Friday, 30 September 2016

12 February 1881 - 'Dinners in Society' by S.F.A. Caulfield

Perpetual solicitations on the part of the correspondents of this magazine to be further instructed in the  usages of "polite society" must plead my excuse  for the revival of a subject so trite and uninteresting to those no longer "girls."

Without further introduction, I will suppose that you are engaged to dine out, to meet a considerable assemblage of friends. Commence your preparations in good time, and let your dressing be completed a few minutes before the carriage is announced. To keep your elders waiting is most disrespectful; they have to choose between leaving you behind, or keeping your hosts and others waiting - spoiling their dinner, and perhaps of giving the horses cold also.

On being announced by one of the men-servants at the door of the vestibule or anti-room, you will find that your hostess awaits you, close at hand, within. Look at no one else, supposing that she had moved further into the drawing-room to lead some guest to a seat. Make a very slight curtsey as you give her your hand, a little act of politeness always observed in the upper ranks of society on formal occasions, and which needs to be practised, as it should be naturally and gracefully done. If not directed to a place, select one as little conspicuous as possible; not on a sofa, nor a large arm chair, unless desired to do so.

In ordinary society the ten minutes preceding the announcement of dinner are found to hang somewhat heavily on hand. Hungry, chilly, and possibly shy, or else naturally dull and uninteresting, people often appear to have nothing to say. I am, however, only writing for girls, who are not the proper leaders of general conversation. But they may speak to a next young neighbour without an introduction. After dinner you may assist your hostess in entertaining fellow-guests, though careful not to put yourself forward ostentatiously, so as to attract notice. Nothing could be in worse taste than to appear as if "doing the honours" (as people call it) of another person's house; instead of merely acting as a helper to her. Offer your small services, and follow her directions. I have seen young girls running about all over the room in a most forward and unseemly manner, taking the entire direction of the entertainment without the excuse of being daughters of the house.

But much may be gracefully and effectually done in a gentle, quiet way. Collect your thoughts before any kind of reunion, and be prepared with any little subjects of interest to form topics of pleasant conversation. Neither receive visitors at home, nor accept the hospitality of others, without making it a point of duty to return their kindness by making yourself agreeable. Do not sit silently scanning the dress of your neighbours, and saying nothing; nor answer in mere monosyllables, nor start when some one addresses you, as if you had just wakened up out of a nap. This is apt to occur in the case of young people who have few opportunities of mixing in society. Keep your hands still; do not move uneasily in your chair when first addressed, nor fiddle with the buttons of your gloves. Buttoned once they do not require to be touched again. Apart from any other objections to tricks like these, your awkward shyness presents a painful spectacle.

The dinner is now announced, and as the lady of the house has already signified to each of the gentlemen to whom he should offer his escort, and introduced to each other the pairs hitherto unacquainted, they all proceed to the dining-room according to the order of their respective precedence. With this matter - if ever a hostel yourself - you will have to make yourself thoroughly acquainted. Where there is no rank of birth nor professional position, age will always be your guide, which should never be overlooked.

I may here observe that "the girls" seem strangely solicitous about "which arm" a gentleman should present to the lady whom he conducts to the dining-room. Why they should feel so distracted about it I am at a loss to divine. One rule is enough for you - whichever arm your cavalier presents, accept it. Circumstances must guide him. Englishmen generally give the right, and foreigners the left. Where large entertainments are given the stairs are broad, as in our old country seats and stately town mansions. But in the humble dwellings of poor gentlemen and professionals, the narrow stairs have often an awkward turning at a sharp angle, leaving scarcely a ledge whereon to place the foot. Let the young man having a lady under his charge take due note of the stairs, and act accordingly.

You are now seated at table. Immediately after "grace" has been said, unfold your dinner-napkin, lay it across your lap, and remove both your gloves. Put the latter in your pocket, because if they fell from your lap under the table, your companion would have to dive under it to recover them on your rising to leave the room.

If you take soup do not crumble nor break your bread into it, except in the privacy of home, where a small dinner might be thus supplemented. Fried toast will be served with it if suitable. Take the soup from the side of the spoon - do not turn round the point to your mouth; make no noise in drawing in the liquid, nor in the act of swallowing it. If this offer you any difficulty practise the art at home. Lastly, do not hold up the plate on one side, nor make a scraping with the spoon; you can finish the soup easily without raising the plate.

Fish will next be handed round. Be careful in removing the bones with your fish-knife and fork, because a choking fit at dinner would not be an agreeable diversion to your neighbours; and to remove anything objectionable from your mouth at any time, whether of bone or gristle, is by no means a pretty exhibition. So put nothing in that is to come out, however cleverly and privately contrived. At small dinners given by persons of limited means, who may have no silver fish knives, you must only take your fork in your right hand and a small wedge-like crust of bread in the left, with which to assist the fork. Again, I must impress on you the impropriety of making a noise when eating, showing what is in your mouth by keeping your lips apart; and drinking before you have swallowed what you have been eating, or without wiping your mouth both before and afterwards.

Various courses follow that of the fish. Should curry chance to be one of the dishes, use both fork and spoon, but not your knife; and if helped to a tart containing stone fruit, remove the stones neatly from the plums with your fork. It is quite unnecessary to perform that operation in your mouth.

Possibly, at a private dinner, a hostess may press a guest to try some viand which she does not like. Of course the obligations on a hostess are even more strict than those on a guest, simply because the latter is dependent on her wishes; and so long as she remains under her roof, her comfort and feelings, in every way, should be consulted. Thus, to press her to eat or drink after she has declined, is an act of ill-breeding. At the same time it would be gross rudeness to show a distaste for any dish laid before you, or to persist in refusing it, were it pressed upon you. Self-denial is a Christian grace. Amongst half-civilised nations it is a mark of distinction conferred on any guest for a chief to roll up some morsel of food in his hands, and insert the greasy pellet with his own unassisted fingers into the mouth of the visitor. To decline it - because by no means an appetising morsel - would be a reflection on the good taste of the host, and an evidence of ingratitude for the distinction intended. Moreover, your rejection of the bonne bouche might cost you your head, or purchase the novelty of a javelin through your heart!

Apropos of controlling your fancies at table or elsewhere, rather than cast a reflection on one who wishes to please you, I will mention a little incident told me long ago by one to whom I owe much of my own early training in the usages of society. Now a very aged and venerable man, his parents had lived much about the Court of the old King George III, having been honoured with his personal intimacy He himself had lived and visited amongst the grandees of the Court of the Prince, as Regent and King, and was regarded as a man of most accomplished manners. Thus, I have no hesitation in giving my young readers advice derived from such competent authority.

The Prince Regent was styled "the first gentleman in England," for, like our own Prince of Wales, few had so keen an intuitive perception of the principles that govern all rules of good breeding. On one occasion he had indulged in taking snuff, and turning to a lady beside him, he presented his open box and invited her to take a pinch likewise. Alas! The good woman was not equal to the occasion; she was not in the habit of taking snuff - perhaps she disliked it; in fact, she had not learnt her less in good manners. So she thanked him and declined. Of course he felt as if charged with an indiscretion; but, always self-possessed and dignified, he simply turned to another lady and made her the same offer. This time he had met with a woman who was not out of her place in a palace. She thanked him graciously for so distinguishing her, and took the snuff, just sufficient of course to smell, but not to produce a sneeze. Her act justified that of the Prince, who was only testing her good manners, and he showed his recognition of her conduct by presenting her with the beautiful jewelled box, as a memento of the occasion.

Again I must conduct you back to the dining-room. Observe how highly-bred people eat asparagus. They feel with the knife where the soft part ends, and dividing the stems, they eat with the fork. It is a disgusting spectacle to see people draw out a mangled end from their mouths reduced to a ragged fringe. Never eat peas with a spoon. You may change the fork into your right hand and use it as one, or you may press the peas with it - still in the right hand - making them adhere conveniently together. Excepting at a private dinner, where little variety if any is provided, never ask for a second help from the same dish.

Take care to keep your hands off the table. Never fiddle with the salt, nor the spoon, knife and fork, and make no crumbs with your bread. Avoid coughing, and the use of your handkerchief; having a cold you should remain at home. If disposed to sneeze, from pepper or mustard, contrive to hold your nose with your handkerchief for a moment, to stop it in time, but do so unobserved if possible. After the game, cheese is carried round, and its usual accompaniments of butter and biscuits, &c. If you take butter, do not scrape off a piece against the rim of your plate, turning the face of the knife downwards, as if you were cleaning a putty-knife on the edge of a piece of glass. Contrive to loosen the butter, so as to place it fairly in the plate at one side. Should you also take cheese, butter a small piece of bread or biscuit, place a piece of cheese upon it, and convey it to your mouth in this way. To do so with the blade of a knife is highly objectionable, and contrary to all rules that obtain in the upper ranks of society, though many, otherwise well-bred people, may be seen careless in this respect in private, and elderly people also allow themselves much license in trifling matters, which they do not mean to form an example to younger people. Such little infringements of the orthodox rules should not be criticised by young people. Advancing life sometimes brings lassitude and indifference about them; and, moreover, what would evidence much selfishness and greediness in youth, is only to be regarded as the consent of an infirm person with a poor appetite, to be suitably nursed and provided for.

Dessert is now served, and the finger-glasses and d'oyleys are removed from all the plates by their respective owners. Fruit often presents difficulties to the consumers; what with the stones, skins, shells, or rind; it is not always easy to eat in a delicate and refined manner. Half-bred people may be seen inserting pieces of orange into their mouths and drawing out the peel again, showing the remains of the pulp on their plates. Pomegranates present some difficulty amongst other fruits. They are full of juice, and equally so of stones, too large to be swallowed wholesale. Cut one in two, and with the spoon press the stones within, as in a cup, extracting and taking up the juice with it.

Having taken what fruit they require, each lad dips her fingers in the finger-glass, and touches her lips also with the water, dries them, and puts on her gloves. She then lays the napkin on the seat of her chair. The lady of the house watches to attract the notice of the chief guest, seated at her husband's right hand, and smiles and bows to her, and they rise simultaneously, followed by all. The host opens the door, the chief lady walks out first, the rest according to their respective precedence, and the gentlemen stand until all have retired to the drawing-room.

In conclusion, I have a word of advice to offer on the subject of dinners at home, or after a homely fashion. Observe what dishes are being used, and those on which there appears to be a kind of "run," and never ask for that of which there is little, to the deprivation of any one yet unhelped. When there is a tart or pie uncut, there being sufficient of some other dish, show some little consideration for your hostess. The expenses and difficulties of housekeeping in families of small means are great. Keep your eyes about you. Remember the invalids, or those advanced in years Some small delicacy at the table may perhaps have been prepared for them. Try also to supplement the efforts of your hostess. However hospitable, and ready to give you anything you would like, she would appreciate a thoughtfulness on your part, that would leave something nice for one who is always last helped, or would spare an unbroken dish  for the following day, without making the reason too apparent. Would you wish her to replace a sort of wreckage of all in her small larder in return for her kindness to you?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

29 January 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous


TRUSTY - It would be better to take a lawyer's advice on the subject.

ISOLINA M - We regret that we cannot give you any assistance in the sale of your work. Your writing is indifferent.

BERTIE AND ETHEL - We are very sorry for your troubles, but we think they might be overcome by a little patience and forbearance on both sides. We think your own conduct has given very grave grounds of offence, as you had no right to make your family affairs public in the unseemly manner you did. Your stepmother, as your father's wife, has the strongest claims on your respect and affections, and you must remember that, unless you "give to all their due" - "honour to whom honour" - you cannot expect to receive the kindness and affection which belongs to you of right.

RECHA - Thank you most heartily for your affectionate letter. AS we have said before, we do not at present feel disposed to print our portrait in THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER, although you offer to pay more  for the number containing it. Wait until you have known us for a few years, and then perhaps long-established friendship will leave us no ground for continued refusal! Your letter is nicely written, but not so your verses. You are a good girl for writing us such a cheering letter, and sending us such a pretty New Year's card.

BARTIE - If while on visit to a friend the ladies' maid should assist in dressing you, some acknowledgment will be expected by her Otherwise, a lady, or two ladies together, visiting at a house unaccompanied by a gentleman, have only to fee the housemaid, not the men-servants. But if driven to a station by their coachman, unaccompanied by any of the family, you might give him, say, a couple of shillings (not if one of the family drives with you) and a shilling to any under-servant who carried your trunk up and down stairs. We are writing under the supposition that "Bartie" is not a rich woman, but merely of moderate means.

MRS. TYLER - Your request that we should recommend you the use of some drug to stop the growth of your daughter, and even, as you express it, to "shorten her," is a disgrace to you. Thank God, on the contrary, that He has given you a fine child, who grows well, and seems to thrive in spite of your very unnatural wishes to stunt her growth. It could not be done; and any attempt to do it would destroy her health. She writes fairly well for her age.

PUCK - The arm that a gentleman gives a lady is not invariably the same; it depends on circumstances of position. We write for girls, not men, and you are too young to think of such things. Correct your writing by reference to the articles we have give on penmanship.

DAY-DREAM - We are sorry to hear that you, a peer's daughter, are a perfect fright to look at with your red nose and fearful complexion! Your skin is naturally tender, and you have been using a too rough towel. Until that great entertainment at which you say you are to "come out," you should bathe the face morning and night in cold rain water, to which a little toilet vinegar has been added, and use cold cream at night. Your writing is good, but no better than it should be, for, with the advantages of having a governess to yourself, you ought to be a superior girl in everything. That you have yet to learn English is shown by your writing, "Will you please give me a pattern of how to make a woollen man's glove in your paper?" We are not so well acquainted with the requirements of woollen men as we are with those of careless and boasting girls.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

22 January 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

BIZZILL tells us that she has 'often read of people being well up in the 'three R's" and wants to know what they are. "Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic." Bizzill's name is as droll as her question. We hope she will not copy the new spelling of the last two words. 2. The 10th of June, 1862, fell on a Tuesday.

PHLOB has chosen quite as inelegant a name as Miss Bizzill. Her use of a lead comb we do not think would do more harm than to soil both head and hair, and her bonnet, too. Her writing is free but much too large. 

POPPIE - The tax on a pony is according to height. We think it would be better to have a boy to attend to the pony. Your writing is shocking.

BEADS - We think you will find it quite impossible to continue washing your head every morning, nor would it be good for your hair to remain wet. Once a fortnight is quite often enough to wash the head.

MOURNER - You have our deepest sympathy in your sad bereavement. The loss of a sister is indeed a heavy sorrow, and  for the present we know by sad experience that no consolations are available. Friends can but weep, as our Blessed Lord did with the mourner. We are so glad to hear of your sister's pleasure in our paper and of her love for its pages, and we trust it may continue to visit and cheer you weekly with hopeful words of help and kindness.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

22 January 1881 - 'The Difficulties of a Young Housekeeper and How She Overcame Them' by Dora Hope - Chapter Four

Fun with oranges and lentils, and exchanging a coarse elephantine maidservant for a charming pretty one. 

"Gone is my gladsomeness, and fled the merry party
Which but as yesterday were gathering round the Yule,"

Sang Margaret one morning, early in January, as she tripped about the house, duster in hand, giving a touch here and a vigorous rub there. The pathetic words and air were but ill matched by the brightness of her face, rosy with exercise, whilst the sprightly and somewhat jerky rendering of the song, interrupted as it was with attention to housewifely cares, did not add to its appropriateness. It was true that at any rate a portion of the "merry party" had fled, in the persons of Mr. And Mrs. Hellier, who had returned to their own home, and Margaret had not been without a little feeling of desolateness for a few days after her sister's departure; but being a very resolute young person, with a strong notion of the futility of mourning over the inevitable, she set herself to forget her trouble, saying that there is nothing like hard work for bringing people to their senses.

The visit had been a very pleasant one in many ways, for Joanna's kind advice and encouragement were very grateful to Margaret's unaccustomed ears - unaccustomed, not from want of affection on the part of father and brothers, but what man, still less what boy, can guess half the little worries and anxieties that beset a young housekeeper in her daily round?

So far from condemning Margaret's economies - or, as she called them, her little mean tricks, such as sifting the cinders - Joanna approved of them highly; indeed, recommended her to add to the category. Considering the small sum out of which Margaret had to provide all the food and drink  for the family - who, according to Betsy, were all "very 'earty," besides paying for washing, stationery, small travelling expenses, such as omnibus fares, and any incidental expenses, like breakages - Joanna said she thought strict economy in trifles was not only admissible but absolutely necessary.

"How do you portion out the week's money, Madge?" she asked one day. "I am curious to know if you have arrived at about the same result that I did in my time."

Margaret looked blank. "I do not quite see what you mean; I do not portion it out at all; it goes just as I happen to want it."

"Oh, but you ought to have an idea of the proportion you spend in each branch of the outlay. If you will bring the account-book we will compare the bills  for the last few weeks, and find the average."

This done, it was found that in Joanna's opinion the butcher' sand grocer's bills swallowed up too large a proportion, which latter she said she had expected, as she had noticed Margaret's taste for all kinds of fancy dishes and sweet puddings. She advised her, therefore, to curtail her expenses in that direction.

"I will put down on paper, as nearly as I can remember, how I divide my money," she went on. "You know Arthur gives me thirty shillings a week, out of which I pay for the same things that you do. I always keep the real food expenditure under a pound, that is to say, when we are alone, though if we have friends, or anything extra like that, I cannot quite manage it. Now here is the list, which shows a fair average, though, of course it varies a little. For instance, I often have fish instead of, or as well as meat:

Grocer - 3s 3d
Bread and Flour - 2s
Greengrocer - 1s 3d
Meat and bacon - 8s
Milk and eggs - 1s 6d
Laundress - 2s
Butter and cheese - 2s
Total - 20s

This leaves me about ten shillings for sundries, under which head come stationery, breakages in the house, cab or omnibus fares, and small charities. To make a fund for kitchen requisites, such as scrubbing-brushes and pails, I put by one shilling at the beginning of each week. If I left it to the end I should be inclined to think I could not spare it, unless anything were really pressingly wanted."

"That is really wonderful, Joanna. I should not like to have to provide for this household on thirty shillings a week."

"You will have to allow more for meat in proportion to the other expenses than I do. Two growing boys, with splendid health and appetites to match, will not be contented with those little dainty-made dishes which satisfy us, and can be made out of a morsel of meat or a few bones; but I still think your meat bills are much too high."

"But, Joanna, though my butcher's portion is to be so low, you find no fault with the large greengrocery average I have been having."

"No, I do not think the greengrocer is high; indeed, I think you should try to have even a little more green food than you generally provide. Two vegetables at dinner, for instance, make much more of a meal than having only one, with very little difference in the expense. But to counterbalance it, if there is any, you might have boiled rice occasionally, instead of potatoes, not too often, you know, but just now and then as a change. Lentils too, and haricot beans are very inexpensive, and make a variety.

"Then you certainly ought to buy a little fruit occasionally. At this time of the year I know fresh fruit is dear but you can get plenty of oranges, and they may be prepared in so many different ways that you need never be at a loss."

"I wish I knew how to preserve them, like those we had at Mrs. Barclay's on Tuesday."

"I think I can gratify you, for she very kindly gave me the receipt. Here it is: 'Cut off a little of the rind, either a diamond-shaped piece here and there or a ring all round; then put the oranges in cold water for three days, changing the water twice. Tie each one separately in thin muslin, and boil in fresh water till quite tender. Weigh the oranges before boiling, and make a syrup in the proportion of two pounds of loaf sugar to a pound of the fruit, and as much water as will be required to completely cover the oranges; boil it till the scum ceases to rise, then put in the fruit, still in the muslin, and boil gently for an hour and a half, which will ensure their keeping well. Put into jars and cover with syrup.' Mrs. Barclay says if you follow this exactly you can make enough to last all the year, it is sure to keep."

"But that would be too troublesome and expensive for everyday use."

"Yes, but there are many less troublesome ways of preparing this fruit. Nothing could be simpler than orange salad, for instance. You have only to peel the oranges, being careful to remove every particle of skin, then either cut them in slices or scoop out all the pulp with a spoon, or leave them whole, and lay them in a glass dish, and sprinkle powdered sugar thickly over them a few hours before they ware wanted; and if you want it to look particularly nice, cover the whole with whipped-up white of egg and sugar. For another variety there is compote of oranges. That requires a syrup, but it is very easy to make. Cut off the yellow outer rind in thin strips till you have about three ounces, which put on one side. Then peel them properly, and divide into quarters (as you persist in miscalling the little divisions), being careful not to break the thin skin which covers them. Then make a syrup by boiling the rind with a pound of sugar in a pint and a half of water, and carefully remove the scum as it rises. When it has boiled about a quarter of an hour, put in the pieces of orange, and let them simmer gently for five minutes; then take them out with a spoon very carefully or they will break, and arrange them on a dish. If the syrup seems too thin, let it boil fast for five minutes longer to thicken it, then pour it over the oranges, and put the dish in a cool place till wanted."

"That sounds very easy I think I shall make a large quantity now oranges are so cheap, and keep it for occasional use."

"If you do, you must make the syrup with two pounds of sugar to a pint and a half of water; one pound is only sufficient for immediate use. But to return to the subject of the butcher: you really spend too much on meat, and I think might easily economise a little in that way. Because though boys require a good quantity, you need not get them the more expensive joints. Keep strictly to the rule of having soup for dinner nearly, if not quite, every day. Have the stock-pot always going, and put all sorts of scraps into it; not only meat cooked or raw, but also scraps of vegetables, paste, and bread; all will add to the strength or flavour of the soup, and should the pot be getting low, you may buy a few pennyworth of bones. Be sure to ask the man to chop them up very small for you; some people even pound them, but chopping is much less trouble, and does well enough for ordinary purposes. When you have a good stock, you can make it sometimes clear and sometimes thickened, and flavour it in endless different ways, according to the directions in the cookery books. One of the nicest soups we have is certainly not an expensive one. WE soak some lentils for nearly twelve hours, and simmer them for twelve more; then we pour the stock on to them, with scraps of anything and everything the larder contains; and if the larder happens to be particularly empty, we make up the flavour with a pinch of celery seed burnt onions, or a small quantity of Liebig's extract, which improves it very much. If you begin the dinner with good substantial soup, the onslaught on subsequent courses will be considerably lessened."

"Oh, poor boys! Fancy measuring their appetites and counting their mouthfuls in this way! How mean and stingy one does become under a course of housekeeping!"

"Then there are one or two other economies in trifles you might practise, dear, with advantage. You will excuse my saying it, I know, but when one asks for a piece of bread at tea, Betsy or one of the boys, rushes at the loaf, and with great zeal cuts about three times as much as is wanted, and I have heard you say you do not know what to do with the pieces that are left, except occasional bread-puddings. You might take care that only as much as is required is cut, you will find a difference in the baker's bills even from such a trifle as that. Then should there be any pieces left, a nice way of using them is to pull them apart, place them on a tin, and bake in a quick oven until crisp and brown, when they are a good substitute for cheese biscuits, which father is sure to like for a change. Crusts can be treated in the same way, only they must be cooked longer than the crumb, then grated, and kept in a bottle for raspings. There is also the vexed question of dripping; this often-despised article is most valuable, and may save you a great deal in butter and lard, if you clarify it carefully. Directly you take the dripping-pan from under the meat, pour the fat through a sieve into a pan of boiling water, and let it stand until cold, when you will find a cake of pure dripping on the surface of the water. Nothing can be better than this for pastry and frying. But besides this dripping, properly so-called, there are other kinds of fat that can be used in the same way. Then what do you do with pieces of fat left from joints of beef? Perhaps you never have any?"

"Oh, yes, we do, very often indeed; neither of the boys like fat, and sometimes a large quantity is wasted. But surely you are not going to tell me to make pies of scraps of cold fat!"

"Certainly I am, I constantly do it myself. I cut off as much fat as I think is likely to be wasted, and put it in a jar into the oven for about an hour, by which time it has subsided into a yellow liquor, which, when strained and left to cool, looks not unlike butter, and answers the same purpose for making all kinds of cakes and pastry."

Besides these economies, at Joanna's suggestion Margaret set up a tool-box, containing nails, screws, hammer, chisel, pincers, and screw-driver, all good and strong of their kind; also an old-fashioned iron glue-pot, and becoming expert in joinery, she saved many a shilling in this way.

At this time also a little change was made in the allowances for dress. Margaret's own allowance of £20 a year she had entirely in her own hands to use as she pleased. Hitherto the boys had had no fixed sum to be spent on their clothes; Mr. Colville bought their suits whenever he thought fit, while Margaret superintended their other garments, and applied to Mr. Colville for funds whenever they required anything new, or to pay for repairs. These frequent small sums spent on tailoring, other repairs, and minor articles of dress rendered it difficult to keep an account of the whole amount spent, besides which Margaret did not at all like so constantly applying to her father about such trifles as a patch on a boot, or a new collar; so after talking it over with her sister, she asked Mr. Colville's permission to make a change; and  for the future Margaret had in her care £5 per annum for each boy, out of which she was to pay for everything with the exception of their suits and boots, which Mr. Colville still continued to buy himself. This had a very salutary effect on the boys, for when they were too careless with their clothes Margaret would fetch the account-book and show them how little balance there was, with the warning that if they went on at that rate they would have to go ragged.

From this long digression let us return to our young housekeeper, as she whisks about the house, as bright as the fresh January morning itself. Having finished the round of the bedrooms, still humming her doleful ditty, she trips downstairs to the kitchen, where a damper is awaiting her in the shape of poor Betsy in floods of tears.

"Oh, Betsy!" she cried, "what is the matter?"

Betsy managed to explain amidst her sobs that a letter from home that morning had told her of her mother's dangerous illness, and she must go home without delay. "Though of course, Miss Margaret dear, I won't go till you are suited."

A looker-on at this juncture might have witnessed a melancholy tableau. The maid, in attitude of dejection, sobbing and sighing by the window; the mistress collapsed into a wooden chair, doing likewise, but less noisily. Much ashamed of her weak-mindedness, the latter soon recovered, however, and hoping her maid had not noticed it, she wiped her eyes covertly, and said briskly -

"Poor Betsy I am indeed sorry for you, and very sorry that we hall lose you. But you must not think of waiting till we have a new servant. I will go at once and find a charwoman to come every day, and while I am out you must get forward with the dinner and then pack up so as to go by the two o'clock train; and you must take that soup that is in a jelly in the larder for your poor mother, and I will bring you in a few groceries to take too."

To get an honest and clean charwoman, who would come at seven o'clock in the morning and do the work of a general servant  for the sum of two shillings a day, which was all Margaret felt she could afford to give, was no very easy task but by inquiring from the tradesmen, one was found at last.

The next day Margaret went to see her good friend Mrs. Trent, hoping and expecting to have the difficulty about a new servant solved at once, as so many former ones had been, by her kind advice and experience. On entering that lady's sitting-room our housekeeper was a little taken aback to find not only Mrs. Trent, as she had expected, but also her nephew, whose difficulty in rising from the sofa was a better proof of an invalid state than his appearance, which betokened his usual health.

"My nephew is suffering the penalty of neglecting his old aunt's good advice," said Mrs. Trent, smiling at her nephew, for whom she felt almost the affection of a mother, having had charge of him ever since the death of his own parents, when he was little more than a baby. "He sprained his ankle slightly on Monday, but he would persist in keeping his engagement to bring those books to show your father that evening, and, of course, he made it much worse, and now is compelled to give up moving altogether."

"And so tries to play the wounded hero, with as much dignity as possible," laughed Wilfred.

After expressing the deepest sympathy, Margaret explained the object of her visit, but said she would not trouble Mrs. Trent about it now, but would call again when her nephew was better.

"Pray, do not let me stop you, Miss Margaret," said Wilfred. "I take a great interest in that servant of yours who opens the door for me when I have the pleasure of calling upon you. She always smiles all over her face, and looks so thoroughly pleased to see one; it is quite refreshing."

After stating the case, Margaret asked if Mrs. Trent could tell her how to get a new maid.

"Had you not better wait a little on the chance of Betsy's being able to come back?"

"Oh, I think there is no chance of the mother recovering; besides, I do not think I am very sorry to lose her. I was at first; it seemed such a dreadful undertaking to have to get a new servant; but you know, Mrs. Trent, Betsy is really very rough and uncouth. I should so like to have a nice quiet, gentle girl about the house, instead of such an elephantine sort of whirlwind, though she does smile when she opens the door."

Mrs. Trent laughed at the comparison, and said she feared Margaret did not appreciate the rare qualities of honesty and good nature and truthfulness of the said whirlwind. However, as a change was inevitable, and not knowing of any suitable person, she advised her to reply to an advertisement in that day's paper, which sounded very promising. This she did, and, at Mrs. Trent's dictation, dispatched a letter asking for particulars as to the girl's capabilities, character, and the wages she required, the wounded hero meanwhile evincing an interest in domestic affairs which astonished even himself.

A satisfactory answer was soon received, giving the address of a former mistress to whom Margaret could apply as to character. In the course of a few days this too arrived. It was rather vague, and Margaret's inquiries as to honesty, sobriety, and cleanliness were cleverly evaded.

"Oh, dear! I don't know whether this is meant for a bad character or a good one," Margaret sighed. "It might mean either, but I am sure any servant would be better than this voracious charwoman. I should not have thought it possible for any human being to devour as much as that creature does."

Mrs. Trent next advised Margaret to see the young woman before engaging her, and as Margaret looked very much alarmed at the prospect, promised herself to be present at the interview. The result of it was the engagement of Rose Spooner, who informed her future mistress that she preferred being called Spooner. ("What jokes the boys will make!" thought Margaret.)

When Mr. Colville came home that night Margaret met him more cheerfully than she had done since Betsy's departure.

"Oh, father, I have engaged that servant I told you about Mrs. Trent quite approved of her, or else I should have been afraid to take her; and I think she will be a most charming servant, she is so quiet and pretty-looking, and speaks so softly; so different from the bluff Betsy. I am delighted with her."

"I am glad to hear it, my child; I only hope she will not prove too refined; but as Mrs. Trent is satisfied, no doubt it will be all right!"

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

22 January 1881 - 'Good and Bad Tempers' by James Mason

Please suppress your own anger, and assume responsibility for the good tempers of everyone around you.

Girls, were I monarch of the globe, it would be laid at your feet, but fortune having granted me little more than a shadowy possession in the regions of air, you must take the will  for the deed, and accept of the best I have to offer in these occasional papers of good counsel. Of course, it is understood that you are acting up to them, so that all my pains and good intentions may not be thrown away. It was not of you that somebody wrote -

"Never will I give advice
Till you please to ask me thrice;
Which if you in scorn reject
'Twill be just as I expect."

This time we are to speak about "getting into a rage"; so, all of you, lend me your ears.

There is a woman told about in a popular legend who once stamped her foot on the ground in a passion, and she drove it so far in that it could not be drawn out again, so there she remained  for the rest of her days, a monument to the inconveniences of a bad temper. It is to be regretted that such monuments are not met with in real life, for of all deplorable things against which mankind and womankind should be warned, a fiery disposition is one of the most deplorable.

Some people are born of gentler nature, and so, without much trouble on their part, possess good tempers, but others are by nature so touchy that one can hardly say a word to them without danger of an explosion. I do not always blame them. The other day I met a man in a towering rage; "Excuse me," said he, "I inherit this disposition from my mother."

Let us not, I say, be too hard on such people. That one has fallen heir to an irritable constitution is not a fault; what we should object to and cry out against is when one gives way to it.

It is a great misery, as many of us know, to live with the ill-tempered; indeed may we all be preserved from even occasional contact with them. On the other hand how is it possible to avoid longing  for the society of her whom we are sure always to find with a smile on her face and pleasant words on her tongue?

If a peevish temper makes life disagreeable for other people, do you think the owner of it any better off/ Ask her. Old as the world is, it may be safely said that no one ever yet felt happy after a display of the fireworks of ill-humour. Let us keep, then, from growing angry if only because passion is on the high road to repentance, and repentance, it need hardly be added, is far from a comfortable state of mind.

What a bad example, too, the cross-grained set to their neighbours. This is sometimes not sufficiently thought of by those who in other respects are everything that is estimable, and all who are trying to do good in the world should be ever on their guard lest by all-timed anger they destroy their influence and make others doubt the sincerity of what is really at bottom a genuine Christian character. If a display of temper is specially objectionable in any, and specially dangerous, considering its influence on others, it is in those who profess themselves followers of Him Who is a Pattern of meekness.

Every exhibition of irritability sinks us in the estimation of our friends, and as the tendency to anger grows by being indulged in, ill-tempered people are in a fair way for having no friends at all. They end in being either hated or scorned. No wonder. A girl in an habitual rage is little better than a wild beast.

Look on it as you like, we are decided losers by anger. I often think of the niece whose maiden aunt left her five hundred pounds a year in her will, but the young lady one day fired up at something and made a sarcastic remark - people you know, are always saying foolish things when in a passion - and the aunt that very evening sent  for the lawyer and cancelled the clause in her niece's favour. It is to be hoped that none of us will ever regulate our conduct by purely mercenary considerations; but if ever you are remembered in an old lady's will, put a bridle on your tongue. Money is nowhere compared with right, but it is sad to think of being in the wrong, and losing five hundred pounds a year at the same time.

Temper never gains anything except when opposed to very weak natures, over whom to be victorious is no triumph. It is gentleness that rules the world, and the meek shall in more senses than one inherit the earth. "Be thou humble and peaceable," says an old writer, "and Jesus will be with thee." Now, it would be impossible, with a spark of truth, to say that of the ill-tempered.

On odd thing about getting angry is that most often it is about trifles, if not about nothing at all. Everyone has heard of the husband and wife who had a serious quarrel as to whether what they heard scratch behind the wainscot was a rat or a mouse. And, if my memory does not deceive me, another husband and wife had a violent dispute for no other reason than that the one asserted that the tea was made from Thames water, whilst the other was equally confident the water came from the New River. Countless tempers are lost for no better reasons than these.

But how shall we cure a bad temper? It is difficult, my child, for our passions are hard to restrain; but just as you can be charming when you please, so, by an effort, you can be sweet and gentle though all the world should try to irritate you. Perhaps you think it very difficult, but there never yet was a good thing easily come by.

You may feel angry - constitutionally you may be irritable; many are so, as I have said already - but never give your anger expression. Shut your mouth and say nothing. There was once a famous man who had an exceedingly bad temper. It certainly ran in his family, for his brother was just the same; and it is told that when any cause of offence was given him, he grew very red in the face, and remained for awhile silent, and when at last he spoke his words were calm and gentle. He never opened his mouth till he got the better of his rage. This is a noble example, and I would that all the world were like that great man. Bottle up your wrath, then, and if necessity compels you to speak, be as sparing of your words as if they cost five guineas apiece.

But to keep from uttering our anger is not enough; we must harbour no angry thoughts. We cannot help, if quick-tempered, the mere feeling of anger arising in our minds, but we need not let it remain there unless we please. Let there be, then, no nursing of your wrath to keep it warm. Turn at once to something else, and give it the cold shoulder.

Try, above all things, to cultivate noble views both as to life in this world and our future in the next. Whoever is so occupied will have neither time nor taste for petty squabbles and passions about nothing.

It is a prudent rule to avoid all occasions of anger. We should shun, for example, the company of people who irritate us, and in whose presence, for some reason or another, we feel "as cross as two sticks." Live with happy people if you can, for by so doing you will acquire something of their spirit. If you cannot manage that, the next best thing is to try to make those about you happy. But, on second thoughts, I should have called this the better thing, for there is the greater blessing attached to it. May you then, girls, be so busy in trying to make sunshine for those about you that you will forget what it is to be cross, and that there are such things as bad tempers to be met with anywhere!

The gaining of mastery over one's temper improves the tone of one's character, not to say anything about good looks, for it is well known what a preserver of the features we have in a sweet disposition. It is something, girls, to know that we are conquerors - conquerors over ourselves. We feel that we have done what is difficult, for to rule one's spirit is difficult.

You remember what was said by the wisest of men, and is recorded in the inspired book: "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."

Saturday, 17 September 2016

22 January 1881 - 'Seasonable Dress and How to Make It

Our patriotic feelings are naturally interested in the home-use of our own English manufactures, so we shall no doubt feel interested in knowing that the present taste for plush is a encouragement to English trade, as the plushes used are, to a great extent, of purely British manufacture. They are very beautiful both in colour and texture, and a plush bodice forms a most elegant and useful addition to the wardrobe of every girl, and is not too expensive to use to make an old dress look like a stylish new one. Plus is also a very excellent material to use to lengthen an old silk bodice which has become too short  for the present fashion, and it will quite metamorphose an old walking jacket if cleverly used. Plush collars and cuffs are put on dresses of another colour, and need not be used anywhere else on the dress. They are also used with out-of-door jackets and ulsters. They take about half a yard of plush; the collar is of a true sailor shape, square at the back, and rounded at the corners in front, where it fastens under a bow of plush or lace and ribbon. Black velvet sailor collars, cuffs, and pocket flaps are also worn on dresses of every kind of woollen texture and hue, and sometimes, instead of the collar, a long hood lined with a bright silk is added to the indoor bodice.

Black is not nearly so generally worn by day as it has been  for the last five years, colours being far more generally chosen than they were; and red, such as claret, wine, and plum colour, being in high favour, quite as much as they were last year. Satin is the favourite trimming with cashmere and serge, and also broche materials, but not plush, velvet or velveteen. Jackets and coat bodices are the most worn of any description of corsages for the daytime, but for evening dress the long pointed bodice is worn, both for young and old. Belted bodices have not become popular, and even with gathered dresses are not at all used. The new jerseys are very lady-like and pretty, and as they are now made there is nothing objectionable in them; they fasten down the front with a row of small cloth buttons very closely set, and large square collars and deep cavalier cuffs of plush are added; or else a hooded cape which matches the jersey in colour, or else it is of a distinct colour and matches the balayeuse, which now forms a part of every short dress.

A jacket intended for out-of-door wear, with the collar and cuffs and pockets in plush or velvet with embroidery on the edges, is illustrated at fig.1. This jacket will be most useful and popular  for the spring and will show our readers that the new ideas of the spring though a little different, have no very decided change in them.

The pretty bonnet illustrated at fig.2 is made of black straw and the new ribbed plush; it is as simple and unpretentious as possible, and could be easily accomplished by any girl. The plush on the bonnet is in the two full rouleaux, the front is lined with velvet and the strings are of ribbed plush or of ribbed plush ribbon. The shape is the close princesse, which may be purchased at any price, from one shilling to three and sixpence, according to the quality and fineness of the straw.

The large illustration represents a girls' skating party, and we hope that by this time the weather has proved favourable to this eminently healthy and delightful exercise, and that numbers of our girls will have learned to skate gracefully and well, not only the ordinary straightforward skating, but the Dutch roll, in outside and inside edge, and any forms of figure-skating that they can manage to acquire under tuition of father or brother.

Except from suffering and death it entails on the poor, by reason of our badly-built houses and inefficient powers of heating them, we might wish for a longer continuance of this pastime, but under those circumstances we cannot selfishly desire what occasions pain and sorrow to others.

Beginning from the left-hand side with the first figure, we find she wears a girlish-looking cloak and bonnet, which ware known by the name of the "Mother Hubbard" this winter. The cloak is made of either cloth or cashmere, and is lined with fur, or a quilted alpaca lining  for the winter, if the latter be used. The muff is of the material, trimmed with velvet or plush bands. Many Mother Hubbard cloaks are made of cloth, and the gathered portions round the neck and wrists are of satin or velvet. This is a very pretty addition to the cloak, and does not increase the expense of the cloth materially, because it does not require lining like the thinner cashmere. The bonnet is of plush and satin, to match the muff; it has a gathered crown, and at one side a tiny bouquet of velvet leaves and berries. The dress worn beneath is of sapphire-blue cashmere, trimmed with satin bands.

The second figure to the left wears a plaid dress made with a kilted flounce, and a long plainly-cut cloth jacket, double-breasted in front, with two rows of buttons and bands of narrow fur to edge the neck and the sleeves. The cap matches the cloak and is called the "Russian General's"; the crown is of cloth, and the band or border of fur.

The third and most distant figure wears an ulster with three small capes, and a cloth hat to match her ulster, the gossamer veil being tied beneath the chin.

The fourth and centre figure wears an ordinary walking dress of black cashmere, with two flounces, each with a gathered bouillone top. The scarf tunic is closely pleated across the front. The cloth jacket is prettily braided and edged with fur; it has a hood at the back. The hat is called the "boat shape", is made of rough beaver, and trimmed with velvet.

The fifth figure wears an extremely warm cloth cloak, trimmed with fur, and a fur muff; while her hat is a large one, slightly turned up at one side, lined with black velvet, and trimmed with a feather.

The little woman who stands in such an observant attitude at the back and looks on is attired in a plaid frock, edged with black fur, and a crochet Tam o' Shanter cap. Apropos of the latter articles, for which there has been such a rage during the last few months, they seem now to have been passed over entirely to the children, and both boys and little girls wear them alike. They make a very pretty and cheap headdress, and any mother or sister can make them for herself, and I really do not consider that any pattern is needed, as the increasing  for the crown are very easily managed, and must be just sufficient to make it lie flat. Fingering yarn and a coarse crochet-needle are all the implements needed, and a friend of mine informs me that her boys' caps cost her exactly sixpence each.

I must not forget to mention that self-coloured stuffs are more popular than figured ones, and that where the handkerchiefs are used for dresses the foundation consists of a plain, thick woollen material, such as diagonal cloth, Cheviot, or Indian cashmere.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

15 January 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

S.R. Your first mistake was in permitting your pupils to call you by your Christian name. Your second mistake is in supposing that the odium which (correctly or more often incorrectly) attaches to what is called "telling tales out of school," could possibly apply to one holding your position in it. You are one of the under mistresses, and as such have a right to consult with the upper mistresses and the principal on all occasions of difficulty as to your own conduct or wrong-doing on the part of those whom you are engaged to instruct. But we admire your brave determination to support yourself, even at the expense of much annoyance. We also consider that the principal should not betray your confidence, but endeavour to support your authority, and insist on your being respected, so far as lies her power.

NESTA - If a lady friend be with a man's mother or sister when he meets them out of doors, of course he should raise his hat. Your writing is still that of a child.

IGNORAMUS - 1. If acquainted with your vicar, of course you may call and inquire for him and his family on their return from a summer trip. But if a stranger, it is his business to call on you as a parishioner. 2. It is usually the custom  for the oldest residents in a place to call upon new ones.

A RUSTIC - We thank you for your kind letter. We are pleased to hear that you were so much pleased with the articles by "Medicus."

ORANGE - You write very neatly.

PORTIA - If you could dispense with stays altogether it would be most desirable for your health. Fringes cut straight are chiefly worn by little children. High heels and narrow-tied shoes and boots produce bunions, swelled joints, contractions of the muscles, and so injure the nerves that they have even a tendency to produce insanity. 2. However second-rate your singing and playing may be, never refuse to do your best when asked for music.

EVELYN N - Your writing is tolerably good.

PILATE'S WIFE - Sorry your letter came too late for a reply to be inserted before the date of your party. You deserve a reply because you allude so pleasantly and good humouredly to your former disappointment. We hope, by and bye, to give a special article to teach girls how to entertain their friends, and trust still to be of use to you. You have transgressed no rules.

M.E.M. - We thank you very much for your interesting letter explaining the way you bound your volume of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER. As you could not, unfortunately, afford to pay for it to be bound, you deserve our hearty congratulations for being so industrious as to bind the volume yourself.

Monday, 12 September 2016

15 January 1881 - 'What the Flowers Say' by James Mason

I have preserved the slightly odd placement of the pictures amongst the text. And #TIL there's a flower that symbolises "You're not pretty, but at least you're not stupid too".

"Is there any moral shut within the bosom of the rose?" - Tennyson

You may look at flowers in two ways - botanically, which is very interesting, or sentimentally and poetically, which is more interesting still. They are almost all surrounded by a halo of human thought, and we find in them - or fancy we find in them, which is much the same thing - an approach to human expression. We speak of them as possessing pride, modesty, boldness, delicacy, as inspired by joy, sorrow, and ambition. We give them a voice and a language.

We do not, of course, always know what they say. You remember the man in the fairy tale who had the gift of understanding the speech of animals, but lost it through telling the secret to his wife. Now it is not unlikely that the exact language spoken by the flowers, if ever it was known, has been lost in some such fashion. We comprehend it very imperfectly, guessing at it as we might guess at the speech of our dogs and cats.

Some people can never understand its meaning, any more than they can make out what is told by any of the other wonders of nature. Such are not desirable acquaintances at all. Keep far away, says a wise man, from those who have no sympathy for flowers.

The great thing requisite is to be in love with what is beautiful, and to have an open and tender heart. To all happy natures of whom this is the description flowers say strange things, and birds and beasts make surprising revelations.

The object of this article is to speak of the language of flowers as it is at present understood. By the matter-of-fact this language has been held of small account, and has often been sadly misrepresented, but, girls, to speak seriously, it contains a genuine truth to which good sense will not refuse attention. The more the things of nature are mixed up with our own spiritual being the more interesting, the more enjoyable, the more beautiful the world will appear. Connect things with thoughts, then things are truly valuable.

If the study of the language of flowers did nothing more than send you to the garden and the fields, it would not be an unsatisfactory result. The value of the open air is not half understood, and how few, after all these years, have discovered that there is more genuine happiness to be obtained in the healthy round of rural life than amidst all the bustle of society.

There is a great deal of poetry still left in the country, though perhaps not quite so much - and the more's the pity - as in the olden times when "the elves danced full oft in many a green mead," and the cowslips were the pensioners of the fairy queen.

Flowers are in a special manner connected with the romance of life. They are mixed up with all our remembrances, and the older we grow the most quiet nooks they occupy in our hearts. It would be a curious calculation how many withered flowers there are in the world treasured as relics beyond price, and forming the links that connect us with a happy past. It is, therefore, of great interest to know the sentiments connected with different flowers, and the human attributes and human passions which they are held to denote and express.

There can be no doubt that the language of flowers came originally from the East, the home of so many marvels. It received a great deal of attention in Europe in the Middle Ages, and was of good service to lords and ladies, who in those times knew as little how to write as how to read. We have not the only example of utility in the case of the fair prisoner who, having no opportunity of speaking to her lover, informed him of her captivity by throwing from a lofty tower a rose bathed in her tears.

Those who have tried to reduce the language of flowers to a system have laid down several rules for its use. The first of these is that a flower presented in an upright position expressed a certain thought, but given with its head hanging downwards utters just the contrary sentiment. You may also, they say, vary the expression of flowers by altering their position. The marigold laced on the head, for example, signifies sorrow of mind; above the heart, pangs of love; resting on the breast, ennui. It makes a difference, too, if you present a flower with or without its leaves or without its thorns, if it happens to have any thorns. A rosebud, with all its thorns and leaves, means, "I fear, but I hope;" stripped of its thorns, "There is everything to hope for;" stripped of its leaves, "There is everything to fear."

But all this is too elaborate for most people, and we must always bear in mind that the poetry of nature may be ruined by indulgence in fantastic whims.

Let us speak first of the rose, the flower of love and beauty. No other has been more highly praised by poets in every country and in all past times. It has had the most high-sounding names given to it: Queen of Flowers, Daughter of the Sky, Glory of Spring, and Ornament of the Earth show the depth of enthusiasm it has excited. We therefore naturally expect it to take a leading place in speaking the language of flowers. And so it does.

Roses represent a different sentiment according to their colour. The white rose indicates "candour;" the musk rose "affectation;" the single rose "simplicity;" the damask rose "freshness;" the cabbage rose goes forth as "an ambassador of love;" and a white and red rose together form a symbol of unity.

A yellow rose means "decrease of love" or "jealousy," yellow, according to one of the articles of folk-lore, being a jealous colour. If you wish to indicate "charming grace and beauty," you must select a China rose. That must have been the flower sent by the poet with the famous verses -

"Go, lovely rose,
Tell her that wastes her time and me
That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be."

In the East, the rose is above all others the flower of affection. There is a beautiful story which represents the bulbul - so the Armenians call the nightingale - as falling in love with the rose, and as only beginning to sing when inspired by the tender passion. This fable has been put into verse by Thackeray -

"Under the bought I sat and listened still,
I could not have my fill.
'How comes,' I said, 'such music to his bill?
Tell me for whom he sings so sweet a trill.
'Once I was dumb,' then did the bird disclose,
'But looked upon the Rose;
And in the garden where the loved one grows
I straightway did begin sweet music to compose.'"

The rose used to be employed as the symbol of silence, and from this arose a phrase one often hears, "under the rose." It seems that in ancient times it was a custom to place chaplets of roses above the heads of the guests, and on these occasions when people wished what they said to go no farther than those present they remarked that their observations were made "under the rose." Thus the phrase we use took its origin.

The lily is the emblem of majesty and purity. This flower is closely connected with the legendary history of the Virgin Mary, the lily which generally appears in pictures in connection with her being the great white lily of our gardens. As a token of purity it was frequently placed by artists in the Middle Ages in the hands of female saints.

The lily of the valley has always been held to be symbolical of purity and holiness. In some country places this humble but graceful plant is understood as pointing men's thoughts to a better world; it is called there the "ladder to heaven," a name evidently suggested by the arrangement of the flowers.

The snowdrop is another of those emblems of purity of which the world cannot have too many. This flower has become invested with a kind of sacredness; no doubt because it forms about the first sign that after the long sleep of winter Nature is rousing herself to begin the life and work of spring.

AS an emblem of modesty we have the daisy, the badge of Maid Margaret, that was so meek and mild, a very popular saint in the olden time. Another flower speaking the same language is the humble violet. The violet is also a lover's flower, and stands for constancy. As the old rhyme has it -

"The violet is for faithfulness
Which in me shall abide."

We have a contrast to these plants of modest looks and lowly thoughts in the tulip, which is held to be a symbol of grandeur and magnificence. During last century this flower created a sensation at which we may well imagine violets, daisies, and all quiet-minded flowers were much amazed. The love of tulips became a mania. IT was no rare thing to see a family ruined through the passion of the father for tulips.

The thistle in the language of flowers stands for "retaliation." To the Scotchman, however, as everyone knows, it speaks of nothing but the glories of his own native land, of which it is the emblem.

It became the emblem of Scotland, if legends be true, in the following way - When the Danes invaded Scotland, a long time ago, it was thought a shabby thing to attack an enemy except in broad daylight. On one occasion the invaders resolved to avail themselves of stratagem, and to come upon the Scots by night. To prevent their tramp from being heard they marched barefooted. They thus got unobserved within a short distance of the Scottish forces; but a Dane unluckily set his foot on a superb prickly thistle, and he gave such a howl of pain that the Scots heard him. They immediately ran to their arms and defeated the foe with great slaughter. After this the thistle was, out of pure gratitude, made the emblem of the Scottish kingdom.

Another Scottish flower is the harebell, the blue-bell of Scotland. In the language of flowers the harebell represents "submission." According to the poet -

"The harebell, for her stainless azure hue,
Claims to be worn of none but those are true."

All blue flowers, however, the bard should have noticed, have equal rights in this way, it being laid down in the old rhyme that blue is the colour of true love, as green is that of grief, and yellow that of love forsaken.

Now we come to "the sweet forget-me-nots that grow for happy lovers."

The language of this flower lies in its name, and its name it is said arose from the following incident - Two lovers were once loitering on the margin of a lake, when the maiden noticed some flowers growing on the surface of the water, near an island at some distance from the shore. She expressed a wish to obtain them, and her knight, in the true spirit of ancient chivalry, at once plunged into the water, and swimming to the spot plucked the wished-for plant. His strength, however, failed, and feeling that he could not regain the shore, although very near it, he threw the flowers on the bank; then, casting a last affectionate look upon his lady-love, he cried, "Forget me not," and was buried in the waters.

Rosemary stands for remembrance. At one time this plant was thought to strengthen the memory, and in consequence of this it became the symbol of remembrance amongst friends and lovers. A lover would say to his lass -

"Rosemary is for remembrance
Between us day and night;
Wishing that I might always have
You present in my sight."

Ophelia, in her madness, gives rosemary to her brother, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember."

Silence is represented by lavender. There is a superstition in some parts of the Continent that lavender has the power of restoring speech to those who have lost it.

Eglantine means just the reverse of lavender, and stands for "you speak well."

Amongst our winter decorations holly has an important place, and it speaks a language of great interest. The Romans of old held holly to be a sign of peace and goodwill, and it has thus come to be the emblem of the principal festival of a religion which preaches peace and goodwill to all mankind. With the northern nations of Europe holly used to be a type of the life which preserved nature through the desolations of winter.

The laurel speaks of triumph or glory. In the middle ages this plant served to crown poets, artists, and men of learning, who had particularly distinguished themselves. From this practice we have derived our expression poet-laureate. During the time when Rome ruled the world the laurel was held to be the emblem of victory, and also that of clemency. Whenever a despatch was sent telling of a great success it was wrapped up in, and ornamented with laurel leaves. And in triumphal processions leaves of laurel were worn by the victorious generals, and the common soldiers bore sprigs of it in their hands.

Friendship, fidelity and marriage are represented by ivy. This pleasant duty has been performed by this plant for many a day. In Greece wreaths of ivy used to be presented to newly-married people as a suitable emblem of undying affection amid the ravages of time.

But we must not linger over the subject in this way or we shall never have done. Our purpose, girls, is to give just enough to show you that there is a language of flowers and that it is worth looking into for yourselves. We shall hurry on and just mention a few more of the commoner plants with the language popularly assigned to them.

Rushes are held to signify "submission" or "docility," and if any day you watch the wind sweeping over them you will see that the plant speaks quite in character. Heath signifies solitude. Pink verbena, on the contrary, has a leaning towards society, and is an emblem of "family union." Jasmine stands for "amiability," fern for "sincerity," and foxglove, which always wears a brazen-faced air, for "insincerity."

The acacia stands for "friendship" or "platonic affection." There is a deeper sentiment at work when one presents a sprig of mignonette, which signifies "your qualities surpass your charms" - mental qualities, be it understood, and personal charms. Apple-blossom is still more serious, for it means "preference;" but "preference' is cold compared with "generous and devoted affection," and that is indicated by a sprig of honeysuckle.

As the flame of affection burns still brighter, the heliotrope, the camellia, the pansy, and the mistletoe, find employment. The heliotrope says "I am ever faithful and devoted;" the camellia, "In me behold constancy itself;"  the pansy, "I think of you, think of me;" and the mistletoe, "Whatever difficulties are in the way of winning you, I shall surmount them all." And may that be the fortune of all the honest-hearted hard-working lovers in the world.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

15 January 1881 - 'Some Useful Hints on Surgery' by Medicus

When I was a little boy at my first school the Bible was one of our text-books. It was the first history ever I had read, and I was naturally much interested in its heroes and heroines. David, I know, seemed to my mind just the beau-ideal of all a boy should be, and when I read of the brave and undaunted manner in which he attacked and slew Goliath, I determined to emulate him, at least, so far as the sling and the stone went, and I succeeded so well that in three weeks after I first commenced practice, I smashed my poor sister's arm. Of course, I was not aiming at Nellie, and the greater the pity, because I never did hit anything that I aimed at. On this particular occasion I was aiming at a farmer's ox in a distant field; this was very wicked, but when I saw Nellie drop down and faint with the pain, I thought she was dead, and wrung my hands and wept aloud and danced frantically around her. This probably relieved my own feelings, but it could not have done Nellie much good, and had I known then only a very little of what I know now, I would have acted differently. But what *I did then is just precisely what nine out of every ten young people do daily, when an accident occurs to a brother, sister, or playmate. To render assistance promptly hardly ever occurs to them.

"Oh! But," some of my readers may exclaim, "we don't know what to do in cases of emergency."

You are quite right; and therefore I am going to tell you in this paper and in the next what is the best and safest way to deal with little accidents, and I am quite sure you will listen to what I have to say with pleasure and derive some profit therefrom as well.

Now the most alarming of all little accidents, in the eyes of young folks, are those that are accompanied by the effusion of blood, so I will take them first. The simplest of these is bleeding at the nose. Sometimes, in the case of stout, rosy-faced children, this is salutary, but it proves that they are making blood too quickly, that they are in reality not strong, so the general health should be seen to, and plenty of exercise taken. As to medicine, laxatives should be given and some simple tonic. When bleeding at the nose occurs from a blow, or if it be excessive from whatever cause, means must be taken to stop it. The sufferer must not remain in a warm room; going out into the cool fresh air will often of itself suffice to stop the bleeding. If it does not, then the nose and brow ought to be bathed in the coldest water procurable. The upright position should be maintained, the head thrown well back, the arms raised, and either ice or a cold piece of iron or steel applied to the spine.

Cuts or wounds, as a rule, require very simple treatment. First and foremost, do not be alarmed at the sight of a little blood; there is no danger, unless it be of a very bright red colour and spurts out in jets; that would show that an artery has been cut; but even then you must not give way to fear. All you have to do is apply pressure on the wound by means of your thumbs, and send for a medical man or surgeon. If a simple cut or wound is torn and lacerated, it must be washed with cold water and a bit of sponge before it is done up, and if any dirt or foreign matter such as sand or glass be seen in it, that must be very carefully removed; then cut two or three pieces of sticking plaster, about as long as your little finger, and no wider, heat them one by one before the fire, and one by one apply them over the wound, just to keep the edges gently together. After you have applied one, you must not put the next close to it; you have to leave room between every piece, for any matter that may form, too afterwards find vent. Apply over this a little lint, made by stretching a piece of old, cleanly washed linen tight, and scraping it with a knife; over all a bandage must be put, and you must keep a wound like this clean, but do not disturb the dressing room more than is actually required. If it seems angry, a bit of clean surgeon's lint dipped in water, with a piece of oiled silk over it, makes a very soothing dressing. A simple even cut may be bound up with the blood, which, by keeping the air from it, hermetically seals it, and it will heal thus without further trouble.

A bitten tongue often bleeds profusely, and gives a great pain. Wash the mouth with the coldest water, in which some powdered alum has been mixed, and continue doing so until the bleeding stops.

When the skin has been torn off or grazed off any part of the hands, arms, or legs, the bleeding is sometimes difficult to stop. Cold water may be sufficient to do this, if not, tincture of iron should be applied. This tincture of iron is the same tonic (called steel drops) which I so often recommend pale and delicate girls to use, in the proportion of ten to fifteen drops three times a day in a little cold water. So you see it is a handy thing to have in the house for more reasons than one. Scalp-wounds, or wounds in the head, require somewhat different treatment. If in the forehead, the usual sticking plaster dressing and a bandage will suffice to mend matters; if in the scalp among the hair, the latter must be cut off all around the wound to admit of the application of the plaster; the bleeding in either case must be stopped by pressure, cold water or ice.

The youngest of my readers should know how to treat simple scalds and burns, for, small though they may be, they are exceedingly painful, and it is a gaining of half the battle if you can give relief. A burn or scald in the hands, or wrist, or fingers, if the skin be not blistered or broken, is relieved in a surprisingly short time by the application of a rag or morsel of lint wetted in turpentine. Soap applied to a slight burn is likewise a good application to remove pain. Water-dressing is also effective, and after the pain has been removed, the place may be dressed with simple ointment, cold cream, or glycerine. Another excellent application to a burned surface is what is called "carron oil," it is composed of equal parts lime water and olive oil, with a small quantity of turpentine. In all cases of severe burning medical aid should be summoned as soon as possible.

If a child's clothes catch fire, she ought to be thrown down at once, and a heart-rug, blanket, or whatever comes handiest, rolled around her to extinguish the flames. When anyone has the misfortune to catch fire, she ought at once to throw herself on the floor and roll about; if this plan be resorted to, the fire cannot spread upwards over the head, and life may be saved, to say nothing of terrible deformity.

Children sometimes swallow boiling water, from a kettle for instance. In a case of this kind all you can do is to keep the sufferer perfectly quiet, and give him ice to suck if you can procure any, and meanwhile send at once for a surgeon.

Bruises are the result of direct violence; in these cases, although no bones are broken and the skin is left intact, the small veins in the flesh are lacerated and blood thrown out under the skin, discolouration being the result. A black-eye is one of the simplest examples of a bruise, and probably one of the commonest; a blow on the forehead from running against something hard is another; and both, simple though I call them, are very disfiguring especially in a young girl. When, then, anyone receives a blow which she is afraid may lead to discolouration of the skin, either arnica lotion or spirit lotion should be applied immediately and constantly for some considerable time. The arnica lotion is easily made; it is simply a tablespoonful of tincture of arnica in a small tumblerful of water; it is a useful application to sprains as well. Vinegar and water is also a very cooling lotion, in the proportion of one part of the former to three of the latter.

A jammed finger is a most painful accident. Steeping the finger in very hot water is the most effectual method of giving relief. I may mention here that an incipient whitlow may sometimes be dispersed in the same way, provided matter has not already formed; but when once this begins to burrow under the tendons poultices and free lancing will bring the first relief.

A blister of the skin, whether in the foot or hand, seems a very simple thing indeed. Yet nine persons out of every ten do not know how properly to treat it. It may be caused by friction of any kind - friction from a tight or too loose fitting shoe, or friction of the hand from rowing, drilling, or using tools of any kind. The first thing to do is to pass a needle with a loose cotton thread through it. Cut off this thread at each side of the blister, and thus allow the water to run or drain out of the bleb; it will afterwards heal up nicely, but rest must be given. Now I do not know that any young lady wants to harden her hands, even  for the sake of drilling; for a soft hand is certainly a point of beauty in a girl. But if, notwithstanding this, she objects to have hands easily blistered let her bathe them morning and night for ten minutes in a quart of soft spring water, in which a little toilet vinegar and a teaspoonful of alum have been mixed. This bath also does good in cases of clammy hands; but, mind you, I am not putting it forward as a specific, either for clamminess or blisters, but I do happen to know that it often does good.

Blisters, or blebs, that contain blood may occur on the legs or arms; they are not due to friction, but on the other hand, they point to a vitiated state of the blood, and the remedies for them should be internal or constitutional ones. The blood is impoverished, and the steel-drop tonic will do good. Plenty of milk is almost a certain remedy, but it must be new milk and, if possible, drunk fresh and warm from the cow. Exercise in the open air will provoke an appetite and enable the girl who suffers from these signs of impoverished blood to eat well and heartily, which is exactly what nature displays those blisters to entice her to do. They are to be looked upon as small flags of distress.

Boils are also a sign of impure and impoverished blood. Some girls constantly suffer from them, crop after crop appearing and causing great distress, because they are not only disfiguring, especially if in the face, but very painful as well. These boils also point to a state of the blood which sadly needs reform; indeed, the general health of girls who suffer in this way is at a very low ebb. Everything, then, should be done that tends to increase the strength and purify the blood. Simple laxatives, such as cream of tartar or Gregory's powder, should be taken twice or thrice a week. The digestion should be carefully attended to, nothing being eaten that is in the least likely to disagree, and not too much of anything eaten at one time. Exercise in the open air should be abundant, but not fatiguing, and the soap bath taken nearly every day. (I have already described the method of taking the bath in THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER.) Tonic medicines should be taken also, say a teaspoonful or more of quinine wine three times a day, and ten drops of the tincture of iron.

Touching the little boils three or four times a day with a drop or two of Goulard water, and suffering it to dry on, may tend to keep them back, or hot water may be tried.

A style is simply a small painful boil on the eyelid; it should be bathed three or four times a day with warm milk and water, and a poultice applied at night. As soon as it points, great relief will be gained by pricking it with a fine but perfectly new sewing needle.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

15 January 1881 - 'Pies and Tarts' by Phillis Browne - Chapter One

All girls, I imagine, like making pastry. Indeed in a girl's mind a cook is usually a person who can make a pie. If we try to persuade a girl to practise cookery, and she is inclined to yield to our persuasion, the first thing she will do to show her willingness will be to offer to make some pies.

On the whole I think she would act very sensibly in doing this. Making pastry is very pleasant work, and when pies are well made and well baked they are very satisfactory things to look at as well as to eat, and they exist as tangible proofs of the skill of the maker. Somehow a pie is not such a fleeting evanescent object as a stew or a soup. These are generally demolished as soon as they are accomplished facts, and in the course of a couple of hours their glory is a thing of the past; but pies remain (for a short time only). They are carried off into the larder, and are allowed to go cold, and the cook can if she likes pay them a visit and look at them and feast her eyes on the work of her hands.

We will therefore spend a little time in talking over the methods to be adopted in making pastry; and first we have to consider our utensils and materials.

A good cook always collects together everything that she is likely to want before she begins to work. By this means she saves time. If she were to put her hands into the flour and then leave it and clear them while she fetched a rolling-pin or a dish, she would be half as long again over her business as she needed to be. She is wise when she "lets her head save her heels" - as the saying is - by first thinking over and then collecting her utensils and ingredients and putting them in one place, so that they will be at hand when wanted.

In order to make pastry it is necessary to have a pastry board, a rolling pin, a flour dredger, a knife, some flour, salt, butter, or sweet dripping, water, an egg or two, a little sugar, and, if approved, some baking powder. There must be also a clean basin, some pie dishes, tartlet tins, baking sheets, and either meat, fruit, jam, or whatever else is intended to constitute the contents of the pies or tarts. With these contents, however, I have at present nothing to do. I shall confine myself entirely to the pastry.

It is, I suppose, scarcely necessary to say to young ladies that every one of the utensils used in making pastry must be scrupulously clean; that goes without any saying.

Pastry boards are usually made of common wood; although superior boards are made of box-wood. Marble slabs are, however, much better than board to roll pastry upon, because they are cold; and in order to make pastry light and puffy it is very desirable that the paste should be kept cool. It is on this account t a cool light hand is wanted, and that pastry should be made in a cool place. When a marble slab is not to be had, a large slate, or even a smooth tile, is sometimes made to fill its place. Girls will find that their hands will be cooler if washed in hot water a few minutes before setting to work. The best biscuit flour is usually taken for making pastry. When superior pies are wanted, however, it is worth while to use what is called Vienna flour, which is flour that has been passed through silken sieves in order to make it very fine. This flour is a good deal more expensive than biscuit flour, and it makes finer, lighter pastry. For ordinary purposes, however, the biscuit flour will be quite good enough.

There is a great deal of difference of opinion about the use of baking-powder in making cakes and pastry. For my own part, I am in favour of baking-powder for ordinary purposes. For one thing, its use is to be recommended on economical grounds, because less butter or shortening is needed when baking-powder is used. Also, baking-powder makes pastry lighter, and consequently more digestible. It must be remembered, however, that when baking-powder is used the pastry should be mixed quickly and baked as soon as possible after it is mixed.

There are four kinds of pastry in constant use amongst us; puff paste, short paste, suet crust for boiled puddings, and what is called hot-water paste for raised pies. Puff paste is considered the best of these; it is the richest and lightest, most difficult to make, and very indigestible. A good course of puff paste would, I should think, be enough to give an elephant dyspepsia. Nevertheless, it is very much liked, and I expect the girls would be disappointed if I did not describe how it should be made. There is one consideration that may encourage us in trying it, and that is that if we can make good puff paste we can make all other kinds of pastry. It will not do, however, for us to be discouraged if our first attempt is not successful. Nothing but practice will give skill in this direction.

It is always a great help to understand the idea of a thing as well as the method. The idea in puff pastry is to have the butter and the paste separate, so that the pastry shall form a kind of sandwich, in which very thin light layers of paste shall be separated from each other by layers of butter, and the lighter and thinner these layers can be made the better the puff paste is. A very clever cook, once said that puff paste to be perfect must consist of eighty-four thin films of paste, alternated with eighty-three of butter. I do not think there are many cooks who could achieve these conditions. But at any rate girls will understand that is the ideal, and the nearer they can approach to it the more successful they will be.

It is  for the purpose of keeping these films perfect and separate that the pastry is cooled between the "turns." If the paste were to be sticky and the butter hot, the films could not be kept distinct; therefore, between the rollings or turns of puff paste is put away on ice or in a cool place, that the layers may become firm and not mix together in a mass. In winter time ice may be dispensed with, and the pastry can be put in a cool larder for half an hour. But in summer time it is very desirable that ice should be at hand.

Now as to the method to be adopted. Supposing we wished to make a quantity of puff paste sufficient for a small pie, we should take a quarter of a pound of flour which has been sifted and is thoroughly dry, a small pinch of salt, the yolk of one egg, a quarter of a pound of butter which has been squeezed in a cloth to free it from moisture, and six or eight drops of lemon-juice. We pile the flour on the pastry board or slab, and mix the salt with it, make a little well in the centre, and put into it the egg yolk, and add very gradually as much water as is required to mix the whole, till the paste is of the consistency of the butter. When this point is reached, the paste should be worked and kneaded on the slab till it feels smooth, soft and elastic, when it may be left untouched for a minute or two.

The next thing to be done is to flour the slab lightly, put the paste upon it, flour this also, and roll it gently till it is large enough to hold the squeezed butter. If too much flour is used the pastry will be spoilt. We then place the butter in the centre of the paste, and fold the four sides over to cover it completely. WE make the edges meet by pressing them together, and put the paste thus prepared upon ice or in a cool place for about ten minutes. We now roll it till it is about the third of an inch thick, and in doing this we must be careful that the butter does not break through the paste in any direction. Also we must remember to have the paste straight before us, and to roll it straight, otherwise the flakes will be one-sided. We then fold the paste into three equal parts, flatten it lightly with the rolling-pin again, then turn it round so that we leave the rough edges towards us, and roll it again, fold it, and put it away for a quarter of an hour, and repeat until it has had seven turns or rolls, and been put upon ice three times, or after every other turn. When the last turn has been given we again leave it in a cold place for a few minutes, roll it till it is a quarter of an inch thick, and it is ready for use.

Pastry thus made will rise to five times its original height.

When a girl has once learnt to make puff pastry well she may vary her method a little, without doing much harm; that is to say, she may use rather less butter, or rather more flour, or in cold weather she may shorten the time allowed for cooling; her experience will enable her to decide how far she may depart from the regulated routine. It will be obvious that the method I have described is rather a troublesome one. It need not be so, however, if other cooking is being done at the time, for nothing can be easier than to put the pastry away, proceed with other work, then at the right time fetch it out, give it a roll, put it away again, and repeat until it is finished.

I have known cooks make very good flaky pastry without putting it to cool at all. They simply made the paste, rolled it out, divided the butter into equal portions, spread one portion upon the paste as they would spread butter upon bread, floured it well, folded it over, and rolled it; then buttered, floured, and rolled it again until the requisite quantity of butter had been used. If there were time to let it lie they would seize the opportunity of doing so, but otherwise they would leave it.

It will be understood that puff paste is used for superior pastry of all kinds, meat pies, tarts, patties, and vol-au-vents. There is, however, an easier way of making superior pastry which answers excellently for pies and tarts. The following is the method adopted in making it. Take half a pound of flour, six ounces of butter, a pinch of salt, six drops of lemon-juice, and the yolk of an egg. Prepare the ingredients as for true puff paste; that is, squeeze the butter to free it from moisture, and be sure that the flour is dry and sifted. Chop the butter in the flour with a knife; then pile the flour on the board; make a well in the centre, and put into it the salt, egg yolk, and lemon-juice. Add the water gradually, and mix it in lightly with the fingers, to make a light not over stiff paste. Flour the rolling-pin and the board to prevent the pastry sticking, but do not put too much flour in, or the pastry will be spoilt. Roll it well three times, and after each roll fold it in two and turn it with the rough edges to the front. If it makes a crackling sound as it is being rolled it is a sign that it is good. If liked, this pastry may be made with half a pound of flour, four ounces of butter, half a teaspoonful of baking-powder, and dripping may be used instead of butter.

Short paste is used more than puff paste; it is suitable for fruit pies and tartlets. The idea with it is to rub the shortening into the flour before making the paste. Short paste is more wholesome and much more easily made than puff paste. It may be made to be most delicious if only pains, good ingredients, and a light cool hand are brought to the work. I am afraid, however, that space will not permit me to speak of it to-day; so I will reserve it, as well as suet paste, and hot-water paste  for the raised pies which are so popular at this time of the year, till our next lesson.