". You may hear all about the classes at 22, Bernes-street. The tools are not expensive, and if, in addition to skill in using them, you have any taste in designing patterns, you may get work in the trade from upholsterers, or private orders to sculpture panels, brackets, backs of pianos, backs of books, and portfolios, cabinets and picture-frames. There is now an excellent institution opened at 9, Conduit-street, called the "Institute of Art" where any such objects in wood-carving may be exhibited for sale by paying some trifle for their exhibition. I have done much in this most fascinating work, and certainly, as articles for bazaars held for charitable purposes, I never found any other work to sell half so quickly, or to fetch so high a price. Get a carpenter to prepare a piece of box-wood or walnut for you, or procure the kind of pieces you require at a fancy wood-carver's, and then draw your pattern upon it, or paste on a paper outline, and try the first cutting out with a small chisel and mallet. Then, if you find that you like the work, you would do well to join the classes I have named.

But I fancy that


Is likely to prove a more profitable business than carving, only it will require very good sight and a steady hand. Title-pages, headings for new chapters, decorative tail-pieces; armorial bearings, mottoes, and names for pasting inside the covers of books; portraits from photographs; facsimiles of sketches and copies of paintings - all these subjects provide work of a lucrative character for those who have learnt this beautiful art. Probably some of my readers will inquire - "Where could I obtain the needful instructions?" You can apply to the Secretary of the Lambeth School of Art, at 122, Kensington-road, should you like to join the technical class of wood engraving established there. But I should forewarn you that to be admitted to these classes you must qualify yourself first of all by obtaining a second grade certificate of the Science and Art Department. There is also a class held at 43, Queen-square, W.C.

Another sister art is


For paper, for mouldings in wood or plaster, for carpets, for calico prints,  for the Indian or African export trade, or for home use, as well as for china-painting. Designers for muslin and Swiss lace curtains can get good employment.


Is a means for making a living, or of assisting towards it, which deserves some notice on your part. As an example of what may be gained at this work, I may observe that for a well-painted plate you may earn from twenty to fifty shillings, possibility more. Ladies are engaged in decorative work on stone-ware at Lambeth Potteries, also at several large commercial houses in China and faience painting, and in a lower department at Lambeth many young girls paint stone-ware etc., for which they obtain a fair salary.

At the School of Art, South Kensington, there are instructions given in other branches of art work as, for example, glass-painting for slides, etc., engraving on glass, plain and coloured lithography, colouring of maps and botanical works, fan-painting, tile-painting, and drawing outlines on silk and velvet,  for the use of ecclesiastical or other embroiderers.


Afford a living to a moderate number of persons. The Government pays a guinea a day  for the taking of notes, and a shilling a folio is paid by Law and Parliamentary Committees (72 words in a folio); and when the work is executed out of town, two guineas a day, with travelling expenses.

I have already suggested horticulture as a profession, and now I may propose


You are not all required to live in the old home circle. As with the birds, the nest will not hold the young when they have grown old enough to build for themselves, and some amongst you may obtain permission to seek your livelihood in France or Switzerland; if so, you have a new field opened before you in those countries. At the Great Exhibition in the Champ de Mars, Paris, there were splendid specimens of all manner of fruit-trees raised by women agriculturists, from all parts of France, growing in great pots, or painted wooden tubs designed for city or garden decoration; textile plants from Algeria and the cloth made from them; and dried and preserved fruits, all women's work. There are no Government schools for this occupation, but in orphan refuges, and under the care of various communities, the business has been taught with great success. Amongst other parts, in the Gironde women are engaged in utilizing the sandy district between Bayonne and Biarritz. In the neighbourhood of Bordeaux there are societies of Farming Sisters and Gardening Sisters, and besides these I may also mention there are women who conduct laundries worked by orphans, by means of steam and all the latest improvements in machinery, and bake-houses also for those who prefer a dry, to a wet sphere for work.

But perhaps the most remarkable of all the institutions for teaching gardening and agriculture in France, and with astonishing success, is the Atelier Refuge of Darnetal, near Rouen, which began with so small a sum as eightpence, and a school consisting of two little girls from a reformatory, and now has more than 300 girls from six years old to eighteen; more than 400 acres of land cultivated entirely by the girls; a large house, infirmary, schoolroom, church, and a garden-house; and is worth no less a capital than £32,000. The two little girls of whom I spoke entreated to be taken back to prison, for they had no home nor friends, and the official lady-visitor, on consulting the chaplain of the jail at Rouen about them, followed his charitable advice to "look out for a room, buy a loaf and a candle - for to-morrow God will provide". And help did come, and by agriculture all these girls have been supported in a great measure, and have learned a way of support for their future lives. They dig, sow, reap, plant, mow, prune, plough, and cart home the hay and corn. Besides this, they spin, wind yarn, make read, butter, and cheese; they understand the cares of cattle, have 100 cows, more than 1,000 head of poultry, 23 horses, etc. I tell you all this to show what young girls can do, and I must also add that, although their hands are rough, they have no coarseness of manner - nothing really unfeminine about them; they are very neat in their dress, and many of them sing very sweetly.

In Switzerland the Government provides courses of lectures on farming and gardening to ladies, and at the present time there are 104 students, from 16 to 30 years of age, attending them; and they likewise teach all kinds of domestic arrangements - preserving, cooking, bleaching linen, etc. There are also similar schools in Denmark and Sweden.

I think I have said enough about agriculture, and may now give you a list of some of the other occupations for women which can be pursued indoors, as many girls could neither leave home altogether, nor possess the strength to bear exposure, even for directing out-door work as head of a farm or garden, nor the muscular power required for any really manual labour.


Is by no means a difficult business, and much taste may be displayed in the decorative department connected with it. I have tried my own hands on a volume, and think it would prove a fair means of earning some addition to a small income. Some hundreds of women are employed in London at this business, folders and binders earning from nine to twelve shillings weekly, and vellum binders from twelve to fifteen shillings. Ladies might set up an establishment of their own, and procure trade orders.

In the stationery department there is also work for women's hands. Envelope makers are paid from ten to twelve shillings, best black borderers from fifteen to twenty, and in the relief and coloured stampers, from twenty to twenty-five shillings weekly.


Can be very quickly learnt, and at but small expenditure; birds, flowers, and butterflies are the usual subjects selected for it.


Is another branch of female industry quite worth consideration, of which you might obtain some information at the "Ladies' Self-Help Institute" in Baker-street. I believe that the floor of the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral is paved with the mosaics made by the inmates of some Female Reformatory. But work of a very much finer and more delicate description would be more suitable for you; and if you pay a visit to the South Kensington Museum, perhaps your fancy may lead you to select the formation of pictures and portraits in coloured glass, when you have seen those full-length figures of illustrious men that surround the walls of one of the galleries. Finer work may also be accomplished, such as for inkstands, brooches, etc.


Is not necessarily an unwholesome occupation, as care may be taken with regard to the colours employed. Left-handed people work better at this industry than others, unless very expert with both hands. A year's apprenticeship is requisite, and the wages for work done out of the house are from fifteen to twenty-five shillings a week, and in the house from twenty-five to fifty.


Is a pleasant occupation, and any one wishing for an insight into the work, and to see a woman thus gaining a living, can pay a visit to 24, High Street, Camden-town, where a woman carries on this business and works  for the trade.

Yet one more branch of art-work, and I will turn to a different class of employment; I refer to


For which you may find an opening in a "Rococco" shop. I believe that this is not more difficult than caring in ivory, another delightful occupation, accomplished by very fine instruments and the assistance of a lathe. From the editor of the Women's Gazette (42, Somersetshire-street, Portman-square) you can easily ascertain further information about it.

I need scarcely speak of the schools of cookery and needlework, as stepping-stones to the profession of teacher or the trade of a manual worker, so much has already been written about both. But I will make an exception in the case of needle-work, and that is to draw attention to the great opening there is for


Who will go out by the day at a moderate price - say, at from 2s to 2s 6d, and their board - an ample remuneration. These persons should be able to sew well by hand, and machine; turn or remake dresses; make or mend linen, or do upholstery work; good fitters, and be able to trim a bonnet delicately and with good taste. Such useful workers as these are inquired for in all directions, and few, alas, are the recommendations that can be given.

School teachers, like governesses are increasing in alarming numbers. Do not turn your thoughts in that direction, unless seriously disposed - as I hope some of you will be - to select one or two branches in an educational career that I shall now propose. In the first place, if you are fond of children, the


Is not overstocked wit aspirants like the others. A college  for the training of students is established at 31, Tavistock-place, W.C. Should you make up your mind to adopt such a profession as a teacher under this system, you must be prepared to pay £20 a year in fees.  For the second year, however, you will get some return for your work - if you have succeeded in "qualifying".

The other branch of educational work to which I very earnestly direct your attention is that of


Not by the finger alphabet, nor by the language of signs, but by the wonderful art known as "Lip-reading". If any of you would like to know how a deaf mute can read each word you utter by watching the movements of your lips only, and if you would like to hear those poor little afflicted children utter words in reply to sounds they have never heard from you, and in the distinct tones of their own voices, which they never can hope to hear, I recommend you to write to a lady who devotes her life to the work of teaching some gentlemen's children - all mutes when they come to her - and ask her permission to call, and see how she teaches them at her house in South Kensington (89, Holland-road). This lady (Miss Hull) will give you all the information you would require should you wish to enter the new college instituted for training teachers of the deaf. There is a great opening for them in this country, as well as abroad; and teachers who would go out as governesses for them would be far better paid than any others. But patience is one of the chief virtues - perhaps the most essential of all - that a teacher must bring with her into such a situation. It is so long before the mute can e made to understand what is meant by the first signs that are to lead the way to his learning even the names of the objects he sees, not to mention the far greater difficulty of understanding a conversation, and then of speaking himself.



Has of late years been carried on by women, and very suitably so; but whoever undertakes such a profession should possess great steadiness of character, thoughtfulness, cautiousness, punctuality, and presence of mind. She should be very methodical also - in fact, such a position of grave responsibility should not be undertaken without serious consideration as to personal suitability, however competent she may be in point of attainments. To the daughter of a general practitioner, who has a dispensary of his own, training for such a profession would incur little expense, and she might also have facilities  for the study of botany in her country walks. Women are by law admitted to the examination entitling them to keep a chemist's shop and practice this calling; and since October last women have been admitted as members of the Pharmaceutical Society.

If you would like to attend the lecture of the "Pharmaceutical Society" you can pay your fees, amounting to £4 4s, and avail yourself of them at their offices, 17, Bloomsbury-square. Both lectures and laboratory course are open to women at the South London School of Pharmacy, 325, Kensington-road, and this is the only place where you may fully qualify  for the examination that will enable you to open a dispensary and practice. The expenses  for the whole course, which extends over a year, amount to about £15.

I have said nothing of


But should at least observe that second-rate workers out of the house can, in the six busy months, make from £1 to £3 weekly, and in the first-class from £30 to £120 per annum. Much money is also made in dressmaking, although so few women appear capable of fitting well. Any ladies, however, who have a fancy for leaning, with a view to profit, or otherwise, should apply to the "Ladies' Dressmakers Association",42, Somerset-street, Portman-square.

There is a ladies'


Office at 12, Portugal-street, Lincoln's-inn, conducted by two ladies, where all necessary instruction is given, and a good engrosser can earn from 17s to £2 a week. After two or three years of training, clerkships may be obtained from £30 to £40 per annum


Is a good vocation, and one desiring to devote her life to it will have a large choice of institutions wherein to select her home, with a salary rising up to £50 per annum, food, fire, uniform, and some other perquisites, winding up with a pension for old age. But the fatigue and hardships are great, and many women are unsuited to do more than nurse their own families and relatives.


Here is a very large field for female labour and art, and it has many branches, such as painting from nature, both figure and landscape; but especially in flower painting do ladies appear to excel. Witness the many choice and valuable examples in the exhibitions of the "Society of Lady Artists", the Grosvenor, and other galleries every year. A very large and increasing demand is also arising for cheap spirited handwork for valentines, birthday and Christmas cards. Miniature painting also offers a wide scope, and now that it is so frequently painted on a photographic basis, that knowledge of drawing, formerly indispensible is not so much required. A lady may easily earn from one to three guineas when she has once mastered the touch required for this kind of work. An immense quantity of photographs are retouched in black and white only, which is nice and comparatively easy work.


Many ladies find it easier to work in oil colours than in water colours, and although the latter is the cleaner of the two, the former has its advantages in greater brilliancy and durability. As regards painting photographs, any one who can paint them well in oil is certain of a very handsome income indeed.

I have but taken a rapid survey of some of the various occupations by which you could spend a useful life, earn a livelihood, or add to the pecuniary means you possess. I trust that while giving but an imperfect sketch of these far-differing fields of women's work, I have said enough to inspire some amongst you to make good use of your head and hands, either for your own support, or  for the good and comfort of others.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

24 January 1880 - 'Our Cookery Class - Gravy for Joints' by Phillis Browne

You can generally tell, from the look of the gravy that is served with a joint, whether or not the cook understands her business.  If the gravy is fatty, or cold, or looks like thin light-coloured gruel, also if there is a great deal of it in the dish, I would advise you to resign yourself to your fate, and remember that man eats to live, he does not live to eat. If on the contrary the gravy is clear, bright, brown, free from fat and small in quantity cheerfully leave yourself in the hands of the carver, for it is probable that you are about to partake of a well-cooked dinner.

Gravy may either be made a little time before it is wanted, or it may be prepared from the brown sediment which is to be found in the dripping tin under the joint. The latter method I do not recommend, but it is the more usual of the two, and therefore I will describe it first.

It is well known that after meat has been hung before the fire for a while, fat begins to drop from it. In course of time this fat will be mixed with a sort of rich brown juice, and it is from this latter substance that the gravy is to be made.

Now a great point in making gravy is to have it free from fat. Everyone knows what fatty gravy is like. So long as the meat and dish are hot, it is not very objectionable, but as the joint and the plates cool, the fat solidifies, and floats in cakes on the top of the gravy, and the taste of one of these is more easily imagined than described.

The reason why it is undesirable to make gravy from the contents of the dripping tin is that it is so difficult to get rid of the fat in the tin, and to retain the sediment only.

When, however, gravy has to be thus made, the fat must be poured off from one corner of the tin; this must be done carefully and with a steady hand. When the sediment only remains, the cook should pour in about a third of a pint of boiling stock, or boiling water, if stock is not to be had. She should then scrape the tin will in order to dissolve any hard dry spots of gravy that there may be, and when these are melted she should pour a spoonful or two of the gravy round, but not over, the meat in the dish, and the rest into a hot tureen.

If the gravy has become cool whilst in the tin, it should be made hot in a saucepan before being strained into the dish, but it should not be allowed to boil.

No greater mistake can be made than to pour a large quantity of gravy into the dish with the meat. In the first place, it is very awkward  for the carver; for a mere slip of his knife may cause him to splash the grave over the cloth. In the second place, unless a hot-water dish is used, the gravy will cool much more quickly in a large dish than it will in a small covered tureen. And more than all, made gravy will dilute the gravy that runs from the meat. When a joint is properly roasted, a gush of grave follows the first cut of the knife, and then continues to flow from the meat while it is being carved. The majority of grown-up people would rather have a teaspoonful of this real juice of meat than a quarter of a pint of the coloured water which is so often served as gravy. When the family is large, and gravy is much liked, a little made gravy must be used, because the joint, in all probability, would not yield as much as is wanted, but it is a pity when that which it does yield is not made the most of.

If gravy is provided apart from the joint, the entire contents of the dripping tin can be poured into a basin. In a few hours, when the fat is cold, it will be found that the gravy has settled to the bottom and lies, a clear brown cake of jelly, which can be used without any of the fat the next time gravy is wanted.

When I recommend that gravy should be prepared apart from the joint, I hope no one will think I am going to advise the purchase of gravy beef. Indeed I am not, for I should consider such a purchase extravagant and unnecessary.

In all houses where meat is cooked there are little bones, trimmings and scraps, from which excellent gravy can be prepared, costing nothing but a little care and fore-thought; and without these, economical cookery is impossible.

Suppose that gravy is wanted to-day for a joint of beef. Something was cooked for dinner yesterday, and it is almost certain that a bone or scraps of some kind were left from it. If the cook had forethought she would put these on one side, cover them over to keep them clean, and when there was a convenient opportunity, that is, when the fire was not in use, she would stew them for gravy. Perhaps bacon was served for breakfast or boiled meat had been provided, in either case she would be particularly fortunate; of course she would have preserved the meat liquor, pouring it into a clean earthenware pan and throwing a little muslin over it to keep it from dust and flies. What course would she now pursue to make gravy?

She would first take a small onion, skin it and cut it into rings. She would melt a little dripping in a saucepan, throw in the onion and shake it over the fire until it was brown but not at all burnt. She would now put in the bones and scraps, together with a sprig of parsley, an inch or two of celery, three or four peppercorns, and the rind of the bacon which had been scalded in boiling water and scraped with a blunt knife to make it quite clean. Over all she would pour meat liquor or cold water to barely cover her materials, then covering the saucepan closely and placing it by the side of the fire, she would let its contents stew very gently indeed, skimming it every now and then with an iron spoon for a couple of hours till the liquor was considerably reduced, and was strong and pleasantly flavoured. Then she might strain it off and put it on one side to let any fat there might be to rise to the surface, when it could be easily removed. If the liquid were light-coloured, a few drops of sugar browning should be stirred in, but it is probable that the browned onion will have supplied all that is required. Only let the grave be a rich, deep brown. In cookery the appearance of a dish is almost as important as its taste, and light-coloured gravy for joints is not pleasing to the eye.

If two tablespoonfuls of the gravy thus made were put into the dish with the meat, the gravy that runs from the meat would mix with it and would furnish an excellent accompaniment to the roasted joint.

If it should happen that there was no opportunity to stew the scraps and trimmings in time  for the fat to cake on the top of the gravy, it would be well to pour the liquid into a jar, and set this in a vessel containing cold water. This would make it cool more rapidly, and so cause the fat to rise more quickly to the surface.

Care must be taken, however, not to put too much water over the bone. Good gravy is wanted, and this would be more likely to be obtained if water or stock were taken to partly cover the bone and no more.

Gravy thus made would do very well for beef or pork, but not for mutton or lamb. These meals would be served with good brown un-flavoured gravy. Therefore the flavouring ingredients should not be stewed with the bone for them; but the bone should be stewed in nothing but stock or water slightly salted. Good gravy for a leg or shoulder of mutton may be made by stewing the shank bone and one or two trimmings of meat for an hour or two.

Perhaps it will be thought that it is a very simple business to make gravy, and that it is unnecessary to attend to all these details in connection with it. But it is not so. Very often gravy is a delusion. I have known cooks who professed to understand their business take a little boiling water and pour it over the browner portions of the joint, thus watering the joint to all intents and purposes, and then consider that they have done all that is required for gravy. They were mistaken and they were only proving their ignorance. There is nothing that shows the ability of a cook more than gravies and sauces. It is very safe to conclude that where meat is served regularly with good brown bright gravy, perfectly free from fat, some one in the house knows something of cookery.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

17 January 1880 - 'My Workbasket - Ornamental Work for Clever Fingers'

I don't know whose workbasket exactly. There are over 60 listed contributors to the 1880-81 volume.  And for the record, I didn't transcribe this wrong - there were two items called Fig.4 in this article, the sofa cushion and the fancy crochet edging.

A cheap plaited straw basket may be made exceedingly pretty by the addition of a trimming composed of eight pointed scallops, cut out of any piece of coloured beige or light cloth. The size round the top must be ascertained, and divided into eight parts, which will give the width required for each scallop. These scallops can be braided with bright contrasting colours. The pattern should be traced on tissue paper, and tacked on the cloth; the braiding is then an easy matter and the paper can be pulled away when the work is finished. The scallops should have a narrow band of black, or some dark suitable shade of cloth or velvet, sewn round the edge, leaving the same width of cloth beyond, worked with a braid on each edge, and pattern of cross-stitching in netting-silk. After attaching the scallops to the basket, a full ruche of satin ribbon is fastened round the top with a cord formed of twisted braids or wool. The tassels are made of wool with knitted silk tops. The handles of the basket are better made of string, as they are stronger than straw, and can be easily covered with ribbons, or strips of cloth, and recovered when shabby. Strings of the same ribbon as the ruche are stitched on at the handles and tied across the basket.

The box is made of cardboard. Cut the board into six pieces, 5in in length, and 3in in depth; cover them with blue or any coloured satin to match the toilet. The inside is slightly wadded. Sew four parts together, and add another  for the bottom of the box; the sixth part forms the lid, the outside of which is covered with a pattern embroidered on canvas, and well wadded. The edge is trimmed with ribbon leaves and a thick cord to match. A frill of satin ribbon is neatly sewn on the upper edges of the box, and hangs loose at the bottom. The box is mounted on four gilt balls.


This bag is made of ecru-coloured canvas, and de laine or merino to match; the bottom is a round of canvas 18in in circumference, to which the bag of merino is fastened. The lower part of the page is covered half way up by six pieces of the canvas cut in rounded scallops embroidered with narrow woollen braid in blue or violet. A closely-plaited ruche of blue de laine or fine merino trims each scallop. The bag is finished with a frill, and drawn with ribbons to match the ruches.


The novel and effective band of embroidery on this cushion will be welcomed by our young friends who are fond of velvet, and corded with a thick twist of yellow and bronze. The tassels should match the colour of the cushion, and have good silk tops firmly sewn on each corner.


1st row - Make a chain of nine stitches, miss one loop on braid, draw the thread through the second loop, repeat to the length of edging required.

2nd row* - Make nine stitches; work into centre stitch of first nine chain in last row, repeat; make two chain stitches and eight treble into the stitches of the third nine chain in first row* repeat to end.

3rd row* - Commence on centre stitch of nine chain in second row. Work nine chain into next loop make three chain, work eight treble into treble of second row, with one chain between each two chain, work into centre stitch of following loop*; repeat.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

10 January 1880 - 'Healthy Recreations - Skating'

I have taught many girls of various ages how to skate, and it would be unjust to them not to say that they were far better pupils than boys of the same ages. They seem to have a better idea of balance, and they mostly do as they are told, which is more than can be said for boys in general. And, in consequence, when they are taught to be skaters they rarely degenerate into scuttlers, though they too frequently abandon the ice altogether.

Some years ago lady-skaters were at a disadvantage. Numbers of girls learned to skate very creditably, and if they had pursued their ice-studies steadily, they would have I have taught many girls of various ages how to skate, and it would be unjust to them not to say that they were far better pupils than boys of the same ages. They seem to have a better idea of balance, and they mostly do as they are told, which is more than can be said for boys in general. And, in consequence, when they are taught to be skaters they rarely degenerate into scuttlers, though they too frequently abandon the ice altogether.

Some years ago lady-skaters were at a disadvantage. Numbers of girls learned to skate very creditably, and if they had pursued their ice-studies steadily, they would have developed into good figure skaters. Now, even with male performers, figure skating is the very poetry of motion, and no more graceful sight could be imagined than the figures when performed by a "set" of eight accomplished lady skaters.

Yet, scarcely any of these girls ever learned even to execute the alpha of figure-skating, i.e., the figure 3, and I never yet saw a female skater who could take her part in a "set".

The reason for this decadence is to be found in Fashion. Young girls dressed in a way which allowed fair freedom to their limbs, and so they got on very well with their skates. But when they grow up, the tyrant Fashion seized upon them and put them into crinoline, within which metal or whalebone prison no human being could ever skate.

Now, however, female dress has assumed a much more sensible form, and costumes have been made expressly for skating as they have been for bathing; and, as no true skater kicks the legs about, but always keeps the feet close to each other, the close-fitting and short skirt of the skating dress does not in the least interfere with the necessary freedom of the limbs.

And, if the sensible fashion of feminine skating dress will only continue for a few seasons, we may hope to see the poetry of motion in its most perfect and attractive form, and that the coveted "Silver Skate" may be worn at a lady's necklace as well as at a gentleman's button-hole.

As I hope that every girl who reads this magazine will either wish to learn the art of skating, or to improve her style even if she be a tolerable skater, I will give a few hints such as I always gave to my pupils, and begin with stating what to avoid.

Of course, a beginner will have her skates chosen for her by someone who knows how to skate, and she should never hire skates from the men who infest the ice.

Their skates are always of the worst possible kind, and made in the cheapest possible way. The edges are never sharp, so that there can be no hold of the ice, and the steel generally terminates before the screw instead of passing well behind it.

Then, their skates almost invariably have upturned points, which are not only useless but dangerous, and they have the heel cut off square instead of being rounded. In a good skate the steel barely projects beyond the wood in front, and is equally rounded at either end. The skate dealers will tell you that these sharp heels are useful in stopping suddenly.

Do not believe them.

Certainly, by raising the toes and digging the sharp heels into the ice the skater can stop herself within a yard or two, and at the same time cut a couple of long, deep grooves in the ice; but she can stop herself in half the distance by simply spinning round, as every skater knows how, and without damaging the surface of the ice.

I must not be understood to recommend expensive skates for a young girl, especially if she be a beginner. Girls grow, and so do their feet, and it is very seldom that a pair of skates will last a growing girl more than a couple of seasons. Besides, a beginner would spoil a good pair of skates in a few days.

As to length, the skate should be just the length of the boot. It may be a trifle longer, but in that case it must be set rather backward on the boot, so that it projects behind the heel, and not in front of the toe. Boots, of course, should be worn by the skater, and they should be laced and not buttoned or fitted with side springs. They should fit exactly but easily to the feet, so that their tightness can be regulated by the laces. Skating in loose boots is almost impossible, and a tight boot will cause indescribable agonies.

Avoid the straps which cross the instep. One broad strap, with double ends at the toe, and one heel strap, are all that are needed. Indeed, if the boots are perfectly fitting, the heel strap is scarcely needed. I use it myself, but merely employ it as a safeguard in case the screw should break, and I always have it drawn so loosely that a finger can be passed between the strap and the boot.

It will be an advantage to buy the skates for some months before the frost comes on, so as to soften the straps thoroughly before they are wanted. New straps are a great nuisance, as they are stiff and apt to stretch, while a strap which has been repeatedly soaked in warm grease or oil, and then stretched, and pulled, and rubbed, will remain as soft and pliable as silk, will accommodate itself closely to the foot, and moreover will be impervious to wet and consequent rotting.

Grease should also be rubbed daily into the junction of the steel with the wood, as in that case there will be no danger of weakening the steel by rust.

Do not employ any vegetable oil  for the straps. Colza oil will do well enough  for the skates, but neat's-foot oil is best  for the straps. In default of neat's-foot oil, clarified lard perfectly freed from salt will answer very well if the lard be heated. I have before me a set of straps more than twenty years old, which have been used in sixteen skating seasons. They are now as serviceable as ever, and will probably be used again this season.

If possible, a special pair of boots should be kept for skating, at all events during the season. Then the skates can be attached to them, the straps placed lightly over them, and thus they can be carried in the hand-bag, which every skater ought to possess. They can be slipped on in a moment, the straps and boot-laces tightened, and thus the tedious and troublesome operation of putting on the skates can be avoided.

Boots last much longer in this way, because they are not pulled to pieces by the repeated insertion and removal of the screws. In a soft substance like leather, the hole soon becomes "screw-sick" and the screw has no hold. Then, either the hole must be plugged, or a new hole made, which will alter the bearings of the skate.

Moreover, when the skater comes off the ice, she has only to loosen the laces and straps and slip her feet out of the skate-boots. The comfort of changing the boots after skating is quite indescribable.

Should no such spare boots be available, the skates should always be fitted to them before they are on the feet. The screw-hole can be then placed exactly in the central line of the foot, which is a matter of no small importance. This hole should be filled in with tallow before starting, and when the skater arrives at the ice all that will be needed will be to clear out the grease.

In the bag should be carried a knife, a small gimlet, a brad-awl for making fresh holes in straps, a little bottle of oil, a large piece of old rag, and a pair of old leather gloves. These are to be worn while putting on the skates, and while drying, wiping, and oiling them after leaving the ice. Also, I very strongly recommend a piece of waterproofing, which can be spread as a seat. It often happens that the skater has to sit down, either to rest or to alter the skates, and if there should have been a slight thaw, or if the sunbeams should have melted the snow or hoar frost, sitting down is scarcely practicable.

Carry nothing in the pockets except a handkerchief.

We will now suppose that a young girl has been supplied with skates, etc., and has arrived at the ice. Although it is obviously impossible to teach the art of skating by means of the pen, it is possible to give a few useful hints which will save much time and trouble.

In the first place, use every means to be accompanied from the first by a really good skater, so that you may not acquire bad habits, which can scarcely ever be shaken off. Do not lean on the back of a chair, as is so often advised. You will get into a nasty stooping round-shouldered style, and will hardly ever be able to acquire the straight, but flexible form which distinguishes a good skater.

Still less depend on a stick. I regret to say that the skater dealers often sell sticks with spiked ends  for the use of beginners. Learning to skate by means of a stick is as wrong as learning to swim with the aid of corks.

No good skater ever carries a stick on any pretence whatever. However skilled she may be a strap may break, or she may come against an unseen pebble or pinch of sand frozen into the ice, and in either case down she goes. Should she have a stick in her hand, she will instinctively grasp it as she falls, and will probably inflict a severe blow upon any one who happens to be near.

Do not allow yourself to be towed along by two skaters  for the purpose of getting used to the ice. In the first place, you must stoop and will stoop more and more as the pace increases. Moreover, you will be sliding and not skating, and will be confirmed in the idea that ice is slippery. So it is to a slider, but not to a skater, who has a firm hold of the ice by the sharp edge of her skate.

Just at first, you may cling to the arm of your instructor, but after a minute or two, depend entirely on yourself. You will feel the most helpless of beings; you will stoop forward; your feet will diverge, in spite of all endeavours to keep them together, and down you will come. You will not hurt yourself, as there is nothing hard in the pockets.

Being down, you will think that you will have to stay there, as getting up seems impossible. There is, however, no difficulty about it. Kneel upright. Now put the right foot on the ice, lean forwards, and you will be on your feet. Most probably you will tumble down again almost before you are up. Never mind it, but get up again, and after two or three such harmless falls you will find that your skates have edges, and that by means of these edges you can at all events prevent yourself from slipping sideways.

This is a most important point gained, and you will now be able to try locomotion.

Place the feet as in the "third position" in dancing, nearly at right angles to each other, | --- , the perpendicular line representing the left foot, and the horizontal line the right.

Now, lean a little to the right,  fix the inside edge of the left skate well into the ice, and so push yourself towards the right, bringing up the left foot as soon as you find yourself moving. When you can go towards the right with some certainty, reverse the position of the feet, and push yourself towards the left by pressing against the inner edge of the right skate.

The next step is to make these strokes alternately, and as regularly as possible, and if you persevere, in half-an-hour or so, you ought to get along with some little speed, and to direct your course as you like.

I strongly advise the beginner to continue the first day's practice as long as possible, for the next day she will find herself so absurdly stiff that she will hardly be able to put one foot before another. Still, she ought to make her way to the ice, notwithstanding the stiffness, and will find that the best cure is the homeopathic principle.

It is remarkable, by the way, that when any one has become a really good skater he or she will never find themselves stiff, even though they may not have seen the ice for years. Neither do they forget the art.

I remember, many years ago, when the floods round Oxford were frozen, that an old gentleman who had in his time been the crack skater of Oxford, but who had abandoned the ice for some thirty years, could not resist the temptation of many miles of clear black ice, hard as marble and as smooth as a mirror. So he put on his skates and after half an hour or so was delighting the spectators with an exhibition of the old school of skating, in which the arms were raised and lowered alternately with the skates, something like the left arm of a fencer when standing on guard or thrusting.

Of course, he could not continue the exercise very long, but he was not in the least stiff, and came on the ice every day as long as the frost lasted.

It is the same with riding and swimming, neither accomplishment ever being forgotten after it has once been attained.

The foregoing instructions are quite sufficient to enable a girl to travel over ice and guide herself in her course. But, as I hope that none of my readers will e content with the mere alphabet of skating, but will desire to make progress in the art, I will give them a few hints.

Here I may observe there are just two kinds of legitimate skating, i.e., "travelling on skates" and "figure-skating", both of which depend wholly on the outside edge.

Skate-travelling is seldom used in this country, owing to the brevity of the frosts, and the lack of long, narrow pieces of piece on which to travel. In Holland, however, where canals form almost the chief feature of the country, and the frosts last for a long time, skating forms the chief mode of locomotion in the winter, and the people learn to skate, not as a pastime, but as a mode of travelling.

Children skate to their schools, market-women skate to the markets, bearing their laden baskets on their heads, and a young couple will skate twenty or thirty miles to be married, and then skate back again.

Naturally, a peculiar kind of stroke has come into use, and is popularly called the "Dutch roll". It is executed wholly on the outer edge, the strokes being long and sweeping, and each describing a slight curve some twenty yards in length. It is very deceptive in appearance. It appears to be slow, whereas it is only deliberate, and the swiftest English skater, if put on a Dutch canal, and matched against a Dutch market-woman, with a heavy basket on her head, will be hopelessly beaten in a long race.

At first he runs away from her and leaves her far behind. But she keeps steadily on her course, with her long, steady, unchanging roll. After the first few miles, the distance between them gradually diminishes, and, strive how he may, the man will find his antagonist gradually creeping up to him, and at last forging ahead. He may put on as many spurts as he likes, but they will be of no use. She will not alter her pace in the least, but swings herself along with the same unvarying roll, reaching the goal far ahead, and as fresh as when she began.

The skates are made for this mode of travelling, and are quite unfit for figure-skating. They are long in the steel, which projects far in front, and in women's skates curls over the toe. Mostly, they are fluted, and the edges are nearly straight instead of curved as in our English skates. Then, in the Dutch travelling roll, the knee is allowed to be bent, which is a heresy in a figure-skater. No matter how accurately a skater may be able to perform the most intricate figures, he will never obtain admission to the Skating Club if he allows the knee of the acting leg to be in the slightest degree bent.

Now for a little advice as to the outer edge.

Some teachers advise that at each stroke the feet should be crossed, so that the outside edge must be brought into use. Certainly, it has this effect, but it has two serious defects. In the first place, it is impossible to keep a straight knee if you have to cross the right foot over the left or vice versa, and in the next place you get into the habit of steering your course by the swing of the off leg, and not by the balance of the body as ought to be done.

The following plan will be found to answer admirably, and will give a good carriage to the body. Put on the ice some conspicuous object, and skate round and round it, keeping the right side towards it, the face always turned towards it, and the arms slightly hanging towards the right side.

In order to do this, the inside edge of the left skate and the outside edge of the right skate will be pressed against the ice.

When you feel yourself at home in this circle, take the left foot off the ice, and you will be on the outside edge. At first you will have to put down the left foot almost immediately, but in a little time you will be able to proceed for a yard or two on the right foot alone. Now go round in the opposite direction, keeping your left side inwards, and going on the outside edge of the left foot.

Now leave the circle and try to skate forward, but instead of going on the inside edge of the skates as you did before, go on the outside edges. Do not be afraid of leaning well towards the outside edge. You will not fall, although at first you will feel as if you must topple over on your side.

Persevere in these  movements, making your strokes longer and longer, and always keeping the knee of the active leg quite straight. When you can make these strokes long, even and deliberate, which you ought to do after two or three days' practice, you will be fairly set upon your outside edge, and will be ready to begin a course of instruction in Figure Skating.