Wednesday, 30 March 2016

3 April 1880 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

E.T.N.N.A - 1. We do not prescribe "charms" for the curing of any complaints. The usual method adopted for removing warts is to touch them with lunar caustic or aromatic vinegar daily. 2. Your writing needs correction. Take some pretty and legible model, and copy it carefully every day, so as to form your hand by degrees.

AN INQUIRER - We hardly know what the shade of John Bunyan would say if it could read your enquiry as t "whether the 'Pilgrim's Progress' were a novel" Procure it and judge for yourself; this you evidently have not yet done. But in case you have, I may tell you that it is an allegory or parabolic story, of which we have the first examples in the Holy Scriptures.

A.S.K. - Your handwriting is fairly good, but your spelling is bad. Law-copying (not "coping") may perhaps be obtained by personal enquiry in lawyers' offices in your own neighbourhood. But you will have to be taught, for one mistake will spoil a whole document.

FANNY - Your enquiry respecting the making of an electric telegraph machine, is so expressed as to be utterly unintelligible. We advise you to devote a little time to learning your English grammar. There is not a single instance of punctuation in your letter. IF you wish to manufacture such a machine you should take lessons of some mechanic.

AN ELDER SISTER - We do not consider that questions such as yours, respecting matrimony, come within the limits of our correspondence.

FLORENCE writers to say that "she would be glad to be informed how to earn her living; that she has read all that has been put in THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER, but it is not the kind of thing for her". As Florence gives us no information with respect to her acquirements, her natural gifts, nor her position in life, it is quite impossible for us to give her any further suggestions.

ICE - We are very sorry that we are unable to give you any satisfactory advice as to supplementing your present earnings. You would not be eligible for any work in "law copying" on account of your handwriting, which is very bad; and the composition of your letter is not even grammatical. Surely you could improve both. We do not write private letters.

Monday, 28 March 2016

3 April 1880 - 'Our Cookery Class' by Phillis Browne - 'The Frying Pan'

I always look upon a frying-pan as the pet utensil of an incompetent cook. Those who scramble through the preparation of food instead of cooking it intelligently generally rely upon a frying-pan to save them from the difficulties into which their want of punctuality and forethought lead them. The result is that food from their hands is usually presented either burnt, greasy, or hard, very often all three, and it is nearly always indigestible.

There is no method of cookery that is so popular amongst a certain class of cooks as what they call frying, and there is no process that is so little understood by them as real frying. I am going to try to explain very clearly what true frying really is, and the difference between it and half frying.

You will remember that when we were talking about boiling I said that if meat were plunged into boiling water and boiled for about five minutes the albumen would coagulate on the surface, and make a sort of case that would keep in the goodness of the meat.

Now, frying is boiling in fat, and the cause of the difference between boiling in water and boiling in fat is that fat can be made so very much hotter than water that the work can be done much more quickly, while at the same time a peculiar brown appearance and tasty flavour is given to the article fried. If we had a thermometer we should find that when water is boiling it reaches 212 degrees. WE might make a fire large enough to roast an ox, but we should never get water hotter than that. Fat, however, can be made more than twice as hot as water, and therefore it conveys heat much more quickly. We have, I dare say, all felt what it is to be scalded with boiling water and that is bad enough; but the pain is trifling compared to that which we suffer when we are burned with boiling fat. And that is because hot fat is so very, very hot.

If we were going to boil anything in water we should never think of pouring a little drop of water into the bottom of a pan and laying the meat upon it, then leaving it till it was sufficiently cooked. In the same way, when we are going to fry anything, we should not be content to put a little fat in a frying-pan and cook the meat in this. And yet how many people there are who think a spoonful or two of fat is quite sufficient for frying! They would be quite horrified if we said that we must cover the article to be fried with fat before we could fry it perfectly. "Where are we to get such a quantity of fat from?" I can imagine them saying. "It would take a couple of pounds or more of fat to fry in that way. How extravagant to use a couple of pounds of fat to fry one dish!" Ah! I don't feel that the charges of extravagance can be fairly laid against me. Where, I would ask, is all the fat that these friends of ours have used for frying during the last three or four weeks? Is it not true that most of it was burnt away, and that the remainder was thrown out as soon as it was done with? If it could be collected and brought here there would be quite enough for our purpose.

The fact is, it is not wasteful to use a quantity of fat at a time. Fat lasts heated in quantities, and if properly treated can be used again and again; indeed, I do not hesitate to say that with care it could be used thirty or forty times over.

Before we can fry perfectly, however, there are one or two more points to be considered besides the quantity of the fat. One of these is its temperature. Fat used in frying should be hot, so hot that it is still. This sounds strange, I dare say, but it is quite true. If we put a saucepan half-filled with water on the fire it would at first be still, and as it became hot it would move about, and when it reached the boiling point it would bubble away in the most lively manner. Fat, on the contrary, would very quickly begin bubbling; then, as it grew hot, it would, if properly clarified, become quite still, and a light blue vapour would be seen rising from it This stillness and the appearance of the vapour is the sign that it is at the proper heat for frying. It would not do to wait until the vapour became smoke, however, for that would mean that the fat was beginning to burn.

If we had a proper thermometer we might know that fat was hot enough for ordinary frying purposes when 350 degrees of heat were registered. For whitebait it would need to be higher than this, and should reach 400 degrees.

There are ways by which we can test the heat of fat without the thermometer, and, apart from the stillness of the fat, one is to throw in a little piece of the crumb of bread into the fat, and if it at once becomes a golden colour the fat is hot and ready for whatever is to be fried. Another way is to let one single drop of cold water fall into the fat, and if this produces a loud hissing noise, the fat is hot enough  for the purpose required.

Another point that must be looked after, if we would fry successfully, is that the article to be cooked should be dry. Unless it is, it will not brown properly. It is a good plan, in order to dry fish perfectly, to let it lie folded in a cloth for two or three hours before attempting to fry it, and it is very usually floured also to secure the same end. Of course the flour should be shaken off before the fish is put into the fat, especially if the fish is to be egged and breaded. Fish is, however, very good dipped in flour alone before being fried, thus saving the egg and bread crumbs.

It is evident that if we are to take as much fat for frying as I have said we ought to do we should never get on if we used only the flat shallow pan so common in English kitchens, and know as a frying-pan. Nor is it desirable that we should do so. In the kitchens of rich people there is found what is called a frying-kettle, or deep pan, for frying, which is provided with a wire lining, with a handle at each end. The cook lets her fat boil, puts whatever is to be fried on the wire, then plunges it into the hot fat, and when it has been in long enough, lifts the wire lining by the handle, and, of course, the fish or whatever is being fried is taken up with it, and the fat drains away as it rises. All that is then necessary is to place the fried article on kitchen paper for a minute or two, to take the grease from the surface, and they are ready to serve. I said, take the grease from the surface only, for if the fat is hot, and the fish has been plunged into it as I have described, there will be no fear that it will be greasy inside. The hot fat will have hardened the outside so securely, that not only will the goodness have been kept inside the case, but the grease will have been kept outside it.

It is not every one, however, who possesses one of these convenient frying-kettles; and when we have not got a thing we must do as well as we can without it. It is always bad workmen who quarrel with their tools. Fortunately for small articles, an ordinary iron saucepan will supply all we want, if only it is perfectly clean. If there is anything sticking to the bottom, we must expect that it will burn and spoil our fat. If we can manage to procure a little wire frying-basket upon which our materials can be placed before they are plunged into the fat, we shall be as well off as the fortunate possessor of the finest frying-kettle in the world. A basket of this kind can be bought for about half-a-crown, or people with clever fingers can twist one together with two or three pennyworth of wire. If the basket is not to be had, we can take whatever is fried out with a skimmer, and for a great many things that will answer quite as well. If the article to be fried is large, such as a sole, for instance, we shall, if we have no frying-kettle, be obliged to use the frying pan, only we ought to have in it enough fat to cover the fish. Fortunately though soles are broad, they are thin, so that this can be done without much difficulty. Very thick soles are seldom fried, the flesh being usually lifted from the bone, and cooked in fillets or small slices.

And now I must say one word about the fat that is used for frying. Lard is commonly taken for this purpose, and, unfortunately, nothing worse could be chosen, because lard always makes food look greasy; besides which it often has a peculiar taste. Oil is very good, but it is expensive, and it is rather difficult to manage, because it quickly boils over. Butter is also expensive, and it needs to be very gently heated. The very best fat that can be selected is what is called kitchen fat, that is, the skimmings of saucepans and the dripping from joints that in nine English kitchens out of every ten is put on one side by the cook and sold as her perquisite for about fourpence a pound. When the good fat is well out of the way, inferior fat, that is lard, is bought at 8d or 9d per pound to take its place.

It is quite a puzzle to me to make out how this most absurd custom arose, and a still greater one that it can be kept up. It is a comfort to think that when ladies get to understand cookery, it will soon be put a stop to.  I have nothing to say against servants being well paid; if they do their work well, by all means let them have good wages; but why we should allow them to increase their wages by selling our excellent kitchen fat at less than half its value and then expect us to spend double the money in buying fat that is not nearly so good, is beyond my comprehension. I can only imagine that the practice was begun by some one who was ignorant, and kept up by someone who was dishonest. For fear of accidents we should let the boiling fat cool a minute or less in the basin before mixing the cold water with it, and we should add the cold water gradually.

But if, notwithstanding all our care, we are still short of the requisite quantity of fat, what are we to do? Make it up with lard? By no means. Rather gather together every piece of fat meat upon which you can lay your hands, cut it into small pieces, put these in a saucepan, and place this on a clear fire. Leave the lid off the pan, and boil the fat gently, stirring it every now and then to keep it from burning to the bottom of the pan. Afterwards we must pour the contents of the saucepan through a strainer into a basin, and then our fat is ready again for use.

If the pieces of fat taken from joints still do not afford as much dripping as we need, the best thing we can do is to buy what is called by the butchers ox flare, cut into pieces, and render it down in the same way. This flare can be had for about 6d per pound; it is much better than suet or hard fat because it produces a softer kind of dripping. A better fat still is the "twist" from the top side of the round of beef, but this can very seldom be obtained, as it is sold with the meat.

Fat does not need to be clarified each time it is used for frying. It requires only to be strained through a metal strainer to free it from any little pieces of meat or fish that are in it. Care should be taken, however, to remove it from the fire as soon as it is done with, to prevent its becoming discoloured, and also to let it cool a little before pouring it through the strainer, as otherwise it may melt the metal. The impurities will always settle at the bottom of the fat after melting, and they can be easily removed.

Fat that has been once used for fish is likely to have a fishy taste, therefore it should be kept exclusively for that purpose.

Now, perhaps you will feel inclined to say, Is there nothing we can fry without a large quantity of fat? Certainly there is. We fry pancakes and omelettes and slices of bacon with a small quantity of fat. Mutton chops and beefsteaks are often fried in the same way. Strictly speaking, however, this is not to fry them, but to sauté them. Chops and steaks, however should not be cooked in a frying-pan at all. They are sure to be greasy when thus prepared, and are much better broiled over a clear fire. And of broiling I will speak at our next lesson.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

3 April 1880 - 'Etiquette for Ladies and Girls' by Ardern Holt

 If "manners make the man" they even more decidedly make the woman, and few gifts ensure greater happiness and affection to their possessor than a good manner.

Now, while all good manners are the offshoot of a good heart, and while kindly courteousness and thought for others are the very kernel of the matter, still there are certain laws laid down which it is necessary to thoroughly understand, and I purpose to set these before my readers. For etiquette and good breeding are not identical though they are twin sisters; for example, it is possible for a  foreigner to be perfectly well bred and yet show an ignorance of some details of etiquette.

All the niceties of personal behaviour in regard to eating, drinking, and cleanly habits are learned imperceptibly by children from their parents and guardians, hence it is most necessary that mothers who are unable to have their children constantly with them should ensure innate refinement in the teachers and attendants who surround them.

It is when a girl is old enough to "come out" as the phrase is, and to take a recognised position in the social world, that a knowledge of the code that rules good society becomes necessary. For there is but one recognised code in really good society, although some old-fashioned modes may prevail in other places, and, with old-fashioned people. "Coming out" means introduction to society either at a party at home or by being presented at her Majesty's Drawing-room, or by merely accepting the invitations of friends. When a young lady is "out" her name appears on her mother's visiting card, immediately below her mother's name; or with those of her sister's as one of the Misses _____. An unmarried lad, unless she has arrived at a certain age, does not have a card of her own, nor does she make calls on her own account, as she should certainly not have acquaintances who are unknown to her parents.

Visiting cards should be printed on thin unglazed cards, in as plain letterings as possible in text hand, with no flourishes or any remarkable style of printing, the gentlemen's about half the depth of the ladies' but in cases where there is no mother the daughters have their father's name printed on cards of the usual ladies' size, with their own beneath. Some ladies put their husband's name on their cards as well as their daughters, Mr and Mrs S____ in one line. This is not a solecism, but is somewhat old-fashioned.

The plan of card-leaving is regulated by very plainly-defined laws of etiquette. Cards were originally introduced so that people on whom the calls were made might be aware of the fact even should the servant be forgetful, and when a personal call is made they are never sent in, excepting in cases of business visits where there is no acquaintance, as, for example, in calling  for the character of a servant.

If an acquaintance is not at home when she calls, a lady leaves her own card with the names of her daughters upon it, and two of her husband's cards, one  for the master and one  for the mistress, with occasionally an additional one  for the sons If the mistress is at home, on leaving she deposits two of her husband's cards on the hall table. She must neither give them to the servant nor to the hostess. As a rule, the wives do the card-leaving for married men, who rarely call in person.

The right-hand corner of a lady's card turned down means that she intends the call to be on the young ladies as well as their mother. Cards should bear the prefix of their owner - Mrs, Miss, Lady (if a knight or baronet's wife), Countess, or any other title. The only one never used on a card is "Honourable". The Christian name without a prefix is simply a barbarism unheard of in good society, such as "Jane Brown", though young gentlemen, at college and elsewhere, put the name without a Mr".

With card-leaving comes the question of calling. Calling hours are from three to six. First calls should be returned within the week. Calls should be made also within the week after every entertainment, whether it be a dinner, or an "At Home", held either in the evening or afternoon, always assuming that the "At Home' is a party for which invitations have been issued. Many people in London, and large towns, though not, perhaps, the ultra fashionable people of London, have certain days in the week on which they receive their friends, and as the friends who put in an appearance are in fact paying a call, a subsequent call in consequence of being present at such an "At Home" is therefore unnecessary. After a dinner-party it is best to go in if the lady is at home, leaving cards, if preferred after other entertainments Most people on coming to town call on all their friends by merely leaving cards; it is etiquette for those who come to town to take the initiative for, of course, it would be almost impossible for their acquaintance to ascertain when they came. If, when a call is made simply cards are left at the door and there is no inquiry as to whether the mistress is at home, the same plan should be adopted in returning the call. Servants should be trained to remember the distinction. It is a vulgarity under any circumstances whatever to send visiting cards by post. If after an entertainment the distance is too great for a call, it would be best, if you are very punctilious, to write a polite note; but to send cards by post to save the trouble of calling is a breach of good manners.

On leaving a neighbourhood, and sometimes at the end of the season, or going abroad, cards are left with P.P.C., viz., pour prendre conge, or pour dire adieu, written upon them. If young ladies are away from home, and have been accepting hospitalities in the way of dinners and other parties their names should be written in pencil on the card of their chaperone.

in the country old residents call on new-comers, but in London and in towns generally this plan does not hold good, and an introduction is necessary before a call is made. When a call has been made the receivers can continue the acquaintance or not as they please, but first calls are generally followed by invitations from those who make them. Cards left in the case of illness should have the words "to inquire" in pencil on the top. To very young ladies a morning call is often an ordeal they would fain avoid; but this should not e encouraged. If admitted, they, with their mother, would be announced by the servant, and should take a part in the conversation without in any way monopolising it. Supposing other callers were present the can, if they please, enter into conversation with them; their so doing does not require an introduction nor necessitate an acquaintance. A quarter  of an hour is enough for a ceremonious call. Neither when other visitors come or go do those present rise; they can, if they please, bend slightly, but that is not necessary.

If the call is made about five o'clock, tea is generally served, and, as a rule, poured out by the lady of the house without ceremony.

When calls are received at home more devolves upon the young ladies of the house; then they are expected to help their mothers in the conversation and in dispensing tea, etc. They can, if they please, receive lady visitors in their mother's absence, but it depends on her approval whether gentlemen are admitted and this is not often allowed if there is but one daughter.

A young lady visiting at a house must use her discretion with regard to remaining in the room when visitors call. It depends whether she thinks her hostess would wish her to do so, and unless she happens to be herself acquainted with the people who come, it would be better, after a short interval, to retire. If visitors call upon her who are unknown to the hostess, as a young lady it would be right for her to introduce them, her chaperone taking the place of her mother  for the time being.

A young girl with all the freshness of her youth and the sweet dignity of womanhood has a sure passport into society which secured her a warmth of welcome; it depends on herself whether this grows or is early nipped in the bud.

Fastness and prim sedateness are equally to be avoided; a calm, frank, unembarrassed manner, a sympathetic interest in and thought for others, a habit of saying the right thing in the right place, the power of being a good listener, and of letting the conversation take any turn most agreeable to the speaker, these are some of the component parts of good and pleasing manners. The fault of the age rather runs towards young people assuming too much, being too confident and self-assertive, and too thoughtless with regard to their elders - all essentially bad manners.

People who have at all a large acquaintance should keep a visiting book with the names and addresses of those on whom they are on visiting terms, and a correct alphabetical list of the several members of the family who, in case of an entertainment being given, would be invited. Without this a hostess is apt to forget the number of sons or daughters. A supplementary list in a small note-book kept in or with the card-case saves a great deal of trouble when visits are paid.

Twice a year as a broad rule is sufficient number of times to call on acquaintances, unless they have given entertainments which necessitate card-leaving.

On hearing of the death of an acquaintance, cards should be at once left at the house, and when the relatives feel able to see their friends again they send by hand or post either specially printed cards or their own "with thanks for kind enquiries", which are acknowledged by a call.

Ladies, do not leave cards on gentlemen, unless they have been entertained. After a dinner given to ladies by a bachelor a wife would leave her card with her husband's. Common sense should be exercised in all these matters. The wife of a naval officer would hardly leave her husband's cards on mutual acquaintances when he was at war.


The importance of attention to rules of etiquette will be admitted even by those whose pressing duties or higher avocations hinder from rigid observance of them. For example, no one would expect the ceremonies of formal visiting from hospital nurses, though some of these are of high and noble families. They are better employed. No one is surprised at their disregard of etiquette, any more than at their now wearing gloves, which they never do. Such exceptions are very different from those made without excuse of duty. We have known good people who, from ignorance, or neglect of rules and usages of social life, cause religion itself to be evil spoken of. They think such things to be "conformity to the world". But the true principle is to be in the world, yet not of the world. The Christian precept, "Be courteous" covers all the innocent usages of society in our time, as it did in the days when Divine illustrations were drawn from the usages of the Jews in their feasts and marriages and other social institutions.

Friday, 25 March 2016

27 March 1880 - 'The Dress of the Month' by Dora de Blaquiere

Although reckoned amongst the months of spring, March certainly seems to belong, by its low temperature, rightly to winter; the winds are cold and piercing, the rain is even more chilly than the wind, and the sky is usually dull; while clouds of dust add to the general discomfort. The warm winter garments cannot be discarded without great danger to health and life, and numberless are the accounts of dangerous illnesses which accrue from this cause alone.

But on its few bright days how shabby we all feel, both in our houses and our apparel; and how we long for something new and fresh in our surroundings. The custom of wearing new dresses and bonnets at Eastertide has very much passed into oblivion, but most of our mothers can remember that their mothers thought that to wear a white bonnet and veil on Easter Sunday was absolutely necessary. So our winter costumes and dresses may be worn throughout March, unless the season be much altered this year from its usual type, although this fact must not make us the less busy, for we have many preparations to commence, and many stitches to set in, if we be our own dressmakers and needlewomen, as I trust many of us are.

In the first place there are the underclothing and the stockings to be kept in constant repair. And those girls who have to make the most of a modest allowance will find that the simplest and most economical way of replacing under-linen will be to have always a new garment in hand to work upon in spare moments. Thus the expense of purchasing a large number is avoided, and the addition of the new garment at intervals keeps the stock in fair and presentable order. The calico should be, without dress, 36 inches in width, and of good quality, without uneven and large threads in it. An expenditure of from fivepence to sixpence a yard will ensure the acquisition of an excellent wearing quality. The amount required for a nightdress is four yards, for a chemise two yards and three quarters, for a pair of drawers two yards, while a yard is sufficient for a petticoat-bodice, and three yards of flannel for an ungored petticoat.

Scarlet has very much gone out of favour for flannel petticoats, as it is liable to be so spilt in the hands of an incompetent laundress, and I do not know anything so ugly as badly-washed red flannel, with large discoloured blotches in it, and the original colour changed to an unhealthy hue of repulsive-looking red. Pink, blue, violet and grey have been adopted in its stead, and the two latter are quite as pretty as the red when new, and wash and wear well. Of course, in the country, white can still be worn, but in our foggy London it has to be relinquished entirely.

The next thing, after the underclothes, which we should examine, is our stock of thinner dresses for the summer; for just at this moment there is plenty of time to make up our minds as to what we shall need, and to use our money when the spring goods come in to the best advantage. Last summer the cooler garments in our wardrobes had a rest, and perhaps will need but slight alterations. I hear that large quantities of our old friend, the "Galatea" stripes, and uni-coloured materials to wear with them as trimmings, are being prepared by the wholesale trade. This will be good news to many people, who had discovered the worth of this material, in its washing and waring, especially for children and younger girls. It required such plain making-up, too, and neither flounces nor kiltings looked well, only flat bands to match the predominating colour of the stripe. We are fortunate, too, in the fact that polonaises and princesse dresses are both as much worn as they were, though the drapery at the back must be a little modified and rearranged, and perhaps some fullness taken out.

Those of our readers who have patronised velveteen this winter will find that the skirts will be most useful this spring, and will be much used with over-dresses and polonaises of the new "all-wool homespuns" which are beautifully light in texture and moderate in price. I have inspected some manufacturers' patterns, which will be sold in the shops at about a shilling a yard. The colours most worn in them will be the various shades of "old gold", a very pretty and becoming colour for girls. Velveteen will both dye and clean well, and if it were good when purchased it will y and by appear in the spring costumes "quite as good as new".

White dresses of all materials will be very much in favour, and white serge is especially mentioned, as forming a charming spring costume. White cashmere is pretty, also a good white alpaca, both of which would answer for a best dress at any time.

The illustration below is a pretty evening dress, of a brocaded material of a grey colour. The trimmings are of grey or black linen-backed satin. Folds of satin are laid in front, and it has elbow-sleeves, with bows of satin at the sides. The necklace is of coral beads, and the hair is simply coiled and held up with a comb, the rose being worn or not, as required or liked. This dress is inexpensive, and might be made with long sleeves and closed at the neck if preferred. The jacket is intended to show - what has been several times inquired for by our correspondents - a simple method of trimming that can be accomplished at home. The material is a black cloth, with a basket pattern on the surface. The trimming consists of bands of black watered silk and velvet laid straight and flat all round; the edges have a thick cord laid on. Of course, these materials could be changed to suit the purse or the taste of each person. For instance, velveteen might be adopted instead, and edged with cord or bands of satin and plush. An old jacket cleansed and re-trimmed in this simple way would, I think, look very well.

There is little change in the fashion of dressing the hair, except that back-combs, so long banished, appear likely to come into favour again. They have ornamental tops, and the hair is, as I have observed, simply coiled, both back and front hair being placed together. Grecian fillets - two or three bands of ribbon of graduated lengths - are placed at equal distances, in the hair, or a wide band of coloured ribbon is tied in a bow at the top of the head. A few soft curls on the forehead in front can be suitably worn, but none of these ideas are very novel, although they are the most so of any that have yet appeared, and nothing really new seems likely to come in just yet.

Very pretty and jaunty little aprons are worn, which add exactly the needful touch of prettiness to a girl's costume, and brighten up the dullness of the winter dress. They may be made of mull-muslin and lace, like our example, Fig.1, and have a bright-coloured ribbon at the back; or they may be of the now fashionable pocket-handkerchiefs, which, although they are of such small price, composes the favourite apron of great people. The ordinary spotted cotton handkerchiefs are used, and three of them are required to make one apron. The first is used  for the middle, and has the top cut off it at the waist part, which (top) is used for a band. Number two is cut in two, one half being used for a bib, and the other is sewn along the lower edge of the middle one, making two borders at the bottom. The third handkerchief is cut diagonally from corner to corner, and the bias side sewn on to the sides of the middle already prepared. Then strings are sewn on to the points, which tie at the back, over the dress. The apron and bib are both simply gathered and sewn to the band above and below. I hope I have described this quaint-looking apron so that my readers may understand how it is made. The handkerchiefs can be purchased at as low a cost as threepence, and of course when this is the case this apron is a most economical investment. I must not forget to say that, if desired, it can be edged with the coarse Greek lace, now to be procured in every shop at a cheap rate. Aprons of linen and unbleached crash, embroidered in crewels, are likewise much worn; also some of dark blue French linen, which are particularly suitable for young girls, as they do not show either stain or soil, and, if decorated with pretty sprays of crewel work, are quite ornamental, as well as decidedly workmanlike and useful.

The most elegant of the new trimmings are those which go by the name of "cashmere", which does not convey any idea of what they are, as cashmere is a material, and in this sense it only appears to indicate a mixture of colour. Cashmere beads, for instance, which form the most charming decoration for a bonnet, are mixtures of red, green, gold and black beads. Cords and galloons are also made in the same way, but the beads are certainly the best decoration and trimming that I have seen for a long time. They may be worn with any colour, and look well with all.

Silk neckerchiefs are now quite revived, and very useful they are. They are large, square handkerchiefs, folded cornerwise, and tied round the neck open, without folding, and as loosely as possible. Bright colours are in favour, but especially those Indian and Persian-looking materials which can often be bought by the yard in sops where Indian fabrics are sold. Sometimes, too, people have stores of this kind lying by which they have never known how to use, but which, having been brought home as a remembrance by some dear soldier or sailor relative, they have carefully hoarded. Now is the time to make them of use and wear them as neckerchiefs, to the admiration of all beholders.

Fig.2 is one of the new large linen collars, and a cuff to match, which are much liked in the morning by some young ladies.

Fig.3 is a pretty evening fichu and cuffs, which I do not think my readers will have much difficulty in copying. It may be made in Swiss muslin, with Breton lace; or, if thin India silk be preferred, it would look equally well. This fiche would brighten up a dull day dress for evening wear.

Amber necklaces are now used by many young ladies, and it is quite a pleasure to see this dear old fashion again. I have always thought it a pity that this favourite of the earliest times had been so utterly discarded, and the pretty old necklaces of coral, cornelian and amber - some of which had passed through several generations - should have been laid aside. It is a simple and old-time ornament, more suitable to girls than any other they could wear. Very few ornaments there are which one would recommend to girls, for in truth they need none, while they have the fair beauty and the rounded outlines of youth.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

27 March 1880 - 'The Blackbird' by Harrison Weir

No English bird is better known and appreciated than the blackbird - ousel, or merle, as it is sometimes called. It is naturally of a very shy and timid nature, hiding amongst the thick foliage of evergreens, high grass, and weeds, or in the hedgerows, and then watching an opportunity to dart away into the nearest copse, making known its presence by its shrill alarm-note. Its food consists chiefly of wild fruit, berries, worms and insects. In an orchard it is a sad rogue, clearing off the fruit from cherry-trees, or current and gooseberry bushes, in a very short space of time. Nor is this the worst, from it has a bad habit of tasting pears and apples to a large extent, without confining itself  to any particular fruit, thereby spoiling a quantity, for you cannot preserve fruit after a hole, however small, has been picked in it.

In dry weather their depredation in fruit gardens is very serious. I have known nearly two dozen blackbirds in and about one tree in early morning. They are particularly fond of the berries of the mountain-ash, and those of the white thorn, also the holly in snowy weather. It is quite a mistake to suppose blackbirds eat slugs, and I have never known them when wild to eat snails. Taken altogether they are not so desirable in a garden as many imagine, and were it not for their delightfully melodious song I fear strong measures would be taken to get rid of them. But I prefer scaring them from any particular trees by scarlet worsted being laced about the branches, and a few pieces of tin, with feathers being hung here and there. Strawberries can be netted; also currants, raspberries, and gooseberries - but the net should be raised three feet above the plants, as the birds would rest upon it, and the net sinking with their weight, they would quickly put their heads through and enjoy the ripest of the fruit.

For keeping in a cage they are best brought up from the nest, and should be taken just as the feathers are showing beyond the quill part. The young may be reared with food made of oatmeal, with a little chopped beef and some sugar, but not much. As they grow older, stale buns mixed with bread-crumbs and beef cut up finely will serve to keep them in health. Now and then a piece of apple, pear, or cherry, or a few mountain ash berries for a change, will prove beneficial.

The cage should be large, and kept scrupulously clean, and a pan of soft water should be put in it every day, in which the bird might bathe, while water for drinking should be pure and fresh, not allowed to stand day after day.

It is most needful that the bottom of the cage be strewed with nice gravel, as swallowing grit and stones assists the digestion. In my opinion the best cage is the wicker one; it can be easily washed, and all insects that would otherwise be of much annoyance to the occupant thereby destroyed.

The blackbird may easily be caught by baiting a brick or other trap with fruit, such as cherries, plums or a ripe apple; but it is not well to catch them in summer, as they are then breeding, and their young would be left to starve in the nest. In the winter bait the trap with berries, bread and meat. Blackbirds when well taken care of will live in cages many years. I have heard of one fifteen years old.

Speckled, white and black birds - and white birds are not uncommon - and some beautifully-marked have been exhibited at the various shows. The notes of the blackbird is soft and melodious, being very rich and sweet at times. In its wild state it does not sing for long together, as it generally commences about the end of February and finishes at the beginning of June. As a rule birds only sing while they are nesting. In a cage the blackbird sings six or seven months in the year, or even more, but much depends on the food given to it.

Before closing this article, let me strongly impress on all those who keep birds in cages to look to their comfort and welfare themselves, every day. There is an old saying, "If you wish for a thing well done, do it yourself."

Sunday, 20 March 2016

20 March 1880 - A Few Hints Upon the Management of a Watch

1st - Wind your watch as nearly as possible at the same time every day. Care should be taken to avoid sudden jerks.

2nd - Be careful that your key is in good condition, free from dust and cracks. It should not be kept in the waistcoat pocket, or any place where it is liable to rust or get filled with dust.

3rd - Keep the watch while being wound steadily in the hand, so as to avoid all circular motion.

4th - The watch when hung up must have support and be perfectly at rest, or, when laid horizontally, let it be placed on a soft substance for more general support, otherwise the action of the balance will generate a pendulous motion of the watch, and cause much variation in time.

5th - The hands of a duplex or chronometer watch should never be set backwards; in other watches this is a matter of no consequence, but to avoid accidents it is much better to set them always forward.

6th - The glass should never be opened in watches that are set at the back.

7th - Keep your watch-pocket free from dust or nap, which generally accumulates in the pocket when much used. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

20 March 1880 - 'How Can I Look My Best?' by Medicus

I'm not convinced the final paragraph isn't trolling, Medicus. 

To look her best is the desire of every young girl, but I will even go a little farther and say that not only is it her desire, but it is also her duty,  for the sake of those around her. TO enable her to do this in a natural way, I am going to place at the disposal of the young reader of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER, some of the fruits of experience, and give advice which, if followed, can only result in good. In some future papers I hope to have something to say about the hair, as well as the hands and the feet. In this I will confine myself as much as possible, to a friendly chat about the face and the complexion. And first and foremost, it will do no harm if I introduce here just a tiny wee morsel of physiology. I know there is a disagreeable schoolroom sound about the word "physiology" and so there is about all "ologies" and "graphies" too  for the matter of that; but the lesson I want you to learn is a very short and an exceedingly useful one. It is just a word or two about the skin. Nature formed the skin not merely for a protective covering  for the face and body - though, to be sure, that is one of its uses - for it has a great many others besides, and, taking it all in all, it is one of the most important organs of the body. There are millions and millions of what are called pores spread over its surface, and from these are constantly passing off in a manner insensible to us what, if retained in the blood, would tend to make us sick and ill and shorten our lives on earth. If the skin be not kept in a state of purity and activity we cannot enjoy either health or happiness.

The skin of the face being more exposed to sun and rain, as well as to dust and smoke, is more liable to suffer than that even of the hands, and consequently requires far greater care and attention. The signs of health, as depicted in the face of a young girl, are many. The skin should be pure, soft and transparent - what is generally called a clear complexion. It ought to be white on brow and nose and chin, and smooth around the eyes, while the blood should mantle in the cheeks in the tenderest of rosy tints -at times rivalling in beauty the delicate hues of some lovely sea-shells. The eyes ought to be rather full, and tender and bright, the white portion showing no tendency to be either yellow or red; the eyelashes should be soft and long, and the teeth of absolute whiteness. But ah! I am sorry to say that it is too much the fashion of the day to attempt to gain the healthy complexion I am trying to describe, in quite a wrong way. Too much artificiality is had recourse to. I do not mean in the matter of powders or rouge - very young girls do not require such aids to beauty, but in the use of many advertised lotions and nostrums, most of which had better be done without, and many of which are positively hurtful. It cannot be too generally known that although application to the face are oftentimes necessary, beauty and clearness of complexion cannot be maintained by their use alone.

Now roughness of the skin and a sallow, pale, or pasty appearance are, in nine cases out of ten, the results of impurity of blood, and, again, in five cases at least out of ten, this impurity of blood is caused by errors in diet. Few girls, indeed, have the slightest notion of how intimate is the connection between personal appearance and a good digestion. The errors in diet I refer to are more particularly intemperance in eating, eating between meals, eating too freely of fruits, pastry and sweets - things that are only good in moderation - eating hurriedly, and, I may add, taking wine or malt liquors, neither of which young girls ought to touch, unless commanded to do so by their family physicians.

Eating injudiciously acts injuriously upon the complexion in more ways than one; it may heat the blood to an almost feverish extent, causing flushing of the face, and that in itself may mean very serious injury to the skin, through the distention of the small blood-vessels therein, and consequent weakening of its nerves. Again, the stomach becomes deranged through the same causes, not probably to say very great extent, a feeling of languor being more often present than actual pain or uneasiness, but just sufficiently so to have an action for evil on the liver.

Now the function of this latter organ being to eliminate or release bile from the blood, and bile, if circulating in the veins, being a poison, it can at once be seen that little attacks of indigestion, especially if of frequent occurrence, can be highly inimical to the complexion. If you wish then to retain your youth and beauty, be most careful how you eat and drink, for there is nothing that will age one sooner than errors in diet.

Plenty of healthful exercise in the open air tends greatly to purify the blood and render the complexion delightfully clear; it also keeps the pores of the skin open, and prevents the formation of those nasty little black ticks that are so disfiguring to the face of a young girl. Remember that these can always be more easily prevented than cured, and that when they are numerous, although they may be squeezed out, they actually leave small pits behind them and a disagreeably roughened appearance of the skin. I shall have to speak more particularly about exercise another day, but here just let me give a hint or two. The time for taking it is before and not after meals; it should be moderate to be beneficial - that is, it should not be carried to the verge of fatigue. At the same time I advocate for young girls a little running and leaping, and even occasional gymnastics, for all these tend to spread a healthful bloom on the cheeks and render the skin soft and pliant. But pray remember this, no exercise of the nature of a task, no exercise that you do not thoroughly enjoy, no exercise that does not make the time fly as if it had the wings of a swallow, can do much real good.

Observe, too, that I said the exercise should be taken in the open air. Oh! If my young readers only knew the healthful beautifying effect of pure fresh air, they would hardly ever be within doors unless by compulsion. Every hour spent in the open air goes so far to keep a girl young and lovely and every hour spent in a dull, stuffy room goes to age her and render her complexion sallow. Badly ventilated bed-rooms are terrible enemies to good looks, and they are all the more so in that one is really more apt to sleep longer in them. The air being dull and heavy causes drowsiness, but the sleep is not of a sweetly refreshing kind, and you do not wake from it happy and gay and light-hearted as you ought to - as the birds do, ready to burst into song the moment they open their eyes. In the summer months the windows ought to be open all night. If you try the effects of this for one night only you will be astonished, and not like to have them closed again. Of course you must take care of catching cold, for no one should sleep in a draught. A young girl should have eight hours' sound sleep, but not more. If she has more it is not really proper sleep, and I'll tell you what often occurs. She awakes in the morning slightly puffy about the eyes and eye-lids; this may not hurt for once in a way, it may not hurt for fifty times, but who is me! I know it ends in early wrinkles and crow's-feet, and a consequent banishing of youth and beauty long before its time.

I must now say a word about water and ablution. A well-known living authority makes the following wise remark. "Water," he says, "the medium of ablution, hardly receives a just appreciation at our hands. It is the most grateful, the most necessary, and the most universal of the gifts of a wise Creator."

Now, if you would live long and still retain your youth, if you would look your best, and have both health and beauty in abundance, I pray you look upon pure water as not only a faithful servant, but a kind friend. Happy is the girl, I say, who can take and enjoy a bath in pure cold, soft water every day of her life. She ought to be as plump and pretty as a partridge, and as fresh and "caller" as a little trout. Well, but if you are not strong enough to have a bath every morning, an occasional tepid bath in the evening, with plenty of mild soap, will do a great deal of good to the whole system, and the face and hands ought to be washed and sponged several times in the day. And here is something that ought not to be forgotten - never, if you can help it, wash in hard water, for water that curdles the soap will, so to speak, curdle the complexion. Procure rain or the softest of river water  for the hands and face, even if you have to send for it in bottles. I can assure you that many a fair face is ruined, so far as beauty goes, by the use of hard water.

And talking of the benefits of ablution, I shall do good service if I call attention to two mistakes that are commonly made. One is the use of bad soap; that is, soap which contains too much alkali. Avoid coloured and over-scented soaps. Another mistake is the use of too rough a towel, and this rough towel, I am sorry to say, is often recommended by people who know no better. A moderate degree of friction is all very well, but, dear me, you do not need to rub your pretty skin off. I repeat, then, rain or river water, neither warm nor too cold, good soap, and gentle friction; so shall you avoid a roughened or irritable skin and chaps on lips or fingers.

I must now touch on a delicate subject - medical men must at times, and this is nothing very dreadful after all; but young girls, on looking into the glass, are sometimes startled by seeing a slight wavy down on the corners of the upper lip. Let it alone - think nothing of it. In ninety cases out of a hundred it decreases with mature years, but interference is in all cases dangerous and injurious.

I have now shown you that sallowness or pastiness of complexion is caused by impurity of blood, and can only be removed by proper diet, exercise, pure air, proper ablution, and healthful sleep. These will remove it, but, mark me, no application to the face will or can. Medicines, however, often do good, but as I do not believe in young ladies taking much to drugs, I shall only mention one or two that greatly help to beautify and clear the complexion. If, then, the appetite is not what it ought to be, from half to a whole teaspoonful of quinine wine should be taken three times a day. If there be weakness and paleness of the face and gums, nothing is simpler, better, or more elegant than the common citrate of iron and quinine mixture, which any chemist can compound you, and tell you the dose according to your age. If the flesh is not so firm and plump as it ought to be, I commend to you the use of cod-liver oil. Yes, I admit it is nasty at first, but one in this world must oftentimes bear present pain for future profit. An occasional chamomile pill is most innocent medicine, yet it helps to keep both stomach and liver right, and it clears the eyes and complexion.

Pimples on the face and brow are not, as a rule, to be cured by applications, but by attention to the laws of health, to regularity of diet, exercise and ablution; but here is a small lotion which may be of use, and which may be compounded by any chemist. It is two ounces of the best eau-de-cologne, with about a grain of corrosive sublimate dissolved in it. It will be labelled POISON. The tender parts of the face are simply wetted with it three or four times a day. A far better and not dangerous preparation for redness, sun-browning, or tenderness of any kind about the face, is rose glycerine. NO toilet table should be without this little elegancy.

In summer, young girls who wish to look their best should always after washing bathe the face with a soft sponge and soft water without a particle of soap. Sun-burning may be removed by a weak decoction of goulard water, or by applying buttermilk to the face before going to bed. This last application, I admit, is not very elegant, but it is very useful.

But probably the most harmless of all cosmetics, and certainly the best, is wetting the face with May-dew - I'm not joking, gentle reader - and if you have to get up quite early in the morning to go and look for it, and have to walk a mile or two before you find any, all the better.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

13 March 1880 - 'Our Cookery Class' by Phillis Browne - 'Baking'

In many parts of England baking is spoken of as if it referred to bread alone. I do not want us to consider it in that way, but rather as a means of cooking food of different kinds, such as meat, pastry and puddings, as well as bread. Baking is really but another form of roasting, the difference between the two being that in roasting the meat turns before the fire in the open so that a current of air can play upon it, and in baking the meat lies motionless in a confined space.

There is no doubt that meat roasted before a fire is very much superior to meat baked in the oven. Those who have been long accustomed to the first cannot enjoy the second. They can detect it at once, both by its taste and its smell, and consider it both unpalatable and unwholesome. 

The old-fashioned open ranges are certainly very objectionable, for a great many reasons. They consume a great deal of fuel, and they are exceedingly dirty, all saucepans that are put upon the fires becoming so soot that it is scarcely possible for those who have to use them to help being grimy also; and with them food becomes smoky very quickly; but there is no question that with them meat can be roasted to perfection.

We have, however, to do with things as they are, and these open ranges are rapidly becoming things of the past. We may quite expect that in the course of a few years they will be done away with altogether, and on the whole it will be a very good thing. The principal reason why I shall be glad to see close ranges universally used, is that I believe ladies will practice cookery more when they are common, than if it can possibility be expected they will when they cannot cook a mutton chop without blacking themselves and their dress. With closed ranges they can put on an apron and a pair of sleeves, and with their own hands prepare little delicacies for their husbands and fathers; remove the apron, and, without further trouble, take their places at the head of the table, looking as fresh as a summer flower.

And, in addition, they can practice cookery and still keep their hands white and soft. This may, to strong-minded people, seem a unimportant detail, and I do not quite know that I ought to speak of it here, but I may as well confess that I admire soft, white hands, and I think every girl is justified in taking pains to keep hers so. If she could not do this whilst doing useful work, I would certainly say, let your hands go; but this is not always the alternative.

And now  for the best way of roasting meat in the oven, or, to speak correctly, baking it. In the more modern closed ranges a special provision is made for ventilating the oven, in order that fresh air may enter and the vapours given off by the meat may be carried away, and so the saturated taste peculiar to baked meat be removed. Meat thus baked in a ventilated oven is generally called roast meat; and it is very nearly, though I cannot say I think it is quite, as good as that which is roasted before the fire.

The same general rules as to hanging meat and basting it will hold good in baking as in roasting. When first the meet is put in, the ventilator should be closed, and the joint should be placed for about five minutes in the hottest part of the oven, in order that the outside may become quickly browned, and so the goodness of the meat may be kept in. After this the ventilator should be opened, and the meat be gently baked till done. The opening of the ventilator will slightly cool the oven. A small vessel containing hot water should be put by the side of the meat in order to keep the air of the oven moist. When the air is dry the meat is more likely to become heard and scorched. Cold water must not, however, be put in, as it would lower the temperature of the oven.

Meat should be placed on a stand in the dripping tin, in order to raise it and prevent its soaking in its own dripping, and thus becoming saturated and disagreeable. Small stands made  for the purpose are to be bought for a few pence.

When placing the joint on this stand it is well to put the fat side uppermost in the first instance, in order that the fat may melt and drop down upon the leaner part. If there should be but little fat upon the joint, a piece of kitchen paper that has been thickly spread with dripping should be placed over it to keep it from burning too quickly - of course, printed paper will not do for this. In any case the meat should be turned over two or three times, or it will not be equally cooked.

As to the time that a joint should be baked. When the ventilator is made use of, the same rules may be followed as in roasting before the fire If there is no ventilator in the oven, ten minutes to the pound and ten minutes over will be quite sufficient. As in ordinary roasting, solid meat needs to be cooked longer than thin meat, and white meat longer than red meat. It must be remembered also that cakes and pastry should not be put into the oven when meat is being baked, as the steam t rises from it will be likely to make them heavy.

A very important point in baking is the temperature of the oven. No rules as to the time of cooking can be of the slightest use unless the oven is of the right heat. The very safest way of testing it is to have a thermometer set into the front of the oven and regulate the heat by this. Bakers in Paris and Vienna, who make most delicious bread, never bake it by guess, but are guided by a thermometer. If we have one of these useful articles in our oven door, we only need be careful that the quicksilver shall rise to 300 degrees for baking small articles of puff pastry, to 280 degrees for larger pieces of pastry, such as pies, tarts, etc., and to 240 degrees for cakes and meat. Bread will require 280 degrees of heat to begin with, but this heat should be lowered after the bread has risen.

Not many ovens, however, are provided with thermometers, and therefore we must have some other way of finding out the heat. Ovens are particular concerns. They need to be looked after and managed and understood, and if they are neglected they are sure to revenge the insult. There are so many varieties amongst modern stoves, that the particular kind each has to do with must be studied, or the most carefully mixed cake or the lightest pastry will be "spoilt in the baking". An experienced cook could tell by putting her hand into the oven whether it was of the right temperature; but until we can gain this experience we must adopt some simple test.

Perhaps the easiest way of testing the heat of the oven is to sprinkle a little flour in it. If this should turn black in one minute the oven is too hot. If it should be of a bright brown colour the oven is hot enough for baking. If it should remain uncoloured, the oven is slack.

An oven that is too hot is, however, to be preferred to one that is "slack". It is always easy to put an additional baking sheet underneath, or a strip of paper over what is to be baked; but an oven that is too slow never bakes well. It will make bread and cakes heavy, pastry hard, and meat dry and flavourless.

There is generally one part of the oven that is hotter than the other. I have already said that meat should go into this first, in order to brown the surface quickly; and also should cakes and pastry, and anything that contains flour or any starchy substance. The small starchy grains need to be burst with the heat, and after this is done the mixture can be allowed to bake more slowly. If it is not done the preparation will be heavy.

Bread requires peculiar management, which must be the result of experience. As a rule, brick ovens are to be preferred to iron ones for baking bread, because the heat in them is more equal. Iron ovens, such as are attached to kitchen ranges, quickly become over-heated, which causes the surface of the bread to become hard before the heat has reached the centre of the dough, and this keeps the bread from rising. Therefore, if an iron oven must be used for this purpose, it will be found that small loaves or rolls are more easily baked than large ones.

There is one thing in baking that we must bear in mind, and that is that "an oven will not look after itself". The numbers of carefully prepared delicacies I have seen spoilt through forgetfulness of this simple fact. Only the other day a young friend of mine announced her intention to make some buns. She collected her materials, selected the recipe, mixed the ingredients in the most satisfactory manner, and put her buns into the oven. The whole family was in a state of expectations, when suddenly an odour more strong than agreeable diffused itself through the house. The melancholy fact slowly forced itself upon us. The buns were burning.  My friend had forgotten to look after them whilst they were in the oven, and they were all burnt as black as our shoes.

One objection to an oven is that it is not always hot when it is wanted. Those who want to do a little cooking in a hurry and find that the oven is cold and the fire low, may make a substitute  for the oven out of a saucepan. Small pieces of meat, poultry, and game are excellent thus "baked in a pan". Take a common iron saucepan (a tinned or an enamelled one would not answer  for the purpose). Melt a slice of dripping in it, and rub the meat or bird that is to be cooked all over with dripping. Place it in the pan, put on the lid, and turn it about every two or three minutes till it is equally browned all over. Cover the pan closely, draw it to the side of the fire so that the meat can cook slowly, and turn and baste it frequently. It will be done in about the same time that it would take to cook in an ordinary oven, and few would guess that it had not been dressed as usual.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

28 February 1880 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

DAISY - We are obliged for your letter, but are not in want of contributions. You had better study your spelling-book a little more, as you have failed within the few lines you have sent us.

PHILLIS MEADE - See answer to "Elsie" in No.4, THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER. You are too young to talk of an 'inveterate habit", which you might discover to be only ordinary laziness and self-indulgence. Go to bed early, or earlier than you do at present and you will find this the best cure for lying in bed in the morning.

SNOWDROP AND CROCUS - The teeth should be well brushed in the morning with powdered chalk, and at night with Castle soap. We do not advise the use of anything that will "whiten", only what will keep them clean. Rubbing them with a little lemon juice, however, would do no harm.

COSETTE - Of course bleeding from the lungs is a serious matter. No violent exercise, especially with the arms, nor any prolonged fatigue, even from quieter exertions, would be at all safe under such circumstances. A preparation of lead will probably be prescribed for you. But you ought to consult a doctor.

ROADES - Yes, it is lawful.

MONA - There is a small handbook on the care of cats, which any bookseller would procure for you. Probably you are giving your own greasy food, and meat.

POETESS - We cannot advise your sending your verses anywhere. Rhyming lines in metre do not necessarily constitute poetry. If there be no new and original ideas, we can only compare the composition to a shell without a kernel.

A NUT-BROWN MAID - You appear to be in a deplorable condition. Spots on the face are trying, baldness still more so, stoutness the only encouraging symptom. We only imagine that you "laugh and grow fat". Take moderate exercise, wash your face well daily with a non-irritating soap, and try  a decoction of rosemary for your hair.

Friday, 11 March 2016

6 March 1880 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

AUNT LETTA has a canary that is suffering from bronchitis or severe cold. She ought to place it in a clean, dry cage and hang it in a well-aired room. Place every morning in its fresh water fifteen drops of paregoric, half a teaspoonful of glycerine, and a bit of gum Arabic as big as a pea. Feed on the ordinary white-and-black canary-seed, and, until it is well, give it a little hemp sparingly.

L'ESPERANCE - We regret we cannot find room  for the particulars of your Anti-Slang Association.

JESSIE, I.L. - We are ashamed to find that any of our readers should think the bed-satchels too good for the poor hospital patients. They require them much more than you and your friends.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

28 February 1880 - 'Beautiful Women in Tears' by F.A. Kemble

Um, okay.

The power or weakness of abundant weeping without disfigurement is an attribute of deficient rather than excessive feeling. In such persons the tears are poured from their crystal cups without muscular distortion of the rest of the face. In proportion to the violence or depth of emotion and the acute or profound sensibility of the temperament, is the disturbance of the countenance. In sensitive organisations the muscles round the nostrils and lips quiver and are distorted, the throat and temples swell, and a grimace, which but for its miserable significance would be grotesque, convulses the whole face. Men's tears always seem to me as if they were pumped up from their heels, and strained through every drop of blood in their veins; women's, to start as under a knife stroke, direct with a gush from their heart, abundant and beneficent. But, again, women of the temperament I have alluded to above, have fountains of lovely tears behind their lovely eyes; and their weeping, which is indescribably beautiful, is comparatively painless, and yet pathetic enough to challenge tender compassion. I have twice seen such tears shed, and never forgotten them: once from heaven-blue eyes, and the face looked like a flower with pearly dew drops sliding over it; and, again, once from magnificent, dark, uplifted orbs, from which the falling tears looked like raindrops by moonlight. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

21 February 1880 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

A COMPANION - Your question is too vague. If exercise be desired, no game is preferable to battledore and shuttlecock. If a sedentary recreation, try the arrangement of a scrap-covered screen.

MOUSIE - Home employments of a lucrative character are more difficult to discover than any others. We know of nothing to suit you, excepting orders for plain sewing or knitting. Your writing would be sufficiently good for copying, but there is little to be obtained in that line. WE do not charge for answers.

A. SOUL - Would it not be better to consult your geography instruction book under "Ireland" for the answer to such a question? Our time is too valuable to waste in sending answers to any inquirers that may find the information required in a geography, grammar, arithmetic, or history book; or any ordinary work of the school-room. If you cannot obtain information on any subject at home, we are very glad to give you our assistance

BRIGHTON - Try lemon juice and glycerine, mixed half and half, for your freckles, and wear a veil. If too strong for your skin, after a trial of it as above prescribed dilute it with rosewater.

DOROTHY - 1. To remove iron-mould from linen, wet the spot and lay the article on a hot-water plate, and drop a little essential oil or lemons upon it. When dry, wet again and drop the oil as before, keeping the water boiling hot in the plate. When the stain has faded out, wash the linen well to get rid of the acid and its injurious effects. 2. Jewellers' rouge, employed for cleaning gold and plate, is not that used as a cosmetic  for the face. It is prepared by calcining precipitated sesquioxide of iron; and is much recommended by silversmiths; but if used twice a week, the plate would suffer considerable wear .We should certainly avoid rubbing it on a cut finger, or using it  for the face, and much less should we allow a child to put it near its mouth. 3. A paste made of fine emery and sweet oil, or else a preparation of polishers' putty-powder mixed with a little oxalic acid, applied with water, should be rubbed on the rusty steel. Then wash, dry, and polish with a chamois leather.

SNOWDROP AND CROCUS may find a decoction of rosemary of much service in making their hair grow. But they should leave their eyelashes alone.

NELLY - Pray do not put to us such absurd questions. We decline to give advice to love-sick girls. Cultivate the qualities we point out in every number of this publication and you need not fear that in the future you may be "alone in the world". No woman true to God and to herself can ever be really so.

E.S.W. For weak ankles nothing is better support than well-fitting laced boots, without high heels. Weak ankles are very common, and no wonder. With the perversity common to their sex, ladies, plantigrades by nature, convert themselves into digitigrades by fashion, throw all the wonderful mechanism of the human foot out of gear, and then complain of their weak ankles, forsooth. As for skating, it is essentially a plantigrade accomplishment, the power being in the heel and not in the toe. Not feathered Mercury himself could skate in high-heeled boots. We think that as yet nothing has been produced equal to the club wooden skate, with a heel-strap, and a 7 or 8 feet radius. A person with weakened ankles will find the Acme very trying, in consequence of the leverage.

Monday, 7 March 2016

21 February 1880 - Answers to Correspondents - Cookery

A YOUNG HOUSEKEEPER - I think the best recipe for thin oatmeal cakes is the following. Pour a gill of boiling water on half a pound of oatmeal, having added a large pinch of salt to the oatmeal. Make it into a dough, turn it on to a board well covered with meal, work it very slightly, roll it out as thin as possible, cut into shapes, and bake on a hot stove. When a little brown on the under side, take them off, and place on a hanger before the fire, in order to brown the upper side.

A YOUNG COOK - We suggest the following recipe for an economical pie. Cut one pound of lean beef into dice, place it in a stew-pan with an ounce of butter, four minced onions, and a pinch of pepper and salt. Let all simmer in its own juices until perfectly tender. If not allowed to cook too fast, there will be nearly half a pint of gravy from good fresh meat. It will take nearly two hours to cook it thoroughly. Then put the meat and onions into a pie-dish, and cover it with nicely mashed potatoes. Mark the cover in squares on the top by crossing it with a knife, and bake all for twenty minutes. The potato crust should be nicely browned. A little milk or butter should be mixed with the potatoes, as it enables them to be smoothed more easily. If made with cold meat, of course it will not require the stewing before baking.

MARY M. - The best way to dress mutton chops is to grill them on a gridiron, and when transferred to a hot-water plate, or dish, put a piece of butter of the size of an acorn on each, and pepper them. The receipt to which you allude refers to cooking potato-chips, not chops Peel fine kidney potatoes, cut them in very thin round slices, lay them in a cloth to dry, and fry in the wire basket in good fat; clarified pot-skimmings are preferable to dripping, and beef-suet melted down with lard is next best, but oil is the best of all for frying potatoes. The chips would be sufficient only to cover the bottom of the basket. When taken out they should be laid on paper before the fire, that the great may be absorbed. 

SWAINSTON - We suppose that your oven is too hot, or else you leave your pastry baking for too long a time.

Friday, 4 March 2016

I am on Twitter now.

I know it's a bit redundant seeing the readership for this blog is so small, but after having discovered the superb Twitter account Girls Own Advice (full disclosure I was asked if I ran this account, I do not) I have joined Twitter. I will post Bitly versions of links there, starting with posts from the New Regime of February '16, as well as posts from the Sampler, and anything particularly awesome that I tagged as Platinum GOP. Twitter is unfamiliar technology to me, so I apologise in advance for any errors or breaches of etiquette I make in the early stages. :)

21 February 1880 - 'Hindu Women'

In no part of the world, says Dr Williams Knighton, are nobler specimens of female humanity to be found than in India. The history of the country abounds with instances of the noblest devotion, unswerving fidelity, high principle, and sublime self-renunciation on the part of its women. Nor can anyone have been long resident in India without witnessing such. I have lived in Ceylon, in Bengal and in Oudh, and I have seen something of many districts and provinces lying between these distant regions, and everywhere I have witnessed the noblest instances of devotion and self-denial on the part of the women.

And yet the lot of the Hindu woman is unspeakably sad. She is married at so early an age that choice on her part is impossible. She accepts her destiny. She looks up to her husband as a sort of deity - she has been so taught from her earliest years - and a very debased, earthly, selfish and altogether contemptible sort of deity he too often proves himself to be. But for her there is no hope, however vile and contemptible he may prove. In life and death she is his. And if death takes him and she is left to widowhood, sad indeed is her lot. She may not immolate herself on the funeral pyre of her husband, a stern English Government forbids that, and she is doomed in consequence to gloom and sadness, and if childless to, to one meal a day, one garment, a total deprivation of all ornament, a d all that in her eyes makes life worth living. Her existence is bound up in his, and her affections are called forth powerfully, first for her husband and secondly for her children. And for the childless widow a far more miserable life remains.

The principal duties of the Hindu woman of the middle class at home are grinding the corn with a little hand-mill, similar to that so often referred to in the Bible, washing the floor where they cook and eat, drawing water, scouring the metal vessels, the cooking utensils, the jugs and plates; of course many of the more wealthy are exempt from these duties, but the vast majority perform them. The kitchen must be washed every day; when I say the kitchen, I mean that part of the house in which cooking and eating are carried on, for a large part of the religion of the Hindus consists in cooking and eating in a proper and religious manner. The shadow of a low-caste man falling o food of a high-caste Brahmin, whilst that food is in preparation, will be sufficient to defile it, and the whole will be thrown out in consequence.

The well at which water is drawn is a frequent resort for gossip. It is usually early in the morning and in the afternoon, from four to six, that water is drawn. Friends meet there, and interesting little details of household management and village life are exchanged. Some of the women will carry as many as three water-pots on their heads, one over the other, and sometimes one or two on the head and one under the arm. Women of different castes must not touch each other's vessels. This is a matter of great importance. Deadly feuds may be the result of thoughtless imprudence in this respect. Families of the higher classes who are wealthy often engage men or women of the fisherman's caste to carry water for them. But the young women usually like the duty, if the well be not too distant, and, in towns, the wells are usually in the gardens or yards of their own houses, rendering any journeys to a distance  for the purpose unnecessary.

Few people in the world are more religious than the women of India, but theirs is a zeal for religion without knowledge. They perform their service to the gods and goddesses of their faith unremittingly, particularly to the goddesses, and fail not to bathe in the sacred Ganges, or any other accessible river, on days of festivals, at the changes of the moon, and such like. From this service they expect good in this life rather than happiness in another. They are full of superstitious terrors; in fact they are amongst the most timid and fearful people on the face of the earth. The evils against which they contend by their religious services are their own, or their husband's or their children's illness. Being full of affection and concern for their children, they will go to any inconvenience or expense possible for their welfare. If sickness visits them it is attributed to some angry god or goddess, who must be propitiated by religious offerings, by prayers, by devotion, or human mortification. They will use medicines, but too often, alas! the physicians whom they are able to consult are little able to help them, and not unfrequently but experimentalise in their endeavours to do good. If the sickness be long continued or dangerous, they will promise a young kid as an offering to some goddess in expiation, hoping thereby that the sick loved one may be restored to health. Should the child recover they believe their prayers have been heard, and the vow is performed. Priests often work upon their credulity, and the credulous women will believe any story they may tell them. In this matter they will often act in opposition to their husband's wishes, although in other respects attentive and dutiful.

A Hindu wife never mentions the name of her husband. It would be esteemed an indelicacy or an insult if she were to do so. If he have a son then he is spoken of as that son's father. Gopal's father, the wife will say, ordered it, not my husband ordered it - our man, or some equivalent expression, if he have no sons is the nearest approach to indicating him distinctively. Nor does the husband mention his wife's name - he will call to her O, mother of Gopal, or if there be no child, O housewife, but never by her name.

Although distinctly regarded as an inferior by the husband, with whom she does not even take her meals, always waiting till he has finished, yet the treatment she experiences is not usually bad. There are of course tyrants and cruel husbands in all countries, but so far as my experience went in India, I do not believe that the average treatment of women by their husbands in that country is worse than that in England, rather better I think amongst the lower orders; but in the upper ranks of life the husband has a power and an authority which are quite unknown in Europe, and which of course will often be abused by unfeeling and tyrannical men, particularly amongst the uneducated, and it is unfortunately too often the case that, in remote districts especially, even the wealthy are uneducated. I have heard it remarked that those who have had the advantages of European culture amongst the upper classes make better husbands and better sons than others.

The chief education of a girl in India has for centuries consisted in learning how to dress the dishes most prized, to do rough needlework, to behave seemly in company, and sometimes a little singing and instrumental music. Mental nurture and training is the great want. Reading and writing have been for centuries denied to her, and considered unnecessary. Young men have been laughed at over and over again, both in Calcutta and in the Upper Provinces, for having had the boldness to teach their wives to read and write. And this they have been obliged to do stealthily - not openly in the light of the day, but in a clandestine manner, after dinner at night. Nor is it uncommon still to hear such exclamations as these: "What nonsense! for a woman to read and write! What's the use of it? A foolish proceeding! Something new and mad and senseless!" and such like. But a better day is dawning for women in India.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

21 February 1880 - 'Hats and Bonnets of the Nineteenth Century' by S.F.A. Caulfield

In which we invite the readers of the G.O.P. to LOL at the ridiculous things people used to wear on their heads.

The extraordinary freaks of fashion in olden times scarcely exceed the absurdities into which we have been led since the first development of a bonnet out of the hat. This variation in our out-of-door head-dress dates from the year 1795. The original bonnet was shaped like a jockey-cap, the brim in front spreading out rather far on a line, with the top of the ear. It was tied on with lavender-coloured strings without ends, was composed of straw, the dome-shaped crown, decorated with red perpendicular stripes, meeting at the top (still jockey fashion) while the projecting brim was plain, and a wreath of laurel leaves surrounded the head.

Small-sized bonnets continued to be worn, as well as hats, up to about the year 1820, when, as our illustration will show you, the brim had expanded and there was no cap border to fill up the empty space underneath it. Some kind of ribbon ruching decorated the brim all round, the latter reaching down below the ear; and there was also a ribbon trimming for back round the crown.

Ten years afterwards a very plain and unbecoming style came into fashion - trimmings were almost at a discount. One plain piece of ribbon was passed round the middle of the coarse straw bonnet, the ends of which were tied under the chin; while, at the back and under the flat-lying crown, there was a frilling of the ribbon or of a piece of silk of the same colour, as a finish to the bonnet, and a shade to the back of the neck, called a "curtain". The straw was either of the natural colour, or else dyed black or brown. Sometimes a plainly-tied bow was placed, like a butterfly, on the top of the head, midway between the crown and the brim. Such a bonnet as this may still be seen on the girls of some of the "charity schools".

A few years afterwards young people often wore beaver bonnets, which were shaped much in the form of the above-named "cottage". These were trimmed with thick silk cords and tassels, matching them in colour.

Simultaneously with the wearing of these two descriptions of bonnets, turbans were in fashion amongst the dowagers, and these were transmitted from a still earlier date. A beautiful satin of a delicate shade of French plum-colour, or violet-grey, was sometimes manufactured into a high turban kind of cap, having a flat band of the material across the head, a high "caul" standing up at the back, and a narrow frill of lace round the face. Others wore a loosely-twisted and more Turkish-looking turban; either of velvet, or silk, or of both folded together and usually very bright in colour .These were decorated, as in the illustration, with feathers or other ornaments.

It is scarcely surprising that the hideous article known as the "cottage bonnet" of 1830 ceased to have any attractions after a reign of some seven years, and that we flew into another, and just opposite, extreme of fashion, when the immense flaring bonnet, assigned to the year 1837, the year of the accession of Queen Victoria, took the economical amongst us so painfully by surprise, with its floral decorations inside the deep front, and the three or four nodding ostrich plumes, towering high above the crown. The strings securing it were tied, in bows on one side, and, as you may imagine, it was a matter of some inconvenience to walk out on a rough day, as the preposterous front acted quite as a wind-sail, and it was with no little difficulty that it could be kept on the head. The name of this ill-contrived head-covering was an "opera hat", though "hat" it really was not; and it was either made of plain velvet or of silk. It is also worth observing that they were worn not merely out of doors and at the opera, but also at balls.

In a couple of years from the first appearance of the "opera hat", some modifications took place; the shape was a little changed, but the dimensions were reduced, and the trimming was omitted - at least, a plain band round the crown, a binding round the brim, a curtain, and a bow or two at the back, replaced the costly plumage of the previous two years. A cap border was also worn, very slight round the upper part over the hair, and very wide and thick at each side of the face.

Passing over some few years, and the trifling varieties, regulated by individual fancy, either of the milliner or the wearer, helping to fill a gap in the history of fashion, we find that a soupcon of the discarded "cottage" appeared about the year 1846, rather less unsightly, yet meagre in design, lying flat on the head, brim and crown being run into one, and parallel respectively with each other. A wreath of leaves or flowers enlivened its dullness outside, together with some narrow bands of ribbon or velvet laid across it at equal distances apart. No cap-border was worn with this head-gear, but the vacant space between the front and the face was partially filled up by large sausage-like rolls of hair, laid against the cheek and extending to the jaw, while a comb confined the braids across the forehead just above the eyebrows. These very unpretentious bonnets were made of straw, and were tied on, under the chin, with a bow of broad ribbon, the shallow curtain being of straw. Very pretty fancy straw bonnets were worn within the years 1840 and 1850, with trimmings of the same. These were Tuscan straws, of a buff colour, and sometimes the bonnets were made in alternate bands of straw plait, and gathered quillings of silk.

 Gathered silk bonnets, of plain or checked material, in various colours, came into fashion in the year 1848, and with them the whisker-like cap-borders, lying on each cheek, and unconnected one with the other by any upper border. Ribbons and flowers embellished these quillings, which could be seen in profile below the rim of the bonnet-front, which was a good deal cut away from the cheeks on either side. Broad strings were tied in a bow under the chin, but no trimming decorated the exterior. The brim was moderately deep, spreading at the sides, and depressed at the top.

In about the year 1850 the brims of our bonnets were very wide, round, and deep, and the deep cap-frill of the previous style was still retained. These bonnets were of straw, and had very broad strings, tied in a large bow under the chin.

I do not pretend to give an unbroken list of all the out-of-door head coverings worn in each successive year, from the beginning of this century up to the present time; but so far only as any great varieties of fashion cropped up, from time to time, during that period. Of course there can be but one opinion respecting the fact that no fashion of the 19th century has ever been so extravagantly bizarre as those of the head-dresses that immediately preceded the creation of the bonnet. For example, if the "fair Mary Anne Robinson' otherwise known as the "Bird of Paradise", (an engraving of which may be seen in Fairholt's "Costumes of England") and others quite as monstrous, that excited no surprise nor disapproval in the year 1728. Those were the trying days when our unfortunate grandmothers or great-grandmothers used to require the services of a hairdresser on every occasion that their hair had to be "taken down", turned up again, and stuck all over with ribbons, flowers, feathers, and lace. What with all the false hair, pomatum, powder, and pinnings on all of the decorations in their right position upon a cushion laid on the top of the head, no one could rear up such an amazing erection for herself; nor could any ordinary maid do it for her. To save expense, therefore, a hairdresser had to be engaged monthly, or by those who could not economise in such a matter, weekly; and the operation he then performed was called "opening a lady's head"; when, as they significantly expressed it, "it would keep o longer!" At night, a large "net fillet" was put over all this grandeur, combining indoor head-dress, and outdoor bonnet, and hat all in one; and this bag was tied closely with a drawing string  for the night. I suppose that at no period of the world's history did women suffer so acutely  for the satisfaction of looking each like her neighbour.

Weary of the round broad brims and heavy cap-borders of the year 1864, we seem to have returned to our craze for height. Straw was still in vogue, and cutting away the brim at the ears, we raised up the centre to such a degree that, at a little distance, and regarded "full-face" it looked like a sugar-loaf. The whole of the inside was a mass of flowers and ribbons, and a broad pair of strings were tied under the chin. These bonnets were called "spoons".

Look at the hideous hat of 1865.

After a reign of about two years the style of our bonnets again underwent a complete change, and the cone-shaped brim was seen no more, Then came in a very reasonable and pretty little cap-shaped head-dress, made of lace or tulle, upon a shape of buckram and wire. A small trimming of flowers decorated the exterior but the bonnet lying flat down on the top of the head, there was no room for embellishment inside the brim. A pair of tulle or lace-veil-like strings were connected together, at some distance below the chin, with a small bouquet or single flower.

In the year 1869 as you will observe from the illustration supplied, this pretty article of dress was deformed into a sort of patch, made of wire and buckram, covered with tulle and lace, worn like a saddle, and looking like a basket women's "pad" on the top of her head, to save it from injury in carrying her burden. A pair of silk lappet-strings, laced or fringed-out at each side, were brought together in the same style as those previously worn; the hair being elaborately dressed, and made the most of, to supply the deficiencies of this apology for a bonnet at the back.

Excepting the elderly ladies, hats appear to have aided considerably in filling-in the space of time between the introduction of the last style and the two nondescripts - half bonnet and half hat - that succeeded it in the years 1875-76. The first was of silk, and was perched on the back hair, showing a plait or coil of it in front. The brim was rather wide, and turned up all round. A large rose or bouquet was worn underneath it, over the left ear; and a large ostrich feather inserted in front, fell back over the crown. The hair was no longer brought down on either side of the forehead, but continued, as in the patch-bonnet, to be brushed back from the face; and the short-cut fringe of that over the forehead, so worn in 1866, remained in fashion til 1876.

The year last-named saw a change in our head coverings. Straw reigned once more, but there was a little of it in the saucer shapes that again served only to cover the back-hair, and to leave one plait of it visible in front. Feathers, silk bows, and bunches of fruit nearly hid their foundation from view; and a pair of broad tulle or net strings were brought round from the centre of the back, to be united on the chest of the wearer. These two last-named bonnets were in very bad taste, and had an indescribably vulgar effect, perhaps to be accounted for by its peculiar associations, i.e., the great tenacity with which the lower classes have retained these shapes, with their dirty, gaudy finery, and the bold look of suck a lack of covering, and shade to the face out of doors - placing them on the back hair as they still do, up to the present time.

It would be impossible to say what style of head-gear more than another distinguishes the taste of to-day; so many are the forms adopted to suit the faces or fancies of the wearers; nor would it always be possible to distinguish which was a bonnet and which was a hat.